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Felix Fends Off Monteiro In Miami Battle

  • Posted: Mar 25, 2023

Felix Fends Off Monteiro In Miami Battle

Canadian advances to face 2022 semi-finalist Cerundolo

Back at his career-high No. 6 in the Pepperstone ATP Rankings, Felix Auger-Aliassime needed every ounce of his Top 10 experience to overcome the spirited Thiago Monteiro on Saturday at the Miami Open presented by Itau.

The Canadian prevailed 7-6(5), 7-6(8) to down the Brazilian World No. 81 in a match that featured no breaks of serve. Auger-Aliassime let slip four match points in a dramatic second-set tie-break, but Monteiro pushed a volley wide on his fifth as the 22-year-old wrapped a hard-earned two-hour, 41-minute triumph in front of a raucous Grandstand crowd.

“After the first set, I felt a little bit better,” said Auger-Aliassime after his win. “I was giving myself chances… He came up with some good serves and great shots every time, so [I just had to] keep driving, keep trying, keep moving forward and keep staying positive. I think that was the key today, to just stay strong mentally.”

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Auger-Aliassime has reached at least the quarter-finals in the past six ATP Masters 1000 events. Whether he can turn that consistency into a first title win at that level will likely depend on his ability to raise his game at key moments, and he was certainly forced to show plenty of mettle to pull through against a fired-up Monteiro.

The Brazilian saved two set points at 4-5 in the opening set, but he could do nothing to stop Auger-Aliassime in the tie-break. The Canadian earned a crucial mini-break for 4/3 with a fizzing backhand winner to move ahead.

Despite that setback, Monteiro again refused to lie down in the second set. The 28-year-old lefty saved all three break points he faced to force another tie-break, which proved to be the highlight of an intriguing encounter. It was Auger-Aliassime’s power, and particularly his huge serve, which proved crucial for his win in blustery conditions.

“I was serving pretty good,” said Auger-Aliassime. “Unfortunately I couldn’t close it out at 6/4 [in the second-set tie-break] with a double fault but honestly, throughout the match, I felt good. Considering the conditions too. It was super windy, so to serve like this, on the big points, that was key today.”

The fifth seed won 86 per cent (37/43) of points behind his first delivery and sent down 12 aces to improve his ATP Head2Head record against Monteiro to 3-0. He will next take on another South American, Francisco Cerundolo, who downed American lucky loser Aleksandar Kovacevic 6-4, 6-4.

That will be a rematch of the pair’s Indian Wells third-round clash 12 days ago, when the Canadian defeated Cerundolo in straight sets. Auger-Aliassime will be particularly wary of the 25th seed in Miami, however — Cerundolo reached his maiden Masters 1000 semi-final there in 2022.

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Heliovaara Takes Fans Inside Miami ATP Player Advisory Council Meeting

  • Posted: Mar 25, 2023

Heliovaara Takes Fans Inside Miami ATP Player Advisory Council Meeting

Finnish player is serving his first term on the council

Harri Heliovaara is one of the best doubles players in the world. The Finnish star is also a member of the ATP Player Advisory Council, elected by his peers to represent players from No. 1-75 in the Pepperstone ATP Doubles Rankings.

On Monday, the Player Advisory Council met in Florida ahead of the Miami Open presented by Itau. spoke to Heliovaara, who is in his first term as a council member, about his experience so far, what was discussed in the meeting and why he feels his position is a “big role”.

What was your takeaway from the Miami Player Advisory Council meeting?
This was my first meeting because I missed the first one in Melbourne. I was still playing in Adelaide exactly at the same time as the meeting was, so this was my first time actually seeing [what it is like].

What was the experience like?
It was cool. My whole background is such that I’ve been in the business life for a couple of years. I didn’t play tennis for five years, so the setting is somehow familiar. You have a meeting room with a lot of people, someone on Zoom and everybody gathered around a table. It’s a nice situation we had.

