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Stricker Strikes Again! Swiss Captures Fourth Challenger Title

  • Posted: Feb 27, 2023

Stricker Strikes Again! Swiss Captures Fourth Challenger Title

Borges wins Challenger 125 event in Mexico

Following his semi-final run at the 2022 Next Gen ATP Finals, Dominic Stricker was eyeing another standout season on the ATP Challenger Tour. However, the Swiss had to battle through a turbulent start to the year before collecting his fourth Challenger title in Rovereto, Italy on Sunday. The #NextGenATP star is among four Challenger champions this week.

The 20-year-old made Swiss tennis history when he won the Citta’ Di Rovereto final against home favourite Giulio Zeppieri 7-6(8), 6-2. Stricker joins Stan Wawrinka as the only Swiss players to win four Challenger titles before their 21st birthday.

Stricker, who fended off five set points in the opening set against third seed Zeppieri, reached the final round of qualifying at the Australian Open, but is still aiming for his maiden Grand Slam appearance.

ATP Challenger Tour 

After a first-round exit at the Vilnius Challenger, where he was the top seed, Stricker found himself nearing another disappointing opening-round loss in Rovereto. Down a set and a break in the first round against Mili Poljicak, the former junior World No. 3 rallied to survive and win the tournament.

“Winning a title after a little bit of a struggle is great,” Stricker said. “I’m back fully motivated and happy. I think I’m on a good way now. [My goal for this year] was to not have one week winning a title and then losing three first rounds, just to be more consistent.

“For my ranking, Top 100 would be great, but the rankings change so quickly. A lot can happen in one week.”

Following his triumph in Rovereto, the lefty climbs to 120 in the Pepperstone ATP Rankings and is just nine spots from tying his career-high.

The #NextGenATP Zeppieri, who won last week’s Cherbourg Challenger, propels to a career-high 115 following his nine-match winning streak.

At the Bengaluru Open in India, Max Purcell battled from a set down in the championship match to down second seed and countryman James Duckworth 3-6, 7-5, 7-6(5). The 24-year-old Purcell is riding a 10-match winning streak.

<a href=''>Max Purcell</a> is crowned champion at the 2023 Bengaluru Challenger.
Max Purcell is crowned champion at the 2023 Bengaluru Challenger. Credit: Bengaluru Open

The Sydney native, who fended off two championship points last week to win the Chennai Challenger, is the first Australian to win back-to-back Challenger titles since Jordan Thompson in 2018 (Traralgon, Canberra). A four-time Challenger champion, Purcell rises to a career-high 116 in the Pepperstone ATP Rankings.

In Monterrey, Mexico, Nuno Borges saved 10 of 11 break points faced all week to claim his third Challenger title at the Abierto GNP Seguros. Now at a career-high 85, Borges defeated Croatian Borna Gojo 6-4, 7-6(6) in the final.

Following the 2022 US Open, Borges became the fourth Portuguese player to crack the Top 100 in the past decade, joining Joao Sousa, Pedro Sousa, and Gastao Elias (in 2016, Joao Sousa reached the highest ranking in Portuguese tennis history when he climbed to a career-high No. 28).

<a href=''>Nuno Borges</a> in early-round action at the 2023 Monterrey Challenger.
Nuno Borges in early-round action at the 2023 Monterrey Challenger. Credit: Abierto GNP Seguros

In the semi-finals of the 2018 NCAA singles championship, the Wake Forest University standout Gojo took out Mississippi State’s Borges but the Mexico encounter went in favour of the Portuguese, who captured his first hard-court title in Monterrey. In 2019, Borges’ prominent college career included a 31-match winning streak before falling short in the NCAA Singles Championship (l. Jubb).

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Monterrey, Mexico Hosts ‘High-Quality’ Challenger

In Rome, Georgia, top seed Jordan Thompson didn’t drop a set all week en route to winning his 10th Challenger title. In the final, the 28-year-old won 20 of 24 first serve points to take down wild card Alex Michelsen 6-4, 6-2 at Georgia’s Rome Tennis Open.

