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Thiem Toughs Out Dramatic Kitzbuehel Victory

  • Posted: Aug 01, 2023

Thiem Toughs Out Dramatic Kitzbuehel Victory

Former World No. 3 saves seven set points across two sets

Let’s not call it a resurgence, but Dominic Thiem took another important step towards rebuilding his career at the Generali Open Tuesday.

Cheered on by a raucous home crowd, the 2020 US Open champion survived the first round for the third consecutive tour-level event and claimed his 10th match win of the year with a dramatic 7-6(3), 7-6(6) win in two hours and 22 minutes over Argentine Facundo Bagnis.

It may sound like a modest milestone for a Grand Slam champion, but the Austrian is taking nothing for granted in 2023 after losing nine of the first 10 matches he played this season.

The 2019 Kitzbuehel champion and 2014 finalist staved off five set points on serve in the 10th game of the opening set and another two set points in the second-set tie-break.

Thiem, who served 10 aces, trailed 2-4 before a lengthy rain delay interrupted the match. He immediately broke back when the match resumed and played an aggressive brand of tennis to push on to victory.

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“It was another great, great night here in Kitzbuehel,” Thiem said on court after the match. “It’s the third time I kicked off the tournament with a night session and all three of them have been legendary. It was not easy with the rain delay but it was an amazing atmosphere with everyone staying. I’m so happy I am through to the second round.

“In the first set when we came back from the rain delay I played a very good level and he kept it up, so it was an even match. I played offensively and finished many points at the net. “

Thiem, who two weeks ago reached the second round in Gstaad, repeated his win over Bagnis in the first round of Umag last week.

Thiem lost nine of his first 10 matches in 2023, and came into this tournament No. 116 in the Pepperstone ATP Rankings. He went 6-5 during the clay swing through Roland Garros but went winless during the grass swing, which included a valiant fifth-set tie-break loss to Stefanos Tsitsipas in the first round of Wimbledon.

Suffering a tear in his right wrist that forced him to miss nine months from June 2021-March 2022, Thiem is looking for his first title since claiming his lone major in New York in September 2020.

Eighth-seeded German Daniel Altmaier came up big when it mattered most to defeat Swiss Marc-Andrea Huesler 6-7(2), 6-2, 6-4 to reach the second round. The 2021 semi-finalist saved three of the four break points he faced and converted all four break chances on his opponent’s serve to claim his 11th match win of the year.

Altmaier, who hits with a one-handed backhand like his childhood idols Roger Federer and Stan Wawrinka, also defeated Huesler in the first round of Roland Garros this year.

Altmaier will next face Colombian World No. 76 Daniel Elahi Galan.

Brazilian Thiago Seyboth Wild picked up his first tour-level win since Roland Garros (where he stunned Daniil Medvedev in the first round en route to the third round) when he defeated Austrian Dennis Novak 6-3, 6-4

The World No. 117 will next face Serbian Laslo Djere, who last week reached the final of the ATP 500 in Hamburg.

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Shang Battles Past Shelton In All-#NextGenATP Washington Clash

  • Posted: Aug 01, 2023

Shang Battles Past Shelton In All-#NextGenATP Washington Clash

Dimitrov, Kokkinakis also advance

Two weeks, two wins for Shang Juncheng against Ben Shelton.

In a battle of #NextGenATP stars, 18-year-old Shang defeated home favourite Shelton 6-2, 3-6, 6-3 on Tuesday to reach the third round of the Mubadala Citi DC Open.

“I’m definitely very happy right now,” Shang told “Ben is not an easy player to beat. I think I’ve got a game that kind of suits me to playing him.”

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Last week, Shang eliminated Shelton 6-4, 6-4 at the Atlanta Open. One week later, he broke his opponent’s serve five times from nine chances to triumph in three sets after one hour and 42 minutes.

“I’ve got a great return I think and in the past two weeks, I’ve been returning really well. So I think that was the key today, to break a few service games from him,” Shang said. “Overall, I’m playing very confident and I’m just very patient on court and fighting for each point.”

