Britain’s Andy Murray defeats Chinese wildcard Ye Cong Mo to win his opening match of the Zhuhai Championships.
Britain’s Andy Murray defeats Chinese wildcard Ye Cong Mo to win his opening match of the Zhuhai Championships.
Sadio Doumbia and Fabien Reboul booked a quarter-final spot Thursday at the Chengdu Open, but the top seeds were made to battle to the final point by Robin Haase and Bart Stevens in a tense doubles encounter at the ATP 250.
Doumbia and Reboul were two points from defeat at 7/8 in the Match Tie-break but did not face match point as they held firm for a 6-4, 4-6, 12-10 victory in China’s Sichuan province. The French duo’s 89-minute victory was based a solid serving performance, as it won 88 per cent (35/40) of points behind first serves.
Currently 17th in the Pepperstone ATP Live Doubles Teams Rankings after reaching one championship match and four other semi-finals at ATP Tour events this year, Doumbia and Reboul will hope a deep run in Zhuhai can kick-start a late charge towards qualification for the season-ending Nitto ATP Finals.
Their next test in Zhuhai is a last-eight clash against John Peers and Roman Safiullin, who also enjoyed Match Tie-break success as they downed home wild cards Cui Jie and Wang Aoran 6-0, 4-6, 10-7.
Lammons/Withrow Make Fast Start In Zhuhai
At the Huafa Properties Zhuhai Championships, Nathaniel Lammons and Jackson Withrow maintained their good form with an opening 7-5, 6-4 win against Japanese duo Toshihide Matsui and Yoshihito Nishioka.
The third-seeded Lammons and Withrow won their third ATP Tour title of the year in Winston-Salem last month before reaching the quarter-finals at the US Open. They will next face Anirudh Chandrasekar/Vijay Sundar Prashanth or Arjun Kadhe/Aisam-Ul-Haq Qureshi at the ATP 250.
Marcos Giron bounced back from a tough run of results in style Thursday at the Chengdu Open. The American downed fifth seed and 2019 finalist Alexander Bublik 7-6(6), 6-3 to reach the second round at the Chinese ATP 250.
Faced with fast conditions ideally suited to Bublik’s big-serving, free-hitting game, Giron rallied from 0-2 and then crucially held firm to claim a see-saw first-set tie-break that featured seven mini-breaks. The World No. 64 carried that momentum to an ultimately unassailable 5-0 lead in the second set as he snapped a four-match losing streak at all levels in 101 minutes.
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“Bublik obviously is an incredible player,” said Giron, who now leads Bublik 3-1 in the pair’s Lexus ATP Head2Head series. “He has so much potential, so much weaponry, and you never know really what’s going to come.
“The first set really was a battle. It was so important. He had a lot of break points, but I played well when I needed to. He served well and that’s what he is [always] going to do, so I knew in the breaker he was not going to give it to me, and I’m really happy with that.”
Giron saved five of Bublik’s seven break points as he made the perfect start to defending the 150 Pepperstone ATP Ranking points he earned by reaching the San Diego final this week a year ago. The 30-year-old, who is now 19-22 for the 2023 season, will take on Arthur Rinderknech in the second round after the Frenchman downed lucky loser Tu Li 7-6(5), 7-6(6).
Jordan Thompson also upset a seeded opponent on Thursday. The Australian defeated his countryman Max Purcell 6-2, 7-6(8) after saving four set points in the second-set tie-break. Thompson’s reward for ousting the sixth-seeded Purcell is a maiden Lexus ATP Head2Head clash with Dusan Lajovic, who moved past Zizou Bergs 6-4, 1-6, 6-3.
There was no such trouble for seventh seed Miomir Kecmanovic, who eased to a 6-2, 6-3 win against qualifier Benjamin Lock to book a second-round meeting with Corentin Moutet. Christopher O’Connell and Juan Pablo Varillas also enjoyed straight-sets wins in their Chengdu openers. Australia’s O’Connell downed Alibek Kachmazov 7-6(3), 6-4, while Peru’s Varillas saw off home wild card Cui Jie 6-1, 6-3.
