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Updated: 20 min 53 sec ago

Rosol Edges Haase In Sofia Opener

Mon, 02/01/2016 - 12:46pm

Lukas Rosol got the better of Robin Haase 3-6, 6-3, 6-4 in one hour and 48 minutes on Monday at the inaugural edition of the Garanti Koza Sofia Open. It was the pair's fourth three-setter in five meetings.

Afterwards Rosol, who is now 6-3 on the season, explained to ATPWorldTour.com, "It's always a battle. I got lucky at the end, as Robin is playing good tennis. It's always about one or two points. After the Australian Open, which is outdoors, to then move indoors, is tricky. It's a different game and I'm happy with the result."

The Czech was also impressed by the new ATP World Tour 250 tournament. "The stadium and court is nice to play on," he added. "I came here on Friday to get used to the conditions. They do a good job and make you feel comfortable, so I wish the organisers well in the future."

Seventh seed Martin Klizan required 59 minutes to beat wild card Alexander Lazov, making his ATP World Tour debut, 6-3, 6-0. He lost just two of his first service points.

Qualifier Mirza Basic overcame Yuki Bhambri 6-3, 7-6(4) in 85 minutes. "I was a little bit tired, having now played three matches in three days, but I am happy to have won," said Basic. "His serve was tricky."

Roberto Bautista Agut, Viktor Troicki, Guillermo Garcia-Lopez and Andreas Seppi are the top four seeds.

Djokovic A Man In Demand In Melbourne

Mon, 02/01/2016 - 10:38am

Novak Djokovic was a man in demand after winning his sixth Australian Open title on Sunday night at Melbourne Park.

Soon after the match, the World No. 1 was engaged in a 90-minute media tour of interviews and photos, including 11 television one-on-ones.

After a few hours of sleep, Djokovic took the Norman Brookes trophy for a photo shoot at the Government House, followed by more one-on-one interviews with the Australian media.

The Serb’s media tour finished with a visit to the Braybrook Early Learning Centre. The Novak Djokovic Foundation donated $20,000 to Mission Early Years Supported Playgroup Programs at Braybrook & Doreen.

Read: Djokovic Makes History With Victory Over Murray

China Rising: Di Wu Wins Nation’s First Challenger Title

Mon, 02/01/2016 - 3:34am

A LOOK BACK
SportMaster Tennis Championships of Maui (Maui, U.S.A.): Asian tennis experienced a landmark moment last week. More than one billion people hail from China, yet on Sunday, Di Wu stood above the rest. The Shanghai native became the nation's first ATP Challenger Tour singles titlist, stunning top seed Kyle Edmund 4-6, 6-3, 6-4 in two hours and seven minutes in Maui. He saved 11 of 15 break points faced and overcame strong winds that penetrated the Royal Lahaina Resort throughout the match, creating tough conditions.

“Today I gave 100 per cent energy,” Wu told broadcaster Mike Cation following the match. “Chinese players have never won a Challenger. I did well on the court to fight and it was amazing. For sure [I feel the pressure in China]. The Chinese fans follow you and want you to win. I wanted to become the first man to win a title. I'm really happy.”

The 24 year old will return to the Top 200 of the Emirates ATP Rankings with his maiden crown. He enjoyed a fruitful off-season entering 2016 that included a training block with Novak Djokovic, Milos Raonic and Andreas Seppi in Monte-Carlo, followed by a successful qualifying campaign at the Australian Open. Wu had dropped two previous Challenger title matches, in Beijing 2012 and in a third set tie-break in Shanghai 2015.

"We made the appointment with Novak during the Shanghai Rolex Masters. It's extremely difficult to get a point from Novak when we play together. He is like a wall. I see a big distance to reach his level and I'm not expecting it, but I found myself with the potential to improve and make progress." 

Watch Championship Point

“I know he (Edmund) is young, smart and in the Top 100. He has good experience. I was more aggressive with my forehand today, but I hit more double faults (11) because he returns very well. This is why I missed so many. I have to get stronger in my legs. I also have to remember how I played here, be more consistent and play the next like this one.”

World No. 88 Edmund’s defeat ends a streak of eight straight Challenger finals won by British players. It was Wu’s fourth victory over a Top 100 opponent and first in a completed match at the Challenger level.

Claro Open Bucaramanga (Bucaramanga, Colombia): Gerald Melzer and Paolo Lorenzi were drawn to face each other in Bucaramanga in the 2015 second round and once again in the 2016 final. Different year, same result. The 25-year-old Melzer needed just 75 minutes to clinch the title 6-3, 6-1, fighting off four of five break points faced. It was the Austrian’s second crown of the year, following a season-opening victory in Mendoza, Argentina, and third overall. He owns a 12-2 record to open the season. Lorenzi, meanwhile, was appearing in his 31st ATP Challenger Tour final, which is second-most all-time behind Yen Hsun Lu’s 36 title matches.

What The Players Said
Melzer: “You don't win titles every day. It was difficult in the first part of the tournament but little-by-little I found my rhythm. I am very happy to be the champion.”

WHAT'S AHEAD
They say everything is bigger in Texas. So is the tennis. The RBC Tennis Championships of Dallas welcomes the ATP Challenger Tour for an 18th time, with defending champion Tim Smyczek seeded fourth. An American has won the title in each of the past 10 editions. A pair of blockbuster first-round match-ups are in the cards, with top seed Sam Groth set to face 18-year-old Frances Tiafoe and Russian teen Andrey Rublev squaring off against Daniel Evans. Maui runner-up Kyle Edmund is seeded second.

In Australia, the second edition of the Launceston International is staged, with home hope Jordan Thompson the highest-ranked player in the field at World No. 143 in the Emirates ATP Rankings. Top seed James Duckworth withdrew with an elbow injury sustained in Maui.

