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Shelton, Cerundolo Win For Team World In Laver Cup Debuts

  • Posted: Sep 22, 2023

Shelton, Cerundolo Win For Team World In Laver Cup Debuts

Team World won Laver Cup for first time last season

Ben Shelton heard the doubters when he was selected by John McEnroe to make his Laver Cup debut for Team World. The American was happy to prove those naysayers wrong with his breakout semi-final run at the US Open, and he continued to repay McEnroe’s faith on Friday with a straight-sets win against Team Europe’s Arthur Fils.

In his first match since a defeat to eventual champion Novak Djokovic in the New York semis, Shelton was a 7-6(4), 6-1 winner against France’s Fils. Following that match, Argentina’s Francisco Cerundolo beat Alejandro Davidovich Fokina 6-3, 7-5 to earn defending champion Team World an early 2-0 lead in the first-to-13 event.

Shelton revelled in the team environment, constantly interacting with the Vancouver crowd and the Team World bench throughout his opening victory.

“Come on, Johnny!” the American shouted to McEnroe after winning six straight points to win the opening tie-break from 1/4. “Yeah baby!” was the captain’s reply.

“It’s been amazing,” Shelton said of working with his fellow American lefty. “Just a few key pieces of advice I’ve picked up on over the last few days. It’s been great to be around him, and his energy is unmatched. Having him as a captain at a team event is amazing. He definitely matches my energy out here on the court, and I’m happy to be playing for him and Team World.”

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A tight opening set did not see a break point for either player, with just one point going against serve in the first six games. Both players found early success by backing up big serves with heavy forehands on the indoor hard court.

It was Shelton’s success in the rallies that won him the opening set, with Fils’ errors costing him his lead in the tie-break. With the comfort of the lead, Shelton ran away with set two, creating break points in all three return games and converting twice.

“I think the crowd really got me going, having it in Canada. I know it’s not the U.S., but thanks for the World support,” he said. “I really wanted to be able to set the tone with my energy for Team World today. I think it went pretty well, so I’m excited to get on the bench and cheer for these guys the rest of the day.”

Cerundolo completed a day-session sweep for his team with a roller-coaster win against Spain’s Davidovich Fokina. Like Shelton, Cerundolo’s game plan was also built around his big forehand. While the Argentine was less dominant on serve — he won 54 per cent of his first-serve points to Shelton’s 84 per cent — he constantly kept his opponent under pressure with power and consistency off the ground.

A battling performance from Davidovich Fokina kept the scoreline close, with the Spaniard denying his opponent’s attempts to serve out the opening set at 5-1 and the second at 5-4. In both cases, Cerundolo responded brilliantly. With Team Europe sensing a comeback late in the match, the Argentine used drop shots on consecutive points to break from deuce at 5-5, then served out the victory from 15/30 at the second time of asking.

The Argentine said he felt McEnroe’s influence from the sideline, winning 12 points in the frontcourt.

“To be honest, I went to the net a lot of times. I never go,” he said. “Probably because I saw John there and I tried to copy him a little bit and I made some good points. I hope he’s happy with my volleys, at least a little bit,” he joked.

Team World has never held a lead after Day 1 at Laver Cup. With one evening win, they will finish Friday with an advantage on the scoreboard.

Friday’s evening session in Vancouver will see home favourite Felix Auger-Aliassime take on Team Europe’s Gael Monfils before Americans Tommy Paul and Frances Tiafoe play Fils and Andrey Rublev in doubles.

“We’ve got some new blood. There’s a lot of energy,” McEnroe said after Cerundolo’s victory. “I think we’ve always had the team spirit, but there’s a great team feeling. And obviously we’ve come in guns blazing. It’s great to have a lead.

“For Francisco to win, it means a lot because we have a predominantly American team. But he did his thing.”

The first team to reach 13 points will win the Laver Cup. One point is awarded for each victory on Friday, two points for each win on Saturday, and three for each win on Sunday.

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Tennis Uniting To Support Those Affected By Moroccan Earthquake, Libyan Floods

  • Posted: Sep 22, 2023

Tennis Uniting To Support Those Affected By Moroccan Earthquake, Libyan Floods

Tennis’ seven governing bodies coming together to raise funds

Tennis is uniting once more through Tennis Plays For Love to support those in need in North Africa.

Following devastating events earlier this month — an earthquake in Morocco and floods in Libya — tennis’ seven governing bodies (ATP, WTA, ITF and the four Grand Slam tournaments) are coming together to raise funds to provide emergency relief and long-term support for the affected families and communities.

