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Updated: 10 min 17 sec ago

Raonic, Wawrinka, Berdych Attend 2016 St Petersburg Gala

Tue, 09/20/2016 - 10:53pm
Milos Raonic, Stan Wawrinka, Tomas Berdych and more stars attend the St. Petersburg Open's swanky soiree at The Four Seasons Hotel on Monday night in St. Petersburg. Video courtesy: St. Petersburg Open.

Lorenzi, 34, Keeps Winning In St. Petersburg

Tue, 09/20/2016 - 9:08pm

The best stretch of Paolo Lorenzi's career continued on Tuesday at the St. Petersburg Open. The 34-year-old Italian saved two match points to outlast German qualifier Mischa Zverev 3-6, 7-6(6), 6-0 in two hours and six minutes to move into the second round at the Sibur Arena.

Earlier this month at the US Open, Lorenzi reached the third round and took a set off World No. 2 Andy Murray. In July, the Rome native became the oldest first-time winner in ATP World Tour history by winning the Generali Open in Kitzbuhel at the age of 34 years, seven months (d. Basilashvili).

Read What Lorenzi Had To Say After His First ATP World Tour Title

Lorenzi, who's playing a career high No. 35 in the Emirates ATP Rankings, will face French qualifier Alexandre Sidorenko in the second round. The 28-year-old Paris resident upset sixth seed Albert Ramos-Vinolas of Spain 7-5, 6-2. Sidorenko, No. 255 in the Emirates ATP Rankings, had not played a tour-level match this season.

Serbian Dusan Lajovic gained the edge in his FedEx ATP Head2Head series against Spaniard Fernando Verdasco with a 2-6, 6-3, 6-2 victory. The 26-year-old Belgrade native won 74 per cent of his service points and now leads their series 2-1. Lajovic will meet either countryman Viktor Troicki, the seventh seed, or Portugal's Gastao Elias in the second round.

Russian qualifier Daniil Medvedev also advanced. The 20 year old beat 19-year-old compatriot Alexander Bublik 6-4, 6-0 in 60 minutes. Medvedev will next face fifth seed Alexander Zverev.

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Brown's Mojo Continues In Metz

Tue, 09/20/2016 - 8:15pm

Dustin Brown, now at a career-high No. 68 in the Emirates ATP Rankings, continued his good form with a 6-4, 6-2 win over Paul-Henri Mathieu on Tuesday at the Moselle Open. The German, fresh off a runner-up finish at the ATP Challenger event in Szczecin, fired 15 aces and capitalised on four of his six break point chances to advance to the second round in Metz. Brown will next face Julien Benneteau for the first time.

French qualifier Vincent Millot upset compatriot and seventh seed Benoit Paire 6-4, 6-3, while fellow qualifiers Peter Gojowczyk and Nikoloz Basilashvili were also victorious over Nicolas Almagro and Gregoire Barrere respectively. The German Gojowczyk will next face top seed Dominic Thiem, while Basilashvili will challenge Gilles Muller in the second round.

Guillermo Garcia-Lopez needed one hour and 38 minutes to top Damir Dzumhur 5-7, 6-2, 6-1 and set a second-round clash with fourth seed Gilles Simon. The Frenchman leads their FedEx ATP Head2Head 5-0.

In doubles, Gero Kretschmer/Jan-Lennard Struff defeated Ken Skupski/Neal Skupski 1-6, 7-5, 10-6 for a quarter-final meeting with second seeds Oliver Marach/Fabrice Martin. Nicholas Monroe/Artem Sitak beat Julian Knowle/Andreas Seppi 6-2, 5-7, 10-6 and Colin Fleming/Scott Lipsky came from a set down to beat the Austrian wild card team of Jurgen Melzer/Dominic Thiem 4-6, 7-6(5), 10-8.

