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Updated: 4 hours 35 min ago

Bryans vs. Zverevs Among Number Of Enticing Doubles Matchups In Indian Wells

Wed, 03/07/2018 - 5:18pm

A brotherly bash will kick off the 2018 BNP Paribas Open doubles draw, which is always one of the most competitive doubles fields during the ATP World Tour season.

Seventh seeds and two-time champions (2013, 2014) Bob Bryan and Mike Bryan will be playing in their 20th consecutive BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells. But the legendary team hardly received a sweetheart draw: The Bryans open against another pair of brothers in Germany's Alexander Zverev and Mischa Zverev.

View Doubles Draw | View Singles Draw

Another must-see first-rounder at the season's first ATP World Tour Masters 1000 tournament will take place when Feliciano Lopez and Marc Lopez (no relation) of Spain face Juan Martin del Potro and Grigor Dimitrov. Lopez/Lopez reached the semi-finals in 2016 (l. to Pospisil/Sock).

Top seeds Lukasz Kubot and Marcelo Melo also will meet a pair of Spaniards to start their Indian Wells stay. Kubot/Melo open against Roberto Bautista Agut and David Ferrer.

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Oliver Marach and Mate Pavic are the third seeds in Indian Wells but they just might be the favourites to take home their first BNP Paribas Open title and their maiden Masters 1000 crown. Marach/Pavic have won 18 of their 20 matches in 2018, a run that includes three titles: Qatar ExxonMobil Open in Doha, the ASB Classic in Auckland and the Australian Open, their first Grand Slam doubles title as a team.

The Austrian/Croatian pairing face the wild-card pairing of Steve Johnson of the U.S. and Canadian Daniel Nestor in round one.

Other notable openers include 2016 champions Pierre-Hugues Herbert/Nicolas Mahut meeting Damir Dzumhur of Bosnia and Herzegovina/Serbia's Filip Krajinovic. Australian Open finalists Juan Sebastian Cabal/Robert Farah of Colombia will face South Africa's Raven Klaasen/Michael Venus of New Zealand. Klaasen won the 2017 Indian Wells title with Rajeev Ram of the U.S. Ram and Ivan Dodig of Croatia are the eighth seeds and open against Japan's Ben McLachlan/Julio Peralta of Chile.

Nishikori On The Comeback Trail

Wed, 03/07/2018 - 4:19pm
Watch as ATP World Tour Uncovered presented by Peugeot takes you behind the scenes with former World No. 4 Kei Nishikori as the Japanese superstar continues his comeback on the ATP World Tour.

Day 1 Live Blog From BNP Paribas Open

Wed, 03/07/2018 - 3:32pm

#NextGenATP Stars Break Down Indian Wells

Wed, 03/07/2018 - 11:34am
Next Gen Class of 2018: #NextGenATP stars discuss what they expect to see this year in Indian Wells and what makes the tournament so special.

Hot Shot: Garin Falls Into Drop Shot In Santiago 2018

Wed, 03/07/2018 - 4:34am
Watch as Christian Garin of Chile strikes a sublime sliding drop shot winner at the ATP Challenger Tour event in Santiago, Chile.

#NextGenATP Take Centre Stage In Indian Wells

Wed, 03/07/2018 - 1:16am
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Two years ago, the ATP World Tour launched its “Next Generation” campaign on the eve of the 2016 BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells to celebrate the game's plethora of 21-and-under players climbing the ATP Rankings.

Two years later, some of the faces have changed, but the theme remains the same: The ATP World Tour has plenty of up-and-coming stars. Five of those #NextGenATP players – Russian Andrey Rublev, Aussie Alex de Minaur, Stefanos Tsitsipas of Greece and Americans Taylor Fritz and Reilly Opelka – took time out of their day on Tuesday to talk to fans at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden about life on tour and their career aspirations.

Read More: Five Must-See First Rounds In Indian Wells 

Of the five, the 20-year-old Rublev has experienced the most success so far. The 6'2” right-hander won his maiden ATP World Tour title last year in Umag and later reached the quarter-finals of the US Open (l. to Nadal). Rublev also finished runner-up at the inaugural Next Gen ATP Finals in Milan, which welcomed eight of the best 21-and-under players in the world.

This season, Rublev has already reached a final, falling to Gael Monfils at the Qatar ExxonMobil Open in Doha during week one. Rublev, the 27th seed in Indian Wells, will be making his main-draw debut at the ATP World Tour Masters 1000 tournament.

View Draw

“I’m really excited, and I hope I can show a really great game,” he said. “All the ATP [World] Tour is really tough tournaments and the players are playing amazing and you have to be ready 500 per cent to compete every day, but I’m really grateful to be here and to be part of this.”

De Minaur certainly had the hottest start to the 2018 ATP World Tour season of the #NextGenATP group. The Aussie reached the semi-finals of the Brisbane International presented by Suncorp and his maiden ATP World Tour final at the Sydney International. The 19-year-old counts countryman and former World No. 1 Lleyton Hewitt as a mentor.

Read More: Belief, Hewitt's Advice, Propel de Minaur To Early Success

“It’s unbelievable. I’m extremely grateful. He’s pretty much told me to believe in myself, to leave it all out there on the court every time I step out on it, and just give it my all. That’s what I’m trying to do every day,” de Minaur said.

The right-hander received a wild card into the main draw and will meet German Jan-Lennard Struff in the first round.

