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Shelton Recognised In Front Of More Than 90,000 Fans At Florida Football

  • Posted: Sep 18, 2023

Shelton Recognised In Front Of More Than 90,000 Fans At Florida Football

American also hit honourary first serve ahead of volleyball match

Ben Shelton has received plenty of applause on the tennis court. This weekend, the American received it on a football field and volleyball court.

Shelton returned home to the University of Florida, where he was a star on the tennis team under his father, then-head coach Bryan Shelton. The recent US Open semi-finalist was recognised Saturday in front of 90,751 fans inside Ben Hill Griffin Stadium during Florida’s 29-16 football win over the University of Tennessee.

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The big-serving lefty was on the sideline to take in the action wearing the jersey of former Gator Kyle Pitts, who is currently a star for the NFL’s Atlanta Falcons.

<a href=Ben Shelton” />
Photo: Ashley Ray/Florida Athletics
On Sunday, Shelton hit the honourary first serve ahead of the University of Florida’s volleyball match against the University of Wisconsin. The crowd of 10,323 in attendance was a Southeastern Conference home match record and state of Florida on-campus record.

Shelton will soon turn his attention to a return to action at the Laver Cup, where he will make his Team World debut.

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Guido Pella Reflects On Retirement: 'It Was An Incredible Journey'

  • Posted: Sep 18, 2023

Guido Pella Reflects On Retirement: ‘It Was An Incredible Journey’

Argentine played his last match at the US Open

Guido Pella has a smile on his face and a tear in his eye at the same time. The 33-year-old Argentine knows that last weekend was not a normal one for him, quite the opposite. After a few intense months, he announced something that he had planned some time ago — his goodbye to professional tennis after 16 years on the ATP Tour.

For Pella, who reached the Top 20 in the Pepperstone ATP Rankings, his last match was a 7-6(5), 6-4, 6-4 defeat to Lloyd Harris in the first round of the US Open. On Court 14 at Flushing Meadows he proved that he still has the game, but perhaps his mind was already elsewhere. Despite the loss, he enjoyed himself in the company of his wife Stephanie, his daughter Arianna, his parents and his sister Catalina, also a tennis player.

“When I was on my way to the court, I couldn’t believe that it was something I would never do again,” Pella said. “But I didn’t say anything beforehand because I would have lost my desire if I’d spoken about it before playing in New York. And until the last moment, regardless of the decision, it’s like you have the excitement that if you win four matches, who knows what might happen?”

After the match, his entire family left on a planned holiday to Disneyland, their second-favourite place in the world after tennis courts. The Argentine thinks he has been there at least 35 times (and as many as seven times in the same year). He even proposed to his wife at Euro Disney. “Disneyland is still around partly thanks to me,” he laughed.

Those days of “freedom” were the last chance to process the end of a huge period of his life. Last Friday morning he returned to Argentina, and a few hours later he told his loved ones —— some had already known for some time — and the rest of the world that he was hanging up his racquet.

“It was an incredible journey, with so many amazing things that allowed me to experience moments that most people can’t and for that I’m eternally grateful,” he wrote on social media. On Sunday, Pella was able to say goodbye to his own people with a tribute during the Davis Cup World Group I tie between Argentina and Lithuania.

Born in Bahía Blanca, Pella moved to Buenos Aires at 14 to follow his dream of becoming a tennis player. Leaving his family and friends behind was painful for a young boy who knew he was destined to become a tennis player.

“From one day to the next I was told I had to go to Buenos Aires, because a sponsor liked how I played. One Sunday night, I went to say goodbye to my mum at the terminal and came to the city on my own, at a guesthouse in the Caballito neighbourhood,” Pella once recalled. “I said to myself, ‘What am I doing here?’ It was so hard. I remember that I cried for the first three weeks, every day.”

In a long career, he has made so many dreams come true, including winning the Davis Cup with his country (2016). In October 2021, having lost in the early rounds of the international team event, he put his racquets away and did not play again for over a year.

A chronic right-knee injury and the birth of his daughter kept him away from the Tour. However, his passion was reignited and he was able to enjoy some more wins recently at the elite level.

“In 2023, despite playing at a good level, I never felt the same… My team suggested I play until February for the Latin American clay swing, but I told them I wouldn’t make it. It was impossible. Tennis gave me everything, and now I feel a bit empty because tomorrow I won’t have anything to do,” said the former World No. 20, always with a smile on his face.

