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De Minaur Upsets Medvedev In Toronto, Reaches Maiden Masters SF

  • Posted: Aug 11, 2023

De Minaur Upsets Medvedev In Toronto, Reaches Maiden Masters SF

Australian earns fourth Top 5 win

Alex de Minaur showed his comeback qualities once again on Friday at the National Bank Open Presented by Rogers, where he upset World No. 3 Daniil Medvedev 7-6(7), 7-5 to reach his first ATP Masters 1000 semi-final.

After fighting back from 1-5 in the first set in his previous match against Taylor Fritz, the Australian showed similar powers of recovery against Medvedev. Competing in his maiden Masters 1000 quarter-final, De Minaur rallied from 2-5 in the first set, saving three set points in the tie-break before clinching the opener. He then twice rallied from a break down in the second set to inflict just the fourth hard-court defeat of the season on Medvedev, who lifted the trophy in Toronto in 2021.

“I had to play some of my best tennis today,” De Minaur said. “It has been a great week for me so far. I played the right way today. I think having played him at the end of last year gave me the confidence that I had a chance. I just had to play the right way and I am extremely proud of the effort and to still be alive.

“I know every time I play Daniil it will be a chess match. We are both very good at adapting and playing different styles and it brings the best out of me. I have to be aggressive and take the chances I get. I think this style of tennis is my best style of tennis.”

The 24-year-old, who also defeated seed Cameron Norrie earlier this week, has now earned four Top 5 wins. He will continue the quest for his eighth tour-level title and the biggest of his career against Alejandro Davidovich Fokina on Saturday.

Earlier this season, De Minaur captured the crown in Acapulco, before he advanced to the title match in Los Cabos last week (l. to Stefanos Tsitsipas). The Australian’s latest run has lifted him to 11th in the Pepperstone ATP Live Race To Turin. He is also up to No. 14 in the Pepperstone ATP Rankings, having reached a previous career-high No. 15 in 2021.

Medvedev holds a 22-4 record at ATP Masters 1000 events in 2023. The second seed triumphed in Miami and Rome earlier this year and was chasing his sixth title of the season. The 27-year-old struggled on serve against De Minaur, winning just 54 per cent (25/46) of points on his first delivery. De Minaur improved to 2-4 in his Lexus ATP Head2Head series against Medvedev with his 31st win of the season.

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NBA Legend Nowitzki Calls Alcaraz 'A Complete Package'

  • Posted: Aug 11, 2023

NBA Legend Nowitzki Calls Alcaraz ‘A Complete Package’

Former Dallas Mavericks star grew up playing tennis

Former NBA star Dirk Nowtizki has called tennis his “first love”, and the German is a frequent guest at both ATP Tour and WTA events. Ahead of his induction into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame on Aug. 12, the Dallas Mavericks legend took some time to talk tennis.

“I watch tennis a lot,” Nowitzki told “I love tennis. I grew up playing tennis, so I’ve followed the sport my entire life. Of course, I’m a huge Roger Federer guy, a Rafael Nadal fan. It’s tough to really pick one favourite.”

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He may not be able to pick a favourite, but he had no issue singling out Carlos Alcaraz as his pick to be the dominant force in the sport going forward.

“Alcaraz I saw live just a couple of months ago in Indian Wells,” Nowitzki said. “Unbelievable. The touch, the talent, the physical nature, the speed, the athleticism. To me, he is like a complete package.

“The crazy thing is, he’s only 20. If he stays injury-free, obviously he’s going to be dominant for a long, long time.”

Alcaraz further impressed Nowitzki with his performance in winning his first Wimbledon title, when he beat Novak Djokovic to maintain the top spot in the Peppertone ATP Rankings.

“I watched the whole Wimbledon final a couple of weeks ago against Djoko, which was an amazing match.” Nowitzki said. “How tough this kid is mentally, already at that age, to pull that off against Djoko was incredible. He’s the next generation and he’ll dominate the sport of tennis for a long, long time.”