Wawrinka Wants 12 In A Row In St. Petersburg

Tue, 09/20/2016 - 8:15pm
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The last time Stan Wawrinka played in St. Petersburg, he lost in a final. It was August 2004, and Wawrinka, then 19 years old and No. 159 in the Emirates ATP Rankings, fell to Jean-Rene Lisnard 3-6, 7-5, 7-5.

Since then, much has changed for Wawrinka. Namely, the Swiss No. 1 hardly loses in finals anymore. Wawrinka is 11-0 in his past 11 finals, including his US Open victory against Novak Djokovic earlier this month.

As the top seed at the St. Petersburg Open this week, the 31-year-old Wawrinka will try to make it 12 final victories in a row. “I have to make it to the final first,” he said during his pre-tournament press conference. “I hope to win more. So far I have achieved some impressive results.”

Wawrinka has had to beat some of the game's best to win titles during the past few years. He's beaten Djokovic twice, the other time at the 2015 Roland Garros, when Wawrinka earned his second Grand Slam tournament title. “Stanimal”, as Roger Federer nicknamed him in 2014, has also dispatched of Rafael Nadal, Federer, Tomas Berdych and Marin Cilic, to name a few others. “Hopefully I can win more,” Wawrinka said.

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In St. Petersburg, as Wawrinka has done in the past, he credited his coach, former ATP World Tour player Magnus Norman, for some of his success. Wawrinka also said his years of experience have helped. “Sometimes you get to your best tennis really a bit later, not when you're 20 years old,” he said. “That's my career... finally I could order all the pieces together and that's why I am now playing my best tennis.”

Wawrinka chose to return to St. Petersburg this week partly because it had been so long. The allure of something new made the destination tempting.

“Every year you play almost the same calendar, the same tournaments. Some tournaments I have played 10 years in a row,” Wawrinka said. “When you have the chance to be in a new tournament, in a new city, you will always see something different, something nice to see.”

Wawrinka will open his stay with a familiar opponent. The top seed plays Czech Lukas Rosol in the second round. Wawrinka leads their FedEx ATP Head2Head series 5-0, including three wins this season. Their closest contest was at Roland Garros earlier this season, when the 6'5” Rosol pushed Wawrinka to five sets.

“Really tough opponent,” Wawrinka said. “I expect a tough one, that's for sure.”

Raonic Ready To Defend Title, Ascend Race To London Standings

Tue, 09/20/2016 - 4:39pm
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Defending champion Milos Raonic returns to the St. Petersburg Open this week to defend his title and with an eye on the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals, 13-20 November at The O2 in London.

Raonic is currently No. 4 in the Emirates ATP Race To London standings. But the Canadian is trying unseat No. 3 Stan Wawrinka. Raonic currently has 4,420 points, 400 behind Wawrinka's 4,820. Japanese Kei Nishikori remains close to the No. 3 spot as well. He's in fifth place, only 105 points behind Raonic.

Who Else Is Ahead Of Raonic? View The Emirates ATP Race To London Standings

“Part of me takes pride in winning this tournament again and there is also an aim to move higher in the [Emirates] ATP Race [To London] as there is a fight for the world’s No. 3 position,” Raonic said during his pre-tournament press conference. “So there is even more motivation for myself.”

(Player positions in the calendar-year Emirates ATP Race To London and the 52-week Emirates ATP Rankings will effectively align on 7 November, when the regular ATP World Tour season concludes after the BNP Paribas Masters in Paris.)

The 25 year old is trying to reach the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals for the second time. He also qualified for the year-end championships in 2014 (l. to Federer, l. to Murray). A title defence in St. Petersburg would considerably help his standing. The St. Petersburg Open champion will receive 250 Emirates ATP Rankings points.

Raonic has successfully defended titles two times in his career. He won his first ATP World Tour title at San Jose in 2011 and defended it in 2012 and 2013. He also has had plenty of success indoors. Five of Raonic's eight ATP World Tour titles have come on indoor hard courts, including the three San Jose crowns. The St. Petersburg Open will be held this week at the Sibur Arena.