View Draws & Watch Free Live Streams

ATP CHALLENGER TOUR ON TWITTER: New in 2016, the ATP Challenger Tour has launched a dedicated Twitter account for the latest news and information about players and events. Follow @ATPChallengerTour at twitter.com/ATPChallengerTour.

Scouting Report: Gasquet Back In Business

Sun, 01/31/2016 - 8:07pm

After an exciting opening month of the season in Australia and Asia, ATP World Tour action returns with two European tournaments and the first of five events in the Golden Swing in Latin America. Six of the Top 20 overall in the Emirates ATP Rankings (as of Feb. 1) are in action.

OPEN SUD DE FRANCE (Montpellier) – Leading the way in Montpellier is World No. 10 (as of Feb. 1) and reigning champion Richard Gasquet, No. 2 seed Marin Cilic, No. 3 Gilles Simon and No. 4 Benoit Paire. The other seeds are: No. 5/two-time winner (2010, ’14) Gael Monfils, No. 6 Joao Sousa, No. 7 Borna Coric and No. 8 Marcos Baghdatis. Overall, five of the Top 20 in the Emirates ATP Rankings are playing in the 28-player field.

Richard Returns – Gasquet, who has reached the final the last three years, winning in 2013 and last season (runner-up in ’14), is making his 2016 debut on the ATP World Tour. The 29-year-old Frenchman has been sidelined the first month with a back injury. He comes in with a 13-3 career record in Montpellier. Last year Gasquet finished in the Top 10 Emirates ATP Rankings for the fourth time in his career at No. 9 with a 43-17 match record. He won ATP World Tour titles here and Estoril in May. He also advanced to his second (’07) semi-final at Wimbledon. This is the 12th time in his career Gasquet is seeded No. 1 in an ATP World Tour tournament. He has won titles in 2007 Mumbai and 2013 Moscow as top seed.

Monfils on the Move –  Besides Gasquet, Monfils is the other two-time winner in Montpellier, capturing titles in 2010 and ’14. The 29-year-old Frenchman has a 15-3 career record. He also was runner-up in 2012 (l. to Berdych). He opened his 2016 campaign with a personal-best quarter-final run at the Australian Open (l. to Raonic). Monfils will climb from No. 25 to No. 17 in the Emirates ATP Rankings, his highest since Aug. 31 when he went into the US Open at No. 16.

French Success – French players have won four of the previous five titles in Montpellier with Gasquet winning twice and Monfils capturing two titles (2010, ’14). The only time a Frenchman didn’t win the title was in 2012 when Tomas Berdych defeated Monfils in the final.

French Wild Cards – Rising young Frenchman 19-year-old Quentin Halys and 34-year-old Julien Benneteau are two of the three wild cards in the main draw. Halys won his first Grand Slam/Tour level match (d. Dodig) at the Australian Open (l. to eventual champion Djokovic). Benneteau, who reached the quarter-finals here in 2013, is coming back from a groin injury which kept him sidelined most of last year. The other wild card is Cypriot and No. 8 seed Marcos Baghdatis, who is making his tournament debut.

Coric Makes Debut – No. 7 seed Coric is making his tournament debut. The 19-year-old Croat opened the season by reaching his first ATP World Tour final in Chennai (l. to Wawrinka). He was the first teenager to reach an ATP final since countryman Marin Cilic won the title in New Haven in 2008.

GARANTI KOZA SOFIA OPEN (Sofia) – For the first time since 1981, an ATP World Tour level tournament is being held in Sofia. The Garanti Koza Sofia Open will be staged at the Arena Armeec Sofia, Bulgaria’s leading sports and entertainment venue. This year’s tournament features nine of the Top 50 in the Emirates ATP Rankings and is led by Roberto Bautista Agut, who is the top seed in an ATP World Tour tournament for the first time in his career. The other seeds are: No. 2 Viktor Troicki, No. 3 Guillermo Garcia-Lopez, No. 4 Andreas Seppi, No. 5 Philipp Kohlschreiber, No. 6 Gilles Muller, No. 7 Martin Klizan and No. 8 Adrian Mannarino. There are a total of 20 countries represented in the 28-player draw.

Top Two Seeds 2016 Winners – The top two seeds, Spaniard Roberto Bautista Agut and Serb Viktor Troicki, come into Sofia after a successful opening month of the season. The have combined to compile a 16-4 match record. Both won their third career ATP World Tour title. Bautista Agut is off to a career-best 9-2 start, having won the title in Auckland (d. Sock) and following with a personal-best 4R showing at the Australian Open (l. to No. 6 Berdych in five sets). Bautista Agut didn’t win his ninth match last year until April in Houston. Troicki enters with a 7-2 match record and he defended his title in Sydney (d. Dimitrov, saving match point). The No. 2 Serb then followed with a third round result at the Australian Open (l. to eventual SF Raonic).

Bulgarian Wild Cards – Two of the three wild cards are Bulgarian players making their ATP World Tour main draw debut. Dimitar Kuzmanov is the No. 2 Bulgarian at No. 294 in the Emirates ATP Rankings while Alexandar Lazov is the No. 4 local player ranked No. 445. The other wild card is Marsel Ilhan, who is the No. 1 Turkish player ranked No. 114. Ilhan reached a career-high No. 77 in March last year.

On The Rise – The youngest player in the field is 19-year-old Korean Hyeon Chung, who finished No. 51 in the Emirates ATP Rankings last year and was named ATP Most Improved Player of the Year. Last season Chung advanced to his first ATP World Tour quarter-final in Shenzhen and won four Challenger titles.

