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Team Europe & Team World Ready For Laver Cup In Boston

  • Posted: Sep 23, 2021

Will 2021 be the year that Team World takes down Team Europe in the Laver Cup?

Both teams got a close look at one another on Wednesday when they gathered for group portraits in front of the Boston skyline at LoPresti Park. 

Team Europe brings six of the Top 10 players in the FedEx ATP Rankings to Boston, led by three former Nitto ATP Finals champions: recent US Open winner Daniil Medvedev, World No. 3 Stefanos Tsitsipas and Tokyo Olympics gold medallist Alexander Zverev. Russian Andrey Rublev, Italian Matteo Berrettini and Norwegian Casper Ruud join Medvedev in making their Laver Cup debuts.

“It feels great. I’ve never been to the city, so really looking forward to seeing a little bit. Obviously focussing more [on] playing,” Berrettini said upon his arrival in Boston. “Excited for the event, excited for the city.”

Team World
Photo Credit: Clive Brunskill/Getty Images for Laver Cup
Team World is hungry to earn its first overall win in the event’s fourth edition. Laver Cup veterans John Isner of the United States, Australian Nick Kyrgios, Argentine Diego Schwartzman and Canadian Denis Shapovalov will try to lead the charge alongside World No. 11 Felix Auger-Aliassime and American Reilly Opelka.

“First time in Boston, also first time playing the Laver Cup,” Auger-Aliassime said. “Super-excited to be with all the team. Hopefully we put on a good show and we get Team World’s first win.”

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Tsitsipas & Lopez Visit Harvard Ahead Of Laver Cup

  • Posted: Sep 22, 2021

Stefanos Tsitsipas will hope to lead Team Europe to victory in Boston at this weekend’s Laver Cup. But first, the Greek and team alternate Feliciano Lopez put their thinking caps on.

The stars on Tuesday visited Harvard Business School, where they spoke with Professor Anita Elberse, who is known for her Businesses of Entertainment, Media, and Sports course. Several high-profile celebrities and athletes have taken her courses, including Andy Roddick.

“We spoke about potentially enrolling for her programme and I’m genuinely very interested in studying here and doing one of her programmes,” Tsitsipas said. “It is a possibility. It also depends on my schedule, which is very intense at the moment. But I am pretty sure I’m going to have a little bit of time to spend here.”

Lopez, a longtime ATP Tour standout who is also the tournament director at the Mutua Madrid Open, enjoyed his visit to Harvard, where he also threw around an American football with Tsitsipas.

“I was waiting a long time for this opportunity to come here, to see the campus and to meet Anita in person. I was following her on Instagram because I was really interested in doing something here, coming and maybe trying to do one of the multiple courses that they have,” Lopez said. “It was a great chance, especially [doing it] together with Stef… we have really enjoyed our time here.”

John Isner
Photo Credit: Clive Brunskill/Getty Images for Laver Cup
Team World’s John Isner, who is playing the Laver Cup for the fourth time, also took in the sights of Boston before the competition begins. The American visited the ‘Make Way For Ducklings’ statues in Boston Common. The famous bronze ducks, which were inspired by Robert McCloskey’s children’s picture book, were installed in 1987.

Isner also posed for a photo at the famous Cheers restaurant on Beacon Street. He is pumped to try to help Team World to its first Laver Cup victory.

“[I am] very excited. Obviously all of us missed this event last year, the players and the fans. But to be able to get back here in 2021 is really cool. This city has such an amazing tradition,” Isner said. “To bring this unique tennis event to this town and to the TD Garden is very cool.”

John McEnroe
Photo Credit: Carmen Mandato/Getty Images for Laver Cup
Team World captain John McEnroe took the Laver Cup trophy to Fenway Park, home of the Boston Red Sox, on Wednesday. The former World No. 1 hopes his team will deliver plenty of home runs on the tennis court in the coming days.

“It’s been an uphill battle,” McEnroe told the Laver Cup website. “We’ve been so close. We were in a position to win [in 2019]. That’s very exciting.”

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Murray Marches Past Pospisil In Metz

  • Posted: Sep 22, 2021

Andy Murray’s return to form is gaining steam at the Moselle Open.

The former World No. 1 put forth a solid performance Wednesday evening in Metz to defeat Canadian Vasek Pospisil 6-3, 6-3 for a spot in the quarter-finals.

