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Alcaraz Passes Purcell Test, Reaches Cincinnati SFs

  • Posted: Aug 18, 2023

Alcaraz Passes Purcell Test, Reaches Cincinnati SFs

Spaniard chasing third Masters 1000 title of season

Carlos Alcaraz survived another three-set test at the Western & Southern Open on Friday, when he ended Australian qualifier Max Purcell’s dream run in Cincinnati.

After clawing past Jordan Thompson and Tommy Paul in deciding sets in his first two rounds, the World No. 1 was made to battle again in his quarter-final clash against Purcell, earning a hard-fought 4-6, 6-3, 6-4 victory in two hours and 11 minutes.

“It was really tough. It was tricky today. He served really well. I think he played well at the net, but I think I played well. I returned well on court and that was the key to getting the win today, to return very well and to focus,” Alcaraz said. “It was not easy but I am really, really happy to reach my seventh Masters 1000 semi-final and first here in Cincinnati.”

Alcaraz is now two wins away from capturing his third ATP Masters 1000 title of the season, while he improved to 52-5 on the year. The top seed is the only player to have earned more than 50 tour-level wins in 2023, with second-placed Daniil Medvedev recording 49.

Alcaraz, who triumphed at Masters 1000 events in Indian Wells and Madrid earlier this year, holds a 22-3 record at this level in 2023. The Wimbledon champion will continue the quest for his seventh title of the year when he faces Hubert Hurkacz in the semi-finals on Saturday. Alcaraz overcame Hurkacz in three sets in Toronto last week.

“It was a tough match in Toronto,” Alcaraz said. “He is playing great tennis here and the court is a little bit faster than Toronto, so it is probably better for his game with his big serve. I need to be focused on return to put as much as I can in court.”

In hot conditions in Ohio on Friday, the 20-year-old survived an attacking bombardment from Purcell, who was competing in his maiden Masters 1000 quarter-final. The Australian approached the net 61 times, heaping pressure on Alcaraz, who was forced to conjure up a series of stunning passes to stay alive.

Purcell started fast and deservedly led, but was unable to maintain his level against Alcaraz, with the top seed raising his intensity and speed around the court to fend off a spirited display from the 25-year-old. The World No. 1 recovered from squandering a break advantage in the third set, finding the toes of the Australian in the latter stages of the match to advance.

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The 20-year-old Alcaraz is chasing a double prize this week in Cincinnati, where the battle for No. 1 is alive. If the Spaniard advances to his eighth final of the season, he is guaranteed to remain atop the Pepperstone ATP Rankings for a 34th week on Monday. If he fails to reach the championship match, Novak Djokovic would regain top spot by winning the title. The Serbian plays Taylor Fritz in the last eight.

Purcell, who upset World No. 7 Casper Ruud in the second round, is up 23 spots to No. 47 in the Pepperstone ATP Live Rankings. Last week the Australian overcame then-World No. 12 Felix Auger-Aliassime in Toronto.

Did You Know?
Alcaraz has spent eight hours and 22 minutes on court across his three matches in Cincinnati.

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Hurkacz Downs Popyrin For Cincinnati SF Spot

  • Posted: Aug 18, 2023

Hurkacz Downs Popyrin For Cincinnati SF Spot

Pole to face top seed Alcaraz or Purcell in last four

Hubert Hurkacz defied a remarkable late charge from Alexei Popyrin on Friday at the Western & Southern Open to complete a 6-1, 7-6(8) quarter-final triumph in Cincinnati.

The World No. 20 Hurkacz held five match points at 6/1 in the second-set tie-break before Popyrin reeled off seven straight points to bring up a set point of his own on centre court at the ATP Masters 1000 event. Hurkacz was able to overcome his late wobble, however, winning four of the next five points to complete a 77-minute victory and book a semi-final clash with top seed Carlos Alcaraz or qualifier Max Purcell.

Hurkacz had expertly capitalised on a nervous start by lucky loser Popyrin, who was competing in his first Masters 1000 quarter-final. Despite finding his feet after Hurkacz had raced to the opening set, Popyrin was unable to make an impact in return games. The Pole did not drop a break point and lost just nine points behind serve overall to extend his Lexus ATP Head2Head lead against Popyrin to 3-0.

“I’m really happy, especially with the way I played the first set,” said Hurkacz. “I was returning really well. Alexei raised his level and was serving really good throughout that second set, I just got to the tie-breaker. I got off to a good start, and then Alexei played some good points, but fortunately I battled through for that one.”

