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Top 100 Arnaldi Beats Schwartzman In Front Of Home Fans In Rome

  • Posted: May 11, 2023

Top 100 Arnaldi Beats Schwartzman In Front Of Home Fans In Rome

Molcan edges Italian qualifier Napolitano

Playing his first match as a Top 100 player, Italy’s Matteo Arnaldi made the most of the occasion with a victory against Diego Schwartzman on Thursday night at the Internazionali BNL d’Italia. Playing in front of his home fans in Rome, the 22-year-old wild card scored a 6-1, 4-6, 6-3 victory to close the day’s play on centre court.

Arnaldi rose to No. 99 in the Pepperstone ATP Rankings behind his third-round run in Madrid, where he upset World No. 4 Casper Ruud. After beating 2020 Rome finalist Schwartzman, he will bid for his second Top 20 win against 18th seed Lorenzo Musetti in the second round at the ATP Masters 1000.

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After a dominant opening set, Arnaldi miseed two chances for an early break in the second as Schwartzman found his footing on the Italian clay. The Argentine secured the first break of set two to force a decider, but the flash point of the middle set came in a thrilling cat-and-mouse point that included a well-placed tweener from Arnaldi. The wild card had a chance to cap off the all-action point with a bunted passing shot, but he pushed it just long, still drawing thunderous applause from the crowd.

Even Schwartzman seemed mildly disappointed the show-stopping point did not end with a winner, with the Argentine grimacing as he confirmed to his opponent that the ball was out before flashing a smile and joining in on the applause.

Arnaldi struck immediately in set three to edge in front once again, and he did not face a break point in the final set — though he did need four match points to put Schwartzman away in a 12-minute final game.

Entering the 2023 season without a tour-level win, Arnaldi is now 4-3 on the year while Schwartzman dropped to 5-13.

Also in evening action, Alex Molcan edged Italian qualifier Stefano Napolitano 6-4, 3-6, 7-6(1) on the Grandstand. The 28-year-old Napolitano had gone through pre-qualifying to receive a qualifying wild card and posted wins against Aleksandar Kovacevic and Maximilian Marterer to reach the main draw. At No. 555 in the Pepperstone ATP Rankings, he was the second-lowest ranked player in the main draw, with only No. 591 Jeremy Chardy, who entered with a protected ranking, behind him.

Molcan improved to 8-3 since March, with his best result of the 2023 season a semi-final run in Banja Luka (l. to Andrey Rublev). He is now 6-2 at the ATP Masters 1000 level this season, with third-round runs in Indian Wells and Miami.

The Slovakian converted on both of his break points in the win, while saving five of the seven break chances against him. He will next contest a rematch with the sixth-seeded Rublev in the second round on Saturday.

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Djokovic, Sinner Begin Rome Campaigns

  • Posted: May 11, 2023

Djokovic, Sinner Begin Rome Campaigns

Seeds play for first time on Friday at ATP Masters 1000 event

The seeded players spring into action on Friday at the Internazionali BNL d’Italia, where defending champion Novak Djokovic and home favourite Jannik Sinner are among those seeking a fast start in Rome.

Djokovic begins his bid for a seventh title at the Foro Italico against Tomas Martin Etcheverry, while the eighth-seeded Sinner faces the big-hitting Thanasi Kokkinakis. A #NextGenATP clash between Holger Rune and Arthur Fils is another standout second-round clash in the top half of the draw at the clay-court ATP Masters 1000. looks ahead to some of the intriguing matchups on the Friday schedule in Rome.

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[1] Novak Djokovic (SRB) vs. Tomas Martin Etcheverry (ARG)

Taking down Djokovic in the early rounds in Rome is a task that no one has yet managed. The World No. 1 may have suffered early losses in both clay-court events he has played this year (he went 2-2 across Monte-Carlo and Banja Luka), but the Serbian has never failed to reach the quarter-finals in 16 appearances in the Italian capital.