The #NextGenATP players had to laugh when they heard who Fritz and Opelka would be playing in their Indian Wells openers: each other. It will be their first tour-level meeting, and it comes at a time when both have been raising their level.

The 20-year-old Opelka picked up his first Top 10 win two weeks ago at the Delray Beach Open against U.S. No. 1 Jack Sock. “It was good for me to get some more wins on the tour level. It was a pretty tough week. I had to play [Ryan] Harrison first round, Sock, so fellow Americans, which is never comfortable. It’s definitely given me a lot of confidence,” Opelka said.

Read Draw Preview: Federer, Djokovic Chasing History

Fritz has also upped his game. The American won the ATP Challenger Tour event in Newport Beach in January, and last month, the right-hander upset No. 12 Sam Querrey of the U.S. en route to the Delray Beach Open quarter-finals.

“I’ve found a bit of consistency on tour, and I’m looking to push it to the next level,” Fritz said.

Watch Fritz's My Story

Tsitsipas, like Rublev, is also in new territory: The 19-year-old Greek has reached a career-high No. 71 in the ATP Rankings and is set to make his BNP Paribas Open debut. Tsitsipas narrowly missed qualifying for the 2017 Next Gen ATP Finals, but he still attended the event as an alternate and played an exhibition match in Milan.

Read & Watch: 18 #NextGenATP To Watch In 2018

“I was grateful I had the opportunity to be there,” Tsitsipas said. “I left with some really positive vibes from Milan.”

The 2018 Next Gen ATP Finals will take place 6-10 November in Milan. Eligible players must be 21-and-under (born 1997 or later). The top seven players in the season-long ATP Race To Milan will qualify along with a wild-card recipient.

See Who's Leading The ATP Race To Milan

Five Must-See First Rounds In Indian Wells

Tue, 03/06/2018 - 9:13pm

With the Top 32 seeds having a bye, the focus is on a host of tantalising first-round showdowns at the BNP Paribas Open

Frances Tiafoe v Ernesto Escobedo
Fresh from his maiden ATP World Tour title at the Delray Beach Open, #NextGenATP American Frances Tiafoe will carry an abundance of confidence into his first FedExATP Head2Head meeting with 21-year-old countryman Ernesto Escobedo. The pair has clashed twice before at ATP Challenger Tour level, with Escobedo winning both in a third-set tie-break. However, both matches were in 2016 and Tiafoe has since surged up the ATP Rankings to No. 64, with Escobedo currently at No. 117. The 20-year-old Tiafoe defeated #NextGenATP Canadian Denis Shapovalov, Next Gen ATP Finals champion Hyeon Chung and his childhood idol Juan Martin del Potro en route to the Delray Beach Open title while Escobedo scored an impressive win over American No. 1 Jack Sock in the opening round in Acapulco last week. Spanish 28th seed Feliciano Lopez awaits the winner in the second round.

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Gael Monfils v Matthew Ebden
Enigmatic former World No. 6 Gael Monfils has already tasted hard-court success in 2018 when he collected the trophy in the season-opening Qatar ExxonMobil Open in Doha. The 31-year-old, currently at No. 42 in the ATP Rankings, has reached the quarter-finals in Indian Wells once before – in 2016, before he fell to Milos Raonic. His lone win over Matthew Ebden was on hard court at the Australian Open but that was eight years ago. The 78th-ranked Australian will be quietly confident after upsetting Sam Querrey, the defending champion, in Acapulco in the first round last week. He also counts a win in 2018 over John Isner in the opening round of his home Grand Slam tournament. Should Ebden beat Monfils he would earn a shot at beating Isner for a second time in 2018 in round two.

Taylor Fritz v Reilly Opelka
Twelve months ago, Taylor Fritz pulled off his first victory over a Top 10 opponent in the ATP Rankings when he brought down No. 6 seed Marin Cilic en route to the third round at the BNP Paribas Open. In a battle of 20-year-old #NextGenATP Americans, the 74th-ranked Fritz will open his 2018 campaign in the desert against Reilly Opelka. This will be their first FedExATP Head2Head encounter, however, Fritz did beat his 199th-ranked compatriot en route to the Newport Beach Challenger title on hard court in January, his first Challenger title in two years. Fritz earned a wild card into the BNP Paribas Open after his Challenger title run at Newport Beach and a semi-final run at the Indian Wells Challenger event leading in. Opelka impressed against his countrymen last week at the Delray Beach Open where he took down Ryan Harrison and Sock to reach the quarter-finals. The winner will take on No. 27 seed Andrey Rublev in the second round.

View FedEx ATP Head2Head for the 2018 BNP Paribas Open first round & vote for who you think will win! 
Fritz v Opelka | Johnson v Medvedev | Coric v Young

[GROUP POLL]103[/GROUP POLL]

View Daily Schedule

Borna Coric v Donald Young

A semi-finalist at last year’s inaugural Next Gen ATP Finals in Milan, Croatia’s Borna Coric arrives at Indian Wells having reached two quarter-finals on hard courts already in 2018 – last week in Dubai where he fell to eventual champion Roberto Bautista Agut and in January in Doha where Rublev had his number. In between, the World No. 49 in the ATP Rankings easily accounted for Shapovalov in a Davis Cup tie at home. In two prior FedExATP Head2Head meetings with American World No. 99, Donald Young, Coric has emerged victorious. The left-handed Young had his best run at the BNP Paribas Open last year when he defeated Sam Querrey and Lucas Pouille en route to a fourth-round defeat to Kei Nishikori. Victory will stamp a second-round clash with No. 19 seed Albert Ramos-Vinolas.

