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Updated: 14 min 11 sec ago

Junior Star McNally Reflects On Challenger Main Draw Debut

Thu, 09/22/2016 - 6:23pm

Top junior star John McNally will soon spend the next four years competing for Ohio State University, but he’s making noise on that campus this week at the $50,000 ATP Challenger Tour event in Columbus.

The 17 year old received a wild card into the singles and doubles main draws, marking his first main draw appearances at an ATP Challenger Tour event. Although he lost in the first round of singles to fellow American Tommy Paul, he’s into the doubles quarter-finals with another American teenager in Jeffrey John Wolf, his regular doubles partner in ITF Junior events.

“Playing my first Challenger main draw was really special, especially in Columbus, since I’m from not far away in Cincinnati. It was also great to play it at Ohio State, where I’ll be attending college next fall,” said McNally. “Even though I had a tough first-round [singles match] against a good friend, I’m ready to try and keep going in the doubles.”

McNally is currently No. 15 in the ITF Junior Rankings, having posted a 27-10 record this year and recorded a third-round showing in the boys’ singles draw at Wimbledon. But while he’s used to making deep runs in junior draws, he admitted it may take some time for that to become a regular occurrence in pro events.

“In the juniors, I’ve been lucky enough to win a lot of matches. There are a lot of weeks where you can win three or four matches in the juniors, maybe even win the tournament, but you can sometimes go a month or more without winning a match in the pros,” said McNally.” It’s just about learning to be a little more mentally tough when it comes to the pro side and being able to flow with some of the ups and downs that will come with it.”

However, McNally is more than ready for the challenge. He’s soaked in the experience of playing and practising with ATP Challenger Tour players this week and is confident it will serve him well for upcoming tournaments.

“I got to hit some of the pro players at the US Open and some of the bigger junior events where they also are. Just seeing how seriously they take it and looking at it like it’s a job is definitely cool,” he said. “I’m able to learn a lot from it.”

Wu Records Major Upset In Kaohsiung

Thu, 09/22/2016 - 6:08pm

There have been plenty of big upsets this year on the ATP Challenger Tour, but Tung-Lin Wu pulled off arguably the biggest one of 2016 at the $125,000 ATP Challenger Tour event in Kaohsiung, Taiwan.

The 18 year old from Chinese Taipei, a wild card currently ranked No. 1,748 in the Emirates ATP Rankings, shocked world No. 131 Denis Kudla in the opening round, 7-5, 7-6(8). With a difference of 1,617 spots, it’s the biggest upset of the year by ranking on the ATP Challenger Tour. 

Biggest Upsets In 2016 (difference of 1000+ spots in Emirates ATP Rankings)

Upset
Tournament
Difference
No. 1748 Tung-Lin Wu (TPE) d. No. 131 Denis Kudla
Kaohsiung, Taiwan
1617 spots
No. 1600 Mikhail Vaks (RUS) d. No. 239 Connor Smith
Dallas, U.S.A.
1361 spots No. 1265 Romain Jouan (FRA) d. No. 131 Adam Pavlasek
Quimper, France
1134 spots
No. 1344 Albano Olivetti (FRA) d. No. 234 Denys Molchanov
Wroclaw, Poland
1110 spots
No. 1265 Romain Jouan (FRA) d. No. 169 James Ward
Quimper, France
1096 spots
No. 1146 Andrea Pellegrino (ITA) d. No. 91 Horacio Zeballos
Rome, Italy
1055 spots

Although he lost in a competitive match to Yuya Kibi of Japan in the second-round, he's still in the doubles quarter-finals with Ze Zhang of China.

“This victory is very special for me, especially being in front of Taiwanese fans,” said Wu. “Before the match, some people questioned whether I deserved to have the wild card, but this victory reconfirmed my ability. I did lots of homework and research about Kudla, so I was well-prepared, but I didn’t think too much on the court. I just swung hard and let adrenaline take over the rest.”

The teenager has competed all in of the junior events at Grand Slams for the past two years, but has also mixed in ITF Futures tournaments and ATP Challenger Tour events. Having gotten a taste of all three worlds, he has been able to pick up on the differences of what it takes to succeed in them.

“The biggest difference is the ability to take opportunities to win the match,” said Wu. “Most teenager players don’t have the mindset to cope with pressure on the court, but the professional players are mature enough to play under pressure.”

Lu’s win over Kudla will see him jump inside the Top 1,000 of the Emirates ATP Rankings on Monday. But perhaps more importantly, it’s instilled a new belief in his tennis.

