Marin Cilic, the 2014 runner-up, fired down 10 aces and won 90 per cent of his first service points to beat Denis Istomin on Monday for a spot in the ABN AMRO World Tennis Tournament second round.
"It was a very close match," said Cilic. "Denis is the kind of player that can play really, really well, especially indoors. He's got really good shots from the back of the court. I think it was a strange match today. Both of us were serving extremely well. There were no breaks of serve in the match until the last game. I was threatening a lot in the second set and was close to converting some break opportunities. I had to hang in there mentally. I was moving well and serving well and that was key for me."
Ivan Dodig saved all four break points he faced to knock out seventh seed Benoit Paire 6-3, 7-6(4) in 90 minutes, while Jiri Vesely hit 11 aces to win an all-Czech clash against Lukas Rosol 6-4, 6-2 in 75 minutes.
Borna Coric makes his debut against local wild card Thiemo de Bakker and Nicolas Mahut faces Teymuraz Gabashvili in the evening session.
Watch Hot Shot as Marin Cilic hits a well-timed slice to stop an aggressive Denis Istomin in his tracks on Monday in Rotterdam. Watch live tennis at tennistv.com.
Watch Hot Shot as Ivan Dodig and Benoit Paire showcase superb athleticism on Monday at the ABN AMRO World Tennis Tournament. Watch live tennis at tennistv.com.
Watch highlights of the 2016 Ecuador Open Quito final, featuring Victor Estrella Burgos and Thomaz Bellucci.
Watch highlights of the 2016 Open Sud de France final, featuring Richard Gasquet and Paul-Henri Mathieu.
David Goffin looks to record his first win at the ABN AMRO World Tennis Tournament and talks about his coach Thomas Johansson. Watch live tennis at tennistv.com.
Gilles Simon assesses his form over the first month of 2016 and looks ahead to bettering three previous semi-final exits at the ABM AMRO World Tennis Tournament in Rotterdam. Watch live tennis at tennistv.com.
Watch highlights of the 2016 Garanti Koza Sofia Open final, featuring Roberto Bautista Agut and Viktor Troicki.
Marin Cilic, the 2014 finalist, looks ahead to competing at the ABN AMRO World Tennis Tournament in Rotterdam. Watch live tennis at tennistv.com.
A LOOK BACK
"I haven't played Dan in a match and whenever you play a new opponent it's about figuring them out from the start," Edmund told broadcaster Mike Cation following the match. "I had played a really good match against Tim [Smyczek] and found a good rhythm, so I knew if I could implement that today I'd have a chance. It was played at a different speed, as Dan hits a lot of slices and I knew I had to be patient... As I got into it, I started playing more freely and in the end I was playing some really good tennis.
"Last week was so frustrating because it was a low standard for me. He (Wu Di) was actually playing pretty well in the (windy) conditions and I think I deservedly lost. To come here, from outdoors to indoors, it's not easy, and everyone was telling me that the courts are quick. But I found I had time to rally here and get my forehand and every match got more comfortable."
Edmund’s title ended a run of 10 straight years with a home grown champion in Dallas. He beat defending champion Tim Smyczek in the semi-finals. In addition, Great Britain now has nine Challenger titles in the past 13 months after winning just two from 2010 to 2014.
"From last year to this year, I've really improved my movement and being more efficient. My serve has gotten better and my forehand has always been a weapon, but now I'm being smarter with it. I'm not hitting winners with every shot and I don't need to. Those are the big things.
"The good thing about playing Challengers is they are all on live stream, so everyone can watch back at home. My parents and sister have been up at four in the morning and it's nice that they are so supportive. I want to be playing in the [ATP World Tour] events, but it's a tough spot now because I have to decide between playing qualies and Challengers where there are big points on offer. It's getting that balance. Hopefully I can get to that stage where I'm picking a schedule of Tour event and Tour event. That is the ultimate goal."
Neville-Smith Forest Products Launceston International (Launceston, Australia): Aussie wild card Blake Mott turned in one of the more improbable title runs in ATP Challenger Tour history, rallying for his first crown 6-7(4), 6-1, 6-2 over Andrey Golubev on Sunday. The 19 year old was at No. 721 in the Emirates ATP Rankings, becoming just the fifth player (since 2000) outside the Top 700 to win a title.