Stefanos Tsitsipas v Radu Albot
Greece’s NextGenATP charge, Stefanos Tsitsipas, enters his first-round BNP Paribas Open match with Radu Albot at a career-best No. 71 in the ATP Rankings. The 19-year-old reached the quarter-finals in Doha to open his season where he won through qualifying before bowing to Dominic Thiem. Last week, he beat No. 6 seed Philipp Kohlschreiber en route to the quarter-finals in Dubai. Tsitsipas scored his biggest win over home favourite David Goffin to reach his maiden ATP World Tour semi-final in October in Antwerp. He has never met the 88th-ranked Albot. The Moldovan scored his first Top 20 win over Isner before Nishikori ended his run in three sets in the New York Open quarter-finals last month. The winner will face fifth seed Thiem for a place in the third round.

 


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Federer, Djokovic Chasing Indian Wells History On Opposite Halves

Tue, 03/06/2018 - 7:59pm
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In less than two weeks, the BNP Paribas Open could have an outright all-time greatest champion. But which five-time champion will perform better this fortnight: Roger Federer (2004-06, 2012, 2017) or Novak Djokovic (2008, 2011, 2014-16)? This could well be determined on the final Sunday of the season's first ATP World Tour Masters 1000 tournament.

Federer and Djokovic have been drawn in opposite halves of the 96-player tournament, which begins on Thursday at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden in California, U.S.A.

View Draw

But neither all-time great will have an easy path in the desert, including Federer, despite his perfect start. The World No. 1 is 12-0 on the season, having won both tournaments he's contested – the Australian Open, his 20th Grand Slam title, and the ABN AMRO World Tennis Tournament in Rotterdam, his 97th tour-level crown, which pushed him back to No. 1 for the first time since 4 November 2012.

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After a first-round bye, Federer could meet American Ryan Harrison (2-0) or Federico Delbonis of Argentina (0-1) in the second round, with 2017 Rolex Paris Masters finalist Filip Krajinovic of Serbia possibly waiting in the third round. Brasil Open champion Fabio Fognini, always a tricky opponent, or 20th seed Adrian Mannarino of France will be the favourites to face Federer in the fourth round.

The Swiss' path could get plenty interesting in the quarter-finals. If the seeds hold, either fifth seed Dominic Thiem, who won the Argentina Open last month, or 12th-seeded Tomas Berdych could be Federer's quarter-final opponents. Berdych has beaten Federer six times, including five on hard courts, but trails in their FedEx ATP Head2Head series 6-20.

Miss some of the day's action? Read below to catch up on our #ATPMasters1000 Live Blog!

Berdych, however, might have to first squeeze past 2017 Next Gen ATP Finals champion Hyeon Chung in the third round. The South Korean has given nearly everyone in tennis trouble in 2018. The 21-year-old knocked out Alexander Zverev and Djokovic en route to his maiden Grand Slam semi-final in Melbourne.

Third seed Grigor Dimitrov will be favoured to face Federer in the semi-finals, in what would be a rematch of their Rotterdam final. But also lingering is Abierto Mexicano Telcel presentado por HSBC finalist Kevin Anderson; 17th seed Nick Kyrgios, who reached the quarter-finals here last year (w/o vs. Federer); and 27th seed Andrey Rublev, who might face Dimitrov in the third round. The occasion would be their fourth FedEx ATP Head2Head meeting since the 2017 US Open (Dimitrov leads 2-1).

The Past 10 Indian Wells Champions

Year

Champion

2017

Roger Federer

2016

Novak Djokovic

2015

Novak Djokovic

2014

Novak Djokovic

2013

Rafael Nadal

2012

Roger Federer

2011

Novak Djokovic

2010

Ivan Ljubicic

2009

Rafael Nadal

2008

Novak Djokovic

Djokovic, with an unfamiliar double-digit seed (10) next to his name, will meet a qualifier and, in the third round, possibly Kei Nishikori, another former Top 5 player on the comeback trail (wrist surgery). Djokovic has won 11 of their 13 FedEx ATP Head2Head matchups.

Should Djokovic prevail, fans could see a rematch of a third-round tilt from a year ago in Indian Wells. The Serbian might again meet the surging Juan Martin del Potro, who's fresh off his 21st tour-level title in Acapulco on Saturday (d. Anderson). Djokovic won their 2017 contest in Indian Wells and leads their FedEx ATP Head2Head series 14-4.

But let's not forget about Marin Cilic, the second seed who pushed Federer to five sets in the Australian Open final. Djokovic, Nishikori and Del Potro – they are all living in Cilic's quarter. The Croatian could meet Philipp Kohlschreiber and then 15th seed John Isner or 24th seed Gilles Muller before a potential matchup against Djokovic, Nishikori or Del Potro.

Two-time Masters 1000 champion Alexander Zverev (2017 Rome, 2017 Montreal) will be the favourite to emerge from the other quarter in the bottom half. His path to the quarter-finals features possibly Milos Raonic and then either Rio champion Diego Schwartzman, the 14th seed, or Australian Open semi-finalist Kyle Edmund, the 21st seed.

Eighth seed Jack Sock, who reached the semi-finals in Indian Wells last year, is projected to meet Zverev in the quarter-finals. But such a showing would mark a turnaround for Sock. He has started the year only 1-4.

