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Updated: 18 min 12 sec ago

#NextGen Diaries: Taylor Fritz Part II

Mon, 05/30/2016 - 1:20pm

Part II

I thought I’d use the second part of my diary to share a little bit more about myself and tell you about some of the interesting and incredible experiences I've had in each city on tour so far.

Being part of the ATP’s #NextGen…

The #NextGen launch was a big deal for all of us and I know we all feel privileged and honored to be a part of the group. It’s been a while since the ATP’s created a campaign like this and they’re really promoting it hard. It's exciting to be included and I look forward to improving and growing as a player and also doing everything I can to promote the game in the US and around the world.

During the launch it was a bit surreal. Seeing pictures of myself from the ATP photoshoot in Australia, I can’t believe how cool it is that I get to do these types of things. I’m so fortunate and it’s great to have these kinds of experiences and this kind of exposure. I feel lucky and honored to be one of the guys in the group but at the same time it makes me want to work even harder to make sure I reach my full potential.

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Cool Moments

Going to the Lakers game…

Just before Indian Wells I got the chance to go and watch the LA Lakers play at the Staples Center in Los Angeles. It was really cool. The Lakers have always been my favorite team and Kobe Bryant, my favorite player, so any time I get the opportunity to go to a game, I grab it. It was such a great experience to go into the locker room and meet the coach and the players. A lot of the players are managed by the same sports agency as me (CAA Sports), so they were very welcoming and could not have been more friendly. I had a lot of fun just seeing everything backstage and then watching the game. We had great seats so I felt very lucky. I really enjoy having the opportunity to go and watch other sports live. It's inspiring. 

Speaking of inspiring, just before the game we bumped into two more than inspiring legends of our game, Roger Federer and Tommy Haas. They were both there, separately, for fun and it was really nice for me to get the opportunity to talk to them in a different setting. Tommy was very friendly as always, and Roger was kind enough to take the time to give me some advice on my scheduling and how to best navigate my way through the tour as a youngster. 

Touring the Bernabeu…

While I was in Madrid, the ATP organized a tour of the Bernabeu for me. If you don’t know, that’s where Real Madrid play. I’m a huge soccer fan and probably one of the biggest Cristiano Ronaldo fans out there, so it was an amazing experience for me! It was really cool seeing what the players see and where they spend their time before and after games. When I was walking up the steps past the dugout and onto the pitch, I couldn’t imagine what it must feel like when the stands are packed and everyone is waiting for the players to come out. It was incredible. A couple of nights later I was lucky enough to get to watch them play Manchester City in the Champions League semi-finals. What a game to be in town for!

About Me

All tennis players have their quirks...

Sorry to say I don't have too many strange or interesting superstitions. One thing I have got into the habit of doing is jumping in the ice bath after every match. The problem is that this isn't an option at every tournament so sometimes I have to improvise. When there’s an ice machine and a bath at my hotel you'll usually find me shivering in the tub on the night's before and after matches! I’ve been doing that since I started on the tour, so for about six to seven months. I feel a lot better the next day and in the morning. Now it’s just in my head, I need to do it. If I don’t have one, I feel like I won’t feel good the next day. As I write this I'm starting to realize it may be turning into a bit of a superstition. But oh well, at least it's a good habit.

I’m definitely still a teenager...

Like most kids my age, I’m definitely not a morning person at all. And I’m very, very particular about sleep when I’m at a tournament. The day before I play, and the day before that, I put my foot down and force myself to sleep in until at least 10am. I need to get so much sleep before I play.

Another somewhat interesting fact- I always have a messy room. Unless my girlfriend’s staying with me, then maybe she’ll help me organise things. But if it’s just me staying there, it will 100 per cent always be a really, really messy room. Stuff everywhere. With that said, somehow I always know where everything is, so it kinda works.

Any chance I get to play a sport other than tennis, I get pretty excited. I like to think I’m a good basketball player, but my basketball days pretty much ended freshman year of high school. When I’m home, the only organised sport I have is soccer every Saturday. I’m American, though, so I’m not Ronaldo out there!

My success at tennis hasn’t changed anything. It’s still the same with my friends, it always is. I’ve known my friends forever, so to them I'm exactly the same person they knew way back before I had any tennis ranking.

It’s going to be strange later in the year, though. All my friends are going off to college. I’d be in my senior year of high school right now. It’s really weird thinking that after the summer, I’m going to come back and they’re not going to be there. I could've been at college too but I chose a slightly different path.

