Tennis News

From around the world

Van Assche Survives Historic Challenger Final; Purcell Completes Hat-Trick

  • Posted: Mar 06, 2023

Van Assche Survives Historic Challenger Final; Purcell Completes Hat-Trick

Kovacevic wins second title of the season

Luca Van Assche and Max Purcell etched their names into the ATP Challenger Tour record books this week.

Van Assche, 18, saved two championship points against countryman Ugo Humbert to win the longest Challenger final in history (three hours, 56 minutes) at the Terega Open Pau Pyrenees. The Australian Purcell extended his winning streak to 15 by triumphing for a third consecutive week in India. American Aleksandar Kovacevic also collected a title of his own at the Texas Tennis Classic.

In the Pau Challenger 125 final in southern France, home hope Van Assche rallied from a double break down at 0-3 in the final set and again from 4/6 in the deciding-set tie-break before winning four consecutive points to survive Humbert 7-6(5), 4-6, 7-6(6) and capture his second Challenger title.

ATP Challenger Tour 

“It was a crazy match, an amazing fight against Ugo,” Van Assche said. “I’m very happy. A lot of emotions during this match. I was leading, then losing. I was match point up, then match point down. It was a fantastic match with great support from the crowd.

“At 4/6 in the tie-break, I was hoping he wouldn’t hit an ace! I was playing point by point, just focussing on every point. I was a little bit exhausted so I was not thinking too much, just playing my game.”

You May Also Like:

Math + Tennis = Winning Formula For Van Assche

Van Assche, who won the Maia Challenger in 2022, is the fourth Frenchman to win multiple Challenger titles before turning 19, joining Richard Gasquet, Gael Monfils, and Fabrice Santoro. The Belgian-born player is the fifth #NextGenATP Challenger champion of the year and joins Arthur Fils as the only teenage champions of 2023.

En route to the title, Van Assche needed deciding sets in four of his five matches and ousted the Top-3 seeds Arthur Rinderknech, Humbert, and Gijs Brouwer. The teen rises to a career-high No. 110 in the Pepperstone ATP Rankings.

<a href=''>Luca Van Assche</a> triumphs at the Challenger 125 in Pau.
Luca Van Assche triumphs at the Challenger 125 in Pau, France. Credit: Alexis Atteret

There was no stopping Max Purcell at the Pune Metropolitan Region Challenger. After dropping the opening set in his first-round match, the 24-year-old didn’t lose a set the rest of the week to claim a third consecutive Challenger title (Chennai, Bengaluru). In the championship match, the third seed defeated 19-year-old Italian Luca Nardi 6-2, 6-3.

“It’s great to win three in a row,” Purcell said. “In tough, hot conditions too, I recovered well since the first week and now I’m thrilled to move into the Top 100.”

Three weeks ago, Purcell was No. 203 in the Pepperstone ATP Rankings, but following his trio of titles in India, the Sydney native climbs to a career-high 95.

<a href=''>Max Purcell</a> in action at the 2023 Pune Challenger.
Max Purcell in action at the Challenger 100 event in Pune. Credit: Pune Metropolitan Region Challenger

The 2022 Wimbledon doubles champion (w/ Matthew Ebden) is the 14th player to claim three consecutive Challenger titles and the first since Ben Shelton did so this past season (Charlottesville, Knoxville, Champaign). Purcell is the first Australian to achieve the feat in Challenger history.

At the Texas Tennis Classic in Waco, third seed Kovacevic dropped just one set en route to his second Challenger title of the season. The 24-year-old defeated Alexandre Muller in the final 6-3, 4-6, 6-2.

In the semi-finals, the American avenged his loss from last week’s Monterrey Challenger to Borna Gojo, who defeated him in the quarter-finals in Mexico en route to the title.

The Official App Of Tennis | Download ATP WTA Live App

This past month, Kovacevic won his maiden Challenger title in Cleveland, where he defeated Wu Yibing in a thrilling championship match before the Chinese star won the ATP 250 event in Dallas the following week.

Now at a career-high 107, the former University of Illinois standout Kovacevic sets his sights on cracking the Top 100 at the ATP Masters 1000 event in Indian Wells, where he received a main-draw wild card.