“I had a great experience at this tournament,” he said of his time at the St. Petersburg Open last year. “I think it was fabulously run, and I saw the people involved in the tournament, they really care about it.”

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Raonic will have to beat some of the game's best players if he wants to repeat in St. Pete. The Canadian is the second seed. Opposite him on the top half of the draw awaits Wawrinka, fresh off his US Open title. Another Top 10 player, World No. 9 Tomas Berdych, is the third seed.

“I’m just focused on who I’m going to play,” said Raonic, who will face either Serbian Janko Tipsarevic or 2004 champion Mikhail Youzhny of Russia in the second round.

Raonic will also be going for his second title of the season. He beat Roger Federer to win the Brisbane International presented by Suncorp in January. The Monte-Carlo resident finished runner-up at the BNP Paribas Open, an ATP World Tour Masters 1000 tournament in Indian Wells (l. to Djokovic), the Aegon Championships at The Queen's Club and at Wimbledon (l. to Murray in both).

But it won't be all tennis this week for Raonic. Outside the Sibur Arena, he plans to enjoy what else St. Petersburg offers.

“We’re going to St. Isaac's Cathedral tomorrow, then we also are due to visit the Church of Our Savior On the Spilled Blood, and I’d like to come back to the Hermitage Museum because the last time I was there I had only three hours and just ran through it,” Raonic said. “So I definitely need to commit more time to have a full experience of the Hermitage Museum.”

Why Federer & Co. Love Serving At 15-All

Tue, 09/20/2016 - 2:41pm

Don’t let the evenness of 15-15 fool you. It is a statistical green light for the server to play aggressively and employ first-strike tactics to get ahead in the game.

An Infosys ATP Beyond The Numbers analysis of the current Top 10 players in the Emirates ATP Rankings reveals a positive environment for them to play bigger and seek shorter points by delivering more firepower at the start of the point.

Check Out The Game's Best Servers In The ATP Stats LEADERBOARDS

Top 10 of the Emirates ATP Rankings: Holding Percentages

 Ranking  Player  15-15  30-15  15-30  Gap From 30-15 To 15-30  1  Novak Djokovic  84  92  67  25  2   Andy Murray  85  94  64  30  3  Stan Wawrinka  83  91  68  23  4  Rafael Nadal  80  92  60  32  5  Kei Nishikori   80  91  62  29  6  Milos Raonic  87  94  71  23  7  Roger Federer  89  96  70  26  8  Gael Monfils   82  93  57  36  9  Tomas Berdych   86  93  64  29  10  Dominic Thiem  80  92  59  33  -  AVERAGE  84  93  64  29

Score 15-15, Hold Serve Percentage: 84
The Top 10 players in the Emirates ATP Rankings hold serve 85 per cent of the time, according to Infosys Information Platform. With the score at 15-15, their hold-serve percentage drops only one percentage point, to 84, nearly identical to the opening point of the game.

Fifteen-all delivers a high win percentage that mentally puts the server in the driver’s seat, letting him unleash a few potential tactics, including a bigger first serve down the centre of the court if he's chasing an ace or a serve out wide in search of a forehand return error.

Score 30-15, Hold Serve Percentage: 93
With relatively little scoreboard pressure on the server at 15-15, the opportunity to stretch the lead to 30-15 is forefront in the tactical plan. If the server reaches 30-15, they will hold serve on average more than nine times out of 10. There is nothing not to like about that scoreboard situation.

Score 15-30, Hold Serve Percentage: 64
A server's likelihood of holding shifts 29 percentage points when the scoreline changes from 30-15 to 15-30. There is always a statistical consequence of losing a point, but this really isn’t so bad. If the server loses the point at 15-15, he is still likely going to hold serve two out of three times. Proficient servers like Milos Raonic and Roger Federer still manage to hold about 70 per cent of the time from 15-30, while World No. 1 Novak Djokovic holds 67 per cent of the time.

