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Kecmanovic Upsets Rune In Stockholm, Dampening Dane's Turin Hopes

  • Posted: Oct 18, 2023

Kecmanovic Upsets Rune In Stockholm, Dampening Dane’s Turin Hopes

Monfils edges Fucsovics in three sets

Miomir Kecmanovic earned his first Top 10 win since last season in Miami with a dominant display against Holger Rune at the BNP Paribas Nordic Open. The Serbian knocked off the top seed and defending Stockholm champion 7-6(3), 6-2, dealing Rune his second opening-round defeat in as many weeks to advance to the quarter-finals.

“I thought I played pretty well today after a long period this year,” said Kecmanovic, who was 0-5 against the Top 10 this season prior to the win. “I’m very happy. It means a lot to finally be able to play like this.

“It makes it special [to beat the World No. 6]. I was close with some other [top] guys this year but I’m happy that I was finally able to do it.”

Kecmanovic snapped an 11-match losing streak against Top 10 opposition to improve to 4-17 against players of that status in his career. Prior to Wednesday’s result, his most recent Top 10 win came against Felix Auger-Aliassime in March 2022 in Miami.

For Rune, who also exited last week’s Rolex Shanghai Masters in the first round, the defeat is a blow to his bid to qualify for the Nitto ATP Finals for the first time. The Dane currently occupies eighth place in the Pepperstone ATP Live Race To Turin, but his position in the final qualifying spot is under threat this week from Taylor Fritz, who is bidding to defend a title of his own in Tokyo.

Rune was frustrated by Kecmanovic’s aggressive yet steady play on Stockholm’s centre court. The Serbian finished with 19 winners and just five unforced errors, and he converted on all three of his break points in the second set after missing out on five in the opening set. Rune ripped a return winner to break in the opening game of set two, but was immediately broken back and never rediscovered his best form down the stretch.

In the lone three-set singles match of the day in Stockholm, Gael Monfils edged Marton Fucsovics 2-6, 6-2, 7-5 in the opening round. The Frenchman, cheered on by his mother and his wife, Elina Svitolina, hit 27 winners in the victory and closed out the result with a break in the final game. Monfils saved two break points at 3-3 in the final set and later saw two match points go begging on return at 5-4.

“I was very happy. Marton is a very good player, always a tricky opponent,” the 37-year-old said post-match. “[I had to] just believe that I’m going to win and try to stay positive, play my game.

“Obviously I was running quite good and hitting big balls. It was a little bit of a struggle at the beginning to impose my power and then I felt I was doing it pretty good.”

Monfils will next meet Austrian qualifier Filip Misolic for a place in the quarter-finals.

Third seed Tallon Griekspoor was one of four players to advance to the quarters with Wednesday triumphs. He defeated Emil Ruusuvuori 7-6(3), 6-4 to set up meeting with Pavel Kotov, a 6-4, 7-5 winner against Lorenzo Sonego. Laslo Djere also moved on to the quarters by beating J.J. Wolf 7-5, 6-4.

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Djokovic Headlines Paris Doubles Field

  • Posted: Oct 18, 2023

Djokovic Headlines Paris Doubles Field

Sinner/Wawrinka, Auger-Aliassime/Korda and Lehecka/Shelton also to compete

Novak Djokovic will headline a star-studded doubles field at the Rolex Paris Masters, where he will compete alongside fellow Serbian Miomir Kecmanovic for the first time.

The six-time Paris singles champion has played doubles at Bercy on three previous occasions (2008, 2016, 2021) with three different partners. It will be Djokovic’s fourth doubles appearance of the season (also Adelaide-1, Cincinnati, Davis Cup).

The 36-year-old is not the only singles star who will take to the doubles court at the season’s final ATP Masters 1000 event. Karen Khachanov will play with Andrey Rublev, Jannik Sinner will compete with Stan Wawrinka, Felix Auger-Aliassime will partner Sebastian Korda and Jiri Lehecka will team with Ben Shelton.

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The three doubles teams that have already qualified for the Nitto ATP Finals will lead the field. Defending champions Wesley Koolhof/Neal Skupski, Roland Garros winners Ivan Dodig/Austin Krajicek and US Open finalists Rohan Bopanna/Matthew Ebden will try to secure the title.

Other teams to watch include US Open champions Rajeev Ram/Joe Salisbury and Marcelo Melo/Alexander Zverev. The Rolex Paris Masters will be played from 30 October through 5 November.

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Alcaraz Withdraws From Basel

  • Posted: Oct 18, 2023

Alcaraz Withdraws From Basel

Spaniard most recently competed in Shanghai

Carlos Alcaraz has withdrawn from the Swiss Indoors Basel due to a left foot injury and muscle fatigue to his lower back, he confirmed on social media Wednesday.

