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Fritz Extends Team World's Perfect Start At Laver Cup

  • Posted: Sep 23, 2023

Fritz Extends Team World’s Perfect Start At Laver Cup

Paul to meet Ruud next

After a perfect 4-0 start for Team World on Friday at the Laver Cup, Taylor Fritz maintained the trophy-holders’ perfect record in Vancouver on Saturday afternoon. The American played his best early and late in a 6-2, 7-6(3) win against Team Europe’s Andrey Rublev, extending his team’s lead to 6-0 by earning two points for his Day 2 victory.

In a battle of aggressive baseliners, Fritz’s clean ball-striking helped him dictate more of the action on the indoor hard courts. Rublev had his moments, including several screaming return winners, but Fritz’s steadier tennis — and dogged defence at times — made the difference.

Fritz immediately carried over the momentum from Friday by breaking in the opening game and easing to a one-set lead. Rublev, seeking to win Team Europe’s first singles set at this year’s event, started well in set two but saw his 3-0 lead erased as Fritz came on strong late.

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Both players fought off a break point late in set two, with Rublev’s break chance doubling as a set point at 6-5. In the decisive tie-break, Fritz hit two brilliant half-volleys to help seal the match.

“I was telling my team, I feel like I’ve always been much better at the handsy half-volley pick-ups and stuff,” Fritz said of those moments of magic. “I feel like people definitely don’t believe that I have that. But I think I’m more likely to miss the easier volleys than the half-volleys.”

Fritz was in constant communication with captain John McEnroe and his team during changeovers, and the American said he thrives in the group setting.

“Any type of team environment, I feel like it always elevates my game,” he explained. “I feel like I always play better actually, I feel like my record in team events is really strong and it’s because I have a team cheering for me. I can get pumped up for them, I’m excited to play for them. It just adds a lot more pressure and fire to it and I think I play better in those situations.”

Fritz’s win passes the baton to Tommy Paul, who will be the next man up to continue his team’s perfect run when he takes on Casper Ruud to close the day session. In the evening slate, Frances Tiafoe will play Hubert Hurkacz before Felix Auger-Aliassime and Ben Shelton take on Hurkacz and Gael Monfils in doubles.

After one point was awarded for each win on Day 1 at Laver Cup, two points are on offer for each win on Saturday. On Sunday, three points will be awarded for each victory. With a 6-0 lead, Team World is nearly halfway to the 13 points needed to win the trophy.

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Zverev Serves Past Kotov, Dimitrov Hits 400 In Chengdu

  • Posted: Sep 23, 2023

Zverev Serves Past Kotov, Dimitrov Hits 400 In Chengdu

Second seed Musetti also advances at Chinese ATP 250

Alexander Zverev was given a mighty test by Pavel Kotov on Saturday at the Chengdu Open, but the top seed turned to his trusty first serve to fire him through an entertaining clash at the hard-court ATP 250.

Zverev prevailed 7-6(5), 4-6, 6-1 after winning 86 per cent (43/50) of points behind his first delivery on his Chengdu debut. Despite struggling to shake off the World No. 106 Kotov for much of the match, Zverev pulled away in the deciding set to wrap a two-hour, 26-minute victory and reach his ninth tour-level quarter-final of the year.

“The best players in the world find a way to win when they’re not playing great, and today I definitely was far away from playing great,” said Zverev, who converted three of six break points he earned against Kotov. “In the end I won and that’s the most important thing. I am still in the tournament.”

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The 26-year-old German’s next opponent in Sichuan province will be seventh seed Miomir Kecmanovic. He is delighted to be competing for the first time since 2019 in China, where he has never won a title but has reached a championship match at the Rolex Shanghai Masters (l. to Medvedev in 2019).

“I think the Chinese fans have missed tennis,” said Zverev. “We haven’t been here in four years. It’s been a very long time for everybody. I enjoy playing here, I enjoy coming back to China. Historically I played quite OK here and I can hopefully keep that streak going.”

With his victory against Kotov, Zverev rose above Holger Rune into seventh in the Pepperstone ATP Live Race To Turin. He will hope to forge a deep run in Chengdu as he looks to boost his prospects of qualifying for the season-ending Nitto ATP Finals, where he is a two-time champion.

Another former Nitto ATP Finals winner, Grigor Dimitrov, earned his 400th tour-level win in Chengdu after he moved past Peruvian Juan Pablo Varillas 6-3, 6-4 to reach the quarter-finals.

