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Updated: 21 hours 13 min ago

Rublev Saves MP, Rallies Into Doha Final

Fri, 01/05/2018 - 9:17am

Andrey Rublev was one point away from seeing opportunity turn to disappointment. Serving at 4-5 in the third set of his semi-final at the Qatar ExxonMobil Open in Doha, the 20-year-old faced match point against Guido Pella, who was seeking his third ATP World Tour final. 

But after hitting a booming ace, the #NextGenATP Russian found his best tennis to escape the game and eventually the match, using an impressive 26 winners to swing past the Argentine 6-2, 4-6, 7-6(2) after a two-hour, 26-minute classic. 

"It feels amazing. I have no words to describe this match," Rublev said. "I think it was such an amazing match for both of us. We made amazing rallies, such unreal rallies. I'm really happy that I won. I can say only good job to Pella for how he played. The way he played, it's unreal. I think we made a great battle, I think people enjoyed... I think everybody's happy."

Rublev will play for his second title after earning his first at the Plava Laguna Croatia Open Umag last July as a lucky loser. The runner-up at the inaugural Next Gen ATP Finals last November is projected to crack the Top 30 in the ATP Rankings for the first time if he captures the trophy on Saturday.

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First, he will have to get past French wild card Gael Monfils, who will contest his fourth Doha final. The 31-year-old Monfils advanced to the 27th title match of his career (6-20) after top-seeded Austrian Dominic Thiem withdrew ahead of their semi-final due to a fever.

"I'm very sad for Dominic and I hope he will have a speedy recovery," Monfils said. "I'm happy to be in the final for the fourth time here. I hope this one will be better than the other ones. I'm just pleased [with] the way the year has started and I'll be ready for tomorrow."

Monfils, who will play Rublev for the first time, has finished runner-up at the ATP World Tour 250 tournament in 2006 (l. to Federer), 2012 (l. to Tsonga) and 2014 (l. to Nadal). The Frenchman says he would be thrilled to capture his first trophy in Doha.

"I will be very happy because it's a tournament that I really like," Monfils said. "It'll give me a bit more confidence for the rest of the year."

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Dimitrov Outlasts Edmund To Book Kyrgios Clash

Fri, 01/05/2018 - 7:13am

Defending champion Grigor Dimitrov set up a mouth-watering semi-final clash with Nick Kyrgios at the Brisbane International presented by Suncorp after defeating Great Britain’s Kyle Edmund 6-3 6-7(3) 6-4 on Friday night.

The World No. 3 moved to a 16-4 career record in the Queensland event after a hard-fought two-hour, 25-minute win over Edmund and will meet home favourite Kyrgios, who came from behind to beat Alexandr Dolgopolov 1-6, 6-3, 6-4 earlier in the day.

Dimitrov will attempt to increase his seven-match winning streak further in his semi-final against Kyrgios. The two, who last met in the 2017 Western & Southern Open final, have clashed on two previous occasions with Dimitrov winning both to lead their FedEx ATP Head2Head series.

“He can do everything pretty much out there on the court,” said Dimitrov. “I have just got to be ready all the time; simple as that. You just never know what can come from him. I think obviously he's one of the most talented players out there; it's without a doubt. He can serve and hit every shot. He hits the spots, the slice and is even moving better.

“So he's definitely a challenger. He has proven himself, last year playing quite a few good matches, getting to the final we played against each other in Cincinnati. He has everything to beat anyone and he has proven that."

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The first set was ultimately decided in the seventh and eighth games with both men finding themselves down, 15/40 on serve. Last year's Nitto ATP Finals champion first managed to serve his way out of trouble at 3-3 before pouncing in the next game to establish a lead which he would close out, with an unreturned serve, in the following game for the first set.

Edmund and Dimitrov both confidently held serve in the second set, with the only break opportunity falling the way of Dimitrov in the ninth game. The 26-year-old was presented with two break points at 15/40 to serve for the match, but the World No. 50 stepped up his game with confident play including a huge forehand winner to ultimately regain control and hold serve for 5-4.

After three further service holds, a tie-break was needed and it was Edmund who would emerge with the set. Changing ends with a 4/2 lead after a Dimitrov double fault, the 22-year-old who was looking to reach his first ATP World Tour semi-final since the Erste Bank Open 500 in October 2017, managed to create three set point chances at 6/3. He only needed one, levelling the match with a rifled forehand return winner.

