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Cressy Edges Draper In Marathon Eastbourne SF

  • Posted: Jun 24, 2022

Cressy Edges Draper In Marathon Eastbourne SF

American into second ATP Tour final

For the third straight match, Maxime Cressy has extinguished the hopes of a British home favourite at the Rothesay International.

In Friday’s Eastbourne semi-finals, the American outlasted #NextGenATP Jack Draper 7-6(5), 6-7(2), 6-3 to reach the second ATP Tour final of his career. The two-hour and 41-minute victory follows straight-sets wins against top seed Cameron Norrie in the quarter-finals and Daniel Evans in the second round.

“Three matches in a row, it’s getting tough,” he said in an on-court interview, before addressing the British crowd. “Hopefully you guys are [cheering] for me tomorrow. Sorry guys, I apologise for this week. I know I made all the Brits lose, but thank you for a fantastic atmosphere… I’m very grateful for you guys.”

Cressy earned the first break of the match on his 10th chance to lead 4-2 in the third. But after facing just one previous break point, he had to save five in his last two service games as Draper dialled in on the return. The American dug deep to escape holes of 15/40 and 0/40 in those two games, rediscovering his serving touch at the crucial moments, and ultimately closed out the match by winning the five points in a row.

“It’s a roller coaster,” Cressy said of the nervy finish. “At 0/40… it’s hard to describe the feeling, but I feel a lot of relief from that game. I’m incredibly happy and thrilled to be in the final here.”

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Cressy pressured Draper throughout the opening two sets, creating six break points, but found himself level with the 20-year-old after the Briton played an inspired second tie-break, buoyed by his home crowd. A dramatic final set included nine of the match’s 16 break points, with Cressy’s lone break proving the difference.

True to form, the 25-year-old charged the net at every opportunity and won 66 per cent (39/59) of such points. He frequently followed up big serves with volley winners, leading to an 81 per cent (57/70) win rate on first serve, including 21 aces.

The American received a medical timeout late in the second set for a lower-body issue, but responded well after dropping the tie-break to earn a chance to play for his first tour-level title. He reached his first final in January, when he put forth a strong effort in a 7-6(6), 6-3 defeat to Rafael Nadal.

Cressy’s run to the Eastbourne final lifts him to No. 46 in the Pepperstone ATP Live Rankings. His career-high Pepperstone ATP Rankings is No. 59, achieved in January. Draper, who was playing in his first tour-level semi-final, is up to No. 94 in the Pepperstone ATP Live Rankings after reaching the semi-finals. He is currently fifth in the Pepperstone ATP Race To Milan. 

Cressy awaits the winner of Friday’s second semi-final between third seed Taylor Fritz and sixth seed Alex de Minaur. He has not dropped a set on the week and improves to 6-3 on grass courts with the victory.

More to come…

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Mektic/Pavic Retain Eastbourne Title

  • Posted: Jun 24, 2022

Mektic/Pavic Retain Eastbourne Title

Croatians have won four of their past five events

Top seeds Nikola Mektic and Mate Pavic completed a British trophy double on Friday, following up last week’s triumph at the Queen’s Club with a successful title defence at the Rothesay International.

The Croatians defeated Matwe Middelkoop and Luke Saville 6-4, 6-2 in the Eastbourne final to win their fourth title of the 2022 ATP Tour season, all coming in the past two months.They did not drop a set this week and will now look to defend their 2021 Wimbledon title.

“We played good in Queen’s we played even better here,” Mektic said post-match, “so we’re very comfortable now going into Wimbledon.” The 33-year-old also explained how the pair’s challenging Queen’s Club run — in which they came from a set down to win a Match Tie-break in their last three matches — gave them confidence to dominate this week.

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In the final, Metkic/Pavic won the opening set behind an early break, then saved two break points to hold for 2-2 in the second and spark a run of five straight games to close out the contest.

After winning nine tour-level titles in their first season as a team in 2021, the pair won its first trophy of this season at the Internazionali BNL d’Italia in Rome. Since claiming that ATP Masters 1000 title, they went on to win in Geneva ahead of a third-round run at Roland Garros.

“We needed to get back the confidence, added Pavic. “When we did finally in Rome, it opened up a little bit. We won the title and then obviously from Rome we lost just one match in the French and were on a good run. We have confidence, we’re playing well. We’re going to be an interesting team at Wimbledon.”