This is the first time Murray has won consecutive matches since Wimbledon, where he reached the third round. The Scot will play top seed Hubert Hurkacz or home favourite Lucas Pouille in the last eight.

Pospisil’s only previous win against a current or former World No. 1 came against Murray at Indian Wells in 2017. But Murray would not allow a repeat in France, breaking serve four times in his one-hour, 24-minute triumph to take a 5-1 lead in the pair’s ATP Head2Head series.

Murray cruised through the first set as his depth on return proved troublesome for the World No. 66. He broke twice to take the opener.

But Pospisil, who played aggressively, made things interesting to break to start the second set. Murray at times showed frustration, but he did not panic. The former World No. 1 took advantage of a loose service game to get back on serve and then yelled “Let’s go!” as he broke again following an approach to the net. Murray finished his win by serving out the match in the next game.

Earlier in the day, former Top 10 star Pouille, rallied past Canadian qualifier Brayden Schnur 3-6, 6-4, 6-4 in one hour and 59 minutes.

German qualifier Peter Gojowczyk, who made the fourth round of the US Open as a qualifier, beat French lucky loser Antoine Hoang 6-2, 3-6, 6-4. Gojowczyk also beat Hoang in three sets in the final round of qualifying.

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Tennis United: Fognini & Vesnina On Juggling Parenthood With Playing

  • Posted: Sep 22, 2021

Being a professional tennis player and touring the world can be rewarding, but also strenuous and pressurised. Juggling competing with parenthood can increase that further.

Just ask Fabio Fognini and Elena Vesnina, as they sat down to discuss how they mix the joys of parenting with playing in episode four of Tennis United: Crosscourt.

“Your body is changing, [you deal with] hormones and sleepless nights,” Vesnina said about the aftermath of the birth of her daughter, Elizaveta. “She was not sleeping, she is a very active baby. I was enjoying it so much, even without sleeping. This is mum’s power. It is the toughest job in the world, but the best one. You see the smile of your baby and forget everything.”

Fognini said, “It is tough. When you are a player you have routines. It is always difficult and at the moment they [the children] stay home, so I [miss them]. When in Europe, every time I finish a tournament, I have the chance to go back.”

On how parenting has changed Fognini’s perspective on life and tennis, the Italian told Vesnina: “When you are on court, you try your best and try to reach your goal. But when you are home, it is done. In the past five years, I have changed in a really good way.”

The ATP and WTA are teaming again in 2021 for Tennis United: CrossCourt, a continuation of the award-winning digital content series originally released during the 2020 suspended season. The reimagined project marks the first major co-branded initiative to debut since the two Tours integrated marketing operations earlier this year.

Tennis United: CrossCourt goes behind the scenes of life on Tour through a series of intimate one-on-one conversations between ATP and WTA stars. Spanning eight short-format episodes, players explore a range of largely untouched subjects from within and beyond sport, offering fans a raw perspective on the experiences, pressures and privileges that make up life in professional tennis.

The complete episode list:
• Episode 1: Relationships (Gael Monfils & Elina Svitolina)
• Episode 2: Coaching (Felix Auger-Aliassime & Jennifer Brady)
• Episode 3: Doubles (Bethanie Mattek-Sands & Jamie Murray)

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Defending Champ Millman Survives Marathon In Nur-Sultan

  • Posted: Sep 22, 2021

John Millman has been made to work hard during his Astana Open title defence, but the Australian has battled into the quarter-finals.

The fifth seed clawed past Spaniard Jaume Munar 6-4, 6-7(5), 7-5 after three hours and nine minutes on Wednesday to reach the last eight in Nur-Sultan. Millman, who also needed three sets in his first-round match Tuesday, is now 6-0 at the ATP 250.

“These long matches aren’t good in my old age, I tell you!” Millman said in his post-match interview. “But look, it was such a physical battle out there. I thought the level was extremely good. I thought I improved from yesterday in terms of how I was playing. But Mr. Munar, he’s a tough competitor.

“His body probably let him down a little bit towards the end. I’ve got to tell you, my body wasn’t feeling all that great, either. It was such a physical match and just so happy to extend my stay here.”

Watch Highlights:

Top seed Aslan Karatsev learned his first opponent when Finland’s Emil Ruusuvuori advanced to the second round. The World No. 84 led Benjamin Bonzi 6-2 when the Frenchman retired. Bonzi has won six ATP Challenger Tour titles this year.

