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Berrettini Ready To Make A Splash At Phoenix Challenger

  • Posted: Mar 16, 2023

Berrettini Ready To Make A Splash At Phoenix Challenger

The Italian is the top seed in Arizona

In the first round of the all-new Challenger 175 category, fans can enjoy a rematch of two players who have previously met in the fourth round of a Grand Slam.

In 2021, Matteo Berrettini ousted Ilya Ivashka in the round of 16 at Wimbledon, where the Italian went on to reach the final (l. Djokovic). Two months later, the Italian and Ivashka met again in the US Open third round, with Berrettini prevailing in five sets.

This week, after suffering losses at the ATP Masters 1000 event in Indian Wells, Berrettini and Ivashka made their way to the Arizona Tennis Classic, where they will clash Thursday afternoon at the Phoenix Country Club.

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Top seed Berrettini earned a wild card into the Phoenix Challenger. Gael Monfils, Alexander Bublik, and Richard Gasquet are also among the strong field.

“That shows the level of this Challenger,” Berrettini said. “I think it’s one of the highest Challengers ever. I played [Ivashka] in the fourth round of a Slam so it means that the level is really high and I have to be focused from the first match. That’s what I need and what I want, to play the best guys on tour.”

Four years ago, the-then World No. 57 Berrettini earned his third Challenger title in Phoenix. The 26-year-old is hoping for the same result this week after a disappointing second-round exit (l. Taro Daniel) at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden.

“It’s great to be here,” Berrettini said. “Obviously it wasn’t planned, it was unscheduled. Such a beautiful place, a beautiful tennis club with so many good memories. Excited to be here and hopefully going to have a long run. I cannot wait to start.”

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A new innovation for 2023, the Challenger 175 tournaments are held during the second week of the ATP Masters 1000 events in Indian Wells, Madrid, and Rome. Highly-ranked players who lose early at the Masters 1000s can decide to compete at the following week’s Challenger tournament, which provides strong competition for players hungry for more matches.

“You want to play against the best guys on tour, you want to get the level high in order to be ready for Miami,” Berrettini said. “It’s good to have this kind of field. Gael Monfils was practising next to me and we’ve had some great battles in Grand Slams so that means the field is really strong.”

Berrettini and Monfils could clash in the quarter-finals of the Phoenix Challenger. Berrettini leads their Head2Head 3-0, including two matches that went five sets at Grand Slams (‘19 US Open, ‘22 Australian Open).

Where can I watch the Phoenix Challenger?

All matches will be broadcasted live and on demand for free on Challenger TV.

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Defending Champs Isner/Sock Ride Stadium Support To Indian Wells SFs

  • Posted: Mar 16, 2023

Defending Champs Isner/Sock Ride Stadium Support To Indian Wells SFs

Bopanna/Ebden beat Felix/Shapovalov

After a comeback win kickstarted their title defence, Americans John Isner and Jack Sock have improved with each passing round at the BNP Paribas Open. The home favourites scored their most decisive win of the tournament on Wednesday night, beating Italians Simone Bolelli and Fabio Fognini 6-2, 6-4 under the lights on the Indian Wells stadium court.

The two-time desert champions saved all three break points against them in the victory and converted on three of their five chances, much to the delight of the Southern California crowd. Isner/Sock stamped their authority on the match early on, when Sock whipped a backhand return winner on a deciding point to secure their first break of the match.

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They will next meet Rohan Bopanna and Matthew Ebden, who earned a 6-4, 7-5 victory against Canadian singles stars Felix Auger-Aliassime and Denis Shapovalov earlier in the night. The Indian-Australian duo won both sets behind a single break and saved all four break points against them.

The remaining two quarter-finals, in the top half of the draw, will be played on Thursday. Top seeds Wesley Koolhof and Neal Skupski will meet Jamie Murray and Michael Venus, while fifth seeds Lloyd Glasspool and Harri Heliovaara meet Santiago Gonzalez and Edouard Roger-Vasselin.

The doubles semi-finals are scheduled for Friday, with the champions to be crowned on Saturday.

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Zhang Survives Rain, Hijikata To Advance At Phoenix Challenger

  • Posted: Mar 16, 2023

Zhang Survives Rain, Hijikata To Advance At Phoenix Challenger

Gasquet makes winning start

Despite rain cancelling much of Wednesday’s action, Chinese star Zhang Zhizhen rallied from a set down to advance to the second round of the Arizona Tennis Classic, where he will next clash against fourth seed Alexander Bublik.

