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Dodig/Krajicek Survive Rome Opener

  • Posted: May 12, 2023

Dodig/Krajicek Survive Rome Opener

Krawietz/Puetz also advance

Third seeds Ivan Dodig and Austin Krajicek had to rally from a set down Friday at the Internazionali BNL d’Italia to keep their hopes alive for a second ATP Masters 1000 title.

The Croatian-American duo, who won this year’s Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters, downed Frenchmen Nicolas Mahut and Fabrice Martin 5-7, 6-2, 10-6 after winning 31 of 38 first-serve points during the opening-round encounter. Dodig and Krajicek will next face Hugo Nys and Jan Zielinski, whom they beat in the Monte-Carlo first round.

Kevin Krawietz and Tim Puetz also needed a Match Tie-break to survive their Rome opener. The German pair ousted Marcelo Melo and Alexander Zverev 3-6, 6-3, 10-6 in one hour, 22 minutes.

Krawietz and Puetz, who were finalists at last month’s ATP 250 event in Munich, await the winner of Robin Haase and Botic van de Zandschulp and eighth seeds Santiago Gonzalez and Edouard Roger-Vasselin.

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Djokovic Shrugs Off Sluggish Start To Advance In Rome

  • Posted: May 12, 2023

Djokovic Shrugs Off Sluggish Start To Advance In Rome

The Serbian will next meet Dimitrov

Great players find a way to win, even on days when they aren’t playing their best.

Such was the case for top seed Novak Djokovic in Friday’s second-round clash against Tomas Martin Etcheverry at the Internazionali BNL d’Italia.

The Serbian overcame a rough first set – in which he committed 21 unforced errors and appeared physically unwell – to advance 7-6(5), 6-2 at the ATP Masters 1000 event.

The 35-year-old played with more margin and forced extended rallies in key moments of the match to move past the 6’5” Argentine. Despite having two set points at 4-5 in the first set, Djokovic was forced to a tie-break, where he won four consecutive points from 3/5 to seal an entertaining 75-minute set.

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At 5-5 in the opening set, Djokovic appeared physically unwell as he hunched over in the corner of the court and took a tablet the following changeover. The Belgrade native continued to fight, forcing a break in Etcheverry’s first service game of the second set en route to closing a one-hour, 51-minute test.

Djokovic, who boasts a 65-10 Rome record, has never failed to reach the quarter-finals in 16 appearances in the Italian capital. A six-time Rome champion, Djokovic is aiming for a record-extending 39th Masters 1000 crown. He will next meet Grigor Dimitrov in the third round.

Etcheverry, 23, has played his best tennis this season. The Argentine was a finalist at the ATP 250 events in Santiago and Houston. Friday’s contest was his first match against a Top-10 opponent.

In a one-handed backhand clash, Dimitrov defeated Stan Wawrinka 6-4, 7-6(3) after claiming 35 of 40 first-serve points. The Bulgarian found success by coming forward, having won all 12 of net points to move within one of tying his ATP Head2Head record against Wawrinka at seven a piece.

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Photo Gallery: Early-Round Action In Rome

Dimitrov held a 3-1 lead in the second set before the Swiss fought back to later force a tie-break. The 26th seed Dimitrov won 62 per cent of rallies over four shots to advance.

“I’m just happy I was able to finish in straight sets,” Dimitrov said. “Overall, I felt good. It’s been a while since I’ve played matches like that. Off the blocks to play Stan is never easy. We’ve played so many times against each other, we kind of know what we are going to do in a lot of moments. I think today was a very small margin.”

Despite holding a 1-10 Head2Head record against Djokovic, the World No. 33 Dimitrov is looking forward to having another crack at the 22-time major champion.

“I like those matches,” Dimitrov said. “I’ve been on tour for so long, I feel comfortable to play against these guys. I know I don’t have the best record against him but I like to play against him and any of the top guys to see where I’m at. You never know how it’s going to go at the end of the day. I always like my chances, so you never know how it’s going to go.”

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Rune Wins In Rome Debut, Ruud Also Advances

  • Posted: May 12, 2023

Rune Wins In Rome Debut, Ruud Also Advances

Dane beats 18-year-old Fils, youngest player in draw

After reaching his first clay-court ATP Masters 1000 final last month in Monte-Carlo and suffering an early exit in Madrid, Holger Rune made a fast start in his debut at the Internazionali BNL d’Italia with a 6-3, 6-3 win against Arthur Fils.

In a battle of #NextGenATP stars, the 20-year-old Rune dominated on return, converting on four of 12 break points in the victory.

