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Berankis Claims Tour-Leading Fourth Title In 2019

  • Posted: Aug 19, 2019

Berankis Claims Tour-Leading Fourth Title In 2019

Revisit the week that was on the ATP Challenger Tour as we applaud the achievements of those on the rise and look ahead to the week to come

A LOOK BACK
Odlum Brown VanOpen (Vancouver, Canada): The hottest player on the ATP Challenger Tour added another piece of silverware to his trophy case. Ricardas Berankis claimed the title at the award-winning VanOpen, his tour-leading fourth trophy on the circuit this year.

This week, Vancouver celebrated back-to-back Tournament of the Year awards, receiving its trophy in front of a packed crowd on Tuesday evening at Hollyburn Country Club. And on Sunday, they crowned their 14th champion. Berankis defeated Jason Jung 6-3, 5-7, 6-4 to earn a hard-fought championship in the Canadian city.

On Wednesday, the Lithuanian trailed qualifier Michail Pervolarakis 4-1 in the third set and on Friday he was forced to rally from a set down once again, ousting Thanasi Kokkinakis. The top seed would eventually claim his 13th Challenger title, rising to No. 70 in the ATP Rankings.

You May Also Like: Vancouver Receives 2018 ‘Challenger Of The Year’ Award

“This match wasn’t as controlled as some of my previous matches. In the semis and the second round, I felt like from the first point I was in control. Today in the first set, it was control, but in the second one it was so-so which I lost 5-7,” said Berankis. “I needed to leave everything that I had on the court to win the match. It was a really tough match. Jason played really well.”

Berankis is on fire this year, boasting a 4-0 record in Challenger finals and a 24-3 (.889) mark overall – the second-best win percentage on tour. He also owns titles on the indoor hard courts of Rennes, France and Drummondville, Canada, as well as the outdoor hard courts of Busan, South Korea.

Challenger Title Leaders In 2019

Player 2019 Titles
Tournaments Won
Ricardas Berankis
4 Rennes, Drummondville, Busan, Vancouver
Pablo Andujar 3 Marbella, Alicante, Prostejov
Alexander Bublik 3 Budapest, Pau, Monterrey
Andrej Martin 3 Nanchang, Shymkent, Shymkent-2

Zavarovalnica Sava Slovenia Open (Portoroz, Slovenia): When Aljaz Bedene reaches an ATP Challenger Tour final, there’s a good chance he’ll lift the trophy. The Slovenian never wastes an opportunity to seize a title. Well, almost never.

On Sunday, Bedene improved to an impressive 16-2 in Challenger finals with his victory on home soil in Portoroz. That’s 16 wins in 18 championship matches, a staggering conversion rate that has seen him triumph in seven of the past eight seasons.

Portoroz

But, for all of Bedene’s success, he had not won in front of the home fans. Until now. A 7-5, 6-3 win over Viktor Durasovic gave the Ljubljana native his first  title in Slovenia. He joins Grega Zemlja (2013) and Blaz Kavcic (2014) as the only Slovenians to triumph at the country’s lone professional tournament.

Bedene rises 10 spots to No. 80 in the ATP Rankings, having also reached the semi-finals of the ATP 500 event in Rio de Janeiro in February and the quarter-finals in Umag a month ago.

“I’m really excited about winning in front of the home fans,” said Bedene. “Thanks to all who came and encouraged me in the final. Thanks also to the President of Slovenia. I was a little nervous because Borut Pahor was among the viewers. I have a good record in Challengers, but there is still a long way to go.”

Portoroz

Acqua Dolomia Serena Wines Tennis Cup (Cordenons, Italy): On Sunday, the ATP Challenger Tour crowned its 24th first-time champion of the year, as Christopher O’Connell reigned on the clay of Cordenons. At the age of 25, the Aussie celebrated his maiden moment with a 7-5, 6-2 victory over Jeremy Jahn.

After dropping his opening set of the tournament 6-1 to Chun-hsin Tseng, he would reel off 12 of the next 13 frames, dominating on the Italian clay. O’Connell is finding his form in his comeback from an elbow injury that sidlined him for much of the 2018 season. He rises 93 spots in the ATP Rankings to No. 220, just one place off his career-high from February 2017.