The star-studded action got underway four hours after initially scheduled, but the World No. 93 Zhang prevailed against lucky loser Rinky Hijikata 6-7(4), 6-3, 6-4 before heavy rain again halted play at the Phoenix Challenger.

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Only two other matches were completed in Wednesday’s opening-round action. Third seed Richard Gasquet downed American qualifier Emilio Nava 7-6(5), 6-3 and Mikael Ymer defeated Radu Albot 6-1, 7-5.

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When rain cancelled play at around 7:30 p.m., Gael Monfils and Alexander Shevchenko were locked in a three-set battle. Shevchenko, 22, advanced through qualifying and was leading the French wild card 6-4, 6-7(2), 2-0 when the match was suspended.

Boasting a strong field at the all-new Challenger 175 category, the Arizona Tennis Classic will feature top seed Matteo Berrettini against Ilya Ivashka on Thursday.

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Bruised, Battered & Cut, Medvedev Stands Defiant In The Desert

  • Posted: Mar 16, 2023

Bruised, Battered & Cut, Medvedev Stands Defiant In The Desert

Fifth seed overcomes ankle and thumb issues to reach semis

Daniil Medvedev entered his first BNP Paribas Open quarter-final with one health concern and exited Wednesday’s match with another, to go along with his 18th straight victory.

After rolling his right ankle in a match-of-the-season contender against Alexander Zverev on Tuesday, Medvedev was not able to walk that evening. But he surprised himself by moving well a day later in a 6-3, 7-5 win against Alejandro Davidovich Fokina. Then late in the second set, on a break point at 3-3, the fifth seed added to his worry list when another fall caused him to slice open his right thumb.

“I absolutely cut it open. It was like fully open,” said Medvedev, who twice required treatment to stop the bleeding. “I never cut myself with a knife even like this because I don’t cook much. Now it’s getting black. I don’t know if it’s a good sign.”

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In his post-match press conference, he later added: “The moment I cut it, I saw, I don’t know if I should say it, kind of the meat. That was not nice to see. They cleaned it now. I have a small tape. Should be fine.”

The untimely tumble could have been a turning point in the match, as Medvedev lost six straight points beginning with his missed break chance. He tried to play on without taping his thumb, but quickly realised that was not an option.

“I never play with the tape. It’s tough to feel the racquet,” he explained. “So I was like, ‘I’m going to try to play without the tape.’ Next game, I start, I feel like on the forehand I couldn’t hold the racquet, so I said let’s tape it. That’s not easy and I don’t like it to take medical [timeouts] like this, but I had to [do it] and hopefully I can recover.”

While he played down any concerns in his presser, he acknowledged that he may have to deal with the taping again when he takes on Frances Tiafoe in Saturday’s semi-finals.

“The question is going to be whether I tape it in two days for the match or not,” he said. “But that’s not a big problem, because I managed to play well with the tape today. A lot of players tape their fingers and manage to play well, so I’m going to be able to do it also.”

With two rest days before he must take the court again, Medvedev projects the confidence of a man on an 18-match and three-trophy winning streak, despite his eventful path to the last four. But he was considerably less optimistic on Tuesday evening, when he could not even walk following his win against Zverev.

“I’m actually happy the ankle didn’t hurt much [in the quarters] because when I warmed up, it was hurting pretty bad,” he said. “I knew I was going to play, I knew I was going to try. But I couldn’t move well on the warm-up. I tried to warm it up as long as possible, took one painkiller so that probably helped. I was actually feeling better and better during the match.

“The thing is that yesterday evening, I was not able to walk. When the body cools down, the adrenaline comes out, it’s tough. I was walking in the pool just to try to walk anywhere because I couldn’t walk on the ground any more.”

With two feet firmly in the semi-finals, Medvedev will hope to stay upright through the weekend as he bids for his first Indian Wells title and fifth ATP Masters 100 crown.

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Preview: Alcaraz Faces Felix, Whom He's Never Beaten; Fritz v. Sinner

  • Posted: Mar 16, 2023

Preview: Alcaraz Faces Felix, Whom He’s Never Beaten; Fritz v. Sinner

Semi-final lineup will be completed on Thursday at ATP Masters 1000 event

The two remaining semi-final spots at the BNP Paribas Open are up for grabs on Thursday in Indian Wells, where top seed Carlos Alcaraz continues his bid for the title and the No. 1 spot in the Pepperstone ATP Rankings.