“He made it tough. He’s young, younger than me. It feels kind of crazy because I think this is the second time in my life I’m playing someone that’s younger,” said Rune, who improved to 2-1 against younger opponents on the ATP Tour, having split two previous matches against Carlos Alcaraz. “For sure he’s in the right direction and I wish him all the best. He’s a nice guy.”

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The Rise Of Holger Rune

Rune reached a career-high Pepperstone ATP Ranking of World No. 7 after reaching the Monte-Carlo final and has maintained his position since then, aided by a successful title defence in Munich. With no points to defend in Rome, he could rise as high as No. 4 by winning his second Masters 1000 title after his 2022 Rolex Paris Masters triumph.

Fils, 18, was the youngest player in the Rome draw. After reaching his first ATP Tour semi-final in Montpellier in February and earning his first ATP Masters 1000 win on Wednesday against fellow qualifier Juan Manuel Cerundolo, the Frenchman was denied his first Top 10 win with defeat to Rune. The Dane’s victory extended his winning streak against French opponents to 13 matches, dating back to 2022.

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Rune will next face wild card Fabio Fognini in the third round. The Italian earned 6-3, 7-6(6) upset of 30th seed Miomir Kecmanovic earlier on Friday to back up his three-set win against Andy Murray in the first round.

“It’s going to be wild, for sure,” Rune said of his matchup against the home favourite. “But this is great because this is what tennis is about. You already hear the football match [atmosphere] now and this is great, it’s fun. It brings tennis to another level and I’m super excited for it.”

<a href=''>Casper Ruud</a>
Photo by Corinne Dubreuil/ATP Tour

Fourth seed Casper Ruud also advanced on Friday evening with a 6-4, 6-0 win against Arthur Rinderknech. The Norwegian was a perfect four-of-four on his break chances while saving both break points against him.

The victory was Ruud’s 10th in Rome, marking the first time he has reached 10 wins at a single ATP Masters 1000 event. The 24-year-old is a two-time semi-finalist at the Foro Italico (2020, 2022).

Ruud will meet Alexander Bublik in the third round after the Kazakh’s 6-4, 1-6, 6-2 victory against 28th seed Ben Shelton.

Rinderknech fell to 2-2 against the Top 20 on clay by missing out on his biggest career win against the World No. 4.

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Alcaraz Poised To Reclaim World No. 1; Can He Extend Lead Over Djokovic?

  • Posted: May 12, 2023

Alcaraz Poised To Reclaim World No. 1; Can He Extend Lead Over Djokovic?

Spaniard can leave Rome with 7,770 Pepperstone ATP Ranking points

When Carlos Alcaraz plays the first point of his match on Saturday against Albert Ramos-Vinolas at the Internazionali BNL d’Italia, the 20-year-old Spaniard will clinch his return to No. 1 in the Pepperstone ATP Rankings.

Novak Djokovic arrived in Rome with a five-point lead over Alcaraz. However, Djokovic is the defending champion and will drop 1,000 points on 22 May. Alcaraz is not defending any points, and he will earn 10 by beginning his opening match in the Italian capital. That has already put him atop the Pepperstone ATP Live Rankings.

Alcaraz will therefore begin his 23rd week at World No. 1 on 22 May. The Spaniard has a big opportunity to leave Rome with a sizable lead. If the 20-year-old wins the Internazionali BNL d’Italia, he will depart Italy with at least a 1,395-point advantage over Djokovic.

Pepperstone ATP Live Rankings (entering Rome)

 Player  Current Pts  Max Pts
 1) Carlos Alcaraz  6,780  7,770
 2) Novak Djokovic  5,785  6,775
 3) Daniil Medvedev  5,340  6,330
 4) Casper Ruud  4,575  5,565
 5) Stefanos Tsitsipas  4,390  5,380 

Djokovic can keep the battle close if he wins his seventh Rome title. The Serbian can finish the tournament with 6,775 points, which would keep him within 595 points of Alcaraz if the Spaniard reaches the final.

The 35-year-old’s grip on World No. 2 is not secure, though. Daniil Medvedev can climb to 6,330 points by winning the title on his least-favourite surface. That would force Djokovic to reach the final to remain World No. 2.

That will be a crucial battle for Roland Garros seeding. Alcaraz is in position to take the first seed in Paris, but the seeds below him are up for grabs.

Casper Ruud and Stefanos Tsitsipas also have an opportunity to potentially move into the world’s top three by winning the title in Rome, depending on Medvedev’s performance. Neither man can pass Djokovic.

