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Alcaraz On Battle For No. 1 With Djokovic: 'You Have To Enjoy It'

  • Posted: Aug 13, 2023

Alcaraz On Battle For No. 1 With Djokovic: ‘You Have To Enjoy It’

Spaniard also discusses his preparation for Cincinnati, loss in Toronto

One of the big storylines of the 2023 season has been the battle for No. 1 in the Pepperstone ATP Rankings between Carlos Alcaraz and Novak Djokovic. When mentioned to the Spaniard at his press conference Sunday ahead of the Western & Southern Open, the World No. 1 cracked a smile.

“I like those battles. I like to know that I can lose, and I can recover it at the same time. Of course, you have to enjoy when the battle is against one of the legends from our sport, against Novak,” Alcaraz said. “I feel that I’m [the] main opponent for him. For me, it’s something crazy, and I’m trying to enjoy [it].”

World No. 1 is at stake again this week in Cincinnati, where both men are pursuing the trophy at the season’s seventh ATP Masters 1000 event. Alcaraz can guarantee he will retain top spot by advancing to the championship match in Ohio.

Although the 20-year-old is focussed on the task at hand, which is doing as well as possible in this tournament, he is also conscious of the World No. 1 battle.

“You have to put goals to yourself during the season, in every tournament,” Alcaraz said. “And for me right now the main goal is to stay in the top spot and if I lose it, try to recover it as fast as I can. It’s something that helped me a lot to show my best level in the big tournaments.”

In his first tournament since triumphing at Wimbledon, Alcaraz lost in the Toronto quarter-finals to Tommy Paul. The Spaniard is eager this week to try to put his performance in Canada behind him.

“It wasn’t a good week for me, but [I have] a lot of things to improve coming into this tournament. Looking back to last year, [I lost in the] first round [in Montreal] and then [the] quarter-finals [in Cincinnati], and then I won the US Open,” Alcaraz said. “I have to overcome that week that I had in Toronto, try to play better here and try to do better the things that I did bad in Toronto.”

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Alcaraz is set to compete in Cincinnati for the third time. Two years ago, he needed to qualify for the Masters 1000 event. Last year, he advanced to the quarter-finals before losing a three-hour, four-minute clash to Cameron Norrie. Will this be the year he lifts the trophy?

The four-time ATP Masters 1000 champion is feeling comfortable in the city and at the venue, and the fans are embracing him, too.

“A lot of things changed since last year. I think the tournament grew up a lot, and this is my first day here,” Alcaraz said. “My first practice I had this morning, so I enjoyed this practice. All the fans were there enjoying the practice as well. So far I’m enjoying my time here in Cincinnati.”

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Arevalo/Rojer Win Maiden ATP Masters 1000 As A Team In Toronto

  • Posted: Aug 13, 2023

Arevalo/Rojer Win Maiden ATP Masters 1000 As A Team In Toronto

Salvadoran-Dutch duo down third seeds Ram/Salisbury in Canada

After a week of tough battles in Toronto, Marcelo Arevalo and Jean-Julien Rojer saved their best until last to lift the trophy Sunday at the National Bank Open Presented by Rogers.

The unseeded Salvadoran-Dutch pair delivered a high-class championship-match display to prevail 6-3, 6-1 against Rajeev Ram and Joe Salisbury and claim their maiden ATP Masters 1000 crown. Arevalo and Rojer combined rock-solid baseline play with plenty of delicate touches at the net to race to victory in just 60 minutes at Sobeys Stadium.

“This was great. We have played well for the past year and a half. We reached a lot of goals together. We won a Grand Slam title, but of course we want to do great also at the Masters,” said Arevalo. “So we were looking for that big title, and I’m super, super proud we were able to do it here in Toronto.”

Arevalo and Rojer had won three of their four matches en route to the final in a Match Tie-break, but after clinching the only break of the first set in the fourth game in Sunday’s final they barely looked back. The broke their opponents’ serve three times in the second set to claim their third ATP Tour title of the year.

“I’m not sure what made the difference [today],” said Rojer. “I know that Marcelo and I, coming into the match, were playing quite well. Once you get to the finals, and you play a great team like Joe and Raj, the margins are little. It says [6-3, 6-1], and you can say whatever you want, but we know that a point here or there [can make a difference].

“We were still fighting to win that last game, because you never know what can happen out here.”

It was a first Masters 1000 crown for El Salvador’s Arevalo and a fourth for Rojer, who also triumphed in Miami in 2013 (with Aisam-Ul-Haq Qureshi) and in 2016 and 2019 in Madrid (both with Horia Tecau). The pair has now won seven tour-level titles together, including a major triumph at Roland Garros in 2022.

