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Bautista Agut, Fognini Lead No. 2 Singles Players At ATP Cup

  • Posted: Dec 02, 2019

Bautista Agut, Fognini Lead No. 2 Singles Players At ATP Cup

Five current or former Top 10 players will be the No. 2 singles player for their country

The inaugural ATP Cup is set to begin on 3 January in Brisbane, Perth and Sydney, with 24 teams across six groups competing for eight spots in the Final Eight, to be held in Sydney.

All countries were qualified based on the ATP Ranking of their No. 1 singles players. But there are plenty of countries with highly-ranked No. 2 players, too.

Leading the way is World No. 9 Roberto Bautista Agut of Spain. The Spaniard had the best season of his career in 2019, defeating then-World No. 1 Novak Djokovic en route to capturing the Doha title at the start of the season. He never looked back from there, cracking the Top 10 for the first time on 19 August. Spain is the only country with two Top 10 players in the ATP Rankings, as Bautista Agut is part of a team that includes World No. 1 Rafael Nadal.

“I’m excited because it’s going to be the first time [having this event] in Australia and Rafa and I are going to play there,” Bautista Agut said. “I hope we have a good team and can play a good week for Spain.”

Not far behind in the ATP Rankings is Fabio Fognini, the World No. 12 who reached a career-high No. 9 this year. He was the third Italian to crack the Top 10 of the ATP Rankings, with Matteo Berrettini, the country’s current No. 1 player and Nitto ATP Finals qualifier, becoming the fourth less than five months later.

The third No. 2 player for a country who was inside the Top 10 at one point in 2019 is Russian Karen Khachanov, the 2018 Rolex Paris Masters champion who reached a career-high No. 8 this July. The World No. 17 has won four ATP Tour titles in his career. He’s behind World No. 5 Daniil Medvedev, who captured two ATP Masters 1000 trophies this season.

Top 5 No. 2 Singles Players At ATP Cup By ATP Ranking

 Player  Country  ATP Ranking
 Roberto Bautista Agut  Spain  No. 9
 Fabio Fognini  Italy  No. 12
 Karen Khachanov  Russia  No. 17
 Felix Auger-Aliassime  Canada  No. 21
 Lucas Pouille  France  No. 22

Felix Auger-Aliassime is the highest-ranked #NextGenATP No. 2 player, heading into the ATP Cup at World No. 21. The Canadian, just six spots behind good friend and countryman Denis Shapovalov, is the second-youngest player in the Top 100 behind only Jannik Sinner, the Next Gen ATP Finals champion.

Other standout No. 2 players are 2014 US Open champion and former World No. 3 Marin Cilic, 2018 Australian Open semi-finalist and former World No. 10 Lucas Pouille of France, World No. 25 Guido Pella of Argentina, and World No. 30 Nick Kyrgios of Australia. There are 12 No. 2 players inside the Top 50 of the ATP Rankings.

“It’s going to be an awesome event. I know everyone on the Tour wants to be with their teammates,” Kyrgios said. “There’s nothing better than playing for your country against the other best players in the world.”

One group to keep an eye on in terms of matches between No. 2 players is Group D, with three of the four No. 2 players inside the Top 35 of the ATP Rankings. The four players are No. 12 Fognini, No. 17 Khachanov, No. 32 Taylor Fritz and Norway’s Viktor Durasovic.

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Nadal, Djokovic & Federer Among Surface Leaders In 2019

  • Posted: Dec 01, 2019

Nadal, Djokovic & Federer Among Surface Leaders In 2019

Spaniard led the way on all surfaces but grass, with Djokovic winning Wimbledon

Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic finished the 2019 season in the top two spots of the ATP Rankings. So it’s no surprise that one of the tennis legends topped each of the surface leaderboards this year, while year-end World No. 3 Roger Federer made his return to clay. Here’s a look at some of the best performers by surface in 2019 according to the FedEx ATP Performance Zone:

Clay Courts (minimum 10 matches)
Rafael Nadal had the best record on clay once again in 2019, winning two titles on the surface while losing just three matches. The Spaniard did not reach the final in his first three clay-court tournaments of the year, but the lefty bounced back to triumph in Rome and at Roland Garros. Nadal now has 59 tour-level titles on clay, 10 more than Guillermo Vilas, who is second on the Open Era list with 49.