We had a lot of experienced guys — not in the Player Advisory Council — but the player representatives and the board and the people from the ATP. There were more people than I expected, but [there were] very good discussions, [I am] learning a lot.

ATP Player Advisory Council Miami
Photo Credit: Andrew Eichenholz/ATP Tour
What would you say the biggest themes from this particular meeting were?
We had Andrea [Gaudenzi], the chairman, presenting us the [OneVision] strategy, Phase Two of the strategy. I think that was important for everybody in the council to understand and also to get to know him a little bit better.

We had of course a couple of decisions to make, but they were a little bit smaller this time, mostly about how they allocate prize money among the players. It was more interesting to hear about the ATP in general.

What do you think of OneVision?
I like it. I like it a lot. I think we as the ATP and tennis as a sport, we need to think big and that’s what we are doing in the OneVision strategy. I’m very interested in that kind of thing. My major in my Masters studies was strategy and venturing, so it’s really close to my heart, everything with strategy. Looking forward to how it goes.

How important do you feel your role is, representing the players, the members?
It’s a big role. I think it’s an honour to be there elected by the other players. I know that Jarkko Nieminen, who was the best player from Finland, he was part of the council for several years and I look up to him and hope to do something good for tennis while I’m here. Help the players, help the sport, help the ATP.

My role of course [is that] I’m there as a doubles player. I want to help other doubles players, but that’s not the only thing I’m focused on. It has to be the bigger picture.

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From Middle Earth To Planet Alcaraz, Lajovic Hopes To Continue Shining

  • Posted: Mar 25, 2023

From Middle Earth To Planet Alcaraz, Lajovic Hopes To Continue Shining

Learn about the Serbian, who will play Alcaraz Sunday in Miami

Dusan Lajovic has spent time in two special places this year: Middle Earth and Planet Alcaraz. On Sunday, the Serbian will try to invoke the spirit of the former to conquer the latter when he faces World No. 1 Carlos Alcaraz in the third round of the Miami Open presented by Itau.

Lord of the Rings fan Lajovic has lost all three of his previous ATP Head2Head meetings with Alcaraz, but he is excited to give it another shot against the defending champion inside Hard Rock Stadium.

“I think the unique thing is how much he loves the pressure points. He’s got a great forehand, great backhand, great drop shot. He feels the game really good. He’s got really good instincts,” Lajovic told “But this is what I feel like is separating him from the rest of the other guys that are up and coming.

“I can’t compare him to Novak, Rafa and Roger obviously. But from the rest of the guys, he just plays his best tennis when it’s most needed.”

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Lajovic has learned that through firsthand experience. At this year’s Rio Open presented by Claro, the Serbian led the 19-year-old in the first and second sets. He even earned a set point in the second set, but Alcaraz ultimately prevailed 6-4, 7-6(0).

“Obviously he loves these kind of matches, he loves to play under the pressure and I think that’s when he thrives the most,” Lajovic said. “I think he enjoys the atmosphere when he needs to produce his best tennis in these kind of situations.”

On Alcaraz’s maturity, Lajovic added: “You just don’t see it on his face. I think that he’s 19 in age only. How mature he is, it’s way more than 19.”

Two of Lajovic’s five tour-level losses this season have come to Alcaraz. The 32-year-old has enjoyed a quick start to the year, with three consecutive quarter-final appearances on South American clay.

The year got off to a good start off court, too. During his trip to New Zealand for the ASB Classic, Lajovic visited Hobbiton, a famous movie set used for The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit.

“That was an incredible experience. I’m a big fan. I’m a huge fan of epic fantasy, of science fiction, of anything literally that is out of this world. I felt like I was in heaven there,” Lajovic said. “I read some of Tolkien’s books, I read The Hobbit. I’ve seen the TV show, even if it didn’t have great reviews. I’ve seen all the movies. I just enjoyed that day so much.

“I’m also a big Harry Potter fan. I read all the books like five times each book. That’s pretty geeky!”