One to Watch – No. 6 Gilles Muller, who reached the semi-finals in Sydney last month, compiled some of his best results on indoor courts last season. He reached the quarter-finals in Rotterdam, Metz and Stockholm. The 33-year-old from Luxembourg has a 41-35 career indoor record and 116-120 outdoors.

A Look Back – The last time an ATP World Tour level tournament was held in Sofia was on Dec. 20, 1981 as American Rick Meyer defeated Leo Palin of Finland, 64 76 76, to win his lone ATP title. The tournament was played on indoor carpet.

ECUADOR OPEN QUITO (Quito) – Latin America's "Golden Swing" opens with the second-year tournament Ecuador Open Quito, which is led by top seed/No. 1 Aussie Bernard Tomic and last year’s finalist/No. 2 seed Feliciano Lopez. The other seeds at the Club Jacarandá Cumbayá are: No. 3 Thomaz Bellucci, No. 4 Fernando Verdasco, No. 5/reigning champion Victor Estrella Burgos, No. 6 Paolo Lorenzi, No. 7 Albert Ramos-Vinolas and No. 8 Pablo Carreno Busta. Prior to last year, the last time an ATP World Tour tournament was held in Quito was in November 1982. Local hero Andres Gomez won the title.

Tomic Top Seed – Tomic, who finished last season as the No. 1 Aussie for the first time since 2011 at No. 18 in the Emirates ATP Rankings, is the top seed for the second time in his career. Last month in Sydney (QF). He is coming off a fourth-round finish at the Australian Open (l. to eventual finalist Murray). In 2015, the 23-year-old Aussie won his third career ATP World Tour title in Bogota (d. Mannarino), a personal-best 40 matches and $1,188,195.

Estrella Burgos Defending Champ – No. 5 seed Estrella Burgos became the first player from the Dominican Republic to capture an ATP World Tour title with his thrilling three-set win over Lopez. At 34, he became the oldest first-time ATP World Tour singles winner in the Open Era. He also reached the doubles final in Quito (w/Souza). He finished at a year-end high No. 56 in the Emirates ATP Rankings, his 2nd straight season in Top 100. He reached a career-high No. 43 on July 13. He also won a career-best 20 matches.

Lopez Makes Return – No. 2 seed and last year’s finalist Lopez is one of four left-handed seeded players in the draw. The 34-year-old Spaniard is coming off a third-round showing at the Australian Open (l. to Isner). In his second-round win over Guido Pella, Lopez fired a career-high 42 aces and hit 97 total winners in the 4:31 match. He is making his fourth career trip to Latin America. He reached the semi-finals in Buenos Aires in 2002, the second round in Acapulco in 2014 and the final last year in Quito.

Golden Swing Champs – Estrella Burgos, No. 3 seed Thomaz Bellucci and Horacio Zeballos of Argentina are the only players in the field with Golden Swing titles on their resumes. Bellucci triumphed in Santiago in 2010 while Zeballos topped Rafael Nadal to win in Viña del Mar in 2013.

Ecuador's Finest – Home hopes include Ecuadorian wild cards Giovanni Lapentti and Gonzalo Escobar. The 33-year-old Lapentti, who is the No. 1 Ecuadorian at No. 215 in the Emirates ATP Rankings, reached a career-high World No. 110 in 2005, while Escobar is making his second tournament appearance (l. to Jarry in 1R last year).​ The other wild card is Colombian Alejandro Gonzalez, who is coached by former World No. 6 Nicolas Lapentti, the last Ecuadorian to win an ATP World Tour in St. Poelten in 2002.

In Case You Missed It

Novak Djokovic captured his sixth Australian Open title over Andy Murray. Read 

Jamie Murray and Bruno Soares won the doubles title in Melbourne against Daniel Nestor and Radek Stepanek. Read 

Soares also won the mixed doubles crown alongside Elena Vesnina. Read 

Potential Milestones

Montpellier - Singles
Marin Cilic - 345 wins
Julien Benneteau - 245 wins

Quito - Singles
Feliciano Lopez - 398 wins
Albert Montanes - 247 wins

Quito - Doubles
Oliver Marach - 249 wins

Sofia - Singles
Robin Haase - 148 wins
Sergiy Stakhovsky - 148 wins

Rankings Movers (1 February, 2016)

David Ferrer 6 (+2 spots)
Tomas Berdych 8 (-2 spots)
Jo-Wilfried Tsonga 9 (+1 spot)
Richard Gasquet 10 (-1 spot)
Milos Raonic 11 (+3 spots)
Gael Monfils 17 (+8 spots)
Roberto Bautista Agut 18 (+3 spots)
Dominic Thiem 19 (+1 spot)
Andrey Kuznetsov 52 (+22 spots) - career high

Birthdays

February 3 – Carlos Berlocq (33)

February 5 – Andreas Beck (30)

February 7 – Alejandro Gonzalez (27)

Estrella Burgos Kicks Off Golden Swing In Quito

Sun, 01/31/2016 - 6:09pm

The Ecuador Open Quito is the first clay-court tournament of the 2016 ATP World Tour season. It also marks the beginning of the “Golden Swing,” with ATP 250 and ATP 500 events taking place in Buenos Aires, Rio de Janeiro, Sao Paulo and Acapulco in the following weeks. The first three tournaments are played on clay, while Acapulco will be contested on hard court.

Last year, 34-year-old Victor Estrella Burgos became the oldest first-time title-winner in the Open Era by triumphing in Quito. The Dominican mastered the high-altitude conditions (2,850m above sea level) to prevail against top seed Feliciano Lopez at the Jacaranda Club. Returning to the site of his biggest win to date, Estrella Burgos will open against Argentine Guido Pella in the main draw.