Former World No. 1 Andy Murray moved through the gears on his return to China on Thursday when he defeated Chinese wild card Mo Ye Cong 7-5, 6-3 to reach the second round at the Huafa Properties Zhuhai Championships.
The 36-year-old Scot has performed impressively in China throughout his career. He has won the Rolex Shanghai Masters three times (2010, ’11, ’16), triumphed at the ATP 500 in Beijing in 2016 and lifted the trophy at the ATP 250 in Shenzhen in 2014.
Competing in the country for the first time since 2019, Murray had too much for the World No. 668 Mo, saving all five break points he faced to maintain his record of never losing to a player outside the Top 200 in the Pepperstone ATP Rankings.
“It was a very fast court,” Murray said. “The conditions are very humid and he played a solid level and pushed me while I was trying to adjust to the conditions. Once I managed to get ahead in the second set, I felt a little bit more comfortable.”
Murray is aiming to rediscover his form at the hard-court event this week, having suffered a second-round exit at the US Open. The 46-time tour-level titlist is 15-12 on the year, highlighted by a final run in Doha.
Following his one-hour, 42-minute win, the Scot will next play Aslan Karatsev. The World No. 63 snapped a four-match losing streak against Italians when he downed Matteo Arnaldi, who reached the fourth round at the US Open.
Karatsev rallied from a set and a break down to advance 6-7(5), 7-6(5), 6-2 in three hours and 23 minutes in the pair’s first Lexus ATP Head2Head meeting.
#NextGenATP Chinese star Shang Juncheng was unable to advance to the second round, falling to Mackenzie McDonald in his first tour-level event on home soil.
The sixth seed played with too much intensity against Shang, who seemed to tire in the humid conditions. McDonald captured a 6-4, 6-7(3), 6-3 win in two hours and 32 minutes. The American has earned a career-best 29 tour-level victories this year. Seeking his maiden tour-level trophy, he will next play Kimmer Coppejans.
In other action, fifth seed Tomas Martin Etcheverry moved past Australian qualifier Luke Saville 6-4, 6-4 to set a meeting with #NextGenATP Czech Dalibor Svrcina. Another Australian qualifier, Marc Polmans, had more success, though. Polmans defeated Dane Sweeny 6-3, 6-1 and will face second seed Cameron Norrie in the second round.
Coppejans beat Aleksandar Kovacevic 7-6(4), 6-1, while Alex Bolt advanced after Diego Schwartzman was forced to retire with the Australian leading 6-3, 4-2.
Former Top 20 star Cristian Garin defeated Zhou Yi 4-6, 6-4, 6-2 and Alexandre Muller overcame Rinky Hijikata 6-3, 6-2.
Legends Bjorn Borg and John McEnroe know each other all too well. The pair enjoyed a fierce rivalry between 1978 to 1981, facing off 14 times on some of the biggest stages on Tour.
There was little to separate them on court, with the Swede and American locked at 7-7 in their Lexus ATP Head2Head series. They met four times in major finals, with McEnroe triumphing at the US Open in 1980 and 1981 and at Wimbledon in 1981. Borg defeated the American in five sets in the Wimbledon final in 1980, a match widely considered one of the most compelling in the sport’s history.
Fast forward 42 years from their last meeting and both will battle for bragging rights again this weekend at the Laver Cup in Vancouver, Canada, where Borg captains Team Europe and McEnroe leads Team World.
Borg and McEnroe have helped spearhead the Laver Cup since its formation in 2017, captaining the teams at all five of the previous editions. Team Europe captain Borg has overseen four victories in the past, while McEnroe was at the helm for Team World in 2022 when they triumphed.
The pair were in a relaxed mood on Wednesday ahead of the latest event, sharing jokes with Australian great Rod Laver.
John McEnroe/Rod Laver/Bjorn Borg” style=”width: 100%;” />
Photo Credit: Getty Images
Ahead of the sixth edition of the Laver Cup, ATPTour.com looks back at each of Borg and McEnroe’s careers.
