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Can Rune's Paris Magic Help Him Earn Spot In Turin?

  • Posted: Oct 29, 2023

Can Rune’s Paris Magic Help Him Earn Spot In Turin? provides Pepperstone ATP Live Race To Turin update

One year ago, Holger Rune won the biggest title of his career at the Rolex Paris Masters. This year in Paris, he will try to secure his debut at the Nitto ATP Finals.

Rune enters the season’s final ATP Masters 1000 in the final qualifying position in the Pepperstone ATP Live Race To Turin. The 20-year-old leads ninth-placed Hubert Hurkacz by 215 points with two weeks to go in the regular season.

Pepperstone ATP Live Race To Turin (29 October)

 Player  Points
 6) Stefanos Tsitsipas  3,875
 7) Alexander Zverev  3,460
 8) Holger Rune  3,280
 9) Hubert Hurkacz  3,065
 10) Taylor Fritz  3,055
 11) Casper Ruud  2,815
 12) Tommy Paul  2,620

Hurkacz had a golden opportunity to close the gap to just 15 points on Sunday in the Basel final, but the Pole lost to Felix Auger-Aliassime in two tie-breaks. The 2021 Turin competitor now has ground to make up if he is to move into a qualifying position.

There are several intriguing sections in the Paris draw that could lead to matches with significant Live Race consequences. One example is that Rune could play 10th-placed Taylor Fritz in the third round.

The American, who made the semi-finals at last year’s Nitto ATP Finals, is 225 points behind Rune. A third-round win against the defending champion would not propel him past the Dane, but it would limit Rune to just 90 points for the week and give him an opportunity to make up significant ground with a deep run. However, if they play in the third round and Fritz loses, he would be eliminated from Turin contention.

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Another consequential third-round matchup could pit Hurkacz against 2022 Nitto ATP Finals runner-up Casper Ruud. Both former season finale competitors are currently on the outside looking in.

The two players next in line to qualify are sixth-placed Stefanos Tsitsipas and seventh-placed Alexander Zverev, who lead Rune by 595 points and 180 points, respectively. Tsitsipas is trying to qualify for the fifth consecutive year and Zverev for the sixth time.

They could also meet in the third round in Paris. If they meet and Zverev loses, that could put the German under pressure from players trying to move into a qualifying position.

Five singles players have earned their spot in Turin: Novak Djokovic, Carlos Alcaraz, Daniil Medvedev, Jannik Sinner and Andrey Rublev. The Top 8 players in the Pepperstone ATP Live Race To Turin after the final week of the regular season, on 11 November, will qualify for the year-end championships.

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Felix Is Back! Auger-Aliassime Successfully Defends Basel Title

  • Posted: Oct 29, 2023

Felix Is Back! Auger-Aliassime Successfully Defends Basel Title

Canadian defeats Hurkacz in two tie-breaks for the trophy

Felix Auger-Aliassime is back in form.

Despite entering the week with a 17-18 tour-level record this season, the Canadian successfully defended his Swiss Indoors Basel title with a 7-6(3), 7-6(5) win against Hubert Hurkacz on Sunday in the ATP 500 final.

Auger-Aliassime had made just one semi-final in 2023, and that came in February in Doha. But the 23-year-old, who has struggled with injury, grew in confidence throughout an impressive week in Switzerland, where he lost only one set en route to the trophy. Auger-Aliassime lost the first eight ATP Tour finals of his career, but he has now won five of his past six championship clashes.

“I’m definitely back. I let my racquet talk. That’s always been the motto of my career. I’ve had the conviction that I can be a top player since I’m a kid, but there were many doubts this year about my performances and why,” Auger-Aliassime said in his on-court interview. “I’m happy that I was able to prove to everybody that I still belong among the best players in the world, that I can play this level. I never doubted it, but it’s good to confirm it on the court.”

His victory also dented Hurkacz’s Nitto ATP Finals qualification hopes. Had the Polish star won the title, he would have pulled to within 15 points of eighth-placed Holger Rune in the Pepperstone ATP Live Race To Turin for the final qualifying spot. Instead, he enters the Rolex Paris Masters 215 points behind the Dane.

The match went to two tie-breaks, but Auger-Aliassime seemed in control for almost the entire encounter. The Canadian dominated behind his serve, losing just nine service points across both sets. Auger-Aliassime hit a big backhand return that Hurkacz could not handle to close out the opening set and maintained that determination throughout.