On six of those occasions, including 2022, Djokovic went on to lift the title at the Foro Italico. The man trying to dent Djokovic’s standout 64-10 Rome record on Friday is Tomas Martin Etcheverry, the No. 61-ranked Argentine who has been handed the ultimate second-round test on his Rome debut.

Etcheverry can take confidence from some excellent displays on the clay so far this year, including reaching his first two ATP Tour finals in Santiago and Houston. The 23-year-old will hope to exploit any struggles that Djokovic, who is playing for the first time in three weeks after missing Madrid, has adapting to the Italian clay.

“I feel that it takes more practice sessions, more weeks of spending time on the court and working on your shots, working on your tactics, on technique, adaptation to the court, than any other surface,” said Djokovic on Thursday when asked about the challenge of preparing for clay. “Some players say that about grass. I’ve been fortunate on grass, I adapt really quickly. But clay is something that really demands time for me.”

It will be the first ATP Head2Head meeting between Djokovic, chasing a record-extending 39th Masters 1000 crown, and Etcheverry, whose first-round triumph against Luca Van Assche was just his third at this level. Can the Argentine spring a mammoth surprise in the Eternal City?

[8] Jannik Sinner (ITA) vs. [Q] Thanasi Kokkinakis (AUS)

The 21-year-old Sinner looks to bring his strong ATP Masters 1000 form to his homeland, but the eighth seed has been handed a stiff opening test in the free-hitting Kokkinakis.

Sinner reached the semi-finals in Indian Wells and Monte-Carlo either side of a run to the championship match in Miami, earning him a 12-3 record at Masters 1000 level for the year so far. Despite not playing in Madrid, the World No. 8 feels ready to chase his second tour-level title of the season in front of his home fans.

“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,” said Sinner, whose form has carried him to fifth place in the Pepperstone ATP Live Race To Turin, on Tuesday. “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.”

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On his day, Kokkinakis’ combination of big serving and powerful groundstrokes can test anyone on Tour, even a high-class mover such as Sinner, although the Italian leads 2-0 in the pair’s ATP Head2Head series. That includes a straight-sets win in Kokkinakis’s hometown of Adelaide in January, and the Australian qualifier will hope to return the favour and send the locals home disappointed again as he chases a second victory on his main-draw debut in Rome.

[7] Holger Rune (DEN) vs. [Q] Arthur Fils (FRA)

A #NextGenATP battle between established Top 10 star Rune and the fast-rising Fils should provide an intriguing spectacle for fans on Grand Stand Arena.

Rune will hope that his experience at this level proves decisive against 18-year-old Fils. The Dane, who turned 20 two weeks ago, won his maiden Masters 1000 trophy last November in Paris and reached another final in Monte-Carlo last month. Yet despite sitting at a career-high No. 7 in the Pepperstone ATP Rankings, Rune’s clash with the World No. 119 Fils will be his main-draw debut in Rome.

The lack of any real weaknesses in Rune’s game makes Fils’ ability to stay consistent key, although the Frenchman is also more than capable of producing moments of magic at crucial moments. He did exactly that en route to back-to-back ATP Tour semi-finals in Montpellier and Marseille in February, performances which made him an immediate favourite with his home fans.

Fils can also take confidence from defeating Juan Manuel Cerundolo in the opening round on Wednesday for his first main-draw win at a Masters 1000. His next challenge is to maintain that form against an opponent who holds a 22-9 record for the year and lifted his fourth ATP Tour title in Munich just under three weeks ago.

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Also In Action…

Casper Ruud and Felix Auger-Aliassime join Djokovic, Sinner and Rune as Top 10 stars in second-round action on Friday. The fourth-seeded Ruud, a two-time semi-finalist in Rome, takes on Arthur Rinderknech, while the 10th seed Auger-Aliassime chases his first clay-court win of the year against qualifier Alexei Popyrin.