Tennis Open Stadtwerke Meerbusch (Meerbusch, Germany): Top seed Pedro Sousa was made to work for his second Challenger title of the year. The Portuguese fought off Pedja Krstin 7-6(4), 4-6, 6-3 in two hours and 19 minutes on Sunday, marking his third straight deciding-set victory of the week.

The 31-year-old Sousa, who cracked the Top 100 for the first time in February, is up to No. 125 following his second title in three months. In June, he lifted the trophy in Blois, France after qualifying for his second ATP 500 event of the year in Barcelona.

A LOOK AHEAD
With the majority of today’s Challenger stars competing at US Open qualifying, there is one tournament on the calendar in L’Aquila, Italy. Andrej Martin is the top seed, with Alejandro Tabilo second and Dmitry Popko third.

ATP Challenger Tour 

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Berdych: 'It's Been A Very Tough Time For Me'

  • Posted: Aug 19, 2019

Berdych: ‘It’s Been A Very Tough Time For Me’

Former World No. 4 returns with a win in Winston-Salem

Tomas Berdych’s first-round win over Andreas Seppi on Sunday night at the Winston-Salem Open was a positive first step in his return from a back injury that has sidelined him for most of the past 14 months. But the joy on his face after match point didn’t show how much the Czech had been silently suffering during his time away from competition.

“It’s been a very tough time for me. I’ve been really up and down,” admitted Berdych. “Because of the love of the sport, I was giving myself one more try to come back, give myself a good shot to prepare, play some matches here and the US Open and see what happens… It was probably not the nicest win, but it [only] counts that you win.”

You May Also Like: Berdych Remains Hungry After Doha Comeback

The 33-year-old missed the last five months of the 2018 season due to his back injury before returning in January. After six ATP Tour events to start the year, the injury flared up again in March. His only tournament since the BNP Paribas Open was Wimbledon, which he admitted only playing “just for the reason that it’s Wimbledon. I was not fit and not at the level that I wanted to be.”

But Berdych is now fit again. When he’s healthy, the Czech is still capable of great tennis. In his first three tournaments of this season, the former World No. 4 finished runner-up in Doha (l. to Bautista Agut), reached the fourth round of the Australian Open and advanced to the semi-finals in Montpellier. Berdych admitted those early highlights are largely what fueled his latest comeback.

“If I had prepared like I did before this season, not had good results and then had the injuries come a couple of months later, I probably would be thinking very differently. I probably wouldn’t be standing here right now,” he said. “I know I can still play some good tennis when I’m fit and healthy.”

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After a 17-year career that has seen him win 13 ATP Tour titles, finish runner-up at 2010 Wimbledon and clear more than $29 million in prize money, Berdych has nothing left to prove. He’s looking to finish the final chapter of his career on his terms and embracing what might be his biggest challenge yet.

“If this was happening early in my career, it would be very frustrating. It’s easier to deal with when you have all the experience,” said Berdych. “I’m just enjoying new situations that I’ve never had my career, trying to find a way through it and take it as a new challenge.”

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Medvedev & Goffin Surge In ATP Race To London

  • Posted: Aug 19, 2019

Medvedev & Goffin Surge In ATP Race To London

Bautista Agut also helps his chances of reaching The O2

Champion Daniil Medvedev and finalist David Goffin met in the championship match of the Western & Southern Open on Sunday. And although the Russian was the only one able to leave Cincinnati with a winner’s trophy, both players boosted their hopes of securing a spot at the Nitto ATP Finals in London.

This time one year ago, Medvedev was placed 38th in the ATP Race To London, far from contention for the eight-man event held at The O2 from 10-17 November. But the Russian has put himself in prime position to book his maiden trip this season, moving into fifth place thanks to the 1,000 points he earned with the title.

You May Also Like: Daniil Medvedev: The Perplexing, Unorthodox Artist Who Just Keeps Winning

Medvedev now has an ATP Tour-leading 44 wins in 2019, which has helped his rise. The only players he trails are Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic, Roger Federer and Dominic Thiem. Medvedev is trying to become the first Russian singles player to compete at the season finale since Nikolay Davydenko won the event in 2009.

View ATP Race To London Standings

The Cincinnati trophy was the culmination of a strong month for the Russian No. 1, who made the final in Washington and Montreal in the two weeks before arriving in Ohio.