At home I’m just like any other teenager. I like to play video games, play soccer, hang out with my friends, sleep. I like to just relax and take it easy. I play FIFA and mostly sports-themed video games, so I’m always doing something that revolves around sports.

A couple of lessons I’ve learned along the way…

Always check the weather forecast before packing!

OK, Memphis was a little chillier than I’d expected. The hotel was walking distance from the site and during morning walks over I got made fun of because I would wear shorts and it was freezing! I really didn’t pack for the time of the year. That trip caught me out- i wasn’t ready for it at all.

Tough travel experiences are inevitable...

My first bad travel experience came on a flight from Guadeloupe. I was in a middle seat, which is never ideal on a long flight, and the guy next to me was a pretty big guy. And you know how you’re allowed to bring babies with you and they don’t have their own seat? Well this kid was way too big not to have her own seat and the guy had her on his lap. She was crawling all over me and even hitting me in the face from time to time. That was a tough one.

That's all I have for now. I hope you guys enjoyed my travel diary and hope that I’ve been able to give you a little insight into what life’s like when you’re starting out on the ATP World Tour!

Don't Miss Part I!

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#NextGen Diaries: Taylor Fritz Part I

Mon, 05/30/2016 - 1:19pm

How exciting to be kicking off the ATP’s new #NextGen diary series! Having had such an amazing start to the season, it’s going to be a challenge for me to tell you everything as so much has been happening. It’s been an absolute whirlwind of one thing after another. Thankfully, mostly good things!

Looking back at the past few months, I think it's safe to say I have exceeded my expectations. I was ranked 140 at the start of the year and now I’m No. 67. I guess I should try to break it all down for you and start with the on-court stuff!

Part I

Memphis…

It all started in Memphis, where I played my first ATP tournament in the USA. For that reason it was really important to me, and I was excited to have the opportunity to compete. I knew it would be something I’d always remember, win or lose, and I hoped I could play to my potential and prove myself. 

It all happened so fast that week, winning four matches to make the final. It’s weird looking back and thinking, ‘Wow, that was actually the final.’ It’s such a big accomplishment for me and I’m hoping to be able to do it again moving forwards.

There was a lot of buzz after Memphis. With everything going on with the social media and interviews, it was a lot to take in. A while ago I was just so happy to have anyone from media talk to me, or interview me, or care. Now it’s become more about trying to find a healthy balance and make sure I don’t do too much or too little. It’s definitely something I’m getting used to and learning to handle better.

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Delray Beach…

It was tough moving from Memphis to Delray because the conditions were so different. The first night I got to Delray, I couldn’t get a feel for the courts. It was a tough turnaround and that was definitely a lesson I learned the hard way – there’s going to be a lot of tough turnarounds when you have a good week in one tournament and have to rush over to the next.

Acapulco…(and Top 100!)

Cracking the Top 100 was always a possibility going into that week, so in Acapulco I felt like, ‘Don’t get your hopes up. It will happen.’ I had almost no points to defend up until after the US Open, so I felt pretty confident telling myself that at some point it’s going to happen this year. Just relax, play tennis and don’t worry about it. And that’s what I did. 

It was an amazing feeling when I found out I’d made it. Having dedicated most of my life to tennis, I felt an overwhelming sense of accomplishment. It’s a huge milestone and it felt so great to reach it. It definitely surprised me reaching the Top 100 at this young age. I didn’t think I’d be here so soon, but at the same time, now that I’m here, I want to stay here. I want to keep moving forward. I don’t want to take any steps back. 

Indian Wells…

Indian Wells is a special tournament for me. Growing up in San Diego, it was an event I went to a lot as a kid and it always provided plenty of inspiration. I’ve seen so many great players play there over the years and I always dreamed that one day I might be one of them. I put a lot of importance on that tournament and I was really excited to play main draw there for the first time. 

In the first round I drew my good friend, Frances Tiafoe. Frances had beaten me every time we played in juniors and that made me really want to get the win in that first round. I’d been doing well and had had a lot of really good results up to that point. I definitely felt that it was my time, and I wanted it bad, but looking back, I think I put a little bit too much pressure on myself.

It was tough losing that match. I took it a lot harder than I usually do because I felt my approach and attitude was all wrong. Luckily for me, Miami was right around the corner and I didn’t have too much time to dwell on it. 