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Lajovic recalled reading the Harry Potter series in his late teens, but he began Tolkien’s stories more recently, within the past decade. He watches The Lord of the Rings movies once a year.

“These kind of books, they have an arc that generally can have a parallel with life. The main guy is sort of in trouble and then he finds a way. They always have people who are close to him who helps him when he’s in need. Eventually everything works out,” Lajovic said. “In life, you can’t really hope that everything works out, you’ve got to work for it. But I like that kind of story that develops over the period of five, six books.

“You can relate to so many things even if it’s something that’s not real. But the feelings, the emotions are real and the situations that they provide are similar to what we experience in life without the magic.”

Lajovic, who visited Hobbiton with Croatians Nikola Mektic and Mate Pavic, is also a video game fan.

“I’m following the CounterStrike E-sports scene a lot. A good friend of mine is one of the best players in the world, so it’s something that is my hobby. Especially this trip to Hobbiton, to Middle Earth, was unreal,” Lajovic said. “What Peter Jackson did, how he took care of every detail, is just fascinating. I spent like four hours I think. The tour is a little bit less with spending some time at the restaurant. But I can spend days there if they allowed me to.”

Although Miami is more than 13,000 kilometres from New Zealand, he will bring the spirit of Tolkien’s world with him to the court inside Hard Rock Stadium when he tries to upset Alcaraz.

“I’ve had some tough draws because I’ve played him in South America and again here,” Lajovic said. “So I’m just looking forward to that match, trying to enjoy and seeing if I can change some things from the past two matches.”

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Lehecka Manages Musetti To Break New Ground In Miami

  • Posted: Mar 25, 2023

Lehecka Manages Musetti To Break New Ground In Miami

Event debutant plays Khachanov or Etcheverry in third round

In the midst of a breakthrough season on the ATP Tour, Jiri Lehecka on Saturday added to his list of first-time achievements for 2023 by taking out 18th seed Lorenzo Musetti at the Miami Open presented by Itau.

The 21-year-old Czech triumphed 6-4, 6-4 inside Hard Rock Stadium to reach the third round of an ATP Masters 1000 event for the first time. Lehecka, who reached his first Grand Slam quarter-final at January’s Australian Open, broke Musetti’s serve once in each set for an 80-minute win.

In a meeting of 2022 Next Gen ATP Finals competitors, it was Lehecka who looked the more comfortable with the fast court conditions in Miami. He fired 25 winners and showcased some fine net skills to go with his rasping groundstrokes — Lehecka claimed 76 per cent (29/38) of points in which he moved forward.

Lehecka claimed his maiden win at Masters 1000 level against Arthur Rinderknech in Indian Wells two weeks ago before falling to Andrey Rublev. He climbed four spots to No. 40 in the Pepperstone ATP Live Rankings, just three places short of his career high, after dispatching Federico Coria and Musetti in straight sets in Miami.

Lehecka will play 14th seed Karen Khachanov or Tomas Martin Etcheverry in the third round at the second Masters 1000 event of the year.

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ATP Retirement Plan Record Contribution

  • Posted: Mar 25, 2023

ATP Retirement Plan Record Contribution

Plan provides income to eligible players for 20 years, starting at age 50

Qualifying player members are sharing in the ATP’s strong financial performance in 2022 through a record contribution to the ATP Player Retirement Plan. Contributions to individual player retirement accounts hit $167,900 in 2022 following a year in which the ATP saw growth in data value and revenue from the transfer of tournament licences, including those of ATP Masters 1000 events in Madrid and Cincinnati.

A total of 165 players received a contribution into the Retirement Plan for 2022. Formally established in 1990, the plan currently makes payments to 300 players, who receive funds for 20 years, beginning at age 50.

