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Five Things To Know About Shintaro Mochizuki

  • Posted: Oct 20, 2023

Five Things To Know About Shintaro Mochizuki

#NextGenATP Japanese star breaking through in Tokyo

Shintaro Mochizuki has enjoyed the best tournament of his career at the Kinoshita Group Japan Open Tennis Championships, where he will play Aslan Karatsev in the semi-finals. The 20-year-old is trying to become the first Japanese champion at the tournament since Kei Nishikori in 2014.

His big run has helped the home favourite soar to 15th in the Pepperstone ATP Live Race To Jeddah. Mochizuki has a chance the rest of the week to entrench himself in competition for a place at the Next Gen ATP Finals. looks at five things to know about the rising star.

1) Tokyo Breakthrough
Entering the week, Mochizuki had played in eight tour-level main draws, including an ATP Masters 1000 event in Miami in 2021 and Wimbledon this year. However, he had never won a tour-level match.

That all changed this week in Tokyo, where Mochizuki is into his first ATP Tour semi-final. By defeating Alexei Popyrin in the last eight, the home favourite became the first Japanese player to reach the semi-finals of the tournament since Kei Nishikori in 2018, and the lowest-ranked semi-finalist overall since World No. 479 Kelly Jones in 1986. Mochizuki is No. 215 in the Pepperstone ATP Rankings.

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2) Federer Gave Him Key Advice
Mochizuki revealed two years ago that his idol, Roger Federer, provided critical advice for his career. The Japanese star recalled to that Federer had followed his run to the 2019 Wimbledon boys’ singles title and invited him to be a practice partner at that year’s Nitto ATP Finals.

“He’s my hero. At the Nitto ATP Finals, I was there as a hitting partner and I got to hit with him,” Mochizuki said. “It was a dream. In tennis he hits so easy, just relaxed when he’s playing.

“Many people are just playing with the power and emotions, but he’s just hitting balls so easy. He taught me that if you have any chances to play bigger events, just go for it.”

In addition to his Miami appearance in 2021, Mochizuki has played qualifying at Masters 1000 events on three other occasions.

3) Japanese Star Has Received A Santoro Comparison
Just before becoming a teen, Mochizuki began training at the IMG Academy in Florida, where the likes of another Japanese star, Nishikori, has long been based. Another product of the academy is former doubles World No. 1 Max Mirnyi, who made an interesting comment about Mochizuki’s game.

Mirnyi compared Mochizuki’s game to one of the craftiest players in recent history: Fabrice Santoro.

“Fabrice is a player who really utilised the power of the oncoming ball to him and also was very crafty with his hands,” Mirnyi said. “Just like Fabrice was fun to watch, Shintaro is one of them.

“He sees the court extremely in a different dimension. He uses the angles well, cuts them off well and likes to come into the net. He takes the ball early and he’s got good feel with his hands.”

4) Baseball Among His Hobbies
Mochizuki considered quitting tennis aged nine to pursue baseball, which is one of his favourite sports outside of tennis. The Japanese player has long loved playing and watching baseball when he can, but never pursued playing the sport professionally. His favourite team is the New York Yankees.

Earlier this year, Mochizuki explained that countrymen Shohei Ohtani and Yu Darvish, Major League Baseball stars, are his favourite players.

“I’ve never met them, but I think they’re super strict with nutrition, fitness, everything they do is amazing,” Mochizuki said. “I think that’s why they’re playing at that level. I learn a lot of things from baseball players. Those guys always have a purpose to work, to practise, to go to the gym, to sleep, also their recovery is very important.”

Other hobbies for Mochizuki include hanging out with friends, watching YouTube videos, listening to Japanese music and singing for fun.

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Mochizuki’s Secret To Challenger Success: Studying Baseball Players Ohtani & Darvish

5) He Is A Former Junior World No. 1
Mochizuki showed his talent from a young age, having first held a tennis racquet aged one. He ascended to the top of the junior rankings just one month after his 16th birthday, following his triumph at the 2019 Wimbledon boys’ singles event.

The Japanese player also defeated Carlos Alcaraz when they were juniors. Born less than a month apart in 2003, they competed against one another at the 2017 ITF World Junior Tennis Finals, where Mochizuki emerged victorious 6-2, 6-3. He also made the Roland Garros boys’ singles semi-finals in 2019.

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Tsitsipas Storms Into Antwerp SFs

  • Posted: Oct 20, 2023

Tsitsipas Storms Into Antwerp SFs

Bublik, Marterer also advance

Stefanos Tsitsipas advanced to his first tour-level semi-final since winning the Los Cabos title in August with a clean performance on Friday night at the European Open in Antwerp.

The top-seeded Greek beat Yannick Hanfmann 6-3, 6-3 to record back-to-back tour-level singles wins for the first time since that Los Cabos run. The victory saw Tsitsipas through to the 47th tour-level final of his career and his fifth of the season.

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Tsitsipas is also through to the Antwerp doubles semi-finals with brother Petros Tsitsipas. He is set for double duty on Saturday, when he will compete on both fronts.