“I think it is going to be a fun match,” Ruusuvuori said of playing Karatsev. “We know he is playing at a high level, so it will be a nice test to see how high a level I can bring on the court tomorrow.”

Seventh seed Laslo Djere also moved on, beating #NextGenATP Italian Lorenzo Musetti 6-4, 6-7(3), 6-4 after two hours and 48 minutes. The Serbian will next play countryman Dusan Lajovic, the third seed, or South Korean Soonwoo Kwon.

In other action, eighth seed Ilya Ivashka ousted Kazakhstani wild card Timofey Skatov 6-2, 6-3 and Spaniard Carlos Taberner eliminated Lithuanian Ricardas Berankis 7-5, 6-4.

– Reporting contributed by Courtney Walsh

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Bublik: 'I'm Just Being Myself'

  • Posted: Sep 22, 2021

It’s rare for Alexander Bublik to be able to compete on home soil. 

Kazakhstan’s leading light hopes to put on a show at the Astana Open, where he is the second seed this week. 

Before beginning his run, the World No. 34 was able to mix up his pre-tournament routines, taking in a local Kontinental Hockey League match between Barys Nur-Sultan and CSKA Moscow on Tuesday night.  

“I’m bad, I can’t even stay on the ice,” Bublik said, joking about his hockey skills. “The experience was great. To be at home once in the year, to play a tournament here and to visit a local team. We almost won and I enjoyed every minute of it.”  

Rewind to November and Bublik exited the inaugural Astana Open in the first round. This time the 24-year-old arrives feeling fresh and forward thinking as he prepares to play Serbian Miomir Kecmanovic.

“For me this is the first time I’ve played here, as a complete, healthy player,” Bublik said. “It’s great when you arrive as one of the top seeds, it gives you a little confidence.  

“You did a good job if you’re the second seed near the end of the year. It means you’ve don’t a decent job throughout the year. But I have to treat it like another tournament, to stay calm and try to perform, not putting too much pressure on [myself].” 

Watch Tuesday Nur-Sultan Highlights

Belief has been building for Bublik, who has posted some impressive results in 2021, including trips to ATP Tour finals in Antalya and Singapore, ATP Masters 1000 quarter-finals in Miami and Madrid, and a third-round showing at Wimbledon. 

“I’ve had an okay year, played some great matches, won some great matches. I’ve done some things I’ve never done, like [reaching] the quarters of a Masters. To have that in the book is nice for my confidence,” Bublik said. “I have a couple weeks to go and I’ll try my best, especially because I’m at home.” 

Bublik knows Kecmanovic — who beat Fernando Verdasco in the first round — very well, despite this being their first ATP Head2Head clash. 

“We’re quite close. We grew up together, played Challengers together and we elevated through the game together. We’ve got to these [FedEx ATP] Rankings at the same time,” Bublik said. “First match at home, this isn’t a very easy opener. But that’s tennis, you have to work with what you’re given.” 

Kecmanovic praised his friend earlier this week at the Astana Open, indicating the 24-year-old’s shot-making, spontaneity and unpredictability as a positive for the sport. Bublik frequently has fans and, more crucially, his opponents guessing.   

“I’m just being myself. When you’re trying to prove to somebody, to be like ‘this’, I think that’s fake. I just do whatever I want to do,” Bublik said. “It’s simple, that’s the way I am. It’s just me.” 

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Murray: 'Winning Is All That Matters To Me'

  • Posted: Sep 21, 2021

The competitive fire still burns bright in Andy Murray. In the aftermath of a vintage performance at the Moselle Open on Tuesday, full of grit and determination, the former World No. 1 insisted, “Winning is all that matters to me.”

The 34-year-old, who has undergone two right hip surgeries in the past three years, explained, “There are two things that matter — your effort and your attitude, which is probably No. 1 as that’s what you can control. For me sport is about that. You either win or lose.

“Winning is what sport is all about, and if you can play great whilst doing that even better. But if you can’t, and you don’t play your best, then winning is a great feeling. That’s why I am still playing. I have little goals — to get to 700 wins on tour. I’m not particularly interested in losing and playing well.”

Speaking after his 4-6, 6-3, 6-2 victory over sixth-seeded Frenchman Ugo Humbert in Metz, Murray admitted, “I don’t think I’ve played that well recently, but my body has been good and even not playing my best, I’ve created opportunities to win sets against a number of top players. There is no question that I can play better.