“I have to say even if I wouldn’t have finished with the trophy, [these weeks] were amazing and the best in my life. But of course I think with the trophy it’s better. Especially if I would have lost three finals in a row, I would have not doubted myself but started asking myself, ‘How is it possible, three finals, lost all of them? What should I do differently in the final’?” Medvedev said. “I don’t have to ask myself these questions because I won the final. It’s been the best weeks in my life.”

And while Medvedev has been a strong contender throughout the year, Goffin’s performance brought him within striking range to compete at The O2 for the third time. The 2017 Nitto ATP Finals runner-up surges from 18th place in the Race to 11th, just 190 points behind eighth-placed Kei Nishikori.

More From Cincinnati
Medvedev Claims Maiden Masters Crown
Dodig/Polasek Win First Team Title
A Look Back At Cincinnati

Entering Wimbledon, Goffin was not inside the Top 20 in the Race. But advancing to the quarter-finals at The Championships and becoming the first Belgian singles player to make an ATP Masters 1000 final have helped his cause.

Another player whose Cincinnati efforts were crucial in the push for a spot at the Nitto ATP Finals was Spaniard Roberto Bautista Agut. The 31-year-old has previously served as an alternate for the season finale, but he has moved into seventh place in the Race, 250 points ahead of Nishikori.

Bautista Agut advanced to the quarter-finals, where he fell to in-form Frenchman Richard Gasquet in three sets. It was the second consecutive Masters 1000 event in which Bautista Agut made the last eight.

By making the semi-finals, top seed Novak Djokovic clawed closer to Rafael Nadal in the battle for the year-end No. 1 ATP Ranking. With 360 points from Cincinnati, Djokovic now trails Nadal by only 140 points in the ATP Race To London. Both players have already secured their spots in London in November.

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Goffin On Medvedev: 'It's Like Playing Against A Wall'

  • Posted: Aug 19, 2019

Goffin On Medvedev: ‘It’s Like Playing Against A Wall’

Belgian encouraged by reaching second ATP Tour final of 2019

David Goffin overcome one barrier this week at the Western & Southern Open in Cincinnati by reaching his first ATP Masters 1000 final. The Belgian had been 0-4 in Masters 1000 semi-finals.

But on Sunday, Goffin collided with a “wall” named Daniil Medvedev, the 23-year-old Russian who beat Goffin 7-6(3), 6-4 to win his first Masters 1000 title.

He’s super solid. He doesn’t miss. It’s like playing against a wall,” Goffin said. Just playing cross, cross, wait for the ball. His pace is not too fast, not too slow. It’s quite a special pace to play against him. And then you receive bombs coming from his serve, and then he doesn’t miss.

That’s why everybody is struggling, because he’s so consistent, now with more confidence.”

You May Also Like: Daniil’s Day: Medvedev Claims Maiden Masters Crown

Medvedev reached his third consecutive ATP Tour final in Cincinnati after falling in the Citi Open (l. to Kyrgios) and Coupe Rogers (l. to Nadal) title matches.

It was just a few points that made the difference. He was more confident, and he had more wins under the belt than me, so that made the difference. I have no regrets even if it was a good opportunity,” Goffin said.

The 28-year-old, however, also bolstered his own confidence ahead of the US Open, the season’s final Grand Slam, by making his second ATP Tour final of the season (Halle, l. to Federer).

I think it didn’t start well, so what I’m proud of this week is the way I fought to come back to my best level, because it was not easy after Montreal to come here. I was not feeling great,” Goffin said.

[It was a] tough first round against [Taylor] Fritz, second round against [Guido] Pella. And then match after match I worked a lot to start to feel the ball, to be more aggressive, more confident. And at the end I played well. Semi-finals and the final I played well. The key was to fight.”

One of Goffin’s four Masters 1000 semi-finals came in Cincinnati last year, when he had to retire against Roger Federer. But Goffin has his health now and another good run in Cincy. Both will aid the remainder of his 2019 season.

I enjoyed a lot… I always had good matches here, good results. It was a second semi-final back-to-back, and then I won the semi-final against Richard [Gasquet], so it’s another final. Good memories again,” Goffin said. “It’s always a special tournament because I know that I play well here.”