Federer's March Form An ATP Rankings Indicator

Tue, 03/06/2018 - 1:03pm

World No. 1 Roger Federer will soon begin his quest for a fourth ‘Sunshine Double’ at the of 36. The March title feat requires ATP World Tour stars to make big adjustments in order to master the dry, thinner desert air of the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells and the humidity and windy conditions of the Miami Open presented by Itau.

Seven players, since the ATP World Tour’s top tier Masters 1000 events were established in 1990, have lifted the Indian Wells and Miami titles back-to-back — Jim Courier (1991), Michael Chang (1992), Pete Sampras (1994), Marcelo Rios (1998), Andre Agassi (2001), Federer (2005-06, 2017) and Novak Djokovic (2011 and 2014-16). In Federer's three 'Sunshine Double' years, he finished the season at No. 1 in the ATP Rankings on two occasions (2005-06) and at No. 2 in 2017.

Federer’s game has historically hit top gear on the west and east coasts of the United States, going 57-11, with five titles (2004-06, 2012 and 2017) in Indian Wells, and 50-13, with three titles (2005-06, 2017) in Miami. With a 350-99 overall match wins tally at Masters 1000 tournaments, his 107-24 combined mark at March’s two events showcases his ability to adapt to the conditions.

Twelve months ago, on the eve of Indian Wells, Federer had an 8-1 season mark. He beat fellow Swiss Stan Wawrinka in the 2017 Indian Wells final and subsequently went on to complete a third ‘Sunshine Double’ with victory over Nadal in the Miami final. Federer has started 2018 in fine form, once again, and is 12 matches unbeaten, following trophies at the Australian Open (d. Cilic) and the ABN AMRO World Tennis Tournament in Rotterdam (d. Dimitrov).

Watch 2017 Indian Wells Final Highlights

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His dominance on hard courts since the start of 2017, as noted in a recent FedEx ATP Performance Zone analysis, sees Federer at 52-4 (92.9 per cent), with seven of his nine trophies on the surface. So Federer starts as the favourite to capture his sixth Indian Wells crown, which would represent his 28th ATP World Tour Masters 1000 trophy. Only Djokovic and Rafael Nadal (30) have won more.

But as the oldest No. 1 in ATP Rankings history (since 1973), the Swiss superstar will first look to add to his current 305 weeks in the top spot with a semi-final showing in the Californian desert. If he loses earlier than the semi-finals, Nadal would regain No. 1. View Federer's ATP Rankings Breakdown

Federer's five title runs in Indian Wells have all paved the way for a Top 2 finish in the year-end ATP Rankings, but he has only once before come into the Masters 1000 tournament unbeaten. In 2007, Federer was also a perfect 12-0 on his arrival in California, but he lost in the Indian Wells opening round to Guillermo Canas. Will 2018 be different? His performances this month may well help improve his chances of a sixth year-end No. 1 finish (2004-07, '09).

FEDERER'S INDIAN WELLS TITLE-WINNING SEASONS

Indian Wells Title Pre-Indian Wells Match W-L Season Match W-L Titles/Finals Year-End ATP Ranking 2004 16-1 74-6 11/11 1 2005 20-1 81-4 11/12 1 2006 16-1 92-5 12/16 1 2012 17-3 71-12 6/10 2 2017 8-1 52-5 7/8 2

Djokovic Works Out Ahead Of Indian Wells Opener

Tue, 03/06/2018 - 9:28am
Watch as Novak Djokovic prepares for his opening round match at the BNP Paribas Open.

ATP Rankings Update 5 March 2018

Tue, 03/06/2018 - 7:17am
Take a closer look at the ATP Rankings as of 5 March 2018, after the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships, the Abierto Mexicano Telcel presentado por HSBC and the Brasil Open.

Uncovered: Behind The Scenes At Dubai 2018

Tue, 03/06/2018 - 7:17am
ATP World Tour Uncovered presented by Peugeot goes behind the scenes at the 2018 Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships, featuring and off-court activity and interview with top seed Grigor Dimitrov.

Qureshi’s Stop War Start Tennis Spotlights Cambodia

Tue, 03/06/2018 - 3:26am

Ten-year-old Teck Toy should have been in school instead of foraging through the forest. But when hunger is extreme and your family is in danger of dying due to starvation, education takes a backseat. In remote villages of northwest Cambodia, hunger is staved off by boiling brackish water and making soup. Snakes, frogs, rats, lizards and anything else caught that can provide a bit of protein gets tossed into the pot and flavoured with forest plants and starchy roots. Toy reached down into the dense forest undergrowth full of vines to pick up what he thought to be a wild mushroom. Instead, he picked up a ‘bomblet’, a small-sized fragmentation bomb that is packed with hundreds of others into a larger cluster bomb, which is then dropped from the air or launched from the ground.

In a flash, Toy lost his left leg and joined Cambodia’s vast legion of amputees due to unexploded ordinance from decades-old fighting. Today, thanks to a Catholic mission established in the Battambang prefecture by a Spanish priest and his devoted volunteers, the 10-year-old no longer goes hungry or misses school. And he spends his free time not in the forest, but on a new tennis court playing wheelchair tennis with other amputees.

In February, I visited Cambodia on behalf of Stop War Start Tennis, the foundation that Aisam-Ul-Haq Qureshi founded to promote peace through tennis and to help communities ravaged by war to rebuild through our great sport. The foundation received a grant through the ATP ACES For Charity programme this year, as it did in 2013.