Arevalo and Rojer have risen seven spots to No. 7 in the Pepperstone ATP Live Doubles Rankings as a result of their exploits in Toronto this week. They qualified for last year’s Nitto ATP Finals in their first season together.

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Final Preview: Sinner Seeks Maiden Masters Title Against De Minaur In Toronto

  • Posted: Aug 13, 2023

Final Preview: Sinner Seeks Maiden Masters Title Against De Minaur In Toronto

Sinner leads De Minaur 4-0 in Lexus ATP Head2Head series

A first-time ATP Masters 1000 champion will be crowned on Sunday at the National Bank Open Presented by Rogers, where seventh seed Jannik Sinner faces Alex de Minaur. The Italian has a 4-0 Lexus ATP Head2Head record against the Australian. Both players are appearing in their fourth final of the year (1-2).

This is the third straight year and fourth time in the past five editions (except 2019) of the National Bank Open Presented by Rogers there is an unseeded finalist: last year Pablo Carreno Busta defeated Hubert Hurkacz, in 2021 Reilly Opelka lost against Daniil Medvedev and in 2018 Stefanos Tsitsipas fell against Rafael Nadal. The event was not held in 2020.

Sinner is the first Italian man to reach the Toronto final in the Open Era (since 1968). He is trying to become the youngest Canadian ATP Masters 1000 winner since Alexander Zverev, 20, in 2017. Sinner is 17-4 in ATP Masters 1000 play this year and he’s appearing in his third career Masters 1000 final after a pair of runner-up efforts in Miami, in 2021 (l. to Hurkacz) and in April (l. to Medvedev). He is trying to become the second Italian Masters 1000 champion since the series began in 1990. Fabio Fognini won in Monte-Carlo in 2019.

Sinner is playing in his 11th ATP Tour final (7-3). He is 11-0 against Australians going back to the 2021 US Open.

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De Minaur, who was runner-up last Saturday in Los Cabos (l. to Tsitsipas), is appearing in back-to-back ATP Tour finals for the first time in his career. He is the first Australian to advance to the National Bank Open Presented by Rogers final since Patrick Rafter (l. to Pavel) in 2001. Rafter is the last Australian Canadian ATP Masters 1000 champion in 1998 (d. Krajicek). Lleyton Hewitt is the last Australian to win a Masters 1000 title, triumphing in Indian Wells in 2003 (d. Kuerten).

The 24-year-old de Minaur has a 16-5 record since the grass-court swing in mid-June after compiling a 16-11 record from January through Roland Garros. He is appearing in his 14h ATP Tour final (7-6) and he is trying to defeat a third Top 10 player in Toronto. He is 6-4 vs. Top 10s this season (7-30 from 2017-2022).

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Scouting Report: Alcaraz, Djokovic Lead Cincinnati Draw

  • Posted: Aug 13, 2023

Scouting Report: Alcaraz, Djokovic Lead Cincinnati Draw

An executive summary of what every fan should know about the coming week

A second straight week of ATP Masters 1000 action will begin on Monday at the Western & Southern Open, with the world’s best set to compete for the title on the American hard courts.

Carlos Alcaraz and Novak Djokovic headline the field, back in the same draw for the first time since Wimbledon. looks at 10 storylines to watch over the coming week.

1) Alcaraz Under Threat: Following his quarter-final defeat to Tommy Paul in Toronto, Alcaraz’s position atop the Pepperstone ATP Rankings could come under fire this week. The Spaniard, who reached the Cincinnati quarter-finals last season, must reach the final this year to guarantee his stay at No. 1 and earn the top seed at the US Open ahead of Djokovic.

Alcaraz will open against John Isner or a qualifier, and could face a rematch against Paul in the third round.

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With No. 1 At Risk, Beaten Alcaraz Quick To Focus On Cincinnati

2) Djokovic Returns: The Serbian will compete for the first time in a month as he bids to put his Wimbledon final defeat firmly behind him. Returning to the Western & Southern Open for the first time since he won it 2020 — when the event was played in New York — Djokovic is bidding for his third tournament title.

He will face Toronto semi-finalist Alejandro Davidovich Fokina or Tomas Martin Etcheverry in his opening match and is seeded to meet Cameron Norrie in the third round.

3) Can Medvedev Find Hard-Court Form?: A self-described “hard-court specialist”, Daniil Medvedev was almost untouchable on the surface earlier this season when he reached five straight finals and won four titles from February to early April. That run included a title at the ATP Masters 1000 in Miami and a runner-up finish in Indian Wells.

After a quarter-final defeat to Alex de Minaur in Toronto, can the 2019 Cincinnati champion rediscover that imperious form?

