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Alcaraz Sleeveless, Not Sleepless After Early Night In New York

  • Posted: Aug 29, 2023

Alcaraz Sleeveless, Not Sleepless After Early Night In New York

Spaniard chasing his third major title

US Open top seed Carlos Alcaraz had an unexpectedly early night inside Arthur Ashe Stadium Tuesday when opponent Dominik Koepfer retired with the Spaniard leading 6-2, 3-2 after 60 minutes. 

The German World No. 75 suffered a freak ankle injury just six points into the match when he rolled his left ankle while moving backwards as an Alcaraz stroke sailed over the baseline.

The 29-year-old received treatment at deuce in the first game and battled until midway through the second set, when eventually the pain and risk of further injury became too much to bear.

“It’s obviously not the best way to get through to the next round,” said Alcaraz, who debuted an artistic sleeveless match shirt. “It’s very unfortunate for him but I was feeling really good on court. It’s a court I love playing in. I felt the same energy I felt last year.”

Alcaraz, who will next meet South African Lloyd Harris, is attempting to become the first player to successfully defend the men’s US Open title since Roger Federer won five straight between 2004-08.

Because he is dropping 2000 points as the defending champion, regardless of results Alcaraz will surrender World No. 1 in the Pepperstone ATP Rankings on 12 September to Novak Djokovic, who has no points to defend because he did not play the event last year.

<a href=Dominik Koepfer receives treatment in the first game from ATP physio Per Bastholt.” />

Alcaraz is seeded to meet Italian Jannik Sinner in the quarter-finals in what would be a rematch of their five-hour Flushing Meadows epic last year, in which the Italian held a match point.

Earlier on Tuesday night Sinner dropped just five games in a commanding 6-3, 6-1, 6-1 win over German Yannick Hanfmann. Looking to qualify for the Nitto ATP Finals, Sinner won 50 per cent of return points and claimed six service breaks.

“I was playing good, I was returning good,” Sinner said. “Sometimes the serve could be a little bit better. But the atmosphere is obviously very nice. I know physically I’m healthy, which is most important.”

Sinner next faces countryman Lorenzo Sonego, having beaten the World No. 39 in their two career Lexus ATP Head2Head meetings this year in Halle and Montpellier.

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Murray Captures 200th Major Win, Faces Dimitrov Next

  • Posted: Aug 29, 2023

Murray Captures 200th Major Win, Faces Dimitrov Next

Norrie, Draper advance; Dimitrov saves 3 match points

Former US Open champion Andy Murray earned his 200th major win on Tuesday, when he overcame Frenchman Corentin Moutet 6-2, 7-5, 6-3 to reach the second round in New York.

The Scot coped with Moutet’s flamboyant shotmaking throughout the two-hour, 58-minute clash, combating the Frenchman’s touch with consistent depth to advance to the second round for the 16th time. The 36-year-old also moved forward frequently, winning 69 per cent (48/70) of net points.

“It was amazing. A brilliant atmosphere against one of the most skilful players on Tour,” Murray said. “He has so many ways to disrupt you, he is an exceptional player and he moves extremely well and always causes a bit of chaos. I hope it was entertaining for everyone. There were some fun points in there. I am happy to get through in straight sets because the second set was very tight.”

Murray, who defeated Novak Djokovic to triumph at the hard-court Slam in 2012, is just the ninth man in history to earn 200 match wins at the majors. He will aim to make it 201 when he faces Grigor Dimitrov. The Bulgarian saved three match points to edge Alex Molcan 6-7(9), 6-7(5), 6-1, 7-5, 7-6(11-9) in four hours and 40 minutes.

All-time Grand Slam Men’s Singles Win Leaders

Player  Wins 
Roger Federer  369 
Novak Djokovic 354
Rafael Nadal 314
Jimmy Connors 233
Andre Agassi 224
Ivan Lendl  222
Roy Emerson 210
Pete Sampras 203
Andy Murray 200

Murray has lifted the trophy at Wimbledon twice (2013, ’16) and he is a five-time finalist at the Australian Open (2010, ’11, ’13, ’15, ’16). He also advanced to the championship match at Roland Garros in 2016.