THREE THINGS TO KNOW ABOUT BORG
Wimbledon Record Breaker
Borg was the first man since 1886 to compete in six consecutive Wimbledon finals. He lifted the trophy in 1976, ‘77, ‘78, ‘79 and ’80 and lost in the final in 1981 against McEnroe. This was a record that was eventually surpassed by Roger Federer’s seven consecutive title matches at SW19 from 2003-09.
Borg is the only Swede, male or female, to win over 10 majors. Alongside his five Wimbledon triumphs, he lifted the trophy at Roland Garros six times, holding a perfect record in finals at the clay-court Slam.
Borg The ‘Ice Man’
Borg’s nickname, “Ice Man”, reflected his attitude on the court: he seemed to have his emotions under control at all times. His game style, which involved heavy topspin and a two-handed backhand, was revolutionary and would be copied all around the world.
Stars Arrive In Canada Ahead Of Laver Cup
THREE THINGS TO KNOW ABOUT MCENROE
Singles & Doubles Specialist
McEnroe is the only player in history to hold the No. 1 Pepperstone ATP Ranking in singles and doubles at the same time. Stefan Edberg also attained No. 1 in both singles and doubles, but not simultaneously.
Nitto ATP Finals Success
The American won the Nitto ATP Finals singles crown three times (1978, ’83, 84). He holds a 19-11 record at the prestigious year-end event, leaving him ninth in the all-time match wins leaders. He also won the doubles title a record seven times, triumphing alongside Peter Fleming in 1978, 79’, 80’, 81’, 82’, 83’ and 84’.
Fourth Youngest World No. 1
McEnroe is the fourth youngest player to rise to No. 1 in the Pepperstone ATP Rankings. The American was aged 21 years and 16 days when he rose to top spot for the first time in March 1980. Only Carlos Alcaraz, Lleyton Hewitt and Marat Safin have climbed to the top younger.
As Karen Khachanov assessed the timing of a debilitating injury that left him struggling to walk after Roland Garros, the resurgent star weighed how best to approach the problem.
The 27-year-old was arguably in the best form of his career, having reached three consecutive Grand Slam semi-finals, and felt close to claiming “the cherry on the pie” in a major tournament. But a fracture in the sacrum bone in his back, along with significant pain in his pelvis, derailed him shortly after he lost to eventual champion Novak Djokovic in the last four in Paris in June.
“The tendons, all the attachments, the bone itself, it was also kind of a stress fracture. Both things were connected,” Khachanov said. “It all started from Australia. I had been playing well. I kept pushing. But then it got to the moment where I literally could not walk after the Roland Garros match with Novak.
“It was time. I could push to a certain moment, but it was a clear sign when I had pain to walk. That is when I had to stop.”
Khachanov, who will play his second tournament on the comeback trail this week at the Huafa Properties Zhuhai Championships, was mindful the enforced break could be beneficial. The No. 15 in the Pepperstone ATP Rankings, who had returned to the Top 10 after his semi-final run at Roland Garros, was absent from the Tour until the US Open.
Two Injuries, Seven Weeks Off & A Long Road Back For Khachanov
Rather than lamenting his misfortune, Khachanov seized the chance to spend more time with his family, with his second son born in July.
“It was kind of a setback, in a way, because I was in really good form and getting closer and closer and I proved it with my results. Most of all, I proved it to myself,” he said. “I was really feeling that I was getting closer to the cherry on the pie. But these things, sometimes you cannot control them, so you have to just accept it and make the best out of it. What could I do? Okay, ‘I (will) have an unexpected vacation with my family’.
“I have been a family man since a young age and I am just really happy that I have already had two kids, two sons. I just kind of loved this moment.”
Karen Khachanov” />
Khachanov meets children at a local school in Zhuhai. Photo Credit: ATP Zhuhai Championships
Winner at the Rolex Paris Masters in 2018, Khachanov was not at his best when he returned to the Tour at the US Open in New York, where he was beaten in the first round by Michael Mmoh. But he has since spent another three weeks training and is confident in his ability to regain his best form, saying the enforced break only heightened his motivation to succeed.