Source link

De Minaur Returns To Top 20, Mover Of Week

  • Posted: Mar 06, 2023

De Minaur Returns To Top 20, Mover Of Week looks at the top Movers of the Week in the Pepperstone ATP Rankings, as of Monday, 6 March 2023

An action-packed week featuring events on three continents ended with Alex de Minaur, Daniil Medvedev and Nicolas Jarry lifting ATP Tour titles in Acapulco, Dubai and Santiago, respectively. looks at the movers of the week in the Pepperstone ATP Rankings as of 6 March 2023.

View Pepperstone ATP Rankings

The Official App Of Tennis | Download ATP WTA Live App

No. 18 Alex de Minaur, +4
A pair of stirring comebacks earned the Australian the biggest title of his career at the Abierto Mexicano Telcel presentado por HSBC. De Minaur dropped the first set in both the semi-finals against Holger Rune and the final against Tommy Paul, but stayed rock-solid to turn around both matches and claim his maiden ATP 500 crown. The 24-year-old has jumped four spots to No. 18 in the Pepperstone ATP Rankings as a result, his highest ranking since August 2021 and just three shy of his career high. Read Acapulco Final Report & Watch Highlights.

No. 6 Daniil Medvedev, +1
Daniil Medvedev’s completion of a hard-court hat-trick has lifted the 27-year-old one spot to No. 6 in the Pepperstone ATP Rankings. Medvedev backed up his Rotterdam and Doha victories with a perfect run at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships, where he did not drop a set all week. The third seed ended Novak Djokovic’s unbeaten start to 2023 in the semi-finals, before racing past 2022 winner Andrey Rublev with a clinical championship match display for his 14th consecutive tour-level victory. Read Dubai Final Report & Watch Highlights.

You May Also Like:

A Love Letter To Tennis: Daniil Medvedev

No. 8 Holger Rune, +2 (Career High)
A semi-final run on his Acapulco debut has lifted the 19-year-old Rune, who only broke the Top 100 of the Pepperstone ATP Rankings just over 13 months ago, to a career-high No. 8. The Dane moved past fellow #NextGenATP star Ben Shelton, Nuno Borges and Matteo Berrettini in Mexico before falling to eventual champion De Minaur.

No. 19 Tommy Paul, +4
Paul’s strong start to 2023 continued in Acapulco, where the 25-year-old reached the biggest final of his career with a series of victories against fellow Americans. The Australian Open semi-finalist saw off Michael Mmoh (his 100th tour-level win), Mackenzie McDonald and World No. 5 Taylor Fritz en route to the championship match in Mexico, a run that has returned him to the Top 20 of the Pepperstone ATP Rankings after just two weeks away.

No. 52 Nicolas Jarry, +35
Home favourite Jarry completed a memorable run at the Movistar Chile Open, where he lifted his second ATP Tour trophy with a hard-fought comeback win against Tomas Martin Etcheverry. It was a continuation of strong form from the 27-year-old — he arrived in Santiago off the back of a run to the Rio de Janeiro semi-finals, where he pushed Carlos Alcaraz to three sets.

Jarry, whose aunt Catalina Fillol is the tournament director of the clay-court ATP 250 in the Chilean capital, has surged 35 spots to No. 52 in the Pepperstone ATP Rankings as a result of his title run, 100 places higher than he started the season. Read Santiago Final Report & Watch Highlights.

Follow The Cast Of ATP Tour | Break Point

Other Notable Top 100 Movers
No. 14 Alexander Zverev, +2
No. 36 Tallon Griekspoor, +3 (Career High)
No. 53 Mackenzie McDonald, +9
No. 57 Mikael Ymer, +2 (Career High)
No. 58 Jaume Munar, +8
No. 60 Lorenzo Sonego, +7
No. 61 Tomas Martin Etcheverry, +15 (Career High)
No. 77 Ugo Humbert, +12
No. 95 Max Purcell, +21 (Career High)

Source link

Willis Faced Federer At Wimbledon: Inside The Briton's Journey Back

  • Posted: Mar 06, 2023

Willis Faced Federer At Wimbledon: Inside The Briton’s Journey Back

Lefty nearing the world’s Top 300 in doubles

One of the stories of the year in all of sports came in February when Matija Pecotic, the 33-year-old Director of Capital Markets for a real estate investment company, stunned former Top 10 star Jack Sock at the Delray Beach Open. The Croatian took the tennis world by storm after surging from qualifying, where he was an alternate, to the second round of the main draw.