Miami…

Miami was a good experience. When I went out to play David Ferrer in the second round, the crowd was electric. Being a pro and having a crowd cheer for you through the ups and downs of a match feels amazing. It’s the best feeling knowing that people are rooting for you. I felt so much love from the crowd out there and I loved that people were behind me and supporting me.

The proudest moment of the match was when I was down a break and he was serving at 5-4, 30/0 for the first set. It felt pretty good that I was able to come back, break him, and give myself a chance in that set. Coming from behind like that against such a good player isn’t an easy thing to do.

Playing a high level first set like that definitely gave me a lot of confidence, but after that match I found myself incredibly frustrated with how physically I wasn’t able to keep up in the second set. Obviously playing against Ferrer is the ultimate test of physicality, but I really thought, having dedicated myself a year ago to getting stronger in the gym, that I would have more of a chance to keep up with him. Again, it was a lesson learned and I have been able to move on from it, take the positives, make a note of what needs to be improved, and most of all use that disappointment I felt as fuel to continue to motivate me to improve and get stronger. I will not let that happen again.

Don't miss Part II!

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Complete Washout At Roland Garros

Mon, 05/30/2016 - 12:29pm

Rain has cancelled all play on Monday at Roland Garros. It's the first complete washout in Paris since exactly 16 years ago – 30 May 2000.

Play was due to begin at 11:00 a.m. local time, but tournament organisers were forced to call off play at 1:45 p.m. local time.

World No. 1 Novak Djokovic, a three-time runner-up at Roland Garros, had been due to play No. 14 seed Roberto Bautista Agut for a place in the quarter-finals. Seventh seed Tomas Berdych was scheduled to play 2013 runner-up David Ferrer, No. 12 seed David Goffin was set to challenge Ernests Gulbis and No. 13 seed Dominic Thiem was slated to meet Marcel Granollers.

View Tuesday's schedule here.

Taylor Fritz #NextGen Diaries Episode One

Mon, 05/30/2016 - 12:18pm

American teenager Taylor Fritz gives fans an exclusive behind-the-scenes look at his life on the ATP World Tour in the first of three episodes of his #NextGen Diaries.

Gasquet Beats Nishikori In 4R Roland Garros 2016 Highlights

Mon, 05/30/2016 - 7:22am
Watch highlights as Richard Gasquet reaches the Roland Garros quarter-finals for the first time with victory over Kei Nishikori on Sunday. Video courtesy of RolandGarros.com. Photo: Getty Images

Ramos Vinolas Beats Raonic In 4R Roland Garros 2016 Highlights

Mon, 05/30/2016 - 7:22am
Watch highlights as Albert Ramos-Vinolas records one of the biggest wins of his career over Milos Raonic on Sunday for a place in the Roland Garros quarter-finals. Video courtesy of RolandGarros.com. Photo: Getty Images

Wawrinka Defeats Troicki In 4R Roland Garros 2016 Highlights

Mon, 05/30/2016 - 7:22am
Watch highlights as defending champion Stan Wawrinka takes on Viktor Troicki on Sunday for a place in the Roland Garros quarter-finals. Video courtesy of RolandGarros.com. Photo: Getty Images

Murray Tops Isner In 4R Roland Garros 2016 Highlights

Mon, 05/30/2016 - 7:22am
Watch highlights of Andy Murray versus John Isner in the Roland Garros fourth round on Sunday. Video courtesy of RolandGarros.com. Photo: Getty Images

ATP Challenger Tour Turns Attention To Grass Swing

Sun, 05/29/2016 - 11:17pm

The smell of freshly trimmed grass is in the air on the ATP Challenger Tour, with three weeks of high-octane, fast-paced tennis set to commence. The grass-court season on the ATP World Tour is still one week away, but the lawns are cut and ready for action at the Aegon Manchester Trophy, which will get underway Tuesday at the Northern Lawn Tennis Club in Manchester, England.

The three-week swing, which also includes €42,500 events in the London suburb of Surbiton and the town of Ilkley, located in northern England, is on the schedule for a second straight year. In 2015, Sam Groth took the title in Manchester, with fellow Aussie Matthew Ebden prevailing in Surbiton after saving two match points against Denis Kudla in the final. Kudla would return the favour a week later, defeating Ebden for the Ilkley crown. With Wimbledon main draw wild cards typically awarded to the tournament winners and critical Emirates ATP Rankings points at stake, it is an intriguing stretch on the ATP Challenger Tour schedule.

