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Updated: 4 min 7 sec ago

Blancaneaux Rides Roland Garros Success In Challengers

Thu, 08/11/2016 - 5:44am

After winning the boys’ singles title this year at Roland Garros, Geoffrey Blancaneaux is turning his attention to the pros.

The 18-year-old Frenchman is competing at this week’s $50,000 ATP Challenger Tour event in Trnava, Slovakia. After coming through qualifying, Blancaneaux won his first-ever main draw Challenger match on Tuesday by defeating local wild card Patrik Fabian, 6-4, 6-3.

“It was a big experience for me and I felt a bit of pressure going into the match. Even though I’ve played in Grand Slam qualifying before, it’s not quite the same,” said Blancaneaux. “It’s a lot tougher in Challengers compared to the juniors. I constantly play against Top 200 players and sometimes even Top 100.”

Blancaneaux made headlines earlier this year at Roland Garros, where he saved three championship points to prevail in an 8-6 deciding set over Felix Auger Aliassime of Canada in the boys’ singles final. With former Roland Garros champion and fellow Frenchman Yannick Noah looking on, Blancaneaux struck a forehand winner on match point and collapsed to the ground in celebration.

“Winning there gave me so much confidence, especially on clay. I’m improving each day and seeing my level go up quickly,” he said. “I just need to be stronger on the first few balls [of the rally] now, which is what I’m missing.”

Although Blancaneaux will play the junior events at the US Open, his primary focus is on playing Futures and ATP Challenger Tour events. But after this week, he said it’s a safe bet he will return to Trnava.

“I've played the ITF Junior event here before, but this is completely different. The tournament director, structure and courts are all unbelievable,” said Blancaneaux. “I’m telling players they should come here and I will come back with pleasure.”

Chinese Teens Announce Arrival In Local Challengers

Thu, 08/11/2016 - 5:04am

With a new crop of ATP Challenger Tour events being held throughout China this year, these tournaments have been a chance for some of the country’s youngest stars to showcase their best tennis.

At this week’s $125,000 ATP Challenger Tour event in Qingdao, 18 year old Rigele Te prevailed in the first round over fellow Chinese player Yecong He to win his second main draw match in a Challenger. His first main draw Challenger win came last week at the $125,000 Challenger in Chengdu, where he was also a wild card.

Although Te lost in the second round in Qingdao on Thursday to Danilo Petrovic of Serbia, the youngest player on the Chinese National team said the past two weeks have been an invaluable experience for him.

“To be able to win matches in Challengers for the first time is exciting,” said Te. “I know I still have a long way to go. I just need to play more matches, gain more experience and boost my confidence.”

Another player taking his first steps this year on the ATP Challenger Tour year is 16 year old Yibing Wu. Currently ranked No. 19 in the ITF Junior Rankings, he made his Challenger main draw debut this week in Qingdao, where he lost to former World No. 8 Janko Tipsarevic of Serbia in straight sets.

“I was very excited when the draw came out and to have the chance to play Janko. I really enjoyed it. I thought I played aggressive tennis in the first few games, but couldn’t keep up with him because he is so solid,” said Wu. “The pro players take everything very seriously. I learned a lot from that.”

Te and Wu’s appearances in Qingdao also come on the heels of 18 year old Fanjing Sun coming through qualifying to reach the quarter-finals last week in Chengdu. All three are aiming to get into the Top 100 of the Emirates ATP Rankings, but said they want to be part of a contingent of top Chinese players.

“I hope when I reach this goal,” said Wu, “We already have Top 100 players from China.”

Lah Reflects On Challenger Main Draw Debut

Thu, 08/11/2016 - 4:54am

Slovenian veterans including Blaz Kavcic and Blaz Rola are taking to the court at this week’s ATP Challenger Tour event in Portoroz, but a local teenager also took the first steps towards what he hopes is a long pro career.

Sven Lah, 17, made his ATP Challenger Tour main draw debut on Tuesday against second seed Renzo Olivo of Argentina.  Although the World No. 113 in the Emirates ATP Rankings was by far the highest-ranked player Lah had ever faced, the youngest player in the draw held his own on Centre Court in a 6-2, 6-3 loss.

“It was a pleasure to play in such a good tournament and playing against Renzo is one of the best experiences of my career,” said Lah. “Playing against pros was a really good lesson for me, so I’m happy that I got the opportunity.”

Currently ranked No. 84 in the ITF Junior Rankings, Lah has spent most of this year competing in some of the world’s biggest junior events. But while he’s comfortable competing against quality opponents, he admitted the ATP Challenger Tour was a new level for him.

