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‘I Was The Same’: Hurkacz Welcomes ‘Hubi Cup’-Winning Kids To Halle

  • Posted: Jun 19, 2023

‘I Was The Same’: Hurkacz Welcomes ‘Hubi Cup’-Winning Kids To Halle

Pole defends title as sixth seed at this week’s ATP 500 in Germany

Hubert Hurkacz begins his Terra Wortmann Open title defence Tuesday against Christopher Eubanks in Halle. The World No. 17 will have some extra voices of support from the stands as he seeks a fast start at the grass-court ATP 500.

The Pole invited the seven winners from the inaugural Hubi Cup, an Under 12s tournament that he founded in his homeland, to Germany as his special guests at the OWL ARENA. Hurkacz was looking forward to showing his best form in front of some of the highest-ranked juniors in Poland.

“I think that’s going to be really cool [to have them at my match] and I hope the kids will enjoy it,” Hurkacz told “I think they definitely have a bright future ahead of them and I think seeing the players can also help them see things more clearly for themselves and see the path. I hope they will really enjoy this event.”

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Hubert Hurkacz greets the talented juniors at the tournament hotel in Halle on Monday afternoon. Photo: Andy West/ATP Tour.

The inaugural Hubi Cup took place from 1-4 June in Wroclaw, Hurkacz’s hometown. Although the 26-year-old’s ATP Tour commitments prevented him from attending the event, he was impressed with some of the video footage he saw.

“They look good and obviously the kids are playing some great tennis and competing well,” said the six-time ATP Tour titlist. “It’s always fun to see because I was the same. I came from Poland, playing the same [sort of] events.

“It’s really a great sport to bring the kids together and enjoy tennis, to have a nice trip and see some professional players competing. I hope the kids enjoy that and have fun out there.”

Hurkacz defeated Felix Auger-Aliassime, Nick Kyrgios and Daniil Medvedev en route to the crown a year ago in Halle, where he this week competes as the sixth seed.

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Medvedev Back On Track In Halle

  • Posted: Jun 19, 2023

Medvedev Back On Track In Halle

Top seed will next play Djere

Daniil Medvedev got back on track Monday in Halle, where he defeated Marcos Giron 6-4, 6-3 to reach the second round of the Terra Wortmann Open.

The top seed suffered an opening-round exit last week in Stuttgart, but was never in danger in his first match inside Owl Arena. Medvedev saved all three break points he faced to triumph after 71 minutes.

“It was a really tough match. It was definitely not the best match of my life,” Medvedev said in his on-court interview. “I was still lacking the rhythm a little bit. But [regardless of] that, he played very well.”

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The 27-year-old showed no fear of coming forward and won several fun exchanges with the American. He will next play Serbian Laslo Djere, who eliminated home favourite Oscar Otte 7-6(3), 6-3.

“I’m happy to win because sometimes grass is like this. You need to break one time in a set and serve well, and the match is yours,” Medvedev said. “And that’s what I managed to do… I think I had only three games where I had chances on his serve. I managed to take two of them, amazing, and I saved all of the tough moments I had on my serve.”

One year ago, Medvedev advanced to the final in Halle, where he won all eight sets he played en route to the championship match. Once there, he fell to Hubert Hurkacz in straight sets.

Medvedev has enjoyed success on grass before, having lifted an ATP 250 trophy two years ago in Mallorca. The World No. 3 owns a 65.4 winning percentage on the surface (34-18).

Did You Know?
According to Infosys ATP Stats, Medvedev on Monday became the first player to reach 40 tour-level wins in 2023. He is now 40-7 on the season and five wins clear of Carlos Alcaraz (35-4), who is second on the list.

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Tsitsipas Holds Nerve To Oust Barrere In Halle

  • Posted: Jun 19, 2023

Tsitsipas Holds Nerve To Oust Barrere In Halle

Second seed edges Frenchman to set Jarry clash

Stefanos Tsitsipas overcame a ferocious challenge from Gregoire Barrere to kick-start his Terra Wortmann Open campign on Monday. The second seed edged his French opponent 6-7(6), 6-4, 7-6(3) in Halle.