Other players to watch include 2015 runner-up Lopez, Fernando Verdasco, Thomaz Bellucci and Bernard Tomic. The Aussie, seeded No. 1, knows how to play in altitude, as demonstrated by his two titles in Bogota, Colombia (2014-15).

South American players familiar with Quito’s tricky conditions may well cause a few upsets in the draw. Home hopes Giovanni Lapentti and Gonzalo Escobar will face Colombia's Alejandro Falla and Italian Paolo Lorenzi in the first round, respectively.

Bautista Agut, Troicki Headline Sofia Field

Sun, 01/31/2016 - 6:04pm

Roberto Bautista Agut, Viktor Troicki, Guillermo Garcia-Lopez and Andreas Seppi are set to compete at this week's Garanta Koza Sofia Open, which sees ATP World Tour tennis return to the Bulgarian capital for the first time since 1981. Players from 20 countries will compete at the Arena Armeec Sofia.

Bautista Agut and Troicki both come into the indoor ATP World Tour 250 tournament with titles in the opening month of the 2016 ATP World Tour season.

View Schedule & Draw | Buy Tickets

Bautista Agut, who will play Filip Krajinovic or Marsel Ilhan in the second round, lifted the Auckland crown (d. Sock), while Troicki also picked up his third piece of silverware, having retained the Sydney trophy (d. Dimitrov). Troicki will play a qualifier, Daniel Brands or Thomas Fabbiano, in his first match at Sofia.

Fourth seed Andreas Seppi, who features in the bottom half of the draw, told ATPWorldTour.com, "I'm really looking forward to competing here. I trained at the venue for the first time today. It is excellent and is used regularly for other sporting events."

Philipp Kohlschreiber, the fifth seed, spoke to ATPWorldTour.com, remembering, "I played at a Challenger event in Sofia years ago [in 2002 and 2003], but I didn't do well. I'm hoping I fare better this week. The courts look good."

The last time an ATP World Tour-level tournament was held in Sofia was on 20 December 1981, when Rick Meyer defeated Leo Palin on indoor carpet to win his lone ATP title. The last time an ATP Challenger Tour event was held in the Bulgarian capital was in 2009.

Djokovic Overwhelmed By Fan Support In Melbourne

Sun, 01/31/2016 - 5:59pm

It was akin to the final scene of a blockbuster movie. The hero stands on the balcony, surveying his kingdom as he pays respect to the throngs of passionate admirers and supporters bellowing from below.

With a record-tying sixth Australian Open crown, Novak Djokovic retained his throne as King of Melbourne, and the World No. 1 acknowledged the horde of fans behind him as he tended to his media obligations.

"It was amazing," Djokovic said about the reception from fans outside Rod Laver Arena, admitting it was the biggest he's ever received at Melbourne Park. "I honestly did not expect that. I did not know what was waiting. Many of these fans didn't have a ticket and chance to watch the match on the stadium, so they stayed on the main square. They waited for me. I'm very grateful for their support. It's quite incredible. I don't take it for granted.

"I've had that fortune to win this trophy now for six times, but I never experienced such a support after the match. From my point of view from above, I saw a lot of Serbian flags. Many of them live here. Some of them came from our country. It's great that they came out in big numbers and showed their support in such a big occasion, such a big match for me."

Big thanks to everyone who cheered for #TeamDjokovic in the past few weeks. We heard you!

Novak Djokovic Foundation Celebrates The Friendship Games

Sun, 01/31/2016 - 3:42pm
Go behind the scenes at the Novak Djokovic Foundation Friendship Games, a week-long camp organised by Djokovic and his wife Jelena. Video courtesy: Novak Djokovic Foundation

Brain Game: Djokovic Dominates In All Facets

Sun, 01/31/2016 - 2:53pm

You can’t run through Novak Djokovic. You can’t even run around him.

Djokovic defeated Andy Murray 6-1, 7-5, 7-6(3) to win the Australian Open for a sixth time with a dominant all-court game built on “first strike” mastery. He was at his baseline best, winning 56 per cent (83/149) of his own points from the back of the court to Murray’s 36 per cent (47/129). It does not matter what else is happening – those numbers are omnipotent.

There were a lot of other serve, return and approach battles that waged for almost three hours on Rod Laver Arena, but Murray was never going to seriously challenge the Serb unless he could do damage from the trenches. Djokovic hit fewer winners than Murray (31-40) for the match, which would seem like a negative statistic, but since winners are only around 30 per cent of the sport, it doesn’t matter nearly as much as you would think.

The key for Djokovic was to make fewer errors, and take the honours in the much higher 70 per cent area of points that totally dominate the bottom line. Overall, Djokovic committed 18 forced errors and 41 unforced errors (59 total), to Murray’s 27 forced errors and 65 unforced errors (93 total).

It was a tough ask for Murray to beat Djokovic to begin with. Once you layer almost 100 errors over three sets into the mix, it made the possibility of victory basically unattainable for the Scot.

Djokovic is widely recognised as the best returner in the world, but his prowess serving is constantly improving. He dominated much more with his first serves in the deuce court, winning 81 per cent (29/36), to only 68 per cent (25/37) in the ad court.

Djokovic mixed his serve locations very well to both courts, trying to keep Murray from correctly guessing the right location. In the deuce court, he served 16 first serves wide, five at the body, and 15 down the middle. In the ad court, the Serb hit the majority (16) of his first serves down the middle, with eight at the body, and 13 out wide. Overall, Djokovic made an extremely high 66 per cent of his first serves, winning 74 per cent.

Second serves were also a serious area of influence for the World No. 1. The tournament average for second serve points won at the 2016 Australian Open was 51 per cent, and Djokovic won 60 per cent for the tournament - tied for ninth best.

