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Coric Beats Thiem To Clinch Croatian Victory

  • Posted: Feb 05, 2023

Coric Beats Thiem To Clinch Croatian Victory

Garin seals Chile’s tie win with Bublik triumph

Borna Coric fired Croatia through to the Davis Cup Finals for a fourth time after ending Austria’s hopes of a final day fightback in their 2023 Qualifier in Rijeka.

The World No. 23 saw off former World No. 3 Dominic Thiem 7-6(3) 6-2 in one hour and 45 minutes to prevent Jurgen Melzer’s visiting side from gaining any further momentum after Lucas Miedler and Alexander Erler recorded a surprise triumph over the home side in the doubles.

“It was not easy, but I knew that this is Davis Cup, and this is tennis, and that anything can happen,” said Coric of ending Austria’s resurgence. “I was ready after the doubles match. I was pretty nervous, but I had time to prepare myself for the match. I came out on the court and I was playing great tennis today.”

Austrian’s doubles pair upset Nikola Mektic and Ivan Dodig, the doubles World No. 8 and No. 11, respectively, 6-3 7-6 (11) in one hour and 50 minutes to deny a Croatian clean sweep after the two Borna’s – Borna Coric and Borna Gojo – had won their singles on the opening day.

That left Thiem with an opportunity to take the contest to a deciding fifth match on Sunday afternoon, but the 2020 US Open champion, still on the comeback trail from a wrist injury, struggled for consistency against Coric.

While Coric proved watertight, Thiem threw in 38 unforced errors – to Coric’s 23 – and, though he managed to refocus and hit straight back after gifting Coric the first break of the match in the seventh game, the Croatian ran away with the first set tie-break.

Coric upped the ante in set two as Thiem’s error count mounted, ultimately completing a fifth successive Davis Cup victory on home soil for Croatia in front of their delighted fans.

“I enjoyed the fight, it was great,” said Coric. “It was great to play in front of the home crowd. I was very happy with the way I was playing on the important points. I was very aggressive so I’m super happy with the win.”

“It’s a huge disappointment,” lamented Thiem. “Obviously my match today, but also the fact that I couldn’t help to give my team, my country a point. We lost 1-3, I lost two points out of that, so it’s not a good weekend for me, so the disappointment is big right now.”

Erler and Miedler produced a steely display in the first match of the day. They seized their only break point opportunity early in the opening set and held their nerve in the crucial moments as Dodig and Mektic failed to capitalise on any of their three break point opportunities.

“They’re a really good doubles team and we’re just happy that we could beat them,” said Miedler.

Austria, which played at the Finals in 2021, will return to World Group I on 16-17 September in a clash against one of the winning nations from this weekend’s World Group I playoffs.

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Chile Uses Home Crowd To Surge Past Kazakhstan
Cristian Garin suffered a tough blow on Saturday when he won just four games against Kazakhstan’s Timofey Skatov to begin his country’s Davis Cup Qualifiers tie. But the former World No. 17 flipped the script in a major way Sunday.

In a battle of No. 1 singles players, Garin clawed past Alexander Bublik 6-4, 3-6, 6-3 in one hour and 59 minutes to send Chile to the Davis Cup Finals.

Bublik had defeated Garin in straight sets last year in Florence, but that clash was on hard courts. This time, Garin was on his preferred clay with the backing of his home crowd.

From the early points of the match those in attendance at Campus Trentino urged their man on, with constant singing to help give him any extra energy they could.

That proved critical to his quick start, as Garin rediscovered his form to play consistent tennis throughout the first set. Bublik struck back in the second set with sublime shotmaking, leaving the Chilean frustrated and keeping the crowd at bay.

The Kazakhstani, who was trying to keep his country’s hopes alive, made a critical mistake earlier in the decider. Bublik double faulted down the T at 1-2 to concede a service break to Garin, and that was the only advantage he needed.

The 26-year-old held to love when he served for the match. And after a tense moment waiting for the chair umpire to check a ball mark following a final forehand, the entire Chilean team swarmed the court to celebrate with Garin, who hit 16 winners in his victory.

It was the clinching triumph for Chile because earlier in the day, Tomas Barrios Vera and Alejandro Tabilo defeated Andrey Golubev and Aleksandr Nedovyesov 6-4, 7-5 under equally raucous conditions.

“The support of the public was felt at key moments. The rivals felt that pressure,” Tabilo said. “The fans knew when to support and that was essential. Being able to play here in Chile doesn’t happen so much and fortunately we were able to take advantage of it.”

