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Rune Reaches Basel QFs On Huge Day For His Nitto ATP Finals Hopes

  • Posted: Oct 26, 2023

Rune Reaches Basel QFs On Huge Day For His Nitto ATP Finals Hopes

Top seed will next play Etcheverry

Thursday was a critical day in Holger Rune’s chase for a spot at the Nitto ATP Finals.

Not only did two players close to him in the Pepperstone ATP Live Race To Turin — ninth-placed Taylor Fritz and 11th-placed Casper Ruud — lose earlier in the day, but the eighth-placed Rune earned a solid win at the Swiss Indoors Basel. The top seed ousted Sebastian Baez, a winner of three ATP Tour titles this year, 7-6(2), 6-1 to reach the Basel quarter-finals.

“It was difficult in the first set. I think he was serving well. I was struggling a little bit to find the rhythm on the return,” Rune said in his on-court interview. “But I stayed there, I kept my focus on my own serve and managed to raise my level in the tie-break. And from there, I built some better tennis.”

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Trailing by a set and a break in his opening match against Miomir Kecmanovic, the Dane was in danger of losing nine of 10 matches and missing an opportunity in the Live Race. But now the 20-year-old, who was an alternate last year in Turin, has a big chance to extend his 135-point lead over Fritz in the Live Race.

Rune will next play Tomas Martin Etcheverry, who needed more than three hours to defeat former World No. 1 Andy Murray on Wednesday. It will be the pair’s first Lexus ATP Head2Head meeting.

“I have to prepare well, and hopefully another great match tomorrow,” Rune said.

Rune showed determination against the gritty baseliner Baez, with new coach Boris Becker watching closely from the front row. The four-time ATP Tour titlist saved the only break point he faced and after breaking serve for the first time early in the second set, he did not relent.

Rune won a higher rate of second-serve points (78%) than Baez did first-serve points (68%) and that proved critical. He is now 6-1 in Basel after reaching the final last year.

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Stricker Stuns Ruud In Basel, Dents Norwegian's Turin Hopes

  • Posted: Oct 26, 2023

Stricker Stuns Ruud In Basel, Dents Norwegian’s Turin Hopes

Shevchenko Saves All 15 Break Points, 2 MPs, To Upset Fritz

The best season of #NextGenATP Swiss Dominic Stricker’s career got even better on Thursday. The lefty upset second seed Casper Ruud 6-4, 3-6, 7-6(1) for a place in the Swiss Indoors Basel quarter-finals, denting the Norwegian’s Nitto ATP Finals hopes.

“Great feeling first of all to win that match, a tough battle out here,” Stricker said in his on-court interview. “Had some tough moments end of the second set and start of the third, but felt really good throughout the whole match and now just super happy. Played an unbelievable tie-break, so I’m just so happy to be through.”

After a run to the fourth round of the US Open, which included a victory against Stefanos Tsitsipas, Stricker lost six consecutive matches. But the 21-year-old has bounced back at his home ATP 500, advancing to the last eight for the first time.

Stricker hit 13 aces and 31 forehand winners in the match. He converted just one of 12 break points he earned, but played a nearly flawless tie-break in the third set to thrill his home fans.

A 2022 Next Gen ATP Finals competitor, he is currently sixth in the Pepperstone ATP Live Race To Jeddah. Stricker will try to reach his first tour-level semi-final outside of the 21-and-under event when he faces Frenchman Ugo Humbert.

Alexander Shevchenko earned his career-best win Thursday when he saved two match points to upset World No. 9 Taylor Fritz at the Swiss Indoors Basel.

The 22-year-old overcame Fritz 6-7(7), 7-6(6), 7-6(5) after two hours, 53 minutes to earn his first Top 10 victory and book a ticket into his maiden tour-level quarter-final.

Shevchenko produced high quality first-strike tennis and fought off all 15 break points faced to survive the American, who struck 61 winners. Neither player broke serve all match, with Shevchenko fending off eight break points in the second set and seven more in the decider. The qualifier Shevchenko also saved three of four break points to down Stan Wawrinka in the opening round of the ATP 500 event.

Despite squandering a 6/1 lead in the opening-set tie-break against Fritz, Shevchenko stayed focussed and displayed his all-court game, including several deft drop shots to dispatch the third seed.

Shevchenko again held his nerve when he fought off two match points on serve at 5-6 in the third set.

The result is a blow to Fritz’s hopes for a second consecutive appearance at the Nitto ATP Finals. With less than three weeks remaining until the prestigious year-end event, the American, who is ninth in the Pepperstone ATP Live Race To Turin, is aiming to leapfrog Holger Rune for the crucial eighth position.