Stan Wawrinka made a fast start to his Rome campaign on Wednesday with a straight-sets win against Ilya Ivashka, and the 2008 finalist seeks to back up that result against 26th seed Grigor Dimitrov on Grand Stand Arena. The 11th-seeded Karen Khachanov, a quarter-finalist in Madrid last week, faces Gregoire Barrere, while 13th-seeded Cameron Norrie meets qualifier Alexandre Muller.

Aside from cheering on Sinner, Italian fans will head to the iconic Court Pietrangeli to witness Fabio Fognini take on 30th seed Miomir Kecmanovic. The 35-year-old wild card Fognini, a quarter-finalist in 2018, defeated former World No. 1 Andy Murray in the first round.

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Djokovic Quells Injury Concerns In Rome: 'I Feel Good'

  • Posted: May 11, 2023

Djokovic Quells Injury Concerns In Rome: ‘I Feel Good’

Serbian pursuing his seventh title in Rome

Novak Djokovic on Thursday quelled any concerns about his physical status leading into the Internazionali BNL d’Italia.

The Serbian star missed the Mutua Madrid Open and lost early at both the Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters and the Srpska Open, but is excited to start his tournament in Rome, where he has won the title six times.

“It’s all good. It’s all good. I mean, there [are] always some things here and there that bother you on this level. It’s normal. Also when you’re not 25 anymore, I guess you experience that a bit more than what used to be the case. It takes a little bit more time I guess to recover,” Djokovic said. “But I feel good. I miss competition. I love playing in Rome. Historically throughout my career, Rome has always been a very nice tournament for me, had plenty of success, won it many times. Played also quite a few times in [the] final.”

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Djokovic admitted that it takes more time for him to get used to clay than other surfaces. The 35-year-old explained that there are multiple factors that go into that.

“It’s the movement. Every bounce more or less is different. It’s such an irregular-bounce surface. You have wind. You have clay, a surface that is alive basically. Let’s call it this way. Like grass in a way,” Djokovic said. “On clay, if you have a windy day, wind takes out the top layer of the surface, and it affects the bounce, it affects the spin of the ball, the speed of the court. Of course, if it rains or something like this, the conditions are different every single day, then it affects whether the clay is softer or harder.

“There’s plenty of factors that are in play, and you just have to deal with so much more than other surfaces. That’s how I feel. Sometimes it’s really overwhelming. It’s all about I guess adjusting to that.”

This is not to say Djokovic has been unsuccessful on clay. The World No. 1 has won 18 tour-level titles on the surface and owns a 79.9 per cent win rate on it, good for fourth in the Open Era according to Infosys ATP Stats. It simply takes him more time to find his rhythm on clay.

“I feel that it takes more practice sessions, more weeks of spending time on the court and working on your shots, working on your tactics, on technique, adaptation to the court than any other surface,” Djokovic said. “I’ve been hearing some players say that about grass. For me, I’ve been fortunate on grass, I adapt really quickly. But clay is something that really demands time for me.”

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If Djokovic and second seed Carlos Alcaraz, who has won back-to-back titles in Barcelona and Madrid, advance to the final, they will meet for the first time this season. Djokovic was highly complimentary of the 20-year-old ahead of the tournament. Alcaraz will return to No. 1 in the Pepperstone ATP Rankings after Rome just by taking the court for his opening match.

“He’s going to be No. 1 after this tournament whatever happens. Deservedly so. He’s been playing some very impressive tennis, a great level. He’s the player to beat on this surface, no doubt,” Djokovic said. “Of course, it depends if Nadal is going to play in the French Open or not. But Alcaraz is one of the top favourites without any dilemma. He’s been playing fantastic tennis.

“We faced each other only once last year in Madrid. If we get a chance to face each other here, it would be in [the] final. I think we would both love to play in the final. Let’s see. It’s a long tournament. There’s a lot of great players.”

Djokovic will begin his tournament against Argentine Tomas Martin Etcheverry. It will be the pair’s first ATP Head2Head meeting.