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Tstisipas: 'I Plan To Push Boundaries'

  • Posted: Feb 05, 2023

Tstisipas: ‘I Plan To Push Boundaries’

Tsitsipas discusses mental strength

To stay at the top of the ATP Tour, you need to be able to adapt and develop. With new stars emerging and a range of styles being implemented, the Tour provides numerous tests.

For Stefanos Tsitsipas, who will star in season one of Netflix’s Break Point, the desire to improve is constant.

“I really plan to push boundaries and try and improve, even during games. [I am] aggressive, slightly creative. I am never really satisfied by doing the same thing over and over again,” Tsitsipas told ATP Uncovered in 2022. “I was trying to find new creative ways to perform certain tasks and play in any condition.”

The Greek has continued to adapt, winning titles every season since he captured his maiden crown in 2018. The ability to stay mentally strong and trust his game in crucial moments has been key to his success, with Tsitsipas highlighting this when reflecting on his title run at the Nitto ATP Finals in 2019.

“Serving at 6/4 at the Nitto ATP Finals in London in the tie-break, I think I missed my first serve by very few centimetres. I go for an unpredictable second serve towards Dominic’s forehand. I felt it was the right thing to do, it was kind of instinct. Do the opposite of what he would have expected in such a crucial important moment,” Tsitsipas said.

“I just need to stay alive as much as possible. I need to be in that moment, I need to slow down time. That is something that goes through my head. If I am able to slow time down then see and predict and execute. I guess that is what adrenaline does to you. It kind of makes everything move so far and in such a great flow without thinking sometimes.”

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Having triumphed in London, Tsitsipas captured his maiden ATP Masters 1000 crown in Monte Carlo in 2021. The Greek struggled to add to his trophy tally in 2021, winning just one more title that year before he successfully defended his Monte Carlo trophy in 2022.

The Greek revealed that controlling his own thoughts have been key in him being able to bounce back.

“Having faced those moments in a traumatic way where you’re not able to respond and find ways and fight back and sometimes even win,” Tsitsipas said. “That is when it really kind of gets tough to manage those thoughts once this moment reaches during a match.

“Having to deal with those emotions. Having to deal with your own thoughts. I would say that it’s only you. External pressure in a way that is out of your control. Internally you are in full ownership and control of that.”

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Dominant Dutch See Off Slovakia To Advance In Davis Cup

  • Posted: Feb 05, 2023

Dominant Dutch See Off Slovakia To Advance In Davis Cup

Koolhof/Middelkoop seal win

Netherlands are through to the Davis Cup Finals for the third time after beating Slovakia 3-0 in Groningen.

The foundations for the victory were laid on Saturday when Tallon Griekspoor and Tim van Rijthoven both stepped up to deliver singles points and put the Netherlands 2-0 ahead.

Those wins left the Dutch team in an incredibly strong position, not least because they could rely on the doubles duo of World No. 1 Wesley Koolhof and No. 19 Matwe Middelkoop to lead them out on Sunday, and they didn’t disappoint, beating Alex Molcan and Lukas Klein 6-3 6-3 to clinch the tie.

Middelkoop and Koolhof – with a combined age of 72 – have now won four of their six Davis Cup doubles matches together, and they were a class apart throughout the one-hour, eight-minute clash.

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The pair struck the first blow by breaking in the third game of the match as Koolhof timed his move across the net to perfection and put away a simple volley. The Slovakians looked to respond immediately but Koolhof and Middelkoop saved three break points in the very next game to maintain their advantage.

They soon had the first set having broken both of their opponents’ serves and stayed solid behind their own deliveries.

Slovakia have never come from 0-2 down to win a Davis Cup tie and when Middelkoop fired a backhand down the line winner to go up an early break in the second set, an already mammoth task now looked impossible for the visitors.

The party had already started in the stands of the MartiniPlaza. The fans, dressed predominantly in all orange, were singing and dancing at the change of ends and making their presence felt. All that was left was for Koolhof and Middelkoop to finish the job, which they did emphatically.

“We have the older generation like me, the middle like Wesley, and the young generation. Plus Paul is such an experienced coach. He was a top doubles player and a top singles player and he passes that through the team,” Middelkoop said.”

They will now wait with intrigue to find out which teams they will face in the Group Stages, to be played after the US Open.

Slovakia will now compete in World Group I in September.

