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Shelton/Tiafoe Clinch Team World's Laver Cup Victory

  • Posted: Sep 24, 2023

Shelton/Tiafoe Clinch Team World’s Laver Cup Victory

Team World wins 13-2

Ben Shelton and Frances Tiafoe put the finishing touches on Team World’s convincing Laver Cup victory Sunday.

The Americans held their nerve to defeat Team Europe’s Hubert Hurkacz and Andrey Rublev 7-6(4), 7-6(5) and secure the Laver Cup 13-2, claiming the event for the second consecutive year. The Vancouver crowd was treated to exciting rallies, with both teams demonstrating quick reflexes and deft touch in the forecourt throughout the one-hour, 37-minute clash.

Shelton and Tiafoe relied on their firepower and were dominant on serve, winning 40 of their 48 first-serve points to clinch the title. A key moment came when Shelton and Tiafoe won three consecutive points from 4/5 in the second-set tie-break to close the match.

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“It’s been crazy for me and I’ve enjoyed being in a team environment,” Shelton said. “I’ve enjoyed playing for Johnny Mac. Team World really brought the energy this week. It’s easy for me to play when I’m amped up and hyped and the bench has done a great job of hyping me up all week. I hope I’ve done a good job of hyping them up too. Playing with Frances speaks for itself, easiest guy to play with, most fun guy to be on court with.”

Tiafoe said, “Being a part of it last year and clinching it last year was so emotional, first time. John [McEnroe[ was super excited. Now, being able to do it again in doubles with Ben was a lot of fun.” 

Led by captain John McEnroe, Team World has now won the past two editions of the Laver Cup after falling in the first four.

“It felt unbelievable to kick their a** baby!” McEnroe said. “They kicked ours many times. It was a battle to the end when we won last year and we came in, great team spirit, good combination of youth and experience. I felt it from the word go and we stepped up. I thought all the guys played great.”

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Khachanov Ahead Of Zhuhai SF With Korda: 'It's Tough To Find His Weakness'

  • Posted: Sep 24, 2023

Khachanov Ahead Of Zhuhai SF With Korda: ‘It’s Tough To Find His Weakness’

Both players have endured injuries this year

Trailing a set and gasping for breath after several lung-busting rallies against Mackenzie
McDonald, Karen Khachanov posed to soak in the Zhuhai applause on Sunday. The competitiveness of his 4-6 6-4 6-4 triumph over McDonald and the crowd’s response
throughout their Huafa Properties Zhuhai Championships quarter-final delighted him.

It is these experiences the World No. 15 in the Pepperstone ATP Rankings missed the most during his absence from the Tour following a semi-final loss to Novak Djokovic at Roland Garros.

“I was missing the energy of the crowd. Here today, it was almost full, and I always enjoy
playing in front of people in full stadiums, so I was really missing it,” Khachanov said. “I am mentally ready. I had a kind of unexpected vacation and now I’m motivated, determined, excited to be back playing and trying to bring on this game again.”

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The top seed will next experience a similar challenge and atmosphere when he meets American Sebastian Korda in Monday’s semi-finals. It will be the fifth Lexus ATP Head2Head meeting between the pair. If their history and recent form in Zhuhai is a guide, it shapes as an intriguing clash in a tournament resplendent with exciting matches.

The 27-year-old Khachanov edged Korda in a thrilling five-set encounter at Wimbledon in 2021 and was
leading their Australian Open quarter-final this year when the American retired due to injury.
Korda, who claimed his second victory in as many months over Tomas Martin Etcheverry 6-
1 6-2 in Sunday’s quarter-finals, defeated Khachanov in Cincinnati and Antwerp last year.

Khachanov and Korda have experienced similar seasons, playing at a high level at times only to
be stricken with significant injuries when within range of career-best achievements.
Khachanov said his rival, who hopes to break into the Top 20 by the end of the season, is an
astute tactician who dissects matches well when at the peak of his game.

“When he is on and he brings his flat shots and his A-game, he has a really, really great
perspective and is a tough opponent,” Khachanov said. “He serves well. He moves well. He returns well. It is tough to find a weakness. But that is what I will have to look for tomorrow against him.”

Korda, who is also in the doubles semi-finals alongside McDonald, has loved his first trip
to China and is revelling on the quick courts at the Hengqin International Tennis Center.

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“We’ve had some good matches so far. I am sure tomorrow will be another good, fun
match,” Korda said. “We have a 2-2 record so far, so it is a big one for us. A spot in the final is where we want to be and I am very excited for it.”

Khachanov, who returned to the Top 10 briefly in June and resumed with an opening-round
loss at the US Open, has enjoyed a busy week since his arrival in Zhuhai. Aside from his victories over Alex Bolt and McDonald, the father-of-two participated in a school visit and has also offered advice to talented young Chinese players.

The angular right-hander said he enjoyed mixing with young people and hoped that he might
be able to provide an insight or example that could help their careers.

“It was really, really cool. I have two kids now as well and I think if I can inspire more kids
around the world, I’m just really happy to be able to deliver and to do it,” Khachanov said. “I think that’s most important. The next generation, they like to see tennis on the court… but
it is not only about winning or losing.

“It is the way you act, being polite, these things are the most important. If I can deliver this
and be… not an idol, but a person they can look to, I would be very happy.”

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Laver Reveals Favourite Young Player: 'We're Going To See Him Win A Slam'

  • Posted: Sep 24, 2023

Laver Reveals Favourite Young Player: ‘We’re Going To See Him Win A Slam’

The Aussie shares if he still plays tennis

Ahead of Sunday’s Laver Cup action, Rod Laver answered fan questions on Twitter. The Australian was asked questions related to the past, present and future of tennis.

Who is Laver’s favourite young player?