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Medvedev Set for Netflix Binge After Marathon Month

  • Posted: Aug 19, 2019

Medvedev Set for Netflix Binge After Marathon Month

Russian reflects on maiden Masters 1000 title in Cincinnati

As Daniil Medvedev threw down three straight aces to win the Western & Southern Open title, the Russian could barely raise his arms to celebrate.

There was no euphoric reaction. Medvedev didn’t collapse to the court or let out a rapturous roar. That is the typical response to clinching your first ATP Masters 1000 crown.

Celebration Sale: Get Daniil’s Tecnifibre gear at 20% off. (Limited time offer)

After a marathon 18 matches in 20 days, he was simply too exhausted. As the 23-year-old spoke to ESPN’s Brad Gilbert just moments later, he revealed what he’s really looking forward to.

“I’ve been playing for so many days in a row,” Medvedev told Gilbert. “I just need to stay in bed and watch TV for 24 hours a day. I hope to get to the US Open feeling fresh.”

Daniil, may we suggest ‘Stranger Things’? After all, the Russian has defied the odds in reaching three finals in three weeks, culminating in his maiden Masters moment in Cincinnati.

He defeated David Goffin 7-6(3), 6-4 in the championship, capping a remarkable run that has seen him win 13 of 14 matches in straight sets and stun World No. 1 Novak Djokovic from a set down on Saturday. But, even the hottest player on the planet needs a rest. For Medvedev, that begins tonight.

“In Russia we say ‘who doesn’t risk, doesn’t drink champagne’. So I’m drinking champagne tonight,” Medvedev told the assembled media following the match.

“If you would have asked me before the tournament how would I celebrate, I’d probably say that I’m going to fall on the court, I’ll start screaming and jumping and then raising my hands up.

“I was so exhausted during all the match, to be honest. And especially at 5-3, I started cramping everywhere. Of course I tried to not show it. This last game, at 15/40, I cramped everywhere. And then I made four amazing serves. When I hit the last one, I’m like, ‘Wow, it’s finished’. And I had no, zero force inside of me to do anything. It is how it is.”

You May Also Like: Daniil’s Day: Medvedev Claims Maiden Masters Crown

Medvedev opened the month of August with a shiny new Top 10 spot in the ATP Rankings. Three weeks later, he will enter the US Open with a No. 5 next to his name. The highest-ranked Russian rises to a career-high on Monday, after a 14-2 run on the North American hard courts.

A final at the Citi Open in Washington was followed by another runner-up finish last week at the Rogers Cup in Montreal. While Medvedev admits that three finals in three weeks would be a satisfying achievement, it tastes even sweeter with a piece of silverware.

“I have to say even if I wouldn’t have finished with the trophy, these weeks were amazing and the best in my life. But of course I think with the trophy it is better. Especially if I would have lost three finals in a row, I would not have doubted myself but started asking how is it possible? Three finals and I lost all of them? What should I do differently in the final?

“I don’t have to ask myself these questions. It’s been the best week in my life. Mentally it was the best in my life. My serve was the best in my life. My tennis was really consistent. I didn’t have one bad match. I’m just extremely happy. And hopefully I can continue this way well through all my career but hopefully at least the next few weeks.”

Medvedev admits that he was monitoring his progress in the ATP Rankings as the weekend arrived, wondering if he’d reach the Top 5. With that question resolved and a Top 5 seed also awaiting him at the US Open, he enters Flushing Meadows in search of a Grand Slam breakthrough.

“That’s a huge achievement which I couldn’t probably believe three weeks ago, because I just entered the Top 10. I was saying, ‘Well, it’s going to be good if I manage to stay there for some time, hopefully for a long time.’ Now I’m Top 5. That’s huge.

“We will work on a plan with my team, how to make the best plan to recover and to be ready for Monday or Tuesday. I would say I should be. There are no reasons for me not to be ready for the US Open.”

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A Look Back At The 2019 Western & Southern Open

  • Posted: Aug 19, 2019

A Look Back At The 2019 Western & Southern Open

Relive the best moments from the seventh ATP Masters 1000 of the season

Upsets were abound at the season’s seventh ATP Masters 1000 tournament as all but one of the top eight seeds at the Western & Southern Open didn’t make the quarter-finals in Cincinnati. The champion, however, had to go through the best of the best to win his first Masters 1000 title. ATPTour.com relives the best moments of the 2019 Western & Southern Open.