Champion of the ATP 250 in San Paolo in 2019, an ATP 500 finalist, an ATP 250 finalist a further three times, as well as a quarter-finalist at Wimbledon in 2019, Pella laughs nervously when he admits that he doesn’t know what he will get up to over the coming days. “I have too many mixed emotions. I feel loved by many of my peers, by the people, whose affection I have always felt, and that will stay with me,” he said.

What’s next for the Argentine? “The ‘new’ stage of my life,” Pella said. “The challenge of finding something that fulfils me like tennis always [did].”

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Americans Svajda, Cressy Capture Challenger Titles

  • Posted: Sep 18, 2023

Americans Svajda, Cressy Capture Challenger Titles

Navone wins third Challenger title of 2023

Americans Zachary Svajda and Maxime Cressy returned to the winners’ circle Sunday on the ATP Challenger Tour.

Svajda earned his second Challenger title and first of this season at the Atlantic Tire Championships in Cary, North Carolina, where he ousted top seed Rinky Hijikata 7-6(3), 4-6, 6-1 in the final. Following his triumph, the 20-year-old soared 39 spots to a career-high No. 168 in the Pepperstone ATP Rankings.

“It feels really good,” Svajda said after winning in Cary. “I played some good tennis this week. I thought I served well the whole tournament and also my movement, that’s probably my biggest strength. In all of my matches I try to run down every single ball and try not to let anybody hit a winner past me.”

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Cressy did not drop a set all week, including 6-0 in tie-breaks, to lift the trophy at the Open Blot Rennes. Playing in his first ATP Challenger Tour event since March 2022, the 26-year-old won the title after home hope Benjamin Bonzi was forced to retire with the American leading 6-3, 2-0.

“I was very nervous at the start. There was a big crowd, most of whom were for Benjamin. It really was an incredible atmosphere,” Cressy said. “I managed it really well despite a few double faults at the start. I kept my game tight, that was the key to overturning that first set.”

A one-time tour-level titlist, Cressy’s triumph in France marks his first trophy at any level since he won the ATP 250 event in Newport last year.

<a href=Maxime Cressy wins the Challenger 100 event in Rennes, France.” />
Maxime Cressy wins the Challenger 100 event in Rennes, France. Credit: Nicolas Averty
In other ATP Challenger Tour action, Mariano Navone collected his third title at that level at the Challenger Bolivia. The 22-year-old Argentine rallied past countryman Francisco Comesana 4-6, 7-5, 6-1 in the final.

Despite falling short in his first three Challenger finals, Navone has rebounded by winning titles in Santa Cruz, Santa Fe and Poznan to reach a career-high World No. 155. Navone is one of seven players to win three or more Challenger titles this year.

<a href=Mariano Navone wins the Challenger 75 event in Santa Cruz, Bolivia.” />
Mariano Navone in action during Sunday’s final in Bolivia. Credit: Challenger Bolivia
Argentine Federico Coria also completed a title run Sunday at the Invest in Szczecin Open in Poland. The fifth seed downed Czech Vit Kopriva 6-1, 7-6(4) to earn his sixth ATP Challenger Tour crown and second of this season.

“I played very well today. I had two match points at 5-2, but that’s tennis. He played very well after the two match points,” Coria said in Spanish. “I am very happy to win.
“A year ago I lost in Szczecin in the first round and I told myself that I would not come here again. Ultimately, I decided to come back here and had good results.”

<a href=Federico Coria celebrates winning the Challenger 125 event in Szczecin, Poland.” />
Federico Coria celebrates winning the Challenger 125 event in Szczecin, Poland. Credit:Invest in Szczecin Open
Frenchman Terence Atmane earned his second ATP Challenger Tour title by winning the Guangzhou Nansha International Challenger in China. The 21-year-old defeated Australian Marc Polmans 4-6, 7-6(7), 6-4 in the final after two hours, 59 minutes.

Atmane, who won the Zhangjiagang Challenger in August, upset three of the top four seeds en route to the title this past week and climbed to a career-high No. 149 on Monday.

Players from France have combined for a season-leading 22 Challenger titles, one shy of tying the all-time record, which Argentina set last year.