It was the Chinese teen’s fourth win in as many days in Washington, where he won two qualifying rounds over the weekend before ousting Emilio Gomez in the first round on Monday.

The timing for Shang’s success is good, because next Monday he will drop 80 Pepperstone ATP Rankings points he earned by winning the Lexington ATP Challenger Tour event last year. He is at a career-high World No. 149. Shang will next play second seed Frances Tiafoe or Aslan Karatsev.

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In other action, fifth seed Grigor Dimitrov earned his place in the third round with a 7-6(6), 6-2 victory over Mackenzie McDonald. The 2017 Nitto ATP Finals champion is competing in Washington for the eighth time and in 2013 advanced to the quarter-finals.

Australian Thanasi Kokkinakis also moved on with a 2-6, 6-4, 6-4 win against Japan’s Taro Daniel. Another Japanese player, lucky loser Sho Shimabukuro, claimed his first ATP Tour victory with a 6-4, 6-3 triumph over South African Lloyd Harris.

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Nishikori Withdraws From Washington

  • Posted: Aug 01, 2023

Nishikori Withdraws From Washington

Japanese star owns an 18-7 record at the event

Kei Nishikori withdrew from the Mubadala Citi DC Open on Tuesday due to a left knee injury. The Japanese star was replaced in the draw by Sho Shimabukuro, who will face South African Lloyd Harris.

The 33-year-old returned from a 20-month absence in June, when he won an ATP Challenger Tour title in Puerto Rico. He won eight of his 10 Challenger-level matches before returning to ATP Tour action last week in Atlanta.

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The former World No. 4 showed his good form at the Atlanta Open, an ATP 250 event, where he made the quarter-finals with straight-sets victories over Jordan Thompson and Shang Juncheng. 

Nishikori owns an 18-7 record in Washington, where he won the title in 2015 and has reached two additional semi-finals. His most recent appearance in Washington came in 2021.

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Carlos Alcaraz's Brother Jaime, 12, Triumphs On The Rafa Nadal Tour

  • Posted: Aug 01, 2023

Carlos Alcaraz’s Brother Jaime, 12, Triumphs On The Rafa Nadal Tour

World No. 1’s younger brother has won the prestigious circuit’s Madrid heat

Editor’s note: This story was translated from

Starting to get used to hearing the name Alcaraz? Its place on Tour may be even more assured than anyone imagined.

While Carlos Alcaraz has been impressing fans the world over with his meteoric rise to becoming the youngest No. 1 in the Pepperstone ATP Rankings history, his biggest fan has been watching on from home.

His brother Jaime, at just 12 years of age the youngest of the four Alcaraz Garfia siblings, won a Rafa Nadal Tour heat this week in the under-12 category in Madrid. In a 48-player draw at the Club Internacional de Tenis Monte del Pilar, the Murcia native enjoyed a successful campaign, turning plenty of heads along the way.

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Jaime won the title seven years after Carlos triumphed on the same circuit. The current World No. 1 left an indelible mark on the competition, winning the Masters in both the under-12 (2015) and under-14 (2016) events, demonstrating his unstoppable talent even before his teenage years.

As the fourth seed, Jaime only dropped two sets in the five matches he required to claim the trophy. The brother of the recent Wimbledon champion claimed a 6-1, 1-6, 10/1 victory over Madrid native Beltrán Serrano, one of the best players in Spain in his age group.

The Rafa Nadal Tour is a charity tennis circuit that was conceived in 2014 by the former No. 1 in the Pepperstone ATP Rankings to benefit the Rafa Nadal Foundation. Held annually, it includes under-12, under-14 and under-16 categories for both boys and girls. Its objective is to instil in young players the great values of sport, such as hard work, respect, determination and humility.

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The 2023 Rafa Nadal Tour holds events in Barcelona (RCT Barcelona – 1899), Mairena del Aljarafe – Seville (Club Río Grande), Valldoreix-Barcelona (Club Esportiu Valldoreix), Valencia (Club Español de Tenis), Alicante (Club Atlético Montemar), Majadahonda-Madrid (Club Internacional de Tenis) and Gran Canaria (Cortijo Club de Campo).