Matos/Vega Hernandez Reach Mallorca Final

Brazil’s Rafael Matos and Spain’s David Vega Hernandez upset top seeds Marcelo Arevalo and Jean-Julien Rojer Friday to advance to the Mallorca Championships final. After taking out the Roland Garros champions 6-4, 3-6, 10-7, the pair will face Gonzalo Escobar and Ariel Behar in Saturday’s final.

Escobar and Behar won their semi-final on Thursday, 6-4, 6-2 against Matthew Ebden and Philipp Oswald.

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Tsitsipas Soars Into First Grass-Court Final In Mallorca

  • Posted: Jun 24, 2022

Tsitsipas Soars Into First Grass-Court Final In Mallorca

Greek seeking first grass-court title

Stefanos Tsitsipas reached his first tour-level final on grass Friday when he overcame Frenchman Benjamin Bonzi 6-4, 6-4 at the Mallorca Championships.

The Greek demonstrated great footwork to dictate on his aggressive forehand, while he held his nerve in the crucial moments, saving all three break points he faced to advance after one hour and 32 minutes.

The second seed, who is making his debut at the ATP 250 event, also defeated Bonzi on the grass in Halle last week before he lost to Australian Nick Kyrgios.

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With his victory, Tsitsipas has now earned a Tour-leading 39 wins this season and will face Spaniard Roberto Bautista Agut or Swiss qualifier Antoine Bellier in what will be his fourth final of the season. The 23-year-old retained his title in Monte Carlo in April, either side of final defeats in Rotterdam and Rome.

In a tight first set in Spain, it was Tsitsipas who made the decisive move, breaking Bonzi in the ninth game before he held to lead. Fuelled by confidence, the Greek continued to find his rhythm from the baseline in the second set. He took his forehand early to take time away from the Frenchman, forcing Bonzi into errors as he closed out the match.

Bonzi had not dropped a set en route to the semi-finals, having earned the second biggest win of his career when he upset World No. 16 Denis Shapovalov in the second round. It was the second time the World No. 56 had advanced to a tour-level semi-final, after he enjoyed a run to the championship match in Marseille in February.

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Djokovic Could Meet Alcaraz In Wimbledon QFs

  • Posted: Jun 24, 2022

Djokovic Could Meet Alcaraz In Wimbledon QFs

Nadal and Berrettini in same half

Top seed Novak Djokovic could face #NextGenATP Spaniard Carlos Alcaraz in a blockbuster quarter-final clash at Wimbledon, following the release of the draw on Friday.

The Serbian is aiming to capture a fourth consecutive Wimbledon crown in London and will begin his title defence against South Korean Soonwoo Kwon on Centre Court on Monday, with Australian Thanasi Kokkinakis or Pole Kamil Majchrzak awaiting in the second round.

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Rafael Nadal anchors the bottom half as the second seed and will start his bid for a record-extending 23rd Grand Slam trophy against Argentine Francisco Cerundolo, with 2017 finalist Marin Cilic a potential fourth-round opponent.

The Spaniard is seeded to meet Felix Auger-Aliassime in the quarter-finals, in what will be a rematch from Roland Garros. Canadian Auger-Aliassime, who advanced to the last eight in 2021, faces a tricky opening test against American Maxime Cressy.

Matteo Berrettini and Stefanos Tsitsipas could clash in the other quarter-final in the bottom half. Last year’s finalist Berrettini, who triumphed on grass in Stuttgart and London this month, opens against Cristian Garin, while fourth-seeded Greek Tsitsipas plays Swiss qualifier Alexander Ritschard.

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In the top half, fifth seed Alcaraz is making his second appearance at Wimbledon and starts against Germany’s Jan-Lennard Struff, with third seed Casper Ruud playing Albert Ramos-Vinolas.

Ruud, who has yet to win a main draw match at Wimbledon, is projected to face Hubert Hurkacz in the quarter-finals. The Pole arrives in London off the back of a run to his maiden grass-court title in Halle and begins against Spaniard Alejandro Davidovich Fokina. Last season, Hurkacz defeated Roger Federer en route to the semi-finals.

The 10th seed Jannik Sinner meets former World No. 3 Stan Wawrinka in a popcorn first-round match, while two-time champion Andy Murray plays Australian James Duckworth. Murray, Sinner and Wawrinka are all in Djokovic’s quarter alongside 15th seed Reilly Opelka, who starts against Spaniard Carlos Taberner.

Other intriguing first-round matches include Nick Kyrgios against British wild card Paul Jubb, last year’s semi-finalist Denis Shapovalov against Frenchman Arthur Rinderknech and Indian Wells champ Taylor Fritz against #NextGenATP Italian Lorenzo Musetti.