Following from across the Atlantic Ocean was Marcus Willis, tennis’ original Hollywood script writer, who is making a comeback in doubles. In 2016, the lefty battled through Wimbledon pre-qualifying and then defeated Andrey Rublev and Daniil Medvedev in qualifying to reach the main draw. After the World No. 772 stunned Ricardas Berankis in the first round, Willis played Roger Federer on centre court, losing in straight sets.

“I was just happy. It’s a weird thing. I was just happy for the guy more than anything. It’s nice in sport, in tennis, when stuff like this happens. A lot of guys get to 200 and don’t have that break,” Willis told of Pecotic. “His life is really interesting right now.”

Pecotic climbed as high as No. 206 in the Pepperstone ATP Rankings in 2015. But after suffering from a staph infection, attending Harvard Business School and the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic, he traded hopes of a full-time career for a desk at the office. Willis is one of few people who can understand the whirlwind the Croatian went through in Delray Beach.

“He got significantly higher than I did in the singles rankings. So in a way, it’s not that I didn’t deserve it because I had the ability, but he really deserved that. He got lucky because he got in, but I saw that story and it took me back a little bit,” Willis said. “I think you can be misled sometimes. Certainly with my story… a lot of people sort of got the impression that I was just a random tennis coach who decided to sign up for Wimbledon one day.

“[Pecotic’s story] was kind of being spun like this guy goes to work in an office and he turned up and beat Jack Sock. Not only is that a discredit to Jack Sock, but it’s kind of a discredit to him for all the work he’s put in.”

<a href=''>Marcus Willis</a>
Federer and Willis depart Centre Court after their match in 2016. Photo Credit: AFP/Getty Images.
After competing in two tournaments in Greece in November 2020, Willis came to the realisation that continuing on was “financially impossible”. The Briton had “lost a bit of love for the sport” and in early 2021 he announced his retirement.

Willis thought: “I’ve got a family here, I can’t keep chasing this dream anymore.”

It had not been a perfect end to his dream journey.

“Post Wimbledon I remember I played a few more tournaments that year and I got injured. I think 2018 was my last singles match, but I sort of got myself into quite a negative mindset. I kind of told myself that nothing would ever be that good again, so what’s the point? I struggled,” Willis said. “I struggled with the comedown after Wimbledon. It was difficult. I put on a load of weight, I was struggling.

“I had to go and get some help. I had to go speak to a professional. It’s something I continue to do. It’s something I stay on top of because I don’t want to venture back to where I was.”

The Official App Of Tennis | Download ATP WTA Live App

The lefty, who is in a much better place now, turned to coaching at a local club five to six days per week. Every so often he would take a private hit in London or work a clinic and do a Q&A session to speak about his incredible run at Wimbledon and facing Federer.

That all changed at the end of 2021, when he played an exhibition a friend was holding locally.

“One of the guys watching, who is obviously now a friend, said ‘I can sponsor you to go back on Tour if you want to play,’” Willis recalled. “I didn’t need asking twice. So I had to get myself in shape, because I was a little out of shape. It’s luck again. Someone saw something in me, saw ability.”

Willis, who knew he would only play doubles, worked to return to fitness. Last July, he played his first tournament back in Roehampton as a third alternate. His first doubles title came in September in Madrid, the same week Federer announced his retirement. “The news came out and honestly I felt like crying,” Willis said.


View this post on Instagram

A post shared by Marcus Willis (@willbomb90)

Eight months later he is approaching the Top 300 in the Pepperstone ATP Doubles Rankings. Willis was aiming for the Top 500 by July, four months from now.

The Briton was hoping to be in range of a potential Wimbledon wild card next year. But at the rate he is going, that is not out of the question for 2023. Willis and partner Scott Duncan, who played on opposite teams in Willis’ first tournament back, have won five ITF Futures titles together.