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Foki Seals SF Berth In Toronto

  • Posted: Aug 11, 2023

Foki Seals SF Berth In Toronto

Spaniard next plays Medvedev or De Minaur

Alejandro Davidovich Fokina advanced to his second ATP Masters 1000 semi-final on Friday at the National Bank Open Presented by Rogers, where he dispatched Mackenzie McDonald 6-4, 6-2 in Toronto.

The Spaniard earned his fifth Top 10 win, and first on hard courts, against Casper Ruud in the previous round and backed that up with an aggressive returning performance against McDonald. Davidovich Fokina won 68 per cent (19/28) of points on McDonald’s second serve, while he struck 22 winners, letting out a roar after sealing victory on his second match point.

“To beat the top players is giving me a lot of confidence,” Davidovich Fokina said. “I just want to step on court and play my best and enjoy every moment and every point. To get that battle that I want. He was playing amazing at the beginning and then made a few mistakes and I believed more in myself. It gave me a lot of power.

“The good routines and habits are [important]. “All the habits are off court the court. Obviously a lot of things on court, but lots off court.”

With his one-hour, 35-minute win, Davidovich Fokina reached his first semi-final of the season in his sixth quarter-final attempt. Up 14 spots to No. 23 in the Pepperstone ATP Live Rankings, he will meet second seed Daniil Medvedev or Australian Alex de Minaur on Saturday. Davidovich Fokina reached a previous career-high No. 24 in April this year.

The 24-year-old, who advanced to the championship match at the Masters 1000 event in Monte-Carlo last year, is aiming to capture his maiden tour-level title in Toronto.

McDonald defeated World No. 7 Andrey Rublev en route to his first Masters 1000 quarter-final. The American enjoyed a strong start in his second Lexus ATP Head2Head meeting against Davidovich Fokina, breaking in the second game of the match. However, he was unable to deal with the Spaniard’s power as the match went on, with Davidovich Fokina pouncing on short balls to reach his fifth tour-level semi-final.

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With Alcaraz's Support, Llamas Ruiz Rising On Challenger Tour

  • Posted: Aug 11, 2023

With Alcaraz’s Support, Llamas Ruiz Rising On Challenger Tour

The 20-year-old is at a career-high No. 146

Two weeks ago, Pablo Llamas Ruiz became the youngest Spaniard to win an ATP Challenger Tour title since an 18-year-old Carlos Alcaraz triumphed in 2021. How did Llamas Ruiz learn of that statistic? From the World No. 1 himself.

“I had no idea until Carlitos sent me the [Instagram] link and congratulated me,” Llamas Ruiz said in Spanish to “I clicked on the link and thought, ‘Unbelievable’. It’s something I absolutely didn’t expect, and it’s given me even more enthusiasm to keep working.”

Llamas Ruiz, 20, was playing just his 10th Challenger event of the year in Segovia, where he saved three match points in the semi-finals before being crowned champion the next day. The #NextGenATP star’s rapid rise is only fueling his fire.

“It was something that I never expected, that I would win my first Challenger title on hard courts, it’s incredible,” Llamas Ruiz said. “I’m so, so happy to win the title. I want to keep winning, keep training. I need to think that it’s just one title because if I think, ‘Oh, I won a Challenger, I won’t work more’, that’s bad for you.”

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As if he needed any more inspiration to continue his climb, the Spaniard can look to his friend and recent Wimbledon champion Alcaraz, who won four Challenger titles before ascending to the biggest stages of the sport.

“Seeing that just two years ago he was winning Challengers and now he’s the World No. 1 is really inspiring,” Llamas Ruiz said. “Everyone has their own path, but I know I can be there too, I just need to keep working. I believe I can achieve it, that I can compete against the best.”

Both aged 20, Alcaraz and Llamas Ruiz have fond memories together. In 2018, they clinched the junior Davis Cup in a decisive doubles rubber, lifting Spain past France 2-1 to win the trophy in Budapest. Llamas Ruiz, who prefers to be called, ‘Llamas’ because there are ‘a lot of Pablos’, recalled that he and Alcaraz would often do what teenage boys enjoy: joking, dancing and singing together.

“We were so, so happy on court. I remember I played with him and almost every point, we were laughing,” Llamas Ruiz said. “That’s an experience that I had with him and now he’s No. 1 of the world. It was incredible. I remember the point we won to win the junior Davis Cup, I finished with an ace and we were so, so happy.

