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McDonald/Shelton Move Into Washington SFs

  • Posted: Aug 03, 2023

McDonald/Shelton Move Into Washington SFs

Wild cards will next meet third seeds Glasspool/Heliovaara

Americans Mackenzie McDonald and Ben Shelton survived a thrilling battle Thursday to reach the semi-finals at the Mubadala Citi DC Open.

The wild cards defeated Juan Sebastian Cabal and Matthew Ebden 6-4, 3-6, 10-8 after dropping just six points behind their first serve. McDonald and Shelton fought off seven of eight break points faced and despite winning 64 total points to Cabal and Ebden’s 65, the American duo advanced to the last four, where they will meet third seeds Lloyd Glasspool and Harri Heliovaara.

At 7/7 in the Match Tie-break, the Washington crowd was brought to their feet when McDonald and Shelton won an exciting rally. The Americans displayed great defence before the 20-year-old Shelton sealed the point with a volley that pegged Cabal. Shelton celebrated the dramatic point by sprinting back to the baseline, high-fiving a fan along the way.

Cabal and Ebden were aiming to back up their opening-round upset against top seeds Rajeev Ram and Joe Salisbury.

Belgians Sander Gille and Joran Vliegen downed Jamie Murray and Michael Venus 7-6(4), 4-6, 10-8 to also advance to the ATP 500 semi-finals.

Third seeds Sadio Doumbia and Fabien Reboul ousted Guido Andreozzi and Guillermo Duran 7-6(5), 7-6(3) to book their semi-final ticket at the Generali Open.

Fourth seeds Gonzalo Escobar and Aleksandr Nedovyesov cruised past Romain Arneodo and Sam Weissborn 6-3, 6-2. The Colombian-Kazakh pair will next meet Francisco Cabral and Rafael Matos, who beat Simone Bolelli and Andrea Vavassori 7-6(3), 7-6(5).

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Djokovic & Cacic To Reunite In Cincinnati Doubles Draw

  • Posted: Aug 03, 2023

Djokovic & Cacic To Reunite In Cincinnati Doubles Draw

Evans/Murray, Davidovich Fokina/Tsitsipas among entry list

Several singles stars will join the world’s top doubles teams in a jam-packed field at the Western & Southern Open, where Novak Djokovic will partner countryman Nikola Cacic.

The doubles World No. 57 Cacic last teamed with Djokovic at the Davis Cup Finals and ATP Cup in 2021, tallying a 1-2 record. The ATP Masters 1000 event in Cincinnati will mark Djokovic’s first doubles action since he partnered Vasek Pospisil in Adelaide to start this season.

Stefanos Tsitsipas will play with Spaniard Alejandro Davidovich Fokina in Cincinnati, where the Greek made the doubles semi-finals last year alongside Holger Rune. Hubert Hurkacz and Mate Pavic will aim for their second team title when they compete at the Western & Southern Open.

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Wimbledon champions Wesley Koolhof and Neal Skupski and defending Cincinnati titlists Rajeev Ram and Joe Salisbury will also be in action at the Lindner Family Tennis Center.

Ivan Dodig and Austin Krajicek, who have collected four tour-level titles this season including Roland Garros, are among the field. Nikola Mektic will partner John Peers.

Other teams include Daniel Evans and Andy Murray, Max Purcell and Andrey Rublev, Marcelo Melo and Alexander Zverev, and Australian Open champions Rinky Hijikata and Jason Kubler.

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Thiem Steps Up After 'Horrible' Start

  • Posted: Aug 03, 2023

Thiem Steps Up After ‘Horrible’ Start

Austrian seeks first final in almost three years

Former World No. 3 Dominic Thiem rallied from a set down for the second consecutive match to charge into the semi-finals of the Generali Open Thursday.

The hometown hero defeated Frenchman Arthur Rinderknech 4-6, 6-3, 6-4 and is now one win away from reaching his first final since the 2020 Nitto ATP Finals almost three years ago. Thiem dropped serve in the opening game but thereafter didn’t face a break point.