In the final against Murray, it was knocked down to 53 per cent points won - but it’s very important to remember anything above 50 per cent is a keeper. Murray could not come close to the same winning numbers in this important battleground. The Scot only won 35 per cent (14/40) of points on his second serve, which was by far his poorest performance in this key area during the fortnight.

It was a very tough night for Murray all around. Djokovic won all three rally lengths, giving Murray no place to build a winning strategy. The Serb claimed the short 0-4 rally length 65-54, the mid-length rally length of 5-8 shots 25-22, and extended rallies of nine shots or more 33-23.

If you can’t find a foothold under the bright lights, the match can slip away very quickly.

Djokovic once again asserted his superiority on the world’s biggest stage. In total, he won 123 points to Murray’s 99. It felt like a much greater separation. He did not come to the net as much as Murray, but then again, he didn’t have to. The Serb won 79 per cent (11/14) at the front of the court, with Murray winning 65 per cent (22/34).

As he he done for quite some time, Djokovic asserted his influence here, there, and absolutely everywhere.

Murray In Airport Dash After Final

Sun, 01/31/2016 - 1:48pm

There was little time for Andy Murray to ponder a fifth Australian Open final defeat on Sunday night. After falling to Novak Djokovic for the fourth time in the Melbourne Park final, the Scot was straight off court, into press, then swiftly on his way to the airport to catch the 1am flight home to London.

It has been a testing fortnight for Murray. Not only has the Dunblane native been anxiously awaiting news from his wife Kim, who is expecting the couple’s first child in February, but he also had the worry of his father-in-law, Nigel Sears, collapsing courtside in the first week of the tournament. Sears is now at home recovering, but it took its toll mentally on Murray.

“It was a difficult one,” said Murray, who admitted he was close to withdrawing from the tournament after Sears’ collapse. “I've never been in that position before, so it's as close as I've sort of been to leaving a Grand Slam.

“It was a tough, tough couple of days. Thankfully he's fine now. I just want to get home.

“It's been hard. Regardless of today's result, it's been hard. Had I lost in the third or fourth round it still would have been difficult with everything that's happened,” continued Murray.

“[Kim’s] been amazing. She handled everything unbelievably well. I have to thank her for allowing me to play and stay here with everything that was going on. But it was tough. I've been held on flights for it feels like five days. I've been held on almost every single flight, so the first one out of here, I'm leaving.”

Murray has felt the weight of Djokovic’s dominance more than most in the past three years. Since beating the Serb in the 2012 US Open final to win his first major title, Murray has lost 14 of the pair’s past 16 contests, including six defeats in seven matches in 2015.

Despite the gap in their FedEx ATP Head2Head series now at 22-9 in Djokovic’s favour, Murray believes that he isn’t as far from the Serb’s level as some might suggest.

“I don't know how far off I was tonight,” said Murray. “The first set I wasn't there, but the second and third sets I do think were very close.

“I do think I could have played a bit better. I didn't think I hit my forehand as well as I could have done. When I did in the third set, that helped me out a lot. I was able to get myself into the net more. I was able to play more offensive tennis then.

“Most of the matches we played in slams I think have been competitive. Whether that looks the same from the outside or not, I don't know. For a three-set match, two hours and 50 minutes, it was a tough few sets.”

Djokovic Beats Murray For Sixth Australian Open Crown

Sun, 01/31/2016 - 11:46am

With a slice of history on the line, World No. 1 Novak Djokovic rose to the occasion on Sunday night in Melbourne as he defeated Andy Murray 6-1, 7-5, 7-6(3) in the final of the Australian Open.

Victory at Melbourne Park sees Djokovic equal Roy Emerson's record of six Australian titles. It marks his 11th Grand Slam championship, moving him into equal fifth place with Bjorn Borg and Rod Laver on the all-time list for most major titles and closing the gap on his great rivals Roger Federer (17) and Rafael Nadal (14).

"Every Grand Slam title is very significant in its own way," said Djokovic. "Here, because of the fact that I managed to make history tonight and equal Roy Emerson's six Australian Open titles. I'm very honoured to be mentioned alongside legends of our sport like Bjorn Borg, Rod Laver, and to win as many Grand Slams as they did.

"I can't lie and say I didn't think about it. Of course it was in the back of my mind. Coming into the court I knew that I had a chance to make history. Of course it served as a great motivation, as a great imperative to play my best."

Djokovic won three of the four Grand Slam crowns in 2015, only denied the calendar slam by Stan Wawrinka in the Roland Garros final.

The 28 year old has a staggering 57-6 record in Melbourne, winning his first major title there in 2008 (d. Tsonga) before returning as champion in 2011 (d. Murray), 2012 (d. Nadal), 2013 (d. Murray) and 2015 (d. Murray).

"It's phenomenal," said Djokovic. "I'm very proud of it, as is my team. We worked very hard to be in this position, and we should enjoy it. We should cherish every moment that we get to experience now because these are the tournaments that we all value, that we all want to play well on.


"No doubt that I'm playing the best tennis of my life in the past 15 months."

Djokovic improved to a 22-9 FedEx ATP Head2Head record against Murray as he wrapped up victory in two hours and 53 minutes. The Belgrade native won six of their seven meetings last season. Since Murray defeated the Serb in the 2012 US Open final, Djokovic has won 14 of their past 16 contests.

Djokovic made a lightening start to the match. After saving a break point in his opening game, the Serb raced into a 5-0 lead in just 19 minutes. Murray began to find his range in the latter stages, but could not stop Djokovic sealing the opener in 30 minutes.

In a keenly contested second set, Murray saved four break points in the third game, before he paid the price for forehand unforced errors as Djokovic broke for a 4-3 lead. Murray immediately struck back, breaking for the first time in the match to level at 4-4, but lost his serve from a 40/0 advantage in the 11th game as Djokovic regained the initiative. Two double faults from Djokovic gave Murray the chance to level in the 12th game, but the Serb steadied himself to close out the two-set lead.