“At the beginning of turning pro, sometimes I would doubt my own ability,” he admitted. “But this match showed me to just trust myself and made me realise I can be better in the future.”

Simon, Goffin Advance To Metz QFs

Thu, 09/22/2016 - 3:54pm

Two former Moselle Open champions, David Goffin and Gilles Simon, both advanced to the quarter-finals on Thursday.

Second seed Goffin, who beat Joao Sousa for the 2014 title, lost just 10 of his service points in a 6-4, 6-2 victory over Jan-Lennard Struff in 67 minutes. The Barclays ATP World Tour Finals contender, who is currently placed No. 11 in the Emirates ATP Race To London, will next face eighth seed Nicolas Mahut. The 34-year-old Frenchman saved all three break points faced to beat Illya Marchenko 6-3, 6-4.

Fourth seed Simon maintained his fine run of form at the ATP World Tour 250 tournament by beating Guillermo Garcia-Lopez 6-7(3), 6-3, 6-4 in two hours and 40 minutes. Simon, now 6-0 lifetime against Garcia-Lopez, has won 13 of his past 14 matches at the event where he is the 2010 and 2013 champion.

Simon will next face Malek Jaziri, who won an ATP Challenger Tour event in Istanbul on Sunday. Jaziri advanced to his second ATP World Tour quarter-final of the year by beating qualifier Vincent Millot 4-6, 6-3, 6-3 in one hour and 49 minutes.

Lucas Pouille, the third seed, topped fellow Frenchman Pierre-Hugues Herbert 6-4, 6-7(6), 6-4 to reach the quarter-finals. The World No. 18 had match point in the second set tie-break at 6/5 before his 25-year-old opponent made a comeback to force a decider. Pouille sealed victory after one hour and 55 minutes, saving all three break points faced and firing 13 aces to set a clash with another Frenchman, Julien Benneteau, in the last eight. 

Mixed Days For Doubles Seeds

Third seeds Mate Pavic and Michael Venus kept their cool saving three break points in a 6-2, 7-6(5) victory over Nicholas Monroe and Artem Sitak, while Julio Peralta and Horacio Zeballos beat fourth seeds Robert Lindstedt and Aisam-Ul-Haq Qureshi 4-6, 6-3, 10-5. In the semi-finals, Peralta/Zeballos will face second seeds Oliver Marach and Fabrice Martin, who were 6-1, 6-3 winners over Gero Kretschmer and Jan-Lennard Struff.

Elsewhere, Colin Fleming and Scott Lipsky saved two match points at 8/9 and 10/11 in the Match Tie-break in a 5-7, 7-6(3), 13-11 win over Marcus Daniell and Marcelo Demoliner.

Haase, Ungur Advance At Sibiu Challenger 2016 Wednesday Highlights

Thu, 09/22/2016 - 2:53pm
Watch highlights from Day Three at the ATP Challenger Tour event in Sibiu, Romania, where top seed Robin Haase and defending champion Adrian Ungur advanced. Video courtesy Sibiu Open.

Youzhny Shocks Raonic In St. Petersburg

Thu, 09/22/2016 - 2:23pm

Russian Mikhail Youzhny, the winningest player at the St. Petersburg Open, upended No. 2 seed Milos Raonic 2-6, 7-6(6), 6-4 in the pair's second-round match on Thursday. Youzhny was two points from defeat, down 5/2 in the second-set tie-break, but fought back to secure his first win in three FedEx ATP Head2Head meetings against the big-serving Canadian. It was the 33rd win in St. Petersburg for the 2004 champion, who also snapped a 10-match losing streak against Top 10 players. He will face Alexander Zverev in the quarter-finals.

Despite the loss, Raonic remains in contention for a place in the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals. He is No. 4 in the Emirates ATP Race To London behind Novak Djokovic, Andy Murray and Stan Wawrinka, who have already qualified.

Third seed Tomas Berdych edged past Andrey Kuznetsov 6-3, 2-6, 7-6(4). Berdych, who is attempting to qualify for the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals for the seventh straight year, is aiming to make up ground on No. 8-placed Rafael Nadal in the Emirates ATP Race To London. Berdych (2,530 points) is 670 points behind Nadal (3,200).

Lorenzi overcame qualifier Alexandre Sidorenko 7-6(6), 6-4 earlier in the day, while seventh seed Viktor Troicki beat fellow Serbian Dusan Lajovic 6-4, 6-4 to set up a clash against top seed Wawrinka.