Hoping to keep aspirations of securing a ninth ATP World Tour title this week, Dimitrov worked his way to two early break points at 1-0 but once again Edmund produced on the big points, drawing an error from the Bulgarian and then firing down an unreturned serve before eventually levelling at 1-1.

Deep in the decider at 4-4, the match would take an unfortunate turn. Edmund, originally wrong-footed by his opponent’s forehand, fell heavily on his ankle before Dimitrov leaped over the net to rush to his rival’s aid before a lengthy medical time-out.

Dimitrov held his serve and capitalised in the following game, watching an Edmund backhand sail beyond the baseline to reach the Brisbane International presented by Suncorp semi-finals for a fourth time. Edmund, still aiming to capture his first ATP World Tour title, took the positives out of the match and his week in Queensland and will look to use his experiences moving forward in 2018.

“It was a good match,” said Edmund. “I thought I played well. He played well. We were both really into it. From my side of things personally, it was a lot of positives. A lot of stuff I'm working on that really showed against the World No. 3. It was positive, this week, against three top players.”

With Hewitt By His Side, #NextGenATP de Minaur Is Full Of Confidence

Thu, 01/04/2018 - 4:45pm
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“That was incredible!”

“Thanks, Lleyton.”

On Wednesday night, Alex de Minaur earned his most important victory as a professional so far by defeating Milos Raonic, 6-4, 6-4, in the second round of Brisbane International presented by Suncorp. In the tunnel between the changing rooms and the court, de Minaur was congratulated by Australian legend Lleyton Hewitt, who plays an advisory role in steering de Minaur through the early stages of his career.

By defeating Raonic, the 2016 champion in Brisbane and this year's fourth seed, de Minaur earned a spot in the quarter-finals and improved on his previous best showing (Round of 32 in 2017). This year, de Minaur is clearly in a different position.

“I've improved a lot of aspects of my game,” the Australian told ATPWorldTour.com following his win over Raonic at Pat Rafter Arena. “I'm in better shape, both physically and mentally. Obviously, that helps me a lot on the court. It gives me a lot of confidence to know that I can play against the likes of Raonic and be competitive.”

De Minaur lifted his game at key moments throughout the match. The #NextGenATP rising star nullified Raonic's powerful serves and fed off the support of an enthusiastic crowd that was eager to see their countryman win. De Minaur, for his part, showed poise and always gave fans reason to believe he could upset Raonic, even when matters got complicated.

“At the end of the day, you have to be convinced you can win once you step on the court,” de Minaur said. “If I don't believe I can win, then I should just stay home. What's the point in playing if I don't think I can win? Of course I had my doubts. Only a small bit of me believed I could actually beat [Raonic], honestly, but that was all I needed. I tried to enjoy myself on the court and give the fans that came to support me a good time. That's what I do, and it's working so far.”

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Born in Sydney to a Uruguayan father and Spanish mother, de Minaur spent the first years of his life in Spain. At a young age, de Minaur returned with his parents to Sydney when they opened a restaurant, in addition to a car wash they previously owned in the Australian city. Soon after, de Minaur took up tennis and, with the help of the Australian Tennis Federation, eventually made the leap into the professional ranks.

Of all the support de Minaur has received in Australia, it's been Hewitt who has provided his expert vision and guidance in grooming de Minaur as he started his career. Hewitt was courtside for de Minaur's first two matches in Brisbane.

“It means a lot to me that he's there to give me advice,” de Minaur said of the former World No. 1. “He has a lot of faith in me and that I have the game to compete with the best in the world. One of the first things he told me was to believe in myself. It helps to have him in my corner in situations like [the Raonic match]; he breaks down how to deal with the pressure and the expectations.”

De Minaur also expressed his gratitude to his coach, Adolfo Gutierrez, who has been a key player in the Australian's progress as a player. The pair currently train in Alicante, Spain.

“Having Adolfo Gutierrez, with whom I have been working for almost eight years, is very important for me,” De Minaur said of the Spanish coach. “He knows both sides of me, on and off the court. For that reason, I'm happy to experience this with him, and that we're realising the best victories of my career together.”

The first weeks of 2017 were a dream come true for de Minaur: He battled through qualifiers in Brisbane and played his first main draw match at an ATP World Tour event (l. Alexander Zverev). A week later, he earned his first ATP World Tour win by defeating Benoit Paire at the Sydney International.