“I remember the first year I qualified for a contribution it was $10,000,” said Australian veteran and ATP Player Advisory Council member Matthew Ebden, who has been on Tour for 17 years. “Although 2022 was unusually large due to strong revenue coming into the Tour, the annual contribution has been steadily growing over time. The returns of the fund have been good and certainly for players who have been on the tour for a few years, the plan is something in their thoughts.

“Not everyone has the career of a Roger, Rafa or Novak, and the pension plan is a key part of many players’ financial security after 50.”

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Contributions to the Retirement Plan for 2022 alone topped US$27.7m, more than double the $12.7m deposited in 2019. Historically, players needed five years of vesting in the plan to be eligible for payments from age 50, In 2018 a partial vesting component was created for players with three years vesting.

Fellow Player Advisory Council member and World No. 7 Andrey Rublev echoed Ebden’s thoughts on the importance of the plan.

“The plan continues to grow each year and it will offer great support to players in retirement, especially those who may not get to play in the big finals and earn the big pay days many times. But these players are a big part of the Tour and deserve to be taken care of when their careers are over.”

The start of the plan goes back to the early years of the ATP, when influential player and administrator Jaime Fillol played a key role in the establishment of the plan in the late 1980s. With the start of the ATP Tour in 1990, the plan became one of the key programs for the player members.

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Daniel Shocks Zverev, Continues Hot 2023 Form

  • Posted: Mar 25, 2023

Daniel Shocks Zverev, Continues Hot 2023 Form

German sprays 32 errors in straight-sets loss

Japan’s Taro Daniel continued his hot early-season form and snuffed out Alexander Zverev’s recent revival when he stunned the former World No. 2 6-0, 6-4 in the second round of the Miami Open presented by Itau on Friday night.

World No. 97 Daniel, who also upset former Top 10 player Matteo Berrettini en route to the Indian Wells third round two weeks ago, improved to 8-4 on the season after going 13-19 last year.

On the comeback trail after a devastating ankle injury suffered in the Roland Garros semi-finals last year, Zverev sprayed 32 unforced errors to Daniel’s 13.

“In the first set he was struggling and I just didn’t want to let him get his rhythm back,” Daniel said. “Sometimes it’s a matter of letting them keep playing badly. It’s a little bit of a dirty fight.”

Zvervev, who has won five ATP Masters 1000 titles along with his two Nitto ATP Finals crowns, had been working his way back into form at his past two tournaments. In Indian Wells he pushed Daniil Medvedev to 7-5 in the third set in the fourth round, which followed his run to the Dubai semi-finals.

After claiming just one tournament main draw win through the first two months of the season, Daniel has won six of his past eight tour-level matches and all four qualifying matches played.

“Sometimes you don’t know why things turn around and you have success. You keep rolling and it just happens. My plan is to keep accumulating more and more of these wins more consistently.”

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Ruud Hopes Miami Win Is First Spark In Season Rival

  • Posted: Mar 25, 2023

Ruud Hopes Miami Win Is First Spark In Season Rival

Norwegian claims just his fifth match win of season

Should Casper Ruud be hoping to jump-start his 2023 season in Miami, scene of his first ATP Masters 1000 final last year, he’s made a solid start. On Friday night Ruud enjoyed a 6-2, 6-3 win over World No. 80 Ilya Ivashka to breeze into the third round.

The 24-year-old World No. 4, who is just 5-5 on the season, will now look to claim consecutive wins for the first time this year when he next meets 26th seed Botic van de Zandschulp, of The Netherlands.

“I want to believe one match will turn it around but there are still a lot of matches to be played with a lot of good players left in the tournament,” Ruud said. “It’s been almost two weeks since I’ve played a match after taking an early loss in Indian Wells. I worked hard and came into Miami with great memories from last year.”

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The nine-time ATP Tour titlist, who also reached last year’s Roland Garros, US Open and Nitto ATP Finals title matches, dropped just six points on his first serve and converted four of eight break point opportunities.

The Norwegian enjoyed a clean match with 21 winners to 13 unforced errors and benefitted from Ivashka’s 23 unforced errors.

