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Fognini Ousts Murray In Rome Thriller

  • Posted: May 10, 2023

Fognini Ousts Murray In Rome Thriller

#NextGenATP Frenchman Fils earns first ATP Masters 1000 main draw win

Italian Fabio Fognini earned his biggest win of the season Wednesday evening when he defeated Scot Andy Murray at the Internazionali BNL d’Italia.

It has been a struggle to begin 2023 for the former Top 10 star, who arrived at the Foro Italico with a 2-8 tour-level record. But the wild card thrilled the Rome crowd with a 6-4, 4-6, 6-4 victory to reach the second round after two hours and 54 minutes.

“For sure I’m happy because coming back from injury is never easy, especially at our age. But winning here in Rome against a really big player like Andy, I mean I’m happy,” Fognini said in his on-court interview. “Now it’s important to recover and let’s see how I recover and I wake up tomorrow because it’s going to be tricky and a nice question to my mind if I will recover well. But I just want to enjoy this night and going home with this victory.”

The veterans entered the match having split their first eight ATP Head2Head clashes. This was their first meeting since 2019 in Shanghai, where Fognini won a final-set tie-break. They played at the Foro Italico in 2017, when Murray was the No. 1 player in the Pepperstone ATP Rankings. Fognini emerged victorious in straight sets on that occasion.

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The Rome ATP Masters 1000 event has not always been Fognini’s best tournament (14-15 record), but he has often found magic on home soil against Murray, whom he has defeated in all three of their showdowns in Italy.

It was clear from the early moments of Wednesday’s match that it would turn into a battle of wills. Both men worked hard for every point, with the first six games taking 48 minutes and the first set lasting 73 minutes.

In the early stages, Fognini showed his intent to try to control play and prevent Murray from weaving his tricky strategic web from the baseline. The Italian broke serve on his sixth opportunity and surged through the rest of the set against last week’s Aix-en-Provence ATP Challenger Tour 175 champion.

As the match wore on, Murray appeared to try to take the initiative, and he took a 5-1 lead in the second set. But even then, Fognini refused to allow the in-form Scot to walk into a decider, getting back on serve before relinquishing the set.

The key in the third set was Fognini’s dominance in his service games, losing just three points on serve throughout the set. Murray let slip a break immediately by missing a short forehand wide, and was never able to recover.

“I was feeling really good at the beginning of the clay in Estoril, I was playing great. But I got injured and I stopped like a month, I was 10 days with the crutches,” Fognini said. “These kind of matches give me a lot of emotions and really good memories.”

In the same section of the draw, #NextGenATP Frenchman Arthur Fils earned his first ATP Masters 1000 main draw win when he defeated fellow qualifier Juan Manuel Cerundolo of Argentina 6-1, 1-6, 6-4.

<a href=''>Arthur Fils</a> takes out fellow qualifier <a href=''>Juan Manuel Cerundolo</a> in the first round of Rome.
Photo: Corinne Dubreuil/ATP Tour
Fils ousted Fognini in the final round of qualifying at last year’s Rolex Paris Masters before losing in a rematch with the Italian in the first round of the main draw. They will meet again in Rome if they both reach the third round.

Fils will face a stiff challenge from seventh seed Holger Rune, who lifted the trophy last year at Paris-Bercy. Fognini will face 30th seed Miomir Kecmanovic of Serbia.

Did You Know?
Fognini is at No. 130 in the Pepperstone ATP Live Rankings. In April the Italian slipped from the world’s Top 100 for the first time since 2009.

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De Minaur: 'Pizza Is The Secret To Speed'

  • Posted: May 10, 2023

De Minaur: ‘Pizza Is The Secret To Speed’

World No. 18 is a coffee shop enthusiast

“I can’t go anywhere without my pizza, you can count on that!”

There is no second guessing what Alex de Minaur’s favourite food is. The 24-year-old even enjoys a pepperoni pizza alongside pasta on a match day, he revealed to ATP Uncovered in the newest edition of the ‘What I Eat’ series.

“Pizza is the secret to the speed!” De Minaur said. “Big pepperoni pizza for me, I just like meat too much.”

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The Australian also shared what foods he indulges in on those beloved ‘cheat days’, when De Minaur does not mind racking up calories.

“That’s when I really enjoy my food,” De Minaur said. “As many calories as I can, because that’s my time to enjoy what I eat.”

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If you can’t find De Minaur at the courts, perhaps look to the nearest coffee shop because as the Sydney native stated, “Any day of the week, coffee is the most important thing. If not, I’m not waking up!”

A seven-time tour-level titlist, how did De Minaur celebrate winning this year’s ATP 500 event in Acapulco? Watch the full video above to find out his answer and more on what the Aussie eats.

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Wawrinka Cruises Through Rome Opener

  • Posted: May 10, 2023

Wawrinka Cruises Through Rome Opener

Former World No. 3 reached final in 2008

Stan Wawrinka is up and running at the Internazionali BNL d’Italia.

Making his 18th appearance in Rome, the former World No. 3 moved past Ilya Ivashka 6-2, 6-4 on Wednesday at the ATP Masters 1000 event to reach the second round for the 13th time.

The 38-year-old was in control throughout the 78-minute clash on Center Court. The Swiss took large cuts at the ball off both wings to strike 26 winners and saved the one break point he faced to earn his 12th tour-level win of the season.

“I was ready for it. I am playing well. It was a good first match and I am really happy to get through again,” Wawrinka said. “I have been working hard to get to this level. This year I am playing much better, but I need to win more matches. That is what I am missing a bit, the confidence to win more matches. But in general the level is great.”

