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Friday Highlights Estoril Open 2016

Fri, 04/29/2016 - 10:59am
Watch highlights as Nick Kyrgios wins a #NextGen clash against Borna Coric and Pablo Carreno Busta upsets top seed Gilles Simon in the Millennium Estoril Open quarter-finals on Friday. Video courtesy: Millennium Estoril Open.

Dimitrov Closes In On Istanbul Final

Fri, 04/29/2016 - 10:56am

Grigor Dimitrov is one match win away from reaching his eighth ATP World Tour final, having advanced to the TEB BNP Paribas Istanbul Open semi-finals for the second year running.

Second seed Dimitrov recovered to beat sixth seed Jiri Vesely 7-6(1), 6-1 in 77 minutes on Friday. Dimitrov fought back from a 2-5 deficit in the first set and saved one set point at 4-5, when Vesely was serving at 40/30.

“With each match, I’m building up a good foundation to play better,” Dimitrov said. “Tomorrow I am going to keep doing that.”

He awaits third seed Ivo Karlovic, who recorded the 301st match win of his career 7-6(2), 6-7(5), 6-4 against fifth seed Marcel Granollers. Karlovic struck 20 aces and was not broken in the two-hour, 13-minute encounter.

Fourth seed Federico Delbonis will meet fellow Argentine Diego Schwartzman for a place in Sunday's final. "We know each other very well and we know what one another will do," said Delbonis. "I'm happy to be in the semi-finals."

Delbonis maintained his recent run of form by beating eighth seed Albert Ramos-Vinolas 7-6(6), 6-4 in one hour and 56 minutes, having saved one set point at 5/6 in the first set tie-break. This month's Marrakech champion (d. Coric) is now 19-9 on the year.

Schwartzman advanced to the semi-finals for the second successive year after he battled past Damir Dzumhur 5-7, 7-6(4), 7-2 in two hours and 48 minutes. Schwartzman beat top seed Bernard Tomic in the second round.

Nadal, Lopez & Safin Star In Madrid 2016 Charity Day

Fri, 04/29/2016 - 8:00am
Rafael Nadal, Feliciano Lopez and Marat Safin star alongside a host of Spanish celebrities at the Mutua Madrid Open charity day on Friday evening. Photo: Mutua Madrid Open

Madrid 2016

Fri, 04/29/2016 - 7:34am

Taipei Challenger Puts Local Twist On Coin Toss

Thu, 04/28/2016 - 11:14pm

Tennis fans are used to a coin toss to decide which player will serve first in a match, but this week’s ATP Challenger Tour event in Taipei, Taiwan, is putting a unique twist on this customary practice.

The tournament is showcasing some of the local culture by using jiaobei blocks in lieu of a standard coin. Made out of wood or bamboo and then carved into a crescent shape, the divination blocks are traditionally thrown in pairs to answer a yes or no question. Although they are more commonly found in temples and home shrines as a means of attempting to receive an answer from the gods, only the tennis gods are being called upon at this week’s Challenger to help answer who will kick off the match.

"I've played matches in countries across the globe. I've seen all kinds of coins and currencies used to decide who serves first, but never the traditional wooden pieces used here in Taipei,” said Liam Broady, who advanced into the quarter-finals on Thursday. “I had to query the umpire more than once on how they would decide who served because I didn't understand how they worked. I think it's a fun way to change the routine of starting a tennis match.”

Play continues on Friday in Taipei and features No. 1 seed Ricardas Berankis, who is currently riding a 13-match winning streak on the ATP Challenger Tour.

Simon Outlasts Countryman Mathieu In Estoril

Thu, 04/28/2016 - 8:46pm

Gilles Simon overcame a challenge from fellow Frenchman Paul-Henri Mathieu to prevail 3-6, 6-2, 6-1 at the Millennium Estoril Open on Thursday. The top seed, who trailed the pair’s FedEx ATP Head2Head rivalry 1-3 heading into the match, landed fewer than half of his first serves on the day, but won 61 per cent of second serve points to advance.

In his third ATP World Tour quarter-final of the season (Miami and Marrakech), Simon will take on Spaniard Pablo Carreno Busta, who beat Japan’s Taro Daniel 6-4, 7-5. It will be the pair’s first tour-level meeting.

“I needed to be focused all the time against Taro,” Carreno Busta said. “I almost lost the second set today. He practices in Valencia so he’s like a Spanish player. I know him well and he is tough.”

Home favourite Joao Sousa, seeded fourth, was eliminated by Nicolas Almagro 4-6, 6-1, 6-2 in the second round. The Spaniard fired 13 aces and broke serve four times to secure the win in one hour and 42 minutes. The 30 year old is into his second quarter-final of 2016, having made the final in Buenos Aires (l. to Thiem).

