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Isner/Sock Make Winning Start In Indian Wells

  • Posted: Mar 11, 2023

Isner/Sock Make Winning Start In Indian Wells

Bolelli/Fognini advance

John Isner and Jack Sock’s BNP Paribas Open title defence got off to the perfect start Friday when they clawed past third seeds Marcelo Arevalo and Jean-Julien Rojer 6-7(6), 7-5, 10-7.

The Americans have fond memories in Indian Wells as a team, triumphing in 2018 and again last season when they dropped just one set en route to the title. Back in California this week, they saved all three break points they faced to defeat the 2022 Roland Garros champions after two hours and two minutes.

“If I failed to serve it out at 9/6 and 9/7 and we went on to lose the match, that would be tough,” said Isner, who hit a scorching forehand winner on match point. “You want to win for the crowd, so there was a lot of pressure. That was one of the better forehands I have hit.”

Isner and Sock will next meet Kevin Krawietz and Fabrice Martin.

Simone Bolelli and Fabio Fognini defeated eighth seeds Juan Sebastian Cabal and Robert Farah 6-7(1), 6-4, 10-3. The Italians will next face Austin Krajicek and Mackenzie McDonald after the Americans defeated Australian Open champions Rinky Hijikata and Jason Kubler 6-3, 6-1.

Jamie Murray and Michael Venus upset sixth seeds Marcel Granollers and Horacio Zeballos 6-3, 6-4. They will next play Daniel Evans and John Peers.

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'Grateful' Rublev Rides Crowd Support To Lehecka Revenge In Indian Wells

  • Posted: Mar 11, 2023

‘Grateful’ Rublev Rides Crowd Support To Lehecka Revenge In Indian Wells

Tiafoe eases past fellow American Giron

Andrey Rublev has amassed quite a following in the desert since he first competed in qualifying at the 2016 BNP Paribas Open. On Friday night, the sixth seed used the support of a packed Stadium 3 crowd to defeat Jiri Lehecka 6-4, 6-2, storming back from a break down in the second set.

The opponents previously split a pair of three-setters over the past 12 months, with Lehecka winning last month in Doha.

“We had a tough match in Doha,” Rublev said after advancing to the Indian Wells third round. “He beat me and I wanted to see if I could take revenge. In the end I was able to win today, so I’m really happy.”

At the year’s first ATP Masters 1000, Rublev won the opening set without facing a break point but fell behind 0-2 in the second. He powered through the finish line from there, winning six straight games — including a 0/40 escape at 2-2 — with the crowd growing in volume with each point.

“The crowd, there are no words to describe how grateful I am,” Rublev reflected. “I’ve been coming here every year since 2016. I can feel [the support]. This is my first match. Compared to last year… I was playing during the day last year. I think it was a full stadium but it was 50/50 support. Today I played a 10 p.m. match after a rain delay and had huge support, so it’s unreal.”

Rublev will meet Ugo Humbert in the third round after the Frenchman’s 7-5, 6-4 win against 25th seed Denis Shapovalov.

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Frances Tiafoe also opened his Indian Wells campaign with a straight-sets win on Friday night, moving past fellow American Marcos Giron 6-2, 6-2. Tiafoe won the first four and the final four games of the match and did not face a break point in the 65-minute win.

Seeded 14th, the US Open semi-finalist will meet Jason Kubler in the third round. Kubler led Grigor Dimitrov 2-6, 7-6(5), 3-0 when the Bulgarian retired with a right-knee injury.

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Medvedev Beats SoCal Native Nakashima To Extend Winning Streak

  • Posted: Mar 11, 2023

Medvedev Beats SoCal Native Nakashima To Extend Winning Streak

Zverev cruises past Cachin

Daniil Medvedev underlined his status as a hot favourite this week in the desert with a 6-4, 6-3 opening win against Brandon Nakashima on Friday night. The fifth seed entered the BNP Paribas Open as the ATP Tour’s most in-form player, winning three consecutive titles and 14 straight matches, and his winning streak — now at 15 — was never in jeopardy thanks to an assured performance against the San Diego native.

Nakashima gave his home crowd plenty to cheer about, firing big forehands and defending brilliantly at times, and even hitting a tweener that his opponent volleyed into the net in set two. But Medvedev had all the answers when he needed them, saving all six break points against him to secure the win in one hour, 26 minutes at the year’s first ATP Masters 1000.

“We had some good points,” Medvedev said in his on-court interview. “That’s probably the slowest hard court on the Tour. So many matches I see it’s like rallies, rallies, rallies, so we’re going to have some good points. There were some tough ones in the match, tough break-point saves. I’m happy that I managed to battle through.”

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Medvedev won the opening set by breaking at love for 3-2, claiming the lone break point of the set, and he drove his advantage home with an instant break in set two. He then escaped 0/40 at 2-1 and 15/40 at 4-3 before wrapping up the win with his third break in seven chances.