<a href=Terence Atmane wins the Challenger 75 event in Guangzhou, China.” />
Terence Atmane wins the Challenger 75 event in Guangzhou, China. Credit: Guangzhou Nansha International Challenger

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Rune Out Of Laver Cup Due To Injury, Davidovich Fokina In

  • Posted: Sep 18, 2023

Rune Out Of Laver Cup Due To Injury, Davidovich Fokina In

Spaniard set to make debut at the event

Holger Rune has withdrawn from the Laver Cup due to receiving treatment on his back. Spaniard Alejandro Davidovich Fokina will replace the Dane on Team Europe.

“As I am in treatment with my back it’s not possible for me to play Laver Cup next week,” Rune wrote on social media. “I would have loved to join the fight to get the trophy back to Europe and I will support my teammates from a distance.”

Davidovich Fokina will make his debut at the Laver Cup, which will be played from Friday through Sunday in Vancouver.

“You play against the best players in the world at Laver Cup,” Davidovich Fokina said according to the event’s website. “I am excited to be a part of Team Europe, to share the court with other great players and to have them supporting you.”

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Scouting Report: Murray, Zverev Compete In Zhuhai, Chengdu; Top 10 Stars At Laver Cup

  • Posted: Sep 18, 2023

Scouting Report: Murray, Zverev Compete In Zhuhai, Chengdu; Top 10 Stars At Laver Cup

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

The ATP Tour returns to China for the first time since 2019 this week with the Chengdu Open and Huafa Properties Zhuhai Championships, two ATP 250 hard-court events. The fifth edition of the Laver Cup will take place from 22-24 September in Vancouver, Canada.

Zverev headlines the action in Chengdu, where Lorenzo Musetti and Grigor Dimitrov compete. Former World No. 1 Andy Murray, Chinese star Shang Juncheng and Karen Khachanov take to court in Zhuhai.

Stefanos Tsitsipas, Casper Ruud, Taylor Fritz and Frances Tiafoe are among the stars playing at the Laver Cup. looks ahead at five things to watch from each event.

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1) Zverev Leads Field: Alexander Zverev leads the field as the top seed in Chengdu. The German, who has won 13 of his 20 tour-level titles on hard courts, will be aiming for a deep run at the ATP 250 event to boost his chances of qualifying for the Nitto ATP Finals. The two-time season finale champion is eighth in the Pepperstone ATP Live Race To Turin after reaching the quarter-finals at the US Open.

2) Musetti & Dimitrov Chasing First Titles Of Season: Lorenzo Musetti and Grigor Dimitrov will try to win their first titles of the season at the hard-court tournament. Musetti’s best result on hard this year was a run to the third round in Toronto. The 32-year-old Dimitrov is making his third appearance in Chengdu, with his best result a semi-final showing in 2016. The Bulgarian advanced to the final in Geneva (clay) in May.

3) Evans Fresh Off Davis Cup Heroics: Daniel Evans on Sunday helped Great Britain advance to the Davis Cup Final 8 in Malaga with a memorable performance, winning in singles and doubles (with Neal Skupski) against France. He will now travel to Chengdu, where he is the fourth seed. The Briton will play 2022 Next Gen ATP Finals champion Brandon Nakashima or Roman Safiullin in the second round.

4) Australian Seeds: Two of the seeded players are Australian: sixth seed Max Purcell and eighth seed Aleksandar Vukic. Purcell reached the quarter-finals at the ATP Masters 1000 event in Cincinnati in August and Vukic advanced to his first ATP Tour final in Atlanta in July.

5) Doumbia/Reboul Top Doubles Seeds: Sadio Doumbia and Fabien Reboul, this year’s Cordoba finalists, are the top seeds in the Chengdu doubles field. Alexander Bublik teams with Miomir Kecmanovic while 2022 Wimbledon doubles champion Max Purcell plays with Jordan Thompson. Nuno Borges and Arthur Rinderknech team, as do third seeds Marcelo Demoliner and Matwe Middelkoop. Demoliner and Middelkoop are 5-3 on the year together.

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1) Former World No. 1 Murray Competes: Andy Murray will make his second appearance in Zhuhai when he takes to court at the ATP 250 event. The Scot’s best result on hard courts this season was a run to the final in Doha in February. Seeded seventh this year, Murray advanced to the second round in Zhuhai in 2019.