“Unfortunately I will not be able to play in Basel this year! 🥲” Alcaraz posted on Instagram. “I have a problem with the plantar fascia in my left foot and muscle fatigue in my lower back which need treatment so I can play the rest of the season. I hope to see you all soon! @swissindoorsbasel_official”

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One year ago, Alcaraz made his Basel debut. He earned three wins before losing to eventual champion Felix Auger-Aliassime in the semi-finals.

Alcaraz owns a 63-9 record this season including six titles, with two coming at ATP Masters 1000 events (Indian Wells and Madrid) and another at Wimbledon. The 20-year-old last competed in Shanghai, where he lost in the Round of 16 to Grigor Dimitrov.

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The Spaniard is entrenched in a battle for ATP Year-End No. 1 presented by Pepperstone with Novak Djokovic. Had Alcaraz won Basel and the 500 points that come with it, he would have entered the Rolex Paris Masters tied with Djokovic in the Pepperstone ATP Live Race To Turin.

Instead, Djokovic will retain the edge in the battle for year-end No. 1, an honour the Serbian has earned a record seven times. Last year, Alcaraz became the youngest year-end No. 1 in Pepperstone ATP Rankings history.

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Can Tsitsipas & Alcaraz Guess What Is In Rublev's Queue?

  • Posted: Oct 18, 2023

Can Tsitsipas & Alcaraz Guess What Is In Rublev’s Queue?

Stars take on Test The Tour’s ‘What’s In My Queue’ challenge

A typical part of almost every player’s daily routine is listening to music. But can the likes of Stefanos Tsitsipas, Carlos Alcaraz and Andrey Rublev identify which of their colleagues listen to what?

“Tell me man!” Rublev told a producer as he tried to figure out one playlist in particular.

“Guys, I’m a disaster!” Jannik Sinner said, cracking a smile as he struggled to come up with correct answers.

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Some of the artists your favourite players listen to include The Weeknd, Linkin Park, Avicii, Eminem and Imagine Dragons. Who listens to which artists and songs?

Find out in Test The Tour’s ‘What’s In My Queue’ video below.

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Murray/Venus Edge Through In Tokyo To Boost Turin Bid

  • Posted: Oct 18, 2023

Murray/Venus Edge Through In Tokyo To Boost Turin Bid

Top seeds upset in Antwerp, Stockholm

Jamie Murray and Michael Venus defeated the Japanese team of Takeru Yuzuki and Seita Watanabe to begin their crucial campaign at the Kinoshita Group Japan Open Tennis Championships on Wednesday. The British-Kiwi pair earned a 6-2, 6-7(8), 10-3 victory against the home favourites but were pushed to a Match Tie-break despite creating 12 break chances.

Murray and Venus are in 10th place in the Pepperstone ATP Live Doubles Teams Rankings. The team is just 85 points behind the current eighth-placed pair, Americans Nathaniel Lammons and Jackson Withrow, who are also into the Tokyo quarter-finals.

Marcelo Arevalo and Jean-Julien Rojer, currently in ninth place, also advanced on Wednesday at the ATP 500 with a 6-4, 6-4 victory against Austrians Alexander Erler and Lucas Miedler.

In addition to Murray and Venus, two other teams advanced to the quarter-finals via Match Tie-breaks. Australians Rinky Hijikata and Max Purcell edged Japan’s Shintaro Mochizuki and Rio Noguchi 5-7, 7-6(4), 10-5, and Ben McLachlan and Yoshihito Nishioka won an all-Japanese matchup against Taisei Ichikawa and Masamichi Imamura 6-3, 6-7(5), 10-7.

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Tsitsipas Brothers Advance In Antwerp
Opening Wednesday’s play on centre court at the European Open, Petros Tsitsipas and Stefanos Tsitsipas knocked out fourth seeds Matwe Middelkoop and Andreas Mies 7-5, 6-3. The Greek brothers converted on both of their break points in the match while saving the only break chance against them.

Ariel Behar and Adam Pavlasek scored an even bigger upset on Court 1, taking out top seeds Santiago Gonzalez and Edouard Roger-Vasselin 6-3, 6-7(2), 10-7. Despite the defat, Gonzalez and Roger-Vasseline remain in strong position to qualify for Turin in sixth place in the Pepperstone ATP Live Doubles Teams Rankings.

Top Seeds Out In Stockholm
The top seeds at both of this week’s ATP 250s are out in the first round. At the BNP Paribas Nordic Open, Argentines Maximo Gonzalez and Andres Molteni were beaten by Andrey Golubev and Denys Molchanov, 7-5, 3-6, 10-7. The Kazakh-Ukrainian duo of Golubev and Molchanov saved six of eight break points in the upset win on centre court.

