Australia bounce back from Wednesday’s Davis Cup defeat by Great Britain to come from behind and beat France 2-1.
Australia bounce back from Wednesday’s Davis Cup defeat by Great Britain to come from behind and beat France 2-1.
Matthew Ebden and Max Purcell breathed fresh life into Australia’s Davis Cup Finals Group Stage hopes on Thursday in Manchester, where the pair notched a deciding doubles victory to give their country a vital win against France.
Having lost their Group B opener 1-2 to host Great Britain, Australia was plunged into further trouble when Adrian Mannarino edged Purcell 7-6(4), 6-4 in the opening singles rubber of the tie. Alex de Minaur soon restored parity in the 17th Davis Cup tie between the two nations, however, moving past Ugo Humbert 7-6(2), 6-3.
That opened the door for Ebden and Purcell to clinch Australia’s first victory of the group and the pair did not let the opportunity slip. They defeated experienced doubles stars Nicolas Mahut and Edouard Roger-Vasselin 7-5, 6-3 to complete a hard-earned comeback win in the tie.
— ATP Tour (@atptour) September 14, 2023
“We were just inspired by our team,” said Ebden. “Yesterday was a tough day. Everyone fought hard. We came up short, but we got a point. Today we were down, up against it, backs against the wall. We went in the locker room and [Tony Roche] said, ‘That’s where we love to be, that’s where we want to fight from’.
“Alex de Minaur came out and did amazing first and we were just privileged to have the opportunity to come out and fight.”
Australia next faces Switzerland in its final group match as it chases a fifth appearance in the Davis Cup quarter-finals since 2015.
Czech Charge Continues In Valencia
The Czech Republic made it six rubbers played, six rubbers won in Group C as Tomas Machac and Jiri Lehecka completed singles victories on Thursday against South Korea.
The Czechs began their week by stunning host nation Spain 3-0 and they maintained that momentum to move to the brink of the Final 8. Machac had to overcome some difficult moments against Seongchan Hong but ultimately prevailed 7-6(8), 4-6, 6-2 before the World No. 30 Lehecka showed his class to ease past two-time ATP Tour titlist Soonwoo Kwon 6-1, 7-5.
#NextGenATP star Jakub Mensik and Adam Pavlasek then continued the Czech’s perfect start to the week in Spain by beating JiSung Nam and MinKyu Song 3-6, 7-6(5), 6-4 in the doubles rubber to wrap a 3-0 victory.
If Patrick Kypson ever feels pressure on court, his father Alan will jokingly tell the 23-year-old he does not know pressure.
While Kypson is battling on the ATP Challenger Tour, Alan faces a different type of pressure working as a cardiac surgeon in Raleigh, North Carolina, 20 minutes from the host site of the Atlantic Tire Championships, where Patrick is competing this week.
The American is soaking in this rare opportunity to play close to home. Kypson cruised through his opening-round match against Michael Geerts and was immediately met by family congratulating him.
“All of my family lives here. My grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, this is the only time they get to come out and watch me play throughout the entire year,” Kypson told ATPTour.com. “It’s cool to play in front of them. I get to sleep in my own bed, home-cooked meals, my mom is a good cook. You can’t beat it. It’s a little extra motivation for sure.
“My sister lives here too, she goes to college at UNC [University of North Carolina]. This is probably the first time she’s seen me play in three years.”
Kypson’s roots are in North Carolina. He grew up in Greenville, where World No. 13 Tommy Paul was also raised. A former Texas A&M University star, Kypson’s first private coach was Paul’s stepfather Randy Bailey. They trained on clay courts at Courtside Athletic Club, 90 minutes from Raleigh.
“It was pretty cool because me, Tommy, his sister [Jessie], a girl named Lauren Herring, she played at Georgia, came out of there,” Kypson said. “It was actually a pretty good turnout for a small club.”
The American started playing tennis at age eight and two years later, the Kypson family was racking up miles travelling to junior tournaments.
Svajda’s Non-Traditional Path To The Pros
“We would always leave Thursday or Friday night after my dad’s work. I look back and it was such a grind driving all over the south and playing tennis tournaments every weekend,” Kypson said.
A former ITA All-American, Kypson attended Texas A&M because of a strong relationship he had with coaches Steve Denton and Kevin O’Shea. Kypson was in College Station for one year before turning pro. Kypson faced adversity when, due to injury, he was unable to play a full pro calendar for several years.