4) Tsitsipas, Coric Could Contest Final Rematch: Borna Coric beat Stefanos Tsitsipas in the Cincinnati final last season, and the pair could square off again in this week in the third round. But both men have work to do to reach that stage: Coric opens his title defence against Sebastian Korda and could meet Hubert Hurkacz in the second round, while fourth seed Tsitsipas will open against a home favourite in Ben Shelton or Christopher Eubanks.

5) A Ruud Revival?: Casper Ruud has struggled on the hard courts this season, one year after he broke through at the highest level on the surface by reaching finals at Miami, the US Open and the Nitto ATP Finals. With a 3-3 record across the first three ATP Masters 1000 on hard courts this season, Ruud will be eager to make another deep run before returning to New York, where he will be defending 1,200 Pepperstone ATP Rankings points.

The Norwegian will face Lloyd Harris or a qualifier in his opener and could meet 10th seed Frances Tiafoe in the third round.

6) Rune, Rublev Seek Second ATP Masters 1000 Crown: Sixth seed Holger Rune and seventh seed Andrey Rublev both won their first Masters 1000 crown in the past 12 months, Rune in Paris last season and Rublev in Monte-Carlo this year. Both have added one more tour-level title since then, with Rune winning Munich and Rublev triumphing in Bastad this season.

Denmark’s Rune will face Mackenzie McDonald or Yannick Hanfmann in the second round, with Rublev set to meet Emil Ruusuvuori or a qualifier.

7) Sinner Hopes To Stay Hot: After following his Wimbledon semi-final run by reaching his third ATP Masters 1000 final in Toronto, Jannik Sinner will be among the favourites in Cincinnati. Though he is seeded eighth, he enters the event at fourth in the Pepperstone ATP Live Race To Turin. Two years after making his Nitto ATP Finals debut as an alternate in 2021, Sinner is in prime position to qualify directly this season.

8) Fritz, Tiafoe, Paul Lead Home Hopes: Ten Americans are in the 56-player singles draw, not including potential qualifiers. The host nation has plenty of candidates for a deep run, starting with ninth seed Taylor Fritz, 10th seed Frances Tiafoe and 14th seed Tommy Paul. While Fritz and Tiafoe both enter behind early exits in Toronto, Paul advanced to his first ATP Masters 1000 semi-final in Canada and will come into Cincinnati with a new career-high Pepperstone ATP Ranking.

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9) Felix vs. Berrettini Among First-Round Blockbusters: Twelfth seed Felix Auger-Aliassime will bid to snap a four-match losing streak when he takes on Matteo Berrettini in the first round. Other early showdowns include Alexander Zverev vs. Grigor Dimitrov, Andy Murray vs. Karen Khachanov and Cameron Norrie vs. Gael Monfils.

10) Djokovic, Tsitsipas In Doubles Draw: Defending champions Rajeev Ram and Joe Salisbury return as the third seeds in Cincinnati, where a host of singles stars will be hoping to derail their title defence. Among the doubles teams in the draw are Serbians Djokovic and Nikola Cacic; Tsitsipas and Toronto singles semi-finalist Alejandro Davidovich Fokina; Italians Lorenzo Musetti and Lorenzo Sonego; first-round singles opponents Eubanks and Shelton; and Mackenzie McDonald and Tiafoe.

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Tsitsipas Celebrates 25th Birthday With Badosa In Cincinnati

  • Posted: Aug 13, 2023

Tsitsipas Celebrates 25th Birthday With Badosa In Cincinnati

Greek trains with 2017 Cincinnati champion Dimitrov

Stefanos Tsitsipas celebrated his 25th birthday Saturday with a full schedule at the Western & Southern Open in Cincinnati.

The 2022 finalist went through his slate of media day activities at the Lindner Family Tennis Centre before turning his attention to his preparations for the season’s seventh ATP Masters 1000 tournament.

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Photo: Andrew Eichenholz/ATP Tour
Tsitsipas enjoyed an early evening training session with 2017 Cincinnati champion Grigor Dimitrov. Former World No. 8 Mark Philippoussis, who is now Tsitsipas’ lead coach, was on court with the No. 4 player in the Pepperstone ATP Rankings. Also on the practice court was Tsitsipas’ girlfriend, WTA star Paula Badosa.

Tsitsipas will begin his tournament against an American: Christopher Eubanks or Ben Shelton. The 25-year-old last week won his first title of the season in Los Cabos.

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Djokovic Enjoys Intense Practice In Cincinnati Saturday

  • Posted: Aug 13, 2023

Djokovic Enjoys Intense Practice In Cincinnati Saturday

Serbian ready to pursue third title in Cincinnati

Novak Djokovic is ready to roll at the Western & Southern Open.

The Serbian star enjoyed an intense first practice in Cincinnati Saturday evening on centre court, where plenty of fans packed the stadium to catch a glimpse of the 38-time ATP Masters 1000 champion.