This week, Kudla is the top seed in Manchester, with reigning champ Groth seeded seventh and home favourite Daniel Evans looking to add a third ATP Challenger Tour title in 2016. Local hope Liam Broady received a main draw wild card. The tournament was held from 1995-2009, before taking a five-year hiatus. It has since returned to the Northern Lawn Tennis Club, affectionately known as the 'Wimbledon of the North'. Founded in 1880, the venue boasts 19 tennis courts, including seven on grass, and has welcomed former World No. 1s Pete Sampras, Jimmy Connors, John McEnroe and Stefan Edberg over the years.

"Last year was my first year playing a pro tournament at The Northern," said Broady. "It was a special experience for me because as a boy I can remember going to watch the Challenger and being amazed at the standard. It puts a nice perspective on how far I have come since then.

"It's also great to be able to have my close friends and family come and watch. The grass courts are as good as you will find anywhere. It's a pleasure to play on the courts here and every player in the tournament agrees."

Following Manchester, the grass-court swing weaves its way to the southwest London suburb of Surbiton, a town with quite the impressive tennis footprint. Founded in 1881, the Surbiton Racket & Fitness Club has a rich history, having hosted the prestigious Surrey Grass Court Championships from 1904-1980. The tournament would return in 1998 as the Aegon Surbiton Trophy, and has featured Roger Federer, a semi-finalist in 1999, as well as 2006 champion Mardy Fish and 2007 winner Jo-Wilfried Tsonga.

"You get the feeling that this time of year everyone loves tennis," said Ryan Harrison, a quarter-finalist in Surbiton last year. "You can tell that people enjoy being out here and enjoy watching tennis at any level, even if it's not Roger Federer on the court. I feel like this tournament is the epitome of an event that has great people around it."

"It's a great training ground for young players," said Judy Murray, mother of World No. 2 Andy Murray. "I remember Andy playing here one year as a teenager, in the run-up to Wimbledon. I think you'll find a lot of the stars of the future to look out for."

The ATP Challenger Tour grass season concludes with the Aegon Ilkley Trophy at the 136-year-old Ilkley Lawn Tennis & Squash Club. Arguably one of the most picturesque venues on the Challenger circuit, the tournament is nestled adjacent to the idyllic Ilkley Moor, Cow & Calf rocks and River Wharfe.

"It's pretty amazing in Ilkley," said reigning champion Kudla. "There are lots of fans here supporting the tournament and the players. It has the environment that players love."

Wawrinka Hits With Ball Kid, 'It Was Nice'

Sun, 05/29/2016 - 5:03pm

Stan Wawrinka reached the quarter-finals at Roland Garros for the third time on Sunday. But the World No. 4 did achieve a first in Paris: Playing with a ball kid during the middle of the match.

Wawrinka was looking to stay warm while waiting for Serbian Viktor Troicki to finish receiving treatment from a trainer. His legs were bouncing as he sat impatiently. So he looked behind him to the ball boy.

“I asked him if he was playing tennis. I said, 'Okay, let's play',” Wawrinka said.

The smiling Swiss grabbed a racquet for himself and one for his new hitting partner. To roars from the fans at Philippe Chatrier Court, Wawrinka hit with the left-hander for about a minute.

“He wasn't afraid to be on the central court. He was a nice kid,” Wawrinka said.

The defending Roland Garros champion and ball boy then shook hands at the net, and Wawrinka got his racquet back. By then, Troicki was ready to play. “I thought it was nice. It was nice for him. It was fun for the audience, and it kept me busy,” Wawrinka said.

Maybe it helped the third seed, too. He went on to defeat Troicki 7-6(5), 6-7(7), 6-3, 6-2 and move into the quarter-finals.

"I was a little bit bored, I was talking to the ball kid. I asked him if he played tennis. I said, ok, let's play." pic.twitter.com/oT7ZqsW8ut

Roland Garros (@rolandgarros) May 29, 2016

Andreozzi Lifts Title In Vicenza

Sun, 05/29/2016 - 4:15pm

A LOOK BACK

Citta’ Di Vicenza (Vicenza, Italy): Guido Andreozzi of Argentina picked up his second ATP Challenger Tour title of the year by defeating Pere Riba of Spain in the final. The Spaniard was forced to retire with a lower back injury after Andreozzi won the first set 6-0. Andreozzi also prevailed this February at the $50,000 event in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic.

Despite the unfortunate end, this was still Riba’s best week of the year. He arrived in Vicenza having not won a main draw match on the ATP Challenger Tour in 2016.