Top Seeds Beat Local Team In Doubles

Lukasz Kubot and Marcin Matkowski of Poland eliminated Portuguese Gastao Elias and Joao Sousa from doubles contention with a 3-6, 6-3, 10-7 quarter-final win. The top seeds landed 77 per cent of first serves and broke Elias/Sousa five times in the 75-minute encounter.

#NextGen player Borna Coric teamed up with countryman Franko Skugor to down Jonathan Erlich and Colin Fleming 6-4, 6-4. The Croats saved all three break points faced and will face Kubot/Matkowski in the semi-finals.

Kyrgios, Coric Ready To Begin #NextGen Rivalry

Thu, 04/28/2016 - 6:19pm

The Next Generation will take centre stage Friday when Nick Kyrgios and Borna Coric go head-to-head in the Millennium Estoril Open quarter-finals. Kyrgios, who celebrated his 21st birthday Wednesday, and the 19-year-old Coric lead the 21-and-under pack at respectively No. 20 and No. 40 in the Emirates ATP Rankings.

While this may be the first time they will face off in ATP World Tour action, it wasn’t too long ago that the Australian and Croatian competed against each other on the ITF Junior Circuit. Kyrgios, 18 months Coric’s senior, claimed their two singles meetings – in the 2012 Osaka semi-finals and the 2013 Roehampton quarter-finals – in straight sets.

“The only thing I remember was the surface they were on,” said Kyrgios, who went on to win the title at both tournaments. “I played him once on grass and I think the other time was on hard court. He’s improved a lot, we’ve both improved, and we’ve both gone different paths. He’s developed in different ways. He’s a great player, but last time I played him was on the grass and I was a lot more comfortable, I think, on that surface. Tomorrow’s going to be a great match either way.”

Kyrgios and Coric made their tour-level breakthroughs in 2014 when they finished as the two teenagers in the Top 100. That season, Kyrgios defeated then-World No. 1 Rafael Nadal in the fourth round on his Wimbledon debut. A few months later, Coric also defeated then-No. 3 Nadal to reach his first ATP World Tour semi-final in Basel; the result propelled him into the Top 100 and made him the winner of the ATP Star of Tomorrow presented by Emirates award, seizing the distinction of youngest player in the year-end Top 100 from Kyrgios.

Coric continued his rise in 2015, reaching a career-high No. 33 in the Emirates ATP Rankings in July. He began 2016 by reaching his first ATP World Tour final at the Aircel Chennai Open (l. to Wawrinka), and followed with a runner-up effort at the Grand Prix Hassan II earlier this month (l. to Delbonis).

“He was always a guy that was really good on both wings,” said Kyrgios. “Solid serve, solid returning. He’s developed every aspect of his game. He moves well now. He doesn’t really miss. He plays similar, but he’s just sort of gotten a lot better in every aspect.”

Kyrgios could say the same thing for himself. Since defeating Nadal at Wimbledon, Kyrgios has gone on to record six more Top 10 wins (7-13), most notably against No. 2 Roger Federer last year in Madrid. This past February, he became the first member of the Next Generation to win a singles title, recording Top 10 victories over Richard Gasquet and Tomas Berdych before defeating Marin Cilic in the Open 13 Provence final. He broke into the Top 20 earlier this month after defeating Milos Raonic to reach his first ATP World Tour Masters 1000 semi-final in Miami.

“[Kyrgios] is the favourite so I have nothing to lose,” said Coric. “But I’ll never come into a match with the mindset that I can’t win. I’ll do my best but I’ll be there to win. It will be an enjoyable match for sure.”

Win or lose, Kyrgios anticipated the quarter-final clash to be the first of a bright new rivalry.  

“It’s important, but at the same time, I think we’re going to play a lot of times in the future as well so, to be honest, I don’t think it really matters,” said Kyrgios. “If he wins tomorrow, I’ll just say, 'Good luck and go get your first title,' and if I win, I’m going to come out the next day and just play again.”

Federer Sets Sights On Madrid

Thu, 04/28/2016 - 4:25pm

Roger Federer has confirmed that he will take part in the Mutua Madrid Open, which starts on 1 May. Federer, No.3 in the Emirates ATP Rankings, is a three-time champion at the ATP World Tour Masters 1000 event (2006, 2009 and 2012).

Madrid was not on Federer’s schedule at the beginning of the year, but the Swiss’ agent, Tony Godsick, confirmed today that he will play. Last year, Federer lost in the second round to Nick Kyrgios, 6-7(2), 7-6(5), 7-6(12).

The 34 year old comes into the event with a 10-3 record in 2016. Madrid will be Federer’s second clay-court tournament of the season and his fourth of the year. He reached the final of Brisbane (l. to Raonic) and the semi-finals of the Australian Open (l. to Djokovic) before missing three months due to knee surgery. In his comeback event, he reached the quarter-finals of the Monte-Carlo Rolex Masters before losing to Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in three sets.