“I don’t know much about him. I’ve watched him play several times. I’ve seen also his posts decreasing the deficit in the points between us,” Djokovic said. “I wish him all the best. He seems like a very nice guy, coming from a country that has lots of tennis success. He looks like a very hard worker, fighter on the court. I wish him all the best except tomorrow night.”

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Etcheverry, The Giant Who Has Never Broken A Racquet

  • Posted: May 11, 2023

Etcheverry, The Giant Who Has Never Broken A Racquet

Argentine will play Djokovic for the first time on Friday

Editor’s note: This story was translated from

Not being too frustrated in defeat or getting too carried away after wins has been Argentine player Tomas Martin Etcheverry’s main goal recently on the ATP Tour. But that search for balance in his career has required a lot of discipline, and above all, time. When he was nine years old, after losing in the semi-finals of a junior tournament in Carilo, a few hours by car from his home in La Plata, he cried so much that his parents regretted ever having introduced him to the game of tennis.

“I remember that match. I was very young and I liked the trophy. It had coloured and golden things on it. I wanted to win and have it in my room, whatever the cost. But I lost and I cried all the way back home,” Etcheverry recalled in an interview with “We all have things from the past we’d like to change. But it’s also part of the process.”

One thing that never needed addressing was his attitude on court. Apart from being committed and respectful to his opponents, he was always aware that he should not take his failure out on his racquet. “I’ve never broken or hit a racquet in my life. My teachers instilled that in me. And I feel like it’s not the racquet’s fault. Also, I was always really relaxed. I wasn’t one to go looking for trouble,” adds the 23-year-old right-hander, who stands at 6-foot-5. What did need work was his reaction after a defeat, as was the case in Carilo.

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His opponent at that tournament was none other than Francisco Cerundolo, now No. 31 in the Pepperstone ATP Rankings and one of his closest friends. Cerundolo also remembers that match in the province of Buenos Aires. “We were very little. We didn’t know each other. We both wanted to win, I managed to do that in the third set and he left crying. It’s just the emotions of that age,”  remembers Cerundolo, currently Argentina’s top-ranked player on the ATP Tour.

But that episode is truly a thing of the past. The current version of Etcheverry is very different. Now he always looks relaxed, whatever it says on the scoreboard. “The idea is to control myself, to know what I did wrong. I don’t cry anymore and I can’t remember the last time I did because I lost a match. Now I get upset if I doubted myself at a key moment or when I think I could have done things differently. That’s when I start to be hard on myself, but I let it go quickly”.

Cerundolo himself has witnessed Etcheverry’s rapid evolution in the way he handles his emotions. “He controls them very well. I’m surprised how relaxed he is on and off the court. He tries not to get too high or too low. And I think it is working because he’s having a very good year,” explains his compatriot.

However, the calmness shown by the 23-year-old on court is by no means a reflection of what is going on under the surface as he competes. “Negative thoughts cross your mind. It’s inevitable. The key is how much importance you place on them. You have to try not to hamper yourself so much, do the best you can, and that is sufficient,” adds Etcheverry. “That’s how I do it anyway. There are other players that vent their anger. It’s a question of finding the best way for you.”

Working with psychologists for many years has helped him find his road to catharsis. He has been talking with his current psychologist every week for three years, almost always remotely. There are even weeks when they talk every single day. This is a priority in the Argentine’s life.

“Mental health is very important in a sport where there is a lot of pressure. And it’s good to be able to work on your mind because it’s a very important weapon,” Etcheverry said. But tennis is not all they talk about during their sessions. “It also helps me personally because I keep things inside. So I can unload with him, and it frees me up, which is the thing I value the most,” he explained.

Playing without so much internal noise has allowed him to grow rapidly in recent times. In April 2022 he made his breakthrough into the Top 100 of the Pepperstone ATP Rankings, and in April this year he climbed into the Top 60. In addition, in 2023 he played his first two ATP Tour finals, in Santiago (l. to Nicolas Jarry) and in Houston (l. to Frances Tiafoe).