2) Shang Leads Home Hopes: The 18-year-old Shang will compete on home soil at a tour-level event for the first time. The Chinese star is currently 17th in the Pepperstone ATP Live Race To Jeddah and will need a deep run to increase his chances of qualifying for the Next Gen ATP Finals. Shang’s best result on Tour this year was a third-round run in Washington, where he beat Ben Shelton, who later made the US Open semi-finals. It was his second win over Shelton during the American summer.

3) Khachanov Continues Comeback: After returning to singles action at the US Open following three months away due to two injuries, Karen Khachanov will continue his comeback in Zhuhai. The 27-year-old has played some of his best tennis on hard courts this year, advancing to the last four at the Australian Open and in Miami.

4) Can Norrie & Korda Find Form? Second seed Cameron Norrie and fourth seed Sebastian Korda will all look to respond in Zhuhai after suffering disappointing early exits at the US Open. Norrie, who fell in the third round against Matteo Arnaldi, is chasing his second title of the season (Rio de Janeiro). Korda fell in the opening round at the hard-court major. The American holds a 16-11 record in 2023 after making a quick start in January by reaching the final at Adelaide-1 and the quarter-finals of the Australian Open.

5) Arnaldi Looking To Build: Italian Arnaldi enjoyed a run to the fourth round of a major for the first time at the US Open. The 22-year-old Italian defeated Jason Kubler, Arthur Fils and Norrie in New York to rise to a career-high No. 47 in the Pepperstone ATP Rankings. Can the 2022 Next Gen ATP Finals competitor keep his form going in Zhuhai, where he will open against Aslan Karatsev?

1) Top 10 Talent: Team Europe possesses a number of Top 10 stars. Casper Ruud, Stefanos Tsitsipas and Andrey Rublev all line up for Team Europe in Canada.

2) Defending Champion Team World: Team World pipped Team Europe at the Laver Cup in 2022. Team World will aim to defend its title, led by Americans Taylor Fritz and Frances Tiafoe.

3) #NextGenATP Stars In Action: US Open semi-finalist Ben Shelton, third in the Pepperstone ATP Live Race To Jeddah, lines up for Team World, while fourth-placed Arthur Fils is an alternate for Team Europe in Canada.

4) Borg & McEnroe Lead Teams: Bjorn Borg and John McEnroe will lead the teams once again at the event. Team Europe captain Borg has overseen three victories in the past, while McEnroe was at the helm for Team World in 2022 when they triumphed.

5) Unique Format: The Laver Cup will be played over three days, from 22-24 September, across five sessions. Each match win is worth one point on Friday, two points on Saturday and three points on a high-stakes Sunday. The first team to reach 13 points (out of a possible 24) wins the Laver Cup.

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Djokovic Withdraws From Shanghai

  • Posted: Sep 18, 2023

Djokovic Withdraws From Shanghai

Serbian is a four-time Rolex Shanghai Masters champion

Novak Djokovic has withdrawn from the Rolex Shanghai Masters, the ATP Masters 1000 event to be played from 4-15 October.

“Over the years, some of the best support I receive anywhere in the world is in China,” Djokovic wrote on social media. “Shanghai has always been one of my favourite tournaments in the season. I will be missing my #NoleFam in China. I hope that I can come back to China in the future and play in front of all of you again.”

Djokovic just won his 24th major title at the US Open after claiming his 39th Masters 1000 crown in Cincinnati.

The 36-year-old has won the Shanghai tournament four times and owns a 34-5 record at the event. The Serbian in 2008 triumphed at the Nitto ATP Finals when it was held in Shanghai.

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Rolex Shanghai Masters Tournament Director Michael Luevano said in a press release: “It is disappointing not to have Novak at our tournament as it has always been a pleasure hosting him here. All of us wish him the very best. He has had a very full year and we hope he remains fit and healthy, and we definitely look forward to welcoming him back to the Rolex Shanghai Masters.

“This year’s tournament promises to be among the best we have ever staged. We are excited to welcome back our defending champion Daniil Medvedev along with some of the most exciting and brilliant young players in world tennis. Guys like Wimbledon champion Carlos Alcaraz, Holger Rune and Jannik Sinner, who are all making the trip to Shanghai for the first time and will be joined by such popular figures like Stefanos Tsitsipas and Andrey Rublev.”

The Rolex Shanghai Masters, Asia’s only Masters 1000 tournament, will have a 96 singles draw, offer prize money of more than US$8.8million and will be played over two weeks for the first time.

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