This year also marked Roger Federer’s return to clay. The Swiss, who had not competed on the surface since 2016 Rome, went 9-2 on the red dirt and advanced to the Roland Garros semi-finals.

 Player  W-L Record  Winning %
 Rafael Nadal  21-3  96.3%
 Novak Djokovic  15-3  84.0%
 Roger Federer  9-2  80.0%
 Dominic Thiem  23-7  78.9%
 Benoit Paire  15-5  75%
 Stefanos Tsitsipas  15-5  75%

Hard Courts (minimum 10 matches)
Nadal has long been successful on hard courts, entering the season in 12th place on the Open Era list for winning percentage on the surface. But the Spaniard was especially successful on hard courts in 2019, winning 32 of his 35 matches, a rate of 91.4 per cent. Nadal won multiple hard-court titles in a season for the seventh time, triumphing in Montreal and at the US Open.

Federer and Djokovic were right behind at 82.5 per cent and 81.4 per cent, respectively. Djokovic (first) and Federer (third) are two of the three best players on hard court in the Open Era. Daniil Medvedev won an ATP Tour-leading four titles on the surface this season, as well as emerging victorious in a Tour-best 46 matches.

 Player  W-L Record  Winning %
 Rafael Nadal  32-3  91.4%
 Roger Federer  33-7  82.5%
 Novak Djokovic  35-8  81.4%
 Kevin Anderson  8-2  80%
 Daniil Medvedev  46-13  78%

Grass Courts (minimum 5 matches)
Djokovic immediately shook off the disappointment of a semi-final exit at Roland Garros. Although he did not compete in the Fever-Tree Championships like he did in 2018, the Serbian quickly took to the grass at SW19, winning his fifth Wimbledon crown. The top seed dropped just two sets en route to the final, in which he saved two championship points to defeat Roger Federer for the title.

If Federer had won either of those match points, he would have topped this list. But instead the Swiss comes in at No. 2 with an 11-1 record on grass this season. Federer won his 19th grass-court trophy in Halle.

This year’s grass-court swing also marked the breakthrough of Matteo Berrettini. Entering Stuttgart, he was World No. 30. But a title there, followed by a semi-final in Halle and a run to the fourth round at Wimbledon, set the Italian on course for the Top 10 and a trip to the Nitto ATP Finals.

 Player  W-L Record  Winning %
 Novak Djokovic  7-0  100%
 Roger Federer  11-1  91.7%
 Matteo Berrettini  12-2  85.7%
John Isner  5-1  83.3%
 Rafael Nadal  5-1  83.3%

Indoor Courts (minimum 10 matches)
This was another list that Nadal led in 2019, mostly thanks to his efforts at the Davis Cup Finals, where he won all five of his singles matches to make a rapid leap up the indoor standings.

Jo-Wilfried Tsonga began 2019 at No. 239 in the ATP Rankings, coming back from left knee surgery. And although the Frenchman did not crack the Top 5, finishing seventh for the year, he used his play indoors to help him climb to year-end No. 29. Tsonga won titles in Metz and Montpellier, his 12th and 13th indoor title, respectively.

Federer, who had the fourth-best record on the ATP Tour indoors this year (8-2), captured his 10th Basel title, which was his 103rd tour-level trophy overall.

 Player  W-L Record  Winning %
 Rafael Nadal  11-1  91.7%
 Novak Djokovic  9-2  81.8%
 Alex de Minaur  13-3  81.3%
 Roger Federer  8-2  80%
 Andrey Rublev  15-4  78.9%

Overall
It’s only fitting that with Nadal finishing year-end No. 1, he also had the best record on the ATP Tour in 2019. The Spaniard tallied a 58-7 record, with his winning percentage just short of 90 per cent. Five of his seven losses came against Top 10 opponents, with his other two defeats coming against dangerous shotmakers in Fabio Fognini and Nick Kyrgios.