Finally, de Minaur made the perfect Grand Slam debut by saving a match point and storming back to defeat Gerald Melzer in five sets during the first round of the Australian Open, winning the hearts of Australian fans in the process.

In Brisbane on Friday, De Maurer record a victory over fellow #NextGenATP Michael Mmoh, and afterwards explained, "I reckon the best way to describe this is at the moment, I'm in this really good dream and I really don't want to wake up." With a place in the semi-finals in Brisbane and a promising 2018 ahead, de Minaur has no plans to slow down; the goal is to reach his full potential.

Last Time Thiem Did This? February 2016

Thu, 01/04/2018 - 2:24pm
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In 2017, Dominic Thiem reached five semi-finals, all of them on clay. But less than a week into the 2018 season, the World No. 5 has already reached a hard-court semi-final.

The top-seeded Thiem halted the run of #NextGenATP Greek Stefanos Tsitsipas on Thursday at the Qatar ExxonMobil Open in Doha 7-5, 6-4 to advance to his first outdoor hard-court semi-final since February 2016 in Acapulco, where he won the ATP World Tour 500 title (d. Tomic). Thiem also advanced to the semi-finals of the indoor Moselle Open in Metz in September 2016.

Thiem hit big all match and took time away from the 6'4” Tsitsipas, who reached his second ATP World Tour quarter-final by beating French veteran Richard Gasquet in straight sets on Wednesday.

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The World No. 5 Thiem hit 33 winners and was successful during 10 of his 12 net attempts. He also won nearly 60 per cent of his second-serve return points (16/27).

“I was serving well again today and returning well. That's what I was working on in the off-season so it already pays off now,” Thiem said on court after the match.

He walked away impressed with Tsitsipas. The 19-year-old Greek, who was the youngest Doha quarter-finalist since 2006 runner-up Gael Monfils, has now reached consecutive ATP World Tour quarter-finals, dating back to his semi-final run at the European Open in Antwerp last October.

“He's already so good at a young age. I think he's going to be for sure a top player in the near future,” Thiem said. “He's playing very well, aggressive with a good service, nice one-handed backhand.” 

The Austrian will next face Monfils, who saved a set point in the second set to beat German Peter Gojowczyk 6-3, 7-6(6). Monfils last reached a semi-final in June 2017 at the International Eastbourne. The Frenchman is playing in his first tournament since 2017 US Open. Thiem leads their FedEx ATP Head2Head series 3-0.

Andrey Rublev, another #NextGenATP star, had better luck during his quarter-final match. The 20-year-old Russian, who was runner-up at last year's Next Gen ATP Finals, beat Croatia's Borna Coric for the second time in as many matches 6-3, 7-5 to reach the third semi-final of his career (also 2016 Umag, 2016 Milan).

Rublev was down a break, 2-4, in the second set, but rallied to advance in straight sets. The 20-year-old Moscow native also beat Coric in the semi-finals of the Next Gen ATP Finals in Milan.

“I was feeling the ball well. I knew since the beginning of the match that I have to try to dictate the point. I have to try to attack. I have to try to lead, but I have to try to do it with a good position. That was the key,” Rublev said.

Rublev will next face Argentina's Guido Pella, who saved both break points faced and dismissed qualifier Mirza Basic of Bosnia and Herzegovina 6-2, 6-3. Pella, No. 64 in the ATP Rankings, will look to reach his third ATP World Tour final (2017 Munich, 2016 Rio de Janeiro).

Nishikori Announces Return Dates

Thu, 01/04/2018 - 12:44pm

Kei Nishikori will return to professional tennis in January, but not at the season's first Grand Slam in Melbourne.

Nishikori has withdrawn from the Australian Open, but the former World No. 4 is planning on launching his comeback at the inaugural ATP Challenger Tour event at the Newport Beach Tennis Club in Newport Beach, U.S.A, to be held 20-28 January.

The tournament is part of the inaugural Oracle Challenger Series, which also will include a Challenger event from 24 February – 4 March in Indian Wells, in the lead up to the BNP Paribas Open, the season's first ATP World Tour Masters 1000 tournament. Both tournaments will feature $150,000 prize money.

