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How Sword-Swallowing & Virtual Reality Helped Coric & Tsitsipas Prep For Zhuhai

  • Posted: Sep 25, 2019

How Sword-Swallowing & Virtual Reality Helped Coric & Tsitsipas Prep For Zhuhai

Tsitsipas is the top seed and Coric the fourth seed at this ATP 250 event

Typically it’s the stars of the ATP Tour who entertain a city’s people at tournaments throughout the world. But on Wednesday, a Zhuhai attraction entertained top seed Stefanos Tsitsipas and fourth seed Borna Coric ahead of their debuts at the Huajin Securities Zhuhai Championships.

The Top 15 stars visited Lionsgate Entertainment World, a new theme park in Zhuhai where visitors can enjoy virtual reality experiences. And not only that, but the two former Next Gen ATP Finals qualifiers watched as an entertainer swallowed a sword and a metal ball.

“I was actually shocked. I’ve seen that on YouTube but I never thought I would be able to see it live,” Tsitsipas said. “This man, I can say he has guts.”

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Coric had never been to a place like this before. But the Croatian, who faces Chinese wild card Di Wu in the second round on Thursday, was stunned by what he saw.

“This was definitely one of the most cool experiences I’ve ever done. All of these things, the ball and the sword, I never thought I’m going to see something like that,” Coric said. “I can say that it was pretty awesome and I enjoyed my time there.”

As the pair toured the facility, they partook in various virtual reality activities in which they made motions that were replicated in a game. In one case, they hopped on a motorbike that remained still, but virtual reality goggles made it feel as if they were actually riding around.

Coric Tsitsipas

“I really liked the experience of the VR. In some parts I thought it was a bit blurry, but despite that it was still a very nice way to feel things from a different perspective,” Tsitsipas said. “The motorbikes made it feel super realistic, all the vibrations and all the movements. I might try it again in the future.”

It wasn’t the first time Tsitsipas had tried his hand at virtual reality. But before he plays Frenchman Adrian Mannarino for a spot in the Zhuhai quarter-finals, this year’s Marseille and Estoril champion was happy to get out into the city and have fun with the experience.

“Our sport is a virtual reality itself, so I play it every single day of my life,” Tsitsipas said. “But I’ve tried it in the past a couple of times. It’s interesting to experience things that are virtual and you don’t have access to them, so I actually like it.”

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Read & Watch: Airborne Monfils Delivers Hot Shot Show In Zhuhai

  • Posted: Sep 25, 2019

Read & Watch: Airborne Monfils Delivers Hot Shot Show In Zhuhai

Frenchman did it all en route to the ATP 250 QF

World-class defence. Airborne smashes. Never-say-die attitude.

Gael Monfils had it all working on Wednesday during his 5-7, 6-3, 6-4 win against Cameron Norrie at the Huajin Securities Zhuhai Championships. The Frenchman started slowly and had to adjust to the conditions in his first match at the ATP 250. But he found a way, and he put on a show in the process. Read Report

Watch Hot Shot: Monfils Goes Airborne For Smash

Watch Hot Shot: How Many Metres Does Monfils Cover In This Point?

Watch Hot Shot: Monfils Shows Off Speed With ‘Outrageous Gets’

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Cameron Norrie beaten by Gael Monfils in Zhuhai Championships

  • Posted: Sep 25, 2019

British number three Cameron Norrie was beaten by France’s Gael Monfils in the second round of the Zhuhai Championships in China.

Third seed Monfils, 33, won 5-7 6-3 6-4 and will play Spain’s Albert Ramos Vinolas in the quarter-finals.

Australian sixth seed Nick Kyrgios lost his first-round match to world 74 Andreas Seppi 7-6 (7-5) 6-1.

Britain’s three-time Grand Slam champion Andy Murray faces Australian Alex de Minaur on Thursday.

Former world number one Murray recorded his first singles victory at Tour level since January by beating American Tennys Sandgren in the first round.

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Tsitsipas: 'My Goal Was & Is To Make It To London'

  • Posted: Sep 25, 2019

Tsitsipas: ‘My Goal Was & Is To Make It To London’

Greek star is the top seed in Zhuhai

Stefanos Tsitsipas finished 2018 with a bang, claiming the Next Gen ATP Finals crown. That helped him finish the season No. 15 in the ATP Rankings, and it didn’t take the Greek star long to dream even bigger.