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Moroccan Hicham Arazi, the former World No. 22 and tournament director of the Grand Prix Hassan II, an ATP Tour event played in Marrakech, said: “The earthquake in Morocco has devastated communities and families throughout the Marrakech region, home of our ATP event. Many need our help. It is important to do our best to assist those in need. Funds raised will help provide food, clean water and necessary supplies to survivors, while also supporting longer-term relief and recovery. I thank in advance the tennis governing bodies, the players, my fellow former players, and our fans for doing their part and rally for those in need through Tennis Plays For Love.”

Another Moroccan, former World No. 14 Younes El Aynaoui, added: “The international solidarity has been amazing. But coming from the tennis family, having a thought for the Moroccan population, we are blessed, and we can’t thank you enough.”

A catastrophic earthquake impacted Morocco on 8 September, killing thousands and injuring many more. Thousands died in Libya when Storm Daniel made landfall, causing the collapse of two dams in Derna, which sent waves through the city.

Donations to this fundraiser through GlobalGiving will assist in meeting emergency needs in both regions as well as providing long-term support.

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Murray Answers Questions About Haircuts & Fantasy Football From Fellow Stars

  • Posted: Sep 22, 2023

Murray Answers Questions About Haircuts & Fantasy Football From Fellow Stars

Briton hears from countrymen Draper, Norrie and more

Andy Murray loves a bit of banter. But when it comes to fantasy football, the Briton keeps receipts — as Cameron Norrie found out after his cheeky question to his countryman in the latest edition of The Tour: Player Questions.

Murray coolly answered Norrie’s pointed query and sent a bit of spice back his friend’s way, while also fielding questions from Grigor Dimitrov, Jack Draper, Denis Shapovalov, Stefanos Tsitsipas and Alexander Zverev.

The Q&A covers a wide range of topics, from Murray’s penchant for marathon matches to his distaste for hair salons. He explains how, after sitting through a haircut for an excruciating one hour and 15 minutes, he settled on a more homemade option to tame his locks.

The former World No. 1 also mentions a Colombian singer as one of his recent go-to music listens, and looks back on the epic final game that ultimately earned him his first Wimbledon title in 2013.

Check out all that and more in the full video below.

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Khachanov Earns First Win Since June In Zhuhai

  • Posted: Sep 22, 2023

Khachanov Earns First Win Since June In Zhuhai

Nishioka, Struff advance

Karen Khachanov earned his first tour-level win since June on Friday when he dispatched Australian qualifier Alex Bolt 6-4, 6-4 to reach the quarter-finals at the Huafa Properties Zhuhai Championships.

The top seed was competing for just the second time since his quarter-final match at Roland Garros, where he suffered a stress fracture in his back. The 27-year-old looked sharp at the Chinese ATP 250 hard-court event, though, saving all 10 break points he faced to advance after one hour and 50 minutes.

“I played at the US Open but it was another tournament after the injury at Roland Garros and for me it was very important to get the rhythm and the matches,” Khachanov said. “I feel better than three weeks ago at the US Open. I was looking to find the rhythm and find the form and it is very important for me now to play matches and be competitive.”

Khachanov, who lost in the first round at the US Open on his return to Tour last month, has tasted success in China before, lifting his maiden tour-level trophy in Chengdu in 2016.

Khachanov will next face Mackenzie McDonald after the American clinched a comeback 4-6, 6-3, 6-2 win against Belgian Kimmer Coppejans. The sixth seed has now earned a career-best 30 tour-level wins this season.

Japanese star Yoshihito Nishioka edged South African Lloyd Harris 7-6(4), 7-6(5) to earn consecutive tour-level wins for the first time since Roland Garros in June.

The World No. 46 produced a strong serving performance at the ATP 250 event, winning 81 per cent (42/52) of points behind his first delivery and not facing a break point to advance after two hours and seven minutes.

Nishioka, who reached the last eight in Adelaide earlier this season, will face Jan-Lennard Struff in his second tour-level quarter-final of the season. Struff defeated Chilean Cristian Garin 6-3, 1-6, 6-4 in two hours and two minutes. The third-seeded German is playing in his first event since Halle in June after being sidelined with a hip injury.

Despite his three-month absence, Struff showed signs of why he rose to a career-high No. 21 in the Pepperstone ATP Rankings earlier this year, timing the ball cleanly off both wings to overpower Garin.

