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'There was some good stuff in there' – Murray positive despite Winston-Salem exit

  • Posted: Aug 20, 2019

Andy Murray is still searching for his first singles win since hip surgery after losing 7-6 7-5 to Tennys Sandgren in the Winston-Salem Open first round.

The former world number one played with conviction and fluency in the first set, but lost it on a tie-break 10-8.

Despite recovering from a double break down to square the second set at 5-5, Britain’s Murray was broken again by American world number 73 Sandgren.

“I think there was some good stuff in there,” Murray, 32, told BBC Sport.

“I think my ball striking was better than last week. I hit quite a few more winners, came to the net quite a lot. Obviously I didn’t win but I do feel I was a bit more in control of what was happening out there.

“Physically I felt OK in the rallies, but I did notice in the second set that my first serve wasn’t as good, and I think maybe my legs were a little bit heavy at the end there.”

Last week, Murray lost in straight sets to Richard Gasquet in Cincinnati in his first singles match since January’s Australian Open.

His match against Sandgren started at 22:15 local time after a five-hour delay caused by heavy rain, thunder and lightning.

And even after completing the warm up, the players had to remain in their chairs for a further 15 minutes to wait for another light shower to pass and the court to be dried with towels and electric blowers.

Murray started superbly, forcing nine deuces and one break point in a 14-minute opening game before Sandgren eventually held his serve.

Both men served very well after that, but having saved three set points in the tie-break, Murray put a stretch volley into the net and Sandgren won it 10-8.

The first set lasted 74 minutes, but after making a poor start to the second, Murray struggled in vain to take the match into a decider.

Murray will not be in New York when the US Open gets under way on Monday, but he may instead play on the ATP Challenger Tour.

He will fly home from Winston-Salem on Tuesday but is actively considering whether to compete in next week’s Challenger event in Mallorca.

“I think for my body it would be a good thing because I do feel at that level I will be winning matches each week,” Murray added.

“And I think it would be good for my game as well because I’m not quite seeing the points as I used to. And if I can get more matches, I’ll start to work that out a little bit quicker, and see it faster.

“I would probably rather stay playing outdoors because the next couple of tour events I’m playing are outdoors in Asia, but I haven’t given it tonnes of thought.”

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Sandgren Downs Murray In Winston-Salem

  • Posted: Aug 20, 2019

Sandgren Downs Murray In Winston-Salem

Scot showed improvement from beginning of his comeback last week

Andy Murray isn’t one for moral victories, but the Scot should be encouraged by his first-round match at the Winston-Salem Open, even if it ended in a loss.

American Tennys Sandgren beat Murray 7-6(8), 7-5 to advance to the second round at the ATP 250 tournament. Sandgren fought through a marathon 75-minute first set, but was broken while serving for the match at 5-4. Sandgren, however, broke right back and served it out on his second attempt.

“It was a great atmosphere. Everyone was super excited. Obviously, Andy, his career speaks for itself, so to have him here and playing and to be able to compete against him tonight was a pleasure,” Sandgren said. “The match itself was really close. The first set could have gone either way and to come out with it was a big relief… It was a tight two-set match, long and physical and I’m happy to come through.”

Murray was playing in only his second singles match since January at the Australian Open. After undergoing right hip surgery on 28 January, he began his singles comeback last week at the Western & Southern Open in Cincinnati, falling to eventual semi-finalist Richard Gasquet in the first round.

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While both matches ended in defeat, Murray showed vast improvement against Sandgren. Gone were the tentative groundstrokes that dominated rallies against the crafty Gasquet, and Murray, who occasionally let balls go against the Frenchman, chased down everything he could and charged forward often against Sandgren. The American, however, was more than happy to pass Murray on the run and on the stretch.

“Some things were a bit better today I think. I was hitting the ball a bit cleaner than I did maybe in Cincinnati… I feel like I moved fairly well to some drop shots, which maybe last week I wasn’t running to. So there’s some good things in there but also some stuff I would like to do better,” Murray said. “Physically, [I feel] OK considering, no pain, no discomfort. Just a little bit more tired than usual.”

Murray, who accepted a late wild card, said he didn’t fear losing during the initial stages of his comeback. 