Building on his momentum, Djokovic broke Murray in the first game of the third set, but the Dunblane native was not going down without a fight. He broke Djokovic in the sixth game to draw level and ultimately force a tie-break. But two double faults from Scot proved his undoing in the early stages of the tie-break, gifting Djokovic a lead that he would never recover.

Read: How The Final Was Won

Since the start of the 2015 US Open, Djokovic has compiled a 38-1 match record, with his only defeat coming to Roger Federer in the round robin stage of the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals – he would beat the Swiss when they met again in the final later that week. In that spell, Djokovic has gone 17-1 against Top 10 opponents. He opened his 2016 ATP World Tour campaign with victory in Doha, where he dismissed Rafael Nadal in the final for the loss of just three games.

It was a familiar tale for Murray, who has finished runner-up in the Australian Open final five times, with four of those defeats coming to Djokovic. He was also beaten by Federer in the 2010 final. The Dunblane native is only the second man in the Open Era to lose five finals at any one major, joining his former coach, Ivan Lendl, who was five times the runner-up at the US Open.

The Scot has a 2-7 record in Grand Slam finals, with his two triumphs coming over Djokovic at the 2012 US Open and 2013 Wimbledon.

“I saw some of the stats just at the end of the match,” said Murray. “He won 24 more points than me. I had 24 more unforced errors [than him]. I think I didn't hit my forehand particularly well at the beginning of the match. I started to hit it better in the third set. But that was it.

"The end of the second set, obviously the game I lost 40/0 up, was a tough one. Maybe I could have nicked that set. I was starting to have quite a lot of opportunities in the second. I had a few chances there when I got the break back I think. That was a tough game to lose.

"Then obviously in the third I felt like towards the end of the set, after I got the break back again, that I was creating a few chances. In the tie-break, I missed two second serves by a little bit. He had served an ace on the T, which was in by a little bit.

"I'm proud of the way I fought and managed to get myself back into the match and create chances for myself." 

Chung Presented With Top 100 Award

Sun, 01/31/2016 - 9:21am
Hyeon Chung receives his award for finishing in the Top 100 of the Emirates ATP Rankings in 2015.

How Djokovic Beat Murray To Win Australian Open Final

Sun, 01/31/2016 - 8:41am

World No. 1 Novak Djokovic defeated No. 2-ranked Andy Murray 6-1, 7-5, 7-6(3) for a record-equalling sixth Australian Open title on Sunday.

Only Roy Emerson (12), who also won six Australian crowns in the 1960s, Pete Sampras and Rafael Nadal (14) and Roger Federer (17) are now ahead of the Serbian in the all-time Grand Slam singles championship list. Djokovic is level with Rod Laver and Bjorn Borg on 11 singles majors.

Read Final Match Report

ATPWorldTour.com breaks down how the 2016 final at Melbourne Park was won.

FIRST SET

Djokovic glared at his team, seated courtside, as Murray's aggression garnered his first break point at 30/40 in the opening game, which lasted five minutes. Thereafter, it was all Djokovic as Murray won just three further points in a devastating 20-minute spell. Djokovic, who had beaten Murray in the 2011, 2013 and 2015 finals, put an element of doubt in the second seed's mind as he took a 5-0 lead. Murray looked flat-footed and struggled for forehand consistency, but at 0-5, 30/30, he sparked into life with a stunning backhand crosscourt pass. He went on to clinch his first game, avoiding the first opening set bagel in an Australian championship final since 1953. Djokovic required three set point opportunities to take the 30-minute opener, but in the final minutes Murray's game was revived. 

SECOND SET

The last two players to lose a first set 6-1 in the final - Djokovic's coach Boris Becker (1991) and Marat Safin (2005) - both came back to win. Could Murray do the same? The second set was more competitive and it was not without drama. Murray began to play high-risk tennis, re-gaining control in baseline rallies, but it also led to frustration. He saved four break points in a 12-minute third game, and the tide looked to have turned. But Djokovic held firm under increasing pressure. Although both players exchanged service breaks to 4-4, Djokovic rarely gave away free points. Murray led 40/0 in the 11th game, but Djokovic won five straight points - including a 36-stroke rally. Incredibly, Djokovic gave Murray a glimmer of hope at 6-5, 30/15, when he hit two straight double faults. But the Scot could not capitalise on the lapse in concentration to work his way back into the 80-minute set. The only time Djokovic had lost a two-sets-to-love lead was against Jurgen Melzer at 2010 Roland Garros.

THIRD SET

Djokovic looked to be running away with the pair's 31st encounter, when he opened up a 2-0 lead and managed to snuff out a half-chance for Murray at 2-1, 30/40. Yet Murray fought back into contention, mixing up the pace of his groundstrokes to force Djokovic into a backhand error at 3-2, 30/40. In winning two straight games, Murray appeared to have gained the momentum, particularly as a number of crosscourt backhands pierced Djokovic's defences. But Murray started the tie-break with a double fault and again at 1/3 (his fourth and fifth double faults of the match). It sealed his fate. Moments later Djokovic struck his seventh ace to complete the two-hour and 52-minute final.

Soares Completes Dream 24 Hours In Melbourne

Sun, 01/31/2016 - 8:05am

Fifth seeds Bruno Soares and Elena Vesnina captured the Australian Open mixed doubles crown on Sunday when they defeated Horia Tecau and Coco Vandeweghe 6-4 4-6 10-5 in the the 81-minute final.

It was Soares' second Grand Slam championship title in under 24 hours. Soares clinched the men's doubles title with Jamie Murray at 1 a.m. local time on Sunday morning and left Melbourne Park around 3:30 a.m.