Now into his fifth Masters 1000 semi-final, the 2021 Miami champion Hurkacz is up two spots to 16th in the Pepperstone ATP Live Race To Turin as a result of his run so far in Ohio. The Pole could reignite his hopes of qualifying for the Nitto ATP Finals by further prolonging his week in Cincinnati with victory against World No. 1 Alcaraz or Purcell.

“You come to every single match with the belief that you are going to win the match,” said Hurkacz ahead of his semi-final. “Otherwise there is no point in showing up. It’s always just prepare as good as you can, and you have to fight.”

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Journey To The Pros: 18-Year-Old Prizmic Making Challenger Rise

  • Posted: Aug 18, 2023

Journey To The Pros: 18-Year-Old Prizmic Making Challenger Rise

The Croatian won this year’s Roland Garros boys’ singles title

Dino Prizmic’s standout season on the ATP Challenger Tour is promising news for the future of Croatian tennis. While what lies ahead may excite fans, his background is a story of its own. The 18-year-old started playing tennis at Tenis Klub Split, where Goran Ivanisevic, Mario Ancic and Mate Pavic also learned the game.

The #NextGenATP star Prizmic recalls being age nine when Ivanisevic told him he was impressed with his game and encouraged him to keep working on his forehand and serve. Not too bad to hear from a former World No. 2.

At age 14, Prizmic started to take his tennis more seriously and moved to the capital city Zagreb, where there were more players to practise with. 

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Now, the teen is boasting positive results at the Challenger level that has helped lift him to a career-high No. 175 in the Pepperstone ATP Rankings, a vast improvement from a year ago, when he was outside the Top 800.

“Challenger tournaments are very important for me to learn about players,” Prizmic told “You need to play really good and be mentally ready to physically fight.”

The teen is transitioning to Challengers following an impressive junior career. At this year’s Roland Garros boys’ singles event, Prizmic dropped just one set across six matches to win the title. He has only continued his ascent since triumphing in Paris.

Eight days after his 18th birthday, Prizmic won his maiden ATP Challenger Tour crown in Banja Luka to become the youngest Croatian champion since a 17-year-old Borna Coric in 2014.

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Dino Prizmic wins the Challenger 100 event in Banja Luka. Credit: Banja Luka Open

“It’s been a surprise because I think seven or eight months ago, I couldn’t really believe that I would win a junior Grand Slam and a Challenger title,” Prizmic said. “For me it’s a big experience and I think I will continue like this.

“I feel amazing because I know I’ve worked hard this year. I just want to know for myself that this level of tennis is very important. I also want to learn more and play better tennis in the future.”

Prizmic is the first player to win a Grand Slam junior crown and a Challenger title in the same season since Wu Yibing in 2017. The Croatian is also the first player to win the Roland Garros boys’ singles title and a Challenger trophy in the same season since Stan Wawrinka in 2003.

Shortly after Prizmic won on the Parisian clay, Novak Djokovic, who is coached by Ivanisevic, posted an Instagram story congratulating the teen, writing, ‘Čestitke Dino’, which translates to, ‘Congratulations Dino’.

“My reaction was like, ‘I can’t believe it!’ because Novak shared this post on Instagram story,” Prizmic said. “It’s a big thing for me of course because he is my idol and I’m very happy about that.”

<a href=Dino Prizmic wins the 2023 Roland Garros boys’ singles title.” />
Dino Prizmic in action at the 2023 Roland Garros boys’ singles event. Credit: Julian Finney/Getty Images

Prizmic has drawn inspiration from the 94-time tour-level titlist, who claimed his record-breaking 23rd major crown just 24 hours after the teen lifted the junior title.

Motivated by the 36-year-old Djokovic’s physical and mental strength, Prizmic even adopted an all-natural diet akin to the Serbian’s. Prizmic allows one cheat day a year: his birthday.

“I started that when I was 15 because I saw Novak and other players don’t eat sweet things and I just wanted to also do that,” Prizmic said. “On court, I feel very good, not tired. Big difference on energy levels on court.

“I also want to eat right for myself. Beef, eggs, vegetables every day are so important for me. Every time I see [sweets], I don’t want to look there! It’s tough but I know it’s for my tennis, because tennis is my life. I need to do that.”

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Prizmic earned his maiden tour-level victory on home soil in Umag last month, when he reached the quarter-finals before falling to eventual champion Alexei Popyrin.

The Croatian is aiming for a maiden appearance at the Next Gen Finals, which features the world’s top 21-and-under players. Currently 16th in the Pepperstone ATP Live Next Gen Race, Prizmic is using the Challenger Tour to develop his game before rising to the world’s biggest stages.

“I want to play with the best players on the ATP Tour and so for me, this is just the beginning,” said Prizmic.