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In Draw With Djokovic For First Time In 2023, Alcaraz Says Biggest Rival Is Himself

  • Posted: May 12, 2023

In Draw With Djokovic For First Time In 2023, Alcaraz Says Biggest Rival Is Himself

Spaniard will secure return to World No. 1 by simply taking the court in Rome

The rivalry between Carlos Alcaraz and Novak Djokovic has played out at the top of the Pepperstone ATP Rankings this season, with the pair jockeying for World No. 1 throughout 2023. The 20-year-old Alcaraz began the year at the pinnacle of the men’s game and has since traded the top spot with Djokovic, with each man enjoying two separate stints as No. 1. 

Alcaraz will reclaim the honour from the Serbian in the next edition of the Pepperstone ATP Rankings by simply taking the court on Saturday for his Internazionali BNL d’Italia debut against fellow Spaniard Albert Ramos-Vinolas. But after months of back-and-forth drama, Alcaraz and Djokovic could meet on the court for the first time this year during the Rome ATP Masters 1000.

“Being in the same tournament with Novak is great, having him here and learning from him,” Alcaraz said, after injuries for both men prevented them from being in the same draw previously this season. “It’s always good having the best tennis players in the world in the tournament. It’s great. I hope to meet him in the final.

“I always say that as a tennis fan, I always want to see the best players in the world, to watch them, learn from them, because you have to learn from everyone. It’s great to share the tournament [with him].”

If the top two seeds meet in the Rome final, it would be their second ATP Head2Head meeting. Alcaraz won a thrilling 6-7(5), 7-5, 7-6(5) semi-final last year in Madrid on the way to completing a Spanish trophy double across Barcelona and the nation’s capital — a feat he repeated this season.

While the tennis world is eager to see the pair develop a rivalry on the court, Alcaraz said his biggest rival is himself.

“I said before that your biggest rival is yourself. It’s not only for me, it’s for everyone,” he explained. “You have to control yourself, your emotions first, then playing against the opponent.

“You have to choose the correct [tactics and shots] in every moment. That is really tough because we have just seconds before hitting the ball. It’s tough. It’s not just for me, it’s for everyone.”

As Alcaraz looks ahead for his Rome debut, his opening match also brings back memories of the past. The matchup against Ramos-Vinolas is a repeat of his very first ATP Tour match, which he won in a third-set tie-break in Rio de Janeiro in 2020.

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“It was a really good match for me, my first ATP win against him,” recalled Alcaraz, who now owns a 3-0 ATP Head2Head record against his countryman. “But, yeah, that was a long time ago.

“After that I played [him] a few times more. It was really tough. I would say it’s a good first round for me. I have to play well to get through. Let’s see. I’m going to enjoy my first match here. Obviously here it’s such a nice place to be, to play, to enjoy the Italian fans. It’s always great to play in front [of them]. I’m going to enjoy that moment.”

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Norrie Sails Through As Popyrin Stuns Felix In Rome

  • Posted: May 12, 2023

Norrie Sails Through As Popyrin Stuns Felix In Rome

Cerundolo rallies to down Wu at ATP Masters 1000

Cameron Norrie wasted little time kick-starting his Internazionali BNL d’Italia campaign on Friday morning in Rome.

The World No. 13 required just 74 minutes to down Alexandre Muller 6-2, 6-3 for a confidence-boosting second-round win at the ATP Masters 1000 event. Norrie entered the match with a modest 2-3 record on the European clay so far this year but the Briton fired 20 winners and converted three of his seven break points to overcome the No. 100-ranked Muller.

The 27-year-old Norrie, who defeated Carlos Alcaraz to lift his fifth ATP tour title in Rio de Janeiro in February, now takes on Marton Fucsovics as he bids for back-to-back main-draw victories in the Italian capital for the first time in four attempts.

Fucsovics will be looking to upset a seeded opponent for the second straight match after he took out 17th seed Alex de Minaur 6-3, 6-4. Norrie leads the Hungarian 4-0 in the pair’s ATP Head2Head series, including two wins on clay.

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Also on Friday, Alexei Popyrin completed a hat-trick of Top 10 wins for 2023 after he upset World No. 10 Felix Auger-Aliassime 6-4, 4-6, 7-5 in a three-hour, 17-minnute epic on Grand Stand Arena.

A pulsating encounter in which Auger-Aliassime struck 38 winners and Popyrin hit 36 tilted the Australian qualifier’s way after he sealed the only break of the deciding set in the 11th game with a stunning backhand pass. Popyrin then held his nerve behind serve to book a third-round spot on main-draw debut in Rome, where he will next face 22nd seed Sebastian Korda or Roman Safiullin.

In January, Popyrin also beat Auger-Aliassime (then No. 6 in the Pepperstone ATP Rankings) in Adelaide before he downed Taylor Fritz (then No. 9) at the Australian Open. Friday’s win moved the 23-year-old to 3-0 against Top 10 opponents this season.