 Player  W-L Record  Winning %
 Rafael Nadal  58-7  89.2%
 Roger Federer  53-10  84.1%
 Novak Djokovic  57-11  83.8%
 Daniil Medvedev  59-21  73.8%
 Dominic Thiem  49-19  72.1%

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Bautista Agut Marries Longtime Partner

  • Posted: Nov 30, 2019

Bautista Agut Marries Longtime Partner

Spaniard weds Ana Bodi Tortosa

Even in the off-season, Roberto Bautista Agut is adding unforgettable moments to his banner year. The Spaniard tied the knot in a beautiful ceremony with longtime partner Ana Bodi Tortosa.

Bautista Agut confirmed the wedding on Saturday by sharing photos on his social media accounts. His friends on the ATP Tour were quick to share their congratulations, with Stan Wawrinka, Filip Krajinovic, Robert Farah and Aljaz Bedene among those commenting on the posts.

The 31-year-old made headlines during Wimbledon by admitting that he scheduled his bachelor party during the second week of the tournament. Bautista Agut’s friends were waiting in Ibiza, but they relocated to London after he recorded his maiden Grand Slam semi-final. The postponed bachelor party took place the following week in Ibiza.

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“We had everything reserved from Wednesday or Thursday until Sunday. They all knew before that there was a small chance for me to be here, playing in the quarter-finals,” Bautista Agut said. “I think they really had a good plan. They spent Wednesday in Ibiza. They came to watch a good match, the semi-final of Wimbledon. They came yesterday as a surprise. It was really nice to have them in the crowd. They support me so much.”

Bautista Agut will begin next season by representing Spain in the inaugural ATP Cup, held in Australia from 3-12 January. He will join Rafael Nadal, Pablo Carreno Busta, Albert Ramos-Vinolas and Feliciano Lopez in Perth from 3-8 January, where they will face Japan, Georgia and Uruguay in Group B. Should they advance from their round-robin group, they will head to Sydney from 9-12 January as part of the Final Eight.

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Nishikori Hires Mirnyi For 2020 Season

  • Posted: Nov 30, 2019

Nishikori Hires Mirnyi For 2020 Season

Belarusian to work alongside Michael Chang

Kei Nishikori is adding another ATP Tour legend to his coaching team. The 29-year-old Japanese has signed on former doubles World No. 1 Max Mirnyi to join Michael Chang as his coaches for the upcoming season.

“Excited to announce that Max Mirnyi will join the coaching team (with Michael Chang) full-time in 2020! Excited what the future holds,” Nishikori said in a statement on his Instagram account.

Mirnyi, affectionately known as “The Beast”, concluded his 22-year ATP Tour career at the end of last season. He spent 57 weeks at the top of the ATP Doubles Rankings (15th all-time) and won 52 tour-level doubles titles, including six Grand Slam crowns. Mirnyi also earned a gold medal in mixed doubles at the 2012 London Olympics (w/Azarenka). In singles, he peaked at No. 18 in the ATP Rankings in 2003 and won an ATP Tour singles title that year in Rotterdam (d. Sluiter). Mirnyi also reached the 2002 US Open quarter-finals.

”I am excited about the opportunity to have a chance and help Kei,” Mirnyi said. “I have known Kei for a long time from the days of my active playing career. Training and spending a lot of time at the IMG Academy in Bradenton. So, I hope that this progression will be natural for both of us personally and on a professional level.”

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Nishikori has not competed since this year’s US Open due to a right elbow injury, which he underwent surgery for in October. He finished this season with a 29-14 record, including a title in Brisbane (d. Medvedev) and quarter-final showings at the Australian Open, Roland Garros and Wimbledon.