From early in the second set, Hurkacz was limited in his movement and often grimaced as he seemingly dealt with a left leg injury, for which he did not call the physio. The 26-year-old battled valiantly to save all five break points he faced, including four in the second set, and even led by a mini-break in the second-set tie-break.

But Auger-Aliassime would not be denied his first title of the season. The 23-year-old closed out the match like he did the first set, with a big backhand return.

“I’m happy for your victory. Obviously I wish the result was different, but definitely you deserved it,” Hurkacz said during the trophy ceremony. “It was definitely a tricky season for you but you’re an amazing player. You proved it here.”

Auger-Aliassime began the week 53rd in the Pepperstone ATP Live Race To Turin and with the title climbed to 29th. Although he cannot qualify for the Nitto ATP Finals, it was a big step in the right direction for the 2022 Turin competitor. The huge smile on his face after shaking hands with Hurkacz spoke to how much the moment meant.

“A lot of tough times. It was a new challenge this year being away from the court, trying to manage, play tournaments through injuries with painkillers and things like this and still today actually,” Auger-Aliassime said. “It’s been a tricky year overall, but this feels extra special, even more than last year. I think with the first title [of the year] is the sweetest for sure. So I’m going to enjoy this one.”

Did You Know?
Auger-Aliassime is the first Canadian to defend an ATP Tour title since Milos Raonic won the San Jose title in 2011 and 2012.

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Sinner Claws Past Medvedev, Triumphs In Vienna

  • Posted: Oct 29, 2023

Sinner Claws Past Medvedev, Triumphs In Vienna

Italian clinches fourth title of season

Jannik Sinner overcame Daniil Medvedev for the second time this month on Sunday when he moved past the 27-year-old 7-6(7), 4-6, 6-3 to clinch the title at the Erste Bank Open.

The Italian defeated the World No. 3 in the Beijing final at the start of October and ensured history would repeat itself in Vienna. He saved two set points in the first set before he earned a crucial break in the fourth game of the third set, converting on his ninth break point of an 18-minute game.

He then held serve to seal victory on serve on his second match point after three hours and five minutes. With his win, Sinner improved to 2-6 in the pair’s Lexus ATP Head2Head series.

“It took a lot of mental and physical stuff,” said Sinner. “I think we both served very well the first set. I managed somehow to get back on serve when he was a break up, because I felt like he was serving really good. I found a way in the first set.

“Second set, I felt like he was trying to get into the rally a little bit more and I was hustling a little bit. In the third set I tried to step up a little bit. I had a lot of break points, I couldn’t use them and then at the end I used them so I’m very happy. Obviously to finish the match, it was really a mental thing, but I’m very happy about how I managed today and very happy for another title.”

Facing off for the fourth time in a final this year, Sinner struck 36 winners to 28 from Medvedev, while the Italian committed fewer unforced errors (22-23). With little to separate the pair, Sinner continued to play aggressively in the third set, moving Medvedev from side to side to wear down his opponent and triumph. Sinner and Medvedev are now 2-2 in tour-level finals this year, after the World No. 3 earned victories against the Italian in Rotterdam and Miami.

“Big congrats to Jannik. It was a tough match, at one moment I thought I maybe could get you,” said Medvedev to Sinner at the trophy presentation. “I didn’t manage to do it. As I said already three times this year, hopefully we can play more finals, maybe even this year. Big congrats to you, you’re playing great, finishing the year strong.”

Sinner has earned 40 tour-level hard court wins in a season for the first time. Alongside Vienna and Beijing, the 22-year-old has also lifted trophies on hard courts in Montpellier and Toronto in 2023. He has won 10 tour-level crowns overall, holding a 10-3 record in finals.

The World No. 4, who did not drop a set en route to the final in Austria, will compete at the Nitto ATP Finals in Turin in November after qualifying earlier this month. Medvedev will also take to court at the prestigious year-end event.

Medvedev was aiming to successfully defend a title on the ATP Tour for the first time. The top seed has captured 20 tour-level trophies but has never won the same event twice. The 27-year-old leaves Vienna holding a 64-15 record on the year.