“[I had] elbow surgery, three or four abdominal tears, each one kept me out for three months,” Kypson said. “I would play, then tear it, three months of rehab. Just kind of always cycling, plus the elbow just wouldn’t get better. It was tough to get in a groove. I feel like the first year I played full on the Tour was when I came back from surgery last spring. It’s tough to play good tennis when you’re playing 12 events a year or less.”
The hard work has since paid off for Kypson, who in July captured his maiden ATP Challenger Tour in Medellin, Colombia, the hometown of his coach Alejandro Gonzalez. Medellin served as a second home for Kypson that week with Gonzalez’s family in attendance.
Patrick Kypson is crowned champion at the Challenger 50 event in Medellin, Colombia.” />
Patrick Kypson triumphs at the ATP Challenger Tour 50 event in Medellin, Colombia. Credit: Jumbo Open Rionegro
Australian Adam Walton grew up playing tennis alongside his older brother Jack. They would create ‘hectic’ Saturday schedules, starting the day practising tennis before playing cricket and rugby in the afternoons.
Their mother Sherry, who is a registered nurse, would often work night shifts and during the day would take the two boys to their activities. When Jack decided to take tennis more seriously, Adam followed in his footsteps.
A native of Home Hill, Walton received a scholarship to a Brisbane boarding school his final three years of high school before moving across the world to the University of Tennessee. Despite being more than 14,000 kilometres away from home, the 24-year-old has found success in the United States.
“I already lived away from my parents for a couple of years, so I felt ready to go to college and there were a couple Australians at Tennessee so that’s a big reason why I chose Tennessee,” Walton told ATPTour.com. “I knew the two Aussies on the team and I wanted to go somewhere where at least I knew someone. Tennessee is in the SEC [Southeastern Conference], which has very strong competition week in and week out, so it was a good pick for me.”
When Walton first arrived at Tennessee, he thought his tennis career would not go beyond college. A standout five years in which he earned ITA All-American honours and won more than 100 matches in singles and doubles changed his mind. Walton graduated in 2022 with a Bachelor’s degree in kinesiology and then turned pro.
“The college route was definitely the way for me. I had a lot to learn, I was a little immature. I got a little bit better every year,” Walton said. “I was a pretty skinny kid and I was always definitely not good enough to try and play pro tournaments straightaway after high school.
“I was an established college player by the end of it and thought I should try it. I had some pretty decent success in the 15Ks straight off the bat and then kept pursuing, and got my ranking up inside 200 in 14, 15 months.”
Now in his first full season on the ATP Challenger Tour, Walton earned his biggest career title in August, when he won the Atlantic Tire Championships I in Cary, North Carolina. The Aussie defeated three of the Top 4 seeds and saved two championship points against Nicolas Moreno De Alboran to become the seventh different singles winner from the University of Tennessee in ATP Challenger Tour history.
Adam Walton wins the Challenger 75 event in Cary, North Carolina.” />
Adam Walton wins his maiden ATP Challenger Tour title in Cary, North Carolina. Credit: Alexis Galloway
“I was on the back of my sixth tournament in a row. I didn’t actually know prior to the event where I was going to play, but I snuck in the main draw,” Walton said. “I guess all the stars aligned and I had an unbelievable week. It’ll be a week that I never forget.”
Still based out of Knoxville, one of the challenges Walton faces is finding time to speak with his family, including his mother Sherry and father Ashley, who works in the construction industry, because of the 14-hour time zone difference between Tennessee and home.
“It’s either real early in the mornings or late at night that you can talk, but you can’t talk during the day,” Walton said.
Despite adjusting to life as a pro and constantly being on the road, Walton is finding success. This week, he is in action at the Cary Challenger, where he boasts a six-match winning streak dating back to last month’s title run.
Tallon Griekspoor took the Netherlands to the brink of the Davis Cup Final 8 in dramatic circumstances on Thursday in Split, where he downed Frances Tiafoe 6-3, 6-7(7), 7-6(3) to secure an upset win for his nation against the United States.
After Botic van de Zandschulp had eased past Tommy Paul 7-6(2), 6-2 to give the Netherlands an early lead in the Group D tie, Griekspoor avenged his loss to Tiafoe in Cincinnati last month with an inspired display against the World No. 11. The Dutchman let slip a match point at 5-4 in the deciding set but held his nerve impressively to claim a tie-break which ended when Tiafoe was given a point penalty for a code violation on match point.
“I just believed in myself,” said Griekspoor. “I stayed calm, still went after my shots like I did the whole match. That’s what paid off in the end, I think. I played a really good tie-break until 6/2, just kept going after it and kept believing and that’s what got me through in the end.”