“I would love to play with him again on the ATP Tour. I hope for that, I want that and I feel like he wants it too. So if I go up a little bit more, then I will try to play with him.”

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Before ‘Llamas’ ascends to the ATP Tour, he will continue to develop his diverse game on the ATP Challenger Tour. A simple guy at heart, the Spaniard has enjoyed keeping tabs with Alcaraz, who is also following Llamas Ruiz’s journey.

“Lately, I’ve been talking more with Carlitos. When I won the Challenger title, my friends asked me, ‘Has Carlitos congratulated you?’” Llamas Ruiz said. “It was quite surprising that he sent me the link, gave me encouragement, told me to keep working, and said he was really happy for me. It filled me with satisfaction, ‘The World No. 1 is saying these things to me!’

“It’s a joy to have that friendship with him. Sometimes when people achieve a lot of success and rise to the top, they forget what’s behind them. It’s really nice to see that Carlitos hasn’t forgotten that, he’s a great person.”

At a career-high No. 146 in the Pepperstone ATP Rankings, Llamas Ruiz will next aim to qualify for his maiden Grand Slam main draw at the US Open, where countryman Alcaraz claimed his first major title last year.

<a href=Pablo Llamas Ruiz wins the Open Castilla y Leon in Segovia.” />
Pablo Llamas Ruiz wins the Open Castilla y Leon in Segovia. Credit: Alberto Simon

-Reporting contributed by Guido Molteni

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Ram/Salisbury Save MP, Reach Toronto QFs

  • Posted: Aug 11, 2023

Ram/Salisbury Save MP, Reach Toronto QFs

Gonzalez/Roger-Vasselin save two match points

Third seeds Rajeev Ram and Joe Salisbury escaped a thrilling Match Tie-break on Thursday to book their ticket to the National Bank Open Presented by Rogers quarter-finals.

The American-British duo escaped Belgians Sander Gille and Joran Vliegen 6-7(3), 6-3, 12-10 to advance after one hour, 50 minutes. In the Match Tie-break, Gille and Vliegen won three consecutive points from 7/9 to earn match point. Ram and Salisbury then tallied three consecutive points themselves, converting their third match point.

Aiming for their first title of the season above ATP 250 level, Ram and Salisbury will next meet Max Purcell and Andrey Rublev, who defeated Americans Nathaniel Lammons and Jackson Withrow 7-6(5), 7-6(7).

Eighth seeds Santiago Gonzalez and Edouard Roger-Vasselin, who won in Los Cabos last week, also won after saving two match points against Sadio Doumbia and Fabien Reboul. The Mexican-French team survived 6-3, 6-7(3), 12-10 and will next face second seeds Marcelo Arevalo and Jean-Julien Rojer.

Fourth seeds Rohan Bopanna and Matthew Ebden cruised past Jamie Murray and Michael Venus 6-3, 6-3. Sixth seeds Kevin Krawietz and Tim Puetz downed wild cards Nicolas Mahut and Vasek Pospisil 6-2, 6-4.

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Murray Withdraws From Toronto With Adbominal Issue

  • Posted: Aug 11, 2023

Murray Withdraws From Toronto With Adbominal Issue

Briton pulls out ahead of Sinner matchup

Andy Murray was forced to withdraw from the National Bank Open Presented by Rogers on Thursday evening. After spending nearly five hours on court across his opening wins against Lorenzo Sonego and Max Purcell, the Briton pulled out ahead of his meeting with Jannik Sinner with an abdominal injury.

“I have an issue with my abdominal so unfortunately I’m not going to be able to play this evening. I’m really sorry,” Murray said, addressing the stadium crowd. “I feel like I’ve let you down. I’ve rarely been in this situation in my career and I feel terrible.”

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It is just Murray’s seventh time conceding a walkover in his long career. A three-time champion at the ATP Masters 1000 in Canada (2009, 2010, 2015), the 36-year-old was especially upset given that this might be his last appearance in Toronto. He was seeking his first quarter-final at the event since his 2015 title run, and his first Masters quarter-final since he won the Paris crown in 2016.