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Alcaraz & Djokovic Practise Together In Paris

  • Posted: Oct 29, 2023

Alcaraz & Djokovic Practise Together In Paris

Paris could prove critical in battle for year-end No. 1

Novak Djokovic and Carlos Alcaraz are locked in a tight battle for ATP Year-End No. 1 presented by Pepperstone honours, but that did not stop them from practising together on Sunday.

The top two seeds at the Rolex Paris Masters enjoyed a training session before the start of the final ATP Masters 1000 event of the season. The top-seeded Djokovic, a six-time champion at Bercy, will open his tournament against doubles partner Miomir Kecmanovic or Argentine Tomas Martin Etcheverry.

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Alcaraz, the second seed, will try to make a good start against home favourite Alexandre Muller or Roman Safiullin. He is pursuing his seventh trophy of the season.

Djokovic currently owns a 500-point lead over Alcaraz in the Pepperstone ATP Live Race To Turin, which serves as a barometer for the year-end World No. 1 battle. But with 1,000 points up for grabs in Paris and the Nitto ATP Finals still to come, the battle is very much alive.

One year ago, Alcaraz became the youngest year-end World No. 1 in Pepperstone ATP Rankings history. Djokovic is trying to earn the honour for a record-extending eighth time.

Watch Djokovic & Alcaraz Practise (courtesy TennisTV):

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Gonzalez/Roger-Vasselin Continue Turin Chase With Basel Title

  • Posted: Oct 29, 2023

Gonzalez/Roger-Vasselin Continue Turin Chase With Basel Title

Third seeds claim fourth title of 2023

Santiago Gonzalez and Edouard Roger-Vasselin moved closer to a Nitto ATP Finals berth on Sunday when they won the Swiss Indoors Basel title. The third seeds rallied past Hugo Nys and Jan Zielinski 6-7(8), 7-6(3), 10-1 to triumph at the ATP 500 event.

Gonzalez and Roger-Vasselin are in fifth place in the Pepperstone ATP Live Doubles Teams Rankings as they try to secure their qualification for the season finale in their first full year as a duo. They have now won four titles in 2023, emerging victorious at the ATP Masters 1000 event in Miami, Marseille, Los Cabos and Basel.

“I think it all started with the golf,” Roger-Vasselin said, cracking a laugh. “We play golf together a lot. We have family, we have the same age of kids, so we kind of have the same age as well. We hang out well outside of the court and obviously on court I think our games match well together.

“It’s been a great year so far and we’re obviously very happy to win here in Basel.”

Gonzalez said during the trophy ceremony: “Thanks to my partner Eddy for a great week. We enjoyed playing in Basel. It’s not our first time here. I have some friends in Basel so I want to say hello to them. Thanks for coming out and cheering for us. Thanks to my wife and kids. They came from all the way from Mexico for this. And of course everybody here attending the final, it was great to play again in front of you guys.”

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Gonzalez and Roger-Vasselin saved one match point in the second round against Harri Heliovaara and Mate Pavic. On Sunday, the Match Tie-break was far more straightforward.

“It’s not the first time we played each other this year, except the first match you guys crushed us,” Zielinski said. “It was hell of a battle. Congrats to you, congrats to your team and you guys are great players who deserve it and good luck for the rest of the season.”

Gonzalez is now a 22-time tour-level champion and Roger-Vasselin has claimed 27 tour-level trophies in his career.

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Djokovic: 'I Couldn't Ask For A Better Season'

  • Posted: Oct 29, 2023

Djokovic: ‘I Couldn’t Ask For A Better Season’

Serbian chasing 40th ATP Masters 1000 title in Paris

Novak Djokovic’s season is not over, but the Serbian is certainly happy with his success so far in 2023 as he gets ready for the Rolex Paris Masters, the final ATP Masters 1000 event of the year.

“I obviously had a fantastic year so far, winning three out of four Slams and playing another final in Wimbledon. At the beginning of the year I was saying that Grand Slams are the priorities. They still remain the priorities also for the next season and the tournaments where I want to do my best,” Djokovic said. “So I couldn’t ask for a better season, to be honest. One match away from winning all four Slams is something I would sign right away at the beginning of the season if someone told me that would be the case.”

The Serbian owns 24 major crowns and 39 Masters 1000 trophies (six in Paris-Bercy), but his love for the game and desire to continue challenging for those titles keeps him motivated. Djokovic is also pursuing an eighth ATP Year-End No. 1 presented by Pepperstone honour.