It was a second singles win of the week for Griekspoor, who defeated Finland’s Emil Ruusuvuori on Tuesday. The Netherlands has now won both its ties in Group D but will still have to wait until its final clash against host Croatia to confirm its spot in the Final 8 for the second consecutive year. Doubles pair Wesley Koolhof and Matwe Middelkoop can boost their country’s position further on Thursday evening by overcoming Austin Krajicek and Rajeev Ram to complete a sweep against the United States.
Canada Surge Continues In Bologna
Vasek Pospisil and Gabriel Diallo maintained Canada’s perfect start in Group A with a singles victory apiece against Sweden to move the defending champion to the brink of the Final 8.
Pospisil overcame Leo Borg 7-6(5), 5-7, 6-2 to set the North Americans on course in Bologna, before Gabriel Diallo notched his second win of the week with a 6-4, 6-3 triumph against Elias Ymer. It marked a first victory for Canada in three Davis Cup meetings with seven-time winner Sweden.
Diallo’s triumph against Ymer was another impressive result for the World No. 158, who defeated Lorenzo Sonego for his first Davis Cup match win on Wednesday. The 21-year-old backed up that result up by converting three of his six break points against Ymer to secure Canada’s fifth straight rubber of the week. Alexis Galarneau and Pospisil will try to make that six in the doubles later on Thursday, when they take on Filip Bergevi and Andre Goransson.
With the Pepperstone ATP Live Race To Jeddah heating up, several #NextGenATP stars earned standout results in July, August and September to make their moves in a bid to boost their chances of qualifying for the Next Gen ATP Finals, to be held in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia from 28 November-2 December.
Stricker & Shelton Deliver At US Open
Ben Shelton and Dominic Stricker stared at the US Open, clinching career-best results at a major to consolidate their positions in the Live Race To Jeddah. The 20-year-old Shelton defeated countryman Tommy Paul and Frances Tiafoe to become the youngest American to reach the last four at the hard-court major since Michael Chang in 1992.
Stricker, currently seventh in the Live Race To Jeddah, advanced to the fourth round at a Grand Slam for the first time. The 21-year-old Swiss had won only one major match (Wimbledon 2023) before arriving in New York, but showed fans how dangerous he can be with his big lefty serve.
Stricker upset World No. 7 Stefanos Tsitsipas in the second round to earn his first Top 10 win, before losing against Taylor Fritz in the fourth round.
“Such a great day for me, such a great win,” Stricker said after beating Tsitsipas. “It gives me a lot of confidence and I think it is great to see from my team. We are working hard every day and it is so great to do that.”
Fils & Van Assche Enjoy Hamburg Success
Frenchmen Arthur Fils and Luca Van Assche are fifth and sixth, respectively, in the Live Race To Jeddah. Fils and Van Assche were consistent on the Tour over the past two months, with both earning their standout result in Hamburg.
Fils, 19, advanced to his fourth tour-level semi-final of the season at the ATP 500 event, upsetting then-World No. 4 Casper Ruud for the biggest win of his career by Pepperstone ATP Ranking. Van Assche, 19, reached his first tour-level quarter-final on the clay in Hamburg. He beat Alexandre Muller and Alejandro Davidovich Fokina.
Michelsen Stars On Home Soil, Medjedovic Makes Breakthrough
Alex Michelsen enjoyed success on home soil on the ATP Tour to climb to eighth in the Live Race To Jeddah. The 19-year-old American, who is aiming to make his debut at the Next Gen ATP Finals, reached the title match in Newport in just his second tour-level event, before he advanced to the third round in Winston-Salem.
Serbian Medjedovic also broke new ground, reaching his first tour-level semi-final in Gstaad. The 20-year-old, who had not won a match at an ATP Tour tournament before Gstaad, then captured his third ATP Challenger Tour trophy of the season in Mallorca in September.
Medjedovic has been coached by countryman and former World No. 12 Viktor Troicki since the start of the year. The 20-year-old is pleased with how their partnership has developed.
“I’ve been working on many things with my coach Viktor. He’s been through the situations that I am [going] through now and he’s helping me a lot, especially with my mental game,” Medjedovic said.
A number of #NextGenATP stars enjoyed impressive results to improve their qualification bids.
Twelfth-placed Pablo Llamas Ruiz and 13th-placed Luca Nardi both won ATP Challenger Tour events in July and August, respectively. Shang Juncheng, 16th, won a tour-level match in Atlanta before advancing to the third round in Washington, where he defeated Shelton.