“The biggest thing I learned this week is that everyone knows how to hit serves, forehands and backhands, so the main thing is what you’re able to show on court,” said Lah. “The head is the main factor in the mind game out there.”

The Slovenian plans on eventually turning pro, but is first looking at first playing at college tennis in the U.S. because “from the beginning of my career we have been playing on clay, so I have to learn how to play on hard courts.” Lah plans to play more pro events over the next year, though, and is already plotting his return to Portoroz.

“It was a great week for me,” he said, “But I hope that I will come back next year without needing a wild card.”

Challenger Experience A Top Priority For Surging Shapovalov

Thu, 08/11/2016 - 2:16am
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Denis Shapovalov has had just one week to digest how his summer is unfolding. Junior Wimbledon title... check. First ATP World Tour main draw at the Citi Open... check. First ATP World Tour match win against World No. 16 Nick Kyrgios in front of thousands of screaming home fans at the Rogers Cup... triple check.

Where most 17-year-olds are enjoying their summer months relaxing at the beach and lounging with friends, Shapovalov is spending countless hours on court as he strives towards his professional ambitions. Having experienced a taste of success on both ends of the spectrum, the Canadian understands that developing his skills and building confidence at the Challenger level is imperative.

"My parents told me from the start to not expect this all the time," Shapovalov told ATPWorldTour.com at the Challenger Banque Nationale de Gatineau. "It's two wild cards at two dream tournaments, but then it's back to reality and back to grinding. I expected it and it hasn't been a problem for me yet. Those tournaments motivated me more than anything. It's a long way and I just have to keep working. These Challengers give me that opportunity."

Shapovalov's longtime coach Adriano Fuorivia agrees that it's a long process and the ATP Challenger Tour is an important next step for his pupil to return to the big stage.

"Hopefully playing in Challengers against guys in the 100-200 range will continue to push his level and further motivate him to reach for that top level. He won some Futures events in Florida at the beginning of the year, then came off the big win at Wimbledon juniors and now against Kyrgios, so he's been playing with so much more confidence and is believing that he belongs in a higher category.

"We told him that you have to earn your way there. The wild cards into Washington and Toronto were a nice opportunity, but you have to earn your way back. That means playing more Challengers. I know it's tough. It's not easy to play in the spotlight at Wimbledon and night matches in Toronto in front of large crowds. But it's a learning experience.

"Going back out there every single day and feeling that you have to perform in front of that crowd can be a different pressure. That's not necessarily Denis' problem, but these are thoughts in my mind that you have to prepare yourself for. And then you're back playing on Court 1 or 2 at a smaller event, but that's just another step in his development at a young age."

Shapovalov's tenure on the ATP Challenger Tour got off to an auspicious start in March, with a stunning run to the semi-finals on home soil in Drummondville. His first-round win over countryman Filip Peliwo made him the first player born in 1999 to win a Challenger match, which he proceeded to follow up with a straight-sets upset of second seed Austin Krajicek. Shapovalov would catapult more than 200 spots in the Emirates ATP Rankings to No. 551. It was a week that set the tone for his breakthrough season.

"I played some incredible tennis there and I wasn't expecting to beat [Krajicek] in the quarters," Shapovalov reflected. "We actually packed our bags, getting ready to go home before that. When I played Daniel Evans, I played amazing too. Ever since then he's been in the Top 100 and made the third round at Wimbledon. It gave me so much experience and confidence. Now I need to pump up my fitness and work with Adriano to get ready for a few Challengers in the U.S. at the end of the year."

"I don't want to say it was a surprise, but just the level he was playing at was pretty high," Fuorivia added. "Everything was clicking. His serve, forehand, backhand were all on. I don't look at who he beats because everyone has an off day. I look at his level. If I feel that the level was looking pretty good, then I know he can play with these guys. And when the level is high, then the ranking will follow."

The Italian-born Fuorivia, who first started working with Shapovalov four years ago, acknowledges that his pupil's greatest asset is his mental approach. Where most teens would be looking ahead to an upcoming family vacation in Greece, Shapovalov, who is into his second straight Challenger quarter-final this week in Gatineau, is wired differently.

"He's very perceptive in that he immediately notices what it takes to compete at this level and say 'I have to do this better' or 'I need a better 1-2 shot'. He's never played a junior game. It's always been a 'go for it' game.

"The transition to playing the pros was easier for him. His serve improved and his attacking ball got better. I'm not saying he's there, but it wasn't so hard for him to stay in points because he goes for his shots. There's so much in him to learn and get better."