“I’m quite aware of sort of where I’m at just now and what my level is. It’s competitive at this level but it needs to be better,” Murray said. “Maybe I need play a level down to get some matches and build my game up a little bit before I start playing on the Tour again.”

Murray will not compete at next week’s US Open and is considering playing an ATP Challenger Tour event before heading to Asia for the tour-level swing there.

You May Also Like: Duckhee Lee Breaks Ground For Deaf Athletes In Winston-Salem
Sandgren, No. 73 in the ATP Rankings, will next meet meet second seed Denis Shapovalov of Canada. In other action during a rain-soaked day of play, Duckhee Lee became the first deaf player to win an ATP Tour match, beating Swiss Henri Laaksonen 7-6(4), 6-1. Lee will next face third seed Hubert Hurkacz of Poland.

Spain’s Pablo Andujar beat Chilean Nicolas Jarry 6-4, 6-2 and will face countryman Feliciano Lopez, the 16th seed, for a place in the third round. Aussie Alexei Popyrin set up a #NextGenATP battle with Serbian Miomir Kecmanovic by beating Brazil’s Thiago Monteiro 5-7, 6-4, 7-6(7). And American Bjorn Fratangelo was perfect against Israeli Amir Weintraub, advancing 6-0, 6-0 and will next meet #NextGenATP Frenchman Ugo Humbert, the 15th seed.

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Duckhee Lee Breaks Ground For Deaf Athletes In Winston-Salem

  • Posted: Aug 20, 2019

Duckhee Lee Breaks Ground For Deaf Athletes In Winston-Salem

South Korean beats Laaksonen to make history

Trailblazing South Korean Duckhee Lee has defied the odds throughout his life. The 21-year-old broke new ground once again on Monday by becoming the first deaf player to win an ATP Tour main draw match.

Lee beat Swiss Henri Laaksonen 7-6(4), 6-1 at the Winston-Salem Open after a lengthy rain delay. The South Korean, No. 212 in the ATP Rankings, won the final three points of the first-set tie-break and broke twice in the second set to prevail.

Read: Lee Overcomes Disability To Succeed (July 2015)

More to follow…


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Chung Marches On, Kwon Battles Through In US Open Qualifying

  • Posted: Aug 20, 2019

Chung Marches On, Kwon Battles Through In US Open Qualifying

Mahut begins pursuit of 14th main draw at Flushing Meadows

Last January, 2017 Next Gen ATP Finals champion Hyeon Chung made his biggest breakthrough yet by reaching the semi-finals of the Australian Open. When the US Open rolled around, he was No. 23 in the ATP Rankings, making him a seeded player in the main draw of the US Open.

But on Monday, World No. 151 Chung had to compete in the first round of qualifying in Flushing Meadows, where he rolled past Austrian Sebastian Ofner 6-3, 6-3 in 74 minutes.

Chung missed five months of the season due to a back injury, and he has played just three events since February, all of which have come on the ATP Challenger Tour. The 23-year-old will next play Italian Stefano Napolitano, who advanced past American Sam Riffice 6-2, 6-4 after one hour and 22 minutes.

You May Also Like: Chung Kicks Off Comeback With Chengdu Crown

Third seed Soonwoo Kwon overcame a brief rain delay and American JC Aragone, moving into the second round with a 6-4, 1-6, 6-4 triumph. Play was suspended at 2-2 in the third set as both men battled on a humid day, but it was Kwon who finished stronger, breaking to win the match.

“It was actually beneficial for me for being able to recover after the rain, so it was actually fortunate for me to have it,” Kwon said.

Kwon cracked the Top 100 of the ATP Rankings for the first time on 5 August, and he currently sits at a career-high No. 90. The 21-year-old lost in the first round of qualifying in New York last year, which was his debut at this tournament.

“The only pressure that I have is I really want to get into the main draw and that’s my only goal for now,” Kwon said.

Read: Five Things To Know About Kwon

Frenchman Nicolas Mahut, who defeated Kwon in qualifying in 2018, rallied to beat American wild card Maxime Cressy 3-6, 7-5, 6-1 in two hours and 16 minutes.