The upset of the week came from World No. 585 Viktor Galovic of Croatia, who upset #NextGen star Andrey Rublev of Russia in the opening round. The win was just his second ATP Challenger Tour match win in three years. 

A LOOK AHEAD

Three Challengers are on the calendar this week, with the illustrious $125,000+H event in Prostejov, Czech Republic, taking top billing. Past champions include former Top 10 players Radek Stepanek, Guillermo Coria and Karol Kucera. All eight seeds are ranked inside the Top 100 of the Emirates ATP Rankings, with world No. 50 Ricardas Berankis of Lithuania holding the No. 1 seed and World No. 59 Lukas Rosol of the Czech Republic taking the No. 2 seed. Local favourite Jiri Vesely is the No. 3 seed and Inigo Cervantes of Spain is the No. 4 seed.

Other notable names in the draw include former World No. 8 Janko Tipsarevic of Serbia, as well as #NextGen stars Karen Khachanov of Russia and Elias Ymer of Sweden. Several ATP Challenger Tour winners this year are also in the draw, including Gastao Elias of Portugal. Andreozzi looks to continue his win streak after Vicenza when he plays No. 5 seed Damir Dzumhur of Bosnia in the opening round.

The popular $50,000+H tournament in Furth, Germany, reaches a notable milestone as it celebrates its 30th year. Three players ranked inside the Top 100 of the Emirates ATP Rankings are in the draw, with world No. 72 Malek Jaziri of Tunisia as the No. 1 seed, World No. 93 Taro Daniel of Japan taking the No. 2 seed and No. 3 seed Albert Montanes of Spain holding the No. 3 seed. Thomas Fabbiano of Italy, a winner this March in Shenzhen, China, is the No. 6 seed, while Jozef Kovalik, a winner this April in Napoli, Italy is the No. 8 seed. Another notable name in the draw is Gerard Melzer of Austria, who has won three ATP Challenger Tour titles this year.

Lastly, the grass season kicks off with the $50,000 event in Manchester, England, which returns for the 17th year. Seven of the eight seeds are in the Top 100 of the Emirates ATP Rankings, with Americans Denis Kudla and Rajeev Ram taking the No. 1 and No. 2 seeds, respectively. Local favourite Daniel Evans, a winner of two ATP Challenger Tour events this year is the No. 3 seed. Several other ATP Challenger Tour title winners this year are in the draw, including No. 8 seed Bjorn Fratangelo of the U.S., (Savannah) Mischa Zverev of Germany (Sarasota), Konstantin Kravchuk of Russia (Busan) and James Duckworth of Australia (Bangkok).

View Draws & Watch Free Live Streams

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.


Paes/Matkowski To Meet Bryans In Roland Garros QFs

Sun, 05/29/2016 - 4:13pm

Two-time former champions and fifth seeds Bob Bryan and Mike Bryan saved one match point on Sunday to reach the Roland Garros quarter-finals.

The Bryans saved the match point at 5/6 in the second-set tie-break en route to beating No. 12 seeds Radek Stepanek and Nenad Zimonjic 4-6, 7-6(6), 6-3 in Paris. The Bryans failed to convert three set point opportunities at 6-5 in the second set.

The 2003 and 2013 titlists will now look to improve their 63-15 record at Roland Garros against No. 16 seeds Marcin Matkowski and Leander Paes, who beat this year's Australian Open champions Jamie Murray and Bruno Soares 7-6(5), 7-6(4) in one hour and 43 minutes.

Sixth seeds Rohan Bopanna and Florin Mergea knocked out Brian Baker and Marcus Daniell 6-2, 6-7(4), 6-1, while 2014 champions Julien Benneteau and Edouard Roger-Vasselin overcame Treat Huey and Max Mirnyi 6-4, 6-4. Pablo Cuevas and Marcel Granollers will face ninth seed Lukasz Kubot and Alexander Peya after a 7-6(3), 6-4 victory over Daniel Nestor and Aisam-Ul-Haq Qureshi.

At Last, Gasquet Makes Roland Garros QFs

Sun, 05/29/2016 - 4:10pm

Home, sweet home, at last.

For the first time in 13 tries, Richard Gasquet has reached the quarter-finals at Roland Garros, the Frenchman's home Grand Slam. The 29 year old upset fifth seed Kei Nishikori 6-4, 6-2, 4-6, 6-2 on Sunday to reach the final eight in Paris.