Nishikori will kick off next year by representing Japan in the inaugural ATP Cup, held from 3-12 January in Australia. He will join Yoshihito Nishioka, Yasutaka Uchiyama, Go Soeda and Ben McLachlan from 3-8 January in Perth, where they will face Spain, Georgia and Uruguay in Group B. Should they advance from their round-robin group, they will held to Sydney from 9-12 January as part of the Final Eight.

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Nishikori Hires Mirnyi For 2020 Season

  • Posted: Nov 30, 2019

Nishikori Hires Mirnyi For 2020 Season

Belarusian to work alongside Michael Chang

Kei Nishikori is adding another ATP Tour legend to his coaching team. The 29-year-old Japanese has signed on former doubles World No. 1 Max Mirnyi to join Michael Chang as his coaches for the upcoming season.

“Excited to announce that Max Mirnyi will join the coaching team (with Michael Chang) full-time in 2020! Excited what the future holds,” Nishikori said in a statement on his Instagram account.

Mirnyi, affectionately known as “The Beast”, concluded his 22-year ATP Tour career at the end of last season. He spent 57 weeks at the top of the ATP Doubles Rankings (15th all-time) and won 52 tour-level doubles titles, including six Grand Slam crowns. Mirnyi also earned a gold medal in mixed doubles at the 2012 London Olympics (w/Azarenka). In singles, he peaked at No. 18 in the ATP Rankings in 2003 and won his lone ATP Tour singles title that year in Rotterdam (d. Sluiter). Mirnyi also reached the 2002 US Open quarter-finals.

”I am excited about the opportunity to have a chance and help Kei,” Mirnyi said. “I have known Kei for a long time from the days of my active playing career. Training and spending a lot of time at the IMG Academy in Bradenton. So, I hope that this progression will be natural for both of us personally and on a professional level.”

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Nishikori has not competed since this year’s US Open due to a right elbow injury, which he underwent surgery for in October. He finished this season with a 29-14 record, including a title in Brisbane (d. Medvedev) and quarter-final showings at the Australian Open, Roland Garros and Wimbledon.

Nishikori will kick off next year by representing Japan in the inaugural ATP Cup, held from 3-12 January in Australia. He will join Yoshihito Nishioka, Yasutaka Uchiyama, Go Soeda and Ben McLachlan from 3-8 January in Perth, where they will face Spain, Georgia and Uruguay in Group B. Should they advance from their round-robin group, they will held to Sydney from 9-12 January as part of the Final Eight teams.

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ATP Tour Season In Review: Doubles In 2019

  • Posted: Nov 30, 2019

ATP Tour Season In Review: Doubles In 2019

Learn the highlights of the 2019 doubles season

Continuing our Season In Review series, ATPTour.com looks at the headlines that shaped 2019 on the doubles circuit.

Cabal/Farah Reach The Mountaintop
In 2018, Juan Sebastian Cabal and Robert Farah made their big breakthrough as a duo. The Colombians, who first partnered one another at the Futures level in 2004, earned 39 tour-level wins and qualified for their first Nitto ATP Finals.

But this season proved even better for the longtime friends and partners, becoming just the second all-South American duo to finish year-end No. 1 in the ATP Doubles Team Rankings (since 1984). In 1986, Chilean Hans Gildemeister and Ecuadorian Andres Gomez accomplished the feat.

“It’s an honour to receive this trophy, being alongside the names engraved on it,” Farah said during an on-court presentation at the Nitto ATP Finals, where the Colombians were the top seeds and reached the semi-finals. “Starting the year, it was difficult to predict we’d end it as the No. 1 team. It’s a dream come true and I’d like to thank everyone who is here for supporting us.”

Read: Cabal/Farah Presented Year-End No. 1 Trophy

Cabal and Farah captured five of their 17 tour-level titles in 2019, and they own a 3,655-point lead in the ATP Doubles Team Rankings ahead of No. 2 Lukasz Kubot and Marcelo Melo.