The 37-year-old has made at least the second round of the main draw here in each of the past four years. Mahut is trying to earn a spot in the US Open main draw for the 14th time.

There were four final-set tie-breaks on the first day of action in Flushing Meadows, with Czech Zdenek Kolar beating American Michael Mmoh 2-6, 6-1, 7-6(1), eighth seed Gregoire Barrere outlasting Australian Andrew Harris 6-7(5), 7-6(2), 7-6(3), ninth seed Mikael Ymer battling past American Thai-Son Kwiatkowski 5-7, 6-3, 7-6(2) and No. 10 seed Tommy Paul ousting German Yannick Hanfmann 4-6, 6-5, 7-6(3).

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Flashback: Stars of Tomorrow – Duckhee Lee

  • Posted: Aug 20, 2019

Flashback: Stars of Tomorrow – Duckhee Lee

Hearing and speech-impaired Lee makes steady climb up the Rankings

Editor’s Note: This feature was originally published on 18 July 2015. Duckhee Lee is making his ATP Tour main draw debut this week at the Winston-Salem Open.

Duckhee Lee is in Tegal, Indonesia, and is comfortably winning the first set 3-1 of an ITF Futures quarter-final match against Indonesia’s No. 1, Christopher Rungkat. Lee slaps a passing shot winner to the open court to break Rungkat’s serve. He pumps his fist to his team and trots over to change sides of the court. There is just one problem; while the chair umpire signaled Lee’s ball good, he announced the score as deuce, not game. The 17 year old from South Korea does not understand why the umpire and Rungkat are both staring at him. It would take a few minutes to unwind the knot.

If you did not know Lee, saw him in his hot pink shirt, lime green tennis shoes, hair with K-Pop highlight streaks, and watched him waving his arms at the chair umpire; you might think that here is another hot headed tennis player. And you would be correct, except there is one other thing that many have not picked up on yet. Lee is both hearing and speech impaired.

On the ITF Futures circuit where officiating standards are much lower than the ATP World Tour, Duckhee Lee thinks that he has just been robbed by either a linesmen or the chair umpire who are all from Indonesia. It is easy to understand why. Lee cannot hear overrules from the chair umpire or the umpire calling the score. Many ITF Futures scoreboards only indicate the set score, and not the game score. 

What follows next is a chain reaction of lost in translation. Due to his speech impediment the umpire cannot understand what Lee is trying to say and because of his hearing impediment he cannot hear what the umpire is saying. Lee uses sign language to his translator all the while waving his hands and arms at both the translator and chair umpire. Locals down in Central Java do not get to see that much tennis and do not know about Lee’s disability. They begin to laugh at Lee’s grunts and mimic his arm movements. Tension mounts and his extreme frustration takes over. In a matter of seconds he has lost the game and the momentum. On the change-over, the crowd continues to mock Lee’s outburst and seeing this, he hides his tears under a towel.

“I sometime have trouble hearing the umpire’s call,” admits Lee. “When the match hasn’t gone smoothly due to my lack of hearing of an umpire’s call it is difficult for me to control my mind and emotions. I try to express myself when the call seems not correct or fair. I try to communicate with them via body language or facial expression.”

In Korea there is a word, gibun, which basically means to hurt someone’s pride or cause loss of dignity. South Koreans are a fiercely proud people and the men learn to behave macho at an early age. Traditional music which is loaded with heavy bass drumbeats and patriotic lyrics and even the national dish, bimbimbap, hot stone bowl full of meat, vegetables and spicy cabbage is man food at its best. Competing in professional tennis is how Lee earns dignity.

Now, with wounded pride, Lee lets his racquet do the talking for him. He wins nine of the next eleven games and the match. Lee would carry that energy all the way to winning the tournament. And to add insult to injury, he would do the same the next week when he defeated Rungkat again, this time in the final. 

Lee’s Rise
Duckhee Lee was born in Jecheon, a little town tucked in the mountains where rivers and streams flow down to fill reservoirs and lakes. Despite having only one main street and one five star hotel, Jecheon attracts Koreans seeking a bit of rest and relax destination away from the bustle of Seoul. Jecheon is the kind of place where grandparents live and old school Korean values are practiced daily.