Medvedev Claims Maiden Masters 1000 Title: Twice Russian Daniil Medvedev had made ATP Tour finals during the North American hard-court swing, only to fall in the title matches at the Citi Open in Washington, D.C. (l. to Kyrgios), and at last week’s Coupe Rogers in Montreal (l. to Nadal). But on Sunday, the 23-year-old, who beat Novak Djokovic in the semi-finals, didn’t mess around, beating Belgian David Goffin 7-6(3), 6-4 for his first Masters 1000 crown.

The 6’6″ right-hander is set to crack the Top 5 of the ATP Rankings on Monday for the first time and heads to the US Open as arguably the biggest threat to end the Big Three’s reign at the season’s final Grand Slam. Medvedev became the third first-time Masters 1000 titlist this year (Thiem, Indian Wells; Fognini, Monte-Carlo). This season marks the third consecutive year in which three players have won their first Masters 1000 title.

You May Also Like: Daniil’s Day: Medvedev Claims Maiden Masters Crown

Medvedev

Dodig/Polasek Win First Masters 1000 Title: Ivan Dodig and Filip Polasek weren’t playing Masters 1000 events together at the start of the year, but they’ve sure quickly learned how to play together. In just their fourth event as a team, Dodig/Polasek captured their first title together, defeating top seeds Juan Sebastian Cabal and Robert Farah 4-6, 6-4, 10-6 to win the Cincinnati doubles title.

Earlier in the week, Cabal/Farah became the first doubles team to secure their spot at the season-ending Nitto ATP Finals in London (see below), but Dodig/Polasek were the best team this week. The Slovakian-Croatian duo beat the Top 2 seeds in Cincy as well as legends Bob Bryan and Mike Bryan en route to the trophy. Read More

Dodig Polasek

Goffin Makes Personal History: David Goffin had reached four Masters 1000 semi-finals before Cincinnati, but all four times, the hard-working Belgian had fallen short. This week, however, Goffin achieved personal history by making his first Masters 1000 title match. And although he lost to Medvedev, Goffin will take plenty of belief from reaching his second ATP Tour final of the season (Halle, l. to Federer).

<a href='https://www.atptour.com/en/players/david-goffin/gb88/overview'>David Goffin</a>

Gasquet Returns To Top Form: Richard Gasquet had reached only two tour-level semi-finals this year before heading to Cincinnati, and both had come at the ATP 250 level. But the 33-year-old Frenchman put together one of his best weeks of the season, making the last four before falling to Goffin. Gasquet started the week by spoiling Andy Murray’s singles comeback in straight sets and made the semi-finals by grinding out a three-set victory against Spain’s Roberto Bautista Agut. Read More

Gasquet, Cincinnati 2019

Djokovic Upset In SF: Novak Djokovic achieved the Career Golden Masters last year in Cincinnati, and the Serbian was looking to win another Cincy title to have won all nine Masters 1000 events at least two times. But it wasn’t to be for the Serbian, who ran into the red-hot Medvedev and fell in three sets in the semi-final. Still, Djokovic heads to the US Open as the defending champion and, as he said, he likes his chances.

Djokovic: ‘Medvedev Is One Of The Best Players In The World’

<a href='https://www.atptour.com/en/players/novak-djokovic/d643/overview'>Novak Djokovic</a> saves all four break points faced on Thursday against <a href='https://www.atptour.com/en/players/pablo-carreno-busta/cd85/overview'>Pablo Carreno Busta</a> in Cincinnati.

Colombians Clinch: Cabal/Farah became the first team to qualify for the 2019 Nitto ATP Finals, clinching their return to The O2 for a second straight year with a 7-6(3), 6-7(5), 10-8 win over Rohan Bopanna and Denis Shapovalov on Thursday, “It’s always nice to qualify to The O2 so early into the year,” Farah said. “It means that we’ve done really well and that shows all the work we’ve put in. It’s a very good feeling.” Cabal and Farah went on to reach their second Masters 1000 final of the season (l. to Dodig/Polasek). Read More

<a href='https://www.atptour.com/en/players/juan-sebastian-cabal/c834/overview'>Juan Sebastian Cabal</a> and <a href='https://www.atptour.com/en/players/robert-farah/f525/overview'>Robert Farah</a> have qualified for the <a href='https://www.atptour.com/en/tournaments/nitto-atp-finals/605/overview'>Nitto ATP Finals</a> for the second consecutive year.