“I don’t know, this might be my last time playing here as well. So to finish like this feels rubbish,” Murray said before thanking the Canadian fans for the support over the years. He also took time to sign autographs before leaving the court.

Murray is up four places to No. 36 in the Pepperstone ATP Live Rankings behind his two wins this week — his highest mark since 2018—  and is hopeful for a speedy recovery with Cincinnati and the US Open around the corner.

“I had a very similar issue last year in Stuttgart before Wimbledon, which forced me to miss the Queen’s Club tournament,” he recalled. “I was able to play Wimbledon. It took me about 10-12 days before I was feeling good again.

“This is not as bad as that but obviously the danger if you compete and play is you could make it worse. I’ll need to see how it develops over the coming days and hopefully feel better in a few days.”

Courtesy of the walkover, Sinner advanced to face Gael Monfils in Friday’s quarter-finals and moved ahead of Andrey Rublev into fifth in the Pepperstone ATP Live Race To Turin.

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Alcaraz Survives Hurkacz Test For Toronto QF Berth

  • Posted: Aug 11, 2023

Alcaraz Survives Hurkacz Test For Toronto QF Berth

The World No. 1 will next face 12th seed Paul

Top seed Carlos Alcaraz overcame a slow start and a dramatic ending Thursday to down 15th seed Hubert Hurkacz and reach the quarter-finals of the National Bank Open Presented by Rogers.

The Spaniard rallied past Hurkacz 3-6, 7-6(2), 7-6(3) to extend his winning streak to 14 matches. Alcaraz held a 5-2 lead in the deciding set and served for the match twice before closing the third-round contest on his fifth match point.

“Honestly, I didn’t know what happened,” Alcaraz said of his third-set slide. “I started feeling bad at that moment. I couldn’t feel the right way in my shots. I didn’t know what happened. But what I was thinking was to stay calm, try to find a way to overcome the problems and find the good feeling again. I think at 5-6 serving, I started to feel better.

“The big players have that feeling to find a way to stay alive and try to end the match playing well.”

Alcaraz struggled to find his best level early, committing unforced forehand errors as the Pole won the first three games of the match for the loss of just three points. A finalist last year in Montreal, Hurkacz played tight to the baseline and took the ball early to push the World No. 1 throughout the two-hour, 38-minute battle.

Despite being broken in the opening game of the second set, Alcaraz stayed focussed and found greater consistency in extended rallies as Hurkacz’s first-serve percentage dropped from 69 per cent to 48.

Alcaraz won 19 consecutive points behind his serve spanning from late in the second set to the third, but struggled to close the match. The two-time major champion had two match points on serve at 5-2 before Hurkacz won four straight games and forced the 12-time tour-level titlist to a tie-break.

“In the tough moments you have to believe in yourself, try to go for it,” said Alcaraz, who committed 28 unforced errors to 48 winners. “It doesn’t matter if you win or not. You have to believe you are going to play your best in that moment, try to play aggressive. I think in the two tie-breaks I did pretty well. That’s why I got the win.”

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Aiming for his seventh title of the season, Alcaraz improved to 2-0 in his Lexus ATPHead2Head series with Hurkacz and now boasts a 49-4 season record. He will next play 12th seed Tommy Paul, who upset the Spaniard last year in Montreal. Alcaraz is making his Toronto debut this week and is hoping for his third ATP Masters 1000 title of the year after winning in Indian Wells and Madrid.

Six-time tour-level titlist Hurkacz, who has tallied a 27-17 record this year, was aiming for his second win over a World No. 1.

The American Paul cruised past countryman Marcos Giron 6-3, 6-2 to reach his first Masters 1000 quarter-final of the year and set a third meeting against Alcaraz (1-1). Paul struck 22 winners to Giron’s 13 and fended off seven of eight break points faced.

Paul, who is World No. 14 in the Pepperstone ATP Rankings, won 17 of 22 points behind Giron’s second serve to level his Lexus ATPHead2Head series with the California native at 1-1. A quarter-finalist last year in Canada, Paul will aim for his maiden win against a World No. 1 on Friday night.

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