“It was another great, great night here. The first game was horrible but from then on it was really good against an opponent who is playing great tennis at the moment,” said Thiem, who last reached an ATP semi-final in Antwerp almost a year ago “It’s my first semi-final of the year and I couldn’t have chosen a better place.

“Everything is coming together here. The incredible support of the home crowd is something I can rely on every single match, which is such a huge advantage for me. I also have a lot of experience playing here. It’s my 13th or 14th time. I am super happy to be in the last four.”

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Thiem is looking increasingly confident from the back court and was strong on serve, winning 79 per cent of first-serve points. But he will look to improve his break point conversion ratio moving forward after taking just two of 10 opportunities against Rinderknech.

Thiem lost nine of his first 10 matches in 2023, and came into this tournament No. 116 in the Pepperstone ATP Rankings. He was 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 at the US Open in September 2020.

Rinderknech came into the tournament high on confidence, having won the Zug Challenger last week in Switzerland.

On Friday Thiem will meet Serbian Laslo Djere, who defeated Argentine Pedro Cachin 6-4, 6-2 to claim his third straight-sets win of the tournament. The fifth seed, who reached the final of the ATP 500 in Hamburg last week, improved to 26-18 on the season. He has already risen five spots this week to No. 33 in the Pepperstone ATP Live Rankings.

Top-seeded Argentine Tomas Martin Etcheverry came from a set down to defeat Colombian Daniel Elahi Galan 6-7(6), 6-3, 6-4 to set up a quarter-final meeting with countryman Sebastian Baez, who defeated Slovakian Alex Molcan 6-4, 6-3.

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It’s Complicated, But Paul Advances In Los Cabos

  • Posted: Aug 03, 2023

It’s Complicated, But Paul Advances In Los Cabos

American struggles to close out match, fights off four set points in second set

Third seed Tommy Paul needed eight match points to close out gallant Brazilian Felipe Meligeni Alves to reach the quarter-finals of the Mifel Tennis Open by Telcel Oppo in Los Cabos Wednesday.

Meligeni Alves, the nephew of former pro Fernando Meligeni, rallied from 0/40 in his final two service games of the second set, saving four match points the first time of asking and then another three to force a tie-break.

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Paul was forced to fight off four set points in the tie-break before closing out a 7-5, 7-6(7) win in two hours and 12 minutes.

“I knew it wasn’t going to be easy as he played a great match on Monday and he played a really high level of tennis,” said Paul, an Australian Open semi-finalist this year. “I was sweating through my shoes so I was thinking that I really don’t want to lose this tie-break and change my shoes and do a full switch out. I was really trying to win that set.”

The 26-year-old American, who improved to 5-1 on Mexican soil this year, will next face the man he lost to in the Acapulco final earlier in the year, Australian Alex de Minaur.

“I think we’d rather play later in the tournament, but I’m up for it and I think it will be a really good match again,” Paul said.

Fifth seed De Minaur dropped just three games in a 6-2, 6-1 win over World No. 136 Argentine Thiago Agustin Tirante.

Seventh seed, German Dominik Koepfer, enjoyed a strong 6-2, 6-2 win over Australian James Duckworth.

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Fritz Extends Hot Hard-Court Form In D.C.

  • Posted: Aug 03, 2023

Fritz Extends Hot Hard-Court Form In D.C.

Californian chasing third title of season

Top seed Taylor Fritz claimed his 17th win from 20 matches on American soil this season when he defeated practice partner Zachary Svajda 6-3, 6-3 in the feature night match at the Mubadala Citi DC Open in Washington, D.C. Wednesday.

Fritz, who twice rallied from 0/40 down in the second set, will next face former World No. 1 Andy Murray.

Trying to work his way into contention to qualify for the season-ending Nitto ATP Finals, Fritz has the opportunity to move inside the cut in eighth position in the Pepperstone ATP Live Race To Turin with a title this week.