Rising To The Occasion: There were numerous upsets in Cincinnati, but none bigger than Andrey Rublev’s decisive win over seven-time champion Roger Federer in the third round. Rublev nearly didn’t get to play in Cincinnati. “I forgot to sign up for this tournament… And then I signed up for an alternate spot and I got in qualifying,” he said. In the main draw, the 21-year-old knocked out Nikoloz Basilashvili and Stan Wawrinka before dismissing Federer in 62 minutes, Federer’s fastest defeat in more than 16 years. “It’s my biggest and the most emotional win,” Rublev said.

Read & Watch | Federer: ‘He Was Everywhere’

<a href='https://www.atptour.com/en/players/andrey-rublev/re44/overview'>Andrey Rublev</a> defeats <a href='https://www.atptour.com/en/players/roger-federer/f324/overview'>Roger Federer</a> in the third round of the Western & Southern Open in Cincinnati

#NextGenATP Star Shines: Miomir Kecmanovic began his week in style by defeating #NextGenATP star Felix Auger-Aliassime, and backed up that victory with his first win over a Top 10 player. The 19-year-old Serbian, who reached his first Masters 1000 quarter-final in March at the BNP Paribas Open, defeated World No. 6 Alexander Zverev 6-7(4), 6-2, 6-4 to become one of four qualifiers (Carreno Busta, Nishioka, Rublev) to advance to the Round of 16 at a Masters 1000 event for only the third time in series history (since 1990). Read More

<a href='https://www.atptour.com/en/players/miomir-kecmanovic/ki95/overview'>Miomir Kecmanovic</a>

There Goes My Hero: Yoshihito Nishioka dreamt of this moment for years. When the draw came out, Nishioka knew with one win his hopes of playing the Japanese flagbearer, his practice partner and friend, would be realised. On Wednesday, the 23-year-old qualifier recorded the first Top 10 win of his career by defeating Kei Nishikori, who left Grandstand to the song, “My Hero”. “I was so excited to play with him,” said Nishioka. “I was nervous at the beginning. But also, I could see he was nervous too. So I think we were both tight. Maybe, I was playing more aggressive than him.” 

Read: Match Report | Nishioka Ready For The Spotlight

Nishioka, Cincinnati

1,100 Wins & Counting: When Bob Bryan underwent right hip surgery last August, his hope was to make it back to the ATP Tour for one more match. Forty-nine matches later this season, he and Mike Bryan reached 1,100 tour-level doubles wins as a team by defeating Jeremy Chardy and Fabrice Martin. “It’s a staggering number when you look at it. We thought we’d be stuck on whatever number we were at last year. I was just trying to get back out there to play one more match,” said Bob. Read More

<a href='https://www.atptour.com/en/players/bob-bryan/b588/overview'>Bob Bryan</a> with wife Michelle, daughter Micaela and brother <a href='https://www.atptour.com/en/players/mike-bryan/b589/overview'>Mike Bryan</a>, celebrating the Bryan brothers' 1100th team win.

Step By Step: Andy Murray made a winning return to the ATP Tour two months ago at The Queen’s Club, teaming up with Feliciano Lopez to win the Fever-Tree Championships in his first tournament since undergoing hip surgery. This week, the former World No. 1 took another step in his comeback, playing his first singles match in 210 days.

“I think I did okay,” said Murray, following his defeat to Gasquet. “I think there were a lot of things I would like to have done better in the match, but you also have to be somewhat realistic, in terms of what you can expect.” Read More

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Murray hoping for 'decent run' in singles at Winston-Salem Open

  • Posted: Aug 19, 2019

Britain’s Andy Murray says he is hoping “to get through a few matches” as he plays his second singles tournament since recovering from hip surgery.

The former world number one lost 6-4 6-4 to Richard Gasquet in Cincinnati last week, in his first singles match since January’s Australian Open.

He has decided to play no part in this month’s US Open.

On Monday he will play the American Tennys Sandgren in the first round of the Winston-Salem Open.

“All matches are difficult at this level, and when you’ve been out for a long time, and with the severity of the operation I had, it is going to take time,” Murray told BBC Sport.