The 36-year-old saved two set points in the second set against Moutet, rallying from 3-5 to gain further control. He then earned the decisive break of the third set in the eighth game, converting on his 10th opportunity of the set. Murray then held serve, advancing on his fourth match point.

“The preparation was slightly tricky because I had to pull out of the tournament mid-way through in Canada and miss Cincinnati,” said Murray, who suffered an ab strain in Toronto. “I had to slowly build my serving up but I was quite happy with how I served today, the ab felt good.”

Murray will next face Dimitrov, who rallied from two sets down against Molcan to reach the second round in New York for the fourth consecutive year. The 32-year-old, who trails Murray 3-8 in their Lexus ATP Head2Head series, struck 81 winners against Slovakian Molcan.

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Briton Cameron Norrie also reached the second round, defeating Alexander Shevchenko 6-3, 6-2, 6-2 in one hour and 32 minutes.

“I was pretty nervous going into the tournament,” said Norrie, who suffered opening-round exits in his past three events. “I have had a couple of tough loses recently, so the confidence was not where I wanted it to be. Coming in I would usually have had a lot of matches under my belt and I wanted to start well. I had a really positive week in practice. My team has been really good in these tough times, so it is nice to get a comfortable win.”

The 16th seed is making his seventh appearance in New York, where he enjoyed a run to the fourth round last year. Lefty Norrie is currently 15th in the Pepperstone ATP Live Race To Turin (1,815 points) and will need a deep run at the hard-court major to boost his chances of qualifying for the Nitto ATP Finals.

The 28-year-old, who has won three tour-level titles on hard courts, will next play Yu Hsiou Hsu.

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Jack Draper reached the third round at the US Open on debut last year and made a fast start again this week, overcoming Radu Albot 6-1, 6-4, 6-3.

The 21-year-old saved all three break points he faced to seal his win after two hours and five minutes. Briton Draper will meet Marc-Andrea Huesler or Hubert Hurkacz in the second round.

Daniel Evans rounded out a good day for the Brits when he won 21 of 29 net approaches in a 6-4, 6-2, 7-5 win over Colombian Daniel Elahi Galan, who last year knocked out Stefanos Tsitsipas in the first round. Evans next faces a first Lexus ATP Head2Head meeting with Dutchman Botic van de Zandschulp.

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#NextGenATP Stars Fils & Michelsen Earn Wins On US Open Debuts

  • Posted: Aug 29, 2023

#NextGenATP Stars Fils & Michelsen Earn Wins On US Open Debuts

Both aiming to make first apperances at Next Gen ATP Finals in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia

#NextGenATP Frenchman Arthur Fils advanced on his US Open debut Tuesday, clawing past 24th seed Tallon Griekspoor in a five-set thriller to reach the second round.

The 19-year-old battled hard throughout the three-hour, 58-minute match, striking 61 winners to advance 4-6, 6-3, 5-7, 6-4, 7-5. Fils will next face Italian Matteo Arnaldi, who competed at the Next Gen ATP Finals in 2022.

Fils has enjoyed a breakthrough season on the ATP Tour, winning his first title at this level on home soil in Lyon in May. The Frenchman is currently fourth in the Pepperstone ATP Live Race To Jeddah (953 points) and is aiming to make his debut at the Next Gen ATP Finals, to be held in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia for the first time.

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The 19-year-old will be joined in the second round by fellow #NextGenATP star Alex Michelsen. The American wild card captured a 6-4, 6-3, 6-4 win against Spaniard Albert-Ramos Vinolas on his major debut.

Michelsen is seventh in the Live Race To Jeddah (492 points) after a standout few months on Tour. The 19-year-old advanced to his maiden tour-level final in Newport in July and reached the third round in Winston-Salem last week.