Shevchenko, who is at a career-high No. 63 in the Pepperstone ATP Live Rankings, will next meet sixth seed Felix Auger-Aliassime.

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Tsitsipas Denies Machac, Sinner Also Advances To Vienna QFs

  • Posted: Oct 26, 2023

Tsitsipas Denies Machac, Sinner Also Advances To Vienna QFs

Fourth-seeded Tsitsipas to face Gojo in last eight

Stefanos Tsitsipas found a late surge to regain control of both his Erste Bank Open campaign as well as his Nitto ATP Finals prospects on Thursday, when he rallied past Tomas Machac in Vienna.

The Greek rallied to a 6-3, 4-6, 7-5 second-round victory against Czech qualifier Machac to reach the quarter-finals at the Austrian ATP 500 for the first time in four attempts. After a confident start to the match, Tsitsipas had to rally from 1-4 in the deciding set against an inspired Machac to improve to 47-20 for the season.

“I had no choice but to fight,” said Tsitsipas. “I had a bad streak of consecutive points lost. He was really getting behind every ball and I felt like his movement was getting in the way of my creativity.”

With his one-hour, 58-minute win, Tsitsipas booked a last-eight clash with wild card Borna Gojo, and also consolidated sixth place in the Pepperstone ATP Live Race To Turin. The Greek is in pole position to claim one of the three remaining singles spots at the prestigious season finale, where he lifted the title in 2019.

“My eyes are towards the Nitto ATP Finals,” said Tsitsipas. “I’ve played there a few times, it’s a great tournament and I’m leaving my last breath out there on the court to earn a spot in Turin. I feel like with that kind of intensity and that kind of commitment I put into the game, there’s no reason for me not to believe that I can [qualify].”

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Tsitsipas appeared to have his maiden Lexus ATP Head2Head meeting with Machac under control after taking the first set and he had not faced a break point all match when he lined up to serve at 4-5 in the second. After Machac delivered a sublime return game to snatch the set and force a decider, however, the Greek found himself in a second-round scrap.

Machac began to light up the Wiener Stadthalle with a stunning selection of shotmaking and the Czech looked set to spring an upset when he broke in the fourth game of the third set. He could not hold on for his maiden Top 10 win, however, as Tsitsipas won six of the final seven games to complete a victory in which he won 80 per cent (41/51) of points behind first serves.

Tsitsipas is 28-6 this year against players outside the Top 50 of the Pepperstone ATP Rankings after his win against World No. 74 Machac. He can improve that record further by defeating Croatia’s Gojo, the World No. 77, when the pair clashes on Friday in the Austrian capital. Gojo earlier delivered a hammer blow to Tommy Paul’s Turin qualification hopes by downing the American sixth seed 6-3, 6-4.

Jannik Sinner enjoyed a more straightforward path to the last eight in Vienna, where the second seed moved past his good friend Lorenzo Sonego 6-2, 6-4. The 22-year-old converted three of seven break points he earned to wrap a 93-minute triumph and improve to 4-0 in his Lexus ATP Head2Head series with Sonego. All four of those wins have taken place in 2023.

Sinner will take on Frances Tiafoe next as he chases his fourth ATP Tour crown of the season. He has now racked up a 21-4 record since the start of July, a tally which includes winning his maiden ATP Masters 1000 crown in Toronto and his second ATP 500 title in Beijing.

Tiafoe rallied past in-form Frenchman Gael Monfils 5-7, 6-1, 6-4 after two hours and 11 minutes. Monfils last week captured his first title of the year in Stockholm and showed flashes of that level, but his American opponent stayed the course.

Tiafoe played Sinner two years ago in the Vienna semi-finals, winning that match 3-6, 7-5, 6-2. In their first Lexus ATP Head2Head meeting since, the 25-year-old will try to level the pair’s series at 2-2.

The American is also trying to make a late run at Nitto ATP Finals qualification. Currently 16th in the Pepperstone ATP Live Race To Turin, Tiafoe would climb to 12th place by winning the title in Austria.

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ATP Legacy: Sinner Looks Back On Classic Alcaraz Matchup In Miami SFs

  • Posted: Oct 26, 2023

ATP Legacy: Sinner Looks Back On Classic Alcaraz Matchup In Miami SFs

Italian earned first win against a reigning World No. 1

Jannik Sinner and Carlos Alcaraz have already played many memorable matches in their Lexus ATP Head2Head rivalry, with Sinner currently leading the series 4-3. Of their many high-quality encounters, one in particular stands out from the 2023 ATP Tour season.

At the ATP Masters 1000 in Miami, Sinner earned his first win against a reigning World No. 1 with a comeback victory against the Spaniard. Sinner sat down with ATP Uncovered to reflect on the epic match, which earned him a measure of revenge two weeks after he lost to Alcaraz in the Indian Wells semi-finals. 