Summary
At 15-15, the server is looking for a shorter point to fully maximise the effects of the first serve, not letting the returner prolong the point into a more even battle. A serve, aggressive serve +1 forehand and a finishing volley is about as good as it gets strategically at this specific point in a game.

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The 'Last Time' With Novak Djokovic

Tue, 09/20/2016 - 2:31pm

World No. 1 Novak Djokovic has coach Boris Becker on his side, but when was the last time the pair competed against each other? And when was the last time the Serbian did something for the first time? Djokovic reveals this and more in an exclusive interview for ATP World Tour Uncovered presented by Peugeot.

 

The Last Time With Novak Djokovic

Tue, 09/20/2016 - 2:21pm
Novak Djokovic reveals The Last Time he and coach Boris Becker competed against each other (not tennis!) and the Hollywood star he asked for a selfie with.

Players Continue Bid For 2016 Barclays ATP World Tour Finals

Tue, 09/20/2016 - 2:07pm
The Emirates ATP Race to London is heating up as players continue to fight for a spot at the prestigious season finale at The O2 in London, 13-20 November. Who will join Novak Djokovic, Andy Murray and Stan Wawrinka?

Emirates ATP Race To London Update 20 September 2016

Tue, 09/20/2016 - 2:06pm
See the latest standings in the Emirates ATP Race To London as of 20 September 2016.

Robredo FedEx ATP Player Profile 2016

Tue, 09/20/2016 - 1:53pm
What are Tommy Robredo's greatest victories as a professional?

Isner, Roddick, Ben Stiller Help Dirk Nowitzki Foundation In Dallas 2016

Tue, 09/20/2016 - 12:01am
John Isner, Andy Roddick and Ben Stiller, among other players and celebrities, help Dirk Nowitzki raise money for his foundation at the Dirk Nowitzki Pro Celebrity Tennis Classic at SMU in Dallas. Video courtesy of the Dirk Nowitzki Foundation.

Benneteau Scores Upset On Day One In Metz

Mon, 09/19/2016 - 8:00pm

Julien Benneteau scored his sixth singles win of the season on Monday with an upset against fifth seed Martin Klizan to kick off the 14th Moselle Open in Metz, France. Benneteau beat the left-handed Slovakian 6-2, 6-1 in 56 minutes to move into the second round in his home country.

The 34-year-old has posted a 13-9 doubles record this season but has limited his singles matches since undergoing abductor surgery on 9 June 2015. Benneteau, ranked No. 238 in the Emirates ATP Rankings, needed a wild card to get into the Moselle Open.

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But he seems to have hit his stride in recent months. Benneteau reached the quarter-finals in Abierto Mexicano Mifel and the second round at the Western & Southern Open, which included a first-round win over David Ferrer. The Bourg-en-Bresse native will play countryman Paul-Henri Mathieu or German Dustin Brown in the second round.

Sixth seed Gilles Muller advanced past Argentine Horacio Zeballos 7-6(5), 7-5. Muller recorded 19 aces and won 87 per cent of his first-serve points (39/45). The left-handed Luxembourg native will face a qualifier in the second round, either Georgian Nikoloz Basilashvili or Frenchman Gregoire Barrere.

In doubles main draw action, No. 2 seeds Oliver Marach and Fabrice Martin beat Chris Guccione and Andre Sa 6-4 7-5. Fourth seeds Robert Lindstedt and Aisam-Ul-Haq Qureshi beat French wild cards Barrere and Albano Olivetti 6-3, 6-7(7), 10-7.

First Lady Of Romania Visits Sibiu Challenger Kids Day 2016

Mon, 09/19/2016 - 7:59pm
Carmen Iohannis, the First Lady of Romania, was on hand for Kids Day at the ATP Challenger Tour event in Sibiu, with home hope and defending champion Adrian Ungur. Video courtesy Sibiu Open.