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Wawrinka, who at 38 is the oldest player in the Rome draw, is making his 119th appearance at an ATP Masters 1000 event this week, tying him for the seventh most. His best result in Rome came in 2008, when he fell against Novak Djokovic in the final.

After levelling his ATP Head2Head series against Ivashka at 1-1, Wawrinka will next face Bulgarian Grigor Dimitrov.

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Chung Makes Singles Return At Home: 'I Am So Grateful'

  • Posted: May 10, 2023

Chung Makes Singles Return At Home: ‘I Am So Grateful’

South Korean reflects on first two tournaments back

Hyeon Chung was once one of the most promising young talents on the ATP Tour. The inaugural Next Gen ATP Finals champion in 2017, the South Korean has struggled for several years with injuries.

But the 26-year-old is on the road back. Chung played his first singles match in two and a half years two weeks ago at an ATP Challenger Tour event in Seoul and was back in action on Tuesday in Busan at the Head Busan Open.

The former World No. 19 lost his return match to Jordan Thompson in straight sets, but showed signs of improvement in a three-set loss Tuesday to Yasutaka Uchiyama.

“It is still a shame that I did not win. I played my best [on] every point… I played for more than two hours, so I am satisfied with the way that I played today,” Chung said in answers provided by tournament staff. “For my part, I would like to give myself credit for finishing the match without any injuries or soreness, and last but not least, I have given all I had for each point.”

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Chung found tennis takeaways from the match, but was most pleased with battling on court for two hours and 35 minutes.

“It would have been better if I had used [the] court widely, but I was too rigid, and my opponent strongly dragged me around,” Chung said. “The most notable thing about today’s game is that I finished with playing more than two hours of [an] actual match. Despite training for more than two hours, [I] never played more than two hours of [an] actual match.”

Fans might notice a change in Chung’s service motion. He brings his serving arm into a “trophy position” before tossing the ball and serving.

“This is the least injury-prone, least uncomfortable serve movement,” Chung said. “At the moment, avoiding injuries is more important than being able to make a powerful serve.”

Chung was hoping he could play multiple matches in Busan to gain rhythm and get used to competing in a match setting again. After playing two tournaments in South Korea, he will start to look overseas.

“At the moment, there are no games that can be played in the country. My team and I will review the overseas competition schedule and protected rankings so that I can play as many ATP events as possible,” Chung said. “There is no doubt in my mind that I will try overseas tours again.”

Chung’s focus has been on rehabilitation, and he believes that he will be able to shift that focus to more on-court training. The South Korean hopes that will help him return to his top level. For now, he is happy to have made his return to singles competition on home soil.

“I am so grateful to have a comeback match in Seoul and Busan,” Chung said. “Thanks a lot to my fans and to the tournament organisation for coming to see me and giving me this incredible opportunity. I will do my best to ensure my fans see the best performances I can provide.”

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Sinner Back Home In Rome: 'I'm Not Scared To Say I Can Win Big Matches'

  • Posted: May 10, 2023

Sinner Back Home In Rome: ‘I’m Not Scared To Say I Can Win Big Matches’

Italian eager to play in front of home crowd

Jannik Sinner enters the Internazionali BNL d’Italia at fifth in the Pepperstone ATP Live Race To Turin, having reached the quarter-finals or better at seven of his eight events this season. He won his seventh tour-level title in Montpellier and also reached the finals in Miami and Rotterdam, in addition to a semi-final run in Indian Wells.

Despite pulling out of Barcelona ahead of the quarter-finals due to illness and missing Madrid the following week, Sinner enters Rome at full health and in full confidence. He is at a career-high Pepperstone ATP Ranking of No. 8, first achieved on 10 April.

“I’m very good, to be honest,” he said of his physical conditioning, speaking with ATP Media. “I took a little bit of time off after some very long tournaments, which is a good sign, I made a lot of good [results]. The start of the season was good and I’m happy to be back here, especially in Rome. It’s a special tournament for all Italians and also obviously for me. Physically, we worked very hard for one week now and I’m happy to be here.”

The 21-year-old reached the Rome quarter-finals for the first time last season but enters this year’s event with even loftier goals, having already compiled a 12-3 record across the first three ATP Masters 1000 of the season.

“I have a different mindset now,” he explained. “I’m not scared to say that I can win big, big matches. I’m here, I can do it… But in another way, you have to have the right respect for every single player. Every player is so tough. Also emotion-wise, it’s sometimes not easy. But if I go in my way, I want to push myself to the limits because I know that, especially there, I can show some very good tennis.”

Adding to Sinner’s confidence is the boost he knows he can count on from the Italian crowd. He says he has learned to use their support to fuel him after perhaps feeling the pressure of home expectation in his younger years.

“In the beginning it was not easy to connect with the people, with the crowd, but now I feel that it’s natural,” the San Candido native said. “You play in front of the crowd and they only want to push you, they want to help you to win. I’m happy that I have a chance again this year to play in front of my home crowd. Hopefully I can make good things happen, which I believe I can do.”

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With Sinner in his home nation, he was also asked to recommend some Italian cuisine. He delivered with a menu of options: “Here it’s tough to find not good places to eat. I think it’s impossible,” he said with a smile. “But for sure carbonara, cacio e pepe—this is very good pasta if you like pasta. Obviously pizza in Italy is very good. You will not [go wrong] with the food here.”

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