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Ram & Salisbury Look To Go Back-To-Back In Turin

  • Posted: Nov 09, 2023

Ram & Salisbury Look To Go Back-To-Back In Turin

American-British pair is making sixth Nitto ATP Finals trip

Rajeev Ram and Joe Salisbury completed their US Open trifecta in September, capturing the title at Flushing Meadows for a third consecutive year. Now the American-British duo sets their sights on another coveted title defense: the Nitto ATP Finals.

Ram and Salisbury have found their form with a late-season surge, claiming the title in two of their past four events. Perhaps no better memory than in New York, where they captured their fourth major team trophy.

“We’ve had great success there and we’ve done well. I don’t think you can ever just assume that you’re going to win a major,” Ram told Chris Bowers on the ATP Podcast. “But we seem to play our best there for sure. For whatever reason, I think a lot of things suit our game [there] and as tennis players, we tend to do well at places we’ve done well before.

“I do think it’s a pretty substantial achievement that we were able to win it three times in a row just because even if you do well in play, something has to go your way. And so for that to happen three years in a row was pretty special for us.”

<a href=Joe Salisbury and Rajeev Ram are crowned champions at the 2023 US Open.” />
Joe Salisbury and Rajeev Ram are crowned champions at the 2023 US Open. Credit: Al Bello/Getty Images
Despite an uncharacteristically slow start to the season, Ram and Salisbury have qualified for the Nitto ATP Finals for a fifth consecutive year. A second consecutive title in Turin would be the best possible way to close the year for Ram and Salisbury. 

“It’s tough to say it’s not been a good year when we’ve won a Grand Slam. Had we not won the US Open, it would have been a very poor year by our standards,” Salisbury said. “But the fact that we did that, we always say that we want to do the best at the biggest tournaments and we managed to win one of the Grand Slams, so that’s obviously a huge achievement.

“Our aim is to be the number one team. That’s kind of the standards that we want to set ourselves and measure ourselves against. We’re obviously quite a long way off that this year. Obviously that’s pretty high standards to have. But that’s where we want to be.”

Boasting a 12-5 record together at the year-end event, the duo has won nine of the past 10 matches in Turin. Their first appearance ended in a round-robin exit. Since then, they have progressed one step further each year: semi-finals in 2020, runners-up in 2021 and champions a year ago. A sixth trip to the Nitto ATP Finals will only add to the list of the memories the duo cherishes from the event.

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“I think qualifying my first time just because it felt like it’s such a big achievement,” Ram said. “To be there with the top eight singles guys, it’s just a different feel. It’s a smaller group of people, they do really make an effort to make you feel special, which is really nice. Then last year winning it, we went undefeated. We got close the year before, we were undefeated until the final, but to win it and especially to go undefeated is really special.”

Salisbury added, “I think the first time we qualified was a pretty amazing experience. It was the first full year that I was playing with Rajeev. I don’t think we qualified until the Paris Masters, which was pretty amazing. Just to be there on that stage playing at the O2 Arena [in London] was incredible. We’ve done better each year that we played it up until winning it last year. So that was an incredible way to finish the season and one of the best matches we played in that final as well. It is a really special tournament.”

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Shevchenko Upsets Khachanov To Book Metz SF Spot

  • Posted: Nov 09, 2023

Shevchenko Upsets Khachanov To Book Metz SF Spot

Herbert outlasts Van Assche in all-French battle

Alexander Shevchenko booked his first appearance in an ATP Tour semi-final in style on Thursday at the Moselle Open.

The 22-year-old downed third seed Karen Khachanov 6-4, 6-4 at the indoor ATP 250 in Metz for just his second victory against an opponent in the Top 20 of the Pepperstone ATP Rankings. Shevchenko saved all three break points he faced to upset the World No. 15 Khachanov in a 73-minute quarter-final clash.

After defeating Mathias Bourgue, Mate Valkusz and Khachanov this week in Metz, Shevchenko has risen three spots to No. 60 in the Pepperstone ATP Live Rankings, setting him up for a career-high next Monday. He has enjoyed a breakout season on the ATP Tour, notching 15 tour-level wins and reaching his first quarter-final at the ATP 500 in Basel two weeks ago.

Shevchenko’s next opponent in France will be Pierre-Hugues Herbert, who ended #NextGenATP Luca Van Assche’s run with a 4-6, 6-3, 7-5 win. Herbert had not won a tour-level singles match in more than 20 months prior to this week but is now preparing for the 12th ATP Tour semi-final of his career.