#NextGen star Zverev broke serve five times to see off local favourite Daniil Medvedev 6-3, 7-5 in 85 minutes. Zverev's father represented the Soviet Union on the ATP World Tour. The 19-year-old German was reunited with his grandfather for the first time in 10 years this week in St. Petersburg.

Eighth seed Joao Sousa saved five of seven break points to defeat wild card Andrey Rublev 7-6(3), 3-6, 6-3 in two hours and 12 minutes.

Doubles Semi-Finals Set

Top seeds Dominic Inglot and Henri Kontinen downed Paolo Lorenzi and Adrian Mannarino 6-7(5), 6-1, 10/7 to set a semi-final clash against Russians Konstantin Kravchuk and Andrey Kuznetsov, who won 6-4, 7-6(6) against Karen Khachanov and Lukas Rosol.

Andre Begemann and Leander Paes were 6-3, 7-5 winners over Purav Raja and Divij Sharan. They will next face Mikhail Elgin and Alexander Kudryavtsev, who upset No. 2 seeds Marcin Matkowski and Nenad Zimonjic 7-6(4), 7-5.

Federer Leads Forbes List In Endorsements

Thu, 09/22/2016 - 1:21pm

Roger Federer's commercial appeal is without equal. The Swiss star leads all professional athletes with $60 million earned in off-court endorsements according to The World's Highest-Paid Athletes 2016 list compiled by Forbes. The Basel native's commercial partners include Nike, Wilson, Rolex, Mercedes-Benz, Credit Suisse and Moët & Chandon.

The 35 year old is No. 4 in total 2016 earnings on the Forbes list with $67.8 million, trailing only footballers Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi and NBA star LeBron James.

Top 10 Highest-Paid Athletes (Forbes)

Name
Total Earnings
Endorsements
Salary/Prize Money Cristiano Ronaldo
$88 million

$32 million

$56 million Lionel Messi
$81.4 million
$28 million
$53.4 million LeBron James
$77.2 million

$54 million

$23.2 million Roger Federer
$67.8 million
$60 million
$7.8 million Kevin Durant
$56.2 million
$36 million
$20.2 million Novak Djokovic
$55.8 million
$34 million
$21.8 million Cam Newton $53.1 million
$12 million
$41.1 million Phil Mickelson
$52.9 million
$50 million
$2.9 million Jordan Spieth
$52.8 million
$32 million
$20.8 million Kobe Bryant
$50 million
$25 million
$25 million

Federer is joined by four other ATP World Tour players in the Top 100. Novak Djokovic is No. 6 ($55.8M), Rafael Nadal is No. 21 ($37.5M), Kei Nishikori is No. 29 ($33.5M) and Andy Murray is No. 74 ($23M).

Federer compiled a 21-7 record at tour-level in 2016, but missed more than two months due to knee surgery following the Australian Open and was forced to cut his year short after Wimbledon. In total, Federer owns 1,080 match wins and 88 titles at tour-level.

See the full list at Forbes.com

 

Torpegaard Enjoys Breakthrough On Home Campus

Wed, 09/21/2016 - 10:11pm

After being just one match away from bringing the NCAA men’s singles championship to Ohio State University, Mikael Torpegaard is enjoying an ATP Challenger Tour breakthrough on his home campus.

The 22 year old from Denmark and current junior at OSU won his first main draw Challenger match at this week’s $50,000 event in Columbus, Ohio, prevailing on Tuesday over American Nicolas Meister. Torpegaard then delighted the home crowd with a three-set win over Canadian Peter Polansky in a second-round match on Wednesday.

“It was super cool. I’m happy to figure out the level I need to be at going forward,” said Torpegaard. “I know that I made the right decision going to college and also coming to OSU. I’ve had amazing coaches here and my time at OSU has really prepared me for a pro career on and off the court.”

Torpegaard finished his sophomore year at OSU with a 34-5 record, topping it off with a runner-up showing at the NCAA men’s singles championship last May. He also had the opportunity to play against some the world’s best players at the beginning of his sophomore year, falling to Rafael Nadal and David Ferrer in a Davis Cup tie for Denmark against Spain last September.

The Dane used those experiences to have a successful summer on the ITF Futures circuit, posting a 15-4 record and winning his first pro singles title last month in Finland.

“There are actually a lot of similarities between college tennis and Challenger tennis because a lot of the top college players could play at this level,” said Torpegaard. “But the biggest difference is knowing the struggle of travel alone, the economic aspect and putting all of those pieces together. You do get a lot of help in college tennis, a lot of matches and everything is kind of set up for you.”