Last year, Cabal and Farah won their first ATP Masters 1000 title in Rome, and they retained that trophy this season at the Internazionali BNL d’Italia, and it only got better from there. The Colombians captured their first two Grand Slam titles at Wimbledon and the US Open, respectively.

<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> exit the <a href='https://www.atptour.com/en/tournaments/nitto-atp-finals/605/overview'>Nitto ATP Finals</a> at the semi-final stage for the second straight year.

Herbert/Mahut Show Their Class
Pierre-Hugues Herbert and Nicolas Mahut only competed together eight times in 2019, but they began and finished their season with a bang.

The Frenchmen completed their Career Grand Slam at the Australian Open, winning the season’s first major without losing a set from the quarter-finals on. Herbert and Mahut became the eighth men’s doubles team to lift all four Grand Slam trophies.

After losing two of their next three matches, the Frenchmen did not play together until Cincinnati, with Herbert choosing to focus on singles. He only played doubles three times between the Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters and the Western & Southern Open — including Wimbledon with Andy Murray.

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It appeared that lay-off may have been detrimental to this team, with Herbert and Mahut losing in the second round in Cincinnati and the first round of the US Open. But after making the semi-finals in Vienna they found their best form, winning the Rolex Paris Masters and then the Nitto ATP Finals without dropping a set at either event.

The season finale was a special victory for the Frenchmen after letting slip a championship point against Mike Bryan and Jack Sock last year. It was the perfect ending to their 2019 campaign.

“It is pretty special [to win this trophy]. Maybe, for doubles, it is one of the toughest tournaments to win,” said Herbert. “After our story in London — we had three really tough years and last year we had a match point in the final — being able to win here is an amazing feeling.”

<a href='https://www.atptour.com/en/players/pierre-hugues-herbert/h996/overview'>Pierre-Hugues Herbert</a> and <a href='https://www.atptour.com/en/players/nicolas-mahut/m873/overview'>Nicolas Mahut</a> claim their third team title of 2019.

New Teams Break Through
Three teams broke through to qualify for the Nitto ATP Finals for the first time together this year.

One year ago, Kevin Krawietz and Andreas Mies finished in 87th place in the ATP Doubles Race To London. But the Germans got off to a fast start in 2019, and they never looked back. Krawietz and Mies, who had competed mainly on the ATP Challenger Tour before 2019, won the New York Open for their first ATP Tour title, claimed their maiden Grand Slam trophy at Roland Garros and triumphed in Antwerp.

Rajeev Ram had previously qualified for the Nitto ATP Finals twice, in 2016 and 2017, but he did so then with Raven Klaasen. The American teamed with Brit Joe Salisbury for the first time this year, and the result was a 39-win season that included two ATP 500 titles and a trip to The O2. Ram and Salisbury were victorious in Dubai and Vienna, using those results to propel them into a spot at The O2.

The last of the team’s is Filip Polasek and Ivan Dodig. The Slovak-Croat team first got together in Antalya, which took place in the last week of June. Yet they clicked immediately, and pulled off a stunning run that saw them qualify for the Nitto ATP Finals. Dodig and Polasek made at least the semi-finals in eight of the 11 tournaments they played before London, triumphing in Cincinnati and Beijing while also finishing runner-up in Antalya and making the last four at Wimbledon.

<a href='https://www.atptour.com/en/players/rajeev-ram/r548/overview'>Rajeev Ram</a> and <a href='https://www.atptour.com/en/players/joe-salisbury/so70/overview'>Joe Salisbury</a> own 3,490 points in the ATP Doubles Race To London.

Polasek’s Comeback
Polasek cracked the Top 10 of the ATP Doubles Rankings in November ahead of the Nitto ATP Finals. But less than 17 months earlier, the Slovak had no points at all.

That’s because when Polasek was 28, he was forced to retire due to injury, and he did not play professional tennis again for more than four years after that. Polasek had won 11 ATP Tour doubles titles and reached 13 additional finals. But a nerve issue in his back — he had loose discs in his spine — did not allow him to continue.