Aiming to compete at the 21-and-under event for the first time, Michelsen will look to earn more wins in New York to boost his chances. He will next play 23rd seed Nicolas Jarry after the Chilean defeated #NextGenATP Frenchman Luca Van Assche 6-3, 3-6, 6-2, 7-6(3).

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The Resilience Of Zhang Zhizhen: 'It Couldn't Break Me'

  • Posted: Aug 29, 2023

The Resilience Of Zhang Zhizhen: ‘It Couldn’t Break Me’

Chinese star banished bad memories with wild first-round US Open win

‘Triple Z’ was well on his way to triple heartbreak.

Zhang Zhizhen led home favourite J.J. Wolf two sets to love and 3-0 in the third set on Monday at the US Open and later in the set served for the match. Suddenly, the Chinese star found himself in a deciding set at the season’s final major.

It was eerily similar to two other matches he has played in the past year. In the first round of the 2022 US Open, Zhang let slip seven match points against Tim van Rijthoven. In the opening round of this year’s Australian Open, he was unable to convert a match point against Ben Shelton, who eventually reached the quarter-finals.

“Those tough matches, when you lose, there are actually so many things you can learn and so many things you can improve, which just makes you stronger,” Zhang told “That’s first, because from my mental [side], some people say I have a weak mental side. But I think I’m a tough guy, strong guy, because all the time I lost those tough matches, and it still couldn’t break me.

“So it is a good thing and then you go the next step and just go looking for the next match and then you improve. Especially when you lose those [matches], you know how to deal with it.”

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Zhang, who also lost a five-setter at Wimbledon this year to Botic van de Zandschulp, would not be denied again. Despite letting slip a big lead against Wolf, he held his nerve for a 7-5, 7-5, 6-7(5), 4-6, 6-3 victory.

“It was a little bit of a different experience of five sets, and also a little bit of a different result,” Zhang said. “In the third set there were chances, but not many because he was playing super great in the third set… This third set was a joke. It has not happened many times in my life, I think in his life also.

“The fifth set, it was tough to hold, especially the first game was 0/40. I’m super happy that I didn’t give up in that moment.”

It would have been normal for Zhang to think back to the big leads he has been unable to capitalise on. Instead of dwelling, he went to the toilet to change his clothes and returned to the court refreshed.

“I was saying, ‘Okay, this year to beat me three sets straight, that’s tough,’” Zhang recalled. “I was thinking like this. I was believing myself. Three sets, at least I can win one set. I was pretty confident, actually.”

The 26-year-old added: “I didn’t think any of last year about those sh** things. Sh** happens to me. But just like when I lost the third set I said, ‘Okay, today’s again tough, it’s not an easy match. I have to go.’”

At last year’s US Open, Zhang was No. 137 in the Pepperstone ATP Rankings and no Chinese man had ever cracked the world’s Top 100. Despite his disappointing exit at Flushing Meadows, Zhang made history by reaching that milestone in October.

After another setback in Australia against Shelton, Zhang could have fallen into a funk. But instead, he showed his resilience and has enjoyed the best season of his career, climbing to a career-high No. 52 in July.

“Those matches when you lose, many times there’s one or two points’ difference, so it’s a lot of things on the important points and how you decide how to hit the ball and how to be prepared for those points,” Zhang said. “You don’t rush too much and then you don’t go too safe. So you have to find a balance. This you need to learn from the matches.

“From the practice, you will never find the solution because in practice you play points, but you cannot really get the pressure in that moment. Once you play the match, you play more matches, and then you know how the pressure is in that moment, and then how to play the points.”

No panic. No capitulation. Only resilience. That is what Zhang showed against Wolf. In doing so, the 26-year-old proved just how far he has come.

“This year and last year are different. Maybe I am just a little bit more experienced and more mature, more calm during a match. Maybe,” Zhang said. “I know when I get nervous, but maybe I know how to release the problem, to get out of the way, just to figure out the problem.”