The Bulgarian, who is making his third appearance at the Chinese hard-court event, struck the ball cleanly in his first Lexus ATP Head2Head meeting against Varillas. He also recovered from squandering a break advantage in the second set to advance after one hour and 26 minutes.

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‘I’ve Lived For The Game’: Dimitrov Reflects On 400th Win

The 32-year-old Dimitrov captured his first win at an ATP Tour event in Rotterdam in 2009, defeating Tomas Berdych in three sets. Dimitrov has since lifted eight tour-level titles, rising to a career-high No. 3 in the Pepperstone ATP Rankings.

Dimitrov will next face Christopher O’Connell as he continues his quest for his first title of the season. Earlier this year, the World No. 20 reached the final in Geneva.

Second seed Lorenzo Musetti also advanced after pulling through a marathon clash against #NextGenATP Australian Philip Sekulic. Musetti accelerated through the deciding set to prevail 7-6(3), 6-7(4), 6-0 in two hours, 54 minutes and reach his first quarter-final on hard courts this year. He will next take on Arthur Rinderknech, after the Frenchman saw off Marcos Giron 7-6(2), 6-4.

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Karatsev Sinks Murray In Zhuhai, Norrie Seals QF Spot

  • Posted: Sep 23, 2023

Karatsev Sinks Murray In Zhuhai, Norrie Seals QF Spot

Korda, Etcheverry reach quarter-finals

Aslan Karatsev overcame former World No. 1 Andy Murray once again on Saturday to reach the quarter-finals at the Huafa Properties Zhuhai Championships.

The 30-year-old defeated Murray in the Sydney final in their only previous Lexus ATP Head2Head meeting in January 2022 and ensured he maintained his 100% record against the Scot with a 4-6, 6-3, 6-2 victory at the Chinese ATP 250 hard-court event.

Karatsev was aggressive off both wings throughout the two-hour and 54-minute clash. Murray offered up an increasing number of short balls as the match went on, with Karatsev hitting through the 36-year-old to seal his sixth Top 50 win of the year.

The World No. 63, who is chasing his first tour-level title since Sydney in 2022, will next face second seed Cameron Norrie in his third quarter-final of the year.

Murray was aiming to reach his second tour-level quarter-final of the year after advancing to the final in Doha in February. The Scot has lifted five titles on Chinese soil, including three Shanghai crowns.

Norrie defeated Australian qualifier Marc Polmans 6-0, 6-3 in 76 minutes. The British lefty won 90 per cent (26/29) of his first-serve points and did not face a break point en route to victory. The World No. 17 is seeking his second title of the season this week, having triumphed in Rio.

Norrie is currently 15th in the Pepperstone ATP Live Race To Turin. He will need a strong Asian Swing to boost his chances of qualifying for the Nitto ATP Finals.

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In other action, Sebastian Korda improved to 13-2 against Frenchmen when he defeated Alexander Muller 6-1, 2-6, 6-3 to reach his fourth tour-level quarter-final of the season.

The American is aiming to win his first title of the season this week at the Chinese ATP 250 event, having fallen in the final to Novak Djokovic in Adelaide at the start of the year. The fourth seed will next play Tomas Martin Etcheverry after the Argentine defeated #NextGenATP Czech Dalibor Svrcina 6-2, 6-3.

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‘I’ve Lived For The Game’: Dimitrov Delight At 400th Win

  • Posted: Sep 23, 2023

‘I’ve Lived For The Game’: Dimitrov Delight At 400th Win

Bulgarian hit milestone by defeating Varillas on Saturday in Chengdu

One of the most graceful players in ATP Tour history, Grigor Dimitrov has never been one to focus on cold, hard numbers. That is not to say the Bulgarian’s career stats do not hold up.

On Saturday, Dimitrov defeated Juan Pablo Varillas at the Chengdu Open for his 400th tour-level win, a milestone he later acknowledged he was unaware of while completing his 6-3, 6-4 victory.

“I’m a person that loves the game and I’ve, in a way, lived for the game,” the 32-year-old told “I think this [milestone] has been something for me that was not the most important thing, but at the same time I try to do the right things for the sport itself. I think when you do these things and you win, it adds up.

“This is an achievement in itself. For me, I never set myself a goal to have 500 or 300 wins or whatever it is. You just never know how it is going to be, but I’ve been on Tour for 14 years now so it’s nice when you have that approval and you’ve done it yourself out there. You’ve gone out there 400 times and won, so I think it’s pretty cool.”

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Grigor Dimitrov poses for a selfie with fans after claiming his 400th tour-level win at the Chengdu Open. Photo Credit: Chengdu Open.