Stars Enjoy The Sea In Los Cabos

Wed, 08/10/2016 - 7:47pm
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Follow all the latest off-court action on MyATP! Download the app for iPhone or Android or visit MyATP.com.

Abierto Mexicano Mifel - Los Cabos, Mexico

Top seed Feliciano Lopez, second seed Bernard Tomic and No. 4 seed Sam Querrey launched the inaugural Abierto Mexicano Mifel with mini tennis on a boat that included a scenic view of El Arco.

Ivo Karlovic, Jeremy Chardy, Santiago Giraldo, Lopez, Tomic, Alexandr Dolgopolov, Marcel Granollers, Pablo Carreno Busta, Fernando Verdasco, Robert Lindstedt, Tim Smyczek and more stars relaxed during the tournament players’ party on Sunday night. Watch

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Karlovic, Chardy and Giraldo took a scenic boat ride in Los Cabos for some snorkeling at Playa del Amor. Watch

Carreno Busta, Dusan Lajovic, Adrian Mannarino, Aisam-Ul-Haq Qureshi, Sergiy Stakhovsky and Tigre Hank took part in a unique activity when they visited the Wild Canyon adventure park. The players soared above ground on the Monster Ziplines and rode all-terrain vehicles across Los Cabos Canyon Bridge. Read & Watch

Chardy, Dolgopolov, Purav Raja and Divij Sharan participated in kids’ day activities.

Julien Benneteau, Austin Krajicek and Carreno Busta are among the stars who met fans and signed autographs on site. 


 

Tomic Lopez Querrey Play Mini Tennis In Los Cabos 2016

Wed, 08/10/2016 - 7:40pm
Bernard Tomic, Feliciano Lopez and Sam Querrey take to the water in Los Cabos for some mini tennis on a boat. Photo: Jorge Reyes. Video courtesy Abierto Mexicano Mifel

Querrey Tomic Lopez Excited For Inaugural Los Cabos 2016

Wed, 08/10/2016 - 7:29pm
Sam Querrey, Bernard Tomic, Marcel Granollers and Feliciano Lopez are all excited for the inaugural Abierto Mexicano Mifel, an ATP World Tour 250 tournament, in Los Cabos. Photo credit: Jorge Reyes.

Estrella Burgos Wants To Change Tennis

Wed, 08/10/2016 - 4:54pm
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The moment Victor Estrella Burgos waited years for has finally arrived, and the Dominican can hardly breathe. He lies collapsed face down, his head buried in the red clay of Quito, his body shaking from disbelief.

Estrella Burgos has just beaten four-time titlist Feliciano Lopez, then No. 14 in the Emirates ATP Rankings, to win the 2015 Ecuador Open Quito. At 34, he has made history, becoming the oldest first-time ATP World Tour winner in the Open Era. He's also become the first player from the Dominican Republic to win an ATP World Tour event.

By this time, though, Estrella Burgos had already made a career of shattering obstacles. As a boy, he taught himself how to play tennis. In his 20s, he taught the sport for years to fund his future career and achieve Dominican tennis history. When he could finally afford to go pro at the age of 26, people laughed at him. “It's too late,” they told him.

But he has proved them wrong year after year, and when he retires, he'll try to accomplish one more ambitious goal. The lifelong Santiago resident wants to make sure his story is never repeated. He wants everyone in the Dominican Republic with an interest in tennis to have the ability to pursue the sport.

“I don't want the younger kids to have the same problems as me, like what I had before,” he said. “I want to change everything."

Had it not been for his abundance of energy, who knows if Estrella Burgos' own tennis talent would have been discovered. When he was eight, his dad asked a tennis teacher at a local club if he had anything that could keep his son busy.

“I was the ball boy,” Estrella Burgos said.

For about three hours every day, after and sometimes before school, Estrella Burgos would dash around the court, acting like a human tennis bucket, gobbling up balls while watching people play. During downtime, he'd grab a racquet and play like the people he saw: right-handed.

That's why, almost 30 years later, even though Estrella Burgos writes with his left hand, he still hits a forehand with his right hand. “I didn't have anybody to show me [how to play],” he said. “I saw the people play with their right hand, I took the racquet and I started.”

As a nine year old, Estrella Burgos won a junior tournament at the club, which upped his interest and landed him some advice. “So many people started to help me,” he said.

He gradually kept improving, becoming a top junior in the Dominican Republic and eventually teaching at the club. Through international competitions, including the Pan-American games and Davis Cup matches, Estrella Burgos soon believed he had the talents to compete among the best in the world.