“I’m not setting my expectations too high, but I do want to try and get matches in just now. So I’d like to get through a few matches here, and hopefully have a decent run.”

It is very hot, and very humid in North Carolina. Murray will play his first round match at about 19:00 local time, when the temperature will be 30C, but feel more like 37C.

Sandgren, 28, reached the quarter-finals of the 2018 Australian Open, and the fourth round of this year’s Wimbledon. But he has lost all three of the hard court matches he has played in North America since.

“He was brought up playing on the American hard courts, he’s a very good mover and he’s quick: a good athlete,” said Murray, who has never played Sandgren before.

“I practised with him a little bit when he was pretty young – him and another player, Ryan Williams, were brought in by Ivan Lendl to do some training with me – so I actually practised with him a bit when he was like 18 or 19 years old.”

The winner will play the second seed and world number 38 Denis Shapovalov in the second round.

The tournament is taking place at the Wake Forest Tennis Centre, which is right next to the 31,500-seater stadium where the Wake Forest college football team play their home games.

“The university and the facilities that they have over here are unbelievable,” Murray added.

“A few of my friends played college tennis over here and had a brilliant time and the assistant coach here is Chris Eaton, who played Davis Cup for Britain. He seems to love it here. It’s nice.”

Dan Evans is the only other British player in the singles here, and as the fifth seed has a bye into the second round.

But there is a strong British doubles contingent, including Joe Salisbury, who is seeded two with his American partner Rajeev Ram.

Cincinnati Masters semi-finalists Jamie Murray and Neal Skupski are also in the draw.

This is the final ATP event before the US Open begins on 26 August. Andy Murray has already said he will not play doubles in New York, so he can focus all his energies on singles once again.

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America's Keys wins women's Cincinnati title

  • Posted: Aug 18, 2019

American Madison Keys defeated Svetlana Kuznetsova in straight sets to win the Cincinnati Masters title in Ohio.

Keys, 24, defeated the Russian two-time Grand Slam champion 7-5 7-6 (7-5) to win her second title of the season.

Broken in her opening service game, Keys rallied to win four consecutive games and claim the first set.

In her first hard court final since finishing as runner-up at the 2017 US Open, the world number 18 again fought back from 5-3 down in the second set.

Russian 23-year-old Daniil Medvedev plays Belgium’s David Goffin in the men’s final later on Sunday.

Keys, who won also won the Charleston Open in April, returns to the world top 10 with her latest win.

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Polasek/Dodig Capture First Masters 1000 Title Together In Cincinnati

  • Posted: Aug 18, 2019

Polasek/Dodig Capture First Masters 1000 Title Together In Cincinnati

This was only their fourth tournament as a team

Juan Sebastian Cabal and Robert Farah have clearly been the best doubles team on the ATP Tour this season. But Sunday was Ivan Dodig and Filip Polasek’s day.

In just their fourth event as a team, Dodig and Polasek captured their first title together, defeating top seeds Cabal and Farah 4-6, 6-4, 10-6 to win the Western & Southern Open in Cincinnati.

Fourteen months ago, Polasek had no ATP Doubles Ranking at all, as he had not played a professional tennis match since November 2013. The Slovak was forced to retire due to injury. But the Slovakian-Croatian duo has quickly clicked this year, defeating the Top 2 seeds at this ATP Masters 1000 tournament as well as legends Bob Bryan and Mike Bryan en route to the trophy.

“To see a full stadium today was amazing for both of us, for both teams,” Dodig said. “We had a great fight on the court and we really [played] great tennis today.”

This was Polasek’s 28th tour-level final, but his first at a Masters 1000 event. Dodig takes home his fifth crown at this level, with his four previous victories coming with Marcelo Melo, including in Cincinnati in 2016.

“They played a great match. They’ve been playing good for already a couple months and Polasek was out for a while,” Farah said. “To come back the way you’ve been coming back, it’s seriously very impressive, so congrats for that.”

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Dodig and Polasek will incredibly climb to 12th in the ATP Doubles Race To London, surging in pursuit of a spot at the Nitto ATP Finals, to be held at The O2 from 10-17 November. Cabal and Farah became the first pair to qualify for the eight-team field earlier this week.

There was not much to differentiate the two teams in what was a high-level final. Neither team overpowered the other, and both had their moments at the net, showing quick reactions.