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“Zach and I have trained together consistently for the past couple of years; I try to give him advice. He’s not someone you want to see on the other side of the court. I know what level he is capable of,” Fritz said.

Coming off his second title of the season last week in Atlanta, Fritz stitched up the first set against 20-year-old Svajda with love breaks in the third and eighth games. The 25-year-old dug himself out of a 0/40 hold in the fifth game of the second set and claimed the decisive break three games later.

Three factors underpinned Fritz’s victory: He won 29 of 34 points on his first serve, he clubbed 32 winners to Savjda’s nine and he saved all eight break points faced.

“I played all those points well,” Fritz said of the break points he faced in the second set. “A mix of good serving and some good shots I hit. It was one of those nights when I was playing a bit loser.

“It’s going to be a tough match against Andy, who is such an amazing competitor. The conditions are really, really slow so that will help him in the match a little bit.”

French wild card Gael Monfils used his dazzling court speed to thwart the variety in Alexander Bublik’s bag of tricks to claim a 6-3, 6-4 win.

“I knew I needed to be really fast and sharp on every ball,” Monfils said. “He can hit a lot of drop shots so I knew I had to be free with my feet. I am fast He might be able to hit two or three [I can’t get] but I know I will get most of them.”

The 36-year-old will next meet Dutchman Tallon Griekspoor.

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'The New' Michael Mmoh

  • Posted: Aug 03, 2023

‘The New’ Michael Mmoh

Exclusive insight from Mmoh’s father, Tony Mmoh

Former pro Tony Mmoh sat in the stands at Court John Harris Tuesday as he watched his son, Michael Mmoh, nearly three hours into his second-round clash against Hubert Hurkacz at the Mubadala Citi DC Open. After letting slip an opportunity to close out the match in straight sets, the younger Mmoh was deep in a final-set tie-break, leading 4/3. He danced around a backhand, desperate to hit a forehand under the utmost pressure. 

Not only did Mmoh do so successfully — ending up at the side wall in the process — he eventually won the point to secure the critical mini break that he did not relinquish, advancing to the third round.

“He even just ran into the wall to hit a ball. That was just awesome to see. I was so impressed. I mean, it was just mind-boggling,” the elder Mmoh told “He literally ran into the wall to return a ball. Determination, that’s guts. I was just taken aback. I was like, ‘Whoa, that is the new Michael.’”

It has been a breakthrough season for Mmoh, who has been opportunistic to claim some of the biggest wins of his career. It started in Melbourne at the Australian Open, where the American lost in the final round of qualifying. He booked a flight home and was watching an NFL playoff game between the Dallas Cowboys and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in his room when he was called to site to potentially claim a place in the main draw.

Mmoh did that and rallied from two sets down to reach the second round, in which he stunned two-time Nitto ATP Finals champion Alexander Zverev.

“He was lucky in Australia to get into the main draw, and just being lucky, he decided to take advantage of that, too. He was just there having fun,” Mmoh said. “That’s what I want to see him do more, just have fun. I think when you relax a little bit more, you can start playing great tennis. And that’s what is happening now. Even in addition to hard work as well.”

All seemed to be going well when Mmoh maintained his momentum to make the Delray Beach quarter-finals. But after suffering a leg injury during a match against Tommy Paul in Acapulco, the American did not compete again until Roland Garros.

“There’s no way he could have avoided that. But when you come out of injury, you tend to put a lot of pressure on yourself, because you really want to perform again and sometimes it’s hard,” Mmoh said. “But I think right now, we’re now getting him to have the right feelings, to know that he is supported by everyone, and we’re there for him the whole time.”

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At Wimbledon, Mmoh again fell in the final round of qualifying and received a lucky loser spot. He upset Felix Auger-Aliassime in the first round, a victory his father credits to his work leading into the tournament.

“Whatever it takes to get ready, he does that. For example, before Wimbledon he did not take a day off for about 10 days. We were down in Florida, really horrible conditions, just working,  training,” Mmoh said. “He lost in the qualies, but he was playing well, then he got lucky again, got into the main draw and really played well. But [it was] a result of that preparation as well. 