“Last year I won’t say I turned around my year here because I won Buenos Aires, but then I had an injury that kept me out for two to three weeks and then I lost early in Indian Wells,” Ruud said. “When people asked about my expectations I said I just wanted to have a good finish to the hard-court season and I made the final.

“So I’m just going to try to win some matches again, not think about what [points] I have to defend and just try to get some momentum.”

Ivashka slipped to 2-18 against Top 10 opponents and to 0-5 against Top 5 opposition.

In other results on Day 3, Seventh seed Holger Rune saved the lone break point he faced in a 6-3, 7-5 win over gritty Hungarian Marton Fucsovics. Bulgaria’s 21st seed Grigor Dimitrov rallied from a set down to defeat German qualifier Jan-Lennard Struff 4-6, 7-6(5), 6-4.

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Krajicek/Mahut Upset Former Miami Champs On Team Debut

  • Posted: Mar 25, 2023

Krajicek/Mahut Upset Former Miami Champs On Team Debut

Top seeds Koolhof/Skupski down AO champions Hijikata/Kubler

Austin Krajicek and Nicolas Mahut’s team debut proved a memorable one on Friday evening.

The American-French duo upset 2021 champions Nikola Mektic and Mate Pavic 6-3, 6-7(6), 10-7 to reach the second round of the Miami Open presented by Itau. They rallied from a mini-break down in the Match Tie-break and took advantage of a costly Pavic double fault.

Krajicek and Mahut will next play Rafael Matos and David Vega Hernandez, who eliminated Jaume Munar and Bernabe Zapata Miralles 6-2, 7-6(3). They are competing together this week because Krajicek’s usual partner, Ivan Dodig, is out with an injury.

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At January’s Australian Open, Wesley Koolhof and Neal Skupski won just four games in quarter-final defeat against eventual champions Rinky Hijikata and Jason Kubler.

On Friday in Miami, the joint-No. 1s in the Pepperstone ATP Doubles Rankings had their revenge. Koolhof and Skpuski raced to a 6-1, 6-2 victory against their Australian rivals to reach the second round.

The top seeds converted six of nine break points in a dominant 64-minute display to kick-start their bid for a fourth ATP Masters 1000 crown. Koolhof and Skupski opened an ultimately unassailable 4-0 leads in both sets of their win, bouncing back from the disappointment of their tchampionship-match defeat in Indian Wells six days ago.

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Koolhof and Skupski also suffered championship match disappointment in Miami a year ago, when they fell to Hubert Hurkacz and John Isner. The Dutch-British pair will continue its bid to banish those memories at Hard Rock Stadium this year with a second-round clash against Mackenzie McDonald and Botic van de Zandschulp or Marcelo Demoliner and Christopher Eubanks.

All-Dutch pairing Robin Haase and Matwe Middelkoop also cruised into the second round on Friday. The five-time tour-level titlists dispatched Sebastian Baez and Tomas Martin Etcheverry 6-3, 6-3 to claim their first Miami win as a team at the second attempt.


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Preview: Tsitsipas, Medvedev & Felix Start Miami Campaigns

  • Posted: Mar 25, 2023

Preview: Tsitsipas, Medvedev & Felix Start Miami Campaigns

Hurkacz, Norrie & Shelton also in action

The seeded stars in the bottom half of the Miami Open presented by Itau draw begin their campaigns on Saturday, when Stefanos Tsitsipas, Daniil Medvedev and Felix Auger-Aliassime will be in action.

The second seed Tsitsipas takes on Frenchman Richard Gasquet, while fourth seed Medvedev will look to build on his run to the final in Indian Wells against Spaniard Roberto Carballes Baena. Fifth seed Auger-Aliassime takes on Thiago Monteiro.

Hubert Hurkacz, Cameron Norrie and Ben Shelton will also take to court in Miami. runs through some of the key second-round matchups on show.