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“I am very excited and looking forward to getting back on the court in January,” Nishikori said. “The Oracle Challenger Series is a perfect event in a great Southern California location to help me get some match play. This will be a great opportunity to face some high-level competition.”

The 28-year-old Nishikori also plans to compete at the $125,000 Challenger in Dallas, U.S.A. The RBC Tennis Championships of Dallas will take place from 29 January – 4 February.

Nishikori, 28, hasn't played since 9 August, when he fell to Gael Monfils at the Coupe Rogers in Montreal. The Japanese star had to cut short his 2017 season because of an injury to his right wrist. He is currently No. 22 in the ATP Rankings.

Watch Dimitrov Dramatic Match Point Save v Millman Brisbane 2018

Thu, 01/04/2018 - 10:39am
Grigor Dimitrov produces a stunning match point save against John Millman en route to a tense three-set win over the Australian at the Brisbane International. Video courtesy Tennis Australia. Visit www.BrisbaneTennis.com.au for more video. Playback not available in Australia.

Dimitrov Saves 2 M.P. In Brisbane Battle

Thu, 01/04/2018 - 10:21am

World No. 3 Grigor Dimitrov kept hopes of retaining his Brisbane International presented by Suncorp title alive by saving two match points on his way to a 4-6, 7-6(8), 6-3 win over John Millman on Thursday night.

The Bulgarian star saved match point at 5/6 and 6/7 in the second-set tie-break en route to extending his winning streak to six matches, which includes a title-run at the Nitto ATP Finals in November 2017. Dimitrov, reflecting on the two points, complimented Millman’s level while expressing delight at his great, instinctive play.

“He couldn't have played the ball better,” said Dimitrov. “But also, at the same time, I thought I couldn't have done anything else besides what I did. I think two of the shots in the first match point were pure instinct for me. So I'm pleased with it.”

Dimitrov, who has now reached the quarter-finals five times on his six appearances at the ATP World Tour 250 tournament beat World No. 128 Millman over two hours and 38 minutes. He will next play Great Britain’s Kyle Edmund in the quarter-finals on Friday.

The reigning champion, well aware of how close he came to a season-opening defeat, was quick to praise Millman who twice found himself just one point away from defeating his first Top 10 opponent in the ATP Rankings.

“I've seen him play quite a few times out here, playing really aggressive, striking the ball amazing, and it was no less tonight," said Dimitrov. "I'm the winner today but he put himself in that position to win the match.

"I'm just very pleased [with] the way I played on those key points and especially on the match points. So I think that gives me a certain amount of confidence coming into any other match that I have to play now."

After exchanging early breaks in the first set, Millman’s continued pressure on the Dimitrov serve paid off at the tail-end of the opener. The 28-year-old managed to win almost half of all points (23/48) on the Bulgarian’s serve and in the 10th game, a second breakthrough came for Millman who took the set 6-4.

A dramatic second set followed with both men breaking serve before reaching a tie-break and it was there that Millman manufactured two match points for the biggest win of his career. But the four-time 2017 titlist on the ATP World Tour was not to be denied, saving the first in an epic rally at the net and a second with an aggressive forehand into the corner. But Millman had no regrets on his strategy, complimenting his rival's level for the epic match point save.

“I went for a body serve. Maybe I should have gone for an ace. Who knows? Hindsight is a great thing,” said Millman.“I made him play five, six backhands, then he's come in and he's played a volley that's taken out nearly both lines. I managed to get him to play another volley, and he played another volley back the other way. What else can I do on that point?”

Dimitrov would later convert his second set point to win the tie-break and level the match. From that point, the 26-year-old motored through the decider with a break in the fourth game and a near-perfect performance on points behind his first serve (17/18). An emotional Millman reflected on what might have been, had either of the two points gone differently, and what it would have meant for his career.

“I gave it everything,” said Millman. “I can be proud of giving it everything. That's tennis. You win some, you lose some. It would have really been one of the most special nights of my career if I had won against a player like Grigor in front of my home crowd, who stuck it out well past midnight to watch me play. It would have been one of the highlights of my career.”

Now unbeaten in six matches, Dimitrov will attempt to keep that streak alive in his quarter-final match against Kyle Edmund. The British No. 2 defeated #NextGenATP champion Hyeon Chung 7-6(3), 5-7 6-4 earlier in the day.