“My goal was to make it to London and it still is to make it to London,” Tsitsipas said of his 2019 aspirations. “But if you would have told me that I’m No. 6 in the Race… obviously I would be happy to know that I would be in that position. But I have plenty of things to prove until then.”

Tsitsipas arrives at the Huajin Securities Zhuhai Championships on a four-match losing streak at tour-level tournaments. So the 21-year-old knows that even though he is in sixth place in the ATP Race To London, he has to finish the season strong, starting here in Zhuhai.

“First I need to do well to qualify. It would mean a lot of things to me if I could qualify,” Tsitsipas said. “I really hope I make it.”

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Tsitsipas showed good form to start his North American hard-court summer at the Citi Open, where he made the semi-finals only to lose to Nick Kyrgios in a final-set tie-break. But three-set losses in his Montreal and Cincinnati openers followed by a four-set defeat in the first round of the US Open brought that momentum to a halt.

“I didn’t really have great results since [the]… beginning of August, I didn’t do much,” Tsitsipas said. “I hope to make a few changes and adapt to the new changes that I’ve made in my game in order to perform better and not be so tight and so close with the London entry.”

Tsitsipas is not making any major changes to his game during this Asian Swing. It’s not as if he hasn’t had a strong year: winning titles in Marseille and Estoril, reaching finals in Dubai and Madrid as well as another ATP Masters 1000 semi-final in Rome. But the top seed in Zhuhai wants to make slight adjustments to get back on track.

“[I need to make] technical changes and micro-adjustments that might be invisible but it’s also [about] my way of thinking on the court,” Tsitsipas said.

When Tsitsipas competed in China one year ago, a fan gave him what has become a ‘lucky figure’ with his name on it, which he keeps on the outside of his bag. Tsitsipas always feels the love in Asia, and he’s excited to be back in this part of the world again, as well as for the fan support in Zhuhai.

“[I’m going to bring] my best performance, my best behaviour, attitude on the court and the best version of Stefanos,” Tsitsipas said. “So I would appreciate it if this would spread out and have a lot of tennis fans come out to the centre court to back me up.”

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Kwon, Seppi Cause Upsets In Zhuhai

  • Posted: Sep 25, 2019

Kwon, Seppi Cause Upsets In Zhuhai

Pouille, Kyrgios lose early

France’s Lucas Pouille and Australia’s Nick Kyrgios both made first-round exits on Wednesday at the Huajin Securities Zhuhai Championships.

South Korean qualifier Soonwoo Kwon lost six of his first-service points (35/41) to account for fifth seed Pouille 7-6(4), 6-2 in one hour and 32 minutes. Kwon, who broke into the Top 100 of the ATP Rankings on 5 August and is now 6-5 on the season, will now play Bosnia and Herzegovina qualifier Damir Dzumhur.

Andreas Seppi avenged February’s Acapulco loss to sixth seed Kyrgios with a 7-6(5), 6-1 win over 64 minutes. Kyrgios led 4-1 in the first set and could not convert three set points at 5-3. Seppi, who hit eight aces and is now 15-21 on the year, will next play Chinese wild card Zhizhen Zhang.

You May Also Like: Zhang & Wu: The Chinese ‘Brothers’ Making Noise In Zhuhai

Spain’s Albert Ramos-Vinolas saved four set points in the first set en route to a 7-6(2), 6-3 win over Miomir Kecmanovic of Serbia in one hour and 43 minutes for a place in the quarter-finals. Kecmanovic had served for the first set at 5-4, leading 40/0.

Ramos-Vinolas will next play third-seeded Frenchman Gael Monfils or Cameron Norrie of Great Britain, who play during Wednesday’s night session.

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Nitto ATP Finals Contenders Rojer/Tecau Advance To Quarter-finals
Top seeds Jean-Julien Rojer and Horia Tecau, who have compiled a 19-8 record in tour-level team finals, overcame Kyrgios and Matt Reid 6-3, 3-6, 10-7 in 57 minutes for a place in the quarter-finals. Rojer and Tecau are currently in sixth position in the 2019 ATP Doubles Race To London for a spot at the Nitto ATP Finals, to be held at The O2 from 10-17 November.

Second seeds Luke Bambridge and Ben McLachlan beat Divij Sharan and Artem Sitak 7-6(2), 6-4, while third seeds Marcus Daniell and Philipp Oswald swept past Di Wu and Zhang 6-2, 6-1 in 50 minutes.