Read My Point: Re-Making Polasek After Five-Year Retirement

Even after retirement, Polasek still suffered from pain, so much so that coaching lower-level pros and even older juniors proved too tough of a task physically. He couldn’t even consistently play floorball recreationally. But last May, a chance meeting with Mike Bryan in Slovakia started the ball rolling on his comeback, and Polasek has not looked back since.

“If you told me that 15 months later I’d be sitting here as an ATP Masters 1000 champion, I would have told you that you’re crazy. I would never ever bet even a dollar on it. It’s been an incredible journey. But after everything I’ve been through, this is just the beginning,” Polasek wrote in a first-person essay for ATPTour.com in August.

Dodig Polasek

Bob Bryan Returns From Hip Surgery, Bros Announce 2020 Retirement
Mike Bryan finished 2018 on a high, winning Wimbledon, the US Open and the Nitto ATP Finals with Jack Sock. His brother, Bob Bryan, underwent hip surgery last August, leaving an uncertain future for the twins.

But the Bryan brothers made their return in Brisbane this year and quickly clicked into form. The Americans made the quarter-finals of the Australian Open and triumphed in Delray Beach before hitting their highest note of the season in Miami, where they captured their 39th Masters 1000 trophy together, putting them in second place in the ATP Doubles Race To London.

Read About The Bryans’ Upcoming Retirement

The Bryan brothers won 35 tour-level matches together in 2019, earning their 1,100th team win in Cincinnati and qualifying for the Nitto ATP Finals, but electing not to participate. They announced that 2020 will be their final season, planning to bring their historic careers to an end at the US Open. The Bryan brothers own 118 tour-level doubles titles together.

The Bryan Brothers win the doubles title at the <a href='https://www.atptour.com/en/tournaments/miami/403/overview'>Miami Open presented by Itau</a>.

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Court to be 'recognised' at Australian Open despite 'demeaning' views

  • Posted: Nov 30, 2019

Tennis Australia has reiterated its stance against Margaret Court’s “demeaning” personal views while announcing it will “recognise” the 50th anniversary of her Grand Slam at next year’s Australian Open.

Australian Court, 77, won all four Grand Slam titles in 1970.

In 2003, Melbourne Park’s Court One was renamed the Margaret Court Arena.

However, there have been recent calls for it to be renamed because of Court’s opposition to same-sex marriage.

In 2017, Court – who won a record 24 Grand Slam singles titles – said tennis was “full of lesbians” and that transgender children were the work of “the devil”.

Now a Christian pastor, she had previously said she would not fly on Australian airline Qantas “where possible” in protest at its support of same-sex marriage.

Grand Slam winners Martina Navratilova and Billie Jean King, who are both gay, have previously criticised Court.

Tennis Australia has invited Court, her family and friends to the tournament – which starts on 20 January – where she will participate in a “significant programme of events”.

“This is an incredible milestone for me, and I can’t quite believe how quickly the time has gone. It’s always wonderful to catch up with my fellow legends and I’m grateful to Tennis Australia,” said Court.

“Tennis is a wonderful sport and I’m proud to be part of the history of our great game.”

Tennis Australia said it respects Court’s “unmatched tennis career” but said her views “do not align” with its values of “equality, diversity and inclusion”.

“As often stated, Tennis Australia does not agree with Margaret’s personal views, which have demeaned and hurt many in our community over a number of years,” the governing body said in a statement.

In an open letter, it also said it would not “rewrite history” concerning Court’s achievements.

“Tennis Australia recognises the champions in our sport as a matter of course, whether it be stadium names, naming of parks, statues around the country and trophies and awards during a player’s career,” it added.

“We celebrate sporting heroes who inspire and motivate people through the generations, and who are lauded and respected widely by their peers and the broader community.

“As with other great sports in this country and elsewhere, it is common practice to draw a distinction between recognising champions and celebrating heroes, and it is an important distinction.