But after winning two more points than the Colombians in the first set and still losing it, Dodig and Polasek finally got their break at the very end of the second set. Cabal struck his team’s first double fault of the match long on set point, setting up a Match Tie-break.

Strong returning out of the gate gave Dodig and Polasek an early lead, which they never relinquished. Cabal double faulted in the ad court again as he tried to reel his team back into it, but it was not enough, as the Croatian-Slovakian team earned 1,000 ATP Doubles Ranking points each. They will split $331,300.

Cabal and Farah fell just short of lifting their fifth trophy of the year and second at a Masters 1000 event in 2019. However, the Colombians still leave Cincinnati with 600 points apiece and a share of $161,680.

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Cincinnati Showdown: Medvedev & Goffin Battle For First Masters 1000 Title

  • Posted: Aug 18, 2019

Cincinnati Showdown: Medvedev & Goffin Battle For First Masters 1000 Title

Russian and Belgian have split their two previous FedEx ATP Head2Head meetings

Few predicted a Western & Southern Open final between Russian Daniil Medvedev and Belgian David Goffin. But that matters little to the players, who each has a tremendous opportunity on Sunday to lift their first ATP Masters 1000 trophy in Cincinnati.

Entering the semi-finals, World No. 1 Novak Djokovic appeared en route to claiming his 34th title at this level. But Medvedev upset the Serbian for the second time this year to set a rematch of a five-set thriller he lost against Goffin at Wimbledon last month.

“I try to take every match, no matter who I’m playing, the same,” Medvedev said. “I don’t feel any extra pressure or [take] any extra confidence that I’m playing Goffin and not, for example, Rafa. But probably in percentage changes, yes, I have a better chance to win against David than against Rafa, but it does not mean that I cannot lose.”

This time a week ago, the Russian was preparing for his first Masters 1000 final at the Coupe Rogers in Montreal. Medvedev mustered only three games against Rafael Nadal, who triumphed in 70 minutes.

But instead of getting deflated this week, Medvedev has shown no drop-off at all. Instead, he is into his third ATP Tour final in as many weeks (Washington, Montreal, Cincinnati), becoming the first player to accomplish the feat since Alexander Zverev last year (Munich, Madrid, Rome).

“I think I will need to play aggressively, especially remembering my match in Wimbledon against David. I felt that I couldn’t keep up with his consistency when he’s in great shape,” Medvedev said. “At one moment I stepped up my game kind of like today with aggression and I almost won the match, though I lost it, and I think I’m going to have to be aggressive tomorrow.”

Medvedev speaks of their three-hour, 31-minute battle at SW19 just last month. The 23-year-old was up a break at 4-1 in the decider. But the former World No. 7 stormed back for the victory, eventually reaching the quarter-finals.

“It was an amazing feeling. But I felt that I was a little bit, I think, the better player during the whole match,” Goffin said at the time. “If you see all the rallies and how I felt during the match, I was feeling good and during the rallies I was a little bit more aggressive. But you never know with a player like Daniil, who sometimes is aggressive in just a few points, and then he serves, and then a few aces [and it] could be 4-1 like in the fifth. But I felt like I had the game and the shots to come back. Physically I was feeling great, as well. So I had the energy to fight, to come back.”

It will be interesting to see how big Medvedev goes on his second serves against Goffin. That proved a deciding factor against Djokovic, and the Russian said he did the same thing against the Belgian at Wimbledon, too.

Earlier in the year, at the Australian Open, Medvedev defeated Goffin in straight sets. So entering Sunday, their FedEx ATP Head2Head series is knotted at 1-1. Medvedev has shown tremendous form on hard courts in 2019, with his Djokovic win marking his 30th on the surface this year, which is 10 more than anyone else on the ATP Tour.

Goffin has shown plenty of prowess on hard courts, too, earning the best result of his career at The O2 in London two years ago, when he advanced to the championship match of the Nitto ATP Finals. The 28-year-old is the first Belgian to reach a Masters 1000 final, and he can jump into eighth place in the ATP Race To London if he wins his first crown since 2017 Tokyo and fifth ATP Tour title overall.

“I’m just focussed on what I have to do step by step. I’ll try to do my best. I try to win every match, and then we see at the end,” Goffin said. “To reach the first Masters 1000 [final] for a Belgian, of course for such a small country it’s really nice.”

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