Youngest Croatian Challenger Champions

Player Age Title
Borna Coric 17 years, 10 months, seven days Izmir 2014 
Mario Ancic 17 years, 10 months, 11 days Belgrade 2002
Dino Prizmic 18 years, eight days Banja Luka 2023

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Fantastic For Fans & Players: The Unique Cincinnati Experience

  • Posted: Aug 18, 2023

Fantastic For Fans & Players: The Unique Cincinnati Experience

Learn more about the ATP Masters 1000 event

Just after midnight Wednesday morning at the Lindner Family Tennis Centre in Cincinnati, Carlos Alcaraz battled Jordan Thompson on centre court for a place in the third round of the Western & Southern Open.

Outside the stadium waiting at the players’ entrance was Nkeiru Green, a 46-year-old fan from New York who was hoping to meet Felix Auger-Aliassime. The Canadian had lost his doubles match earlier in the evening. One of the perks of being a fan at the Cincinnati ATP Masters 1000 event is that fans have several opportunities to be close to their favourite stars.

“The intimacy of it, it’s not as vast as New York. And you get the chance to actually feel as though you’re much closer to the players, and you get to see all of them,” Green said. “So it’s hard to see that many stars in one location [elsewhere]. And like I said, the intimacy of it, and also the accessibility of it — it’s not so difficult to get here.”

At about 12:30 a.m., Auger-Aliassime walked out of the players’ lounge and was happy to meet Green, who has family in Cincinnati and has been attending the event every year it has been held in Mason since 2014. Throughout the day, passers-by will see dozens of fans like her camped out at the same player walkway to ask for autographs and selfies.

Nkeiru Green enjoys her time at the Western & Southern Open.
Nkeiru Green poses for a photo near the players’ entrance in Cincinnati.
According to Western & Southern Open Tournament Director Todd Martin, the professionalisation of athletes and the tennis business in general have seen an evolution of the stars’ relationship with the community. But the Lindner Family Tennis Centre is designed to encourage plenty of interaction.

“Our property allows the fans still a closer look, and more opportunity to get an autograph or a picture. And so I think we can continue to upgrade the experience for the fan and for the player, create an even better experience for the player relative to the rest of the Tour,” Martin said. “The fan comes first and we just have to be more and more intentional about providing them access to the player, but appropriate access and access that the player is accustomed to: public interviews on stage, sponsor hospitality visits, autograph signings.

“It’s that level of structure that still has, at its core, a high level of player security and isolation without [the players] being in a bubble.”

Fans do not only get excited to see stars like Alcaraz and Novak Djokovic, either. Throughout the grounds it is common to find crowds several people deep to watch practice regardless of who the player is.

Robin Haase was practising early in the tournament and was at the net working on his volleys. With onlookers just metres away, the Dutchman hit a volley into the net and joked with the crowd that he was supposed to hit over the net.

“I think in general for crowds to be able to look at practices, to be able to be that close at practice where they almost can catch a ball, I think that’s a great experience for them,” Haase said. “But also for players I think it’s a good thing because when the crowd is watching, you play a little bit differently, even in practice. So I think it’s a good thing, it helps both of us.”

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Martin understands the player-fan relationship in Cincinnati well, having competed in the singles event 10 times. The former No. 4 player in the Pepperstone ATP Rankings also attended college in the same geographic region, at Nortwestern University.

“For me, it was the pinnacle of Midwest tennis, first of all. Two, it was an opportunity to bump into loads of people that I cared to bump into. And my friends and I turned it into a bit of a annual reunion. Probably shouldn’t forget that it was easier for my parents to get to and all that,” Martin said. “I came here in the early ‘90s for the first time. But even then, there was a distinct sense of intimacy, accessibility and community that pervaded through the property.”

The players have also been impressed with upgrades to the player areas this year. The players’ lounge was completely refreshed and some of the many games that have long been available to the athletes were moved to a newly furnished outdoor location to give the stars more space.

There was also new furniture added to a patio on the third floor, providing another space for competitors and their teams to relax, prepare for a match or unwind after one. On the same floor, there is also a special recovery room to support the players.

The efforts by tournament organisers were recognised by several athletes, including World No. 1 Alcaraz.

“A lot of things changed since last year,” the Spaniard said. “I think the tournament grew up a lot.”

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Djokovic Extends Monfils Dominance To Reach Cincinnati QFs

  • Posted: Aug 18, 2023

Djokovic Extends Monfils Dominance To Reach Cincinnati QFs

Serbian next meets home favourite Fritz

Nineteen Lexus ATP Head2Head meetings. Nineteen wins for Novak Djokovic against Gael Monfils.