“I feel like on such a court you cannot play your best tennis every point,” Medvedev added. “That’s why [there are] so many break points for everybody and so many opportunities. At the end of the day, you have to play your best… He also played great points so it was a good battle, especially more in the second set I would say.”

Medvedev will next face Ilya Ivashka, who moved past 28th seed Botic van de Zandschulp when the Dutchman retired while trailing 5-7, 2-3.

Earlier on Thursday in Indian Wells, Alexander Zverev made an equally smooth start to his Indian Wells campaign with a 6-3, 6-1 win against Pedro Cachin. From 4-3 in the opening set, the German won seven straight games to move to the brink of victory.

Zverev fired seven aces in the win and saved both break points he faced — one in each set. He converted on four of six break points to secure the victory in a tidy one hour, 17 minutes.

The German meets Emil Ruusuvuori next after the Finn’s 7-6(5), 6-2 win against 22nd seed Roberto Bautista Agut. Beyond that, he could face a fourth-round meeting with Medvedev if both men advance.

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Federer: 'My Foundation Will Be At The Forefront Of My Priorities'

  • Posted: Mar 11, 2023

Federer: ‘My Foundation Will Be At The Forefront Of My Priorities’

Roger Federer Foundation releases its annual report

Roger Federer retired from professional tennis in 2022, but he continues to make an impact on the world. The Swiss legend’s eponymous foundation recently released its annual report to summarise its work through 2022 to help improve quality early education.

Although fans will not see him on court competitively anymore, Federer is focused on continuing his critical off-court work.

“While I understand the concerns about adjusting to this new pace, I can assure you that I am doing well and relishing this new chapter in my life, I have been keeping very busy with getting my body healed and working on existing and new projects,” Federer wrote in a letter. “It goes without saying that my foundation will be at the forefront of my priorities. The Roger Federer Foundation, which I established with my parents in 2003, has grown to be much larger than we initially envisioned during my playing days. This year, the foundation will celebrate its 20th anniversary, and I still recall signing the founding document.”

The Roger Federer Foundation through 2022 helped 2.4 million children benefit from higher quality early education, operating in seven countries with 29 partner organisations. There were 77.5 million Swiss francs invested to help improve education in Switzerland and Southern Africa.

More than 44,000 teachers improved their abilities thanks to training provided by the foundation and more than 12,000 educational institutions improved the quality of their curriculum.

“I never could have imagined how incredibly enlightening, exciting and fulfilling this journey would be, and all the great things we would accomplish together. By the end of the year, we have been able to provide over 2.4 million children with better access to early education, which I consider a tremendous anniversary gift,” Federer wrote. “I am eager to dedicate even more time to the foundation in the coming years, visiting more of the projects on-site, and delving deeper into effective philanthropy.

“I would be honoured if you would continue to join me on this journey as a philanthropist. Your support is invaluable and motivating, and together we can accomplish even greater things. I look forward to working with you and will always be grateful.”

The Roger Federer Foundation’s values include being impact oriented, empowerment, respect, entrepreneurship and partnership.

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Kokkinakis On Alcaraz: 'His Energy Is Almost Contagious'

  • Posted: Mar 11, 2023

Kokkinakis On Alcaraz: ‘His Energy Is Almost Contagious’

After haircut mishap, Aussie ready for Alcaraz challenge

Arguably the most memorable match of the season came in the second round of the Australian Open, where after five hours and 45 minutes, Andy Murray rallied past home favourite Thanasi Kokkinakis. The gruelling five-set encounter drew to a close at 4:05 a.m. in Melbourne, two hours from daybreak.

It would have been easy for Kokkinakis to fall into a slump after his defeat. The Australian let slip several leads against the former World No. 1 at his home Grand Slam, where he was pushing for a big run.

“Although it was a heartbreaking match to be honest and I had it in the bag a few times, as distraught as I was after the match, I actually really enjoyed it. I had a lot of fun out there,” Kokkinakis told “One of the only times I can say after a big loss, especially one where I was on the front foot the whole time, that I enjoyed it. Tennis is so results based that if you don’t win you’re just pissed and obviously I was pissed off, but I can look back at the summer I had and the level of tennis when I was playing at my best and try to take the positives away from that.”

Kokkinakis admitted he did not want to see a tennis racquet for a bit. But after a week, he was ready to put the Murray defeat behind him.

“I’ve gone through worse stuff than losing a tennis match from being in a winning position. In the scheme of things it hurts for a little bit, but I had a lot of good feedback, a lot of people came up to me,” Kokkinakis said. “Some idiots came up to me saying, ‘What happened?’ Not what I really wanted to talk about after, but for the most time it was encouraging signs.”