“The thing that has been frustrating for me in some of the matches is that I had opportunities — against [Andrey] Rublev I had 4-4, 15/30 in the first set [at the ABN AMRO World Tennis Tournament in Rotterdam], [Hubert] Hurkacz I had set points at 5-4, 15/40 [at the Western & Southern Open in Cincinnati] and the same thing against [Frances] Tiafoe at 5-4, 15/40 [at the Winston-Salem Open]. Countless opportunities against [Stefanos] Tsitsipas [at the US Open] as well. If I take those chances, those matches are very different.”

Murray, who has now won 683 tour-level matches, believes that adjustments made to his service technique after Wimbledon in July are helping him earn more free points and be more competitive.

“The serve has been a big positive since Wimbledon, the changes that I have made there have really helped get me some free points. It got me out of some tricky situations today… At the US Open, I felt that I played a good match [against Tsitsipas] and lost. These are the matches that are really important to build confidence. Winning a match against a player around the Top 25 [today], and not playing your best tennis, is a real positive.

“The serve was the shot that was most affected by my hip problem. I kind of lost my technique on my serve and I couldn’t drive up to the serve. So I had to change my serve through necessity and lost a lot of power. I didn’t really get that back.

“There has been moments in the past couple of years when I have served well, but I had to look at it after Wimbledon and make a few adjustments. In the matches in the [United] States, I was getting a lot more free points. It changes the way you play.”

Murray will play Canada’s Vasek Pospisil in the Metz second round on Wednesday.

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Murray Battles Past Humbert In Metz

  • Posted: Sep 21, 2021

Andy Murray turned back the clock on Tuesday night with a battling performance at the Moselle Open in Metz. Having come under pressure at 3-3 in the second set, the former World No. 1 won seven straight games en route to a 4-6, 6-3, 6-2 comeback victory over sixth-seeded Frenchman Ugo Humbert in two hours and 24 minutes.

“I had some chances early in the first set and didn’t take them, then he had his break point at the end of the first set and hit a really good return,” said Murray in an on-court interview. “He then had a good hold at 5-4. He played a little bit better and in the second and third sets, it was the other way around. He didn’t play well when he had his opportunities and I took mine.

“I’ve found it tough in the past few years that I don’t know some players that well and it’s difficult to play against them and win. Today, I felt I had a good game plan and executed it pretty well.”

The 34-year-old Murray, who is making his first appearance in Metz since losing to Tommy Robredo in the 2007 final, will next challenge Canada’s Vasek Pospisil.

Humbert, who saved three break points at 1-1 in the first set, clinched the decisive break at 4-4. Murray saved two set points with volley winners when Humbert served for the set in the next game, but the World No. 26 secured the 54-minute opener with a smash winner, much to the delight of the crowd at Les Arenes de Metz.

Wild card Murray came under pressure once more at 3-3 in the second set, when he fell to 0/30 on serve, but the 34-year-old recovered with big first serves and turned the tables in the next game. Humbert saved three break points, but on Murray’s fourth opportunity, the Frenchman over-hit a forehand approach. Murray completed the second set, which lasted 41 minutes, with a backhand crosscourt winner.

A flurry of errors from Humbert gifted Murray a service break at the start of the decider and the Scot went on to win his seventh game in a row for a 4-0 lead in the third set. The pair’s second ATP Head2Head meeting (2019 Antwerp) ended with Murray striking an ace.

The 23-year-old Humbert had been attempting to record his 20th match win of the season. He upset Alexander Zverev and Andrey Rublev en route to the biggest ATP Tour title of his career in June at the NOVENTI OPEN in Halle.

Elsewhere, seventh seed Karen Khachanov lost just four of his first-service points (39/43) and hit 11 aces to beat French qualifier Alexandre Muller 4-6, 6-1, 6-3 in just under two hours. He awaits the winner between German qualifier Peter Gojowczyk and French lucky loser Antoine Hoang.

The Russian, who lost to Alexander Zverev in the Tokyo Olympics gold medal match, is bidding to finish inside the Top 30 in the FedEx ATP Rankings for the fourth straight year.

American Marcos Giron set up a second-round encounter against fourth-seeded Australian Alex de Minaur after he recorded a 3-6, 7-6(3), 6-4 win over Arthur Rinderknech of France. Meanwhile, Spain’s Alejandro Davidovich Fokina knocked out three-time former champion Gilles Simon 6-7(4), 7-6(2), 6-2 in three hours and now plays eight-seeded Georgian Nikoloz Basilashvili.

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