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Tomic takes Rasheed to task over comments

Thu, 05/26/2016 - 7:18pm
Tomic takes Rasheed to task over comments

French Open Friday: Renewed Rivalries

Thu, 05/26/2016 - 7:10pm
Samantha Stosur, Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, and Barbora Strycova will try to turn around unfavorable head-to-heads as the first week of Roland Garros comes to a close.

Pospisil/Sock March On At Roland Garros

Thu, 05/26/2016 - 6:42pm

Vasek Pospisil and Jack Sock are off to a good start at Roland Garros, prevailing 6-1, 7-5 against Thomaz Bellucci and Martin Klizan on Thursday. The seventh seeds swept the last five games of the first set and got the late break in the second set. Pospisil/Sock saved all four break points faced in the 80-minute encounter. In the second round, they will face 2014 champions Julien Benneteau and Edouard Roger-Vasselin.

Other seeded teams also enjoyed success in their opening matches. Second seeds Jean-Julien Rojer and Horia Tecau beat Guido Pella and Horacio Zeballos 6-4, 6-4. The Dutch/Romanian duo held 14 break points, converting two. They move on to face 2008 champion (w/ Horna) Pablo Cuevas and 2014 finalist (w/ M. Lopez) Marcel Granollers.

Third seeds and defending champions Ivan Dodig and Marcelo Melo dismissed Robin Haase and Viktor Troicki 6-0, 6-3 without facing a break point. Dodig/Melo raced out to a 6-0, 3-0 lead before serving out the match in 42 minutes. Their second-round opponents will be Frenchmen Tristan Lamasine and Albano Olivetti.

Jamie Murray and Bruno Soares eased past Russians Evgeny Donskoy and Andrey Kuznetsov 6-3, 6-3 in the first round. Murray/Soares went three-for-three on break points to set up a meeting with French wild cards David Guez and Vincent Millot.

Bob Bryan and Mike Bryan defeated Mariusz Fyrstenberg and Santiago Gonzalez 6-2, 6-3 in the first round. The fifth seeds captured the Roland Garros title in 2003 and 2013, and were runners-up on four occasions. Last year, they lost the final to Dodig/Melo.

Tsonga Rallies From Two Sets Down

Thu, 05/26/2016 - 4:48pm

Sixth seed Jo-Wilfried Tsonga delighted the French crowd on Court Philippe Chatrier by rallying from two sets down to defeat Marcos Baghdatis in their second-round match on Thursday, 6-7(6), 3-6, 6-3, 6-2, 6-2. 

The early stages of the match saw Tsonga unable to convert several opportunities. The Frenchman missed a set point in the opening set tie-break and couldn’t take advantage of break point chances to lead 3-0 lead in the second set. A volley winner on break point gave Baghdatis a 5-3 lead in the second set and he closed things out one game later to take a commanding two-set lead.

True to his competitive nature, Tsonga refused to bow out quietly. Finding the range on his shots, he raced out to a 4-1 lead in the third set and brought the crowd into the match after clinching it. Although he did more running in the baseline rallies throughout the fourth set, it was Baghdatis who appeared tired as the Frenchman brought the match to a deciding set.

Tsonga once again grabbed an early break of serve to start the fifth set. Continuing to chase down drop shots after more than three hours of play, he converted on his third break point chance at 4-2 and comfortably served out the match one game later. He improved his FedEx ATP Head2Head rivalry with Baghdatis to 7-1.

The win marked the third time in Tsonga’s career that he came back from two sets down. The last time he did was against Roger Federer in the quarter-finals at Wimbledon in 2011. Next up is former Roland Garros semi-finalist Ernests Gulbis of Latvia.

In the first upset of the day, Gulbis prevailed in his second-round over No. 26 seed Joao Sousa of Portugal, 6-2, 7-5, 6-3. Gulbis was in peak form throughout the contest, firing 60 winners to just 25 unforced errors. Tsonga leads their FedEx ATP Head2Head rivalry 3-2, but Gulbis won their most recent match in 2014 at the ATP World Tour 250 event in Marseille

Twelfth seed David Goffin continued his impressive form by winning over Carlos Berlocq of Argentina, 7-5, 6-1, 6-4. The Belgian was in full flight in the latter stages, hitting 22 winners to 13 unforced errors in the last two sets. He will play veteran Nicolas Almagro of Spain for a place in the second week.