“Australia is fortunate that Margaret Court’s extraordinary playing achievements form part of our national tennis history.

“However, the philosophy and culture of our sport goes deeper than winning and setting records. We seek to foster a sport that is inclusive and welcoming of everyone.

“We all bear some responsibility for creating a safe and inclusive society. As a sport, tennis is unwavering in playing our part.”

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Fritz On ATP Cup: 'USA Will Bring A Lot Of Firepower'

  • Posted: Nov 30, 2019

Fritz On ATP Cup: ‘USA Will Bring A Lot Of Firepower’

Fritz feels team event will bring out his A-game

Taylor Fritz will join John Isner, Reilly Opelka, Rajeev Ram and Austin Krajicek as a part of Team United States at the inaugural ATP Cup, to be held in Australia from 3-12 January 2020. The United States will be competing in Group D in Perth, facing Russia, Italy and Norway.

The World No. 32, who captured his first ATP Tour title at the Nature Valley International in Eastbourne (d. Querrey) in June, speaks to ATPTour.com about what makes competing as a team special, his idols growing up and more.

Why are you excited about competing in the ATP Cup?
I’m really excited to go and start the year off by playing guaranteed matches against some of the world’s best players in the first week of the 2020 season. It’s going to be an incredible new event for players and fans. Every match will be critical to the overall result and whether the United States progress to the Final Eight [in Sydney]. That will provide pressure and extra nerves, but it will mean everyone will see who has put in the work during the off-season. Also, I have always liked the look of the Perth Arena. Being able to see some of the beautiful city will mean it’s going to be a memorable experience. I never thought I’d be able to visit.

What do you think will be the most fun part of playing on a team?
We play a lot individually and at the end of the year, you’re measured by your position in the ATP Rankings. But we don’t get to compete that often as a team, with fellow players cheering you on from the side of the court. Winning and losing certainly adds a lot of extra energy to matches when you’re playing for your country, but I’ve found it does help me to play better. It’s going to be great to play alongside John, as I did at the Laver Cup in September. It was a lot of fun. I’m looking forward to the ATP Cup. It will be really fun. These events bring the team close together and you cheer each other.

Which countrymen did you watch growing up and what did you admire about them?
Growing up in a tennis family, I watched all the American players. But I was a huge fan of Pete Sampras, watching his matches and his rivalry with Andre Agassi, the overall contrast of styles and how they each went about winning. Now being coached by Sampras’ (and Roger Federer’s) former coach, Paul Annacone, I’ve gained an insight into how they operated and I have learned a lot on the court and mentally. I’ve improved so much working with Paul and finally winning an ATP 250-level title in Eastbourne was so special and a huge weight off my shoulders.

If you could take one shot from anyone in your country, what would it be and why?
Certainly at the ATP Cup, Team United States will come with a lot of firepower. Even though I can hit a serve, I’ve always admired John’s [Isner] serve. He makes it look so effortless, but I know just how hard he works to develop repetition and rhythm, so when it comes to a match his big weapon is on. I think the serve and power will be the key weapons of USA. It’s going to be tricky to compete against countries with two highly ranked players, but that’s going to be the big challenge.

What were your early memories of playing tennis in United States as a kid?
I started very young. It would have been watching my Mum [former WTA Top 10 player Kathy May Fritz] play tennis on the side of the court, or attending and competing in hundreds of junior tournaments and just generally being at tennis clubs. At the age of 12, I remember playing in a mother-son event in San Diego and my Mum suffering a calf injury during a quarter-final against college guys, older opponents. Back then it mattered, so I forced her to keep going. My Mum and Dad [Guy, a tennis coach] have helped me so much.

What do you love most about your country and representing United States?
I love the size and the opportunities. Being able to travel and play tennis really opens your eyes to new cultures internationally, but I really enjoy my time in the States. Everything that you want is available. I made my first ATP Tour final at the age of 18 on home soil in Memphis [in February 2016], but fell short against Kei Nishikori. For me, it’s been a great honour to represent the United States and to be among those who will play at the first ATP Cup in January.