Mott, who will vault nearly 400 spots to a career-high No. 365, had won just three matches at the Challenger level entering the week. He is the second teen titlist this year, joining Happy Valley winner Taylor Fritz, and is the 10th different teenage champion in the past 13 months.
CHALLENGER WINNERS OUTSIDE THE TOP 700 (since 2000)
Emirates ATP Ranking
Yong-Kyu LimBusan 2010
Meanwhile, on the hard courts of Bergamo, India’s Yuki Bhambri leads the field, with Ruben Bemelmans and Dustin Brown. Bemelmans is coming off a run to the quarter-finals at the ATP World Tour 250 event in Montpellier, while Brown reached his first tour-level semi in the French city.
ATP CHALLENGER TOUR ON TWITTER: New in 2016, the ATP Challenger Tour has launched a dedicated Twitter account for the latest news and information about players and events. Follow @ATPChallengerTour at twitter.com/ATPChallengerTour.
Three Continents Host Tournaments – There are three tournaments on three different continents, including the first ATP World Tour 500 level event of the season. World No. 10 Richard Gasquet is the top seed in Rotterdam. In the first North American tournament of the season in Memphis, World No. 7 and three-time reigning champion Kei Nishikori is the top seed and in Buenos Aires, wild card and defending champion Rafael Nadal is the No. 1 seed.
ABN AMRO WORLD TENNIS TOURNAMENT (Rotterdam) – The top seed of the first ATP World Tour 500 level tournament of the season is Gasquet, who is making his fifth appearance in Rotterdam (4-4 record). His best result was the quarter-finals in 2012. Overall eight of the Top 25 are in the field. The other seeds are: No. 2 Marin Cilic, No. 3 Gilles Simon, No. 4 David Goffin, No. 5 Gael Monfils, No. 6 Roberto Bautista Agut, No. 7 Benoit Paire and No. 8 Victor Troicki..
Gasquet Top Seed – Gasquet, who returned this past week from a back injury in his first tournament of the season in Montpellier, is the top seed for the 13th time in his career (second in a row). The 29-year-old Frenchman enters Rotterdam in the Top 10 for the third straight time. His best result was the quarter-finals in 2012 (l. to Davydenko). Last year he finished in the Top 10 of the Emirates ATP Rankings for the fourth time in his career at No. 9 with a 43-17 match record. He also advanced to his second (’07) semi-final at Wimbledon. Going into Sunday’s final in Montpellier, Gasquet has won titles as the top seed in 2007 Mumbai and 2013 Moscow. Gasquet opens against countrymen Jeremy Chardy.
Bautista Agut on a Roll – No. 6 seed Bautista joined No. 1 Novak Djokovic as the first two-time winners on the ATP World Tour this season by prevailing in Sofia (d. Troicki). He is off to a career-best start. (12-2). The Spaniard won his third career ATP World Tour title last month in Auckland (d. Sock).
Teenage Trio – Three of the four teenagers to finish in the Top 100 Emirates ATP Rankings last season are in the draw: Borna Coric and Hyeon Chung, both making their Rotterdam debut, along with wild card Alexander Zverev, who lost in the first round last year.
Finalists in the Draw – There are no former champions in the draw but there are two former finalists: Julien Benneteau, who reached the final in 2013 (l. to del Potro) and Marin Cilic, who was runner-up in 2014 (l. to Berdych).
Local Wild Cards – Two of the three wild cards are the top two Dutchmen in the Emirates ATP Rankings: No. 65 Robin Haase, who reached the quarter-finals in 2008 (d. No. 10 Murray) and No. 94 Thiemo de Bakker, who lost in the second round three times. Both players have 3-7 career records in Rotterdam. The other wild card is German teenager Alexander Zverev, who is coming off a semi-final in Montpellier.
ARGENTINA OPEN (Buenos Aires) – Latin America's "Golden Swing" continues on the clay of Buenos Aires, as the Argentine capital welcomes back World No. 5 Rafael Nadal, who is defending champion. Six of the Top 25 players in the Emirates ATP Rankings are in the draw, including No. 6/three-time champion David Ferrer, No. 9 Jo-Wilfred Tsonga and No. 11 John Isner, who all have first round byes. Rounding out the rest of the seeds are: No. 5 Dominic Thiem, No. 6/wild card Fabio Fognini, No. 7 Alexandr Dolgopolov and No. 8 Pablo Cuevas. Other former champions in the field are: Nicolas Almagro (2011), Robredo (2009) and Juan Monaco (2007). Tsonga, Isner and Thiem are making their debut in Buenos Aires.