The Masters event will be held from 2-5 November in Mallorca (Rafa Nadal Academy by Movistar), where the top seven in the circuit’s ranking will compete in under-12 and under-14 categories, along with the top four in the under-16 event. The four winners of the “Values trophy” will also take part (two under-12s and two under-14s).

The under-12, under-14 and under-16 Spanish championships, held by the RFET, also count towards the circuit’s ranking. Therefore, the players from each of these tournaments will pick up points according to the round they reach.

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Zhang Heads Up High Ahead Of Historic Kitzbühel Appearance

  • Posted: Aug 01, 2023

Zhang Heads Up High Ahead Of Historic Kitzbühel Appearance

26-year-old will be first Chinese player to compete in event history

Will the fresh mountain air power Zhang Zhizhen to an impressive debut this week at the Generali Open?

The World No. 53 will step on court against Dusan Lajovic on Tuesday as the first Chinese player to compete in the 79-year history of the Kitzbühel event. The ATP 250 takes place against the stunning backdrop of the Austrian Alps, and Zhang took a break in his preparations to visit the famous nearby Hahnenkamm mountain.

“It’s my first time here in Kitzbühel. They have very good views,” said Zhang. “For winter they have ski racing here. It’s impressive to see the ski jumping from here, which for me would be impossible.”

Zhang Zhizhen

Photo Credit: Generali Open | Alexander Scheuber

A highlight of the Hahnenkamm is the famous Streif downhill course, one of the most demanding on the professional skiing circuit. Zhang expressed a desire to return to Kitzbühel in winter to see the area under snow.

“In China we don’t really have too many places for skiing. We have some, but I live in Shanghai and it is not really snowing. I would like to see big snow [one day].”

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Zhang arrived for his historic appearance in Kitzbühel fresh from reaching his maiden ATP Tour semi-final at the Hamburg European Open. Now on the brink of becoming the first Chinese man to break the Top 50 of the Pepperstone ATP Rankings, he is pleased to be leading a squad of emerging talents from his country that also includes Wu Yibing and Shang Juncheng.

“We are are playing more at ATP Tour level and improving our ranking,” said the 26-year-old. “So we try to play higher tournaments. I didn’t know I was the first one to come here [to Kitzbühel], but I am happy to be the first.”

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Isner Holds Off Hijikata, Sets Tsitsipas Clash In Los Cabos

  • Posted: Aug 01, 2023

Isner Holds Off Hijikata, Sets Tsitsipas Clash In Los Cabos

American notches 350th tour-level win on hard courts at ATP 250

John Isner held firm in the face of a late Rinky Hijikata comeback Monday to kick-start his 2023 campaign at the Mifel Tennis Open by Telcel Oppo with a 6-2, 7-6(4) victory in Los Cabos.

The big-serving Isner led Hijikata 6-2, 5-3 at the hard-court ATP 250 before the Australian ramped up the pressure by forcing a second-set tie-break in the pair’s maiden Lexus ATP Head2Head clash. Hijikata then forged an immediate 3/0 lead to boost his chances of forcing a deciding set on the Mexican Pacific coast, but Isner claimed seven of the final eight points to pull through in one hour and 54 minutes.

“It’s a lot of relief. I felt like the match could have been a little bit easier at the end, but my opponent started to play a bit better,” said Isner in his on-court interview. “He made me play and I got a little tight. That’s what happens in tennis. I’m happy to win.”

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It was a 350th tour-level hard-court victory for Isner, who hit 31 winners, including 19 aces. Now 8-11 for the 2023 season, the 16-time tour-level titlist will next face top seed Stefanos Tsitsipas at an event where he reached the semi-finals in 2021.

“We have played each other a bunch,” said Isner, when asked about the Tsitsipas clash. “I think I won the first couple of times and he’s won the last five, so I’m going to try to turn that around.

“He’s an incredible player, obviously. You don’t get to No. 3 in the world without being really good, so it’s going to be a big challenge. I will definitely have to play my best, because if I don’t I have no chance of winning.”