The Spaniard must defeat Felix Auger-Aliassime for the first time in four attempts if he is to keep alive his chances of that double prize, while defending champion Taylor Fritz and Jannik Sinner go head-to-head in a clash between two of the hardest hitters on Tour. previews the quarter-final matchups from the bottom half of the BNP Paribas Open draw.

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[1] Carlos Alcaraz (ESP) Vs. [8] Felix Auger-Aliassime (CAN)

Alcaraz is just three wins away from leapfrogging Novak Djokovic back to No. 1 in the Pepperstone ATP Rankings, but to get there the 2022 semi-finalist must do something he has not yet managed in three previous attempts: defeat Auger-Aliassime.

The Canadian most recently downed Alcaraz in straight sets en route to the title in Basel last October, part of a late-season 16-match winning streak that earned him three consecutive ATP Tour titles. While Auger-Aliassime has not hit those heights in 2023 (he holds an 11-5 record for the season), his fourth-round victory against Tommy Paul could be the perfect catalyst for further success.

The eighth seed saved six match points before edging the American in one of the comeback victories of the year so far. Auger-Aliassime, who has also reached the semi-finals of the doubles alongside countryman Denis Shapovalov PLEASE CHECK THIS, will hope his huge serve and forehand can respond similarly under pressure against Alcaraz’s all-around quality on his maiden Indian Wells quarter-final appearance.

After injury delayed the start of his 2023 season to February, Alcaraz has wasted little time in re-establishing himself as one of the most accomplished all-court players on Tour. The 19-year-old has raced to an 11-1 record in the past month, lifting his seventh tour-level title in Buenos Aires and reaching the final in Rio de Janeiro, and clinched his 100th tour-level win with his third-round victory against Tallon Griekspoor in Indian Wells.

“As soon as I was playing matches, tournaments, I was recovering my confidence,” said Alcaraz on Tuesday after Jack Draper retired from the pair’s fourth-round match when trailing by a set and a break. “I was recovering my style, my level… Right now, I feel that I’m able to win tournaments, I’m there, [I’m] one of the favourites.”

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Alcaraz has not dropped a set in moving past Thanasi Kokkinakis, Tallon Griekspoor and Draper so far this fortnight and is chasing back-to-back semi-finals in California, but Auger-Aliassime will be the first Top 10 rival that the Spaniard has faced this year. The Canadian’s first-serve percentage will be key to the match. Auger-Aliassime will want to limit the number of opportunities the Spanaird gets to take big cuts at second serves to take early control of points.

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[4] Taylor Fritz (USA) Vs. [11] Jannik Sinner (ITA)

Fritz and Sinner meet at the same venue as their only previous tour-level meeting. In 2021, the American prevailed in straight sets in the BNP Paribas Open fourth round en route to the semi-finals in California.

The home favourite backed up that run by defeating Rafael Nadal to lift his maiden Masters 1000 crown in Indian Wells a year ago. In contrast, Sinner again came unstuck in the fourth round in 2022, and the Italian will hope that downing Stan Wawrinka on Tuesday for his first taste of success at that stage can lay the foundations for an even deeper run this year.

Stopping an opponent who has now won nine matches in a row at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden will be no easy feat, however. Fritz, who regularly visited the tournament in southern California as a child, relishes the atmosphere at his home event and he will look to put Sinner’s world-class movement to the ultimate test by continuing to hit through his groundstrokes in Thursday’s clash.

“I feel like it’s just that energy around this week, playing my home tournament. It is slower conditions, but it gives me a lot of time to be able to set up and usually just play attacking tennis,” Fritz said. “I really couldn’t tell you a specific reason why I do so well here, probably just the whole feeling around it.”

Either way, the duo’s respective gamestyles should make for a fascinating contest on Stadium 1. Whether Sinner can make a dent in Fritz’s powerful delivery with his sharp returning could be key, although the 21-year-old knows he needs to deliver a complete performance if he is to halt the home favourite’s charge.

“Every match is different,” said Sinner after he defeated Wawrinka to improve to 15-3 for the year. “The match before I struggled a little bit with the backhand. Today was completely different. I had a little bit of a higher ball so I could go really through the ball, so I’m very happy about that.

“I feel I can improve a couple of things. Today I was not serving so well… Tomorrow I have a day off so I have a couple of practice sessions and hopefully I’m going to be ready for after tomorrow.”

In Doubles Action…

Wesley Koolhof and Neal Skupski lifted three ATP Masters 1000 titles in their first year together on Tour in 2022, and the top seeds will hope to keep their bid for a fourth on track when they take on Jamie Murray and Michael Venus on Thursday in the Indian Wells.