Torpegaard has been one of the top players in Denmark for the past three years. Although he’s optimistic about how tennis is growing in the country, he said that college tennis is an ideal path for players from smaller nations who are eager to eventually make it onto the ATP World Tour.

“It’s tough to find support from sponsors, so people are now seeing college tennis as a good option,” said Torpegaard. “I think people are realizing that college tennis is the way forward, whereas before, the guys at the head of my federation thought that college tennis is where good players go to die. I’m glad people are starting to realize that there’s more than one way to make it and that college tennis can be used as a stepping stone towards a professional career.”

St. Petersburg Sights On Display

Wed, 09/21/2016 - 10:01pm
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Follow all the latest off-court action on MyATP! Download the app for iPhone or Android or visit MyATP.com.

St. Petersburg Open – St. Petersburg, Russia

Milos Raonic, Stan Wawrinka, Tomas Berdych, Viktor Troicki, Alexander Zverev and more stars attend the St. Petersburg Open's swanky soiree at The Four Seasons Hotel on Monday night in St. Petersburg. 

Second and third seeds Raonic and Berdych took time away from the tournament to visit the iconic St. Isaac's Cathedral. The duo were joined by Raonic’s girlfriend Danielle Knudson to take a tour of one of the city’s most picturesque landmarks, as well as climb up a private staircase to the Balustrade where 12 bronze angels overlook St. Petersburg. More

Former champion Mikhail Youzhny held a master class in the TRK “Galereya” shopping mall. All the mall guests were welcome to take part in the tournament. The guests then challenged themselves as they tried to return Youznhy’s serve. More

Youzhny also visited a shirt museum at Sibur Arena, which hosts a collection of all past champions’ signed shirts.

Troicki and Dusan Lajovic took a scenic canal boat tour to take in the city sights.

Youzhny, Joao Sousa, Andrey Rublev and Daniil Medvedev met fans at autograph sessions.

Andrey Kuznetsov attended a meet-and-greet for Emirates.

Moselle Open – Metz, France

Gilles Muller and Vincent Millot played mini tennis with young fans at Galeries Lafayette.

David Goffin, Tommy Robredo and NextGen’s Quentin Halys participated in meet-and-greets with local fans.


Thiem Nudges Towards London Bid In Metz

Wed, 09/21/2016 - 6:09pm

Dominic Thiem moved closer to qualifying for the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals on Wednesday with an opening win at the Moselle Open in Metz. The 23-year-old Austrian prevailed against German qualifier Peter Gojowczyk 7-5, 7-6(2) to avenge a previous straight-sets loss to Gojowczyk in Doha in 2014.

Thiem had to retire from his most recent match, a fourth-round contest against Juan Martin del Potro at the US Open, because of a right-leg injury. But the World No. 10 moved freely and showed no signs of any lingering pain during his Moselle Open debut. The right-hander delivered 12 aces and didn't face a break point in the 88-minute win.

Thiem is trying to qualify for the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals for the first time. He's currently in seventh place in the Emirates ATP Race To London. Three men – Novak Djokovic, Andy Murray and Stan Wawrinka – have already qualified for the year-end championships, to be held 13-20 November at The O2 in London, leaving five spots still open. In the quarter-finals, Thiem will face sixth seed Gilles Muller, who won 82 per cent of his service points to beat Georgian Nikoloz Basilashvili 6-4, 6-2 in 56 minutes.

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Eighth seed Nicolas Mahut dismissed #NextGen player Quentin Halys 6-3, 6-4. Mahut is playing in Metz for the 11th straight year and 13th time in the past 14 years. He'll try to improve on semi-final showings in 2007 and 2013. In the second round, the 34-year-old Mahut will meet Ukrainian Illya Marchenko, who saved two match points at 4-5, 15/40 in the deciding set to beat Andreas Seppi 6-7(1), 6-3, 7-6(4) in two hours and 28 minutes.

Julien Benneteau reached his second quarter-final of the season by beating German Dustin Brown 6-3, 6-4. He also reached the quarter-finals at the Abierto Mexicano Mifel last month in Los Cabos. Benneteau will meet a countryman in the quarter-finals, either Pierre-Hugues Herbert or third seed Lucas Pouille.

German Jan-Lennard Struff got the better of 2007 champion Tommy Robredo, who was making his ATP World Tour return following right elbow surgery on 27 April. Struff won 7-6(5), 7-5 in one hour and 33 minutes. He will next meet second seed and 2014 champion David Goffin.