“When you play on the Tour, you don’t get to do this very often,” Tsitsipas said post-match. “It has its own satisfaction, getting to do both. It’s good that I can play so good in both draws. I’m happy I’m doing it with Petros. I think we can really enjoy out there and take this opportunity to play good tennis.”

Earlier on Friday, third seed Alexander Bublik defeated Giovanni Mpetshi Perricard 6-4, 4-6, 6-2 to advance to the semi-finals in the opposite half of the draw. He will face Maximilian Marterer, who beat Hugo Gaston 6-3, 6-2.

More to follow…

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Monfils Advances In Stockholm To First SF In Nearly Two Years

  • Posted: Oct 20, 2023

Monfils Advances In Stockholm To First SF In Nearly Two Years

Kecmanovic, Kotov also advance

The 37-year-old Gael Monfils advanced to his first tour-level semi-final in 21 months with a 7-5, 7-6(3) victory against fellow Frenchan Adrian Mannarino on Friday at the BNP Paribas Nordic Open in Stockholm.

With the win, Monfils became the oldest semi-finalist in the tournament’s history. Ken Rosewall previously owned that record, having reached the semis at 36 in 1970.

“That’s great,” Monfils said when told of that statistic. “I know my coach, my wife and even my mom, they will tell you we will back it up next year, no worries!”

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The Frenchman lost the opening set of his Stockholm campaign but has now won six in a row after his straight-sets win against the second-seeded Mannarino. Breaks were exchanged midway through both sets in the quarter-final, before Monfils powered through the finish with a closing burst in each.

He won the final four points of a dramatic tie-break that included several winners with razor-thin margins.

“I was a little bit lucky at the end. I went for my shots a little bit more,” Monfils said. “I think the advantage was really close today, but I’m quite happy I won in two sets and I’m happy with the performance.”

Next up for Monfils in the semi-finals will be Laslo Djere or Tomas Machac.

Earlier on Friday, Pavel Kotov upset third seed Tallon Griekspoor 7-6(4), 6-2, setting up a semi-final meeting with Miomir Kecmanovic. Kecmanovic led Elias Ymer 6-0, 3-2 before the Swede was forced to retire.

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Karatsev Reaches Tokyo SFs, Derails De Minaur's Turin Bid

  • Posted: Oct 20, 2023

Karatsev Reaches Tokyo SFs, Derails De Minaur’s Turin Bid

World No. 50 will play Popyrin or home hope Mochizuki next at ATP 500

Aslan Karatsev continued to demonstrate just how dangerous his big-hitting game can be Friday at the Kinoshita Group Japan Open Tennis Championships.

The World No. 50 downed fourth seed Alex de Minaur 6-3, 6-2 to add a third straight-sets victory to his Tokyo run after earlier wins against Frances Tiafoe and Zhang Zhizhen. Karatsev converted three of five break points he earned and saved all five he faced to wrap a 96-minute win inside Ariake Coliseum.

“[I’m] playing well. I kept to my plan and kept my head clear,” said Karatsev. “[I stayed] calm in important moments. He had a few chances to break me. He’s a dangerous player. He always gives you the ball back deep and low. I think the key was to stay focused and keep my plan.”

Karatsev’s raw baseline power proved too hot to handle for De Minaur, who was the last seed standing at the ATP 500 event. Despite De Minaur deploying plenty of typically stout defence, he was unable to disrupt Karatsev’s rhythm frequently enough as the 30-year-old powered 21 winners, including 15 off his forehand wing, to his Australian opponent’s five.

Alexei Popyrin or #NextGenATP home favourite Shintaro Mochizuki will be Karatsev’s semi-final opponent as he chases his fourth ATP Tour title and his first since Sydney in January 2022. Karatsev acknowleged he was feeling good on court in Tokyo but was reluctant to make any comparisons to his only previous ATP 500 title run in 2021 in Dubai.

“It’s a different year, a different season,” said Karatsev. “Coming for some weeks in China, where I made the semis [in Zhuhai] and lost in Shanghai, I was able to practise and come here earlier, so I could prepare here physically and mentally. I’m playing well.”

Friday’s defeat was a major blow to De Minaur’s chances of making a late charge towards the season-ending Nitto ATP Finals as the Australian was unable to capitalise on Tommy Paul’s defeat to Ben Shelton earlier in the day in Tokyo. De Minaur remains 13th in the Pepperstone ATP Live Race To Turin, 35 points behind 12th-placed Paul and 550 points behind Holger Rune in eighth.

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Shelton Surges Past Paul, Felix Falls In Tokyo QFs

  • Posted: Oct 20, 2023

Shelton Surges Past Paul, Felix Falls In Tokyo QFs

Qualifier Giron reaches first tour-level semi-final of 2023 at ATP 500

After a season of Grand Slam success, Ben Shelton can add ATP Tour semi-finalist to his list of 2023 breakthroughs.