"I'm very happy to win the match in three sets against such a good clay player in the second round of a Grand Slam," said Goffin. "That gives me confidence."

Almagro reached the third round of a Grand Slam for the first time in three years by defeating Jiri Vesley of the Czech Republic, 6-4, 6-2, 6-3. The former World No. 9 racked up 19 break points throughout the contest and converted on six of them. Almagro leads his FedEx ATP Head2Head rivalry with Goffin 3-0, but they haven’t played in over three years.


Djokovic Looks To Keep Improving

Thu, 05/26/2016 - 3:48pm

Novak Djokovic is through to the third round at Roland Garros, but he’s not content with his current form.

The No. 1 seed continued his quest for the career Grand Slam on Thursday by overcoming a tricky match against qualifier Steve Darcis of Belgium, 7-5, 6-3, 6-4. Djokovic had an early break in all three sets, but Darcis came back in each of them before the World No. 1 regained the momentum.

“I was pleased to get the job done in three sets, but there were things that I definitely didn’t like in my game today,” said Djokovic. “Too many unforced errors from the first or second shot of the rally. Credit to Steve for playing a lot of variety and mixing up the pace…[but] hopefully that’s not going to happen in the later rounds.”

Djokovic once again has coach Boris Becker accompanying him this tournament. He credited the six-time Grand Slam champion with his outstanding year and said the German has brought noticeable changes to the mental part of his game.

“Boris was the first choice [as coach]. I’ve had some great times with him the past couple of years and learned a lot from a psychological point of view of how to handle things on the tour, on and off the court,” said Djokovic. “He’s somebody who has personally experienced those ups and downs, so he can convey that knowledge and experience to me. His contribution to the team is definitely big and everything has worked in harmony so far.” 

Djokovic will next play Aljaz Bedene of Great Britain, who is in the third round of a Grand Slam for the first time in his career. The Serbian defeated Bedene in the opening round of last year’s Australian Open, but is expecting a different match this time.

“We practised a bit in Monte-Carlo and a couple of other places. He’s a good guy, very talented and a quick motion for his first serve,” said Djokovic. “He doesn’t have anything to lose and I’m sure he’ll give it his all. I just hope I can sustain the pressure that comes from him and enjoy my time on the court.”

#NextGen Stars Advance At Roland Garros

Thu, 05/26/2016 - 3:36pm

In a matchup between rising ATP World Tour players, #NextGen star Borna Coric prevailed 3-6, 6-2, 7-6(4), 7-6(6) against 20th seed Bernard Tomic on Thursday at Roland Garros. Coric, No. 47 in the Emirates ATP Rankings, erased a set point during the fourth-set tie-break to avoid a fifth set.

The 19 year old reaches the third round at Roland Garros for the second consecutive year. Last year, he lost to American Jack Sock in straight sets. This year the Croat will face 14th seed Roberto Bautista Agut, who dispatched Frenchman Paul-Henri Mathieu 7-6(5), 6-4, 6-1.

“I think I have very good quality of tennis at the moment, especially on the clay court, and I think it's going to come,” Coric said of more success.

Bautista Agut leads his FedEx ATP Head2Head rivalry with Coric 2-1, including two clay-court wins last year. By reaching the third round, the Spaniard matches his best result at Roland Garros (2014).

Another 19-year-old #NextGen star also moved on in Paris on Thursday. Alexander Zverev upset the home crowd by beating French wild card Stephane Robert 6-1, 3-6, 6-1, 6-4. “You can feel immediately that his game is where it has to be... His backhand shots are really good. There is not much effort. His tennis is well balanced... and that's a great strength of his,” Robert said of Zverev. “It's nice to see this. He's going to be one of the future big names.”

The 36 year old, No. 90 in the Emirates ATP Rankings, was playing in his sixth Roland Garros main draw. “I felt good during the tournament, and there were things I had to work on. That's very, very positive for me,” Robert said.

Zverev, in his Roland Garros main draw debut, advances to the third round, his best showing yet at a Grand Slam. The German will face 13th seed Dominic Thiem in a rematch of the Open de Nice Cote d’Azur final on Saturday. Thiem won that contest 6-4, 3-6, 6-0 to gain a 2-0 advantage in their FedEx ATP Head2Head rivalry.