“Of course my greatest motivation is still love for the game. I really like competing. So as simple as that. Then I always have goals, and to win another Slam, to be No. 1 again, to finish the year as No. 1. Those are let’s say the big goals,” said Djokovic, who will play Tomas Martin Etcheverry or Miomir Kecmanovic in the second round in Paris. “Of course next year is Olympic Games. I really want to do well in Olympic Games, represent my country. Davis Cup is something that still gives me a lot of inspiration.

“Of course any tournament where I play, I want to win, no doubt. But the big goals are the ones that I mentioned. So I think it’s important to have clarity, to have goals and ambitions and move towards them.”

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Recent news in the tennis world involved a former member of Djokovic’s team: former World No. 1 Boris Becker. The German, who helped the Serbian reach some of his greatest heights, is now coaching Holger Rune, who defeated Djokovic in last year’s Paris final.

“I think it’s a very good decision from Holger to invite Boris to join his team. Boris is legend of our sport, someone that understands the game so well from a player’s perspective, coaching perspective,” Djokovic said. “He’s been around the game for so many years. He’s seen and played against different players in different generations. Incredibly intelligent, smart man, very confident, obviously composed. He was famous for his mental strength and ability to come up with his best game when he was facing the biggest pressure.”

Djokovic explained that it is one thing to reach the Top 10 and another to begin winning majors and climb to the very top. He has already noticed Becker integrating one thing into Rune’s routine: chess.

“I saw they are playing chess. That was the first thing that Boris introduced to our team, as well, playing chess,” Djokovic said. “I think it’s great for focus and I think just mental clarity and strategy.”

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Djokovic is still focussed on improving himself. He explained that after every tournament, he tries to correct things in his game, attitude and approach.

“I try to be always the better version of myself the next week comparing to the week before,” Djokovic said. “Overall if I have to see things from a general perspective, what I learned as a player is that in a way the lesson that I have already learned, but it’s good to always go through it again, is that consistency is the key, sticking to the routines, and things that make you a better player and improving. Improvement is a constant process.

“So there is no stagnation and relying on what has served you well before the year before or the week before is going to serve you this week. At least in my mentality and approach, that’s not the case.”

The 36-year-old knows there are plenty of players now and in the future who are eager to stop the World No. 1.

“They are hungry, dynamic, they’re energetic, they want to win the biggest tournaments in the world, they want to beat you on the big stage. I know they are doing everything they can to improve and to figure out the way how to win against you,” Djokovic said. “So I have to do the same or even more. So I learned again that that’s going to give you the results in the end of the day.”

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Ram/Salisbury To Defend Nitto ATP Finals Title

  • Posted: Oct 29, 2023

Ram/Salisbury To Defend Nitto ATP Finals Title

American-British duo qualify for fifth consecutive year

The 2022 Nitto ATP Finals doubles champions, Rajeev Ram and Joe Salisbury, will return to Turin to defend their title from 12-19 November.

Ram and Salisbury have qualified as a team for the fifth consecutive year. They are guaranteed to either finish inside the Top 7 of the Pepperstone ATP Live Doubles Teams Rankings, or qualify by being the highest-placed Grand Slam champions finishing the regular season between eighth and 20th.

The American-British duo won this year’s US Open, their third consecutive triumph at the season’s final major. Rinky Hijikata and Jason Kubler, currently 17th in the Pepperstone ATP Live Doubles Teams Rankings, emerged victorious at the Australian Open, but cannot finish higher than Ram/Salisbury.

If Ram/Salisbury finish in the Top 7, Hijikata/Kubler will compete in Turin. If they do not, the Australians will miss out on the season finale.

Ram and Salisbury have finished their season well after an uncharacteristically slow start. All three of their 2023 titles — Lyon, the US Open and Vienna — have come since the end of May.

The five-time Nitto ATP Finals qualifiers also reached an ATP Masters 1000 final in Toronto. The defending champions own a 12-5 record at the year-end championships and did not lose a match at the Pala Alpitour last year. They also made the final in 2021.

The other teams that have already qualified are Ivan Dodig/Austin Krajicek, Wesley Koolhof/Neal Skupski and Rohan Bopanna/Matthew Ebden.

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