Isner’s countryman Aleksandar Kovacevic also sealed a straight-sets win Monday. The World No. 129 beat qualifier Omni Kumar 6-2, 7-5 to set a meeting with second seed Cameron Norrie. Third seed Tommy Paul’s opening opponent will be Felipe Meligeni Alves, after the Brazilian moved past Alejandro Tabilo 6-2, 6-4.

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Monfils Launches Into D.C. Second Round

  • Posted: Aug 01, 2023

Monfils Launches Into D.C. Second Round

Frenchman advances to play fellow showman Bublik

Former World No. 6 Gael Monfils collected just his second tour-level win of the season and first since Roland Garros when he defeated American Bjorn Fratangelo 6-3, 6-4 in the first round of the Mubadala Citi DC Open Monday night in Washington, D.C.

Taking up residence deep behind the baseline, the 36-year-old Frenchman used his speed and athleticism to build a defensive wall that the 30-year-old Pittsburgh native was unable to penetrate on his 2023 main-draw tour-level debut. En route to his 527th match win, Monfils also delighted fans with two signature slam-dunk smashes.

Monfils, who at No. 323 in the Pepperstone ATP Rankings needed a wild card into the main draw, withdrew from the second round of his home Grand Slam with a left wrist injury and played his first match since Roland Garros last week in Atlanta.

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“It’s great to be back in Washington. I love the support here. I started strong and it’s another good match under my belt,” said Monfils, who received a post-match congratulatory kiss from wife, WTA Tour star Elina Svitolina, who also picked up a win Monday.

“It’s a good night for both of us and hopefully we can keep it going this week.”

Monfils, who next meets fellow showman, Kazakhstan’s Alexander Bublik, has reached at least one ATP final for 18 straight seasons (2005-22) and has 11 titles to his name.

Former finalist Mackenzie McDonald picked up his first win in three career meetings with Diego Schwartzman when he defeated the World No. 95 6-3, 6-3. McDonald saved the lone break point he faced while converting three of nine opportunities on the 30-year-old’s serve.

The World No. 60 Californian defeated former champions Nick Kyrgios and Kei Nishikori en route to the 2021 title match, where he lost to Jannik Sinner.

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Michael Mmoh turned his 2023 win-loss record into positive territory (8-7) with a 6-3, 6-3 defeat of fellow American, qualifier Bradley Klahn, who was chasing his first tour-level win since the 2019 US Open.

China’s fast-rising 18-year-old lefty Shang Juncheng won his opening-round match for the second consecutive week (Atlanta) with a 6-3, 6-3 win over Ecuador’s Emilio Gomez. Shang was solid from the baseline, winning 60 per cent of points on his second serve.

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Korda Dishes On Agassi's Influence & Washington Memories

  • Posted: Aug 01, 2023

Korda Dishes On Agassi’s Influence & Washington Memories

American is the eighth seed at the ATP 500

Sebastian Korda remembers when he was a junior running around the grounds of the Mubadala Citi DC Open. His father, Petr Korda, coached Radek Stepanek, the 2011 champion

Now ‘Sebi’ is not running around the lounge and locker room, but attracting fans to the court with his powerful game. The 23-year-old is the eighth seed this week at the ATP 500 event.

“Washington has to be one of my favourite stops definitely on tour, just kind of being here as a 12, 13 and 14-year-old kid with my dad and Radek Stepanek,” Korda told “Just to kind of experience everything was really cool. Being in the locker room for the first time and just being around the players, I have a lot of great memories from this tournament. It’s definitely very special.”

On Sunday, the American was cooling down on a bike in the players’ gym when he noticed a photo of his mentor, former World No. 1 Andre Agassi, on signage outside.

“I sent him a selfie with me and him with the plaque in the back,” Korda said. “He’s just a very special person to me. He’s obviously kind of tennis royalty in a way and just to have someone like that in my corner, I think it’s pretty special.”

Agassi coincidentally played Korda’s father, Petr, in the 1991 Washington final. Agassi won the match 6-3, 6-4 for one of his five titles at the tournament.

“I’m pretty sure Andre was playing night matches every single day and my dad was playing first on at like one o’clock when it was really hot,” Korda said, cracking a laugh. “And I think Andre just smoked my dad in the final.”