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Thompson, Safiullin Set QF Clash In Chengdu

  • Posted: Sep 22, 2023

Thompson, Safiullin Set QF Clash In Chengdu

O’Connell also reaches last eight, Dimitrov delayed by rain at ATP 250

Jordan Thompson and Roman Safiullin set their maiden Lexus ATP Head2Head clash for the Chengdu Open quarter-finals by each notching comfortable victories Friday at the Chinese hard-court ATP 250.

The World No. 56 Thompson did not face a break point in his 6-1, 7-6(1) triumph against Dusan Lajovic in Sichuan province. Despite letting two match points slip at 6-5 in the second set, the Australian charged through the tie-break to wrap victory in 89 minutes and reach his 17th ATP Tour quarter-final.

“It’s tough, but he played two very good points on them,” said Thompson when asked about the two missed match points. “I felt like I was in front the whole way, I was up 6-1 and also serving to start in the second set. So I always kept in front, but just couldn’t pull through.

“Credit to him because he started playing a lot better and serving well, but in the tie-breaker I just got out to a very big lead and that really helped.”

Following Thompson and Lajovic on Chengdu’s centre court were Safiullin and fourth seed Daniel Evans. The World No. 55 Safiullin wasted little time notching an upset as he converted four of his six break points in a 6-3, 6-3 triumph.

With his 83-minute win, Safiullin advanced to his second tour-level quarter-final of the season after his run to the last eight at Wimbledon in July. The 26-year-old is up six spots to No. 49 in the Pepperstone ATP Live Rankings as a result of his run in Chengdu so far, just six spots shy of his career high in the Pepperstone ATP Rankings.

Although yet to meet at tour-level, Thompson and Safiullin did meet in January in qualifying at the Adelaide International 2, where Australia’s Thompson prevailed 6-4, 6-4.

In the only other completed match before heavy rain brought a premature end to the day’s play, Christopher O’Connell defeated Taro Daniel 7-6(10), 6-4 to join his fellow Aussie Thompson in the quarter-finals. Top seed Grigor Dimitrov’s opening match against Juan Pablo Varillas did not start due to the rain and will now open the centre court schedule on Saturday, when Dimitrov will look to claim his 400th tour-level win.

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‘It’s A Trophy Worth Fighting For’: Team Europe Ready To Stake Laver Cup Claim

  • Posted: Sep 22, 2023

‘It’s A Trophy Worth Fighting For’: Team Europe Ready To Stake Laver Cup Claim

Bjorn Borg will lead team featuring four debutants at annual event

Team Europe may count four debutants among its six-strong roster for this year’s Laver Cup, but that does not mean there is any shortage of big-stage experience for captain Bjorn Borg to call upon this weekend in Vancouver.

With 42 ATP Tour titles between them, Borg is excited at the lineup he has to choose from this year as he aims to help Europe reclaim the trophy from Team World at the annual event.

“I’m very happy with my team. We had a good practice the whole week,” said Borg at Team Europe’s pre-tournament press conference. “I think it’s going to be very interesting match. Unfortunately, we lost last year in London. That was a very big disappointment.

“I know that all these six guys are very eager to bring back the trophy to Europe… It’s the best week of the year for me personally, and spend time with these great champions here, it’s such a nice thing. The team we have together, it’s wonderful. It’s a very close team, and it should be in that kind of way.”

With Gael Monfils, Hubert Hurkacz, Alejandro Davidovich Fokina and Arthur Fils set to make their debuts, Casper Ruud and Andrey Rublev are the Laver Cup veterans aiming to help their teammates settle in quickly to the unique format of the competition.

“Me and Andrey, who has also played before, are going to do our best to help our fellow teammates who are here for the first time, and hopefully that experience can help a little bit,” said Norway’s Ruud. “Just enjoy but give it your all. It’s a trophy worth fighting for. It’s much more fun to hold it than go in the locker room on Sunday not having won. That’s the advice I would give.”

Team Europe’s Laver Cup first-timers include two Frenchmen at different stages of their careers in Gael Monfils and Arthur Fils. The 36-year-old Monfils, who will take on Canadian favourite Felix Auger-Aliassime on Day 1, is hoping his wealth of experience can help his #NextGenATP countryman Fils, as well as the rest of the team, forge a positive result this weekend at Roger’s Arena.

“It’s always great to be in a team,” said Monfils. “Like a little bit different, but the first time also I play with Arthur. We couldn’t manage to play on Davis Cup together. Then with the other guys, we’ve known each other for long time also, and it’s just great.