An eight-time tour-level champion and former No. 3 in the Pepperstone ATP Rankings, Dimitrov has come a long way since his first tour-level victory as a 17-year-old in 2009, when he upset then-World No. 23 Tomas Berdych in three sets in Rotterdam. The Bulgarian retains clear memories of that triumph and his first experience of being a winner on the ATP Tour.

“I remember everything about that day, about that match,” recalled Dimitrov, who went on to push Rafael Nadal to three sets in the second round. “About two days before that match, I was supposed to play qualies in Rotterdam, and the night before the qualies started they decided to give me a wild card and I drew Tomas. Then I saw the draw and it was Tomas, and Rafa was up there, and he’d just come from winning the Australian Open.

“That match against Tomas was crazy. I was sliding, running around. I was just being myself out there really, and I never thought about, ‘Oh that’s my first [Tour win]’ or something like that, it was just another match for me. I think this is something that at some point you need to remind yourself a little bit more.”

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Dimitrov Earns 400th Win, Advances In Chengdu

Still going strong on the ATP Tour 14 years later, Dimitrov hopes to use breaking the 400-win barrier as a foundation for renewed success deeper into his 30s.

“It not only motivates me to play well, but to develop more,” said Dimitrov, who lifted the biggest and most recent title of his career at the 2017 Nitto ATP Finals. “I think in whatever I want next in my life as well. Tennis is not everything. The career, if you think about it, it comes and goes.

“Nothing lasts forever, especially in our sport, so use that window as much as possible, enjoy as much as possible, love as much as possible, play as much as possible and how the cards fall, you never know. The only thing I can try to do is give 100 per cent of myself.”

Regardless of what happens, Dimitrov will take some time to cherish his latest achievement in a career that has made him one of the most popular figures on Tour among players and fans alike.

“I’ve always been the type of person that never focused on [stats], but of course I’m going to rank it up there,” he said of hitting the 400-win mark. “One of my favourite stats, and I have it almost as a trophy. I haven’t won a tournament lately, but I feel like I’ve won something very special and that’s that. My career is far from over, so who knows, maybe I’ll reach 500?”

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Struff Excited To Back On Tour In Zhuhai

  • Posted: Sep 23, 2023

Struff Excited To Back On Tour In Zhuhai

German missed three months due to hip injury

Surging towards the Top 20 and in the best form of his career, 2023 was going brilliantly for Jan-Lennard Struff until he lunged for a volley in Bordeaux shortly before Roland Garros.

A week earlier the German had come from qualifying to reach his first ATP Masters 1000 final when beaten by World No. 2 Carlos Alcaraz in three sets in a high-quality decider.

This followed a string of strong Masters 1000 efforts where, after starting in qualifying, he won main draw matches at Indian Wells, Miami and Monte-Carlo in the first half of the year. That saw the 33-year-old’s Pepperstone ATP Tour Ranking jump from 150 at the start of 2023 to a career-high 21 leading into his preferred stint of the season.

But then Struff, who plays Yoshihito Nishioka in a quarterfinal of the Huafa Properties Zhuhai Championships on Sunday, felt a sharp pain during an ATP Challenger in Bordeaux.

“I thought, ‘Mmmm, that is a strange feeling’, but I finished the match with no problems. And then, in the evening, I felt more of a problem,” he said. “When I woke up in the morning, I could not tie up my shoe laces, because I could not reach my shoes, so that was very tough.”

Struff opted to push on towards Roland Garros, where he lost in five sets to Jiri Lehecka, and then performed well in Stuttgart when beaten in a thrilling final by Frances Tiafoe. But competing in Halle a week later, the pain in his hip which had come and gone in the month prior flared again

“During the week, I was feeling more pain in doubles, and then after that I saw a doctor, thinking I would get an injection for Wimbledon. But he said, ‘No chance. You will ruin it’,” Struff said.

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He said missing Wimbledon and the US Open, as well as Masters 1000 tournaments in Canada and Cincinnati, was disappointing because he felt capable of excelling in them.

“Obviously it was a great year so far. I couldn’t have expected this, going this fast up to the Top 30 from outside the Top 150. It was crazy how fast it went. It was an amazing year,” he said. “(So) it was very hard to accept. I had had a good run and I had a feeling in these tournaments that I could play good tennis, because of the faster conditions.

“Wimbledon and the US Open, it was quite tough to see, to be seeded twice and then be out. Losing the opportunities was tough. It was frustrating.”

The World No. 23 spent more time than expected on the sidelines as a result of the hip problem but performed well in his first match back in Zhuhai when defeating Cristian Garin 6-3, 1-6, 6-4.