As a 23 year old, for instance, he faced Uruguay's Pablo Cuevas, then 18, in a Davis Cup match. Estrella Burgos, No. 1,110 in the Emirates ATP Rankings, swept past the future Top 20 player 6-4, 6-3, 7-5. “I knew I had the level,” Estrella Burgos said.

But he lacked the finances to spend months and years on tour. So he kept working and teaching lessons at the club, squirreling away funds to someday launch his pro career.

No one from the Dominican Republic had done what he was trying to do – have a successful Top 100 career on the ATP World Tour. Yet Estrella Burgos was committed, and in 2006, as a 26 year old, he finally felt comfortable enough to give it a go professionally. He moved away from Santiago and relocated to Miami to practise with more people on a regular basis.

“Everybody thought, 'It's too late to start.' But I think it's never too late,” he said.

Read More: First-Time Winner Spotlight: Estrella Burgos

Estrella Burgos sweat it out at Futures events, his ranking in the low 900s of the Emirates ATP Rankings. By 2010, he had climbed to No. 211. By 2013, he had overcome torn cartilage in his right elbow to win multiple ATP Challenger Tour events for the first time in his career, including the Quito title, the start of his successful streak there.

The next year, Estrella Burgos hit his prime. In March, he became the first Dominican to crack the Top 100. In July, he reached the semi-finals in Bogota, beating then No. 14 Richard Gasquet in the quarter-finals before falling to eventual champion Bernard Tomic in a third-set tiebreak in the semi-finals.

In late 2014, Estrella Burgos became the oldest player to make his main draw debut at the US Open. He also became the first player from his country to play in the Grand Slam championship's main draw.

The achievements kept coming and coming, but the best came in February 2015 in Quito, when he won five consecutive matches to take the title. In July 2015, he also reached a career best No. 43 in the Emirates ATP Rankings. Earlier this year, as a 35 year old, he won five more matches in Quito to become a two-time ATP World Tour champion.

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“Quito is just special for me,” he said. “I feel very confident. I feel I play very good and thank God I won the tournament again.”

He's not done yet, either. “I think I can get better and better this year,” said Estrella Burgos, who turned 36 earlier this month.

How many titles, though, would Estrella Burgos have if he had turned pro when he was 18? How high would he be in the Emirates ATP Rankings?

These are questions he doesn't want another Dominican to have to consider, so when he retires, he plans to start a foundation that will help promote tennis across the country. To start, Estrella Burgos, who moved back to Santiago after a handful of years in Miami, wants to work with the government to build public tennis courts in Santiago, which has a population of 550,753. When he was a kid, the city had nine public courts. Now, he said, it has zero.

If you want to play tennis but don't belong to one of the three private clubs in Santiago, he said, you have nowhere to play. “That's why everything is hard, because we don't have the facilities,” he said. “If you are not a member, you cannot practise... That's why everybody decides to play baseball, basketball, or another sport, not tennis.”

Estrella Burgos, who still lives in the home he grew up in, also wants to make sure kids who show tennis talent at a young age can gain the proper instruction. “I know so many of them play good but they don't have any help or anybody to help them to make tournaments,” he said. “With my experience, with my ideas and everything, I have to help.”

He has seen how his historic career has generated interest in tennis in the Dominican Republic, and he wants to make sure he's not the first and the last player from his country to win titles and break ATP World Tour records.

“This is my dream, to make a foundation,” he said. “We can make something different.”

 

Djokovic Withdraws From Cincinnati

Wed, 08/10/2016 - 3:38pm

World No. 1 Novak Djokovic has withdrawn from next week’s Western & Southern Open due to a left wrist injury. It is the only ATP World Tour Masters 1000 tournament he has yet to win.

“I am very sad to announce that I won't be able to play this year in Cincinnati at the Western & Southern Open,” said Djokovic, a winner of a record 30 ATP World Tour Masters 1000 titles. “I have a recurring injury that has taken its toll on my body due to a very busy and active schedule this year. I have played many matches and I have to take some rest in order to heal. I always have my hopes high on returning to Cincinnati and winning the only trophy I am missing in the Masters [1000] series."

Djokovic, who has finished runner-up in Cincinnati on five occasions, is not expected to play until the US Open, the final Grand Slam championship of the year, beginning on 29 August. The 29-year-old Serbian has a 51-5 match record on the 2016 season, including seven titles.

Shapovalov Impresses At Gatineau Challenger 2016

Wed, 08/10/2016 - 5:33am
Canadian teen Denis Shapovalov hits at the ATP Challenger Tour event in Gatineau.