There is not much that Doug MacCurdy has not seen or done in the role of tennis development around the world. Former ITF Director of Development, MacCurdy has headed development operations in the USA, China, India and most recently, Korea. MacCurdy was based in Korea when Lee came through the pipeline.

“I remember Duckhee Lee very well,” begins MacCurdy. “He was always one of the kids who demonstrated an advanced level of tennis in our identification and training camps. He was also very lively and social with all the other kids. I think where Lee’s team was smart was with his scheduling. In the beginning of his junior tournaments he would go faraway and come back with a bundle of points. I see he has done the same with his professional scheduling.”

MacCurdy brings up an argument as old as professional tennis coaching; which comes first ability or ranking? One side says if you are good you should be able to compete with the best starting out, and the other side feels that for some players going to the outer banks of tennis where the draw is considered weaker and wins more frequent while developing game and confidence is another option. Jimmy Connors early days as a professional is an excellent example of the latter.

If you trace Lee’s Emirates ATP Rankings history the line on your paper would like just like the takeoff of a jet airplane; a slow, steady rise. Currently, Lee is No. 305, but thanks to another Futures title last week in Japan he will enter the top 300 next week. This makes Duckhee Lee the youngest player ranked inside the Top 300.

Consider Duckhee Lee’s results since he first started playing professional about a year and half ago. To date, Lee has participated in 36 ITF Futures, made the finals of seven and won five. This means that he made the finals about once for every five tournaments and then won a little more than two out of three of those finals. On the ATP Challenger Tour, Lee has played in six events and only lost once to a lower ranked opponent. What is most obvious is about Lee’s player activity is that his bottom line is rock solid. Say what you want about what he needs to do to get better; Duckhee Lee rarely has a bad day at the office.

Speaking of game, here is what Duckhee Lee looks like during a point. Lee has a weak first serve and a really weak second serve, but he has compensated with a lethal return. Once the ball is in play, he employs a flat-line style of tennis that requires precision guided strokes and near perfect ball striking to be effective. The plus side is that balls struck flat travel faster than balls loaded with spin so if Lee is on song, he can cut his opponent’s legs out from underneath him waxing him side to side. The drawback is when conditions are less than ideal and a greater margin of error is needed for the job. On the forehand side, Lee has an excessive left shoulder rotation which allows him to hold his shot till his opponent commits. And similarly, the backhand is best described having an extreme shoulder rotation. The obvious advantage for Lee to using so much trunk in his swing is that he can generate plenty of power with his large muscle group rather than depending on his arms and equally effective is that he can disguise his intended target to the absolute last millisecond before firing off.

Former ATP player, Danai Udomchoke, has played and lost to Duckhee Lee. Most recently in Indonesia.

“His serve needs a lot of work, but he is young,” says Udomchoke. “However, considering that he has not learned to volley yet, it is remarkable how well he plays with the tools that he already has for his age. It is if not being able to win points with his serve or by approaching the net has helped him master the baseline. I was surprised at how fast he read where I was going to hit the ball.”

Christopher Rungkat agrees with Udomchoke on the last bit.

“He always seems to know where I am going to hit the ball,” begins Rungkat. “I don’t think he is guessing, it is more like he is reading my mind. Yes, he is fast, but so are a lot of players. If I had to pick one word to sum up his game, I would say- anticipation. How he knows where the ball is going off my racquet so early is most impressive.”

Overcoming Obstacles
Ryan Hodierne is a sport biomechanist at the Singapore Sports Institute and has studied the subject of deaf athletes. His research seems to collaborate with what Rungkat feels about Lee.

“He would have to use his sight, at a heightened sense, to compensate as a result of not being able to hear the ball being struck by the racket,” claims Hodierne. “It is known that with the removal of one sense, the remaining four senses are heightened.”

Anyone who has ever watched a tennis match has most likely observed a player pausing at the baseline between points while delaying his serve till a low flying airplane passes overhead. Or the chair umpire asking for the crowd to please be quiet. So, what happens to a player who cannot hear at all? How does he adjust?