The 20-year-old Ben Shelton, who is No. 19 in the Pepperstone ATP Rankings, is one of the fastest rising stars in the sport. This time last year, Shelton was World No. 177. The lefty has enjoyed a breakthrough season, with a career-best run coming at his home Slam, where he was a semi-finalist.

Shelton was also a big part of Team World’s convincing Laver Cup victory against Team Europe. The 2022 NCAA singles champion earned a singles victory in his Laver Cup debut and also earned two doubles wins, alongside Felix Auger-Aliassime and Frances Tiafoe. The 25-year-old Tiafoe is another player who Laver anticipates great success from.

Laver also shared what he enjoys the most about the Laver Cup.

What’s the biggest difference between tennis now and when Laver played?

Is the 11-time major champion still playing tennis?

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Musetti Seals SF Spot In Chengdu

  • Posted: Sep 24, 2023

Musetti Seals SF Spot In Chengdu

Safiullin advances after Thompson retires

Is this the week Lorenzo Musetti captures his first trophy of the year?

The 21-year-old Italian advanced to his third tour-level semi-final of the season on Sunday when he moved past Frenchman Arthur Rinderknech 6-3, 6-3 at the Chengdu Open.

The second seed played with flair throughout the one-hour, 28-minute clash, striking 32 winners at the ATP 250 hard-court event. He timed the ball cleanly off both wings and hit an array of acute angles to outmanoeuvre Rinderknech.

“It was a step forward from yesterday. Yesterday’s match gave me a lot of confidence and today I started very well,” Musetti said. “Breaking him immediately and that was the key to my win. A really solid performance from the baseline and I am really happy to be in the semi-finals.”

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Musetti, who won two tour-level titles in 2022, will next meet Roman Safiullin. The World No. 55 advanced to his first semi-final of the season after Jordan Thompson was forced to retire after Safiullin had won the first set 7-6(1).

Musetti has endured a modest season by his standards, holding a 31-22 record on the year. His best results were semi-final runs in Barcelona and Bastad.

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Khachanov Continues Title Quest In Zhuhai, Reaches SFs

  • Posted: Sep 24, 2023

Khachanov Continues Title Quest In Zhuhai, Reaches SFs

Top seed next plays Korda

Karen Khachanov continued his comeback with a thrilling victory on Sunday at the Huafa Properties Zhuhai Championships.

The top seed was pushed hard by sixth seed Mackenzie McDonald, advancing 4-6, 6-4, 6-4 in two hours and 38 minutes to reach his third tour-level semi-final of the season.

In hot conditions at the Chinese ATP 250 hard-court event, Khachanov recovered from a slow start, upping his intensity and depth off the ground to improve to 4-0 in his ATP Head2Head series against the American.

“It was very tough,” Khachanov said. “A mental and physical match. I was behind from the beginning and he was leading the match. I had to try to push and bring all the energy to change the momentum and the way the match was going and I think in the second set from 4-4 I was able to push through and win the second set. It gave me extra confidence and in the third set to be more in a leading position towards the end of the match.”

Khachanov, who is chasing his first title since 2018, will meet Sebastian Korda in the last four.

Khachanov was competing for just the third time since his quarter-final match at Roland Garros, where he suffered a stress fracture in his back. He fell in the first round at the US Open, but has recorded consecutive wins in Zhuhai, also defeating Alex Bolt.

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Korda improved to 6-0 against Argentine players when he defeated fifth seed Tomas Martin Etcheverry 6-1, 6-2 in 72 minutes. The American, who is chasing his first title of the season, hit 21 winners and did not face a break point to advance.

Korda is up to No. 28 in the Pepperstone ATP Live Rankings following his 18th tour-level win of the season. His best result this year was a final run in Adelaide, where he held championship point against Novak Djokovic.

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Felix/Shelton Move Team World To Brink Of Laver Cup Title

  • Posted: Sep 24, 2023

Felix/Shelton Move Team World To Brink Of Laver Cup Title

Team World leads 10-2

Team World moved to within one win of retaining its Laver Cup title on Saturday night when Felix Auger-Aliassime and Ben Shelton downed Hubert Hurkacz and Gael Monfils to give John McEnroe’s side a 10-2 lead against Team Europe.

After Casper Ruud had given Team Europe its first points earlier on Saturday, Frances Tiafoe responded to regain momentum for Team World. Auger-Aliassime and Shelton’s 7-5, 6-4 victory means Team World need to win one of the remaining four matches on Sunday to lift the trophy for the second consecutive year. Each match on Sunday will be worth three points.

Competing in Vancouver, Canadian Auger-Aliassime and American Shelton won 81 per cent (42/52) of their first-serve and points and saved all three break points they faced to triumph after one hour and 23 minutes.

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Tiafoe faced pressure Saturday evening when he stepped on court at the Laver Cup. Not only was the American trying to halt Team Europe’s momentum after Ruud won the second match of the day, but Tiafoe was trying to flip the script against Hurkacz, who had won their past three Lexus ATP Head2Head meetings.

Mission accomplished for the 25-year-old. Tiafoe defeated Hurkacz 7-5, 6-3.

“I just think being in a team environment is so foreign to us tennis players,” Tiafoe said. “It is such an individual sport. But I just came out and I just want to compete for the guys and play well for the guys. I want to put on a show.

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The No. 11 player in the Pepperstone ATP Rankings, Tiafoe had lost three consecutive singles matches entering the encounter. But after earning a doubles victory alongside Tommy Paul on Friday evening, Tiafoe rose to the occasion in Vancouver. He harnessed the energy of the crowd to withstand 11 aces from Hurkacz.

In the critical moments, it was the American who thrived. Tiafoe saved the only break point he faced while converting three of his five opportunities to triumph after one hour and 13 minutes.

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