NCAA Champ McDonald Graduates To Pros

Wed, 08/10/2016 - 4:40am

After establishing himself as the best college player in the U.S., Mackenzie McDonald is now turning his attention to the pros.

The 21-year-old from California decided to forgo his senior year at UCLA and turned pro this June. His announcement came less than three weeks after becoming the first player in 15 years to win the NCAA men’s singles and doubles championships.

On Wednesday, he carried that winning trend to the ATP Challenger Tour event in Aptos, California. In a battle of rising Americans, McDonald recorded a first-round win over fourth seed and #NextGen star Stefan Kozlov, 6-1, 6-4.

“It’s been a grind,” said McDonald of his first two months as a pro. “When I was in college, I was busy with school and friends, but now I can just focus solely on tennis. I’m learning more than I ever have now, which is the biggest thing.”

Having finished his junior year with a 22-1 singles record and his NCAA career with an 84-15 record over the past three years, it’s safe to say that McDonald is riding a confidence high. But despite having already recorded several wins over players inside the Top 100 of the Emirates ATP Rankings, he knows that reproducing his Novak Djokovic-like college dominance in the pros will be a tall order.

“The pros are professional and they do everything right, from warm-ups to recovery. They go hard on each point and in college, I could get away with playing a loose point here and there,” said McDonald. “It’s been a bit of a learning curve, but it also helped that I already had a lot of experience playing with the pros.”

McDonald found time to play pro tournaments during his summers off from college and also competed in several ATP Challenger Tour events last fall, reaching the semi-finals at the $100,000 event in Tiburon, California, and the $50,000 event in Champaign, Illinois. With his pro results improving with each passing year at UCLA, he’s confident that his three years on campus have prepared him for a long ATP World Tour career.

“I played a lot of matches and had a lot of wins, which builds confidence,” he said. “It was a good stepping stone of playing at a level that’s higher than the juniors, but that also allowed me to get ready for the pros.”

Kiwi Rising: Tearney Making Most Of Challenger Opportunities

Wed, 08/10/2016 - 4:27am

If you are an athlete in New Zealand, there's a good chance that rugby is your sport of choice. Internationally heralded, the All Blacks garner most of the sporting attention in the South Pacific island nation.

But if Finn Tearney has his way, tennis will soon be in the spotlight.

At No. 388 in the Emirates ATP Rankings, New Zealand's No. 1 singles player sent shockwaves around the ATP Challenger Tour on Tuesday, following an upset of top seed and #NextGen star Quentin Halys in Gatineau, Canada. A qualifier at the $75,000 event, Tearney maintained his composure in rallying from a set down to stun the 19-year-old Frenchman after a grueling one-hour and 37-minute battle. The Kiwi reeled off the final eight games of the match to claim his first main draw victory on the ATP Challenger Tour this year.

"I've been struggling a bit in Challengers and lost in the last round of qualies two or three times recently," Tearney told ATPWorldTour.com in Gatineau. "It's nice to be able to get through this week. I knew he's been struggling the last couple of tournaments as well and if I hung in there, I could get on top. In the third set I ran away with it. I just relaxed a bit. I was missing some shots I usually make. I knew that if I could just execute a few more, my confidence would grow from there."

"I lost to Darian King in Binghamton, who went on to win the tournament," he added. "It's not like I've been getting thumped every week, but it's just about taking little steps and to keep believing that you can beat these guys. It's really nice to get a win like this, because obviously he's a good player."

Steadily moving up the Emirates ATP Rankings, Tearney is finding his form after shoulder surgery sidelined him in 2014, following his graduation from Pepperdine University in California. Up to a projected career-high No. 360 with Tuesday's victory, Tearney says he defines success as playing to the best of his abilities. It’s a simple, yet necessary philosophy.

"If I play good tennis, my ranking will take care of itself. I'm trying to play the way I want to play. If I play my tennis and beat good players, my ranking will improve. As simple as that," said Tearney. "It's about being consistent. This is my first Challenger main draw win this year."

"After I beat Somdev Devvarman [in Burnie] last year, I thought that if I'm playing someone ranked in the 900s, I should win. But that's just not how it works," he reflected. "Everyone here is good."

With tennis in New Zealand steadily growing in popularity, as evidenced by Michael Venus' climb to No. 40 in the Emirates ATP Doubles Rankings, Tearney is now motivated more than ever. Venus, who has notched four ATP World Tour doubles titles this year, is a major source of inspiration for his countryman.