In the other quarter-final in the top half of the draw, fifth seeds Lloyd Glasspool and Harri Heliovaara face Santiago Gonzalez and Edouard Roger-Vasselin. Both teams are chasing their second trophy of 2023 this fortnight in California — Glasspool and Heliovaara won an ATP 250 in Adelaide in January, while Gonzalez and Roger-Vasselin clinched their first tour-level crown as a duo in Marseille last month.

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Medvedev Steps Into First Indian Wells SF, Easing Ankle Concerns

  • Posted: Mar 16, 2023

Medvedev Steps Into First Indian Wells SF, Easing Ankle Concerns

Fifth seed beats Davidovich Fokina, faces Tiafoe next

There has been nothing to question about Daniil Medvedev’s game in recent weeks, but uncertainty around the health of his right ankle surrounded his BNP Paribas Open quarter-final clash with Alejandro Davidovich Fokina on Wednesday. After rolling his ankle in a thrilling fourth-round victory against Alexander Zverev on Tuesday, Medvedev said he was having trouble walking but that he hoped to play in the quarters.

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In a 6-3, 7-5 victory against the 23rd seed — his 18th straight match win — Medvedev moved well in a fast start to alleviate any concerns. He added a new worry late in the second set when another fall required treatment on a bloody right thumb, but after escaping 0/40 at 3-4, the four-time ATP Masters 1000 champion did just enough in windy conditions to finish the job in straight sets.

“I’m actually happy the ankle didn’t hurt much because when I warmed up, it was hurting pretty bad,” Medvedev said post-match. “I knew I was going to play, I knew I was going to try. But I couldn’t move well on the warm-up. I tried to warm it up as long as possible, took one painkiller so that probably helped. I was actually feeling better and better during the match.

“The match was absolutely crazy. I could talk about this for 15 minutes, but just really happy to go through such a tough match with such tough conditions with the wind.”

It was business as usual in the first set once he opened up a 3-0 lead and nearly broke again for 4-0, with his patient and prodding baseline game frustrating Davidovich Fokina on the Indian Wells stadium court.

Set two was a much tighter affair as the Spaniard upped his aggression and earned his first break points, one in each of his first three return games. Medvedev found big serves each time to escape and threatened in a five-deuce game at 3-3, only for his fall to stop his momentum.

“I absolutely cut it open,” he said of his bloody thumb. “It was like fully open. I never cut myself with a knife even like this because I don’t cook much.”

That moment had the making of a turning point, as Davidovich Fokina rattled off six straight points and played some of his best first-strike tennis to bring up 0/40 on return. But after a second visit from the physio to have his thumb taped, Medvedev regrouped in the nick of time to see out the win with more baseline brilliance.

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Medvedev is now 36-5 in sets during his winning run, which began with a comeback win against Davidovich Fokina in Rotterdam last month. He is seeking his fourth straight tour-level title after triumphs in Rotterdam, Doha and Dubai.

The 27-year-old’s extended run has lifted him from outside the Top 10 last month up to No. 5 this week in the Pepperstone ATP Live Rankings, though he cannot move any higher even with a title in Indian Wells. Medvedev, who was playing in his first Indian Wells quarter-final, has reached at least that stage at all six hard-court ATP Masters 1000s.

He can now enjoy two days off before he faces Frances Tiafoe in Saturday’s semi-finals. Medvedev owns a 4-0 ATP Head2Head record against the American, who has not lost a set in reaching the last four, including a 6-4, 6-4 quarter-final win against Cameron Norrie earlier on Wednesday.

“He’s playing great,” Medvedev said of the home favourite. “Frances is a very pumped-up, fiery player, so he can beat anyone on a good day. I’m sure he can beat Novak, Rafa. He actually did beat Rafa in the US Open, which is huge. For sure I need to try my best to keep this head-to-head at zero. That’s never easy and I just have to show my best tennis and try to beat such a great opponent.”

Davidovich Fokina was playing in his third Masters 1000 quarter-final and his first outside of Monte-Carlo, where he reached the 2021 quarters and the 2022 final. His run has lifted him three places to No. 25 this week in the Pepperstone ATP Live Rankings, setting him up for a new career high on Monday.

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Fresh As New Overgrip: Gasquet 'Fortunate' To Still Be On Tour

  • Posted: Mar 16, 2023

Fresh As New Overgrip: Gasquet ‘Fortunate’ To Still Be On Tour

The former World No. 7 is competing at this week’s Phoenix Challenger

Richard Gasquet views the ATP Tour just like a tennis ball with which he has won a point: He goes back to it for more.