The funds are meant to help kids like Lisa Sokor, who wants to be a tennis star. The 11-year-old comes from the province of Siem Reap, home of the temples of Angkor Wat, which are considered one of the wonders of the world. Sokor grew up slightly more than a stone’s throw away from those magnificent Khmer structures in another village lying in ruins, Derc Sun Cang T’boung, quite possibly one of the poorest squatter villages in all of Cambodia. In Sokor’s village, homes are built on top of black slime mud; a sewage mix of gray water and black water spit out of thatched-palm huts through PVC pipes into a rain-soaked ground. Among the stench and filth, naked children run amok through a melting pot of malaria, cholera and dysentery.

It was Scott Windus who discovered a then seven-year-old Lisa Sokor. Windus is a former Tennis Australia Senior Club Coach, who has been introducing tennis to disadvantaged kids in Cambodia’s northwest territory for five years. Project Empower, which Windus spearheads, is funded by Australia’s Baptist Mission Agency.

“Lisa caught hold of the tail end of tennis, knowing that it would be her ticket out of this situation and to a bigger, brighter future,” said Windus. “At the age of 11, Lisa inspires all of us on a daily basis, as we are in awe of her self-motivated, never-say-die training and match attitude.”

Windus sets up shop and recruits players from the poorest villages in Siem Reap. For him, the challenges in Cambodia are not just providing opportunities for the poor, but also eradicating hatred and racial prejudices. Windus’ success stories range from a tuk-tuk driver turned tennis coach, to a half-dozen boys who have made it to the top of the national rankings. But his most impressive victory is a bit more subtle.

“The civil war of the 1980s dragged on in the northwestern region of the country for 19 years after hostilities stopped in the capital, Phnom Penh, in some areas not ceasing until as late as 1999,” stated Windus. “One of the enduring consequences is the tension that still exists between the Khmer national and the local Khmer/Vietnamese citizens, fathered by Vietnamese soldiers during the Vietnamese occupation.

“One success story is the village of Da Pol in Siem Reap City, home to a large number of the Khmer/Vietnamese families. Through the sport of tennis, the village is experiencing a unity like never before.

“Getting permission to use makeshift nets on the local Vietnamese dirt volleyball court, we were able to host a large number of Khmer and Vietnamese youth coming each week to learn tennis. Tennis gave them a chance to run around together and have fun, while forgetting about their existing prejudice towards the other. As these players grow in their tennis abilities, gain new experiences through travelling and meeting people from all over the world, their character and attitudes also mature to encompass expanded horizons and a vision of a world that is much bigger than the one they come from.”

In November 2017, some of Windus' students joined Tennis Cambodia’s national junior team for a trip to Vietnam.

“Interaction through tennis helps people form a more encompassing worldview and it also has the power to break down generational fears and prejudice across racial lines,” said Windus. “For the first time, they were able to witness the truth about their Vietnamese hosts being friendly, welcoming and encouraging. On the other side of this new experience and having met, played with and shared a meal with many of the Vietnamese team players and officials, the Cambodian children now have tools and a voice with which to challenge the status-quo within their communities and schools that want to continue the feud with their close neighbours.”

By the national road, it takes less than three hours to reach the city of Battambang from Siem Reap. While Siem Reap is on the map for its rich world heritage sites, Battambang has been a flaming arrow on the map for another reason — warfare. Invaders, rebels, bandits and deserting soldiers have all struck camp in and around Battambang. Even the name, Battambang sounds like it’s about to explode. The effects of anti-tank mines, cluster bombs and cheap homemade land mines are visible everywhere you go. Every year, just like clockwork, as the rainy season washes away thin layers of laterite soil thus bringing hidden explosives a little bit closer to the surface, a new batch of amputees appear on the scene.

Father Enrique Figueroda first came to Cambodia in the mid 1980s and was immediately struck by the amount of agony and misery he saw everywhere. Later, he was drawn to Battambang by the stories of how a small band of local Christians defied the Khmer Rouge genocidal mandate forbidding Christianity. It was here in Battambang that the soft-hearted father saw the maimed and disabled suffering while literally crying out for help. Soon, Figueroda became known as the wheelchair priest. Today, at his Arrupe Center, which is dedicated to helping teach and train locals, tennis wheelchairs are scattered about a cement slab that has a net strung across. Tennis is just one of the wheelchair activities that they sponsor. The Arrupe Center is staffed by young Spanish volunteers and local adults. Most of the Spanish staff live about 25 kilometres away in the village of Ta Hen at the sister school commune. The expression, “off the beaten track”, could have been talking about Ta Hen, but that is where the land was granted and a school and agriculture center were built. And it is also the least likely place that you will ever see two brand new lighted tennis courts constructed, complete with a practice wall — a gift from tennis-loving Spanish donors.

On the day I visited Ta Hen, both disabled and disadvantaged kids, many from parents who gifted them to the church because they were too poor to care for them, were trying to play tennis. I say trying, because there were not enough racquets and balls available for everyone to use at once. None of the kids had tennis shoes. I suppose that quite a few would rather have prosthetic legs first. Through previous Stop War Start Tennis visits in hard hit areas around the world, Aisam-Ul-Haq Qureshi and I have seen similar scenes. But here was something different. I looked around the tennis courts at kids as poor as church mice — some were missing limbs, others had birth defects, a few were stricken with incurable diseases and one child had never grown. There they all were running, limping, rolling and hobbling all over the place, as a constant roar of laughter seemed to shake the very hard-court surface.