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Shapovalov Moves Into Chengdu Second Round; Sousa, Bublik Advance

  • Posted: Sep 25, 2019

Shapovalov Moves Into Chengdu Second Round; Sousa, Bublik Advance

Thompson comes through tense finale against Pospisil

Denis Shapovalov saved all nine break points he faced in a solid service performance against Ricardas Berankis on Wednesday at the Chengdu Open. The eighth-seeded Canadian, who struck 16 aces to beat Berankis 6-4, 6-3 in 72 minutes for a place in the second round, is currently in fourth position in the 2019 ATP Race To Milan for a spot at the Next Gen ATP Finals in November. Shapovalov will next face American qualifier Bradley Klahn.

You May Also Like: Read & Watch: Felix, Dimitrov, Garin Visit Panda Base In Chengdu

Earlier in the day, Portugal’s Joao Sousa worked his way back from a fast start by wild card Hyeon Chung to record a 1-6, 6-3, 6-4 victory. Last week’s St. Petersburg Open semi-finalist will face second-seeded Canadian Felix Auger-Aliassime. Chung, the 2017 Next Gen ATP Finals champion, was playing only his second tour-level event since February due to a back injury.

“It was a great match,” said Sousa. “He started very well and very aggressive while I was trying a little bit to get used to the conditions here. I didn’t have much time since arriving from St. Petersburg so it was a little bit tough for me in the beginning. But after that I was able to change a little bit tactically and I was more aggressive and I was able to win.” 

Watch Hot Shot: Athletic Bublik Hits Underarm Serve

Watch Hot Shot: Bublik’s Brilliant Volley At Chengdu 2019

Kazakhstan’s Alexander Bublik struck 25 aces and won 83 per cent of his first-service points to grind past sixth-seeded American Taylor Fritz, this year’s Nature Valley International champion, 4-6, 7-5, 7-5 in one hour and 46 minutes.He will now challenge Australia’s Jordan Thompson, who led Vasek Pospisil of Canada 4-1 in the deciding set before holding on for a 6-3, 3-6, 7-5 win in two hours and 29 minutes. 

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Comedians apologise for Osaka 'bleach' remark

  • Posted: Sep 25, 2019

A Japanese comedy duo have apologised after they reportedly said Australian Open champion Naomi Osaka “needed some bleach” during a live event.

Japanese Osaka, 21, won her first Pan Pacific Open title in her hometown Osaka on Sunday – her first trophy since January’s Melbourne win.

The duo, known as ‘A Masso’, also reportedly said “she is too sunburned”.

Their management company, Watanabe Entertainment, says they have been severely warned following the remarks.

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Both women apologised for making “inappropriate, hurtful remarks”, though they did not name two-time Grand Slam winner Osaka.

“We sincerely apologise for making the specific person feel uncomfortable, as well as for everyone else connected to the event,” comedian Ai Murakami said.

“We also sincerely apologise for causing trouble. Though we should have thought about it, we made remarks that hurt many people, something we will never do again.”

In January, Japanese noodle company Nissin was accused of “whitewashing” the mixed-race Osaka in a manga drawing.

Former world number one Osaka is Haitian-Japanese and was born in Japan before moving to the United States when she was young.

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Wuhan Open: Wimbledon champion Simona Halep retires with injury

  • Posted: Sep 25, 2019

Wimbledon champion Simona Halep retired from the Wuhan Open after sustaining a lower back injury in her third-round match against Elena Rybakina in China.

The world number six, who ended the year as world number one in 2017 and 2018, withdrew when trailing 5-4 in the first set against the Kazakh wildcard.

Meanwhile, Australian top seed Ashleigh Barty qualified for the quarter finals with a 6-3 7-5 win against Sofia Kenin.

Third seed Elina Svitolina also progressed against Svetlana Kuznetsova.

Ukrainian US Open and Wimbledon semi-finalist Svitolina, ranked ninth, won 6-4 6-2 as she continues her battle for a world top-eight spot that would allow her to defend her title at the WTA Finals in Shenzhen in October.

Romanian Halep, currently third in the race to Shenzhen, said that the “sharp pain” in her lower back felt in “the same zone” as the injury which kept her out for three months at the end of 2018.

World number two Karolina Pliskova will compete for a quarter-final spot against Dayana Yastremska later on Wednesday.