The Brazilian is the first player to achieve the Australian Open 'double' since Mark Woodforde in 1992, when the Australian partnered Todd Woodbridge and Nicole Provis.

"It feels amazing," said Soares, who also won the 2012 and 2014 US Open mixed doubles titles. "Last night I finished really late. A lot of adrenaline going on. [It was] tough to sleep. But I knew I had another important day today. You don't get the chance to play many Grand Slam finals. I think you've got to make the most of it.

"To get the chance to play one and win one, it's already extremely special. But I got two in the same day."

Tecau and Vandeweghe broke Soares in the opening game. but Soares and Vesnina clinched the 32-minute opener by winning a deciding point on Tecau's serve. Tecau and Vandeweghe then raced into a 4-0 lead in the second set. They took a 3/0 lead in the Match tie-break, but Soares and Vesnina won the next six points.

Novak Djokovic Wins Sixth Australian Open Title

Sun, 01/31/2016 - 7:55am
The World No. 1 talks about his record-tying sixth Australian Open crown and resetting his goals for the rest of 2016.

Soares/Murray Celebrate Australian Open Title

Sun, 01/31/2016 - 7:41am
Bruno Soares and Jamie Murray react to winning the Australian Open doubles title.

Nishioka Participates In Japanese 'Coming Of Age Day'

Sun, 01/31/2016 - 5:21am

Japan's Yoshihito Nishioka may be one of the ATP World Tour's young guns on the court, but in the eyes of his country, he has already graduated to adulthood.

Nishioka recently participated in Japan's Coming of Age Day (Seijin Shiki), a holiday that acknowledges those who have reached the age of 20 over the past year. The Mie native, who joined in festivities with friends and family, wore a traditional dark kimono. Held on the second Monday of January, Coming of Age Day dates back to the 700s and reflects the newfound rights and responsibilities of adults in Japanese society.

One of nine players aged 20 and under in the Top 150 of the Emirates ATP Rankings, Nishioka has been a catalyst behind the Asian tennis surge. The 5'7" left-hander is coming off a strong year after reaching his first ATP World Tour quarter-final in Delray Beach and claiming his first match win at the Grand Slam level in New York. He capped his season with a title run at the ATP Challenger Tour event in Toyota, finishing at a career-high World No. 116.

Brotherly Love: Andy Up Late

Sat, 01/30/2016 - 6:23pm

It was 1am on the eve of his Australian Open final clash against rival Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray was standing on Rod Laver Arena.

No, Murray wasn't taking in a late-night practice session ahead of his fifth title match at Melbourne Park. The World No. 2 stayed up to support his brother Jamie as he claimed his first Grand Slam doubles title, alongside partner Bruno Soares. The duo rallied past Daniel Nestor and Radek Stepanek 2-6, 6-4, 7-5 in an encounter than concluded at 12:58am local time.

"Andy you should be in bed, don't know why you're here taking photos," quipped Jamie during the trophy presentation.

Watch the moment:

Proud brother Andy Murray watches Jamie get the win #AusOpen https://t.co/kfyziwHK5q

— Australian Open (@AustralianOpen) January 30, 2016

Murray/Soares Claim Aussie Open Title In 1am Finish

Sat, 01/30/2016 - 2:41pm

Jamie Murray and Bruno Soares survived a valiant effort from Daniel Nestor and Radek Stepanek to claim their first Grand Slam doubles titles Saturday at the Australian Open.

Murray and Soares converted on their third championship point at 12:58am local time in Melbourne to clinch the crown 2-6, 6-4, 7-5. For 29-year-old Murray, it was his first major title in his third straight final, following defeats alongside John Peers at Wimbledon and the US Open. For 33-year-old Soares, it was also his first title, having previously fallen in the 2013 US Open final with Alexander Peya.

"I think when you get up there, you realise what you've done and you want to thank everyone that's been with you along in the journey," said Murray. "It hasn't always been rosy for me. A lot of ups and downs in my career.

"Thankfully things have started to really pick up in the last year or so. I had Louis with me on and off, but for 10 years. He's the guy that made it happen for me to have success on the doubles court. He really believed that I could do great things. It took me a lot longer to realize it." 

The Scot and the Brazilian stormed back after dropping the first set 6-2. After drawing level at a set apiece, they would secure a break for 3-2 in the decider and served for the title four games later. But an inspired Nestor saved a match point with a rifled return and the Canadian-Czech duo would convert on their third break point to pull level at 5-all.

Murray and Soares would not be denied, however, claiming eight of the next 11 points to break back immediately and serve out the match. They sealed the win after two hours and 19 minutes as Soares fired a wide serve to Nestor's forehand that found the bottom of the net.

With brother Andy, who is set to face Novak Djokovic in the singles final later on Sunday, in attendance for the trophy presentation, Jamie quipped, "Andy you should be in bed, don't know why you're here taking photos." 

The new partnership is off to a roaring start following a semi-final run at the season-opening ATP World Tour 250 event in Doha and a first team title a week later in Sydney. They earned 2,000 Emirates ATP Rankings points and split $650,000 in prize money with the title in Melbourne.

Murray and Soares became the first doubles team to win a Grand Slam title in their first major together since Vasek Pospisil and Jack Sock won Wimbledon on debut in 2014. It marks the fifth straight year there has been a different doubles champion at the Australian Open. In addition, Soares is just the second Brazilian man to win a Grand Slam men's doubles title after Marcelo Melo, who prevailed at Roland Garros 2015.

"I think when you accept a partnership, when he invited me, it's because I already believed we could do great things," said Soares. "I think we're at a stage that we're playing for these tournaments, we're playing for the big ones. I think we're both ready and playing on a high level to win the big ones.