Rafa Golden Swing Champ – Top seed Nadal is making his third tournament appearance (2005, ’15-16). In last year’s final he defeated Juan Monaco 64 61. The King of Clay has won titles at four different Golden Swing tournaments: Acapulco (2005, '13), Sao Paulo (2005, '13), Rio de Janeiro (2014) and last year in Buenos Aires. Last season, Nadal compiled a 26-6 match record on clay and won clay titles in Buenos Aires and Hamburg. He also won in Stuttgart on grass.
Monaco Returns to Action – No. 3 Argentine Monaco is making his return to the ATP World Tour for the first time since last August in Kitzbuehel. The 31-year-old Argentine underwent right wrist surgery shortly thereafter and has been sidelined since. The eight-time winner on the ATP World Tour won the Buenos Aires title in 2007 (d. Di Mauro). He has a 22-10 career record in his home country event.
Clay Court Title Leaders – Nadal is two clay-court titles away from equaling Guillermo Vilas’ all-time record of 49 crowns on the surface. Here are the top five Open Era title leaders on clay: Vilas (49), Nadal (47), Thomas Muster (40), Bjorn Borg and Manuel Orantes (both 30).
Spanish Title Streak – Spaniards have called Buenos Aires home since 2009, with five different players from the country winning titles. Here is the Spanish streak:
Juan Carlos Ferrero
Note: Since 2003, a Spaniard or Argentine has won the title
Argentine Title Hopes – Five of the six Argentines (except No. 99 Bagnis) in the Top 100 Emirates ATP Rankings are in the field, led by No. 37 Leonardo Mayer. The last player to win the title on home soil in Buenos Aires was David Nalbandian in 2008. Here are the Argentines in the draw (w/best result), not including qualifiers:
No. 37 Leonardo Mayer
4-5 (2R-’11, '13-15)
No. 45 Federico Delbonis
5-5 (QF-’13, ‘15)
No. 57 Juan Monaco
No. 68 Guido Pella
1-2 (2R –’14)
No. 90 Diego Schwartzman
No. 158 Renzo Olivo (WC)
1-1 (2R -’15)
MEMPHIS OPEN (Memphis) – The first North American tournament of the season is led by three-time reigning champion Kei Nishikori, who the top seed for the third straight year. This is the 40th anniversary of the tournament at the Racquet Club of Memphis. The other seeds are No. 2 Steve Johnson, No. 3 Donald Young, No. 4 Sam Querrey, No. 5 Denis Kudla, No. 6 Sam Groth, No. 7 John Millman and No. 8 Damir Dzumhur. Querrey is the other former champion (2010) in the field.
Back-to-Back Champions – Last year Nishikori became the first player in tournament history to win the title three years in a row. The 26-year-old Japanese star is one of four players to win back-to-back titles in Memphis. He is also trying to become the second player to win four titles in Memphis. Jimmy Connors won four in 1978-79 and in 1983-84.
Youth is Served – There are three teenage wild cards in the main draw for the first time in tournament history: Taylor Fritz, Tommy Paul and Frances Tiafoe, all 18 years old. Fritz is playing in his third career ATP World Tour level tournament, first in the U.S., Paul is making his second Tour level appearance (’15 US Open) and Tiafoe his sixth Tour level showing. He won his first career ATP World Tour match in Winston-Salem last summer.
Bryans 15th Anniversary – Bob and Mike Bryan won their first of a record 109 doubles titles on the ATP World Tour in Memphis in 2001 (d. O’Brien-Stark). They also captured titles in 2004 and ’13. They have a 27-6 career record in Memphis in 10 previous appearances (W/O in ’06). The Bryans are looking to win their first ATP World Tour title since last August at ATP Masters 1000 Montreal. They have finished No. 1 in the Emirates ATP Doubles Team Rankings in 10 of the last 13 years.