Nadal Reflects On 200 Grand Slam Wins

Thu, 05/26/2016 - 2:37pm

Rafael Nadal recorded his 200th Grand Slam match win on Thursday at Roland Garros, but he isn’t counting.

The No. 4 seed and nine-time Roland Garros champion needed less than two hours to move into the third round by defeating Facundo Bagnis of Argentina, 6-3, 6-0, 6-3. He became just the eighth tennis player in tennis history to achieve 200 Grand Slam wins,

“My first Grand Slam was at Wimbledon in 2003. It had always been a dream for me,” said Nadal. “But the most important thing is a victory in the second round and not the 200 victories. It’s only another number.”

Nadal has been in top form the past few days, dropping 10 games in his first two matches. It’s the most dominant start he’s had in a Grand Slam since Roland Garros in 2014, when he lost just as many games in the first two rounds.

“I won two matches with comfortable results. I played the way that I had to play to be in the third round,” said Nadal. “After a difficult first three games today, I played a solid match with not many mistakes and having control of the situation most of the time. I need to keep playing better if I want to have chances in the next rounds.”

Nadal will next play Marcel Granollers of Spain. He leads his FedEx ATP Head2Head rivalry with Granollers by 4-0, but said past results won’t factor into his preparation.

“Each year is different and things keep changing. We have a new story to write. The only thing I know is that I have reached the third round,” said Nadal. “I just need to play my matches each day. I know there are still things I can improve, so I’m still practising and working on them.”

#NextGen Stars Coric, Fritz And Zverev Featured In Paris Match

Thu, 05/26/2016 - 2:34pm

Ahead of Roland Garros, Borna Coric, Taylor Fritz and Alexander Zverev were featured in the French weekly news magazine Paris Match. Zverev (No. 41), Coric (No. 47) and Fritz (No. 67) are the top three teenagers in the Emirates ATP Rankings going into the second Grand Slam event of the 2016 season.

The three #NextGen players were inspired to pick up the sport by their parents. Zverev is the third professional ATP World Tour player from his family, following in the footsteps of father Alexander Sr. and older brother Mischa Zverev. Fritz’s mother Kathy May, a former World No. 10, won seven WTA Tour titles and reached three Grand Slam quarter-finals in her career. Coric started playing tennis at age five under the guidance of his father Damir.

At Roland Garros this week, Coric has defeated Fritz in straight sets in the first round before upsetting 20th seed Bernard Tomic to set up a third-round clash with No.14 seed Roberto Bautista Agut. Zverev saw off Pierre-Hugues Herbert and Stephane Robert in the opening two rounds and will next face No. 13 Dominic Thiem.

Next Generation Photoshoot 2016

Thu, 05/26/2016 - 2:03pm

Djokovic Avoids Lengthy Battle In Paris

Thu, 05/26/2016 - 1:09pm

Novak Djokovic avoided an exhausting fight from a Grand Slam veteran on Thursday. The Serb withstood strong and consistent play from 11-year tour veteran Steve Darcis to move into the third round 7-5, 6-3, 6-4 and earn his 50th win at Roland Garros.

“It's not easy, because he's very quick, and he anticipates the play very well,” Djokovic said.

Darcis, who famously upset Rafael Nadal in the first round of the 2013 Wimbledon, looked eager to spoil another top player's Grand Slam. Djokovic gained an early break in the first set but the former World No. 44 revived his game and pushed Djokovic, having two chances at 5-6 to force a first-set tie-break. The World No. 1, though, grabbed the opener on his third set point.

In the second, Djokovic again claimed an early break but would later need five set points to gain a two-set advantage. The two exchanged breaks in the third before Djokovic gained another break and won the contest on his third match point.

More: Djokovic Looks To Continue Improving 

Darcis, playing in his 25th Grand Slam, was trying to match his best Grand Slam showing by reaching the third round. He falls to 0-3 against Djokovic in their FedEx ATP Head2Head rivalry.