Francisco Cerundolo was another three-set winner early on the Friday schedule at the Foro Italico. The Argentine trailed Wu Yibing 0-2 in the deciding set but rallied to a 4-6, 6-2, 6-3 triumph to advance. It was a first main-draw win in Rome for the 24-year-old, who next takes on 11th seed Karen Khachanov or Gregoire Barrere.

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Borges: 'I Am Living The Dream'

  • Posted: May 12, 2023

Borges: ‘I Am Living The Dream’

26-year-old faces Tsitsipas in Rome

Portugal’s Nuno Borges has enjoyed some rise in recent years. After clinching his maiden ATP Challenger Tour title in 2021, the 26-year-old cracked the Top 100 in the Pepperstone ATP Rankings for the first time in 2022.

On Thursday, the 26-year-old broke new ground again when he overcame Dusan Lajovic to earn his first ATP Masters 1000 match win at the Internazionali BNL d’Italia.

“I never imagined that I would be playing at tournaments like these even a few years ago. I am living the dream as a player,” Borges told “Rome is one of those tournaments you go and watch on TV, so to be here playing it’s really special. I have only started playing these big tournaments recently, so every match is like a final. Playing here on the big stage is incredible, I am just taking it all in.”

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Borges took his first steps into tennis aged six at his local club in Maia. While he had a number of different coaches, the World No. 88’s father, Paolo, was a constant pillar of support.

Paolo was also a professional sportsman, having won national championships in volleyball. Borges believes his father’s experience in the sporting world was crucial for his early development in tennis.

“My father gave me the first few steps into sport, but I guess he always let me choose whatever sport I picked. I really liked individual sports when younger. Maybe because I’m an only child too. I liked to be the one in charge and to be the one to do it and be responsible for my own result. Even though tennis is not absolutely like that, it is a little,” Borges said.

“I would throw so many tantrums when young. I would be such a sore loser after matches. And I think my dad helped me a lot, knowing how it is to go through losing, winning, preparing.”


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Aged 19, Borges opted to attend college in the United States while he weighed up his options. The Portuguese studied at Mississippi State University from 2016 to 2019 and thoroughly enjoyed the experience, which left him feeling ready to tackle the pro tour with everything he had.

“I didn’t feel ready for the Tour at 19 and I guess I bought myself a couple years and postponed my pro career to get ready,” Borges said. “And then when I jumped into pro, I was sure I wanted to do it. Because of my college days, I still feel very young on the Tour today, even though I’m 26. I feel like maybe a guy who is 21 or 22. That is about what I feel, how I feel with living these experiences and playing these big events.”

Off court, Borges enjoys baking, completing puzzles and exploring cities, with Melbourne his favourite destination.

The four-time ATP Challenger Tour champion will have to put his hobbies to the back of his mind on Saturday, though, when he takes on World No. 5 Stefanos Tsitsipas in the second round in Rome. It is the second time Borges will face a Top 5 opponent after he lost against Carlos Alcaraz in Barcelona last month.

The 26-year-old is looking to take the lessons that he learned from his match against the Spaniard when he plays Tsitsipas in the Italian capital.

“It will be another good learning experience,” Borges said. “I played Alcaraz and I guess it was similar. I knew I wasn’t the favourite and I tried to enjoy it, but I always go in to try to win. I mean, we’re all so competitive.

“I’m really enjoying this tournament and I’m for sure going to enjoy the challenge against Tsitsipas and hopefully I’ll play my best tennis because I am going to need it if I want to have any chance. I know I’m not the favourite, but I’ll also use that to bring out my best tennis. Play without pressure. I’m going to give it my all. I feel like I’m up to the challenge.”

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Sinner Soars Past Kokkinakis In Rome Opener

  • Posted: May 12, 2023

Sinner Soars Past Kokkinakis In Rome Opener

Home favourite meets Baez or Shevchenko next

Jannik Sinner gave a lesson in handling home pressure on Friday in Rome, where the highest-ranked Italian in the Pepperstone ATP Rankings made a lightning-fast start to his 2023 Internazionali BNL d’Italia campaign.

Sinner breezed past the dangerous Thanasi Kokkinakis 6-1, 6-4 to reach the third round at the ATP Masters 1000 event. A near-complete performance from the World No. 8 featured precise serving, fierce baseline hitting and high-class net play, and he wrapped victory in 79-minutes at the Foro Italico to improve to 13-3 at Masters 1000 level for the year.

Sinner is now 5-0 in his opening-round matches in Rome, where he reached the quarter-finals for the first time in 2022. His next test in the Italian capital is a third-round clash against Sebastian Baez or lucky loser Alexander Shevchenko.

More to follow…

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