"I am so happy to support and recommend these two projects in Siem Reap and Battambang," Qureshi told me. "What they have done for these children with so little is a testament to the dedication to improving lives through tennis. On the ATP World Tour, we have the best of everything. We often don't realise the value of used balls, racquets and shoes. Equipment we tend to discard could be used to bring joy to those less fortunate."

Later, I was allowed to visit the dorm rooms where kids slept three or four to a bed, watch other children tending to their assigned plots in the garden, and see others completing their daily tasks. Everywhere I went kids were smiling, singing, laughing and those that could; skipping and dancing around the commune. Then it dawned on me why these kids, who had every reason to be angry, sad or bitter seemed so happy. Here in a remote village — where remote takes on a new meaning — surrounded by rice paddies and corn fields, coconut palms and banana trees, lies a little haven where kids that nobody wants feel loved no matter what condition, shape or size they come in. During my visit, I quit counting the amount of times that I observed the Spanish volunteers hugging, holding hands or carrying these little children. Maybe that is why they are all volunteers — you cannot pay people to love in those unfortunate conditions. Over two days, I got to know a few of the volunteers: Ivan, Martia, Juan and Borja. Though they are not trained professional tennis coaches, there is nothing these young people would not do to encourage the kids to play tennis.

Afterwards, Qureshi asked me what I learned from this visit that we might share with other people who are considering creating similar projects around the world.

I could think of no easy answer. What I observed with Windus in Siem Reap and Figueroda’s team in Battambang — to whom Qureshi donated five wheelchairs last year — is just how amazing the amount of joy and hope that tennis can make in the lives of those who are afflicted in one way or the other. Against some pretty incredible odds, these two men and their teams have succeeded where lesser-determined people would have given up long ago.

View Qureshi's Charity Profile

Learn More About ATP ACES For Charity

If interested in communicating or supporting either project in Siem Reap or Battambang, Cambodia, please contact Robert Davis at editor@elitetennis.org for further details.

Tennis TV To Stream Every March Masters Match

Tue, 03/06/2018 - 12:22am

After a frantic start to the 2018 season, the ATP World Tour turns its attention to the first Masters 1000 events of the season – the BNP Paribas Open and the Miami Open presented by Itaú.

With the world’s best players heading to North America for the 'Sunshine Double', fans can follow every singles and doubles match on the ATP's official streaming service, TennisTV.com.

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With live streaming from up to eight courts at once, you can enjoy the option of Tennis TV’s multi-screen player to make sure you keep up with all the action. Watch live and on-demand coverage of 252 matches from Indian Wells and Miami, on a range of devices including Apple TV, Amazon Fire TV, Roku and Xbox One.

Last year saw Roger Federer win memorable back-to-back titles to complete the 'Sunshine Double' for the third time. Will the new World No. 1 repeat the feat this year, or will the likes of Rafael Nadal, Alexander Zverev, Grigor Dimitrov, Marin Cilic or perhaps a dark horse triumph in either the Californian desert or the Florida Keys?

Federer will play his first event since becoming the oldest man in history to hold the World No. 1 spot in the ATP Rankings. Nadal will be hot on his heels as he bids to regain the top position at the first Masters 1000 event of the year.

The action will then roll over to the east coast in Miami, beginning 21 March, with the tournament being held at Crandon Park for the last time before moving to Hard Rock Stadium for 2019.

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Federer's Hard-Court Numbers Are Hard To Beat

Mon, 03/05/2018 - 11:12pm

Roger Federer has been one of the premier hard-court performers on the ATP World Tour throughout his career. But since the beginning of 2017, when the Swiss was as low as No. 17 in the ATP Rankings, he has far exceeded his already-impressive average win-rate on the surface.

In fact, Federer has led the Tour with a 52-4 record (92.9 per cent) on hard courts during that span, winning seven of his nine tour-level titles on the surface since the start of last year. Five of those seven triumphs came at either an ATP World Tour Masters 1000 event (2017 Indian Wells, 2017 Miami, 2017 Shanghai) or a Grand Slam (2017 & 2018 Australian Open).

But perhaps what is most impressive is that the 97-time tour-level champion has far exceeded the best win-loss rates on the surface in the history of the sport. According to the FedEx ATP Performance Zone, Novak Djokovic has the highest all-time winning percentage on hard courts, triumphing an impressive 84.2 per cent of the time, with Federer right behind at 83.4 per cent.

Best Career Records On Hard Courts

 Player W-L Rate Career W-L Tour-Level Hard-Court Titles  Novak Djokovic 84.2 % 511-96  51   Roger Federer 83.4 % 720-143  67   Jimmy Connors 82.8 % 547-114  49   Ivan Lendl 82.1 %  395-86  31   Rod Laver 81.3 %  156-36  18 

Then, you can compare that stretch to the best career records on other surfaces. Rafael Nadal is undeniably the greatest clay-court performer in history, winning 91.7 per cent of his matches (389-35). Don Budge leads the way on grass with a 52-5 record (91.2 per cent).

Visit FedEx ATP Performance Zone

Sure, Federer’s run of success has lasted just more than a year at this point, but 56 matches is not a small sample size. And when you take a look at the rest of the Swiss' career, it shows that Federer’s recent win-loss record on hard courts is not a fluke. In 2005, the right-hander won 50 of 51 hard-court matches (98 per cent) on the surface and followed that up the next year by winning 59 of 61 (96.7 per cent) matches. In total, he has exceeded a 90 per cent win-rate on hard courts for an entire season four times. This year, he is off to a 12-0 start.