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Stunner In Seoul! South Korea Overhauls Belgium For Famous Davis Cup Victory

  • Posted: Feb 05, 2023

Stunner In Seoul! South Korea Overhauls Belgium For Famous Davis Cup Victory

Hosts produce perfect Sunday to recover 0-2 overnight deficit

On a sensational Sunday in Seoul, South Korea dismantled Belgium’s 2-0 lead in the 2023 Davis Cup Qualifiers by winning the doubles and both singles. It is the first time the nation has overturned such a deficit in the history of the prestigious team event.

The hero of the day was World No. 237 Seong-chan Hong, who kept his cool to defeat Zizou Bergs 6-3, 7-6(4) in the deciding fifth rubber. Even when nerves were a factor for Hong, who is 122 places below the Belgian in the Pepperstone ATP Rankings, he held firm to complete a famous victory for his country.

“I tried to show my strengths as much as I could and tried to frustrate my opponent,” said Hong after the match. “As soon as I started, I thought it was working well today. The atmosphere was good before the game. Of course, I was very nervous, but I was also very excited. After the match point, I thought I showed it.”

The decider was needed after Belgian No.1 David Goffin failed in his bid to wrap up the tie, with Soonwoo Kwon coming from behind to take the match 3-6, 6-1, 6-3, serving up 11 aces in the process.

“It was not an easy game, but I think I could win thanks to the fans who came to see the game today,” Kwon said. “In the first set, there were a lot of errors because I had too many thoughts,” he added. “But from the second set, I tried to find composure and played well as I thought about the practice game with Goffin.”

The day’s drama started from the first ball as Ji Sung Nam and Ming-Kyu Song threw everything at their doubles opponents in a bid to get Korea on to the scorecard.

Belgium’s Sander Gille and Joran Vliegen, who have played together in the competition since 2018, were put under pressure from the beginning by a duo ranked some 100 places below them. The match was dominated by serve, with the Koreans prevailing 7-6(3), 7-6(5).

South Korean captain Seung Kyu Park was full of praise for his players.

“I am so grateful and proud of the players for not giving up and doing their best until the end,” he said. “It’s so good that I don’t know how to express it. The players made history as a team with the coaching staff. It’s like a dream to advance to the finals for two consecutive years and I don’t know if this is real.”

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Scouting Report: Rune, Fritz & Schwartzman Headline Montpellier, Dallas & Cordoba Fields

  • Posted: Feb 05, 2023

Scouting Report: Rune, Fritz & Schwartzman Headline Montpellier, Dallas & Cordoba Fields

An executive summary of what every fan should know about the coming week

An ATP 250 triple-header this week features a host of top stars eyeing early-season success. Cordoba, Dallas and Montpellier play host to tournaments from 6-12 February.

Diego Schwartzman leads the draw at the opening clay-court event of the 2023 season at the Cordoba Open, while Taylor Fritz and Frances Tiafoe bring Top 20 quality to the hard courts at the Dallas Open. The hard-hitting Holger Rune and Jannik Sinner spearhead the field at the Open Sud de France – Montpellier. looks ahead at five things to watch at each event.

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View Draws: Cordoba | Dallas | Montpellier

1) Clay-Court Kickoff: The ATP Tour action moves to clay for the first time in 2023 in Cordoba. The ATP 250 event in central Argentina kicks off a string of tournaments in South America known as the “Golden Swing”, with Buenos Aires, Rio de Janeiro and Santiago also hosting events across the next month.

2) Top Seed Schwartzman: The 30-year-old Schartzman last year reached the semi-finals in Cordoba before advancing to the championship match in both Buenos Aires and Rio de Janeiro. The World No. 28 has won two of his four ATP Tour titles on South American clay (Rio de Janeiro 2018, Buenos Aires 2021).

3) Ramos-Vinolas Defends Title: Albert Ramos-Vinolas delivered a series of dominant performances in Cordoba last year, when he dropped just one set all week en route to his fourth ATP Tour crown. The third-seeded Spaniard will try to make another strong run in Argentina, but he is not the only former champion in the draw — 2020 titlist and former World No. 17 Cristian Garin and 2021 winner Juan Manuel Cerundolo will compete.

4) Home Favourites Seek Success: As well as Schwartzman, nine other Argentines (not including qualifiers) feature in the draw at an event where two of the four champions since the inaugural 2019 edition have been home favourites. Among this year’s contenders is Francisco Cerundolo, who is seeded second as he tries to emulate his brother Juan Manuel’s 2021 win, while fourth seed Sebastian Baez looks to better his 2022 quarter-final run.