Wawrinka Cruises Into St. Petersburg QFs

Wed, 09/21/2016 - 5:21pm

Top seed Stan Wawrinka eased into the quarter-finals of the St. Petersburg Open on Wednesday, downing Lukas Rosol 6-3, 6-1 in the second round. The Swiss, who is coming off a title run at the US Open (d. Djokovic), lost only one first-serve point and did not drop a service game. Wawrinka hit eight aces in the 58-minute win. He last played in St. Petersburg in 2004, falling to Jean-Rene Lisnard in the final of the ATP Challenger Tour event.

"I'm happy with my preparation for this tournament. I played at a good level for a first match, especially against Rosol, a player against whom I've played close matches this year," Wawrinka, who had a first-round bye, said. "I was trying to make him uncomfortable by mixing the speed of my shots since he likes having a rhythm. I'm surprised with how well things went, but when I play well I know I can beat anyone."

Wawrinka improved to 6-0 in the FedEx ATP Head2Head rivalry against the Czech. He will face Viktor Troicki or Dusan Lajovic in the next round. Troicki routed Gastao Elias 6-1, 6-2 in under one hour in their first-round clash on Wednesday. The seventh seed notched his first match win in his fourth appearance at the St. Petersburg Open. Troicki hit six aces and lost just three of his first service points.

Roberto Bautista Agut rallied to beat Ricardas Berankis 4-6, 6-1, 7-6(2) in two hours to move into the quarter-finals. The No. 4 seed was a game from elimination at 5-6 in the deciding set, but held serve at love before asserting his dominance in the third-set tie-break.

Elsewhere, Joao Sousa, the eighth seed, scraped past qualifier Radu Albot 3-6, 6-4, 7-5. Mikhail Youzhny improved to 32-12 lifetime at the ATP World Tour 250 tournament by overcoming Janko Tipsarevic, the 2011 runner-up, 6-3, 7-5 in one hour and 51 minutes. Youzhny beat Karol Beck for the 2004 title.

Begemann/Paes Into Doubles QFs

Doubles legend Leander Paes and partner Andre Begemann are into the doubles quarter-finals after dismissing Janko Tipsarevic and Viktor Troicki 6-2, 6-4. They will next face Purav Raja and Divij Sharan, who beat Andres Molteni and Hans Podlipnik-Castillo 6-4, 6-4.

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Sibiu Challenger 2016 Tuesday Highlights

Wed, 09/21/2016 - 4:10pm
Go behind the scenes and watch the action from Day 2 at the ATP Challenger Tour event in Sibiu, Romania. Video courtesy Sibiu Open.

Berdych, Raonic Visit Iconic St. Petersburg Site

Wed, 09/21/2016 - 2:03pm

It was a day for sightseeing in St. Petersburg as Tomas Berdych and Milos Raonic took time away from the St. Petersburg Open to visit the iconic St. Isaac cathedral on Tuesday. The duo were joined by Raonic’s girlfriend Danielle Knudson to take a tour of one of the city’s most picturesque landmarks, as well as a climb up a private staircase to the Balustrade where 12 bronze angels overlook St. Petersburg.

“I think it’s pretty special,” said Raonic, who will open his title defence in the Russian city against 2004 champion Mikhail Youzhny in the second round. “You can see most of fantastic cultural icons, monuments here in St. Petersburg. From this point atop St. Isaac’s Church, you can see everything and you really get to see how big St. Petersburg is, which sometimes you can really forget if you are driving a car. To climb to the Top of St Isaac’s Cathedral today was simply phenomenal."

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“It was really interesting to get a tour and to go downstairs to see all the cathedral and to get so much information,” said Berdych. “It's a beautiful part of the city, so it was really interesting.

“The city is full of history and old architecture part and many other things as well. I'm coming from Prague, which is also a very historical city, so it’s always nice to see different parts of the city, the cathedral, the palaces and the stuff like this.” 

Though both players stand 6’5” tall, Berdych and Raonic admitted fighting their fear of heights in order to enjoy the vantage point. “I'm not the biggest fan of the heights. I'm afraid of that,” the Czech said. “I always managed with myself to see, because the view is really beautiful and something different when you can see the city from above.” 

“I’m not very good with heights,” the Canadian said. “The CN Tower in Toronto has to be the tallest place I’ve been to. I try to stay away of heights. Luckily, this structure has been around for over 600 years. So I definitely feel safe here.”

Berdych, the third seed, will face Andrey Kuznetsov in his opening match in the second round.

 

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.