Zverev Takes #NextGen Battle In St. Petersburg

Mon, 09/19/2016 - 6:34pm

In a battle of #NextGen players, German Alexander Zverev earned the better of home favourite Karen Khachanov at the St. Petersburg Open on Monday, day one of the indoor ATP World Tour 250 tournament in Russia.

Fifth seed Zverev moved into the second round with a 7-6(3), 6-4 win against the 20-year-old Khachanov. Zverev won 71 per cent of his service points and saved one of two break points faced. Khachanov, a wild card entry, erased the lone break point he faced during the first set, but was broken twice during the second set.

The Moscow native had won four of his five previous matches after qualifying and reaching the second round of the US Open. The 6'6” right-hander beat Italian Thomas Fabbiano during his Grand Slam tournament debut.

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Zverev, the 2015 ATP Star Of Tomorrow presented by Emirates, reached his first two ATP World Tour finals at Nice in May and Halle in June. But the 19-year-old Hamburg native had lost four of his past five matches, including a second-round defeat to Brit Daniel Evans at the US Open. Zverev will next face another Russian in the second round: 20-year-old qualifier Daniil Medvedev or 19-year-old wild card Alexander Bublik.

Top seed Stan Wawrinka will make his St. Petersburg Open debut against Lukas Rosol after the Czech prevailed past Argentine Diego Schwartzman 6-4, 6-4. Wawrinka leads their FedEx ATP Head2Head series 5-0, including a straight-sets win on hard courts earlier this year at the Australian Open. The Swiss is fresh off his third Grand Slam tournament title at the US Open in New York.

In the other singles main draw match of the day, Ricardas Berankis of Lithuania prevailed past Frenchman Adrian Mannarino 7-6(7), 3-6, 6-3 in two hours and six minutes. Berankis, No. 83 in the Emirates ATP Rankings, will face fourth seed Roberto Bautista Agut of Spain in the second round. Their FedEx ATP Head2Head series is tied at 1-all, with Bautista Agut having won their last contest in 2014 in Moscow.

Metz 2016

Mon, 09/19/2016 - 5:57pm

Lu Returns To Home Soil In Kaohsiung

Mon, 09/19/2016 - 4:47pm

After an outstanding run of form earlier this year on the ATP Challenger Tour, Yen-Hsun Lu is looking to pick up where he left off as he returns to home soil.

The 33 year old is the second seed at this week‘s $125,000 Challenger in Kaohsiung, Taiwan. Lu will play Ze Zhang of China in his opening match, which he admitted might bring up some uncomfortable emotions.

“I am close to most of the players from Chinese Taipei and mainland China. It's quite often that we play against each other in Challenger events,” said Lu. “It‘s never easy to play with friends, because you can't express all your feelings on court like you would against others and we’re all too familiar with each other.”

Watch Free Challenger Live Streaming

Lu was sidelined for six months due to an ongoing elbow problem that he eventually underwent surgery for this January in Australia. He returned to the ATP Challenger Tour in May at the $100,000 event in Seoul, Korea, and immediately began producing big results.

The veteran posted a 20-3 record in five Challenger events, winning on the English grass courts of Ilkley and Surbiton, and finishing runner-up at the grass-court Challenger in Manchester. Lu also posted a runner-up showing in Seoul.

“I think the results tell the whole story,” said Lu. “I am very happy with my performance in the past few months. It shows that I can still compete with Top 50 and even Top 30 players. Most importantly, I don‘t feel any pain in my hand now. I am completely healthy and can give everything during matches and training.”

He‘s hoping to draw from recent success in Asia and inspire himself for another big week in Kaohsiung. Lu excelled in China at the end of last year, winning the $125,000 ATP Challenger Tour in Ningbo and posting a quarter-final showing at the China Open. Lu is also a two-time winner in Kaohsiung, having prevailed there in 2013 and 2014. 

As one of the most successful players from Asia, Lu often finds himself being asked for advice by many of the rising stars on the ATP Challenger Tour. Having once been in their position himself, it‘s a role that he takes pride in.