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Cilic Solid On Serve In Pune

Thu, 01/04/2018 - 9:03am

Top seed Marin Cilic barely put a foot wrong on Thursday to advance to the Tata Open Maharashtra semi-finals with a 6-3, 6-2 victory over eighth-seeded Frenchman Pierre-Hugues Herbert in 64 minutes.

The Croatian lost just one of his first service points (23/24) and struck seven aces as he continued his bid to win a third title on Indian soil, following victories in 2009 and 2010, when the ATP World Tour 250 tournament was held in Chennai. Cilic will next challenge France’s Gilles Simon, who was a 6-2, 6-3 winner over Spanish qualifier Ricardo Ojeda Lara

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In other action, second-seeded South African Kevin Anderson was dominant on serve, hitting 24 aces and saving five of six break points, to advance past Kazakhstan's Mikhail Kukushkin 6-7(3), 6-4, 6-2 in two hours and 30 minutes.

Anderson will meet fourth seed Benoit Paire of France, who also needed three sets to reach the semi-finals, beating fifth-seeded Dutchman Robin Haase 7-5, 2-6, 6-3. The quarter-final was throughly even – both players broke five times and they each won 50 per cent of the points (98/196).

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De Minaur Talks About Hectic Moments After Raonic Victory

Thu, 01/04/2018 - 5:54am
Australian 18-year-old Alex De Minaur tells what happened in the hectic hours after his stunning upset of Milos Raonic at the Brisbane International. Footage courtesy Tennis Australia. Watch more videos at www.BrisbaneTennis.com.au

Watch Highlights: Istomin Earns Donaldson Win At Brisbane 2018

Thu, 01/04/2018 - 5:48am
Watch highlights of Denis Istomin versus Jared Donaldson on Thursday at the Brisbane International presented by Suncorp. Video courtesy Tennis Australia. Visit www.BrisbaneTennis.com.au for more video. Playback not available in Australia. Photo: Peter Staples/ATP World Tour

Watch Highlights: Harrison Fights Back At Brisbane 2018

Thu, 01/04/2018 - 5:48am
Watch highlights of Ryan Harrison versus Yannick Hanfmann on Thursday at the Brisbane International presented by Suncorp. Video courtesy Tennis Australia. Visit www.BrisbaneTennis.com.au for more video. Playback not available in Australia. Photo: Peter Staples/ATP World Tour

Watch Highlights: Edmund Ends Chung Streak At Brisbane 2018

Thu, 01/04/2018 - 5:48am
Watch highlights of Kyle Edmund versus Next Gen ATP Finals champion Hyeon Chung on Thursday at the Brisbane International presented by Suncorp. Video courtesy Tennis Australia. Visit www.BrisbaneTennis.com.au for more video. Playback not available in Australia. Photo: Peter Staples/ATP World Tour

Read & Watch Highlights: Edmund Ends Streak In Brisbane

Thu, 01/04/2018 - 5:01am

Britain’s Kyle Edmund is through to the Brisbane International presented by Suncorp quarter-finals after a 7-6(3), 5-7, 6-4 win over #NextGenATP champion Hyeon Chung on Thursday.

Edmund snapped the six-match winning streak of his opponent in two hours and 38 minutes to reach the quarter-finals in Brisbane for a second consecutive year.

The British No. 2 looked to be on top in the opening stages, creating three break point opportunities in the sixth game, but Chung stormed back to hold serve before taking a 3/1 lead in the first set tie-break. Not to be disheartened, Edmund rallied, reeling off six consecutive points to snatch the set away from the 21-year-old.

Despite finding himself 1-3 down in the second set, the reigning #NextGenATP Finals champion got back to 3-3 and took full advantage of a break point in the 12th game to level proceedings 7-5. But it was Edmund who regained the initiative again in the decider.

“He got a lot of momentum at the end of the second and broke me twice pretty quickly,” said Edmund. “So it was a good third set. I made an effort to really try and step up the intensity and energy and put some pressure on him.

“It was good because the way I was serving in that third set, I knew if I got a break I was going to have a very good chance at holding out.”

The Brit broke in the seventh game for a 4-3 lead and, after missing two match point chances on Chung’s serve, served out the final set 6-4, with the help of three aces, to reach the quarter-finals in Brisbane. With both players at a similar stage in their careers, Edmund was keen to reflect on what might be one of many great rivalries for him in the future.