“The feeling is special because I think I played a great match with Luca,” said Herbert, who sent down 20 aces in his two-hour, 34-minute win. “[It was] a battle of two games that are really different, and I’m happy I came through and managed to win. It’s a special week… Three good matches, I managed to win all three, and now I’m in the semi-finals.”

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Struff, Draper Set Semi-Final Clash In Sofia

  • Posted: Nov 09, 2023

Struff, Draper Set Semi-Final Clash In Sofia

Germany’s Struff holds off Marozsan in three sets at ATP 250

Jan-Lennard Struff and Jack Draper set a hard-hitting late-season clash on Thursday at the Sofia Open, where the pair notched contrasting quarter-final victories at the indoor ATP 250.

The third-seeded Struff overcame Fabian Marozsan 7-6(3), 4-6, 6-4 in a one-hour, 58-minute battle in Bulgaria to reach his first hard-court ATP Tour semi-final since 2021. The 33-year-old German, who is now 20-16 for the season, rallied from 0-2 in the deciding set to prevail in his maiden Lexus ATP Head2Head clash with Marozsan.

“I think it was a great match of very high intensity and a good level,” said Struff. “I felt like [we both] played a very good first set. In the second I gave away one break with a double fault, which I think was unexpected. But in the third he was a break up and I managed to stay in, fight for every point and [be aggressive] on return.”

Struff’s next test in Sofia is a semi-final meeting with Draper, who eased past wild card Cem Ilkel 6-2, 6-2 to back up his second-round win against top seed Lorenzo Musetti. The 21-year-old Briton converted four of nine break points he earned to book his third appearance in an ATP Tour semi-final after Eastbourne in 2022 (I. to Cressy) and Adelaide-2 in 2023 (I. to Kwon).

“I think he is a really solid player,” said Draper of Turkey’s Ilkel after the match. “It was difficult in the rallies but I thought I was really strong and my ball speed was very good. I was able to turn defence into attack really well today, so I’m happy with the way I played.”

Friday’s semi-final meeting between Struff and Draper will be the first in their Lexus ATP Head2Head series. It will also be a collision between two of the cleanest ballstrikers on Tour.

“He’s someone who has had an amazing season and won a lot of matches,” said Draper of Struff. “He plays a really big game, so it will be two big hitters playing and hopefully it will be a good match.”

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Sinner Leads Blockbuster Start To Nitto ATP Finals Sunday

  • Posted: Nov 09, 2023

Sinner Leads Blockbuster Start To Nitto ATP Finals Sunday

Order of play for Sunday and Monday revealed

Home favourite Jannik Sinner will play in the first singles match of the Nitto ATP Finals on Sunday afternoon at the Pala Alpitour in Turin. The fourth seed will play Stefanos Tsitsipas before six-time season finale champion Novak Djokovic takes on eighth seed Holger Rune in the evening session.

Tsitsipas leads Sinner 5-2 in their Lexus ATP Head2Head series. The pair has split two clashes this season, with Tsitsipas winning a five-setter at the Australian Open and Sinner earning his revenge in straight sets one month later in Rotterdam.

Djokovic will play Rune just two weeks after their memorable Rolex Paris Masters quarter-final. The World No. 1 emerged victorious after two hours and 55 minutes en route to capturing the title at the season’s final ATP Masters 1000 event. None of their four Lexus ATP Head2Head showdowns have ended in straight sets (series tied 2-2).

In doubles action, top seeds Ivan Dodig and Austin Krajicek will face seventh seeds Maximo Gonzalez and Andres Molteni in the afternoon, and fourth seeds Santiago Gonzalez and Edouard Roger-Vasselin will play fifth seeds Marcel Granollers and Horacio Zeballos in the evening.


Afternoon Session – Starts at 12 p.m.
(1) Ivan Dodig/Austin Krajicek vs. (7) Maximo Gonzalez/Andres Molteni
Not Before 2:30 p.m. – (4) Jannik Sinner vs. (6) Stefanos Tsitsipas

Evening Session – Not Before 6:30 p.m.
(4) Santiago Gonzalez/Edouard Roger-Vasselin vs. (5) Marcel Granollers/Horacio Zeballos
Not Before 9 p.m. – (1) Novak Djokovic vs. (8) Holger Rune

On Monday afternoon, second seed Carlos Alcaraz will make his Nitto ATP Finals debut against a two-time winner of the season finale, Alexander Zverev. Alcaraz has won five consecutive sets in their Lexus ATP Head2Head rivalry, which now stands at three matches each.