Kozlov Enjoying All-Surface Success In Challengers

Thu, 04/28/2016 - 3:45pm

Stefan Kozlov has already had a successful April by matching the biggest result of his career on the ATP Challenger Tour, but the American teenager has now shown that he can excel on all surfaces.

Competing this week at the $50,000 event in Tallahassee, Florida, the 18-year-old has come through qualifying and prevailed in two grueling main draw matches. After advancing past Jose Hernandez-Fernandez in an opening-round match on Tuesday that lasted well over three hours, Kozlov recorded a huge upset on Wednesday by defeating No. 2 seed Gerald Melzer in three sets.

“It’s been a few tough matches, but I feel fine and I’m recovering well,” said Kozlov. “I played in the qualies on Stadium Court and also practised on it, so I knew what to expect.”

Kozlov enjoyed a stellar junior career that saw him reach the boys’ singles final at the Australian Open and Wimbledon in 2014, leading him to peak that year at No. 2 in the ITF Junior Rankings. That October, he reached the finals of the $100,000 ATP Challenger Tour event in Sacramento, California. The feat made Kozlov the third-youngest American in a Challenger final, only behind Michael Chang and Andre Agassi.

After a somewhat more challenging 2015 season, Kozlov has rebounded strongly this year. In addition to winning three Futures titles, he also finished as runner-up earlier this month at the $100,000 ATP Challenger Tour event in Le Gosier, Guadeloupe. He credits a new coaching arrangement with Stanford Boster with helping take his game to the next level.

“We started working about a month and a half ago. Before that, I was spending a lot of my time with my dad at his academy in Miami,” explained Kozlov. “My dad helped me get my rhythm back and now Stanford is opening up my game to a lot of different things. It’s been awesome.”

Kozlov is one of seven different American teenagers to reach an ATP Challenger Tour final since last October. Although having so many young players pushing each other up the Emirates ATP Rankings is motivating for him on the court, he’s also been able to develop a strong friendship off the court with #NextGen star Frances Tiafoe.

“We’re the best of friends on tour. We hang out a lot together and we’re pretty close. I stayed with him at his apartment a couple of times during the off-season and hung out with Michael Mmoh as well,” said Kozlov. “We’re both pushing each other to do well and now that we’re both in the Top 200, we want to get into the Top 100 and catch up with Taylor Fritz. It’s good to have someone like that doing so well because we were playing with him just a couple of months ago, so we know we can get there too.”

Kozlov’s performance this week has already ensured that he will make his Top 200 debut when next week’s rankings are released. He’s been enjoying his time in Tallahassee “because it’s a well-run tournament and it’s close to home,” but is also looking forward to getting on the red clay of Europe next month.

“I didn’t think I was going to get my ranking high enough to head over to Europe, but then I had a couple of good weeks that put me over,” said Kozlov. “Playing qualies at Roland Garros is a milestone for me and I’m excited for it, so we’ll just see how it goes.”

Schwartzman Upsets Tomic; Karlovic's 300th Match Win

Thu, 04/28/2016 - 2:59pm

Ivo Karlovic snapped an eight-match losing streak on Thursday to record the 300th match win of his career.

The 36-year-old Karlovic, who has struggled to overcome a left knee injury, reached the milestone by knocking out Dusan Lajovic 7-6(11), 7-6(7) at the TEB BNP Paribas Istanbul Open.

It was his fourth victory over Lajovic, who failed to convert five set point opportunities at 7/6, 9/8 and 11/10 in the first set tie-break and at 6/4 in the second set tie-break. Karlovic struck 13 aces, losing just five points on his first serve (47 of 52).

Karlovic will next challenge fifth seed Marcel Granollers, who downed Next Generation player Hyeon Chung 6-3, 6-4 in just under two hours.

Diego Schwartzman recorded the biggest match win of his career when the World No. 87 knocked out Bernard Tomic, the top seed at No. 23 in the Emirates ATP Rankings, 6-2, 6-2 in 64 minutes.

"I feel great here," admitted Schwartzman, who lost to Roger Federer in last year's semi-finals. "I'm playing well on these courts, which are slow. I tried to be focused today and I think I played a great match."

Schwartzman goes onto face Damir Dzumhur, who defeated Illya Marchenko 6-3, 5-7, 6-3 in two hours and 14 minutes. "Damir has played well this year and it will be a big match tomorrow," said Schwartzman.

Goffin, Fognini Reach Munich QFs

Thu, 04/28/2016 - 1:26pm

Top seed David Goffin, who is currently No. 13 in the Emirates ATP Rankings, recorded his 19th match win of the season on Thursday to set up a quarter-final clash against Alexander Zverev at the BMW Open by FWU AG.