"Michael is a good friend of mine. We practise all the time at home. He's been someone I look up to for overall professionalism and the way he trains. I've learned so much from him," said Tearney. "He's Top 50 in doubles now and playing great. I've had some tough losses recently and he's sent me some nice messages. He's pretty inspiring. It's great to see how his career has really flourished."

The 25-year-old Auckland native was seven when he first picked up a racquet and started taking lessons two years later. Tearney admits that while his professional aspirations didn't fully develop until he went to college. Despite the large disparity in the level of competition, he is steadily adapting to life on the ATP Challenger Tour.

"Going to college was the best decision. I developed physically and mentally. But it's completely different. The overall quality is a big step up here and the same from Futures to Challengers. It's just a matter of getting used to it," said Tearney. "Players are much more aggressive and if you drop it short in the court, they'll take you on. I need to stop thinking about the result and trust in the process. I'm trying to be more aggressive and not worry about the outcome as much."

De Greef Riding High In Fano

Wed, 08/10/2016 - 4:20am

After breaking through last week with his maiden ATP Challenger Tour title, Arthur De Greef could soon be ready for the Top 100 of the Emirates ATP Rankings.

On the heels of reaching his first two Challenger finals earlier this year in Buenos Aires, Argentina, and Napoli, Italy, the 24-year-old prevailed in an all-Belgian battle over Steve Darcis to prevail in Liberec, Czech Republic. Having started the year at No. 270 in the Emirates ATP Rankings, De Greef now sits at a career-high standing of No. 142.

“It means a lot to me because I had a lot of injuries just two years ago, but now I feel great,” said De Greef. “Winning there just feels like another step in the right direction”

The Belgian is building on that momentum at this week’s ATP Challenger Tour in Fano, Italy. He prevailed over in a first-round match on Tuesday over Christian Garin of Chile and has quickly grown comfortable with his new surroundings because “there’s a lot of people who come to the stands to enjoy the matches.”

But while Fano is a new city for him, the clay courts here are entirely familiar. Eighteen of the 19 tournaments De Greef has played this year have been on clay and the surface perfectly complements his game style.

“I love to play on clay because I use a lot of spin when I hit the ball and I’m physically fast and in good shape,” he said. “I love having the time to see and understand the game properly.”

It isn’t just his results that are gaining De Greef attention, though. His Hot Shot on match point of his semi-final in Liberec, a volley winner with enough backspin to bounce back onto his side of the net, went viral and reached nearly 320,000 people.

WATCH: De Greef's Brilliant Backspin Hot Shot In Liberec

“I got a lot of messages. Everybody was like, ‘Hey, that was a crazy shot,’” said De Greef. “But I use those kind of strokes so much when I practise and the guys I hit with know it very well. But that particular shot… well, that was a nice one!”

Tipsarevic Turns Corner In Qingdao

Wed, 08/10/2016 - 4:12am

After some admitted rough patches in the early stages of his comeback from injury, Janko Tipsarevic is confident he’s rounding into peak form.

The former World No. 8 is competing at this week’s $125,000 ATP Challenger Tour event in Qingdao, China, and posting the type of results one might expect from a former Top 10 player in the Emirates ATP Rankings. After coming through qualifying, he easily dispatched Chinese teenager Yibing Wu on Wednesday, 6-2, 6-0.

“It hasn’t been easy,” admitted Tipsarevic about his latest comeback so far. “After three surgeries, it’s not like you suddenly don’t have pain anywhere. The tumor on the left foot, the surgery on the right knee, you’re always compensating on one side or the other. There were a lot of small problems, so I couldn’t have long periods of uninterrupted work.”

Tipsarevic returned to the ATP World Tour last April after missing nearly eight months due to right knee patella tendonitis. The Serbian sat out for 18 months prior to that with persistent foot issues, specifically in his left heel, which included two surgeries to remove a benign tumor.

Although he’s excited about his best tennis beginning to resurface, he’s even more excited about being fully healthy.

“This is the first time in a very, very long time that I feel completely good and confident about my body,” said Tipsarevic. “I have the energy, speed and endurance to play defense now, which was the biggest problem with the leg issue.”

Tipsarevic admitted his first tournaments back have included more losses than he’d like. Although he’s still more than capable of big wins, as evidenced by his victory over Grigor Dimitrov this June at the Aegon Championships, he said in hindsight that a more low-key approach at the beginning of his comeback would have been better.