“[It was a] great match for me to win [against] the No. 6 in the world on central court in Paris,” Gasquet said. “I took a lot of confidence after winning that [first] set. I played much better in the second set, and also with the crowd cheering for me, it was a great moment.”

Gasquet had lost in the fourth round at Roland Garros four times previously (2011, 2012, 2013 and 2015). The ninth seed also had never taken a set off of Nishikori on clay, having lost in straight sets to to the Japanese twice earlier this month (Madrid, Rome).

But Gasquet owned a 6-2 advantage in their overall FedEx ATP Head2Head rivalry. With the French crowd behind him and his picturesque one-handed backhand firing, Gasquet achieved personal history by playing more aggressive from the baseline.

“I knew if I want to win [against] this guy, I need to play very, very deep and very fast... If I'm playing short like I did in Rome and Madrid, I have no chance to win,” Gasquet said. “You also need to be able to whack the ball from the baseline, and that's what I tried to do.”

He fell behind 2-4 before a 50-minute rain delay. When play resumed, though, Gasquet took over, winning 10 of the next 12 games to gain a two-set lead. Nishikori rebounded in the third, breaking Gasquet to force a fourth set.

But the Frenchman, wearing the blue, white and red of the French flag, broke Nishikori twice in the fourth and held at love to advance. Gasquet will face second seed Andy Murray in the quarter-finals. The Scot leads their FedEx ATP Head2Head rivalry 7-3, including their past five meetings. “It's always important to have the crowd cheering for you, as they did it on the court, and I admit it made a big difference for me,” Gasquet said. “Of course it will be the same on Tuesday, but for sure I need to play a big match to win [against] Andy.”

Nishikori was trying to reach the final eight for the second consecutive year and match his best showing in Paris. Had he won, he would have become the second Japanese man to reach multiple quarter-finals at Roland Garros (Jiri Sato, 1931, 1933). “It was heavy [conditions], and I couldn't really dictate with my forehand or backhand,” Nishikori said. “I think he played good tennis... I have to give him credit.”

Murray Secures QF Berth At Roland Garros

Sun, 05/29/2016 - 3:34pm

Andy Murray booked his spot in the Roland Garros quarter-finals for a third consecutive year, downing John Isner 7-6(9), 6-4, 6-3 on Sunday.

Second seed Murray, who now owns a 6-0 FedEx ATP Head2Head edge over his American opponent, advanced to the last eight at the clay-court Grand Slam for the sixth time. It is the most quarters reached by a British man in Roland Garros history.

"I'm pumped to be in the quarters of a slam," said Murray, who will face home hope Richard Gasquet next. "Obviously the atmosphere will be tough, but I don't mind that. I played a number of times against French players here in difficult atmospheres and I managed okay."

Four of the previous six encounters between Murray and Isner had opened with a first-set tie-break, and the script would hold true to form on Sunday. Isner, who failed to convert on two break chances earlier in the set, battled back after conceding an immediate mini-break. He had a set point on his racquet at 6/5 after inducing an error off a Murray second serve, but the American left his approach shot short as he darted to the net to close out the opener. Murray slipped a backhand down the line for a sublime winner and the momentum shifted. Two more set points were saved by the Scot, who eventually converted the second of his own, pulling Isner out wide to the ad court and drawing an error to clinch the tie-break 11-9.

"I think it could have been a little bit different if I won that set," said Isner. "I had it on my racquet serving at 6/5. I had a short forehand, too, and didn't do anything with it. I hit it right back to him and he passed me up the line, because he's No. 2 in the world, and that's what he does. I didn't take advantage of that opportunity right there... I think I went with option D there. A, B, and C would have been better." 

"The first set was key," said Murray. "I didn't have any chances until the tiebreak. I was a bit lucky on the 6/5 point. He had a great serve and I guessed the right way on his approach shot. That point was very important, for sure. And then after that I was starting to create a lot more chances on the return games. Most games I felt like I was having opportunities and wasn't giving him any chances on my serve." 

The skies opened at 1-1 in the second set and a 50-minute rain delay would ensue. But Murray would not be rattled, eventually taking a two-set lead with a late break in the 10th game. In favourable heavy conditions, the World No. 2 took his first set point, chasing down an Isner drop shot and firing a volley into the open court. He continued to apply pressure on the 6'10" right-hander in the third set, breaking for 3-1 when an Isner drop shot found the net. Murray turned aside a break chance when serving for the match in the ninth game, emerging victorious after just under three hours. He withstood 18 aces from the big-serving American and saved all five break points faced. Murray has denied a combined 31 of 32 break chances in six encounters against Isner.