As the top seed in Zhuhai, he will play the winner of a clash on Thursday between Diego Schwartzman and Alex Bolt at the Hengqin International Tennis Center.
“I’m really pumped. I’m really burning inside to compete again,” Khachanov said. “At the same time, I need to keep my body in shape and know that I don’t have any pains with any movement, so that I can be fully practising at 100 per cent.
“Lately, that’s what has been happening. It’s a good sign that I don’t have any setbacks from that moment. I need to take a little time to get the form which I had before. I don’t know how much time it will take … but at the same time, I know that if I did it before, why not do it again?”
Two Injuries, Seven Weeks Off & A Long Road Back For Khachanov
Khachanov, who won his first ATP Tour title in China in Chengdu in 2016, feels comfortable playing in the Asian region and is excited to make his debut in Zhuhai.
“It’s really great to be back here. I missed this Tour,” he said. “I like to play in Asia … and every year, it’s special to come back to China. Really, I am burning inside to compete again. I just hope my body feels well and then I hope I can start to bring the form back which I had before the injury.”
The China Open in Beijing, played at the site of the 2008 Olympic Games, has seen previous champions such as Rafael Nadal, Andy Roddick, Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray.
Here’s what you need to know ahead of the tournament in the Chinese capital:
The ATP 500 event will be held from 28 September to 4 October. The hard-court tournament will take place at the Beijing Olympic Green Tennis Centre, a site built for the 2008 Olympics. The tournament directors are Alfred Zhang and Lars Graff.
Carlos Alcaraz will make his Beijing debut. Daniil Medvedev, Holger Rune, Casper Ruud, Jannik Sinner and Stefanos Tsitsipas are also among the field.
The China Open singles draw will be made on Tuesday 26 September at 2:30 p.m. local time.
* Qualifying: Tuesday, 26 September – Wednesday, 27 September at 11 a.m.
* Main Draw: Thursday, 28 September – Wednesday, 4 October, starting at 12:30 p.m. Tuesday, 3 October play begins not before 3 p.m.
* Doubles Final: Wednesday, 4 October at 5 p.m.
* Singles Final: Wednesday, 4 October not before 7:30 p.m.
The prize money for the China Open is US $3,633,875 and the Total Financial Commitment is US $3,798,915.
Winner: $679,550 / 500 points
Finalist: $365,640 / 300 points
Semi-finalist: $194,860 / 180 points
Quarter-finalist: $99,560 / 90 points
Round of 16: $53,145 / 45 points
Round of 32: $28,345 / 0 points
DOUBLES ($ per team)
Winner: $223,210 / 500 points
Finalist: $119,050 / 300 points
Semi-finalist: $60,240 / 180 points
Quarter-finalist: $30,110 / 90 points
Round of 16: $15,590 / 0 points
Watch Live On Tennis TV
Facebook: China Open
Dominic Thiem won the 2019 China Open singles title with a 3-6, 6-4, 6-1 victory against Stefanos Tsitsipas in the championship match. Ivan Dodig and Filip Polasek lifted the doubles trophy in Beijing with a 6-3, 7-6(4) triumph against Lukasz Kubot and Marcelo Melo in the final.
Most Titles, Singles: Novak Djokovic (6)
Most Titles, Doubles: Bob Bryan and Mike Bryan (3)
Oldest Champion: Rafael Nadal, 31, in 2017
Youngest Champion: Rafael Nadal, 19, in 2005
Highest-Ranked Champion: No. 1 Novak Djokovic in 2013-15, Rafael Nadal in 2017
Lowest-Ranked Champion: No. 34 Nikoloz Basilashvili in 2018
Last Home Champion: None
Most Match Wins: Novak Djokovic (29)
View Who Is Playing, Past Champions, Seeds, Points & Prize Money Breakdown
Is Novak Djokovic better than ever at age 36? With his recent statistics at the Grand Slam tournaments, there is a case to be made that the Serbian is a stronger player in his 30s than he was in his 20s. No matter your opinion on that particular debate, Djokovic is certainly not slowing down despite his advancing age.