The #NextGenATP American overcame his countryman Tommy Paul 7-6(4), 6-3 on Friday in the quarter-finals at the Kinoshita Group Japan Open Tennis Championships. The big-serving lefty delivered a rock-solid display in Tokyo, where he saved six of seven break points he faced to seal a one-hour, 38-minute triumph and set a semi-final clash with another American, Marcos Giron.

“It was definitely a difficult challenge, as it is whenever you play against a guy as talented and as tough as Tommy Paul,” said Shelton. “To be able to get through that with a win, it took a lot of mental toughness. I had to stay calm in the first set, serving for the set and then getting broken and having to finish it in the tie-breaker. It was a difficult task but I’m happy to be moving on.”

Shelton converted both break points he earned in his third Lexus ATP Head2Head meeting with the No. 12-ranked Paul. The pair had split their first two clashes at the Australian Open and the US Open earlier this year, but it was Shelton who found something extra at key moments to improve to 5-8 against Top 20 opponents.

After reaching the Australian Open quarter-finals and the US Open semi-finals, Shelton is now into the last four at an ATP Tour event for the first time with a Tokyo run which has lifted the 21-year-old two spots to No. 17 in the Pepperstone ATP Live Rankings. Regardless of whether he progress further in Japan, Shelton is set to eclipse his career-high of No. 19 when next update of the Pepperstone ATP Rankings is released on Monday.

Friday’s defeat dented Paul’s late-season charge towards Nitto ATP Finals qualification. The 26-year-old remains 12th in the Pepperstone ATP Live Race To Turin, 515 points adrift of eighth-placed Holger Rune in the final qualification spot for the prestigious season finale.

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Shelton’s semi-final opponent in Tokyo will be qualifier Giron, who continued his impressive run in the Japanese capital with a 6-1, 6-4 triumph against eighth seed Felix Auger-Aliassime.

Giron rode a lightning-fast start in both sets to an 81-minute win against Auger-Aliassime, who had shown signs of a return to form by reaching his first tour-level quarter-final since May. Yet he could not match the 30-year-old Giron’s consistency in blustery conditions inside Ariake Coliseum. The World No. 79 led 4-0 in the first set and 3-0 in the second, ultimately converting five of eight break points he earned to charge into his maiden ATP 500 semi-final.

“I’m really happy with today’s performance,” said Giron, who held his nerve after losing four of five games in the middle of the second set. “Felix is obviously a phenomenal player, been Top 10 in the world, won a lot of titles. He’s beaten me down pretty good the last few times we played, so coming in today I knew I had to play well and I had to play aggressive.

“It is windy, but I started off really well. In the second set I went up a break and it cooled off, got even windier, and it got a little tricky. He raised his level, but we are professional tennis players, we do this for a living, and we’ve got to be ready for anything that comes our way.”

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Paul & De Minaur's Huge Live Race Opportunity

  • Posted: Oct 20, 2023

Paul & De Minaur’s Huge Live Race Opportunity

Tsitsipas solidifying his standing

Players who began the week well outside of Nitto ATP Finals contention could be in the thick of the battle in a few days.

Twelfth-placed Tommy Paul and 13th-placed Alex de Minaur would soar to ninth in the Pepperstone ATP Live Race To Turin by winning the Kinoshita Group Japan Open Tennis Championships in Tokyo, where they have advanced to the quarter-finals.

None of the players between seventh and 11th places in the Live Race — Alexander Zverev, Holger Rune, Taylor Fritz, Casper Ruud and Hubert Hurkacz — moved past the Round of 16 this week across events in Tokyo and Stockholm. That has given players with a seemingly slim chance to qualify for Turin a huge opportunity.

Pepperstone ATP Live Race To Turin Standings (19 Oct)

 Player  Points
 5) Andrey Rublev


 6) Stefanos Tsitsipas  3,660
 7) Alexander Zverev  3,415
 8) Holger Rune  3,110
 9) Taylor Fritz  2,965
 10) Casper Ruud  2,815
 11) Hubert Hurkacz  2,775
 12) Tommy Paul  2,595
 13) Alex de Minaur  2,560

Paul and De Minaur could meet in the final of the ATP 500, which would prove a consequential clash in the Live Race. Paul would climb to 3,005 points with a title and De Minaur would reach 2,970 points. Holger Rune, who currently holds the eighth and final qualifying position, has 3,110 points.

With ATP 500 events next week in Basel and Vienna, followed by the season’s final ATP Masters 1000 event in Paris, that would give Paul and De Minaur ample chance to continue their charge.

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Sixth-placed Stefanos Tsitsipas is into the quarter-finals in Antwerp, where he is solidifying his standing in the Live Race. The Greek is trying to qualify for the Nitto ATP Finals for the fifth consecutive year.

Fifth-placed Andrey Rublev is not competing this week, but he is in a good position to earn his spot at the Pala Alpitour. The four players who have already qualified are Novak Djokovic, Carlos Alcaraz, Daniil Medvedev and Jannik Sinner.

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