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Paire Eager For ATP Cup: 'I Like Being On A Team A Lot'

  • Posted: Nov 29, 2019

Paire Eager For ATP Cup: ‘I Like Being On A Team A Lot’

Frenchman to suit up in Perth

Benoit Paire’s career resurgence this season has led to him earning the right to represent France in the inaugural ATP Cup, held throughout Australia from 3-12 January.

The Frenchman will join Gael Monfils, Lucas Pouille, Nicolas Mahut and Edouard Roger-Vasselin in Perth from 3-8 January, where they will face off against Serbia, South Africa and Chile in Group A. Should they advance from their round-robin group, the trio will head to Sydney from 9-12 January as part of the Final Eight teams. 

Paire’s clinched his first ATP Tour singles title in four years this April in Marrakesh (d. Andujar), then followed that up a month later with another title on home soil in Lyon (d. Auger-Aliassime) The 30-year-old also finished runner-up in Winston-Salem (l. to Hurkacz) and reached the fourth round at Roland Garros and Wimbledon.

Paire discussed his favourite French players growing up and why he thrives in a team environment.

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Which French players did you like to watch growing up?
I would say Sebastien Grosjean and Arnaud Clement. I was always following their matches and supporting them. I grew up close to Marseille, so I was able to see them live at the Open 13 in Marseille and it was important for me to watch them.

What are some of your earliest tennis memories in France as a child?
I remember going with my parents to Roland Garros. It was a big experience to be able to watch the players practise and get some autographs from them.

What are you most excited for with the ATP Cup?
I like being on a team a lot. You can feel the pressure when you’re playing for your country, so I’m very happy to play in the ATP Cup.

If you could pick one shot from any French player on Tour, who would it be and why?
We have too many French players and too many good shots! I would say the speed of Gael Monfils.

Who is the funniest French player on tour?
Again, Monfils. He’s a good player and I like to watch him play – when he wants to play! I understand though because sometimes it’s not easy to be 100 per cent every week, but I like to see him doing well this year.

What are three things you love most about France?
The food, for sure. The girls are beautiful in France. And I like the crowds.

Did you grow up playing junior tournaments or team events with the other guys on your team?
Not really because Monfils is older than me and Pouille is younger than me, but I know them well and we are good friends. It will be interesting to be on the same team.

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Take Two: Divij Sharan & Samantha Murray Wed After Second Ceremony

  • Posted: Nov 29, 2019

Take Two: Divij Sharan & Samantha Murray Wed After Second Ceremony

Couple celebrates in Manchester and New Delhi

Plenty of people describe their wedding as the best day of their lives, but Indian doubles expert Divij Sharan was fittingly able to double his pleasure with British WTA pro Samantha Murray.

After their first wedding ceremony in Manchester on 19 July, the couple were surrounded by friends and family once again as they tied the knot in New Delhi on 23 November. Their busy schedules as professional tennis players meant they needed to wait until the off-season for a second ceremony.

<a href='https://www.atptour.com/en/players/divij-sharan/sd46/overview'>Divij Sharan</a> and Samantha Murray wedding

“We decided to have two ceremonies so that we were able to celebrate both of our cultures and traditions which are important to us, with our family and friends from each side,” Sharan said. “We fit the events in around our tennis schedules, which is why they had to be four months apart.”

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Sharan is currently No. 46 in the ATP Doubles Rankings. He won ATP Tour doubles titles this year in Pune (w/Bopanna) and St. Petersburg (w/Zelenay), in addition to a runner-up finish in Munich (w/Demoliner). Murray has a WTA singles ranking of No. 220.

“We hope to be able to play more combined events together so we can actually get to see each other!” Sharan said. “Life on tour is so busy, so I think it’s amazing that she is a tennis player as well. She knows what it takes to be on the circuit and we are there to support each other’s careers.”

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