<a href=''>Jordan Thompson</a> during Sunday's final in Rome, Georgia.
Jordan Thompson during Sunday’s final in Rome, Georgia. Credit: Georgia’s Rome Tennis Open

Following Purcell and Thompson’s Challenger titles this weekend, players from Australia have combined for an early season-leading five Challenger titles.

Michelsen, 18, was competing in just his third Challenger event. The California native is the youngest American to reach a Challenger final since Frances Tiafoe in 2016 (Tallahassee). Still a senior in high school, World No. 356 Michelsen received a special exemption into the Waco Challenger, as he was still competing in Georgia when the Texas Tennis Classic draw was made.

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Murray Withdraws From Dubai

  • Posted: Feb 27, 2023

Murray Withdraws From Dubai

Scot won title at ATP 500 event in 2017

Andy Murray withdrew from the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships on Monday, citing a hip injury.

The Scot reached his first final of the season in Doha last week, winning three-set matches against Lorenzo Sonego, Alexander Zverev, Alexandre Muller and Jiri Lehecka. The former World No. 1, who saved five match points against Lehecka, lost against Daniil Medvedev in the championship match.

Murray, 35, has made seven appearances at the ATP 500 event in Dubai, holding a 17-6 record. His best result at the hard-court tournament came in 2017, when he won the title.

World No. 1 Novak Djokovic leads the field in Dubai, with Top 10 stars Andrey Rublev, Medvedev and Felix Auger-Aliassime also in action.

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Record Breaker: Djokovic Surpasses Graf With 378th Week At No. 1

  • Posted: Feb 27, 2023

Record Breaker: Djokovic Surpasses Graf With 378th Week At No. 1

Serbian first rose to No. 1 in July 2011

Novak Djokovic has today achieved another historic milestone in his career, overtaking Stefanie Graf’s record for most weeks by a men’s or women’s tennis player as World No. 1.

The Serbian already held the record for the most weeks as No. 1 in the history of the Pepperstone ATP Rankings (since 1973) when he surpassed Roger Federer’s mark of 310 weeks in March 2021. Now he has moved past Graf by beginning his 378th week on top of tennis’ mountain. 

Djokovic, currently on 6,980 points in the Pepperstone ATP Rankings, returned to No. 1 last month for the first time since last June by winning a record-extending 10th Australian Open crown.


No. 1 Player  Total Weeks 
1) Novak Djokovic 378
2) Stefanie Graf 377 
3) Martina Navratilova 332
4) Serena Williams 319 
5) Roger Federer 310

The 35-year-old, who is competing at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships this week, first rose to No. 1 aged 24 years and 43 days on 4 July 2011, and spent a personal-best 122 consecutive weeks at the summit of the Pepperstone ATP Rankings between 7 July 2014 and 6 November 2016.

Djokovic is one of 28 players in the history of the Pepperstone ATP Rankings to hold the top spot. He finished 2021 as year-end No. 1 for a record seventh time (also 2011-12, ’14-15, ’18 and ’20).

Graf, who hit the top of the women’s rankings for the first time in 1987, won 107 titles in her career, including 22 Grand Slam crowns.

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Alcaraz Upbeat Despite Rio Defeat: 'I Had My Chances'

  • Posted: Feb 27, 2023

Alcaraz Upbeat Despite Rio Defeat: ‘I Had My Chances’

Spaniard falls to Norrie in ATP 500 final

Carlos Alcaraz battled hard on Sunday in the Rio Open presented by Claro final to claim his second title in as any weeks. But after a two-hour, 42-minute clash full of momentum changes, Cameron Norrie triumphed 5-7, 6-4, 7-5 to earn the trophy.

“It [was] a really tough final. I had my chances to win the final, had a break up in the second set and 0/30 to [earn] a second break,” Alcaraz said. “I couldn’t do it and I said before, when you have chances and you don’t make it, it’s really tough to come back against this kind of player. It’s really tough.

“At the end unfortunately I couldn’t [find] my best level physically and it’s really tough to come back in these kind of tournaments against this kind of player. But I would say it has been a good final given that.”

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Norrie Battles Past Ailing Alcaraz For Rio Title

In the middle of the second set, Alcaraz began visibly struggling with a right leg injury. The 19-year-old dialled up his aggression to shorten points, but ultimately fell short of extending his winning streak to nine.