In a rematch of round-robin action from last year’s Nitto ATP Finals, third seed Daniil Medvedev will play fifth seed Andrey Rublev on Monday evening. Last year in Turin, Rublev triumphed in a final-set tie-break. However, Medvedev leads their series 6-2, including 2-0 this season.

Doubles second seeds Wesley Koolhof and Neal Skupski will try to make a good start to their tournament Monday afternoon against eighth seeds Rinky Hijikata and Jason Kubler. Third seeds Rohan Bopanna and Matthew Ebden face defending champions Rajeev Ram and Joe Salisbury in the evening.


Afternoon Session – Starts at 12 p.m.
(2) Wesley Koolhof/Neal Skupski vs. (8) Rinky Hijikata/Jason Kubler
Not Before 2:30 p.m. – (2) Carlos Alcaraz vs. (7) Alexander Zverev

Evening Session – Not Before 6:30 p.m.
(3) Rohan Bopanna/Matthew Ebden vs. (6) Rajeev Ram/Joe Salisbury
Not Before 9 p.m. – (3) Daniil Medvedev vs. (5) Andrey Rublev

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Djokovic, Sinner In Same Nitto ATP Finals Group

  • Posted: Nov 09, 2023

Djokovic, Sinner In Same Nitto ATP Finals Group

Alcaraz, Medvedev in Red Group

Top seed Novak Djokovic will lead the Green Group at the Nitto ATP Finals with home favourite and fourth seed Jannik Sinner, Stefanos Tsitsipas and Holger Rune, it was revealed at the draw on Thursday afternoon in Turin.

Second seed Carlos Alcaraz headlines Red Group, which also will feature Daniil Medvedev, Andrey Rublev and Alexander Zverev.

Djokovic, a six-time champion at the season finale, is trying to break a tie with Roger Federer for most titles in tournament history. He is also closing in on earning ATP Year-End No. 1 presented by Pepperstone honours for the eighth time.

Four of the eight singles competitors have lifted the trophy before. Djokovic (6x), Zverev (2x), Medvedev and Tsitsipas have all earned the ultimate championship in the sport.

Green Group:
 Novak Djokovic (1), Jannik Sinner (4), Stefanos Tsitsipas (6), Holger Rune (8)

Red Group: Carlos Alcaraz (2), Daniil Medvedev (3), Andrey Rublev (5), Alexander Zverev (7)

The doubles draw was also revealed Thursday. Top seeds Ivan Dodig and Austin Krajicek will be in the Green Group with Santiago Gonzalez/Edouard Roger-Vasselin, Marcel Granollers/Horacio Zeballos and Maximo Gonzalez/Andres Molteni. Second seeds Wesley Koolhof and Neal Skupski top Red Group with Rohan Bopanna/Matthew Ebden, Rajeev Ram/Joe Salisbury and Rinky Hijikata/Jason Kubler.

The defending champions are Ram and Salisbury. Bopanna and Ebden, Gonzalez and Roger-Vasselin, Gonzalez and Molteni and Hijikata and Kubler are all making their team debuts at the Nitto ATP Finals.

Green Group:
Ivan Dodig and Austin Krajicek (1), Santiago Gonzalez and Edouard Roger-Vasselin (4), Marcel Granollers and Horacio Zeballos (5) and Maximo Gonzalez and Andres Molteni (7)

Red Group: Wesley Koolhof and Neal Skupski (2), Rohan Bopanna and Matthew Ebden (3), Rajeev Ram and Joe Salisbury (6) and Rinky Hijikata and Jason Kubler (8)

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'Gazelle On The Court': Toby Samuel's Accelerated Path To ATP Challenger Tour

  • Posted: Nov 09, 2023

‘Gazelle On The Court’: Toby Samuel’s Accelerated Path To ATP Challenger Tour

The 21-year-old is in action this week at the Calgary Challenger

Move like a gazelle? A forehand that he can ‘rev up’? Be a recipient of the Accelerator Programme?

Briton Toby Samuel checks all the boxes and if the 21-year-old can race up the Pepperstone ATP Rankings as fast as he moves around the court, he will be the next college player to find success at the highest level.

The University of South Carolina star finished the collegiate season at 10th in the ITA Rankings, earning him six main draw spots into select ATP Challenger Tour events, thanks to the ATP/ITA Accelerator Programme, which aims to become a launching pad for the top players within the American collegiate system and accelerate their journey to the pro level.

Samuel is using an Accelerator spot at this week’s Calgary National Bank Challenger, where he secured his third win at that level on Tuesday.

“That’s been so helpful for a lot of college players making that transition to the Tour because we’ve missed out on four years to play on the Tour. I feel like our level is at this level, we just haven’t had enough time to get the points to get here,” Samuel told in Calgary.