“With my last match against Denis (Shapovalov) and today, these guys I’ll play them a lot more, because they're around my age, for the next 10 to 12 years,” said Edmund.

Uzbekistan’s Denis Istomin built on his upset win in the opening round to eliminate American Jared Donaldson 7-6(5), 6-2. Donaldson had served for the first set at 6-5 but ultimately, his lower-ranked opponent fought back, breaking to 30 and taking the opener in the tie-break.

The World No. 63 improved further from that point, breaking his opponent in both the third and seventh games before serving out to love to reach his first ATP World Tour quarter-final since a title run last September at the Chengdu Open.

Istomin will be joined in the quarter-finals by another American, after Ryan Harrison edged out lucky loser Yannick Hanfmann 6-7(5), 6-4, 6-2. After losing the first set on a tie-break, Harrison increased the level of his game in the second and third sets with a fine serving performance, including 11 aces, to prove too much for the 26-year-old German.

Murray Withdraws From Australian Open

Thu, 01/04/2018 - 3:48am

Five-time finalist Andy Murray has withdrawn from the Australian Open due to a hip injury. The announcement comes just two days after he pulled out of the Brisbane International presented by Suncorp.

“Sadly I won’t be playing in Melbourne this year, as I am not yet ready to compete,” said Murray. “I’ll be flying home shortly to assess all the options but I appreciate all the messages of support and I hope to be back playing soon.”

Murray has a 48-12 record at the first major championship of the year, finishing runner-up in 2010-2011, 2013, 2015-16. The former World No. 1 has not played competitively since July 2017, when he lost to Sam Querrey in the Wimbledon quarter-finals.

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Australian Open Tournament Director Craig Tiley wished Murray the very best for his recovery.

“We are fully aware that Andy has been going through a difficult period with his hip and that he’s done everything possible to prepare for the Australian summer,” said Tiley.

“Personally, I also know that Andy loves tennis and would do anything to play. This is a very hard decision for Andy and we totally respect it. We wish him the absolute best on his road to recovery and look forward to having him back in Melbourne. He is a true champion and one of our favourites.”

The 2018 Australian Open begins on 15 January.

Thiem, Bedene Change Sports In Doha

Wed, 01/03/2018 - 4:25pm
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They changed sports and surfaces, switching from a football pitch to a tennis court. But on Wednesday at the Qatar ExxonMobil Open, the outcome was the same when Dominic Thiem and Aljaz Bedene faced off in the second round in Doha.

As Thiem's football team did during the off-season, the Austrian outplayed the Slovenian, advancing to the quarter-finals of his first tournament of the 2018 season, 7-5, 6-4.

Thiem had plenty of opportunities in the early-evening match, earning 15 break points, including 10 in the second set, against Bedene, who now plays for Slovenia after switching from Great Britain last month. But Thiem converted only three of those break-point opportunities.

Still, he was pleased to improve to 2-0 in their FedEx ATP Head2Head series. “I'm pleased today. I'm through in straight sets. It was a tough match, but I expected it... So I think that's a perfect start into the new year,” Thiem said.

“If you have to fight a lot, if you have to suffer a bit, I think it's very good like this. You get a lot of tough situations already in the first matches, and that's why I'm happy with the start.”

Thiem will next face #NextGenATP Greek Stefanos Tsitsipas, who hit fifth seed Richard Gasquet off the court, blasting 33 winners, including 16 from his forehand, to advance 6-3, 6-4. The 19-year-old Greek is now into his second ATP World Tour quarter-final (also 2017 Antwerp semi-finals).

“It's inspiring. I've been watching him since I was 8, 10 years old on TV. I couldn't imagine that I would play him one day, and today I was standing on the opposite side of the net and facing him, and playing with my heart out there, giving my best,” Tsitsipas said.

The teenager will now go for his first Top 5 win against Thiem. “I will try to do the same that I did today. Pretty much the same plan, tactic – stay aggressive. That's very important, and to have a clear mindset,” Tsitsipas said.

Read More: Tsitsipas Focused On Key Targets In 2018

In 2017, #NextGenATP Andrey Rublev didn't reach a quarter-final until June, at the Gerry Weber Open in Halle. But three days into the new year, the Russian has already advanced to his first ATP World Tour quarter-final of 2018.

