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Medvedev: 'I Like Grass; I Just Need To Get Some Confidence'

  • Posted: Jun 21, 2021

Daniil Medvedev fielded plenty of questions about his feelings on clay this season. But despite losing in the first round of the NOVENTI OPEN last week to start his grass-court season, the Russian has left no doubt ahead of the Mallorca Championships that on this surface, he is more confident.

“I like to play on grass, I just need to get some confidence in my game on the surface, because we didn’t play [on it] for two years. Two years ago, I was not the same player as I am right now,” Medvedev said. “It is tough for me to say where I see myself, but I know I can play very good on this surface. I just need to find the right balance.”

The World No. 2 has earned big wins on grass, most notably upsetting Stan Wawrinka at Wimbledon in 2017. But the grass-court season is the shortest of all surfaces, making it even more important for players to adapt quickly.

“In Halle, I had three days of practice, which was definitely not enough to feel good,” Medvedev said. “I lost my first round against a great player, so it [was] not easy, [and] that is why I decided to come to Mallorca to try and get some more matches.”

According to the reigning Nitto ATP Finals champion, who recently made the Roland Garros quarter-finals, there are also other factors in adjusting to grass.

“When I started playing on grass, I played in Challengers and even in [ATP] Tour tournaments on the outside courts, not on the central courts, and I can tell that the central courts are quite slow,” Medvedev said. “Especially the match I played with Gilles Simon at Queen’s [Club], we had rallies of 40 shots every second point. That is what makes it a little bit tougher.

“When I practise on practice courts, I feel like I am playing so good as the ball is so fast. Then I come onto the centre court to play the match, and the ball just stops after the bounce, and you have to adapt your game, so it can be tough. But I know I can play really well on grass.”

Medvedev is the top seed this week, but there are plenty of tough opponents in Mallorca, including second seed Dominic Thiem. Medvedev will play Lloyd Harris or Corentin Moutet in the second round.

“It is a really strong field here,” Medvedev said. “Everyone said to Novak Djokovic, ‘Why are you going to Belgrade [the week before Roland Garros]?’ But he gained a lot of confidence there. I don’t think he played his best tennis there, but then he came and destroyed everyone at Roland Garros, so I think sometimes it can be good just to prepare ahead of a Grand Slam and win some matches.”

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Herbert/Mahut Win Third Queen’s Club Title

  • Posted: Jun 20, 2021

Fourth seeds Pierre-Hugues Herbert and Nicolas Mahut defeated Reilly Opelka and John Peers 6-4, 7-5 to claim the doubles title at the cinch Championships in London on Sunday.

Last week’s Roland Garros champions won 77 per cent (30/39) of their first-service points and broke three times as they wrapped up victory in 78 minutes. They are now 25-7 on the season.

“Mahut is the older one of the team, so he was taking care at the end, serving aces when we were down two break points,” Herbert said. “We only got three hours of practice time on the grass before the first match, but we missed the grass last season, so being back here playing on the grass is joyful.”

Mahut added: “It was something special to win [Roland Garros] in our hometown with our family last week. It is good to come here now on grass, and we didn’t expect anything, but we are now here with the trophy. It has been an amazing three weeks.”

Opelka and Peers had previously beaten singles finalist Cameron Norrie and Alex de Minaur 7-6(3), 6-3 on Sunday after rain ended play early on Saturday night at The Queen’s Club. However, after an even start in the final, the American-Australian team were broken in the seventh game, with Herbert and Mahut closing out the set on serve.

The French pair continued to dictate in the second set and broke Peers’ serve to move 2-1 ahead. They then won 86 per cent (18/21) of their first-service points in the second set, and dominated around the net to establish control. While Herbert failed to serve out the contest, the French team broke again and served out the match to win their second title of the year.

Peers won the Gonet Geneva Open title with Michael Venus, but teamed up with Opelka for this first time this week in London. The pair took out top seeds Nikola Mektic and Mate Pavic in the quarter-finals, but could not produce a repeat performance against Herbert and Mahut.

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Thiem: ‘On Grass You Never Know What Is Going To Happen’

  • Posted: Jun 20, 2021

The World No. 5 Dominic Thiem suffered a surprise first-round defeat against Pablo Andujar at Roland Garros. But the Austrian star is keen to get his grass-court season underway with a win at the Mallorca Championships in Spain.

“Straight after Roland Garros I was going back on a practice court for almost two weeks on a hard court, still at home, just to fix my shots again, because they were not as they should be in the clay-court season,” Thiem said.