The 36-year-old Frenchman has spent more than 20 years on tour and is showing no signs of slowing down. After reaching a career-high ranking No. 7 almost 16 years ago, Gasquet is still performing at a high level and residing in the Top 50 of Pepperstone ATP Rankings.

Boasting a famed one-handed backhand that he can easily change direction with in the blink of an eye, the World No. 43 is also a little superstitious on court.

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“I have a superstition with the ball, I use the same ball when I’m winning points,” Gasquet told “With [changing my] grip [every changeover], it’s because I’m sweating so much, not superstition. It feels more fresh.”

Gasquet’s longevity hasn’t gone unnoticed by players. This past week, former World No. 1 Andy Murray had kind words for tour-veterans Gasquet and Swiss Stan Wawrinka, who are still giving their best despite no longer being a staple in the Top 10.

“I was really happy for [Gasquet] when he won the tournament in Auckland earlier this year,” Murray said in Indian Wells of the Frenchman’s first title in more than four years. “I think he maybe sometimes doesn’t get the respect he deserves. He’s been an incredible player for such a long time and I just love seeing guys that maybe are not at their peak, but they’re still out there giving everything, competing because they love the sport.”

A 16-time tour titlist, Gasquet is in action at this week’s Phoenix Challenger and is soaking in every chance he gets to be competing.

“Of course I was happy when Andy said that. I’ve known him for a long time, mutual respect,” Gasquet said. “I didn’t win three Grand Slams like [him and Wawrinka], so it’s not quite the same. But I’m very happy and very fortunate to still be on tour.”

The World No. 43 is among a star-studded field at this week’s Arizona Tennis Classic, where he opens against American qualifier Emilio Nava. Matteo Berrettini, Gael Monfils, and Alexander Bublik are also in action at the Phoenix Country Club.

ATP Challenger Tour 

It would be understandable if the day-to-day grind had grown tedious for Gasquet, but that is not the case for the oldest Frenchman in the Top 150.

“I’m enjoying it a lot,” Gasquet said. “I really like to play and be on the tennis court. I like to travel and play tournaments. Of course it’s not always easy, sometimes you’re a bit tired. It’s not easy to play matches after matches. I really like what I do, just to practise and play, win matches, being on the big stages.

“I didn’t think I could play such a long time, it’s a big surprise to me but I took it year-by-year and I’m still here. I’m practising a lot and thinking about tennis every day. I’m trying to be focussed every day to practise, to play matches, to fight. I really love what I’m doing.

“My best days are behind me, but I’m still enjoying it. I’m improving since last year, I’m playing better and feeling great physically. I hope it will be the same for the rest of the season and be lucky with no injuries. I had a great start to the year. We’ll see what happens.”

Gasquet started this year on the right foot. The Beziers native was crowned champion at the ATP 250 event in Auckland, where he defeated World No. 12 Cameron Norrie in the final to claim his first title since June 2018 (‘S-Hertogenbosch).

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“I didn’t expect to win another tournament at 36, it was quite a surprise to me,” Gasquet said. “But I know I’m still able to beat guys in the Top 10. I did it last year and won this year against Top-20 players. Of course it’s not easy but I’m still fortunate to play tennis.”

A three-time Grand Slam semi-finalist, Gasquet never forgets that he’s living his childhood dream.

“I wanted to be a professional tennis player when I was a child,” Gasquet said. “When I was 13 or 14, I realised I could do it and I’m very fortunate for it. My dream came true. I’ve played Roland Garros, travelling my whole life to tournaments, meeting great people.”

Although some of Gasquet’s peers such as Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Gilles Simon retired last season, the 36-year-old is unsure when he will hang up his racquets. For now, Gasquet’s focus is on staying healthy and enjoying every second he gets on tour.

“I’m still in a great shape. I don’t know exactly when I will stop but I will try my best to go as far as I can,” Gasquet said. “For the moment, I’m feeling great. I’m lucky that at 36 I can play. Some players stop before. Everybody wants to play for long. I remember that Jo [Wilfried Tsonga] wanted to play and had to stop because of injuries. Many players have that problem, not stopping because they want to but because of injuries.”

After spending more than two decades on tour, the question is, what will Gasquet do when he isn’t traveling weekly as a professional tennis player? “I don’t know for the moment,” Gasquet said. “For the first month, I think I will play golf and football.”

But retirement can wait for now. Gasquet is still winning titles on the ATP Tour and beating some of the game’s top players.

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