Following his latest triumph at the US Open, Djokovic has now won 12 major singles titles in both his 20s and 30s. His 12-3 record in Slam finals in his current decade trumps his 12-9 mark in his 20s. While he has won three majors in a calendar year four times—twice in his 20s and twice more in his 30s—he has twice in the past three years come within one match of winning all four majors in the same season.
Djokovic won three Slams in 2011 and 2015, with Roland Garros the only missing trophy both years. He was beaten in the Paris semis in 2011 (l. to Federer) and in the final in 2015 (l. to Wawrinka). More recently, Djokovic’s final losses at the 2021 US Open (l. to Medvedev) and at Wimbledon in 2023 (l. to Alcaraz) kept him from a clean major sweep.
The 2021 season is the only one in which Djokovic won the first three Slams in succession. In the 2021 US Open final, the Grand Slam was on the line.
Questions about retirement are inevitable for any player as he approaches his 40s. But with the sort of success Djokovic has enjoyed in recent years, why would he leave?
“Occasionally [I’m] asking myself, why do I need this still at this stage after all I have done? How long do I want to keep going? I do have these questions in my head, of course.” Djokovic said at the US Open. “But knowing that I play at such a high level still and I win the biggest tournaments in this sport, I don’t want to leave this sport if I’m still at the top, if I’m still playing the way I’m playing.”
For comparison, Pete Sampras — whose 14 major singles titles were the record when Djokovic began his career — won just one of those crowns after turning 30. That came in the final tournament of the American’s career, when he won the 2002 US Open at age 31. Sampras also reached the final at his home major the year prior, one month after his 30th birthday.
While Sampras went out on top with one final blaze of New York glory, he was No. 17 in the Pepperstone ATP Rankings entering the 2002 US Open and had reached the quarter-finals or better at just two previous tour-level events that season.
‘He’s One Of A Kind’: Ivanisevic Lauds Djokovic
In contrast to Sampras’ 27-17 record in his final year, Djokovic is 46-5 in 2023. The Serbian has won five titles this year, including his record-extending 39th ATP Masters 1000 crown in Cincinnati. This follows a 2022 season that ended with Djokovic lifting his record-tying sixth Nitto ATP Finals trophy.
While even Djokovic accepts that he will inevitably have to take his final bow on the ATP Tour, he does not see that farewell coming any time soon.
“Players come and go. It will be the same kind of destiny for me. Eventually one day I will leave tennis in about 23, 24 years,” he joked. “There is going to be new young players coming up. Until then, I guess you’ll see me a bit more.”
Neal Skupski is enjoying a memorable year on and off the court. The Briton partnered Wesley Koolhof to win the Wimbledon title in July and on Tuesday, Skupski was a special guest at Liverpool Football Club’s AXA Training Centre.
A Liverpool native, Skupski enjoyed watching the team practise alongside his brother, Ken Skupski, who retired from pro tennis last year. They met the players including Mohamed Salah, Virgil van Dijk and manager Jürgen Klopp.
“It was an amazing experience for me and Ken, obviously being lifelong Liverpool fans and coming from Liverpool,” Skupski told ATPTour.com. “The opportunity came about and it was a bucket-list moment to tour the training [centre], meet the whole team, especially the manager, Jürgen Klopp, who we’ve idolised since he arrived at Liverpool some years ago.”
Video courtesy of Liverpool FC
Despite constantly being on the road competing on the ATP Tour, the 33-year-old Skupski carves out time to watch Liverpool. On Tuesday, the football stars were not just on TV — they were shaking hands with the 15-time tour-level titlist.
“It was very special. It was great to meet the people I watch all hours of the day travelling the world. To watch them train, pick their brain, it was a very special thing to do,” Skupski said. “It’s not often someone gets to go behind the scenes and see how other sportsmen work, especially the team that I’ve dreamed of watching for many years now.
“I was very nervous at the start, but the whole team and the manager were very welcoming and made us feel right at home from the very minute we walked through the door. It’s something I’ll cherish for the rest of my life.”