“Now I feel well again with my shots, with my footwork. I practised two days in Austria on grass courts and already four days in Mallorca and I feel pretty well. But on grass, you never know what is going to happen. The most important for me was to fix my shots, to improve my footwork, to move well again on the court and that’s what I did in Austria.”

Thiem won his first Grand Slam title at the US Open last September (d. Zverev), and admits he struggled for motivation at times after achieving such a big goal of his. However, the Austrian, who is the second seed at the ATP 250 event in Mallorca, is fully focused again.

“It’s pretty normal. It happens. You’re working very hard for a certain goal, a big goal and then you finally reach it,” Thiem admitted. “In my case, [it was] after three lost [Grand Slam] finals before, so it was such a huge goal to reach and such a huge relief as well. After that, I started to think a little bit and I had a little bit of a lack of motivation as well.

“But with time passing by, it got better and better again. And now, I’m fine again, I’m normal again… I couldn’t play well enough for the French Open. Grass, you never know what’s happening, so you are just trying to gain some confidence, to practise very hard, to play well in matches.”

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This is the first year of the Mallorca Championships after the tournament, which was originally set to make its debut in 2020, was cancelled due to the global COVID-19 pandemic. Despite this, Thiem has spent time here before and feels comfortable on the Spanish island.

“I was here five years ago. I did the coin toss for a WTA final and played an exhibition. Already back then the club was super nice,” Thiem said. “Three years ago I was on holiday here. Two or three months ago I spent one week here, so I really love it. The weather is perfect, the weather is nice. The most important is the grass courts are super good.”

Theim, who has a 16-16 career record on grass, will face German Jan-Lennard Struff or World No. 42 Adrian Mannarino in his opening match.

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Challenger #NextGenATP First-Time Winner: Jesper De Jong

  • Posted: Jun 20, 2021

Jesper De Jong won’t forget this week anytime soon.

Not only did the 21-year-old win his first ATP Challenger Tour title, but he was nearly untouchable in doing so. De Jong did not drop a set in seven matches in Almaty, Kazakhstan, sprinting through qualifying and dominating the rest of the way.

The Dutchman lifted the trophy at the Beeline Challenger 80 following a ruthless 6-1, 6-2 victory over Marcelo Tomas Barrios Vera on Sunday. He needed just 60 minutes to dismiss his Chilean opponent and secure his maiden moment.

With the win, De Jong becomes the youngest player from The Netherlands to claim a Challenger crown since Thiemo de Bakker in 2009. The Haarlem native, who turned 21 just three weeks ago, is among those leading the charge for the European nation this year. Projected to rise to a career-high No. 260 in the FedEx ATP Rankings, he will crack the Top 300 for the first time on Monday.

Mentored by former doubles No. 1 Paul Haarhuis and longtime Dutch coach Raymond Knaap, De Jong has seen his game develop and mature greatly in 2021. Standing at 5’11”, while he doesn’t possess an overwhelming serve and mammoth forehand, it’s his drive and attacking mentality that have him surging up the FedEx ATP Rankings. An agile mover and aggressive competitor, the Dutchman is announcing his arrival.

De Jong is the 15th #NextGenATP (born in 2000 or later) champion of the year on the ATP Challenger Tour. He is projected to rise more than 50 spots to the Top 20 in the ATP Race To Milan.

De Jong

The 21-year-old spoke to ATPTour.com following his victory in Almaty…

Jesper, congrats on winning your first Challenger title. How does it feel? What are your emotions?
I’m really happy with this win. I don’t know what to say. For the first five minutes I was thinking, ‘I just won a Challenger’. Before the week, I was happy just qualifying for the main draw and now this is just incredible. It’s the greatest moment of my career. I played some big matches and I’m really happy.

It was an amazing tournament for you, winning seven matches as a qualifier. How do you explain what you achieved this week?
Playing seven matches in one week is always tough, but going into the main draw it’s a huge confidence boost. Especially for me, because I didn’t play a lot of Challenger matches this year. I think it gave me a lot of confidence and in the first round I had a tough draw against the three seed [Kimmer Coppejans]. After seven matches I still feel fresh so I think it’s a good sign. Next week I can hopefully keep going.

You are the youngest Dutch champion in 12 years, since Thiemo de Bakker in 2009. What is your reaction to that? And how do you hope to inspire other young players in your country?
It’s a nice thing. I know Thiemo very well and admire what he’s achieved in his career. I hope he’s coming back. For the young players, I hope they work really hard to get here. Work hard, have a good team around you and believe in yourself. And don’t take it too fast without enjoying the journey.