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Murray: 'In Some Ways It's One Of The Best Wins That I've Had'

  • Posted: Sep 24, 2019

Murray: ‘In Some Ways It’s One Of The Best Wins That I’ve Had’

Former World No. 1 reflects on victory against Sandgren in Zhuhai

It’s been a long nine months for Andy Murray, but on Tuesday evening the former World No. 1 earned his first tour-level singles win since 1 January. It was the 664th victory of his career, but it was anything but ordinary for the Scot.

“I think that in some ways that it’s one of the best wins that I’ve had, not in terms of just getting through that today, but everything that’s gone into getting back to this point,” said Murray, who underwent hip surgery after this year’s Australian Open. “You don’t necessarily appreciate what it’s like to be healthy at the beginning of your career. It’s something that you take for granted and it’s quite easy, whereas these past few years haven’t been.

“Obviously after the operation in January it’s been difficult and it was undecided at times about whether I wanted to keep going or not and it’s been tough. But I’m really glad that I can actually get the win today and hopefully I’ll be able to keep going.”

You May Also Like: Murray Wins First Tour-Level Match Since 1 January

The last time Murray completed a full Asian Swing was in 2016, when he eventually won the Nitto ATP Finals to clinch the year-end No. 1 ATP Ranking. That year, the Scot won all five of his tournaments after the US Open, so a win was far more expected than it is today, when an individual victory has more meaning.

“[There’s] definitely a bit less pressure on myself probably than at different times,” Murray said. “When I was here for the end of the 2016 season, there was a lot riding on the tournaments and I was trying to finish strong to try and finish No. 1. Whereas, now I’m just trying to win a tennis match. It’s quite different, a lot less, I think, less expectations from myself, less pressure. But also, just generally, I don’t think people are expecting loads from me. So it’s nice just to be able to concentrate on the process a little bit more. I think definitely at times in my career it’s been quite difficult to do that.”

Just about one month ago, Murray lost to Tennys Sandgren at the Winston-Salem Open. And although Murray’s triumph over Sandgren Tuesday was on the other side of the world and in different conditions, emerging on top was a sign of progress nonetheless.

“Tonight my ball striking was, I think, very good. Tonight I was hitting the ball well, movement was I think pretty good. Tonight I served well. Obviously there’s things that I feel I can do better, but it was definitely progress,” Murray said. “I don’t know whether that’s five per cent, 10 per cent, it’s difficult to put a number on it, but I think I did a little bit better tonight than I did when we played a few weeks ago and that’s a good thing.”

And most importantly, Murray is healthy. Although his tennis may not be quite to the level that helped him win three Grand Slams and 45 tour-level titles, the 32-year-old is no longer in pain, and that’s a win in itself.

“If I played that match [against Sandgren] in January, there’s no chance I could compete the following day or even two days later, I would be in a lot of pain and discomfort. Now I’m tired and fatigued and muscles and stuff are tired from playing the match. But in terms of how my hip feels, that feels really good,” Murray said. “So that’s very positive and I’m satisfied with that because, in January, I didn’t, I couldn’t remember what it was like to play tennis and not have the pain in my hip.”

Murray will now face #NextGenATP Aussie Alex de Minaur for a spot in his first quarter-final since Shenzhen last year.

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Murray records first Tour level singles win since January

  • Posted: Sep 24, 2019

Andy Murray earned his first singles victory at Tour level since January with a three-set win over Tennys Sandgren in the first round of the Zhuhai Championships in China.

Murray continued his comeback from hip resurfacing surgery by winning 6-3 6-7 (6-8) 6-1.

Defeating the world number 69 showed progress from Murray having lost to the same man in North Carolina in August.

He will play Australian world number 31 Alex de Minaur in the second round.

Murray, 32, said at the Australian Open that the ongoing problem with his hip could have forced him into retirement.

He instead underwent the resurfacing operation, from which no player has ever returned to play top-level singles tennis.

The former world number one’s comeback initially was in doubles tournaments, including both men’s and mixed at Wimbledon, and he began playing singles competitions at the beginning of August.

The Scot, now ranked 413, won two matches on the lower-level Challenger Tour at the Rafa Nadal Open at the end of last month.

This win over American Sandgren is his first on the ATP Tour since beating James Duckworth at the Brisbane International on 1 January.

He missed the opportunity of a match point in the second-set tie-break, only to race through the decider and complete victory in two hours and 41 minutes.

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