Zhang will try to do so again in the second round when he plays fifth seed Casper Ruud.

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Djokovic Delight At ‘Lights-Out’ Return To Arthur Ashe

  • Posted: Aug 29, 2023

Djokovic Delight At ‘Lights-Out’ Return To Arthur Ashe

Serbian guaranteed return to World No. 1 after US Open win vs. Muller

Absence makes the heart grow fonder.

Novak Djokovic made short work of his first-round clash against Alexandre Muller on Monday at the US Open, where the second seed raced to a 95-minute victory in his first match at the hard-court major since 2021. On the surface it appeared a routine opening triumph for the 23-time Grand Slam champion, but Djokovic later acknowledged there was something different about his 6-0, 6-2, 6-3 win on Arthur Ashe Stadium.

“I was excited to go out on the court,” said the 36-year-old in his post-match press conference. “I didn’t care if I started after midnight because I was looking forward to this moment for few years, to be out on the biggest stadium in our sport, the loudest stadium in our sport, playing a night session.

“It was a great joy to be stepping out on the court. I think the performance explains how I felt tonight, particularly in the first two sets. It was kind of lights-out tennis really, almost flawless, a perfect first set.”

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Djokovic fired 32 winners and converted eight of 13 break points he earned in his maiden Lexus ATP Head2Head meeting with the World No. 84 Muller. It was a continuation of the fine form the Serbian showed in Cincinnati, where he lifted his record-extending 39th ATP Masters 1000 crown eight days ago at the Western & Southern Open.

“I probably had the answer for every shot he had in his book,” said Djokovic. “Overall, I’m very, very pleased with the way I feel, with the way I’m playing. Hopefully I can maintain that level. It’s just the beginning of the tournament, but I already like the level of tennis.”

Prior to Monday, Djokovic’s most recent outing on Arthur Ashe Stadium was the 2021 championship match against Daniil Medvedev, who denied the Serbian a historic calendar-year Grand Slam with a straight-sets victory. However, the disappointment of that loss has done little to temper Djokovic’s affection for a court on which he has appeared in a record nine US Open men’s singles finals and lifted the trophy three times.

“It is the biggest stadium we have in tennis. This court has seen so much history and so many battles,” said Djokovic. “Everyone knows in tennis that night sessions at Arthur Ashe definitely are the most exciting, fun, loud, energetic sessions you can have out there on the tennis world.

“It’s the size. It’s the echo because of the roof construction. It’s everything combined. Just people, New Yorkers, love their tennis. They don’t care if they stay up very late, post-midnight, because they get excited.

“I love it. It’s great because every Grand Slam has its own charm in a way. Comparing to, for example, Wimbledon, it’s a complete contrast. In Wimbledon it’s different than here. Here is all about entertainment, fun, good energy, good vibes.

“If you can feed on that, you’ll have a lot of fun.”

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Djokovic's Devastating Start To US Open

  • Posted: Aug 29, 2023

Djokovic’s Devastating Start To US Open

Serb seeks to reach all four major finals in same season for third time

Novak Djokovic guaranteed his return to World No. 1 in the Pepperstone ATP Rankings Monday night with a commanding opening-round win over Frenchman Alexandre Muller at the US Open.

Playing his first match at Flushing Meadows since Daniil Medvedev denied him a calendar-year Grand Slam in the 2021 final, Djokovic punished the World No. 84 with nine early forehand winners as he took the first eight games of the contest and soon after the match 6-0, 6-2, 6-3. 

“The first set I started tremendously well off the box,” said Djokovic in his on-court interview. “We started quite late. Obviously, there was a ceremony between matches and I knew that we might have a late start, but nevertheless I was excited to come out on the court. It’s been a couple of years, and to come out here in front of you guys is always an honour and a pleasure here on Arthur Ashe.”