Brian Ehlers is considered an expert on deaf athletes. Ehlers was the first deaf volleyball player to play for the USA Volleyball program and participated in the 1980 and 1984 Olympics.

“It’s very true that an athlete with a sensory condition[s] loss will gain advantages, if they use them; however, the athlete’s other mental and physical [eye and touch] senses do come into play, as the body finds other ways to compensate for a sensory loss elsewhere,” states Ehlers. “Is it possible to have tunnel vision with a hearing impairment? Yes, the athletes mind becomes more focused and analytical and creative, as it finds way to utilize the other senses to better coordinate his actions in unison with the projected contact point, velocity and trajectory of the ball.”

Though Duckhee Lee has never met Brian Elhers, he seems to agree.

“My hearing difficulty does help me to focus on my own play and match,” Lee admits.

Yong-Il Yoon, former Korean tennis national player and coach of another Korean teen standout, Hyeon Chung, knows Lee very well.

“Lee is constantly communicating with Chung and other Korean players on the circuit via text messaging, and social media,” says Yoon. “Lee already has many fans that follow him and his progress at home.”

“Throughout my tours I have met a lot of fans and supporters and especially Korean fans,” says Lee.

“Any athlete wants to make their parents proud,” claims Ehlers. “Yet for those athletes who have a condition, we know how emotional it is for our parents to see and experience their own kid having something others kids don’t have. Having a condition makes us deaf athletes try extra hard to show our appreciation to our parents; whom have dedicated all their extra work and time in their lives into helping us.

“A deaf athlete can become more driven and excited about proving himself to others that he belongs and can be or is like everybody else without condition,” continues Ehlers.  “A deaf athlete wants to make a mark in the world via acceptance and respect by others for what they accomplish, but far more importantly, for whom they are and what they can offer to others.”

Duckhee Lee may not be able to hear the umpire call the ball out or tell his opponent good shot. But he sure will be able to see the cheers from the crowd as he continues to win tennis matches and collect trophies. And by doing so, he will make his parents, country and all athletes with hearing and speech impairments very proud. 

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'I wanted to go a different way' – Evans splits with coach over 'differences'

  • Posted: Aug 19, 2019

Dan Evans says his surprise decision to split with coach David Felgate was because the pair started to see “a few things differently”.

The British number two informed Felgate of his decision at the start of August, a few days after losing in the first round of the ATP event in Washington.

Evans enjoyed an excellent grass-court season, culminating in a third-round defeat to Joao Sousa at Wimbledon.

In February he reached his second ATP final in Delray Beach.

“I saw a few things different, I think, to the way he saw it,” Evans told BBC Sport at the Winston-Salem Open.

“At the end of the day I’m on the court, and it’s how I felt.

“It was amicable, no hard feelings. I sat down and said it was going to come to an end, and that was that.

“I wanted to go a different way and try something new. I’ve never had to do that before. It was not an easy conversation but it was better for me to say it there and then than carry on until the end of this trip, and waste this trip.

“I sort of felt that way as soon as I came back and we started again after Wimbledon. Maybe I lost my spark with him, but it just didn’t feel right, and I thought it needed to change.”

Evans and Felgate started working together after last year’s Wimbledon. The British Davis Cup player was outside the top 300 at the time, as he fought his way back from a doping ban, but now stands at 58 in the world.

Evans says he wants to play more aggressively in future, and will try to come forward towards the net, a little more.

“I thought, over the grass, I was pretty defensive and not really putting my game out there. I felt it was time for a new start – to make that change, and to play that way,” the 29 year old added.

The former British player Joshua Milton, who now coaches in San Diego, is assisting Evans in Winston-Salem this week. As the fifth seed, Evans was given a first-round bye and will play his second-round match on Tuesday.

Evans said he does not yet know who he will work with in future, but says Britain’s Davis Cup captain Leon Smith has agreed to help out where he can during the US Open, which begins on Monday.

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US Open 2019: British number four Naiktha Bains loses in first round of qualifying

  • Posted: Aug 19, 2019

British number four Naiktha Bains has lost in the first round of qualifying for the US Open.