Rublev improved to 2-1 against Spaniard Fernando Verdasco in their FedEx ATP Head2Head series, beating the seventh seed 6-4, 3-6, 6-4. The 20-year-old Rublev saved seven of 11 break points, and will next meet Croatia's Borna Coric.

“I'm happy to take my revenge because I lost against Fernando a few months ago, which was also a tough match. Today I win the tough match, so I'm really happy. And I'm really happy to be in the quarter-finals,” Rublev said. “I think in the third set, I was quite focused. I was quite calm. I was not showing emotions. I was trying to focus on the points and the rallies.”

Coric, who knocked out second seed and World No. 10 Pablo Carreno Busta in the first round, routed Georgia's Nikoloz Basilashvili, 6-1, 6-3. The 21-year-old right-hander broke five times and won 54 per cent of his return points (32/59).

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French wild card Gael Monfils, who has fallen to No. 46 in the ATP Rankings after an injury-riddled 2017, overcame German Jan-Lennard Struff in 81 minutes 6-3, 1-6, 6-3.

“I feel happy to be back on the tour. I feel happy to have those two matches under my belt. Still, you know, I can play better. I can play better... I think it's just matter of time and confidence,” Monfils said. “I'm working hard, trying to get back to the top of the game again.”

Monfils was steady on his first serve throughout the second-round contest, winning 80 per cent of those points (32/40). Monfils will next meet German Peter Gojowczyk, who didn't face a break point in a 6-2, 6-2 sweep of Italian qualifier Matteo Berrettini.

Qualifier Mirza Basic of Bosnia and Herzegovina was more fortunate, saving all three break points against eighth seed Feliciano Lopez of Spain to advance 6-4, 7-6(2). Basic will next play Guido Pella of Argentina, who beat qualifier Stefano Travaglia of Italy 7-6(4), 6-3. 

Top Seeds To Face Dimitrov/Harrison In Brisbane SFs

Wed, 01/03/2018 - 4:13pm

Top seeds Henri Kontinen and John Peers dismissed home favourites Matthew Ebden and John Millman 6-4, 6-3 on Wednesday to advance to the semi-finals of Brisbane International presented by Suncorp.

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Kontinen/Peers, who won the Nitto ATP Finals doubles title in November, struck seven aces and broke four times to advance in 60 minutes. They will next meet Grigor Dimitrov and Ryan Harrison, who squeaked past another Aussie team in Nick Kyrgios and Matt Reid 7-6(2), 7-6(3).

A third semi-final spot was secured by Wesley Koolhof of the Netherlands and New Zealand's Artem Sitak, who beat American Steve Johnson and Gilles Muller of Luxembourg 7-6(6), 7-5. In first-round action, second seeds Marcelo Demoliner of Brazil and New Zealand's Michael Venus beat Nicholas Monroe of the U.S. and John-Patrick Smith of Australia 4-6, 6-3, 10-5.

#NextGenATP Rublev Eyes Return To Milan In 2018

Wed, 01/03/2018 - 3:20pm
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The wins – some of the biggest of Andrey Rublev's career – arrived in a flurry. At the US Open, the Russian beat then-No. 9 Grigor Dimitrov and David Goffin, who'd finish at No. 7 in the year-end ATP Rankings, en route to becoming the youngest US Open quarter-finalist since Andy Roddick in 2001.

A month later, at the China Open in Beijing, Rublev fought back from a set down to beat both year-end No. 8 Jack Sock and Top 10 stalwart Tomas Berdych.

Four big wins you could easily call “career-building” for the #NextGenATP Russian. But the 20-year-old doesn't view them in such a linear, stepping-stone way.

To Rublev, the matches were simply good wins on good days, no career-defining moments. The Moscow native wants to have days like those every week, not just for stretches during the season.

“To be more consistent is the goal. The taste of victories over Dimitrov, Berdych, Goffin and Sock was fleeting, but worthy in 2017, but more because I realise they are in the Top 10 or Top 20 for a reason, their year-round consistency,” Rublev exclusively told ATPWorldTour.com in Doha, where he is playing in the Qatar ExxonMobil Open.

“That’s what I want to produce each week. I didn’t think of those victories as a stepping stone, on a career ladder, more as individual matches in a tournament week.”

Last season was by far Rublev's best on the ATP World Tour. The Russian shaved off more than 100 spots from his year-end ATP Ranking, starting 2017 at No. 156 and finishing at No. 39. He also solidified himself as one of the best 21-and-under players on the planet by qualifying for the inaugural Next Gen ATP Finals in Milan.