Federer's Best Years On Hard Courts

 Year W-L Rate Year W-L Tour-Level Hard-Court Titles  2005 98.0 % 50-1 8  2006 96.7 %  59-2 9   2004 92.0 %  46-4  7   2017 90.9 %  40-4  5   2014 88.7 %  55-7  4 

One of the leading factors spurring this recent run is that in 14 of his 56 matches since the beginning of last year, Federer has not faced a break point, and in nine more, he saved each break opportunity held against him.

So, how has he been so successful on hard courts recently? Former World No. 1 Jim Courier says that one shot in particular has improved dramatically.

“Roger’s addition of backhand aggression from the start of 2017 has had a massive impact on his results,” Courier told ATPWorldTour.com. “To go 4-0 [all on hard courts] versus Nadal last year was awfully impressive and due in large part to the backhand wing.”

And while this hard-court run has been magnificent, Courier says that it’s not just about the surface.

“Roger is impressive on all surfaces, including hard courts, due to his all court acumen and fantastic technique,” Courier said.

Federer now enters a critical stretch of events at the BNP Paribas Open and the Miami Open presented by Itau — the first two ATP World Tour Masters 1000 events of the season — where he defends 2,000 ATP Rankings points from last season’s victories. Federer will have to be at his best, as he must advance to at least the semi-finals in Indian Wells to maintain his spot atop the ATP Rankings. 

ATP World Tour: Poetry In Motion

Mon, 03/05/2018 - 10:36pm
ATP World Tour Uncovered presented by Peugeot shows you why tennis, at its roots, is poetry in motion.

10 Years On, Acapulco Honoured Again

Mon, 03/05/2018 - 1:13pm

After an entertaining final featuring Top 10 stars Juan Martin del Potro and Kevin Anderson, the Abierto Mexicano Telcel presentado por HSBC concluded its 25th edition. But, it was not just Del Potro who was celebrating. ATP Executive Chairman and President Chris Kermode presented Renata Burillo, Chairman of Grupo Pegaso, and Tournament Director Raul Zurutuza with a trophy honouring the Acapulco event's place as one of the Tournaments of the Year in the 2017 ATP World Tour Awards presented by Moët & Chandon.

Read & Watch Highlights: Del Potro Wins 21st Tour-Level Title

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Ten years after first receiving this award, the Abierto Mexicano Telcel has once again been named the ATP World Tour 500 Tournament of the Year. The event, held at the Acapulco Princess Mundo Imperial, switched to blue hard courts in 2014 after 20 years on clay. Tickets for all sessions of the 25th edition were sold out months before the start of the event.

“It is an honour for Grupo Pegaso to receive this recognition from the players of the ATP World Tour,” said Renata Burillo, President of Grupo Pegaso. “We thank the players, all the fans, the media and sponsors that made this possible. We will work hard to keep improving in the years to come.”

Zurutuza said that the award was a recognition of the tournament’s long list of enhancements. "We moved Court Three and Court Four... to the parking lot. We moved the press room, we have a new television compound, we added 1,500 seats to the main stadium," he said. "Those improvements are well deserved for a tournament that sold all of the tickets within two months of announcing the player field."

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The Tournament of the Year awards, voted annually by ATP World Tour players, recognise the leading standards set across the three tournament categories on the Tour. The BNP Paribas Open and the Qatar ExxonMobil Open won the remaining two awards, in the ATP World Tour Masters 1000 and 250 tournament categories respectively.

Visit the official ATP World Tour Awards section on ATPWorldTour.com.

10 Things To Watch In Indian Wells

Mon, 03/05/2018 - 1:10pm

It is one of the most important times of year on the ATP World Tour — the world's best gather in Indian Wells, California, for the first ATP World Tour Masters 1000 event of the season: the BNP Paribas Open. Roger Federer, the five-time champion and World No. 1, leads the field into the Coachella Valley where he is defending the 1,000 ATP Rankings points he claimed last year. 

1) No. 1 for Now: Five-time champion Roger Federer defends his title and No. 1 ATP Ranking when he returns to the BNP Paribas Open. Federer will remain the World No. 1 if he reaches the semi-finals. Otherwise, Rafael Nadal re-claims No. 1 on 19 March for his fifth stint in the top spot and the 168th week of his career.

2) Fantastic Fed: Federer, 36, is the oldest World No. 1 in ATP Rankings history and owns records for the most weeks at No. 1 (306 as of 12 March), years since No. 1 debut (14) and years between stints at No. 1 (5). The Swiss is 64-5 with nine tour-level titles since returning in 2017 from a left-knee injury.

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3) Novak Seeks Title No. 6: Following a “small medical intervention” on his right elbow, Novak Djokovic is scheduled to compete for just the second time since Wimbledon. Djokovic lost to Hyeon Chung in the Australian Open fourth round on 22 January before undergoing surgery. He is a five-time BNP Paribas Open champion, tied with Federer for the most titles in tournament history (since 1976).

4) Three’s The Limit: After reaching finals at two of the past three Grand Slam events, Marin Cilic became the World No. 3. The Croat is the 16th player to be ranked No. 3 since 25 July 2005. Only four players during that span have been in the Top 2 (Federer, Nadal, Djokovic and Andy Murray).

5) Breaking Back: Juan Martin del Potro and Kevin Anderson have broken back into the Top 10 this season. Del Potro dropped to No. 1,045 before beginning his comeback from three left-wrist surgeries in 2016. Anderson fell to No. 80 after spending one week inside the Top 10 in 2015.