De Jong

You already won three Challenger doubles titles this year. How did those victories help you to grow and develop your game?
I like playing doubles a lot and it’s always nice to win titles, especially in Challengers. You can practise your serves, returns and volley game. Even if it’s in doubles, you’re winning matches and that’s important. I’m really happy to add a singles title to the three in doubles.

Who has had the biggest influence on your career thus far?
My two coaches at the moment. Raymond Knaap and Paul Haarhuis. I was mentally down at the beginning of the first week in Almaty. But I practised really well with Raymond and that helped me get confidence going into this week. My other coach, Paul Haarhuis, is a former No. 1 in doubles and he has also helped me a lot to get where I am today.

Outside of tennis, what is your biggest passion in life?
I’m a big football fan. I always love to watch football. When I was younger I played a lot as well, but then I had to make the choice between tennis and football. I think I made the right decision.

Speaking of football, the most important question… Will Holland win the Euros?
I think they will. We already won two matches and we have a really good team with Frenkie de Jong leading us. I can’t wait to watch the rest of the matches and I think we will win the cup.


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Herbert/Mahut Move Into Queen’s Club Final

  • Posted: Jun 19, 2021

Fourth seeds Pierre-Hugues Herbert and Nicolas Mahut edged past seventh seeds Marcus Daniell and Philipp Oswald 6-4, 3-6, 11-9 to reach the final of the cinch Championships on Saturday in London.

Last week’s Roland Garros champions (d. Bublik/Golubev) saved three match points in the deciding set as they came back from 6/9 to advance in 84 minutes.

The French tandem hit seven aces and won 76 per cent (32/42) of their first-service points. Herbert and Mahut are now 24-7 on the season, and will be aiming to win a second title at The Queen’s Club on Sunday, after lifting the trophy in 2016 (d. Guccione/Sa).

They will play either Reilly Opelka and John Peers or singles finalist Cameron Norrie and Alex de Minaur in the final, after their match was suspended due to rain on Saturday evening at The Queen’s Club with Opelka and Peers 7-6(4), 2-2 ahead.

Over at the NOVENTI OPEN in Halle, Felix Auger-Aliassime and Hubert Hurkacz’s impressive week continued as they overcame fifth seeds Tim Puetz and Michael Venus 7-6(4), 6-2 in 91 minutes to reach the final in Germany.

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The 2020 Rolex Paris Masters champions saved both break points they faced in the match and struck seven aces to beat the German-New Zeland team.

Auger-Aliassime and Hurkacz’s reward is a title match on Sunday against third seeds Kevin Krawietz and Horia Tecau, after the pair defeated sixth seeds Joran Vliegen and Sander Gille 7-6(6), 7-5 on Friday.

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Surging De Minaur Handed Tricky Draw In Eastbourne

  • Posted: Jun 19, 2021

Second seed Alex de Minaur will face a tricky opening test at the Viking International Eastbourne as he awaits the winner of Frances Tiafoe and wild card Liam Broady at the ATP 250 grass-court event.

De Minaur, who is seeking his first title on this surface to add to his four ATP Tour trophies, received a bye into the second round. The No. 22 player in the FedEx ATP Rankings will arrive in Eastbourne with momentum on his side after reaching a quarter-final in Stuttgart and two semi-finals at The Queen’s Club in singles and doubles (w/Norrie).

Sixth seed Alejandro Davidovich Fokina also landed in De Minaur’s section and looms as a potential quarter-final opponent. The Spaniard turned heads on clay with a run to his first Grand Slam quarter-final at Roland Garros, but he will be contesting only his second tour-level main draw match on grass as he starts against a qualifier or lucky loser.

Big-serving Reilly Opelka, the fifth seed, and Queen’s Club finalist Cameron Norrie, the ninth seed, have also landed in the bottom half with De Minaur. Opelka awaits the winner of Marton Fucsovics and Aljaz Bedene in the second round, while Norrie starts against Aussie Alexei Popyrin in the first round. They could potentially meet in the quarter-finals.

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World No. 16 Gael Monfils is the top seed in Eastbourne, and he will await the winner between two qualifiers or lucky losers in the second round. The Frenchman reached his only grass-court final here in Eastbourne in 2017 (l. Djokovic), and will be seeking his 11th ATP Tour title.

He could meet third seed Lorenzo Sonego in the semi-finals. The No. 26-ranked Italian will be seeking his second tour-level title on grass after his 2019 victory in Antalya (d. Kecmanovic). After a bye, Sonego will face the winner of John Millman and wild card Jay Clarke in the second round.

Click Here To View Full Eastbourne Singles Draw.

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