“As I say to all of them, I’m there, you know, to loosen up everybody and definitely to help them. This competition, it was on my bucket list. It looks great, looks fantastic. Definitely the type of format that I love to play and compete in, with team spirit. I was very flattered when I received a call, and 100 per cent will be ready tomorrow for a good one.”

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Regardless of who is on court for Team Europe at any particular time, they will have the support of five other players they normally see as rivals, week-in, week-out on the ATP Tour. For Ruud, it is this dynamic which makes Laver Cup so engaging.

“I think it’s nice to have your typical opponents be teammates for once,” said Ruud. “When you’re playing Davis Cup or United Cup, you have your countrymen as your teammates. But here it’s anyone from Europe can be your teammate.

“You kind of connect or create a connection or a bond that you can kind of use for the rest of the year. The next year it’s easier to know each other, to set up practices. At least I felt like that helped a lot for me when I played my first year [in] Boston. [It] was kind of easier to ask the guys to practice in the future and so on.

“It’s just really fun competition. You have to learn all the good and all the bad sides of your teammates.”

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Team World Raring To Go At Laver Cup As McEnroe & Fritz Eye Title Defence

  • Posted: Sep 22, 2023

Team World Raring To Go At Laver Cup As McEnroe & Fritz Eye Title Defence

McEnroe discusses depth of American tennis

Team World broke new ground at the Laver Cup in 2022, defeating Team Europe for the first time to lift the trophy in London.

Twelve months on and John McEnroe’s side is ready to go in Vancouver, where ATP Tour stars including Taylor Fritz and Frances Tiafoe will aim to guide Team World to a successful title defence.

“In the format, how it’s always gone, it always comes down to the wire either way,” Fritz said when looking ahead to the sixth edition of the three-day event. “Europe has always been the favourite, but it’s also been really close almost every year. Maybe we might be the favourites this year with winning last year and we have such a strong team, but we can’t be thinking like that because it’s probably going to come down to the wire either way, so we have to treat it like it’s all the other years.”

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Team World possesses Canadians Felix Auger-Aliassime and alternate Milos Raonic, Argentine Francisco Cerundolo and five Americans: Fritz, Tiafoe, Tommy Paul, Ben Shelton and Christopher Eubanks, who like Raonic, is an alternate.

With seven Americans inside the Top 50 and 20-year-old Shelton fresh off his run to the semi-finals at the US Open, captain McEnroe is excited about the future of the sport in the United States.

“I think it’s a great mix. I think these three [Fritz, Tiafoe and Paul] have shown over the years they have helped each other, gone at it against each other, trained, and have fed off each other, and that’s made them better players,” said McEnroe, who will lead Team World for the sixth time. “They are this close now, making that breakthrough. That’s a great thing. Then bringing Ben in the mix, as a young buck who is going to come with a lot of energy, a lot of ability, keep pushing. We’re heading in a great direction.”

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Shelton has enjoyed a breakthrough season on the ATP Tour, reaching the quarter-finals at the Australian Open and the last four at the US Open. Currently at a career-high No. 19 in the Pepperstone ATP Rankings, the 20-year-old is excited to make his Laver Cup debut.

“Being back in a team environment, I feel really comfortable, really excited to be on this team with these guys,” said Shelton, who plays Arthur Fils on Friday. “The last few years I have been watching them tear it up on Tour, been watching tear it up in this event, so really happy to be here. Excited to be kicking things off tomorrow.”

Auger-Aliassime is preparing to make his third appearance at the event, having earned a vital victory against Novak Djokovic in London in 2022. The Canadian is relishing the chance to compete on home soil and believes the event will provide long-term benefits to Vancouver.

“We are here to compete. We want to win. And to have I think the home crowd and to have the people with us to do that, I think it’s going to be great,” Auger-Aliassime said. “I had a great experience winning last year, but it was away, so to speak. So it would be nice to do it at home and kind of like celebrate with the people here and kind of keep the trophy in our hands. But excited to kick it off tomorrow night. I think it’s going to be a good day.

“The last few years it’s kind of a buzz about Canadian tennis overall, and I think it’s nice to bring this kind of event here, to have all these great players play in Vancouver and also encourage kids,” Auger-Aliassime later added. “This morning seeing kids like from around here that play in different clubs around here to come out and see the event and see us practise, I think it’s great to have that. I would have loved to see that when I was growing up here.”

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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Norrie Seeking Strong Asian Swing

  • Posted: Sep 22, 2023

Norrie Seeking Strong Asian Swing

Briton competes in Zhuhai this week

Cameron Norrie is determined to tick off another major career goal by the end of the year. The English star, who is in China for the Huafa Properties Zhuhai Championships on Saturday, believes he is ‘going to be pretty dangerous’ in the latter stages of 2023.