5) Matos/Vega Hernandez Lead Doubles Field: Rafael Matos and David Vega Hernandez have lifted four ATP Tour titles since first teaming last March and they are the top seeds in Cordoba. Among their rivals in Argentina are second seeds Maximo Gonzalez and Andres Molteni, the latter of whom is a two-time champion at the event after lifting the trophy in 2019 alongside Roman Jebavy and in 2022 with Santiago Gonzalez.


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1) Fritz, Tiafoe Lead Field: Top 20 Americans Fritz and Tiafoe will be confident at the Dallas Open, the only indoor ATP Tour event in the United States. The pair kicked off 2023 by helping Team United States to victory at the inaugural United Cup and proved themselves capable of handling home pressure in 2022, when Fritz lifted his maiden ATP Masters 1000 trophy in Indian Wells and Tiafoe reached his first Grand Slam semi-final at the US Open.

2) Americans Out In Force: The return of men’s tour-level tennis to Dallas in 2022 after 33 years away saw Reilly Opelka lift the title. Although the reigning champion is unable to defend his crown due to injury, there are plenty of other Americans in the draw. The man Opelka defeated in last year’s semi-finals, John Isner, has won 14 of his 16 ATP Tour titles in his homeland. The 37-year-old is the fifth seed this week in Dallas, where Marcos Giron, J.J. Wolf and Rafael Nadal’s Australian Open conqueror Mackenzie McDonald are all chasing their maiden tour-level title.

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3) Shapovalov & Kecmanovic Players To Watch: Denis Shapovalov and Miomir Kecmanovic are players to watch in Texas, where they will make their Dallas Open debuts. Shapovalov, a former World No. 10 who is pursuing his second ATP Tour title, is the third seed. The Serbian Kecmanovic reached the semi-finals at the event in 2020 when it was held in New York. The 23-year-old established himself as one of the most consistent performers on Tour in 2022, when he reached nine tour-level quarter-finals, but will eye a deeper run as the fourth seed in Texas.

4) Wu On The Rise: After not playing a tour-level match between March 2019 and January 2022 due to a series of injuries, the 23-year-old Chinese star Wu Yibing has stormed to a career-high No. 112 in the Pepperstone ATP Rankings with some dominant displays on the ATP Challenger Tour. Having also impressed on his recent main draw debuts at the US Open and the Australian Open, could Dallas provide the setting for his ATP Tour breakthrough?

5) Murray/Venus Lead The Way: The top seeds in the doubles draw are Jamie Murray and Michael Venus, who are a new pair this season. They have lifted 44 tour-level trophies between them and will try to claim their first as a duo in Dallas.

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1) Rune Flying High: Despite an agonising five-set exit to Andrey Rublev in the Australian Open fourth round, Rune will be feeling confident as he returns to European indoor hard courts for the first time since his red-hot finish to 2022. 

The 19-year-old won 20 out of 22 matches indoors across September, October and November to close out last season, lifting trophies in Stockholm and Paris on the way. Now at a career-high No. 9 in the Pepperstone ATP Rankings, can the Dane recapture that form as the top seed on his Montpellier debut?

2) Second Seed Sinner: The Italian Sinner looks to build on his solid start to 2023 in Montpellier, where he made a first-round exit on both his previous appearances in 2020 and 2021.

The 21-year-old is 5-2 for the season after a quarter-final run in Adelaide and reaching the fourth round at the Australian Open, and he will take further confidence knowing hat three of his six tour-level titles have come on indoor hard courts.

3) Bublik Eyes Repeat Success: Alexander Bublik stunned Alexander Zverev to clinch his maiden ATP Tour title in Montpellier a year ago, and the entertaining Kazakhstani returns as the sixth seed to defend his crown in southern France. The 25-year-old will hope fond memories of his 2022 triumph can spur him on as he seeks his first match win of the season.

4) All The Way For RBA? Roberto Bautista Agut’s brand of flat hitting was a regular feature of the 2023 Australian swing, during which the Spaniard reached the championship match at the Adelaide International 2 and battled past former World No. 1 Andy Murray en route to the fourth round at the Australian Open.

The 11-time tour-level titlist now looks to transfer that form indoors in Montpellier, where he reached the final in 2021, as he competes as the fourth seed.

5) Krawietz/Puetz Headline Doubles: A stacked doubles draw full of title-winning experience is led by German pairing Kevin Krawietz and Tim Puetz. Santiago Gonzalez is seeded second alongside three-time Montpellier champion Edouard Roger-Vasselin, while Andreas Mies/John Peers and Robin Haase/Matwe Middelkoop will also try to make deep runs in France.

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