Djokovic's quest to become the eighth man in history to win all four Grand Slams continues. In the third round, he will face Brit Aljaz Bedene, No. 66 in the Emirates ATP Rankings. The 26 year old beat Spaniard Pablo Carreno Busta 7-6(4), 6-3, 4-6, 5-7, 6-2. Djokovic won their previous FedEx ATP Head2Head meeting in straight sets at the 2015 Australian Open.

“I did learn a lot,” Bedene said about their prior meeting. “You shouldn't have any sloppy games. I have to be focused, have to play my game, and see what happens... I know if I play well anything can happen.”

Djokovic At Grand Slams

Grand Slam  Record Titles Australian Open 57-6 6 Roland Garros  50-11 0 Wimbledon  52-8 3 US Open 57-9 2

French bliss: Dominant Serena into 3rd round

Thu, 05/26/2016 - 12:44pm
French bliss: Dominant Serena into 3rd round

Nadal Records 200th Grand Slam Match Win

Thu, 05/26/2016 - 12:17pm

Nine-time Roland Garros champion Rafael Nadal became the eighth player in tennis history to record 200 Grand Slam match wins on Thursday in Paris.

Nadal, who will celebrate his 30th birthday on 3 June, improved to 200-30 lifetime at the four major championships by beating Facundo Bagnis 6-3, 6-0, 6-3 in one hour and 46 minutes for a place in the third round. He committed 18 unforced errors.

ALL-TIME MOST GRAND SLAM MATCH WINS

Player Win-Loss Record Roger Federer (SUI) 302-50 Jimmy Connors (USA) 233-49 Andre Agassi (USA) 224-53 Ivan Lendl (CZE/USA) 222-49 Roy Emerson (AUS) 217-48 Novak Djokovic (SRB) 216-34 Pete Sampras (USA) 203-38 Rafael Nadal (ESP) 200-30 Stefan Edberg (SWE) 178-47 Ken Rosewall (AUS) 171-34

Nadal lost the first three points of the match, as Bagnis broke to 30 in the Court Philippe Chatrier encounter. But Nadal was able to work his way back with five straight games for a 5-2 lead. He then won nine straight games, from a 5-3 lead in the first set to a 2-0 advantage in the third set. The Spaniard could not convert one match point opportunity at 5-2, advantage.

Nadal is now also four victories shy of notching 800 career match wins (796-168). He is 72-2 lifetime on the clay courts of Roland Garros.

He will next play fellow Spaniard Marcel Granollers. Nadal leads Granollers 4-0 in the FedEx ATP Head2Head rivalry.

More: Nadal Reflects On 200 Grand Slam Wins

Seventh seed Tomas Berdych struck 32 winners, including 11 aces, to knock out Malek Jaziri 6-1, 2-6, 6-2, 6-4 for a place in the third round for the sixth time. "It was a good test," said Berdych. "I managed it well. I think it's good to have matches like that, and just get through it."

Berdych goes onto face No. 25 seed Pablo Cuevas, who defeated wild card and #NextGen star Quetin Halys 7-6(4), 6-3, 7-6(6). Cuevas saved a set point in the third set tie-break, down 5/6. Cuevas beat Berdych in their only previous meeting last October at the ATP World Tour 500 event in Beijing.

"I'm expecting to have a tough battle," said Berdych. "Especially on clay, he's a very dangerous player. I'm going to have to push myself and re-focus again."

Dominic Thiem, the No. 13 seed, reached the third round at Roland Garros for the first time in his career by prevailing over veteran Guillermo Garcia-Lopez 7-5, 6-4, 7-6(3). A backhand volley winner wrapped up the match for the young Austrian, who has won three ATP World Tour titles this year. He'll look to keep his run going against #NextGen star Alexander Zverev.

"It's going to be our third match in just four weeks - Munich, Nice and here," said Thiem. "We are good friends. He's an excellent player, so it's going to be a real tough match on Saturday for me. For him, too, I hope."

David Ferrer reached the third round at Roland Garros for the 12th consecutive year, battling past Argentine Juan Monaco 6-7(4), 6-3, 6-4, 6-2 in three hours and 13 minutes. The Spaniard broke Monaco two times in the fourth set to seal the win.

Ferrer will play 34-year-old countryman Feliciano Lopez in the third round. Lopez, the No. 21 seed, who produced his best performance on Parisian clay in 2004 (l. to Kuerten in the fourth round), hit 15 aces in a 6-3, 7-6(8), 6-3 victory over Victor Estrella Burgos.