“I would say it‘s important to take these Challenger events seriously. You need to give all of yourself to try and score a win because this is the only way to improve,” said Lu. “If you can remain consistent, you‘ll have a chance to show your best tennis on the ATP World Tour.” 

St. Petersburg 2016

Mon, 09/19/2016 - 3:51pm

Scouting Report: Wawrinka, Raonic Lead St. Petersburg Field

Mon, 09/19/2016 - 1:05am

Strong Fields in St. Petersburg, Metz: There are two European indoor tournaments on the ATP World Tour this week with the St. Petersburg Open and Moselle Open in Metz. These are the first two of 13 tournaments leading into the season-ending Barclays ATP World Tour Finals in London. A maximum of 3,750 Emirates ATP Ranking points are on the line over the next seven weeks before the season finale in London, 13-20 November. Four players in the Top 10 of the Emirates ATP Race To London standings are in action this week, led by No. 3 Stan Wawrinka, No. 4 Milos Raonic and No. 9 Tomas Berdych in St. Petersburg, and No. 7 Dominic Thiem in Metz.

Emirates ATP Race To London: Seven of the Top 16 players in the Emirates ATP Race To London standings are competing this week. There are five remaining spots to the season-ending Barclays ATP World Tour Finals. Wawrinka, No. 3 in the Emirates ATP Rankings, has already qualified. Here is a look at the Race standings and players in action this week:

 Position   Player  Points  1   Novak Djokovic (Qualified)  10,240  2   Andy Murray (Qualified)   8,185  3  Stan Wawrinka (Qualified) #  4,820  4  Milos Raonic #   4,420  5  Kei Nishikori  4,315  6  Gael Monfils   3,315  7  Dominic Thiem +   3,205  8  Rafael Nadal  3,200  9  Tomas Berdych #  2,530  10  Marin Cilic  2,400  11  David Goffin +  2,140  12  Roger Federer  2,130  13  Nick Kyrgios  1,915  14  Jo-Wilfried Tsonga  1,890  15  Lucas Pouille +  1,759   16  Roberto Bautista Agut #  1,740

+ Metz # St. Petersburg

St. Petersburg Open (St. Petersburg): The St. Petersburg Open celebrates its 21st edition. The tournament is being held at the world-class Sibur Arena for the second straight year after the event was held from 1995 to 2013 at the St. Petersburg Sports and Concert Complex. The event was not held in 2014.

Leading the way is US Open champion Wawrinka, who is making his tournament debut. The other seeds are No. 2/reigning champion Raonic, No. 3 Berdych, No. 4 Bautista Agut, No. 5 Alexander Zverev, No. 6 Albert Ramos-Vinolas, No. 7 Viktor Troicki and No. 8 Joao Sousa.

There are three former champions in the field: Mikhail Youzhny (2004), Mikhail Kukushkin (2010) and reigning champ Raonic.

Stan Makes Russian Debut: Top seed Wawrinka is playing his first ATP World Tour tournament in Russia. The top Swiss player qualified for his fourth consecutive Barclays ATP World Tour Finals in London after winning the US Open title. Wawrinka’s only previous pro tournament in Russia came at the St. Petersburg Challenger in August 2004 when he lost in the final to Jean-Rene Lisnard. Wawrinka was ranked No. 159 at the time.

He has won his last 11 finals he has appeared in since 2014 after compiling a 4-9 finals record from 2005-2013. The Lausanne native is tied for the second most titles on the ATP World Tour this season at four with Murray and Thiem. All of them trail Djokovic, who has seven.

Milos Reigning Champ: Raonic looks to defend an ATP World Tour title for the third time in his career. The 25-year-old Canadian won his first ATP World Tour title in San Jose in 2011, and he defended his title in 2012 and 2013. Five of Raonic’s eight ATP World Tour titles have come indoors. In the opening week of the season he captured his first title Down Under in Brisbane (d. Federer).