Goffin hit 10 aces and saved 10 of 14 break points in a two-hour 5-7, 6-2, 6-3 win over Victor Estrella Burgos. Zverev, who is a part of the ATP's Next Generation, won his 15th match of 2016 with a 6-3, 6-4 victory over Lukas Rosol. He is now 1-3 in his FedEx ATP Head2Head series against the Czech.

Earlier in the day, fifth seed and 2014 finalist Fabio Fognini broke a two-match losing streak against Mikhail Kukushkin with a 6-3, 7-5 win. Kukushkin has previously beaten Fognini in Moscow in 2009 and 2014.

Fognini will contest his third ATP World Tour quarter-final of the year against lucky loser and World No. 139 Jozef Kovalik, who defeated qualifier Igor Sijsling 6-3, 6-4.

Juan Martin del Potro overcame Jan-Lennard Struff 6-2, 3-6, 6-3 in just under two hours to advance to the quarter-finals. The Argentine broke serve seven times and won consecutive clay-court matches for the first time since Roland Garros 2012 (l. to Federer). He will face fourth seed Philipp Kohlschreiber, who defeated fellow German Florian Mayer 6-4, 6-4. Del Potro leads their FedEx ATP Head2Head rivalry 6-0.

“My movement on the court isn’t the best right now, but the important part is to win matches on clay for the first time in many years,” del Potro said. “I’ve never played in such cool conditions, but it’s the same for all players.

“[Kohlschreiber] is a great player. I’ll just try to keep improving my game. He’s the favourite for sure, on this court.”

Thursday Highlights Estoril Open 2016

Thu, 04/28/2016 - 10:16am
Watch highlights as Gilles Simon rallies to defeat Paul-Henri Mathieu and Nicolas Almagro ousts Portugal's Joao Sousa on Thursday at the Millennium Estoril Open. Photo credit: Millennium Estoril Open.

Kyrgios Birthday Surprise At Estoril Open 2016

Thu, 04/28/2016 - 9:50am
Nick Kyrgios is moved by a surprise video from the Millennium Estoril Open, featuring messages from friends and family for his 21st birthday. Video courtesy Millennium Estoril Open.

Thiem Beats Wawrinka In 2014 Madrid Classic Moment

Thu, 04/28/2016 - 6:05am
In this Mutua Madrid Open Classic Moment, Dominic Thiem beats third seed Stan Wawrinka 1-6, 6-2, 6-4 in the 2014 second round. Watch the Mutua Madrid Open live online at Photo: Getty Images

Watch: Murray's Clay Breakthrough In 2015 Madrid Classic Moment

Thu, 04/28/2016 - 6:04am
In this Mutua Madrid Open Classic Moment, Andy Murray wins his first ATP World Tour Masters 1000 title on a clay court by beating Rafael Nadal in the 2015 final. Watch the Mutua Madrid Open live online at Photo: Getty Images

Nishikori Breakthrough In 2014 Madrid Classic Moment

Thu, 04/28/2016 - 6:04am
In this Mutua Madrid Open Classic Moment, Kei Nishikori reaches his first ATP World Tour Masters 1000 final with a 7-6(5), 5-7, 6-3 victory over David Ferrer in 2014. Watch the Mutua Madrid Open live online at Photo: Getty Images

Dimitrov Beats Djokovic In 2013 Madrid Classic Moment

Thu, 04/28/2016 - 6:04am
In this Mutua Madrid Open Classic Moment, Grigor Dimitrov beats World No. 1 Novak Djokovic 7-6(6), 6-7(8), 6-3 in the 2013 second round. Watch the Mutua Madrid Open live online at Photo: AFP/Getty Images

Ferrer Saves Match Point In 2012 Madrid Classic Moment

Thu, 04/28/2016 - 6:03am
In this Mutua Madrid Open Classic Moment, David Ferrer save match point to beat fellow Spaniard Nicolas Almagro 7-6(5), 3-6, 7-6(8) in the 2012 third round. Watch the Mutua Madrid Open live online at Photo: AFP/Getty Images

Simon Epic Win Over Ginepri In 2008 Madrid Classic Moment

Thu, 04/28/2016 - 6:03am
In this Mutua Madrid Open Classic Moment, Gilles Simon comes through a nerve-wracking 6-7(6), 6-4, 7-6(6) win over Robby Ginepri in the 2008 third round. Watch the Mutua Madrid Open live online at Photo: Getty Images

Nadal Edges Djokovic In 2009 Madrid Classic Moment

Thu, 04/28/2016 - 6:02am
In this Mutua Madrid Open Classic Moment, Rafael Nadal digs deeps to beat Novak Djokovic 3-6, 7-6(5), 7-6(9) in the 2009 final. Watch the Mutua Madrid Open live online at Photo: Getty Images