"I will play the same way that I played tonight and two days ago, try and play my game," Ferrer said.

Sharapova added to preliminary Olympic team

Thu, 05/26/2016 - 11:21am
Sharapova added to preliminary Olympic team

Nadal wins 200th career Slam match at French

Thu, 05/26/2016 - 9:58am
Nadal wins 200th career Slam match at French

Friday preview: Serve key for Kyrgios against Gasquet

Thu, 05/26/2016 - 9:49am
Friday preview: Serve key for Kyrgios against Gasquet

Mott Latest To Join Aussie Brigade In Challengers

Wed, 05/25/2016 - 9:02pm

Blake Mott wasn’t sure if he wanted to pursue a pro tennis career less than 12 months ago, but the Australian is now firmly committed and quickly rising up the Emirates ATP Rankings.

Under the tutelage of former ATP World Tour pro Peter Luczak, the 20-year-old achieved a career breakthrough this February at the $75,000 ATP Challenger Tour event in Launceston, Australia. Entering the draw as a wild card, Mott beat several veteran players en route to winning the title. At No. 721 in the Emirates ATP Rankings, Mott became the fifth-lowest ranked Challenger winner since 2000 and one of three teenage titlists this year (joining Andrey Rublev and Taylor Fritz).

Although Mott called his experience in Launceston “one of the best weeks of my life,” he said it wasn’t a surprise to win matches against Top 200 players.

“I was out for three or four months last year just to take some time off to figure out what I wanted to do, so I knew my level was much higher than my ranking,” said Mott, speaking from last month’s ATP Challenger Tour event in Sarasota, Florida. “I had a good training block the week before and was seeing the ball well. I was showing a lot of discipline for every point. The Aussie crowd were awesome and I really liked the town. When you’re happy and everything is going well off the court, it’s easy to play well on the court.”

Afterwards, Mott came down with a case of the flu, which kept him from full strength from over a month. Although the virus halted the momentum he had built in Launceston, the Australian said it was part of the ebbs and flows of being on tour.

“That’s the thing about tennis: One week you’re in the final and the next week you’re playing in the first round of qualifying,” said Mott. “You just have to accept it.”

Mott is part of a wave of young Australians climbing the Emirates ATP Rankings, including Jordan Thompson, James Duckworth and Luke Saville. Although they’re all looking to achieve the same Top 20 status that Nick Kyrgios currently has, Mott perhaps has extra incentive in knowing he defeated Kyrgios less than three years ago at an ATP Challenger Tour event in Melbourne, Australia.

“I won, but he’s still somebody to look up to. He’s Top 20 and just a freak of talent,” he said. “We’ve got some great players coming up now. Our nation is quite lucky in terms of funding and sponsorship, which makes a big difference.”

With ATP Challenger Tour events in Australia held from October through February, Mott finds himself on the road for the remainder of the year. Although he’s enjoyed many of the places he’s traveled to on tour, he’s spent an increasing amount of time playing events in the U.S.

“I really like the U.S. tournaments because it’s the same language and a lot of the same atmosphere as Australia,” said Mott. “It’s like a home away from home.”

Insider Podcast: Coaching With Cahill

Wed, 05/25/2016 - 7:15pm
WTA Insider Courtney Nguyen | Darren Cahill, coach to Simona Halep, opens up about the Romanian's game and his own coaching philosophy as his charge plays at Roland Garros.

Mladenovic Sets Up Serena Meeting

Wed, 05/25/2016 - 7:14pm
No.26 seed Kristina Mladenovic thrilled the home court crowd with a two-set win over former doubles partner Timea Babos; top seed Serena Williams looms in the third round.

Venus Cruises Past Chirico

Wed, 05/25/2016 - 7:14pm
Former No.1 Venus Williams faced few problems against American qualifier and Mutua Madrid Open semifinalist Louisa Chirico to reach the third round at Roland Garros.

Serena Puts On Pereira Masterclass

Wed, 05/25/2016 - 7:14pm
World No.1 Serena Williams needed little more than an hour and dropped just three games on her way to a near-flawless victory over Teliana Pereira to move into the third round of Roland Garros.