He also was runner-up at the BNP Paribas Open, an ATP World Tour Masters 1000 tournament in Indian Wells (l. to Djokovic), the Aegon Championships at The Queen's Club and at Wimbledon (l. to Murray in both). Raonic is No. 4 in the Emirates ATP Race To London standings.

Berdych is Back: No. 3 seed Berdych returns to action after his withdrawal from the US Open due to appendicitis. His absence snapped a streak of 52 consecutive Grand Slam tournament appearances. This is Berdych’s second straight appearance in St. Petersburg after an opening round loss last year (l. to Bolelli after bye).

Berdych is 31-15 on the season with his best results the semi-finals in Doha, Marseille and Wimbledon. He has also advanced to six quarter-finals, including at the Australian Open, Roland Garros and at ATP World Tour Masters 1000 tournaments in Miami, Madrid and Toronto. Berdych is trying to qualify for the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals in London for the seventh straight year. He is No. 9 in the Emirates ATP Race To London standings.

#NextGen Russians: Russian wild cards Karen Khachanov and Andrey Rublev are two of the Next Generation players. The 20-year-old Khachanov is the No. 3 Russian and at a career-high No. 81. He reached the second round during his Grand Slam tournament debut at the US Open (d. Fabbiano, l. to No. 7 Nishikori in four sets). The 18-year-old Rublev reached a career-high No. 154 in March and is No. 201.

Youzhny Success in St. Pete: No. 2 Russian Mikhail Youzhny is the winningest player in event history with 31 victories in 43 matches. This is Youzhny’s 14th appearance (2002-13, ’15-16). He won the title in 2004 and reached the final in 2002 and 2010. The 34-year-old Youzhny has improved from No. 127 on 4 January in the opening week of the year to a season-best No. 53. Youzhny is one of three Russians to win the title in tournament history along with Marat Safin (2000-01) and Yevgeny Kafelnikov (1995).

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Moselle Open (Metz): The 14th edition of the Moselle Open features three players in the Top 20 of the Emirates ATP Rankings: No. 10 Thiem, No. 14 Goffin and No. 18 Pouille. The top three seeds are joined by No. 4 Gilles Simon, No. 5 Martin Klizan, No. 6 Gilles Muller, No. 7 Benoit Paire and No. 8 Nicolas Mahut. Six of the past seven champions (except 2014) are Frenchmen. There are three former winners in the field: Goffin (2014), Simon (2010, 2013) and wild card Tommy Robredo (2007).

Thiem Top Seed: Top seed Thiem is making his tournament debut in Metz. The 23-year-old Austrian is looking to qualify for his first Barclays ATP World Tour Finals in London. He is No. 7 in the Emirates ATP Race To London standings with four titles in five finals. He has compiled a 52-17 match record (20-8 on hard).

Flying The French Flag: While three-time champion Jo-Wilfried Tsonga is sidelined with a knee injury, two-time winner and No. 4 seed Gilles Simon leads a strong contingent of Frenchmen battling for the Moselle Open title. Frenchmen have won six of the past seven Metz titles. Simon reached the final last year and won the title in 2010 and 2013. He began his career with an 0-4 record in Metz before winning 12 of his past 13 matches. Other Frenchmen in the singles draw (not including possible qualifiers) are wild card Quentin Halys, Pierre-Hugues Herbert, Mahut, Paul-Henri Mathieu, No. 7 seed Paire and No. 3 seed Pouille.

Pouille In Top 20: One of the most improved players on the ATP World Tour this season is the 22-year-old Pouille, who broke into the Top 20 of the Emirates ATP Rankings at No. 18 after his quarter-final result at the US Open (d. No. 5 Nadal in 4R, l. to Monfils). Pouille also advanced to the quarter-finals at Wimbledon (l. to Berdych). He is making his main draw debut in Metz.