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In the big picture, it has been a good start to the season for Kokkinakis. The week he was defending 250 Pepperstone ATP Rankings points at Adelaide-2, the Australian was down a break in the third set of his first-round match against Alexei Popyrin. Kokkinakis won the match and reached the final, recouping 150 of those points and later lifting an ATP Challenger Tour title in Manama, Bahrain.

“So far this year it’s taken a bloody good player to beat me, so I like to think my tennis is at a good spot,” Kokkinakis said. “I’ve just got to try and keep pushing. You’ve got to have short-term memory in tennis. There’s another chance every week almost, so you can’t dwell on things too much.”

Kokkinakis will not have to for his next match at the BNP Paribas Open, where he will face top seed Carlos Alcaraz in the second round. The Australian gushed about the 19-year-old Spaniard.

“It’s not just that he’s got no weaknesses, but he just plays with great energy. He plays tennis the right way. He’s always up and about, he’s always smiling,” Kokkinakis said. “I think the crowd loves watching him because his energy is almost contagious. He’s one of my favourite players to watch. Whenever he’s playing, I try to tune in if I’ve got time.”

The youngest World No. 1 in Pepperstone ATP Rankings history has plenty of tools Kokkinakis will need to deal with on court.

“I just like the way he plays. He’s got good firepower, he’s lightning quick, he’s got good hands,” Kokkinakis said. “I saw it a few years ago just watching some highlights of him. It’s so hard to eclipse what those legends have done in our sports with how many Slams they’ve won, but he’s definitely capable and I think he’s got a shot if he stays healthy for sure.”

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Fans who have followed Kokkinakis’ road through this BNP Paribas Open might have noticed a mid-tournament change for the Australian. He got a haircut. Actually, he got two.

“I butchered it this time around. I don’t know. I asked a few people, I’m looking at reviews,” Kokkinakis said. “The first place I went to had decent reviews, then I walked in there and I didn’t see anyone under around 65 years old. I thought it was too late to pull out so I just kind of copped it in the end.”

The product was not what the World No. 94 was looking for to repair what he said looked like a “tennis ball” head. One hour later, he found another barber.

“I went to a guy who apparently had a court date later that day, so that filled me with a lot of confidence to be honest because I knew he had probably cut hair somewhere along the line,” Kokkinakis said. “I didn’t judge and he did a good cut, so I’m happy with the result.”

Now Kokkinakis can fully focus on his next opponent. Although he is full of praise for Alcaraz, the Aussie’s game packs a punch, too.

“I know my game, when it’s at my best, is capable of beating a lot of guys,” Kokkinakis said. “But I also know that consistency is the thing I struggle with, so I’m hoping to match up with the best players this year and hopefully knock a few off and see how well I can do and push far this year.”

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Thompson Ends Tsitsipas’ No. 1 Hopes With Indian Wells Upset

  • Posted: Mar 11, 2023

Thompson Ends Tsitsipas’ No. 1 Hopes With Indian Wells Upset

Australian downs second seed, will face Cressy or Tabilo next

Australian Jordan Thompson held his nerve Friday afternoon to score a major upset at the 2023 BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells.

The 28-year-old defeated second seed Stefanos Tsitsipas 7-6(0), 4-6, 7-6(5) in the second round of the season’s first ATP Masters 1000 event. The early exit for Tsitsipas ended the Greek’s chances of rising to World No. 1 across the ‘Sunshine Double’ events in Indian Wells and Miami.

“It’s unreal. At a Masters 1000, in the [Indian Wells] Tennis Garden here,” Thompson said. “It’s one of my favourite tournaments, I think a lot of players’ favourite tournaments to play. To have a win like that is incredible. [I’m] really happy.”

It was a second Top 10 win for the World No. 87 Thompson, who had lost both of his previous meetings against Tsitsipas (‘19 Washington, D.C., ‘22 Wimbledon).

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The Australian dropped just two points on serve en route to the opening set in California, where Tsitsipas struggled to find his best level in the early stages. Although the Greek rallied to level the match and earned a mini-break on the first point of the deciding-set tie-break, it was Thompson who held his nerve for a stunning two-hour, 37-minute victory.

“I wanted to take control of my service points,” said the 28-year-old. “Obviously, I can’t do much about his, he’s a big guy and he’s got a great serve. I wasn’t finding too much rhythm there on return towards the end but snuck one out. I stayed aggressive on serve and very thankful that last ball went wide.”

Thompson, who defeated Gael Monfils in straight sets in his opening match, is now into the third round in Indian Wells for the first time. His opponent there will be 32nd seed Maxime Cressy or qualifier Alejandro Tabilo.

“I haven’t even actually looked forward [in the draw],” Thompson said. “I just saw my match today. I had a tough one in the first round as well, strange match with Monfils coming back [from injury]. It’s been a tricky draw but I haven’t actually looked forward.”

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