Tsitsipas trailed by a set and a break at 6-7(6), 1-3, but wore Barrere down for a two-hour, 22-minute victory. The Greek was the more consistent player in the second half of the match, particularly during the deciding-set tie-break, as he booked a second-round clash against Nicolas Jarry at the grass-court ATP 500.

“I just tried smiling. It kind of worked,” said Tsitsipas, when asked about how he kept his cool when trailing in the second set. “At that point you think, ‘I’ve been giving 100 per cent’. I was trying to think, ‘What can I do better?’

“I wasn’t too consistent with my returns. He had a few second serves where I tried to do much. I just thought I could have done much better in that department and psychologically I think it helped my opponent [settle].”

His victory against the World No. 58 was a gutsy response from Tsitsipas after he began his grass-court season with defeat to Richard Gasquet in ‘s-Hertogenbosch last week. The Greek deployed serve-and-volley tactics effectively to forge his comeback inside OWL ARENA, where he won 76 per cent (28/37) of points when he came to the net.

“I feel so in my natural habitat when I’m in front of the net,” said Tsitsipas. “Serve and volleying, I don’t get to do that very often and I feel like grass allows me to do that a bit more… My serve proved to be a massive weapon today in regards of giving me that first volley I was looking for and making my life a bit easier at the net.”

The World No. 5 Tsitsipas is now 32-10 for the 2023 season. The 24-year-old, who reached the championship match at January’s Australian Open and in Barcelona in April, is chasing his first title of the year. The Greek reached the second round in Halle on his two previous appearances, in 2018 and 2022.

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Cazaux Climbs In Next Gen Race After Nottingham Run

  • Posted: Jun 19, 2023

Cazaux Climbs In Next Gen Race After Nottingham Run

Stricker moves one spot to eighth

Arthur Cazaux has boosted his chances of competing at the Next Gen ATP Finals after rising five places to seventh (300 points) in the Pepperstone ATP Live Next Gen Race.

The 20-year-old Frenchman enjoyed an impressive run at the ATP Challenger 125 event in Nottingham, where he came through qualifying to reach the championship match. Cazaux did not drop a set in the main draw en route to the final, with former World No. 1 Andy Murray eventually stopping him.

Cazaux, who is aiming to make his debut at the 21-and-under event this season, captured a Challenger Tour crown in Thailand earlier this season.

Player  Points
1) Carlos Alcaraz  4,175
2) Holger Rune 2,485
3) Lorenzo Musetti 885
4) Arthur Fils 693
5) Ben Shelton 555
6) Luca Van Assche  435
7) Arthur Cazaux 300
8) Dominic Stricker 281

The 20-year-old Dominic Stricker has also jumped one spot to eighth (281 points) after advancing to the quarter-finals in Nottingham. The Swiss lefty is bidding to compete at the Next Gen ATP Finals for the second consecutive year, after reaching the semi-finals in 2022.

Frenchman Arthur Fils remains in strong contention in fourth (693 points). The 19-year-old will compete at the Cinch Championships this week after coming through qualifying at the ATP 500 grass-court event.

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Tiafoe Makes Top 10 Debut: 'I'm Going To Remember That Forever'

  • Posted: Jun 19, 2023

Tiafoe Makes Top 10 Debut: ‘I’m Going To Remember That Forever’

Tiafoe joins fellow American Fritz in the Top 10

Frances Tiafoe cracked the Top 10 in the Pepperstone ATP Rankings for the first time Monday after winning a thrilling final against Jan-Lennard Struff at the BOSS OPEN in Stuttgart. The American, at a career-high World No. 10, is the first player to break into the elite group this season.

“Super emotional. Super emotional for a guy like me with my story and everything,” Tiafoe said. “[I am] a guy who shouldn’t even really be here doing half the things he’s doing. And now when you say his name, you can say he’s Top 10 in the world. So [that is] something that no one can take from you and I’m going to remember that forever. And hopefully, I can ride that for a long time.”