Robredo Returns: Former World No. 5 Robredo returns to the ATP World Tour for the first time since late February in Dubai. The 34-year-old Spaniard has been sidelined with a right elbow injury. He returned to the Genova, Italy Challenger two weeks ago and lost in the first round. The 12-time ATP World Tour winner won his lone indoor title in Metz in 2007 (d. Murray). He is 9-2 in Metz with quarter-final results in 2003 and 2010, his last appearance.

Newlyweds In Action: Former Metz finalists Mathieu and Andreas Seppi are playing their first tournament since both getting married on 10 September. Mathieu, who reached the final in 2008, married Quiterie Camus in France. Seppi, who was runner-up in 2012, married Michela Bernardi in Italy.

French Duo Top Seeds in Doubles: World No. 10 in the Emirates ATP Doubles Team Rankings, Julien Benneteau and Edouard Roger-Vasselin are the top seeds. They enter Metz with a 13-9 match record on the season, highlighted by a runner-up at Wimbledon (l. to Herbert/Mahut). Benneteau won the doubles title in 2003 with Mahut. Roger-Vasselin won titles in 2012, with Mahut, and last year, with Lukasz Kubot.

ICYMI

The 2016 Davis Cup Final Is Set: Argentina vs. Croatia. Read

Rafael Nadal Helps Power Spain To World Group Return. Read

Russia To Return To World Group After Four-Year Absence. Read

Isner, Roddick Among Attendees At Dirk Nowitzki Charity Tennis Event. Read

Irish Eyes Are Smiling: McGee Wins First Challenger Title. Read

Birthdays

20 September - Feliciano Lopez (35)

23 September - Marcelo Melo (33)

24 September - Jack Sock (24)

27 September - Yoshihito Nishioka (21)

28 September - Marin Cilic (28)

Ranking Movers

+26 Adam Pavlasek (80) career high

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Thanks to Visa Mishap, Ironman McGee Wins 1st CH Title

Mon, 09/19/2016 - 12:16am

Last week, James McGee was not in the draw at the Atlantic Tire Championships in Cary, U.S.A. Now, Irish eyes are smiling on the Dublin native after claiming his maiden ATP Challenger Tour title. The 29 year old rallied past Ernesto Escobedo 1-6, 6-1, 6-4 in Sunday's final.

The circumstances surrounding McGee's win make it even more remarkable. Initially scheduled to play at the tournament in Nanchang, China, he was denied a visa by the Chinese government due to the G20 Summit in nearby Hangzhou. With visas being rejected for foreigners, McGee was forced to reassess his options and would choose to enter qualifying in Cary. He battled all week for the crown, reeling off eight wins in eight days.

"It's a dream for me to finally get a Challenger title," McGee told ATPWorldTour.com. "Last year, I was in the final in two events, in San Luis Potosi and Savannah, and it didn't quite happen there. In the middle of the year I had a surgery on my knee and it was a blow to my confidence. I wasn't feeling as good as I knew I could be. But in the last few months I've been feeling better and playing better.

"Coming into this event, I thought I was playing well but I never thought I'd win the whole thing. To win eight matches in a row is amazing."

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The sixth qualifier to prevail in 2016 - one more than last year - McGee is just the third player from Ireland to lift an ATP Challenger Tour trophy, joining Conor Niland and Louk Sorensen. He soars to a Top 200 return at No. 194 in the Emirates ATP Rankings.

"It's nice to be part of the club (with Niland and Sorensen), to now have said that I won a title. It's not my biggest goal in tennis, but it's a step in the right direction and I'm looking forward to what's next. The win puts me in the Top 200 range and it's a step forward to get in the Top 100 and play in the biggest tournaments in the world."

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"It was just a perfect match in my performance," said Giannessi. "The last few weeks were very good for me and I feel that I finally found my form... This is my first title, so no wonder I'm so happy. Throughout the week everything went my way. I feel that I played very well and I feel that I deserve this trophy, and it's really a wonderful feeling."

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