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[2] Stefanos Tsitsipas (GRE) vs. Richard Gasquet (FRA)

After soaring to the Australian Open final in January, Tsitsipas has slowed in recent weeks. The Greek fell in the second round in Rotterdam and then was unable to compete in Acapulco due to a shoulder injury. He continued to feel the effects of the issue in Indian Wells, where he suffered an opening-round exit.

The second seed will be hoping his troubles are behind him as he aims to bounce back in Miami, starting against Gasquet.

“My health is the most important thing that I could have in tennis,” said Tsitsipas, who reached the quarter-finals in Miami in 2021. “”When I’m feeling healthy, everything falls into place nicely. I’m enjoying myself on the court, I’m getting creative, I can mix up my game and I feel like nothing can go wrong. This is what my aim is for this tournament, to just play pain-free and see how my arm responds on these next few days.”

Chasing his first title of the season and third ATP Masters 1000 crown, Tsitsipas will hope to make a fast start against Gasquet, with the pair locked at 1-1 in their ATP Head2Head series. The 36-year-old Frenchman defeated Christopher O’Connell in the first round to earn his 596th tour-level win. Closing in on 600, Gasquet will aim to upset Tsitsipas and edge closer to that standout milestone.

[4] Daniil Medvedev vs. Roberto Carballes Baena (ESP)

Medvedev’s 19-match winning streak came to an end last week in Indian Wells, where Carlos Alcaraz defeated him in the championship match. The 27-year-old, who won titles in Rotterdam, Doha and Dubai last month, is nonetheless delighted with where his game is at as he looks to start a fresh run against Carballes Baena.

“I managed to get back in the zone, which I didn’t really have for all of 2022, when I was less consistent,” Medvedev said when asked about his recent form. “I would have some good matches or tournaments but out of nowhere I would have one bad match. I’ve managed to avoid that the past four weeks. I have no idea how I have done it, but I am really happy and want to continue.”

During the title match in Indian Wells, Alcaraz used the drop shot to exploit Medvedev’s deep-court position. Carballes Baena trails Medvedev 0-1 in their ATP Head2Head series and may look to follow Alcaraz’s playbook and apply the same tactic in Miami to upset the fourth seed’s rhythm. Medvedev, who has reached consecutive quarter-finals in Miami, will hope his consistency and depth will prove too much for Carballes Baena, who is 4-7 on the season.

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[5] Felix Auger-Aliassime (CAN) vs. Thiago Monteiro (BRA)

Auger-Aliassime arrives in Miami at a career-high No. 6 in the Pepperstone ATP Rankings after advancing to the quarter-finals in Indian Wells last week. The Canadian, who lost to Alcaraz in California, will be eager for more, however, as he aims to hit the heights of 2022.

The fifth seed won four tour-level titles last year, but has yet to reach a final at any of the six events he has played this season. The 22-year-old will be hoping to change that record in Miami, where he holds fond memories.

Auger-Alassime soared to the semi-finals on debut in 2019, advancing from qualifying to announce himself on Tour. Starting his tournament at the second-round stage this week, he will look to hit through Monteiro with his destructive forehand and improve to 3-0 in their ATP Head2Head series. The Brazilian Monteiro defeated Jason Kubler in the first round and is currently No. 80 in the Pepperstone ATP Live Rankings.

Also In Action…

Eighth seed Hurkacz captured the biggest title of his career two years ago when he defeated Jannik Sinner to triumph in Miami. The Pole, who also reached the semi-finals at the hard-court event last year, starts his title quest against Australian Thanasi Kokkinakis.

#NextGenATP American Ben Shelton is the 32nd seed in Miami. The 20-year-old has enjoyed a breakthrough season and will aim to build on his strong start against Frenchman Adrian Mannarino.

The 11th seed Cameron Norrie meets Frenchman Gregoire Barrere, while 2022 Next Gen ATP Finals runner-up Jiri Lehecka plays 18th-seeded Italian Lorenzo Musetti.

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