Watched by former President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama, Djokovic dominated from start to finish, clipping 32 winners to Muller’s 11 and excelling at net, winning 20 of 23 approaches.  He also dropped just five points on first serve.  

“I think I could have served [better] in the second and third. I dropped the level of my serve and had to work for my points a bit more, but nevertheless I think I played great from the beginning to the end,” said Djokovic. “Some hiccups, but I liked my level and hopefully I can maintain it in the next round as well.”

The win made certain the Serbian’s displacement of defending US Open champion Carlos Alcaraz as World No. 1 on 11 September, when Djokovic will begin a record-extending 390th week at the top.

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Djokovic, 36, is also chasing a record-extending 10th US Open final appearance (3-6 record). Having won the Australian Open and Roland Garros, and reached the Wimbledon final, the 23-time major champion is looking to reach the final of all four Slams in the same season for the third time in his career (2021 and 2015).

In the second round Djokovic will face World No. 76 Spaniard Bernabe Zapata Miralles, who defeated American NCAA champion Ethan Quinn 6-4, 6-4, 6-3.

“He’s a clay-court specialist but over the years all these guys learn how to play on the hard courts,” said Djokovic of Zapata Miralles. “There’s no easy opponent, obviously I respect everyone. I don’t underestimate anybody and try to give my best. Hopefully I can get another win in a few days.”

It was a brutal US Open debut for Muller, who raised his arms in light-hearted celebration when he finally got on the board in the ninth game of the match. Muller had just two tour-level hard-court wins on the season coming into the tournament.

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Tsitsipas Stares Downs Ghosts Of Armstrong To Beat Raonic

  • Posted: Aug 29, 2023

Tsitsipas Stares Downs Ghosts Of Armstrong To Beat Raonic

Greek suffered shock loss last year on Armstrong

Stefanos Tsitsipas suffered a catastrophe 12 months ago when he took to Louis Armstrong stadium for his opening match of the US Open.

Then World No. 94 Colombian Daniel Elahi Galan swung for the fences and took the racquet out of the Greek’s hand, winning the first 11 games of the match and ultimately prevailing in four sets after clubbing 41 winners.

The seventh seed could be forgiven for feeling a little trepidation as he walked back to Armstrong Monday night to face dangerous Canadian Milos Raonic, who owned a 2-0 lead in their Lexus ATP Head2Head series and who dropped 49 aces in two matches at Wimbledon this year.

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Coached solely on the night by Mark Philippoussis, Tsitsipas was also looking for a confidence booster, having won just one match in Toronto and Cincinnati on the heels of capturing his first title of the year in Los Cabos at the beginning of this month.

The former Nitto ATP Finals champion dropped just five games in the opening two sets and responded with back-to-back breaks in the third after Raonic opened a 4-2 lead to close out a 6-2, 6-3, 6-4 win. The 25-year-old two-time major finalist limited Raonic to just eight aces and played a tidy match himself, hitting 25 winners to 20 unforced errors, while his opponent conceded 48 unforced errors and five service breaks.

“It was fun to play high quality tennis against a champion like Milos,” Tsitsipas said on court after the match. “He’s dealing with a comeback and I knew he had nothing to lose. I had to bring my A game from the very first point. I made it physical and it worked.”

Tsitsipas, who has twice reached the third round at Flushing Meadows but never reached the second week, next faces the winner of Dominic Stricker and Alexei Popyrin.

Felix Auger-Aliassime, the 15th-seeded Canadian, slipped into negative territory (14-15) on the year after falling 7-6(5), 6-4, 1-6, 6-4 to American Mackenzie McDonald in three hours, 26 minutes.  Felix, who won 60 matches last year, has dropped 11of his past 14 matches.

McDonald, who reached the Toronto quarter-finals and the third round in Cincinnati, moved past his 26-match wins total for the 2022 season with Monday’s victory and moved to a career-high No. 37 in the Pepperstone ATP Live Rankings. He next meets the winner of Hugo Dellien and Borna Gojo.

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