“Even with the injury and the pain, after all the match I could say I’m happy with my performance this whole week and the level that I played in these matches,” Alcaraz said. “But of course playing against Norrie is always tough and it’s great to see him win a title.”

The pair also met last week in the championship match of the Argentina Open in Buenos Aires, where Alcaraz triumphed. It was the Spaniard’s first tournament of the season after missing more than three months due to injury. He is now 8-1 on the season.

Alcaraz explained that he will evaluate his condition with his doctor and physiotherapist. He is scheduled to compete next week in Acapulco at the Abierto Mexicano Telcel presentado por HSBC.

“I really like Acapulco,” Alcaraz said. “I really want to go there and play in front of the Mexican fans.”

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Norrie Battles Past Ailing Alcaraz For Rio Title

  • Posted: Feb 27, 2023

Norrie Battles Past Ailing Alcaraz For Rio Title

Briton claims first trophy of the season

Carlos Alcaraz appeared well on his way to a second consecutive Rio Open presented by Claro title on Sunday when he led Cameron Norrie 7-5, 3-0 0/30. But a resurgent Norrie and physical issues for the Spaniard proved too much to overcome.

Second seed Norrie rallied for a 5-7, 6-4, 7-5 victory after two hours and 42 minutes in the ATP 500 final. The triumph marked the Briton’s fifth ATP Tour title and his first hardware of the season.

“So special to win this one, especially I’d lost a couple finals already this year and I had to do it the tough way,” Norrie said. “A set and a break down and 0/30 on my serve, I was looking done there and I managed to flick a switch and turn it around, so it was a good day.”

Alcaraz was not at his best in the early going, but when he crushed a backhand return winner to capture the opening set, momentum was fully on his side. Norrie showed frustration as he relinquished an immediate service break in the second set and the match appeared to be slipping away. But he never stopped battling to earn his ATP Tour-leading 18th win of the season (18-3). No other player has more than Daniil Medvedev’s 14 victories.

After losing in the Auckland final in January and the Buenos Aires championship match last week, it was an emotional win for Norrie.

“Especially on a surface that I’m not too comfortable with,” Norrie said. “I had to battle a lot of demons the last couple weeks, but I managed to just play well in the big moments and that’s what it took today.”

The lefty refocused just in time in the second set to stay in the match and Alcaraz’s right leg began to bother him. The Spaniard had it wrapped in the middle of the set and his movement thereafter became noticeably hindered, as did his serve.

As Norrie acted as a wall at the back of the court, Alcaraz tried everything possible to fight his way to the finish line. From serving and volleying to crushing returns and rushing forward, the Spaniard searched for solutions despite his physical struggles.

The World No. 2 played ultra-aggressive tennis to rally from a break down in the third set and put himself within a few more big shots of victory. From jaw-dropping power from the baseline to making consistent use of his drop shot to end points quickly, the Spaniard kept his hopes of a second consecutive title in Rio de Janeiro alive.

The 19-year-old seemingly maintained dialogue with his team throughout the early part of the third set with the severity of his injury unclear. He never let slip his fighting spirit.

But Norrie never panicked and let the tidal wave of Alcaraz’s shotmaking overwhelm him. After crushing an ace down the T to end the match, Norrie dropped to his knees and let our a roar to celebrate. The Briton will climb one place to No. 12 in the Pepperstone ATP Rankings on Monday.

“What a match, Charlie, man. Another battle. I had to give absolutely everything to beat you today and obviously it could have gone your way as well” Norrie said to Alcaraz during the trophy ceremony. “Congrats on another final. Congrats to your team.

“The match could have gone either way, but I managed to run a little bit more and it was a really good match. It’s an honour to share the court with you again and compete with you.”

Did You Know?
Alcaraz defeated Norrie in the final of the Argentina Open last week in Buenos Aires. This was the first time two players have played finals against one another in back-to-back weeks since Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray split titles in Madrid and Rome in 2016.