Bains, 21, was well beaten 6-3 6-1 by Slovakia’s Jana Cepelova in New York as she tried to reach the main draw of a Grand Slam for the first time.

The Briton struggled to get any power on her serve, leaving her open to breaks and the Slovak capitalised.

World number 237 Bains is a dual British and Australian citizen and changed her allegiance this year.

On Tuesday, former British number one Heather Watson will be in action against Georgia’s Mariam Bolkvadze and James Ward will take on China’s Zhe Li as they get their US Open qualifying campaign under way.

The tournament itself begins at Flushing Meadows on 26 August.

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Medvedev Breaks Into Top 5, Mover Of The Week

  • Posted: Aug 19, 2019

Medvedev Breaks Into Top 5, Mover Of The Week looks at the top Movers of the Week in the ATP Rankings, as of Monday, 19 August 2019

No. 5 (Career High) Daniil Medvedev, +3
Competing in his third final in as many weeks, the 23-year-old claimed his first ATP Masters 1000 title at the Western & Southern Open. Medvedev, who finished as runner-up at the Citi Open and Coupe Rogers, dropped one set en route to the trophy with wins against Kyle Edmund, Benoit Paire, Jan-Lennard Struff, Andrey Rublev, World No. 1 Novak Djokovic and David Goffin.

The Russian now leads the ATP Tour with 44 victories this season, three wins ahead of Coupe Rogers champion and ATP Race To London leader Rafael Nadal. After becoming the fifth player from his country to lift a Masters 1000 trophy, Medvedev jumps to a career-high No. 5 in the ATP Rankings. Read More and Watch Highlights.

No. 10 (Career High) Roberto Bautista Agut, +1
The Spaniard advanced to his third Masters 1000 quarter-final of the year in Cincinnati. Bautista Agut defeated Hubert Hurkacz and Next Gen ATP Finals contenders Frances Tiafoe and Miomir Kecmanovic to reach the last eight in Ohio, before falling to Richard Gasquet in three sets. Bautista Agut becomes the 19th Spaniard to reach the Top 10 in ATP Rankings history (since 1973).

You May Also Like: Bautista Agut Makes Top 10 Debut

Spaniards To Reach The Top 10 Of The ATP Rankings

Player Career-High ATP Ranking Date Achieved
Carlos Moya 1 15 March 1999
Juan Carlos Ferrero 1 8 September 2003
Rafael Nadal 1 18 August 2008
Manuel Orantes 2 23 August 1973
Alex Corretja 2 1 February 1999
Sergi Bruguera 3 1 August 1994
David Ferrer 3 8 July 2013
Tommy Robredo 5 28 August 2006
Jose Higueras 6 13 June 1983
Albert Costa 6 22 July 2002
Juan Aguilera 7 17 September 1984
Emilio Sanchez 7 30 April 1990
Alberto Berasategui 7 14 November 1994
Fernando Verdasco 7 20 April 2009
Nicolas Almagro 9 2 May 2011
Carlos Costa 10 18 May 1992
Felix Mantilla 10 8 June 1998
Pablo Carreno Busta 10 11 September 2017
Roberto Bautista Agut 10 19 August 2019

No. 15 David Goffin, +4
The 2017 Nitto ATP Finals runner-up advanced to his first Masters 1000 championship match in Cincinnati. After beating Taylor Fritz, Guido Pella and Adrian Mannarino to reach his fifth Masters 1000 semi-final, the Belgian overcame Gasquet to break through to his first final at the level. Despite his loss to Medvedev, Goffin climbs four positions to No. 15 in the ATP Rankings.

No. 34 Richard Gasquet, +22
Gasquet reached his first Masters 1000 semi-final in more than six years in Cincinnati. The Frenchman, whose last final-four appearance at the level came at the 2013 Miami Open presented by Itau, beat Andy Murray, Federico Delbonis, Diego Schwartzman and Bautista Agut to claim his place in the semi-finals, where he fell to Goffin in straight sets. Gasquet soars 22 places to No. 34 in the ATP Rankings.