Djokovic worked hard under the watchful eye of coach Goran Ivanisevic, training in the Ohio humidity with team member Carlos Gomez-Herrera. The second seed worked on his baseline game with Gomez-Herrera before Ivanisevic stepped in to feed balls for more specific drills with the Serbian.

<a href=Novak Djokovic works on his serve under the watchful eye of coach Goran Ivanisevic.” />

The two-time Western & Southern Open titlist (2018 in Cincinnati, 2020 at Flushing Meadows) also worked on his serve and return. After finishing his session, Djokovic made time for his fans by signing autographs .

The 36-year-old carries a 40-12 record at this tournament and will compete in Cincinnati for the first time since 2019, when he reached the semi-finals. This will be Djokovic’s first tournament in the United States since the 2021 US Open, in which he fell to Daniil Medvedev in the final.

<a href=Novak Djokovic is a two-time Cincinnati champion.” />

Djokovic’s last action of any kind came last month at Wimbledon, where he reached the championship match only to fall short to Carlos Alcaraz in a memorable final. The No. 2 player in the Pepperstone ATP Rankings, who has an opportunity to reclaim top spot from Alcaraz in Cincinnati, is 33-5 in 2023 with titles at Adelaide, the Australian Open and Roland Garros.

Photo credits: ATP Tour

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Sinner Soars Into Third ATP Masters 1000 Final In Toronto

  • Posted: Aug 13, 2023

Sinner Soars Into Third ATP Masters 1000 Final In Toronto

Italian will face De Minaur in Sunday’s final

Jannik Sinner kept his bid for a first ATP Masters 1000 crown on track Saturday night with a hard-fought victory against Tommy Paul in Toronto. The Italian earned a 6-4, 6-4 win to advance to his third ATP Masters 1000 final, having previously finished runner-up twice in Miami.

Sinner’s success at the National Bank Open Presented by Rogers continues a consistent year of deep runs at the Masters 1000s that has included semi-finals in Indian Wells and Monte-Carlo in addition to a Miami final appearance. The Italian is now 17-4 this season at that prestigious level.

“It’s always a privilege to stand on such a great court, playing a great match against an incredible opponent,” Sinner said post-match. “I’m just trying somehow to take any challenge that’s coming. Whether its the 46-ball rally [on break point in the second set] or also when you serve for the match and you get broken, and then after you have to find a solution somehow to win. 

“I’m happy about how I reacted to every situation on the court. He played great. He’s a very nice guy. I’m happy to be again in the final and hopefully I can show some good tennis tomorrow.”

While Sinner has held steady at No. 8 this week in the Pepperstone ATP Live Rankings, he could leapfrog Andrey Rublev and Casper Ruud and enter the Top 6 for the first time with a win against Alex de Minaur in Sunday’s final. Sinner’s performance this week has already lifted him two places to fourth in the Pepperstone ATP Live Race To Turin, putting him in prime position to qualify for the Nitto ATP Finals directly for the first time; he made his Turin debut as an alternate in 2021.

Against Paul, Sinner secured a back-and-forth opening set by claiming the fifth break of the set in its final game. He built on that momentum to build to a 3-1 lead in the second, securing his fourth break of the match after Paul received a medical timeout for treatment on his lower back.

Just when it looked like Sinner might cruise into his fourth tour-level final of the season, Paul began to fight back, creating break points in each of his next three return games. Sinner fought off five of those break points — including one with the point of the match, a full-tilt, 46-ball rally at 4-2, 30/40 that lasted over a minute — but Paul won another extended exchange to get back on serve at 4-5. 

Those long, exciting rallies were emblematic of the match as a whole, with many lengthy exchanges thrilling the Toronto crowd. But in too many of them, Paul was ultimately let down by his forehand. That wing gifted Sinner three points in the match’s final game, and the Italian closed out the win on his third match point with just under two hours on the clock.

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Paul, who upset World No. 1 Carlos Alcaraz in Friday’s quarter-finals, was bidding to notch two Top 10 wins in the same tournament for the first time. Despite the defeat in his first ATP Masters 1000 semi-final, the 26-year-old American will rise to a career-high of No. 13 in the Pepperstone ATP Rankings on Monday.

Sinner improved to 2-1 in his Lexus ATP Head2Head against Paul and will bid to make it 5-0 against De Minaur on Sunday. While the seventh-seeded Italian knows he will be the favourite against his Toronto doubles partner, he is relishing the opportunity.

“Pressure is something great,” he said. “When you feel pressure, it’s something positive. It’s a privilege to have; not many players have that.

“Alex is an incredible player. He’s showing that here in this tournament and the week before making the final in Los Cabos. Hopefully it’s going to be a great match.”

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