“He has a crazy amount of potential, I’ve always said that as his friend,” explains Cerundolo. “To me, Tomy plays incredibly well, he is very tall, he defends very well. Luckily now he’s playing ATP [Tour events], he’s played a final. Let’s hope he continues to improve. He could end this year in the Top 50.”

Etcheverry, currently the World No. 61, will be looking to keep progressing as he makes his maiden appearance at the Internazionali BNL d’Italia. He won his opener 7-6(7), 6-3 against Frenchman Luca Van Assche, and will now face Novak Djokovic in his first match against a member of the Top 10. His goals are ambitious, but staying calm in order to achieve them is not negotiable.

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Will Sinner Consolidate Live Race Standing In Rome?

  • Posted: May 11, 2023

Will Sinner Consolidate Live Race Standing In Rome?

Italian is fifth in Pepperstone ATP Live Race To Turin

Jannik Sinner is excited to compete on home soil this week at the Internazionali BNL d’Italia in Rome. Not only will the Italian pursue his first ATP Masters 1000 title, but he will have a chance to solidify his standing in the Pepperstone ATP Live Race To Turin.

Sinner leads a group of players who are trying to qualify for the Nitto ATP Finals, to be held from 12-19 November, for the first time. Two years ago Sinner competed in the season finale as an alternate when Matteo Berrettini withdrew due to injury, but now the 21-year-old is in good position to qualify straight in.

With a 26-6 record this season, Sinner sits fifth in the Live Race with 2,195 points, just 380 points behind third-placed Novak Djokovic. The Italian has a big opportunity to consolidate his standing with 1,000 points up for grabs in Rome and another 2,000 at Roland Garros.

Pepperstone ATP Live Race To Turin (entering Rome)

 Players  Points
 1) Carlos Alcaraz  3,420
 2) Daniil Medvedev  3,310
 3) Novak Djokovic  2,575
 4) Stefanos Tsitsipas  2,240
 5) Jannik Sinner  2,195
 6) Andrey Rublev  2,135
 7) Taylor Fritz  1,825
 8) Karen Khachanov  1,540

Sinner has reached at least the semi-finals at all three Masters 1000 events he has competed in this season (Indian Wells, Miami and Monte-Carlo). He is in the same quarter of the draw as fourth seed Casper Ruud.

A potential fourth-round opponent for Sinner is Karen Khachanov, who is also trying to qualify for the Nitto ATP Finals for the first time.

Khachanov is in eighth with 1,540 points and trying to qualify for the first time. Five years ago, when he won the Rolex Paris Masters, he served as an alternate for the season finale. Khachanov currently holds the final qualifying spot and will be keen to firm up his position.

Only 460 points separate Khachanov from 14th-placed Alex de Minaur (1,080 points). Other players in that range who are trying to qualify for the Nitto ATP Finals for the first time are 10th-placed Tommy Paul (1,385 points) and Frances Tiafoe (1,195 points).

Six of last year’s Turin qualifiers are currently in a qualifying position. Carlos Alcaraz, who earned his spot last year but was unable to play due to injury, leads the Live Race with 3,420 points as he tries to become year-end ATP No. 1 presented by Pepperstone for the second consecutive season.

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Ruusuvuori Saves 2 MPs, Edges Humbert In Rome Thriller

  • Posted: May 11, 2023

Ruusuvuori Saves 2 MPs, Edges Humbert In Rome Thriller

Ramos-Vinolas downs Passaro to set Alcaraz clash

Emil Ruusuvuori came back from the brink twice in quick succession to claim a remarkable first-round victory on Thursday at the Internazionali BNL d’Italia.

The Finn saved two match points before overcoming Ugo Humbert 6-4, 3-6, 7-6(6) at the ATP Masters 1000 event in Rome. Despite Humbert serving on both occasions, Ruusuvuori fended off the first at 4-5, 40/30 in the third set before repeating his escape when trailing the Frenchman 5/6 in the deciding tie-break.