Czech Jakub Mensik, 14th, reached the third round at a major for the first time at the US Open. ATPTour.com spoke to Mensik’s coach, Tomas Josefus, at the hard-court major.
“Jakub is an aggressive baseliner for sure. His game style is really aggressive and is trying to put pressure on his opponent with taking time away. That’s probably the signature of Jakub’s game,” Josefus said when describing Mensik’s game. “He has a big serve and big return. In today’s tennis, and in today’s game, zero to four-shot rallies, especially here on hard courts in the U.S. are a minimum 60, maybe sometimes 70 per cent of all points. So definitely a big serve and big return is a big strength of Jakub’s game.”
Zachary Svajda was two years old when he first started playing tennis. He would volley a balloon back and forth in the living room with his father Tom to make an early start on developing hand-eye coordination skills. The California native soon transitioned to a court, where he enjoyed riding the ball mower to pick up the court full of balls he had just hit.
As Svajda grew older, his family decided to set him on a unique junior path. From ages 10 to nearly 15, he did not play any tournaments. Instead, the goal was to finetune his game as much as possible.
“We were just thinking about it as I got to be nine, 10 years old, we just didn’t really see a point of playing these junior tournaments every week,” Svajda told ATPTour.com. “We just tried to focus on getting better. I know it’s different because tournament play is always different from practice.
“We also couldn’t afford to travel around the world playing ITFs or anything. We were like, ‘Let’s just take a different route and let’s just try to get better every day and hopefully by 15, 16 I’d be a good player and get those matches from there.’”
The 20-year-old Svajda has always been surrounded by a strong support crew, including his mother Anita and father Tom, who works as a teaching pro at Pacific Beach Tennis Club in San Diego.
Many coaches might stress the importance of point play and competing in pressure moments at a young age to gain experience. The Svajda family had a solution for that too. Former University of San Diego star Uros Petronijevic lived with the Svajdas for two years. Petronijevic, an ITA All-American who graduated college in 2016, and Svajda would often play practice matches.
“Obviously it’s a little different than practice, but I would say that’s how I got my point play every day. We were doing a lot of practice matches,” Svajda said.
Taking his own path has paid off for Svajda, who twice won the USTA Boys’ 18s National Championships in Kalamazoo (2019, 2021). The American has since been climbing the Pepperstone ATP Rankings and is in position to crack the Top 200 for the first time Monday.
Challenger First-Time Winner Spotlight: Zachary Svajda
Svajda’s younger brother Trevor, three years his junior, took the same approach by not playing junior tournaments for several years and has since found early success. In August, the 17-year-old was a finalist in Kalamazoo and competed in US Open qualifying, which Zach advanced through to make the main draw in New York.
“I [tell him], ‘Don’t think about me, you have your own route. Whatever that is, don’t stress about anything,’” Svajda said. “In Kalamazoo, he was kind of nervous and he was like, ‘I feel like I should win it because you did twice.’ I told him, ‘Dude, it doesn’t matter if you lose the first or second round, I still love you the same, doesn’t matter. Try to go out there with no pressure at all.’ Sure enough he made the final, which was great.”
Watch the clean-hitting Svajda play and you will find the 5’9” star does not show emotion on court. If you did not know the score of the match, it would be hard to tell by watching Svajda’s body language.
“Every match, if I’m winning or losing or if it’s a really good day or bad day, I’ll always just have that same demeanour where I don’t get frustrated at all really,” Svajda said. “I think just as a kid I was always quiet on and off the court, almost in a shy way. I guess it kind of translated over to the tennis side.
“I don’t yell, ‘Come on!’ or don’t do much of that. I’m trying to work on showing a little bit more positive energy but it will take some time because I’m not fully used to it. I just like to stay calm and present, move on to the next point… I’m from San Diego so I’m kind of chill, laid back. Nothing really stresses me out. I always just try to stay calm. I can’t remember the last time I raised my voice.”
Seeded eighth at this week’s ATP Challenger Tour event in Cary, North Carolina, Svajda earned his maiden title at that level last October in his home state of California, where he beat Ben Shelton in the final. Svajda has continued to grow since that triumph.
“I definitely have had ups and downs after the win in Tiburon last year but I think now I’m stronger. I’ve also played many more matches this year,” Svajda said. “I qualified for a few ATP Tour events now, so I see improvements for sure. I would say I’m stronger and more match tough.”
Svajda will next be in action Thursday when he faces Great Britain’s Toby Samuel in the Atlantic Tire Championships quarter-finals.