The Serbian extended his dominance in the matchup into historic territory on Thursday at the Western & Southern Open. Following his 6-3, 6-2 victory, Djokovic now owns the most wins without a defeat in any Lexus ATP Head2Head matchup — breaking a tie with Rafael Nadal, who is 18-0 against Richard Gasquet.

“It was kind of an evolution of both players over the past 15-plus years that we’ve been playing each other in different parts of the world, also in juniors,” Djokovic said of their history. “I think early on I struggled a lot with him, I think physically as well. When you play on of the most athletic guys on the Tour, you have to be ready, every ball comes back. A couple of points today, especially in the first set he showed his athleticism.”

After a second-set retirement by Alejandro Davidovich Fokina handed Djokovic a win in his first match on American soil since 2021, the World No. 2 played two solid sets to dismiss Monfils, dominating the baseline rallies in a one-hour, eight-minute victory. With victory in his first completed match since he lost to Carlos Alcaraz in the Wimbledon final, Djokovic remains on course for a potential rematch with the World No. 1 Spaniard in the title round.

Now 17-1 on hard courts this season, Djokovic is seeking his third Cincinnati title. His first Western & Southern Open crown in 2018 earned him a Career Golden Masters, completing his box set of trophies at the ATP Masters 1000. He repeated as champion in 2020, when the event was held in New York.

Monfils, who reached the Toronto quarter-finals last week, was bidding to make back-to-back runs to that stage at Masters 1000s for the first time since 2016 (Indian Wells, Miami). The Frenchman was also denied a second Top 4 win in as many weeks, following his upset of Stefanos Tsitsipas in Toronto.

Djokovic took over on the Cincinnati centre court from 3-3 in the first set. The Serbian capitalised on a loose service game from Monfils to break at love for 5-3, then moved through the gears to win eight straight games and build a 5-0 lead in set two. Monfils claimed his first break point of the night to avoid a bagel second set, but Djokovic made no mistake on his second attempt to serve out the win.

“I just managed to hold my serve really comfortably. I think I was hitting the spots well, and just made him play,” said Djokovic, who stressed the importance of serving well in the quick Cincinnati conditions. “He made a few unforced errors at 4-3 in the first set to hand me the break. After that it was no looking back for me. I started to raise the level more and more, almost a flawless second set. I guess his game suits me. It’s nice to see him back. We haven’t played for quite a few years. It’s great to see him back playing at a high level.”

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Next up for Djokovic will be home favourite Taylor Fritz, who advanced to the quarters when Laslo Djere retired while trailing 0-5 in their Thursday meeting. The American is through to his second straight Cincinnati quarter-final and his 12th overall this season, including eight on hard courts. He will bring a 31-8 hard-court record this season into his seventh Lexus ATP Head2Head meeting with Djokovic, who has won all six of their previous encounters.

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Murray/Venus Down Wimbledon Champs Koolhof/Skupski In Cincy

  • Posted: Aug 18, 2023

Murray/Venus Down Wimbledon Champs Koolhof/Skupski In Cincy

Eubanks/Shelton advance

Jamie Murray and Michael Venus booked their quarter-final ticket at the Western & Southern Open on Thursday after upsetting top seeds Wesley Koolhof and Neal Skupski.

Despite failing to convert any of their eight break point chances, Murray and Venus held their nerve to oust the Wimbledon champions 7-6(3), 6-7(3), 10-1. The British-Kiwi duo won 45 of their 49 first-serve points.

“I think that’s a big win for us,” Murray said. “This swing hasn’t been fantastic for us, but in doubles, any week can be your week. You just have to be ready with the scoring and everything and how it plays out. I think after Toronto we put a lot of good work in and it’s paid off so far. We’ve played two really good matches. That’s all we can ask for.”

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Currently 12th in the Pepperstone ATP Live Doubles Teams Rankings, Murray and Venus defeated Serbians Nikola Cacic and Novak Djokovic in the first round and will next aim to continue their run against wild cards Lorenzo Musetti and Lorenzo Sonego after the Italians beat Toronto champions Marcelo Arevalo and Jean-Julien Rojer 6-4, 7-6(5).

Home favourites Christopher Eubanks and Ben Shelton, who played each other in the singles first round, downed fourth seeds Rohan Bopanna and Matthew Ebden 7-6(4), 2-6, 10-7. Sixth seeds Santiago Gonzalez and Edouard Roger-Vasselin survived Max Purcell and Andrey Rublev 4-6, 6-3, 10-7.

Marcelo Melo and Alexander Zverev overcame Hubert Hurkacz and Mate Pavic 6-3, 7-5 after dropping just five points behind their first serve. Nikola Mektic and John Peers escaped seventh seeds Kevin Krawietz and Tim Puetz 7-5, 2-6, 13-11.

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