"Once you commit to start playing with somebody new, that's what you have in mind. It was very, very fast to win in Sydney and here back-to-back. We put in the work. We kept in touch in December. We were working really hard. I told Jamie, it was my best pre-season for the last five or six years. I was feeling really good. I was moving really well. With all the matches we got before here, I thought that we were playing some good tennis and we really had a shot here."

Nestor was bidding to claim his ninth Grand Slam crown and second at the Australian Open. He previously won in 2002 with Mark Knowles. Two-time major titlist Stepanek was looking to lift his second trophy in Melbourne Park in five years, following his run to the title with Leander Paes in 2012.

Novak, Andy Take It To The Limit

Sat, 01/30/2016 - 1:12pm

Prior to one of the 30 matches Andy Murray and Novak Djokovic have played over the past decade, a reporter asked Murray, “Is this a rivalry wrapped up in a friendship or just a rivalry wrapped up in an intense rivalry?”

The question, though perhaps a bit too Churchillian for your everyday tennis pro, was a valid one. The Scotsman and Serb had practically grown up together, after all. Born within a week of each other in May 1987, they met when they were just 12 and came up through the junior ranks together. They’ve practised together. They’ve played doubles together. They’ve played the occasional game of pick-up basketball. Now 28, both married and Murray poised to join his counterpart in fatherhood, they insist they’re good friends to this day.

But one naturally must wonder if the lopsided FedEx ATP Head2Head, tilted in Djokovic’s favour at 21-9, has taken a toll on the relationship.

“We've played a lot in the last couple of years,” said Murray, who on Sunday will face Djokovic in a rematch of the 2015 final, the fourth time they will have played for the Australian Open crown in the past six years. “Last year here is a good match for me to look at because the tennis, in my opinion, wasn't miles apart. It was a very close match for three sets [7-6(5), 6-7(4), 6-3, 6-0]. Same thing in Miami when we played there [7-6(3), 4-6, 6-0]. A couple sets were very tight. French Open was close, as well [6-3, 6-3, 5-7, 5-7, 6-1]. I managed to get the win in Canada in another very close match [6-4, 4-6, 6-3]. The most important thing for me is to sustain my level for long enough, not just for one set here or there, a few games here or there. I need to do it for a very long period if I want to get the win. That's my challenge on Sunday.”

“It's always a special kind of challenge because we have the rivalry that goes back for a long time,” said Djokovic, who has reached more Aussie Open finals (six) than any other player in the Open Era. “It's always very physical, also very psychologically demanding. We push each other to the limit.”

On Sunday, they will contest their fourth Australian Open final against each other, Djokovic having prevailed on each previous occasion. The World No. 1 has won 10 of his past 11 matches against Murray, and he’s 6-2 against the Scot at the Grand Slams, 3-2 in major finals. The only player Djokovic has beaten on more occasions than Murray at the Slams is Roger Federer (nine times).

There’s no denying that Djokovic has played somewhat unevenly at times this year in Melbourne. His 100-error outing against Gilles Simon resulted in a narrow five-set 6-3, 6-7(1), 6-4, 4-6, 6-3 escape in the fourth round. But if Djokovic can pull off second-week wins at the Slams even when he’s not playing his best ball, what kind of message does that send to his opponents?

Even Simon was taken aback after his near-upset of the 10-time Slam champ. Said the Frenchman, “He's improving year after year. That's terrible to say because he's already No. 1.”

“It's not a very pleasant feeling when you're not playing well,” noted Djokovic, who is coming off one of the most dominant season in tennis history, one on which he went 82-6 and won three of the four majors. “But certainly it's a good feeling when you win not playing well.”

He certainly rediscovered his form in the semi-finals against the No. 3-seeded Federer, defeating his longtime rival 6-1, 6-2, 3-6, 6-3 and going as far as to say he thought the first two sets were the best he'd ever played against the Swiss legend. And that's saying something, considering they have now met 45 times. 

Murray, meanwhile, is looking to become the first man in the Open Era to win the Australian Open title after losing four finals. (He finished as runner-up to Federer in 2010, and to Djokovic in 2011, 2013 and 2015.) At the same time, he’s looking to avoid becoming only the second man in the Open Era to lose five Grand Slam finals at any one major. His former coach Ivan Lendl is, for the moment, the lone man on that list, having come up empty at the US Open from 1982-84 and 1988-89 (the Czech-American did win three straight between 1985 and 1987).

But if you’re looking for the father-to-be to come in as defeatist, you’ll be disappointed. Murray has long underlined the pride has had in his achievements in Melbourne Park, though they have yet to result in the trophy, aka the Norman Brookes Challenge Cup.

“Five finals is a great achievement. You can't take that away from me,” he said. “I should be happy about that. There's very few players that will have made five Australian Open finals, so I have to be proud of that achievement. Obviously, when you get to the final, you're disappointed if you don't win. But I've played very good tennis here. I've given myself many opportunities to reach the finals. Seven straight quarter-finals, as well. I have a very good shot on Sunday if I play my best tennis. I need to do it for long enough to have a chance. I'm aware of that. I don't think many people are expecting me to win. I have to just believe in myself, have a solid game plan, and hopefully execute it. Doesn't matter what's happened in the past, really. It's about what happens on Sunday. There's no reason it's not possible for me to win.”

The good news for Murray? In five of the past eight years, the man who played his semi-final second, as he did, has gone on to win the final. But the two-time Slam champ (US Open 2012, Wimbledon 2013) will likely rely more on his always-improving arsenal than some statistical fortuity.  In many ways his game and that of his oft-opponent Djokovic aren’t far apart: elite return game, exacting fitness regimen, punishing ground-strokes, plenty of heart. This one might just come down to who can out-think the other.