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Djokovic ‘Feels Good On Court’ In Dubai

  • Posted: Feb 26, 2023

Djokovic ‘Feels Good On Court’ In Dubai

World No. 1 opens against Machac

Who can stop Novak Djokovic in 2023? So far, nobody has.

The Serbian, who said Sunday he is approaching full health after suffering a hamstring injury in January in Australia, will next bring a perfect 12-0 record for 2023 to the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships.

Djokovic is back in action this week for the first time since collecting his record-equalling 22nd Grand Slam title at the Australian Open. His unbeaten season record will be put to the test at the Dubai ATP 500, where he feels right at home.

“Dubai in the last 10 or 15 years has become one of the most important places and bases for tennis players, both men and women,” Djokovic said. “So many players come here in the offseason, including myself. I try to use a week or two in December and come play the tournament [in February]. Fantastic climate, very international, the conditions, facilities, everything is phenomenal.

“People love tennis [here]. People appreciate tennis players here. I feel comfortable. I feel welcomed. I’ve had plenty of support in previous years when I’ve played in Dubai. I’m really looking forward to a great atmosphere on the court.”

The 35-year-old has tallied a 43-7 match record at the outdoor hard-court event including titles in 2009-11, 2013, and 2020. In 2022, Djokovic suffered a quarter-final exit to eventual finalist Jiri Vesely.

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Already a two-time titlist this year (Adelaide, Australian Open), the World No. 1 said he is feeling close to 100 per cent. When he captured his record-extending 10th title at Melbourne Park, the Belgrade native played through a left hamstring injury. Even so, Djokovic dropped just one set at the season’s first major.

“It was challenging,” Djokovic said. “I knew what I was going through and my team members [did also]. That makes the victory in Melbourne even greater because I had to face [adversity].

“I [didn’t] practise one single day between matches. I just warmed up for the match and played. Luckily I [had] a great preparation prior to Australia and plenty of tennis.

“Right now, I haven’t felt pain for the last week or so. I feel good on the court, still building and getting to 100 per cent. I’m still not there, but it’s a process.”

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On Monday, the 93-time tour-level champion will make more history. Djokovic, who will enter his 378th week as World No. 1 in the Pepperstone ATP Rankings, will surpass Stefanie Graf with the most weeks atop the sport for men or women. Following his title in Melbourne, Djokovic reclaimed the No. 1 spot and his leap from World No. 5 marked the biggest jump to top spot in history (since 1973) from one edition of the Pepperstone ATP Rankings to the next.

Top seed Djokovic will begin his quest for a sixth Dubai crown against Tomas Machac. The winner will meet Tallon Griekspoor or Constant Lestienne. Djokovic could meet eighth seed Hubert Hurkacz or Andy Murray in the quarter-finals.

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'It's Very Important': Santiago Stars Raise Money For Those Affected By Chilean Fires

  • Posted: Feb 26, 2023

‘It’s Very Important’: Santiago Stars Raise Money For Those Affected By Chilean Fires

Chileans Garin, Tabilo and Massu joined by Martinez for exhibition

Players at the Movistar Chile Open did their part Saturday to help support those suffering due to the wildfires in Chile.

Chilean trio Cristian Garin, Alejandro Tabilo and Nicolas Massu were joined by defending Santiago champion Pedro Martinez for an exhibition to raise money for Desafío Levantemos Chile.

“It’s very sad of course and for me it’s very important to support in some way. I think with this exhibition we are trying to get as much as possible,” Garin said. “Today many people came and it was nice to help in some way the south of Chile in this time. I know the people are suffering a lot, so we try to send love and money of course.”

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Fans who attended made voluntary donations to benefit those affected by the fires in the south of the country. Money raised will be used to support those in the impacted areas.

“It’s very important. I know everybody over there has been struggling a lot. One of my best friends lives there and is from there, and my coach is also from there, so it’s a very sensitive spot for the whole team,” Tabilo said. “Happy to help and always very excited to help.”

Martinez won his first ATP Tour title in Santiago last year. The Spaniard was happy to do his part to help those in need.

“It’s always good to do tennis things for a great cause. I’m feeling good here in Santiago,” Martinex said. “I hope all the people who suffered from the fires will recover as soon as possible.”

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