“After Wimbledon he said, ‘Dad, let’s meet again in Florida, let’s start work again.’ He’s fully committed, in terms of getting himself ready in order to play the kind of tennis he wants to play.”

The wins against high-profile players continue piling up. Despite missing three months, Mmoh is on the verge of returning to the Top 100 in the Pepperstone ATP Live Rankings.  

“We had a conversation last night about believing that he’s got the ability, the capability, that God-given talent. He is gifted. Whatever any other player can do, he has to believe he can do that too, or better,” Mmoh said. “Nothing’s going to be a given. He must go out there and fight for it and work for it. And that’s what he did [against Hurkacz]. He fought, he really fought for it.”

Tony explained that Michael’s forehand is becoming more of a weapon. The American is also improving his net game and expanding his already strong backhand. But to him, it is more about his son’s mentality.

“Deep inside, he’s so hungry. He doesn’t want to lose, he wants to win, and badly. He wants to perform for himself first and then us afterwards, the audience as well. He wants to perform for the spectators,” Mmoh said. “Watching him, I know what’s inside. I know the desire is there, I know he’s really hungry.”

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Murray Marches Into Washington Third Round

  • Posted: Aug 03, 2023

Murray Marches Into Washington Third Round

Watanuki upsets third seed Auger-Aliassime

Andy Murray found his way through a compelling contest Wednesday against American Brandon Nakashima to reach the third round of the Mubadala Citi DC Open.

The three-time major champion Murray earned a 7-6(5), 6-4 victory against Nakashima, who won the 2022 Next Gen ATP Finals. Murray found consistency from the baseline and mixed in variety, producing deft drop shots and often working his way forward to advance after two hours, 11 minutes. Despite trailing 2/5 in the opening-set tie-break, Murray tallied five consecutive points to gain an advantage. 

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“I thought I did well, I hit the ball very well from the beginning of the match,” Murray said in his on-court interview. “I was struggling a little bit on the return. Brandon serves well, especially his second serve. I was struggling to create many opportunities on return. But I was just a little bit more solid than him at the end of the tie-break, he made a few mistakes, I put enough balls back in play.

“Then I got the break immediately at the beginning of the second set and served it out pretty well from there. It was tight at the end. The courts and the balls are extremely slow here, so you’re having to work really hard in all of the games, it’s not easy to finish points. It was a good one to get through.”

A finalist at the ATP 500 event in 2006, the Scot won 82 per cent of his first-serve points and saved all six break points faced to set a clash against top seed Taylor Fritz or qualifier Zachary Svajda.

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In other Washington action, Christopher Eubanks wasted no time to book his ticket to the third round. The 27-year-old continued his standout season in winning fashion, defeating Japanese qualifier Sho Shimabukuro 6-3, 6-4. Eubanks struck the ball freely, firing 28 winners to seal victory in one hour, 11 minutes.

The American Eubanks, who is at a career-high World No. 29 in the Pepperstone ATP Rankings, has won 12 of his past 14 matches, a run that started with his triumph at the Mallorca Championships before reaching the last eight at Wimbledon.

Eubanks will next meet Jordan Thompson after the Australian downed seventh seed Adrian Mannarino 7-5, 6-4 to earn his 100th tour-level match win. 

Yosuke Watanuki upset World No. 12 Felix Auger-Aliassime 7-6(10), 7-6(3) for the highest-ranked win of his career.

The Japanese star Watanuki, who cracked the Top 100 of the Pepperstone ATP Rankings for the first time Monday when he climbed to World No. 99, took the ball early and unleashed his firepower to oust the Canadian. The 25-year-old will next face Frenchman Ugo Humbert, who ousted Thanasi Kokkinakis 7-6(6), 1-6, 6-4.

Ninth seed Daniel Evans also advanced after surviving Gregoire Barrere 2-6, 6-0, 6-3. 16th seed J.J. Wolf cruised past Radu Albot 6-1, 6-3.

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