"The conditions were certainly slower and that would benefit me against someone that serves as well as John," added Murray. "I think when we came back out after the rain delay, the balls were getting heavy very quick. The beginning of the match it was fairly slow because there hadn't been any rain during the day. The balls weren't getting that heavy when we were going to the back of the courts and the covers. When we came back out the balls were extremely slow, so I was able to return a lot more serves, get a lot more in the service games, extend the rallies, and that's where I was able to dictate most of the points." 

Murray extended his winning streak to nine matches after lifting the trophy at the ATP World Tour Masters 1000 event in Rome two weeks ago (d. Djokovic). He completed a pair of five-set wins to open the fortnight, including his ninth career 0-2 comeback over Radek Stepanek in the first round.

Isner, meanwhile, was seeking to become the first American to reach the quarter-finals on the terre battue since Andre Agassi in 2003. American men are now 0-7 in the fourth round in the past 13 years.

"I do think I did turn a corner on my season this week, considering how I was down and out in my first-round match," Isner added. "So I'm leaving this tournament with positive feelings going forward in my year here in 2016.

"It's not going to be a somber ride back to the States for me, whereas a lot of times this year I have left the tournament with a very bad taste in my mouth. It's not so much that this week."

Raonic Turns Focus To Grass, McEnroe Partnership

Sun, 05/29/2016 - 3:15pm

Milos Raonic turned his focus to the grass-court swing and a three-week partnership with John McEnroe on Sunday following a fourth-round exit at Roland Garros.

The Canadian, who currently works with Carlos Moya and Riccardo Piatti, explained the reason why former World No. 1 McEnroe has agreed to join his team as a consultant.

"I was sort of just looking for another set of eyes to be a bit more efficient on grass, and I think people are seeing it as just for grass," said Raonic, after he lost to Albert Ramos-Vinolas in Paris. "It's about generally improving. I want to improve coming forward and I want to improve putting more pressure on my opponents.

"I feel like I was a lot more efficient at the beginning of the year coming forward, and it's something that I would like to put a lot of attention to. It just works out with grass that's probably the thing that will benefit me the most. Now, in the three weeks leading to Wimbledon, we are going to work, and really put some attention to that.

"[There are] other parts of my game that I can do a bit differently to be better, and it's not by any means just with the intention of Wimbledon. It's about generally improving."

McEnroe, who now works as a television commentator and is a part of the ATP Champions Tour, spent 170 weeks at No. 1 in the Emirates ATP Rankings.

"It's a great honour and there's a lot I want to achieve," said 25-year-old Raonic. "I'm maybe far from it today, but I feel like I'm a lot closer and I'm going to try to do everything I can to sort of maximise giving myself the opportunity to achieve those goals.

"At the end of the day of the day, every coach I have is to some extent an adviser, and it is my job personally, out of everything I hear, to weigh what it's worth and weigh what is best for me. I'm the CEO of the Milos Raonic Tennis. That's it... I know everybody I have around me wants to help me to the fullest.

"It's not a focus for just Wimbledon. It's John coming along to help me improve in general."

Raonic reached the 2014 Wimbledon semi-finals and has an 8-9 record in ATP World Tour finals (all on hard courts). The World No. 9 will next compete at the Aegon Championships in London.

 

Wawrinka Moves Into Roland Garros QFs

Sun, 05/29/2016 - 12:27pm

Stan Wawrinka appears to be honing his game just in time for the latter stages of Roland Garros. The Swiss moved into the quarter-finals in Paris for the third time in four years on Sunday, bypassing Serbian Viktor Troicki 7-6(5), 6-7(7), 6-3, 6-2 in three hours on Philippe Chatrier Court.

The defending Roland Garros champion used powerful serving – 19 aces – and opportunistic tennis to reach the final eight in Paris for the second consecutive season. He brings a favourable FedEx ATP Head2Head record into his next match as well: Wawrinka is 6-0 against unseeded Albert Ramos-Vinolas, who beat Milos Raonic 6-2, 6-4, 6-4.

"It's a great victory for me. I was trying to just stay calm with myself, find my game all over the match," Wawrinka said. "I managed to play better, I managed to find solutions."