Ruusuvuori ultimately closed out a thrilling three-hour triumph, in which both players broke their opponent’s serve five times, to book a second-round appointment against third seed Daniil Medvedev. The World No. 43 is now 15-12 for the season, a tally which includes reaching his maiden Masters 1000 quarter-final in Miami in March.

It was a third consecutive narrow victory for the Finn in his ATP Head2Head series with Humbert, who himself triumphed in a pair of marathon three-setters en route to the ATP Challenger Tour 175 title in Cagliari last week. Ruusuvuori triumphed in five sets in the duo’s maiden tour-level meeting at Roland Garros in 2022, before prevailing in a pair of tie-breaks against the Frenchman in Madrid just 15 days ago.

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Albert Ramos-Vinolas also needed three sets to seal victory on Thursday. The Spaniard saved five of seven break points he faced to beat home wild card Francesco Passaro 4-6, 6-1, 6-4 and reach the second round in Rome for the fifth time. He faces a tough challenge to equal his personal-best 2018 run to the third round at the Foro Italico, however, as he next takes on his countryman and second seed Carlos Alcaraz.

Lorenzo Sonego celebrated his 28th birthday by becoming the fifth Italian into the second round in Rome. The World No. 48, who reached the semi-finals at his home tournament in 2021, eased past Jeremy Chardy 6-2, 6-1. He will next face 25th seed Yoshihito Nishioka.

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Goffin Rallies Past Nardi, Sets Zverev Clash In Rome

  • Posted: May 11, 2023

Goffin Rallies Past Nardi, Sets Zverev Clash In Rome

In-form Altmaier holds off Zeppieri

David Goffin needed all of his experience to outlast #NextGenATP Italian Luca Nardi on Thursday at the Internazionali BNL d’Italia, where the Belgian escaped a precarious position to book his spot in the second round at the clay-court ATP Masters 1000.

The two-time quarter-finalist Goffin prevailed 3-6, 6-4, 6-2 to advance to face 2017 champion Alexander Zverev in the Italian capital. Although he trailed the 19-year-old home favourite Nardi 3-6, 2-4, Goffin converted four of his five break points across the second and third sets to seal a two-hour, 22-minute triumph at the Foro Italico.

“I was a little bit tight at the beginning of the match and he was playing well,” reflected Goffin. “He didn’t leave me any [chances] in the first set and at the beginning of the second. It was a few points that made the difference, because he had the break, and I was really close to coming back in some long games.”

The former World No. 7 Goffin dropped out of the Top 100 of the Pepperstone ATP Rankings for the first time since July 2014 on Monday after struggling for consistency and with his fitness this year. The 32-year-old was pleased with the way he had dug deep to earn his first Masters 1000 victory of 2023.

“If it would have been [6-3, 6-4] for him, it would have been, ‘OK, congrats’, but I had to fight and I won a few important points in the second to turn it around,” said Goffin. “After that I started to play even better and he was a little bit mentally down. I started to play more in the third, so I’m very happy I managed to win this one.”

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Daniel Altmaier also held off an up-and-coming home favourite on Thursday in Rome. The German, who reached his maiden Masters 1000 quarter-final in Madrid last week, pulled away to a 7-6(3), 4-6, 6-0 win against 21-year-old Giulio Zeppieri. He will next take on Houston champion Frances Tiafoe.

Despite Nardi and Zeppieri falling just short, Marco Cecchinato gave the home fans something to cheer at the Foro Italico. The 30-year-old moved to 6-0 in opening-round ATP Tour matches for the year by downing Mackenzie McDonald 6-3, 7-5. Cecchinato plays Roberto Bautista Agut next.

Making his Rome debut, the World No. 66 Jason Kubler notched an impressive 6-7(6), 6-4, 6-2 win against Marc-Andrea Huesler. The Australian converted six of his 11 break points against the big-serving Swiss to wrap a two-hour, 31-minute victory, his first at a clay-court Masters 1000 event. Kubler’s reward is a second-round clash against 31st seed Bernabe Zapata Miralles.

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