“I maybe made a mistake in trying to play ATP World Tour events as soon as possible. I’d like to give a shout out to all the tournaments that were very good to me. I barely used any of my Injury Protected Rankings because everybody was giving me wild cards, so I’m eternally grateful for that,” said Tipsarevic. “But I should have started with more Challengers. I need to get that confidence from hearing, ‘Game, set, match, Tipsarevic,’ regardless of who it’s against.”

Tipsarevic still has six Injury Protected Rankings that will expire in October, so he plans to utilise them at ATP World Tour events for the next few months. But the Serbian said he will return to Challengers if necessary and hopes he can add a high note to his summer with a title in Qingdao.

“Winning here would be a huge confidence boost. I’ve never won a Challenger coming from qualifying and I’ve always played well in the latter part of the year if I win a Challenger,” said Tipsarevic. “But it’s only the second round now, so we still have a long way to go.”

Granollers Beats Countryman To Start Los Cabos

Wed, 08/10/2016 - 3:52am

Spaniard Marcel Granollers started first-round play at the inaugural Abierto Mexicano Mifel in Los Cabos by beating countryman Fernando Verdasco 7-6(2), 6-2.

Granollers dropped only six points on his first serve and pressured Verdasco's serve throughout the one-hour and 39-minute match, seeing 15 break points and converting three of them. Granollers will next face German Tobias Kamke, who outlasted American Tim Smyczek 2-6, 6-2, 6-0.

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Granollers' countryman Pablo Carreno Busta also moved into the second round with a 6-4, 7-6(6) victory against Frenchman and sixth seed Jeremy Chardy. Carreno Busta, who received a wild card into the tournament, will play American Austin Krajicek, who denied Mexican wild card Tigre Hank his first ATP World Tour win 7-6(2), 6-3.

Frenchman Julien Benneteau set-up a second-round clash against Argentine Horacio Zeballos by outlasting #NextGen player Jared Donaldson 4-6, 7-6(4), 6-2. Zeballos struck 62 per cent of his first serves to upset fifth seed Alexandr Dolgopolov 6-3, 6-3 in 61 minutes.

“I don't think I played really solid today," Dolgopolov said. "I was missing a lot. He just played better than me.”

Later in the day, seventh seed Nicolas Almagro lost just five of his first service points and struck 13 aces in a 6-2, 3-6, 6-3 victory over 20-year-old qualifier Noah Rubin in one hour and 42 minutes. Almagro captured his 13th ATP World Tour title in early May – his first trophy since 2012 Nice – at the Millennium Estoril Open (d. Carreno Busta).

Rain Washes Out Wednesday Play In Rio

Wed, 08/10/2016 - 2:32am

All play was cancelled at the Rio Olympics on Wednesday as intermittent rain forced the postponement of tennis matches to Thursday.

Andy Murray wasted little time advancing his quest for a second gold medal on Tuesday at the Rio Olympics. The top Brit, who took gold in London in 2012, used only 69 minutes to get past Argentine Juan Monaco 6-3, 6-1.

The 29 year old broke Monaco five times and benefited from the Tandil native's 26 unforced errors. Murray also was effective with both of his serves. He actually won a higher percentage of points with his second offering, 78 per cent (14/16), compared to 70 per cent (16/23) with his first serve.

Murray, who lost with his brother in doubles on Sunday, was able to bounce back from the difficult defeat.

“I didn’t use it as fuel – it made things harder if anything. It was a very tough loss, the way the match went... it was really tough. You’ve just got to take it, move on and try your best the next day to win your matches and that’s it,” Murray said, according to the ITF. "It was good today. I hit the ball well from the back of the court, not many unforced errors so it was a good match.”

Murray will face Fabio Fognini in the third round. The Italian came back to beat 16th seed Benoit Paire of France 4-6, 6-4, 7-6(5). Fognini, who lost in the first round in London in 2012, broke Paire at 5-4 in the second set to even the match. In the third set, Paire had a match point on Fognini's serve at 5-4 but, after seven deuces, Fognini held. He'd eliminate Paire on his third match point to finish the 67-minute third set.

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Rafael Nadal remained unbeaten at the Rio Olympics. The third seed, who is in the semi-finals of the doubles competition, overcame 42 unforced errors to beat Italian Andreas Seppi 6-3, 6-3.

“This is an event you only play once every four years so that makes the emotions even higher. I am enjoying on court at the same time not [placing] too much pressure [on myself],” said Nadal, who is competing in his third Olympics (Athens and Beijing). “I just expect to enjoy the Olympic experience again and that’s what I am doing.”