Wawrinka entered Sunday's fourth-round match having not lost a set since his five-set battle against Lukas Rosol in the first round. But Troicki proved to be a tricky opponent early in their contest. He erased four break points to force a first-set tie-break. Wawrinka prevailed, though, and looked to have complete control of the match with an early break in the second.

But Troicki ran off the next four games to lead 4-1 before Wawrinka recovered to 4-all. Troicki, looking to reach his first Grand Slam quarter-final, evened the match on his fifth set point opportunity in the second-set tie-break.

The final two sets were all Wawrinka, though, as the third seed earned a break in the third and two in the final set. Wawrinka has now won eight consecutive matches, dating back to his title run two weeks ago in Geneva. His home title run marked the first time Wawrinka had reached the semi-finals of a clay-court tournament this season.

“Although the match was rather long, I know that I didn't expend any intellectual energy that much, because I was very serene. I was at peace with myself," Wawrinka said. "Being in the quarter-finals again is great. Of course I don't want to stop there, but I also want to enjoy what's happening.”

Troicki, No. 24 in the Emirates ATP Rankings, fell to 0-5 in fourth-round matches at Grand Slams, including 0-3 at Roland Garros (2011 l. to Murray, 2013 l. to Tsonga). The Serbian, who swept Gilles Simon in the third round, also dropped to 4-19 against Top 20 opponents at Grand Slams.

Ramos-Vinolas Causes Upset For First Major QF

Sun, 05/29/2016 - 11:56am

World No. 55 Albert Ramos-Vinolas caused an upset on Sunday at Roland Garros to reach his first Grand Slam quarter-final.

Ramos-Vinolas, the only left-hander remaining in the draw, recorded just his second Top 10 win in 23 attempts by beating eighth seed Milos Raonic 6-2, 6-4, 6-4 in two hours and 21 minutes.

"I'm very happy," said Ramos-Vinolas. "I didn't expect this. After losing last week 6-1, 6-1 against [Stan] Wawrinka, I was a little bit down because I was expecting a little more in Geneva last week. I don't know why things seem to be falling into place this week. Although this is not Raonic's favourite surface, I feel quite humbled to have won against him."

Ramos-Vinolas will next play third seed and defending champion Stan Wawrinka, who knocked out No. 22 seed Viktor Troicki in four sets. Read Report

Raonic put Ramos-Vinolas under pressure in his opening service games, but the Spaniard held his nerve and broke twice en route to a 5-1 lead.

Raonic could have taken a 3-0 lead in the second set, however Ramos-Vinolas saved six break points in an 18-point third game. He went on to break Raonic to 30 for a 5-4 lead.

Ramos-Vinolas, who saved six of seven break points during the pair's second meeting, converted his third break point opportunity at 4-4 in the third set. Serving for the match, Ramos-Vinolas took a 40/15 lead, but was forced to save one break point prior to clinching his 18th match win of the season.

It was just his eighth victory at the four major championships (8-18 overall) and denied Raonic a spot in his second Roland Garros quarter-final and his 50th tour-level win on clay.

"I have to say [that] I'm disappointed I lost," said Raonic. "The main reason I think I lost was because the foundation of my game wasn't there. I didn't serve well... I gave myself opportunities on his serve, but the day is a lot easier for the other guy when I don't serve well. I fought as hard as I could. That's probably the thing I will be the most proud about."

Coming in, Ramos-Vinolas had not won a match on Parisian clay since 2011, but had ended a seven-match losing streak by beating No. 23 seed Jack Sock in the third round.

The 28-year-old Spaniard had previously recorded his only Top 10 victory against Roger Federer in the 2013 Shanghai Rolex Masters second round.

Djokovic Defeats Bedene In 3R Roland Garros 2016 Highlights

Sun, 05/29/2016 - 9:37am
Watch highlights as World No. 1 Novak Djokovic beat Aljaz Bedene at Roland Garros on Saturday for a place in the Last 16. Video courtesy of RolandGarros.com. Photo: Getty Images

Thiem Beats Zverev In 3R Roland Garros 2016 Highlights

Sun, 05/29/2016 - 9:37am
Watch highlights as Dominic Thiem gets the better of #NextGen star Alexander Zverev on Saturday for a place in the Roland Garros fourth round. Video courtesy of RolandGarros.com. Photo: Getty Images

Dream Run For Ramos-Vinolas At Roland Garros

Sun, 05/29/2016 - 6:31am
Albert Ramos-Vinolas reflects on a dream run at Roland Garros and missing his Dad's 60th birthday celebrations as a result. Photo: Getty Images