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Agassi has become a valuable guide for Korda. The 60-time tour-level titlist often watches his mentee’s matches and provides feedback.

“He sees life in a different way than everyone else. He’s just a very positive, outgoing person, has a massive, massive heart. He’ll do absolutely anything for the people that he’s close with,” Korda said. “He’s just a really great human being. Just the way that he sees tennis in a way is very different. He thinks about different things from other people. Kind of what he can do to get a bigger advantage in tennis.”

This is the first tournament of Korda’s hard-court swing. The surface typically caters to the American’s powerful baseline game.

“I love playing on the hard courts, especially in the U.S.,” Korda said. “I think it’s so much fun to play around here. Everything’s super close. All the fans are great. It’s just really comfortable being here in a country you grew up in and everything’s just super easy.”

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Korda began his season on a high by reaching an ATP 250 final in Adelaide, holding championship point against Novak Djokovic before falling short. He then advanced to the Australian Open quarter-finals with wins over Daniil Medvedev and Hubert Hurkacz along the way.

After retiring in the quarter-finals due to an elbow injury, Korda did not play until April in Madrid. He is excited for the rest of the season.

“Started off great and there was kind of a speed bump in the middle, but there are things that you kind of have to go through as a tennis player,” Korda said. “You learn from them and you keep going. I’m grateful for my journey right now and I couldn’t be happier to be back playing to a high level again.”

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Retiring Huey Reflects On 'Absolute Dream Come True'

  • Posted: Aug 01, 2023

Retiring Huey Reflects On ‘Absolute Dream Come True’

Eight-time ATP Tour doubles titlist recalls his favourite Tour moment

Treat Huey was honoured Monday evening at the Mubadala Citi DC Open in recognition of his retirement from professional tennis. The eight-time ATP Tour doubles titlist’s career came to a close Saturday evening when he lost alongside Marcos Giron in qualifying at the ATP 500.

“It’s definitely pretty emotional. Saturday night when we lost, coming off the court I had a tear or two. But yeah, it was something I absolutely enjoyed, and had the greatest time ever playing on Tour,” Huey said. “Growing up as a kid, I was like, ‘I’d love to be good enough to play this tournament one time’, and ended up playing it a couple times, winning it once. So it was an absolute dream come true.

“It was amazing I played for 14, 15 years, so I had an amazing time.”

<a href=Treat Huey” />
Photo: ATP Tour
Huey, a Filipino from Washington who played college tennis at the University of Virginia, was joined on Stadium Court by several colleagues and staff members from the ATP Tour and the tournament, including tournament chairman Mark Ein.

“That’s what I loved about being on the Tour, making a tonne of friends from all over the world and really enjoying that part of travelling together [to] different tournaments and experiencing different parts of the world and playing tennis everywhere,” Huey said. “Competing against everybody, you might not like each other here on the court sometimes, but we all understand it. So it’s a good competitive sport.

“The people that I get along with we’ll get along the rest of our lives. We’ll definitely stay in touch.”

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Former World No. 1 Rajeev Ram, who is a year and a half older than Huey, has known the lefty since their junior days.

“He made the [Nitto] ATP Finals one year and obviously did pretty well at Wimbledon and won a bunch of titles out here,” Ram said. “So I think for someone to come out and have made a real impact on the Tour, especially representing the Philippines and making a great living out here playing, I thought it was an incredible achievement for him. I certainly wish him the best in the future.”

Among Huey’s accolades are his eight tour-level trophies, competing in the 2016 Nitto ATP Finals alongside Max Mirnyi, reaching the Wimbledon semi-finals with Mirnyi that same year and winning the Washington title in 2012 .

“Making year-end finals was probably the biggest. That was always one of my biggest goals even the first couple of years,” Huey said. “Once you get to the US Open and see the points race, see everybody going into it, I was always like God, I’ve always loved to be on that race on the board…

“To make it in 2016, it was a dream come true and everything I put all that hard work into doing and had a great year there and it worked out, so it was something that was absolutely incredible.”

Huey will take his experience to the college level as he serves as an assistant coach at the University of Virginia.

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