Other Notable Movers
No. 47 Andrey Rublev, +23
No. 49 (Career High) Miomir Kecmanovic, +9
No. 58 Daniel Evans, -14
No. 59 Yoshihito Nishioka, +18
No. 64 Pablo Carreno Busta, -11
No. 80 Aljaz Bedene, +10
No. 93 Leonardo Mayer, -11
No. 96 Marius Copil, -11

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Bautista Agut Makes Top 10 Debut

  • Posted: Aug 19, 2019

Bautista Agut Makes Top 10 Debut

Spaniard enjoying career-best season

Good things come to those who wait. After 14 years on the ATP Tour, Roberto Bautista Agut has fulfilled his childhood dream by debuting in the Top 10 of the ATP Rankings on Monday.

“It’s great to be there. There’s a lot of work behind that,” said Bautista Agut. “I’ve been dreaming of this since I was young, so I’m very happy.”

Bautista Agut has reached the highest levels of the sport by being consistently consistent, advancing to at least the quarter-finals in 11 of his 17 ATP Tour events this season. With those results as a base, the Spaniard also piled on outstanding results that include his maiden Grand Slam semi-final at Wimbledon, defeating Novak Djokovic en route to the title in Doha (d. Berdych) and a quarter-final finish at the Australian Open.

“I’ve been close to the Top 10 for a few years now, but sometimes you need just one or two more good results than you had in the past years,” said Bautista Agut. “I fought really hard to get the Top 10 with every tournament.”

You May Also Like: How Roberto Bautista Agut Is Reaching New Heights

The 32-year-old’s tenacity has earned him the respect of his peers on Tour. Many of them celebrated the news of his Top 10 status as a testament to hard work paying off.

“I’m really happy for him. He’s such a nice guy and deserves to be in the Top 10 this year,” said David Goffin. “He’s played unbelievably in all of the big events this year. He’s a great fighter, is really strong physically and continues to improve his tennis.”

“He doesn’t miss, runs well and has no weakness in his game. He’s a tough competitor,” added Richard Gasquet. “It’s always a battle when you play against him. You need to play your best tennis to win against a guy like him.”

But typical to his character, Bautista Agut is already focused on knocking down his next goal. He now looks to make his debut at the season-ending Nitto ATP Finals, held at The 02 in London from 10-17 November. The Spaniard is currently in seventh place in the ATP Race to London.

“It would be good news for me to have the opportunity to play the [year-end] Masters,” Bautista Agut told in July. “But now, it’s still far. It’s still three or four months of the season [left] and I have to win a lot of matches and to play very good tennis if I want to be there.”

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Berdych, Harris Advance On Day One In Winston-Salem

  • Posted: Aug 19, 2019

Berdych, Harris Advance On Day One In Winston-Salem

Czech made the 2012 WInston-Salem final

Tomas Berdych won his first tour-level match since February on Sunday at the Winston-Salem Open, beating Italy’s Andreas Seppi 6-1, 3-6, 6-3. The former World No. 4, a wild-card entry into the ATP 250 tournament, last won at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships.

“It was a tough match. It was a great start for me but then I still knew that it’s not going to go like that all the way,” Berdych said. “When you don’t play for a long time, it’s not easy. You really have to battle out for every single point, which I did today.”

You May Also Like: Berdych: ‘It’s Been A Very Tough Time For Me’

The Czech started the year 10-3, reaching the Qatar ExxonMobil Open final and the fourth round of the Australian Open. But injury woes have kept the 33-year-old from regular action. He’s played only one match – a first-round loss to American Taylor Fritz at Wimbledon – since March. Berdych will next meet eighth seed Filip Krajinovic of Serbia.

Indian Prajnesh Gunneswaran will meet top seed Benoit Paire after beating Gstaad finalist Cedrik Marcel-Stebe 6-3, 6-4. In other action, Romanian Marius Copil fought past Slovakian Martin Klizan 6-4, 3-6, 6-3 and will next face 11th seed Pablo Carreno Busta.

Dutchman Robin Haase swept American Denis Kudla 6-4, 7-6(3) and will meet fourth seed Joao Sousa in the second round. South African Lloyd Harris ran away with his first-round match against Spain’s Jaume Munar 7-6(5), 4-6, 6-1, and 12th seed Casper Ruud of Norway awaits Harris in the second round.

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