Nadal will next play 15th seed Gilles Simon, who prevailed against Japan's Yuichi Sugita 7-6(3), 6-2. Simon landed only 51 per cent of his first serves but won 62 per cent of his second serves. Nadal leads their FedEx ATP Head2Head series 7-1 and has taken their past five match-ups. Simon last beat the Spaniard in 2008 on the clay at the Mutua Madrid Open.

Nadal's countryman David Ferrer was not as fortunate. The seventh seed fell to Russian Evgeny Donskoy 3-6, 7-6(1), 7-5 in two hours and 28 minutes. The 34 year old had two match points at 5-4 in the third set but Donskoy erased them both and later served out the set. In the third round, Donskoy will face American Steve Johnson, who beat Portugal's Gastao Elias 6-3, 6-4.

Belgium's David Goffin continued his best Olympics run with a 6-3, 6-3 triumph over Israel's Dudi Sela. Goffin, who lost in the first round in London, will meet Brazilian Thomaz Bellucci, who pleased the home crowd by upsetting 11th seed Pablo Cuevas of Uruguay 6-2, 4-6, 6-3.

DOUBLES

Nadal and Marc Lopez reached the last four with a 6-3, 6-1 win over Austrians Oliver Marach and Alexander Peya. The Spaniards will meet Canadians Daniel Nestor and Vasek Pospisil, who hit 84 per cent of their first serves to cruise past Fognini and Seppi 6-3, 6-1.

In the other semi-final, Johnson and countryman Jack Sock will play Romanians Florin Mergea and Horia Tecau. The Americans prevailed 6-4, 6-2 against the Spanish team of Ferrer and Roberto Bautista Agut. The fifth-seeded Romanian duo upset the third seeds, Brazilians Marcelo Melo and Bruno Soares, 6-4, 5-7, 6-2.

'The Last Time' With Dolgopolov

Tue, 08/09/2016 - 6:36pm

I missed a flight?
I was going to Barcelona, starting in Moscow. It was four years ago. It isn't very normal that this happens to me. I think it was the only time it happened.

I lost something important?
I lose things all the time, but I get them back. The passport, the wallet… I've been lucky because there's always someone that finds them for me, otherwise I just remember where I left them.

I paid money to rent a tennis court or buy tennis balls? 
Every time I go to Ukraine I pay for the court and for the balls. If it’s winter it is more expensive because it is indoor. Normally, I pay $5 to $10 per hour, and almost $150 for the box of balls. Sometimes I get a discount, but I almost always pay regular price.

Being famous helped me?
Sometimes it happens that in the airport they recognise me and help me to avoid paying for extra luggage. Once in Miami, I didn’t have to wait in line because the one attendant played tennis and recognised me. I passed straight through. These little favours are always welcomed, but they don’t happen very often.

I strung a tennis racquet?
Ten years ago, when I was starting to play Futures and when I was junior. I used to do it. I was good at it.

I cooked for myself and others?
It happens, not too much in the last months but it can happen frequently. When I’m not lazy, I start cooking. I like doing pancakes, meat and salads. I’m not very good at making soups.

I met a childhood idol?
I don’t have many idols. Maybe I was always surrounded by great players. I admire people for their accomplishments, but I’m not the kind of person that has idols.

I shared a hotel room with another player? 
Also 10 years ago when I was starting to play. I was travelling with different players – Ukrainians, Russians, with Sergei Bubka and Artem Smirnov and Davis Cup teammates. Since I started winning more, I choose to be alone in the hotel rooms. It’s more comfortable for me.

I asked someone famous for an autograph or a selfie?
Never. I take pictures with the tennis guys that are my friends, not famous people. If I have a relation with some of them, I ask to have a picture for social media. But if some friend asks me for a Roger Federer autograph, I do it. It happens a lot.  

 

Opelka Continues Momentum In Los Cabos 2016

Tue, 08/09/2016 - 5:41pm
Reilly Opelka looks to build on his strong Atlanta run at the ATP World Tour 250 tournament in Los Cabos.

Souza Wins Cortina Challenger Title 2016 Final Highlights

Tue, 08/09/2016 - 4:40pm
Watch highlights of the Cortina Challenger final, where Joao Souza clinched the title over Laslo Djere. Video courtesy of Internazionali di Tennis di Cortina.

Hrbaty Discusses Role As Trnava Challenger Tournament Director 2016

Tue, 08/09/2016 - 4:36pm
Former World No. 12 Dominik Hrbaty gives a glimpse into life as tournament director on the ATP Challenger Tour, running the event in Trnava, Slovakia. Video courtesy of STRABAG Challenger Open.