In Case You Missed It
Richard Gasquet won his 13th ATP World Tour title in Montpellier. Read
Roberto Bautista Agut won the inaugural Sofia title over Viktor Troicki. Read
Wesley Koolhof and Matwe Middelkoop fought back from the brink of elimination to claim the Sofia doubles title. Read
Pablo Carreno Busta and Guillermo Duran needed no time at all to capture their first team title in Quito. Read
February 9 – James Ward (29)
February 10 – Viktor Troicki (30)
February 12 – Jeremy Chardy (29)
Roberto Bautista Agut - 17 (+1 spot)
Viktor Troicki - 22 (+3 spots)
Thomaz Bellucci - 30 (+ 5 spots)
Albert Ramos-Vinolas - 46 (+9 spots)
Paolo Lorenzi - 52 (+7 spots)
Fernando Verdasco - 57 (-10 spots)
Marcos Baghdatis - 61 (-8 spots)
John Millman - 66 (+12 spots)
Paul-Henri Mathieu - 68 (+25 spots)
Alexander Zverev - 70 (+15 spots)
Marin Cilic – 345 wins
Julien Benneteau – 245 wins
David Goffin – 97 wins
Martin Klizan – 95 wins
Daniel Nestor – 1005 wins
Kei Nishikori – 248 wins
Illya Marchenko – 45 wins
Rajeev Ram – 45 wins
Oliver Marach – 249 wins
Nicholas Monroe – 49 wins
Philipp Oswald – 47 wins
Buenos Aires Singles
Santiago Giraldo – 148 wins
Paolo Lorenzi – 49 wins
Buenos Aires Doubles
Jo-Wilfried Tsonga – 72 wins
Maximo Gonzalez – 48 wins
Pablo Carreno Busta – 23 wins
Victor Estrella Burgos joined a select club with a comeback win in Quito on Sunday.
The Dominican, who captured his first ATP World Tour title at age 34 last year, successfully defended his Ecuador Open Quito title with a 4-6, 7-6(5), 6-2 final win against Thomaz Bellucci. He joined Stan Wawrinka (Chennai), Viktor Troicki (Sydney), Novak Djokovic (Australian Open) and Richard Gasquet (Montpellier) in successfully defending their titles this year. He and Wawrinka are the only players 30 or over to accomplish the feat.
Over the years, Estrella Burgos has experienced highs and lows in the Ecuadorian city. An injury sustained at the 2012 Quito Challenger had the tenacious baseliner pondering retirement. In 2015, he made history by becoming the first Dominican to win an ATP World Tour title.
“I can’t describe the feeling when I saw the last ball go out," Estrella Burgos said. "It was an unbelievable moment, to win back-to-back in Quito. Last year I was very nervous. I could barely breathe serving on match point. This year I was much more relaxed closing out the match.”
After the trophy ceremony, a jubilant Estrella Burgos rode a slide into the pool at Club Jacaranda. He was followed by the ballboys, who jumped into the water to join the two-time champion.
“The conditions were difficult," Estrella Burgos said. "It was sunny and so windy. It was impossible to return [Bellucci’s] serve in the first set.”
The third-seeded Bellucci took the initiative in the first set, stretching Estrella Burgos with heavy left-handed serves and keeping rallies short with penetrating ground strokes. The Brazilian jumped on his first break opportunity to move ahead 5-4. In the following game, Estrella Burgos saved set point with an inside-out forehand winner, but found himself trailing when Bellucci wrong-footed him two points later to claim the set in 29 minutes.
In the second set, the eventual winner found success by slicing forehand returns and extending the baseline exchanges. Bellucci, who did not face break point in the first two sets, maintained his dominance on serve by targeting the Dominican’s backhand. In the tie-break, Bellucci led early, but missed a short forehand at 3/2 to give his opponent a lifeline. Estrella Burgos made the most of this chance, evening the match with a service winner.
The defending champion rode the momentum shift and broke in the opening game of the deciding set, sealing the win in just over two hours.
“It was a difficult day,” Bellucci said. “The wind did not allow me to maintain a good level. I was dominating and I had options to win the match, but I wasted them. In the third set, I lost my rhythm on serve and he raised his level. I’m happy to have reached the final, but sad because I could have won.”
Estrella Burgos improved to 10-0 in Quito and maintained his perfect record in the FedEx ATP Head2Head rivalry against Bellucci (2-0 at tour-level, 1-0 on the ATP Challenger Tour). Both of his ATP World Tour final appearance have come at the Ecuador Open Quito. He earned 250 Emirates ATP Rankings points and $82,450, while Bellucci received 150 points and $43,430.
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