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Under head coach Josh Goffi, the Bournemouth native went 24-5 in singles this past season and alongside Connor Thomson became South Carolina’s first ITA All-American doubles champions.

“He’s like a gazelle on the court. He moves as well as anybody in the world on the tennis court,” Goffi told in May. “Toby is a very talented individual. He plays a pretty strong game, he has a very strong backhand that he takes on the rise and his forehand is extremely heavy and when he wants to rev it up, he can rev it up as well as anybody in the world. He has a very kinetic serve, a beautiful motion.”

Samuel is taking this semester off from college tennis to try his hand at the pro level, but plans on returning to Columbia in January to complete his eligibility and graduate with a Sports Management degree in May. One goal in particular sticks out in Samuel’s mind when thinking about his final semester at South Carolina.

“I’d love to finish out my university career with a team title, that’s something I’ve always set out to do,” Samuel said. “Everything the university has given me, to give back a little bit would be amazing. Then just try and push as far as I can on the Tour, that’s the ultimate goal for me and a lot of tennis players. It’d be amazing to be at the top of the game, playing in those big tournaments and seeing your name up there.”

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Regardless of any result this season, the college route is one that Samuel will forever cherish.

“It’s been amazing, some of the best years of my life,” Samuel said. “Just being able to train and compete with a group of guys that I get on with so well under a great coach like Josh, it’s been a great experience. I’ve been able to mature mentally and physically on and off the court, which has really helped my tennis develop and I think I’m ready for the Tour now.”

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Djokovic Aims To Pass Federer For Most Nitto ATP Finals Titles

  • Posted: Nov 09, 2023

Djokovic Aims To Pass Federer For Most Nitto ATP Finals Titles

Serbian chasing record-breaking seventh crown

At the close of yet another historic season, Novak Djokovic enters the Nitto ATP Finals with an eye on breaking another record.

The Serbian won three Grand Slams this season, equalling Rafael Nadal’s all-time best 22 men’s major singles titles at the Australian Open and then storming past that mark with further triumphs at Roland Garros and the US Open. He also extended his own ATP Masters 1000 record by winning his 39th and 40th titles at that level in Cincinnati and Paris.

He will add to two more precious records —  finishing as year-end No. 1 for an eighth time and passing 400 weeks at No. 1 in the Pepperstone ATP Rankings — if he can hold onto the top spot in Turin.

But that’s not all that’s on the line for the Serbian at the season finale. If he can repeat as champion, Djokovic will win his seventh Nitto ATP Finals crown and break a tie with Roger Federer for most at the prestigious year-end event.

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Djokovic is well aware of the records he continues to chase and break. But while acknowledging the history, he remains grounded in the present.

“I try to be a good student of the game and keep track with the numbers, but at the same time, I also want to be able to just direct my attention to the next challenge,” he said after beating Grigor Dimitrov to win the Rolex Paris Masters. “As long as I’m an active player, I guess that’s going to be the mentality I will nurture.”

The next challenge will require every bit of the Serbian’s attention as he competes alongside the greatest champions of the 2023 ATP Tour season. After battling through a stomach virus during his Paris title run, Djokovic said he was feeling better after the final and was eager to turn the page to Turin.

“Every match is going to be like finals of a big tournament, because you play a top-eight player,” he said of the Nitto ATP Finals. “Every match carries a lot of [Pepperstone ATP Rankings] points, carries a lot of importance.

“It’s a group-stage format, which we don’t get to experience in any other tournament, so even if you lose a match or even two, in a round-robin system you can still go through semis. I had the perfect score in Torino last year, five [wins] out of five matches. I like playing there. I think I connect well with the Italian crowd. I’m going there with good feelings, with a lot of confidence. I haven’t lost a match since the Wimbledon final, so I’m really excited to hopefully finish off the season on a high.”

Following a narrow five-set defeat to Carlos Alcaraz at Wimbledon — a result that ultimately saw him fall one win short of a calendar-year Grand Slam — Djokovic has won 18 straight matches and three titles (Cincinnati, US Open, Paris). All of those matches came on hard courts, as did his title runs to start the season in Adelaide and at the Australian Open.

He will enter Turin with a hard-court record of 33-1 on the season, his lone defeat coming to Daniil Medvedev in the Dubai semis. At 51-5 on the year, Djokovic leads the ATP Tour with a 91% win rate. At the close of a brilliant season, he now turns his attention to picking up five more victories in Turin.

“My goal is to end up the season on the high note,” he said in an ominous warning to his fellow competitors. “On the highest note possible.”

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