Similarly to fellow Zhuhai Championships contender Karen Khachanov, who also missed Roland Garros and Wimbledon with injury, Struff tried to make the most of a testing situation. The right-hander did not pick up a racquet for seven weeks while completing rehabilitation but said there was also a silver lining to his time away from the circuit.

He went on a holiday with his sons and his girlfriend, caught up with his parents, headed to soccer games and drank plenty of “good coffees”. “The only problem was, when you want to play with your kids, you want to run and stuff, but I was not able to. Carrying them was not great. It was not that easy,” he said.

“But it was great to have time with them, which was fortunate, because now that I am travelling for the next three weeks in China, I won’t have much time with them. So it was bad but, at the same time, it was good to see the family.”

Struff and Nishioka have split their two ATP Tour matches in Cologne in 2020 and Paris in 2019 and the Zhuhai Championships 3rd seed is expecting a testing encounter.

“He is a tough opponent. He has very good hands (and) good skills. Good running. He is a very, very good player, so it is going to be a difficult match,” Struff said.

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Federer Talks Singing With Coldplay & Joys Of Parenthood At Laver Cup Q & A

  • Posted: Sep 23, 2023

Federer Talks Singing With Coldplay & Joys Of Parenthood At Laver Cup Q & A

Swiss legend undertakes Q&A with Jim Courier at Laver Cup

Roger Federer’s record-breaking career ended 12 months ago. The Swiss legend lifted 103 tour-level titles and faced many great battles during his playing days, competing against the world’s best in all corners of the globe year after year.

Today he no longer has the challenge of going toe-to-toe with long-time rivals Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal. However, the tests have continued to come for the 42-year-old…

Speaking at an on-court Q&A with Jim Courier at the Laver Cup on Friday, Federer gave insight into his life post-retirement and was quickly quizzed on life as a parent to four children, including two teenage twin girls.

“Days are long but at the same time, I feel I don’t have enough time because I pack my schedule up. Four kids will do that to you as well. I am a professional driver nowadays, organiser, logistics man. It is a test on another level,” Federer joked.

“I am just happy to be able to be allowed to live in my own house still,” added Federer when asked specifically about his two teenage daughters. “They are amazing, I love them. But my god, I can’t believe who they are right now at 14. I feel like I have taught them everything and more and at the moment it is complicated but in a good way.

“I know it is going to pass, but I also like if it stays, because I like it if my girls have a strong character, so it is all good. My two cents of advice are that I am happy if they come and shout and cry at home, instead of doing that away. I know they can share all their emotions with me and I love the honesty, so it is all good.”

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Federer, who has been married to his wife Mirka since 2009, has been busy since he hung up his racquet at the Laver Cup last September. In July, Federer showed the world his musical talents when he joined Coldplay on stage in Zurich.

The 20-time major winner loved the occasion and revealed it was one of his daughters who convinced him to take to stage.

“I don’t know what I was doing! I was moving my hand and smiling. I was being me but I got the invitation from Chris Martin from Coldplay,” Federer said. “He said do you want to come up on stage tomorrow. I was in Zurich at the time, I just came back from the Elton John concert. Stuff you just do when you haven’t got stuff to do anymore!

“I looked at my daughter and told her, ‘Do you think I should go on stage and do this?’ She was half falling asleep after the Elton John concert and she was like, ‘Of course papa, you only live once, of course you have to do it.’ So I was like, I’ll go on stage, I’ll do it and of course I enjoyed it. I finished on top. This was my music career. I dropped the mic and I was good.”

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Alongside parenthood and his brief music career, Federer has continued to undertake important work for the Roger Federer Foundation. The 42-year-old’s foundation, founded in 2003, supports educational projects in Southern Africa and Switzerland. The programmes focus on the improvement of the quality of early learning and basic education.

“I have done a lot with the foundation. I have just been to the UN fighting for early learning again this past Monday,” Federer said. “That is something I enjoy a lot. We finally all went as a family down by South Africa on a field trip for the foundation. That was a dream of mine since I started the foundation. We are celebrating 20 years now, so I know that will be something in my life for the next 25 years in some shape.”

Before the end of his Q&A with Courier, there was time for Nadal to make an appearance. The Spaniard, who teamed with Federer in the Swiss star’s final match, popped up with a cheeky question. He asked Federer via video who his favourite doubles partner had been, winking at the end of the question.

“I thought it was my wife until this guy showed up. Rafa can have it,” Federer said, cracking a smile. “Last year was on another level, special. We will share that forever.”