Tiafoe’s background story, which will be detailed in Netflix’s hit tennis docuseries Break Point, is fit for Hollywood. His parents are both from Sierra Leone. Frances’ mother, Alphina, worked two jobs and his father, Frances Sr., was a maintenance worker at a tennis club in College Park, Maryland.

Tiafoe would often spend time at the facility, where he would hit a ball against the wall whenever possible. Sometimes Frances and twin brother Franklin would sleep in their father’s office. A career in professional tennis seemed far away.

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But with a love for the sport and plenty of determination, Tiafoe became one of the world’s most promising juniors, winning the prestigious Orange Bowl aged 15. He eventually climbed to junior World No. 2 and broke into the Top 100 of the Pepperstone ATP Rankings in October 2016 at the age of 18.

#BigFoeOnTheComeUp became a part of the tennis world’s lexicon as the American surged towards the top of the sport. In 2018 at Delray Beach, he became an ATP Tour champion for the first time. The following January, he cracked the Top 30.

But Tiafoe struggled to make progress from there. Athleticism, speed and defensive skills helped him reach that point, but there were still improvements to make. A rising star with an infectious smile and energy, he thrilled crowds throughout the world, but was unable to consistently put his game together for long enough stretches.

Just before the Covid-19 pandemic flipped the world upside down in early 2020, South African Wayne Ferreira became the coach of Tiafoe, who was World No. 81 at the time.

“You cannot teach that and you don’t want to take that personality away from him. His personality is very, very special,” Ferreira wrote of Tiafoe’s personality in September 2020. “But a personality like that is sometimes difficult to convert into focus and intensity. It has pros and cons. He enjoys his tennis. He loves what he does for a living, but there are also more difficulties in keeping focussed. It’s good and bad.

“We know that if Frances can maintain his best level, he can do great things.”

Tiafoe’s focus became the centre of Ferreira’s attention. The former World No. 6 tried every trick to help his charge perform more consistently for longer periods of time. Physical training no longer featured phone use, for example.

Slowly, with improved focus and upgrades to his forehand and serve, the results began to show. The biggest payoff came at last year’s US Open, where Tiafoe broke into the mainstream.

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The home favourite upset Rafael Nadal en route to the semi-finals of the season’s final major. In doing so, he found the perfect mix of harnessing the crowd’s energy and sticking to his aggressive gameplan.

Despite falling short in a five-set thriller against eventual champion Carlos Alcaraz, Tiafoe showed what he is capable of on the world’s biggest stages. He earned the support of plenty of celebrities, from NBA icon LeBron James to Michelle Obama, who was in the stands for the Alcaraz match.

Earlier this year, Tiafoe participated in the NBA All-Star Celebrity Game for the first time. With his growing profile, the American has been determined to use his growing influence to help inspire future generations.

In 2020, Tiafoe earned the Arthur Ashe Humanitarian Award. He wrote in a piece for about why setting a good example is important.

“It’s about more than just setting up my family for life. What about those kids? I want to help them write their stories right the first time,” Tiafoe wrote. “If there are kids out there who do not think they can achieve their dreams, I want to change that. I really believe success is in everyone. I want to paint a picture for them that they did not know was possible. I want to help them make that a reality.”

Tiafoe on Monday became the third African-American man to reach the Top 10, joining Ashe and James Blake. Tiafoe and Taylor Fritz are the first American pair in the Top 10 since Mardy Fish and John Isner the week of 7 May 2012.

The 25-year-old, who helped the United States win the inaugural United Cup title to begin the 2023 season, is also 12th in the Pepperstone ATP Live Race To Turin. Tiafoe is trying to qualify for the Nitto ATP Finals for the first time.

Regardless of what his future holds, Tiafoe’s journey to this point has been one to remember.

“I think it’s a great message for anybody really that you can end up achieving greatness from where you are coming,” Ferreira said during last year’s US Open. “Frances has been lucky in some ways of having great help from people along the way. But it’s a great story. Hopefully there will be a movie about it one day.”

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