6) Delpo On The Rise: The Argentine is fresh off of winning the title at the Abierto Mexicano Telcel presentado por HSBC, where he beat three Top 8 players consecutively to clinch his first ATP World Tour 500-level trophy since 2013 Basel. Del Potro is now up to No. 8 in the ATP Rankings. 

7) #NextGenATP Turns 2: Alexander Zverev, Frances Tiafoe and Taylor Fritz were 18 when they helped launch #NextGenATP at the 2016 BNP Paribas Open. They are among the hottest players on Tour two years later. Zverev is ranked in the Top 5, Tiafoe captured the Delray Beach Open title on 25 February, and Fritz won the Oracle Challenger Series title in Newport Beach on 28 January.

8) Wild Cards: Four of the five wild cards are Americans: Ernesto Escobedo, Bradley Klahn, Reilly Opelka and Tennys Sandgren. Aussie #NextGenATP star Alex de Minaur, who reached the Sydney final, is the other wild card. De Minaur, Escobedo and Sandgren are making their main draw debut at Indian Wells.

9) Frenchman Rising: No. 1 Frenchman Lucas Pouille has reached three finals in the past four weeks, highlighted by his fifth ATP World Tour title earlier this year in Montpellier. Pouille is at a career-high No. 12 in the ATP Rankings. 

10) Double Your Fun: Oliver Marach and Mate Pavic enter the BNP Paribas Open with an 18-2 record on the season, sweeping doubles titles in January at Doha, Auckland and the Australian Open. Also in the draw are Californians Bob Bryan and Mike Bryan, who will make their 20th consecutive appearance at the BNP Paribas Open. The Bryans won the Indian Wells title in 2013 and 2014.

Fabio Fognini: My Story

Mon, 03/05/2018 - 10:38am
Fabio Fognini talks about the birth of his first child and whether his son will grow up to play tennis in this edition of My Story, delivered by FedEx.

Bautista Agut Rises In ATP Rankings, Mover Of The Week

Mon, 03/05/2018 - 7:30am

No. 16 Roberto Bautista Agut, +7
The Spaniard clinched his second ATP World Tour title of the season (Auckland), and eighth tour-level crown, at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships, beating France’s Lucas Pouille in the final. Bautista Agut became the first player outside the Top 10 of the ATP Rankings to win the tournament since Fabrice Santoro in 2002, after overcoming Borna Coric, Malek Jaziri and Pouille in straight sets. The 29-year-old jumps seven positions to No. 16. Read and Watch Highlights

No. 8 Juan Martin del Potro, +1
The 29-year-old won his biggest title since 2013 (Basel) at the Abierto Mexicano Telcel presentado por HSBC, overcoming US Open finalist Kevin Anderson in Saturday’s final. Del Potro navigated a tough draw in Acapulco, beating Mischa Zverev, four-time champion David Ferrer, and Top 10 stars Alexander Zverev, Dominic Thiem and Anderson to lift the trophy. The title was Del Potro’s 21st crown on the ATP World Tour and his earliest triumph in a season since his 2014 success at the Sydney International (d. Tomic). The Argentine rises one spot to No. 8 in the ATP Rankings, his highest position since 3 August 2014. Read and Watch Highlights

No. 12 (Career High) Lucas Pouille, +3
Pouille climbs three places after reaching his third final in four weeks at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships (l. to Bautista Agut). The Frenchman avenged his Marseille final loss to Karen Khachanov before defeating seeds Yuichi Sugita and Filip Krajinovic to reach the championship match. The 24-year-old moves to a career-high No. 12 in the ATP Rankings. He could have broken into the Top 10 for the first time (at No. 10) with the Dubai title.

No. 48 (Career High) Jared Donaldson, +11
Donaldson reached his first ATP World Tour semi-final at the Abierto Mexicano Telcel presentado por HSBC. The American scored convincing back-to-back wins over Matthew Ebden and Feliciano Lopez to reach the last four, where he fell to New York Open champion Kevin Anderson. The 21-year-old soars 11 places to career-high No. 48 in the ATP Rankings.

No. 61 (Career High) Nicolas Jarry, +12
The 22-year-old ended his breakthrough Golden Swing with a runner-up finish at the Brasil Open (l. to Fognini). Jarry fought his way through to his first ATP World Tour final after hard-fought three-set wins over Dusan Lajovic, Guido Pella, Albert Ramos-Vinolas and Horacio Zeballos. The Chilean notched nine wins from 12 matches in Quito, Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo, with each of the three losses coming against the eventual champion. Jarry climbs 12 spots to a career-high No. 61 in the ATP Rankings.  Read and Watch Highlights

No. 84 Malek Jaziri, +33
The Tunisian scored a huge upset win over top seed Grigor Dimitrov en route to his first ATP World Tour semi-final since 2015 (Winston Salem) at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships. Jaziri backed up his stunning win over the World No. 4 with wins over Robin Haase and #NextGenATP star Stefanos Tsitsipas, before falling to soon-to-be champion Bautista Agut in the last four. The 34-year-old flies 33 places up the ATP Rankings, re-entering the Top 100 at No. 84.

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Other Notable Top 100 Movers This Week
No. 26 Hyeon Chung, +3
No. 28 Filip Krajinovic, +6
No. 32 Feliciano Lopez, +6
No. 33 David Ferrer, +6
No. 54 Ryan Harrison, +6
No. 71 Stefanos Tsitsipas, +11
No. 75 Vasek Pospisil, +8
No. 93 Pierre-Hugues Herbert, +6