“At the start it was really fun. It’s still fun now, but it’s serious as well. I’ve got my goals. I’ve been doing much better than I thought I would, so now I’m kind of hungrier for every match. I’m going after it,” Willis said. “I love being out there competing, it’s what I love doing.”

You May Also Like:

Matija Pecotic’s Incredible Story Is Straight From A Movie Script

Ironically, Pecotic and Willis had played each other twice, in 2014 and 2015, before either man enjoyed his breakthrough.

“When Willis made his run at Wimbledon, I thought the world was thinking the same thing that I was thinking when I saw him for the first time, which was, ‘Who the hell is this recreational player and what is he doing at a professional tennis tournament.’ And it was only when he beat me in straight sets and hit about 14 aces that I realised just how incredibly talented and what a high-IQ tennis player he was,” Pecotic told “Seeing him on that run didn’t surprise me at all. I know he plays well on fast surfaces and I remember he moves very well and has a world-class serve and has an incredible backhand slice and has amazing touch and just really good sort of court awareness. It just didn’t surprise me at all.”

His own journey in Delray Beach brought back memories of Willis’ run at SW19.

“I was actually disappointed that he didn’t continue to show the world on the Tour level just how good he could be, because I really thought he had a lot more to give,” Pecotic said. “Who knows, maybe my run in Delray will inspire him to give it one more go.”

Little did Pecotic know that Willis is well on his way.

“In one way I’m very happy how things have gone, but now I’m all about the next step,” Willis said. “I’m taking it in my stride, I’m really happy with where I’m at, but I want more. I have to stop myself and realise I’ve done really well, not expect so much and just take it a match at a time. The other side of me sort of [is wanting to] get where I want to get as soon as possible.”

Source link

Home Hope Comes Through! Jarry Is Santiago Champion

  • Posted: Mar 06, 2023

Home Hope Comes Through! Jarry Is Santiago Champion

Chilean claims second ATP Tour trophy

The cries reverberated through the Santiago night countless times over the course of nearly three hours on Sunday.

“Ole! Ole, Ole, Ole! Nico! Nico!”

Those chants were for Santiago-native Nicolas Jarry, who rewarded his many fans with a performance to remember. The Chilean won the Movistar Chile Open with a memorable 6-7(5), 7-6(5), 6-2 victory over Argentine Tomas Martin Etcheverry.

“It’s really unbelievable. I can’t believe that I’m champion in this historic tournament of my family,” Jarry said after the match with his infant son in his arms. “It means a lot to me, especially for the two weeks in a row. It’s been very tough and I managed to keep on going this week. It’s been amazing.”

Jarry won his last four matches of the tournament in three sets and rallied from a set down in his final three clashes to claim his second ATP Tour title (also 2019 Bastad). After reaching the semi-finals last week in Rio de Janeiro and lifting the trophy at home, he will climb to No. 52 in the Pepperstone ATP Rankings, 100 spots higher than he started the season.

<a href=''>Movistar Chile Open</a>
A scenic view during the Santiago final. Photo: Aljaro/Binder
The Chilean and the home crowd were on the verge of going home disappointed. Although Jarry led 4-1 in the second set, his relative inconsistency compared to Etcheverry, who was pursuing his first tour-level crown, nearly cost him a chance at home glory. He double faulted the break back to the Argentine and trailed by a mini break in the ensuing tie-break.

But Etcheverry, who was within two points of his first ATP Tour title at 5/5 in the tie-break, was unable to take the match from his opponent. Jarry let out a massive roar after forcing a deciding set.

“I think [Tomas] went down a little bit in the third set. I tried to push with all my heart here,” Jarry said. “He played unbelievable tournament, an unbelievable two sets. I managed to win the second tie-break, which I knew was very important emotionally.”

The former World No. 38 had more firepower than his opponent and that proved critical. Jarry crushed a backhand winner to earn two break points in the first game of the third set and then punished a forehand to seize the lead.

The Chilean never looked back, riding his momentum to the finish line, much to the joy of the Santiago faithful. After holding to love to close out the match, thousands simultaneously leapt to their feet as Jarry celebrated his two-hour, 47-minute victory.

Source link