A memorable opening set included one of the points of the season, won by Sinner. The Italian won the all-action exchange with a forehand passing shot, but Alcaraz quickly answered.

“I still lost the game,” Sinner said with a laugh. “One point is good, but you can’t win the game…”

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Alcaraz took the opening set in a tie-break, but Sinner stayed the course and ultimately found a way to advance to his second Miami final in three years with a 6-7(4), 6-4, 6-2 triumph.

“I was serving very well,” he said when analysing one crucial game in the second set. “After I won this game, my confidence started to grow and the momentum started to shift a little bit.”

Watch the full video below to see the moment Sinner pinpointed as the turning point in the match.

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Medvedev Blunts Dimitrov’s Fast Start To Advance In Vienna

  • Posted: Oct 26, 2023

Medvedev Blunts Dimitrov’s Fast Start To Advance In Vienna

Rublev moves past Arnaldi to secure Nitto ATP Finals spot

Daniil Medvedev and Grigor Dimitrov treated the Vienna crowd to an Austrian National Day treat Thursday at the Erste Bank Open.

The top seed and defending champion Medvedev dug deep for a 3-6, 6-2, 6-4 triumph in front of a packed crowd at the Wiener Stadthalle, hauling himself back into the second-round contest after Dimitrov had made a lightning-fast start at the ATP 500.

“It was a great match,” said Medvedev in his on-court interview. “He started really well and I was missing just a little bit too much. He was ahead and starting from the second set I started to play better, to run better, to put more balls in the court and play faster when I needed to.

“I managed to have small control of the match, but it was very tough and could have gone either way. I’m very happy I managed to do it.”

Medvedev was uncharacteristically wayward with his groundstrokes in the early stages, although he was given little time to settle as Dimitrov delivered a high-quality opening set that included some breathtaking moments of quality off both wings. Once Medvedev rediscovered his trademark defensive skills, however, he was able to slow the Bulgarian’s charge.

The top seed broke in the opening game of the second set and barely looked back to force a decider. He showcased his big-moment mentality in the ninth game of the final set, when he broke Dimitrov’s serve decisively to love. Medvedev finished with 31 winners, including 14 aces, to improve to 6-2 in his Lexus ATP Head2Head series with Dimitrov.

Medvedev is now 3-0 against Dimitrov indoors, having dominated the Bulgarian in the semi-finals in Vienna a year ago and in Rotterdam in February. Although Dimitrov ensured Thursday’s clash was a far closer affair, the World No. 3 Medvedev held firm to set a quarter-final clash against eighth seed Karen Khachanov.

Thursday’s triumph was a Tour-leading 45th hard-court win for the 27-year-old Medvedev, who has already secured his spot for the season-ending Nitto ATP Finals.

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Joining Medvedev at the prestigious season finale in Turin will be Andrey Rublev, who also booked his quarter-final spot on Thursday in Vienna by beating Matteo Arnaldi 7-5, 6-3.

Rublev reeled off five games in a row from 5-5 in the first set to take control of the second-round clash, and finished the match having struck 21 winners to Arnaldi’s 19. With his 86-minute triumph, the 26-year-old Rublev, who is fifth in the Pepperstone ATP Live Race To Turin, made sure of his Nitto ATP Finals place.

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Rublev Earns Fourth Consecutive Nitto ATP Finals Qualification

Arnaldi was chasing his second Top 10 win of the year after he beat Casper Ruud in May in Madrid, and he made life tough for Rublev early on in their maiden Lexus ATP Head2Head meeting. Rublev’s greater power on return ultimately told, however, and the 2020 Vienna champion raised his level as the match went on to seal a big-hitting last-eight clash with fifth seed Alexander Zverev.

“I had a really great opportunity in the first [return game], but I didn’t take it, and then it was tough to start rallies in return games because he was serving really well,” said Rublev. “He was playing second balls really well and I couldn’t start rallies.

“Then when I was able to win a set, then I started to feel better. He maybe started to feel a bit more down, his serve was not the same as in the first set, and I started to feel a lot more confident.”

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Ice Skates & Tie-Breaks! ATP Tour Tennis As An 'Alternative Lunchbreak' In Vienna

  • Posted: Oct 26, 2023

Ice Skates & Tie-Breaks! ATP Tour Tennis As An ‘Alternative Lunchbreak’ In Vienna

Erste Bank Open’s separate second court is set in historic city centre

The people of Vienna have the option of a unique backdrop for their lunchtime sandwiches this week, thanks to the Erste Bank Open.

Since 2021, the ATP 500 in Vienna has been the home to one of the most unique second courts on the ATP Tour. While the main stadium court is located in the city’s west inside the Wiener Stadthalle, the tournament’s second arena, the #glaubandich (German for ‘Believe In Yourself’) Court, is nestled right in the middle of the Austrian capital’s historic city centre.