The 28-year-old is 15th in the Pepperstone ATP Live Race to Turin. But Norrie is confident he is hitting the ball well enough to make a big leap forward over the next month in Asia and believes he can qualify for the ATP Tour Finals.

“At the start of the year that was a huge goal [but] there were a couple of things that got in the way of that, mostly in the level of my tennis,” Norrie said. “I’ve been really working hard to bring the quality up again in my practice sessions and my team has been great with me and I think I’m ready to have a big week again.

“Honestly, in previous years, I’ve thought I’ve played my best tennis here in Asia, but I never had a really big result. Someone always came up and beat me and played well against me. But I think I’m going to be pretty dangerous these next few weeks. It’s going to take someone very good to stop me.”

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Norrie, who rides his bike to the All England Lawn Tennis Club during Wimbledon, was a semi-finalist there last year and also reached the last 16 in New York in a strong season. He emphasized excelling in the majors this year but was only able to reach the third rounds at the Australian Open, Wimbledon and US Open.

Norrie, who defeated Carlos Alcaraz to triumph in Rio during a strong start to the season, said he needs to sustain his form and concentration for longer in Grand Slams.

“I was really going into the season to try to prioritise the Grand Slams and I was not able to play my best at those tournaments and I was very disappointed with that,” he said. “I think I can learn a lot from how I handled those weeks … and I think, over five sets, I should be tougher to beat.

“But I’m going to have to go away and work really hard with my team in the off-season and really embrace the Grand Slams in the future.”

Norrie arrived in Zhuhai after tough singles losses to Stan Wawrinka and Ugo Humbert at the Davis Cup last week. But he said being around his countrymen as Great Britain booked a spot in the Davis Cup Finals with a thrilling victory over France was an ‘insane ending’ to a ‘crazy week’.

“I’ve actually never felt so good after getting chopped, losing two matches. I was able to come away feeling so good and it is not often you have that in tennis,” he said. “It was a huge honor to represent my country again and I definitely took a lot of positives from the week and I was really happy with the way it finished.”

Norrie looked in good form when hitting with Tomas Matin Etcheverry in Zhuhai on Friday ahead of his first match at the tournament against Australian qualifier Marc Polmans. The diligence of the Pepperstone ATP Rankings No. 17 was on display on Thursday as he watched Polmans closely during the Australian’s opening-round win over Dane Sweeny.

“It feels good to be back and I definitely missed this part of the year, because the last few years it was straight into the indoor season. It feels good to be back,” Norrie said.

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Laver Cup: Team Europe & Team World Ready As Day 1 Schedule Revealed

  • Posted: Sep 22, 2023

Laver Cup: Team Europe & Team World Ready As Day 1 Schedule Revealed

US Open semi-finalist Shelton opens play against Fils

The photos have been taken and practice is complete. On Friday, Team Europe and Team World will begin the 2023 Laver Cup in Vancouver. 

After taking official photos for the teams event on Wednesday, the stars made their final preparations on Thursday in Canada. The Order of Play for Day 1, when matches will be worth one point each, was also unveiled.

Recent US Open semi-finalist Ben Shelton will try to make a good start for defending champion Team World against fellow Laver Cup debutant Arthur Fils of Team Europe.

“Being back in a team environment, I feel really comfortable,” Shelton said at his team’s press conference Thursday. “Really excited to be on this team with these guys, guys that the last few years I’ve been watching tear it up on Tour and been watching tear it up in this event. So really happy to be here, excited to be kicking things off tomorrow and looking forward [to] the chance to set the tone for the team.”

In the day’s other two singles clashes, Francisco Cerundolo (Team World) will play Alejandro Davidovich Fokina (Team Europe) and Felix Auger-Aliassime (Team World) will try to defeat Gael Monfils (Team Europe).

Team World’s Tommy Paul and Frances Tiafoe will take on Team Europe’s Fils and Andrey Rublev in the first doubles match of the competition.


ROGERS ARENA start 1 p.m.
Arthur Fils (Europe) vs Ben Shelton (World)

Alejandro Davidovich Fokina (Europe) vs Francisco Cerundolo (World)

7 p.m.
Gael Monfils (Europe) vs Felix Auger-Aliassime (World)

Arthur Fils (EUR) / Andrey Rublev (Europe) vs Tommy Paul (World)/ Frances Tiafoe (World)

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