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How Murray, Djokovic Cut Down Big Servers On Grass

  • Posted: Jun 24, 2022

How Murray, Djokovic Cut Down Big Servers On Grass

Only three players clear the 25 per cent mark in grass-court returns game won

Grass-court tennis traditionally favours big servers, with the slick bounce off the turf adding to the arsenal of heavy hitters. But with Wimbledon rapidly approaching, keep an eye on two of the most successful grass-court players of all-time, who have found success by nullifying that potent threat on the surface.

Although two-time Wimbledon champion Andy Murray and six-time winner Novak Djokovic are more than capable on serve, it is their return games that lift them to historic heights on the grass. Djokovic leads all active players with a 26.4 per cent win rate in return games on the surface, while Murray is a close second at 26.3 per cent, according to statistics from the Infosys ATP Performance Zone.

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As a result, those two men have claimed more grass titles than any active player other than Roger Federer, whose 19 tour-level titles are the most on the lawns since records have been kept. Murray has won eight such titles, while Djokovic has claimed seven.  

Diego Schwartzman is the only other active player to surpass the 25 per cent mark (25.3%) in grass-court return games won, with Denis Kudla fourth on the list (23.9%).

Career Return Games Won % On Grass (Active Players)

 Player  Return Games Won
 1) Novak Djokovic  26.4%
 2) Andy Murray  26.3%
 3) Diego Schwartzman  25.3%
 4) Denis Kudla  23.9%
 5) Roberto Bautista Agut  23.8%

When considering all surfaces, Djokovic and Murray win 32.2 per cent and 31 per cent of their return games, respectively. That still puts them in elite company, but slightly behind active leaders Rafael Nadal (33.6%) and Schwartzman (32.4%). Seventeen active players eclipse 25 per cent in that statistic.

A similar gap can be seen in serving statistics as well. Just three men have held serve at a rate better than 90 per cent throughout their careers: Ivo Karlovic (92%), John Isner (91.8%) and Milos Raonic (91.2%). Federer is the next-best at 88.8 per cent. But narrow the scope to just grass courts, and 12 men surpass 89 per cent, including Djokovic.

The Serbian is seventh in hold percentage across all surfaces (85.8%) and ninth on grass (89.4%). Murray clocks in at 24th overall (81.8%) and 14th on the grass (88.4%).

Nadal, a two-time Wimbledon champion, is seventh among active players in grass-court hold percentage with a rate of 89.8 per cent. That leaves him just below Matteo Berrettini (90.9%) and Nick Kyrgios (90%).

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Nadal Hits Centre Court At Wimbledon Before Continuing Grand Slam Pursuit

  • Posted: Jun 24, 2022

Nadal Hits Centre Court At Wimbledon Before Continuing Grand Slam Pursuit

Spaniard is a two-time champion at the grass-court major

Rafael Nadal arrives at Wimbledon in a position he has never been in.

Before this year, the Spaniard had never triumphed at the Australian Open and Roland Garros in the same season. Now he is halfway to becoming the first men’s singles player to win the Grand Slam since Rod Laver in 1969.

One year ago, Novak Djokovic claimed the first three majors of the year before falling in the US Open final. Nadal, a two-time Wimbledon champion, will try to move closer to achieving the feat at SW19, where he will be the second seed.

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The lefty will also attempt to move further clear of his chief rivals in the race for the most major titles. Nadal earned his 22nd Slam at Roland Garros, while Djokovic and Roger Federer own 20 each. It is the 36-year-old’s first appearance at The All England Club since 2019, when he lost in the semi-finals against Federer.

Both Nadal and Djokovic practised on Centre Court Thursday, a historic moment at Wimbledon. It was the first time that the tournament has allowed practice on Centre Court and No. 1 Court before the first day of the event. Organisers permitted it in order to help the players get used to the conditions and break in the courts.

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Nadal trained with Italian Matteo Berrettini, who advanced to his first major final at Wimbledon one year ago. The Italian underwent right hand surgery in March, but has quickly returned to form on the grass. Berrettini has won all nine matches he has played since his nearly three-month absence, lifting trophies in Stuttgart and at The Queen’s Club.

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Djokovic is 79-10 at the grass-court major and has won its past three editions. The top seed will chase his seventh Wimbledon trophy and 21st major crown over the coming fortnight.

The Serbian practised on Centre Court with former Wimbledon finalist Marin Cilic. The Croatian has found some of his best form in recent weeks, having reached the semi-finals at Roland Garros and The Queen’s Club.

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