The temporary stadium is erected on one half of the ice rink at the Vienna Ice Skating Club. Its location not only gives the tented court an interesting backdrop outside, but also ensures that top-level tennis is as accessible as possible for busy Viennese going about their days.

“I had in mind to activate tennis in the city centre,” tournament director Herwig Straka told “Vienna is a pretty big city, and the Stadthalle is not in the city centre. The feeling was that inside the tennis community, everybody knows about the event, but outside not. Positioning a second match court in the city centre attracted a lot of new fans, young fans, a new audience. This was the basic idea.”

Vienna Glaubandich Court

The #glaubandich Court is located at the Vienna Ice Skating Club. Photo Credit: Andy West/ATP Tour.

To further open the tournament to workers in the city centre, Straka and his team decided on another innovation. Tickets for the #glaubandich Court, which also include free popcorn and free access to ice-skating next door, can be purchased for shortened time slots, with the cheapest available granting admission for two hours.

This concept, known as ‘Erste Bank Open 2 Go’, means those working in the vicinity can drop by, without having to arrange a day off, to spend an hour or two watching some of the best players in the world compete.

“It added a lot of attractions and awareness in the city for this event,” explained Straka. “Part of its success, and we sold out almost every day completely this year, is attracting a new audience. It’s a very low threshold — you can only pay 10 Euros, you can pay for the whole day or only pay for two hours. This is the ‘to-go’ concept, that you can consume tennis for only a limited amount of time.

“That created a new audience. It’s like a restaurant. You try it ‘to-go’, you like it, and then you go back for a four-course dinner. Those people [next time] come to the Stadthalle, and I think that is part of its success.”

Fans queuing in Vienna

Fans drop by Vienna’s #glaubandich Court to experience the ‘Erste Bank Open 2 Go’. Photo Credit: Andy West/ATP Tour.

So far this week, players from the Top 50 of the Pepperstone ATP Live Rankings who have played singles matches in the centre of Vienna include Tommy Paul, Karen Khachanov, Francisco Cerundolo, Matteo Arnaldi and Lorenzo Sonego. Meanwhile top seeds Wesley Koolhof/Neal Skupski, as well as 2022 champions and home favourites Alexander Erler/Lucas Miedler, are among the doubles teams that have competed in the heart of one of the world’s most elegant capital cities.

“[The players] like the quality and proximity of the court to the hotel,” said Straka. “We are improving the second venue year-by-year to match the Stadthalle. Sometimes [at indoor events] the second or third courts don’t match the same standard — the ceiling height, for example. This is the nature of an indoor event. But the quality of playing [at the #glaubandich Court] is great. That is something the players also like.”

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World No. 16 Karen Khachanov meets fans at the #glaubandich Court on Wednesday. Photo Credit: Erste Bank Open/Lars Maurer.

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Rublev Earns Fourth Consecutive Nitto ATP Finals Qualification

  • Posted: Oct 26, 2023

Rublev Earns Fourth Consecutive Nitto ATP Finals Qualification

Three singles places remain in Turin

Andrey Rublev has qualified for the Nitto ATP Finals for the fourth consecutive year. The 26-year-old guaranteed his spot at the season finale on Thursday when he defeated Matteo Arnaldi to reach the Vienna quarter-finals.

Rublev is the fifth player to earn his place in Turin from 12-19 November. Novak Djokovic, Carlos Alcaraz, Daniil Medvedev and Jannik Sinner have also qualified for the year-end championships.

“It feels great,” Rublev said. “It’s great news. After the match I didn’t know that if I would win the match I would qualify for sure, so I didn’t know that and it’s a great feeling, great news. Looking forward [to it] and happy to be part of the Nitto ATP Finals for one more year.”

It has been a consistent season for Rublev, who reached the 50-wins mark for the third straight season. He has also broken new ground in 2023, claiming his first ATP Masters 1000 title in Monte-Carlo.

Rublev also lifted the trophy in Bastad, marking the third time in the past four years that he has claimed multiple tour-level crowns. A finalist in Dubai, Banja Luka, Halle and Shanghai, he is tied for his career-high Pepperstone ATP Ranking at World No. 5.

One year ago, Rublev advanced to the semi-finals at the Nitto ATP Finals for the first time behind victories against Daniil Medvedev and Stefanos Tsitsipas. He is 4-6 in his three previous appearances at the season finale.

Only three singles places remain at the year-end championships. Former Nitto ATP Finals champion Stefanos Tsitsipas, who is sixth in the Pepperstone ATP Live Race To Turin, is next in line to qualify.

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