Second seeds Nikola Cacic and Mate Pavic were also dismissed in the opening round by Yuki Bhambri and Julian Cash, who opened play on Court 1 with a 6-4, 6-3 upset of their own.

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Fils Earns Win On Debut In Antwerp

  • Posted: Oct 18, 2023

Fils Earns Win On Debut In Antwerp

Van de Zandschulp overcomes Stricker

Arthur Fils is up and running at the European Open in Antwerp.

The Frenchman overcame Estonia wild card Mark Lajal 7-6(4), 7-6(2) on Wednesday to reach his fifth tour-level quarter-final of the season after one hour and 59 minutes.

In a tight clash, Fils was impressive in the crucial moments, saving all eight break points he faced to earn victory on his debut at the ATP 250 hard-court event.

Fils, who is currently fifth in the Pepperstone ATP Live Race To Jeddah, has enjoyed a breakthrough season on Tour, highlighted by his first ATP Tour title in Lyon in May. The 19-year-old will continue the quest for his second trophy when he takes on Juan Pablo Varillas after the Peruvian defeated Alexander Shevchenko 3-6, 6-3, 6-2.

The 20-year-old Lajal clinched his first tour-level win in the first round against Jaume Munar.

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In other action, Botic van de Zandschulp moved past #NextGenATP Swiss Dominic Stricker 6-7(4), 6-3, 6-3 to reach the second round at a tour-level event for the 12th time this season.

The Dutchman hammered two aces and saved both break points he faced to advance in two hours and 17 minutes. With his win, Van de Zandschulp levelled his Lexus ATP Head2Head series against Stricker at 1-1. The World No. 67 will next take on top seed Stefanos Tsitsipas at the ATP 250.

Nuno Borges also advanced, beating Dominik Koepfer 7-6(6), 6-4. The Portuguese, who reached the final at an ATP Challenger Tour event last week, will play Maximilian Marterer in the second round.

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ATP Challenger Tour Unveils 'On The Rise' Campaign Elevating The Path To Tennis Greatness

  • Posted: Oct 18, 2023

ATP Challenger Tour Unveils ‘On The Rise’ Campaign Elevating The Path To Tennis Greatness

Campaign sets the stage for the next era of the ATP Challenger Tour

A bold new marketing campaign, On the Rise, has set the stage for the next era of the ATP Challenger Tour, the global launchpad of men’s professional tennis.

Developed by ATP and London-based marketing agency MATTA, the On the Rise campaign brings fans closer to the raw entertainment and drama of the world’s local tennis Tour. Headlined by an electrifying launch film, released today, the campaign combines stunning aesthetic design, colour palettes and photography treatment to hero the rise of the game’s next generation. This is paired with a tone of voice that is raw, intimate and optimistic — celebrating the hustle of players aspiring to reach the game’s highest levels.

On the Rise will provide Challenger Tour events with a full suite of new promotional assets, elevating the Tour’s diverse global calendar. Players too will be provided with custom assets to enhance their storytelling and boost their profiles. This is underpinned by record investment in Challenger Tour social, editorial and marketing resources delivered centrally by ATP.

Watch Launch Film:

The campaign builds atop a Challenger Tour rebrand earlier this season, which introduced a new logo. Its simplified, minimalistic design, inspired by distinctive lines of a tennis court, is optimised for usage across digital and social content, at-event and out-of-home branding.

Richard Glover, VP Challenger Tour said: “The Challenger Tour is all about ambition and the road to greatness. It’s where the biggest icons of our sport all started their journeys. It’s also one of the most raw and intimate experiences that fans can have of professional sport — with a presence that’s truly global. This new campaign brings these elements to the fore, giving us a powerful platform to elevate our incredible athletes and storytelling.”

On the Rise follows record-breaking enhancements to the Challenger Tour, which came into place in January 2023. At the close of the 2023 season these reforms will have delivered a record number of events, multi-million-dollar prize money increases and an optimised tournament calendar. This forms a central pillar of ATP’s long-term investment into strengthening the player pathway to the ATP Tour.

The ATP Challenger Tour is set to feature 196 tournaments across 45 countries in 2023.

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Paul Wins, Ruud Falls In Mixed Day For Turin Hopefuls In Tokyo

  • Posted: Oct 18, 2023

Paul Wins, Ruud Falls In Mixed Day For Turin Hopefuls In Tokyo

Shelton defeats Thompson

Tommy Paul boosted his Nitto ATP Finals qualification hopes on Wednesday when he earned his 39th win of the season at the Kinoshita Group Japan Open Tennis Championships, matching his previous-best tally (2022).