Read More: Best of 2017: 5 #NextGenATP Who Impressed

Rublev was the top seed in Italy, and he lost to only one player all week: champion Hyeon Chung of South Korea.

“I arrived in Milan feeling calm and I think that ensured I performed better to reach the final,” Rublev said. “Of course playing in Milan is a goal [for 2018].”

The Russian spent his off-season in Barcelona, working with coaches Fernando Vicente and Galo Blanco. They will guide him again in 2018, a season Rublev hopes finishes at least one match better than the last.

Read More: Rublev Honest After Tough Loss In Milan Final

“This time of my life, my career is the most important as I lay the foundations for a strong future. In working with Fernando and Galo in Barcelona during the off-season, we worked on problems and weaknesses. But nothing specific, as far as stroke play is concerned,” Rublev said.

“The goal of pushing up the ATP Rankings is always there, realising a spot in London [at the Nitto ATP Finals] in future years, is shared by Fernando and Galo, who I trust 100 per cent in training and tournament preparation work. There isn’t any pressure at this stage, it’s balancing my own and my team’s expectations. I’m not fearful of failing to attain a set goal. I’m excited.”

Watch Highlights: Rising #NextGenATP Upsets Raonic Down Under

Wed, 01/03/2018 - 3:12pm
Watch highlights as Aussie Alex de Minaur faces Milos Raonic at the Brisbane International presented by Suncorp. Video courtesy Tennis Australia. Visit www.BrisbaneTennis.com.au for more video. Playback not available in Australia. Photo: Peter Staples/ATP World Tour

Watch Highlights: Kyrgios Comes Back In Brisbane 2018

Wed, 01/03/2018 - 3:07pm
Watch highlights as Nick Kyrgios faces Matt Ebden at the 2018 Brisbane International presented by Suncorp. Video courtesy Tennis Australia. Visit www.BrisbaneTennis.com.au for more video. Playback not available in Australia. Photo: Peter Staples/ATP World Tour

Cilic Through As Third Seed Falls

Wed, 01/03/2018 - 12:53pm

World No. 6 Marin Cilic got his 2018 ATP World Tour season off to a smooth start with a 6-4, 6-3 win over wild card Ramkumar Ramanathan on an action-packed day at the Tata Open Maharashtra.

The two-time winner looked in control for the majority of the first set, recovering from a serving hiccup at 5-3 with an immediate break back to clinch the first set 6-4. Cilic went from strength to strength in the second set, dropping just seven points across five service games on his way to sealing a quarter-final spot after 72 minutes.

However, the same could not be said for Roberto Bautista Agut as the World No. 20 fell in his season opener to French veteran Gilles Simon 6-3, 7-6(5). After dropping serve in the sixth game of the first set, the six-time ATP World Tour titlist saved set point at 3-5 to force Simon to serve it out, but Bautista Agut could not stop the 33-year-old from serving his way to a one-set lead.

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A rollercoaster second set followed with Simon taking total control to lead by a double-break at 4-1, only to be pegged back immediately and taken to a tie-break. Bautista Agut looked set to take the match the distance but couldn’t see out the tie-break from 5/3 up with Simon charging back to win four consecutive points and the match to reach the quarter-finals. Simon will meet another Spaniard in qualifier Ricardo Ojeda Lara, who later triumphed 6-4, 6-4 over Belarus’ Ilya Ivashka.

Second seed Kevin Anderson also marched into the quarter-finals, advancing when Brazil's Thiago Monteiro retired down, 6-7(4), 2-3. Anderson hit 10 aces and dropped only four first-serve points (22/26). The South African will next meet seventh seed Mikhail Kukushkin, who edged Laslo Djere 7-5, 7-6(5).

A deciding set was needed for Benoit Paire, who was taken all the way by Hungarian Marton Fucsovics. The fourth seed saved five match points in the decider before emerging with the win 6-4, 6-7(4), 7-6(6) after three hours and two minutes. Fifth seed Robin Haase was also given a serious scare by Nicolas Jarry, but the Dutch star eventually pulled through 3-6, 7-6(5), 7-5. Eighth seed Pierre-Hugues Herbert came from a set down to see off home favourite Yuki Bhambri 4-6, 6-3, 6-4.