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Team World Completes Clean Sweep On Day 1 At Laver Cup

  • Posted: Sep 23, 2023

Team World Completes Clean Sweep On Day 1 At Laver Cup

Auger-Aliassime, Paul/Tiafoe notch evening session wins

Team World had never finished Day 1 of the Laver Cup with a lead heading into this year’s edition of the team event. John McEnroe’s men set that record straight in style on Friday in Vancouver as they forged a 4-0 lead over Team Europe with a dominant evening session display.

After Ben Shelton and Francisco Cerundolo had earlier opened a 2-0 lead for Team World, Felix Auger-Aliassime downed Gael Monfils 6-4, 6-3 in the third and final singles clash of the day at Rogers Arena. Tommy Paul and Frances Tiafoe then held firm for a 6-3, 4-6, 10-6 triumph against Arthur Fils and Andrey Rublev in the first doubles clash of the three-day event.

Auger-Aliassime, who has struggled to find his best form for much of 2023, broke Monfils’ serve twice in a five-game streak from 4-4 in the first set to take control of the pair’s encounter. The 23-year-old held firm behind serve, ultimately winning 85 per cent of points behind his first delivery en route to securing a 3-0 lead for his team.

“It felt nice,” said Canadian favourite Auger-Aliassime, who improved to 3-2 in Laver Cup singles matches with his triumph. “Last year, it was an amazing win in London, but if we can win on home soil for the first time, that would also be cool. It was our first win last year for Team World.

“To do it with the crowd, with us and supporting us, and for me especially as a Canadian, it feels good. Feels good to get a first win under my belt here in the competition, and overall in my season I think it’s nice to get some wins.”

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Shelton, Cerundolo Win For Team World In Laver Cup Debuts

Laver Cup debutant Tommy Paul and his countryman Frances Tiafoe backed up Auger-Aliassime’s win to maintain Team World’s perfect start to the sixth edition of the annual team event. The pair rallied from 0/3 in the Match Tie-break to edge Fils and Rublev and leave Team Europe with plenty of work to do on Day 2 in British Columbia.

The first team to reach 13 points will win the Laver Cup. Two points will be awarded for each victory on Saturday, and three for each win on Sunday.

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Flashback: Federer's Laver Cup Farewell With Nadal

  • Posted: Sep 23, 2023

Flashback: Federer’s Laver Cup Farewell With Nadal

The Swiss teamed with Nadal for a farewell doubles match last year in London

One year ago, the sporting world stopped to watch Roger Federer say goodbye to competitive tennis at the Laver Cup in London.

The Swiss legend returned to the court one final time to team with his longtime friend and rival Rafael Nadal, treating fans to one last glimpse of his majestic game. Following a memorable doubles match against Jack Sock and Frances Tiafoe, which was decided in a Match Tie-break, Federer was celebrated in an on-court ceremony.

“We’ll get through this somehow, will we? Right?,” an emotional Federer said during his on-court interview. “I’m happy, I’m not sad. It feels great to be here and I enjoyed tying my shoes one more time.

“Everything was the last time. The match was great, I couldn’t be happier. It’s been wonderful.”

The former World No. 1 spoke at length, reflecting on his history-making career and thanking all those who played a part in his successes throughout the years.

Federer decided to take his final bow at Laver Cup, an event he co-founded and also competed in four times, lifting the trophy with Team Europe in its first three editions from 2017-19. He wanted his farewell to be a celebration, grounded more in joy for the journey than in sadness for its end. And while few will forget the tears shed, particularly those by Federer and Nadal after their match, the overriding emotion was one of gratitude — both from the Swiss star and the fans who were privileged enough to witness his extraordinary career.

“It does feel like a celebration to me,” Federer said after his final match. “I wanted to feel like this at the end, and it’s exactly what I hoped for, so thank you.”

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Sharing in the celebrations were the 22-time Grand Slam champion’s teammates on Team Europe, as well as his opponents from Team World.

“When Roger leaves the Tour, an important part of my life is leaving too,” said Nadal, “because all the moments that he has been next to or in front of me [for] are important moments of my life.”

While Federer has left the competition of the ATP Tour, the Swiss remains an integral part of the tennis landscape. He was honoured at Wimbledon on Centre Court earlier this season, and he has again been recognised at the Laver Cup in Vancouver. To celebrate the one-year anniversary of his farewell, Federer performed the coin toss ahead of the final match on Day 1 of the event on Friday.

Following the evening’s play, Federer returned to the court for an interview with former World No. 1 Jim Courier — who was the first person to interview Federer after his final match last year in London.

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