The American overcame countryman Mackenzie McDonald 6-4, 6-2 at the ATP 500 event to reach his ninth quarter-final of the season and sixth on hard courts.

Paul was strong on serve throughout the 86-minute clash, winning 21 of 22 points behind his first delivery. The fifth seed did not face a break point and showed his athleticism by winning a series of lung-busting rallies where both pulled each other from corner to corner.

“We know each others games really well,” Paul said. “I have known him since I was 11 years old. Knowing him, I know I have to keep my foot on the gas as if you give him a little bit he takes a lot.”

Paul will continue the quest for his first title of the season when he takes on Ben Shelton in the quarter-finals. The 26-year-old is 12th in the Pepperstone ATP Live Race To Turin, 515 points behind Rune. If Paul wins his second tour-level trophy, he could rise to ninth if his direct rivals fall early in Tokyo.

Shelton continued his breakthrough season on Tour with a 6-7(5), 6-4, 6-3 win against Jordan Thompson. The 21-year-old American, who reached the semi-finals at the US Open in September, is into his fourth quarter-final of the year.

One of those rivals, Casper Ruud, lost on Wednesday in Japan. The Norwegian is 10th in the Pepperstone ATP Live Race, 220 points ahead of Paul.

That gap will not grow any further this week, though, after Marcos Giron defeated the second seed 6-3, 6-4 in one hour and 21 minutes to set a quarter-final clash against Felix Auger-Aliassime.

Giron rallied from 2-4 in the second set, rolling off the final four games to improve to 1-1 in his Lexus ATP Head2Head series against Ruud. Giron has earned three Top 10 wins, having defeated then-World No. 6 Holger Rune in August and then-World No. 10 Matteo Berrettini in 2020.

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Felix Finding Form, Zhang Advances In Tokyo

  • Posted: Oct 18, 2023

Felix Finding Form, Zhang Advances In Tokyo

Paul seals QF spot

Is this the week Felix Auger-Aliassime finds his form?

The Canadian backed up his first-round win against Aleksandar Vukic with a 6-4, 6-1 triumph against Sebastian Ofner at the Kinoshita Group Japan Open Tennis Championships on Wednesday.

Auger-Aliassime arrived in Tokyo having won just twice in his past 11 outings. The last time he won consecutive matches was in Indian Wells in March, when he reached the quarter-finals.

The 23-year-old ensured that run would end in Japan, though, producing a clean-hitting display to down Ofner after one hour and 35 minutes. Auger-Aliassime rallied from a break down in a tight first set before he raced away in the second set, winning the final six games of the match.

“I need results like this,” Auger-Aliassime said. “I believe in my game and I believe in myself that I have what it takes to win at this level. I have done it before but it is about doing it and having a lot of belief and a positive mind. I am happy that my level is translating to the match court after a couple of months.”

Into his fifth tour-level quarter-final of the season, the World No. 17 will next face second seed Casper Ruud or American Marcos Giron.

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In first-round action, Zhang Zhizhen earned revenge against Hubert Hurkacz. The Pole defeated Zhang en route to the title in Shanghai last week, but the Chinese star ensured history would not repeat itself at the ATP 500 hard-court event.

Zhang fired 10 aces, won 76 per cent (39/51) of his first-serve points and broke Hurkacz’s serve three times to advance 3-6, 6-4, 7-6(4) in two hours and 17 minutes.

Hurkacz rose to 11th in the Pepperstone ATP Live Race To Turin following the run to his second ATP Masters 1000 title in Shanghai. The Pole is 335 points behind eighth-placed Holger Rune, who currently occupies the final qualification spot. His defeat is a major dent to his Nitto ATP Finals qualification hopes.

The 27-year-old Zhang is enjoying the best season of his career, having earned 19 tour-level wins. He became the first ATP Masters 1000 quarter-finalist from China in May in Madrid and in July rose to No. 52 in the Pepperstone ATP Rankings, the highest position ever held by anyone from the East Asian country. He beat Casper Ruud at the US Open to become the first Chinese man to beat a Top 5 opponent.

Aiming to make more waves this week, he will next face Aslan Karatsev.

Tommy Paul kept alive his Nitto ATP Finals qualification hopes with a 6-4, 6-2 win against Mackenzie McDonald. The American is 12th in the Pepperstone ATP Live Race To Turin, 515 points behind Rune. If Paul wins his first title of the season this week, he could rise to ninth if his direct rivals fall early in Tokyo.

Paul has now earned 39 wins this year, matching his previous personal-best tally (2022). He will aim to make it 40 wins when he plays Ben Shelton or Jordan Thompson in the quarter-finals.

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