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Updated: 12 hours 1 min ago

How To Train On Clay With Feliciano Lopez

Fri, 06/09/2017 - 5:33pm
ATP World Tour Uncovered presented by Peugeot goes inside the practice court with Feliciano Lopez to learn how best to train on clay courts.

New Rules Announced At Next Gen ATP Finals Press Conference

Fri, 06/09/2017 - 5:30pm
At a special press conference in Rome, the new rules are revealed for the inaugural Next Gen ATP Finals in Milan.

Murray: 'Obviously I'm Playing Pretty Good'

Fri, 06/09/2017 - 5:15pm

Although Andy Murray wasn’t able to reach his second Roland Garros final after falling to Stan Wawrinka in five sets on Friday, the high-quality battle proved Murray is back in business.

Few people would have pegged the Brit to be a set away from a major final at the start of the tournament. He arrived at Roland Garros with a tame 4-4 record on clay this season, and struggled in his first two matches in Paris against Andrey Kuznetsov and Martin Klizan. But the World No. 1 turned the corner in his third round victory against Juan Martin del Potro and continued to improve with each match.

Against Wawrinka, Murray hammered 36 winners and hit plenty of flashy shots throughout their grueling baseline rallies. It’s a level of tennis he knows he simply wasn’t producing a few weeks ago and will need to keep up for the second half of 2017. Barring a poor grass-court season, Murray should retain his hold on the No. 1 Emirates ATP Ranking until at least August, when the likes of Nadal, Wawrinka, Djokovic and Federer could mount a challenge at the ATP World Tour Masters 1000 tournaments in Montreal and Cincinnati and the US Open.

“I had been working hard in the buildup to the event. I needed to. I needed to spend a lot of time on the court. Not all of the matches were plain sailing for me. They were tricky, so that was good,” said Murray. “I need to understand what worked well this event and in the 10 days of buildup to it. I have to make sure I continue to do that throughout the year, not make any mistakes with my preparation or my training, and hopefully finish the year strong.”

Never count him out.@andy_murray whipping out some of the best in this fourth set. #RG17 pic.twitter.com/iREkRLrg0A

— Roland-Garros (@rolandgarros) June 9, 2017

Perhaps the most encouraging sign for Murray is how well he responded physically to a match that lasted four hours and 34 minutes. His right elbow injury prevented him practising at full power as recently as two months ago, but he was still serving and hitting at maximum velocity in the business end of his battle against Wawrinka.

Although he admitted that a comparative lack of stamina played a factor in Wawrinka storming through the final set, he believes that going through a marathon match like this will serve him well for the rest of the season.  

“Over four-and-a-half hours, there are going to be periods in the match where you're not hitting the ball as well and your opponent is playing well. You need to try and ride out the storm a little bit,” said Murray. “I expected to have a few more ups and downs in this event than usual because of how I was feeling coming in. I haven't played many matches at that intensity in these past six or seven weeks. Sometimes things can get away from you a little bit quicker in those moments.”

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The Brit will now turn his attention to the grass. He’s scheduled to defend his title in less than two weeks at the Aegon Championships in London. Despite the obvious differences between clay and grass, Murray said his experiences in Paris will benefit him as he competes in London.

“I put myself in a position to reach a slam final, so I'm obviously playing pretty good,” said Murray. “Hopefully this gives me a good base to go into the grass-court season. Often when I have done well on the clay, I feel like that's helped me a little bit on the grass. Certainly the matches are not as physical, so going through matches like I did today is a good step for me.”

Roland Garros">

Norrie Reflects On First Win As New Pro

Fri, 06/09/2017 - 4:05pm
College tennis standout Cameron Norrie reflects on defeating Malek Jaziri in his first match since turning pro at the ATP Challenger Tour event in Surbiton. Video: Aegon Surbiton Trophy

Unseeded Teams Face Off In Roland Garros Doubles Final

Fri, 06/09/2017 - 2:48pm

Ryan Harrison and Michael Venus moved into their first Grand Slam final on Friday at Roland Garros, continuing their inspired play with a 4-6, 6-3, 6-4 win over 16th seeds Juan Sebastian Cabal and Robert Farah.

Awaiting them in the final are Santiago Gonzalez and Donald Young, who prevailed on Thursday over Fernando Verdasco and Nenad Zimonjic. There is guaranteed to be both an American and a first-time Grand Slam winner on Saturday.

Harrison had never reached a Grand Slam semi-final prior to this fortnight, while Venus had never reached the last eight at a major. The American-Kiwi pairing has already enjoyed success this year by taking the doubles title last month in Estoril. Harrison has won three ATP World Tour doubles titles and Venus has won six, but they’ve all been at the ATP World Tour 250 level.

Cabal was seeking his second Grand Slam men’s doubles final after reaching the championship match at Roland Garros in 2011 (w/Schwank). Farah was aiming for his first men’s doubles final at a Grand Slam. He endured his second disappointment in 24 hours after squandering two championship points with Anna-Lena Groenefeld in Thursday's mixed doubles final against Rohan Bopanna and Gabriela Dabrowski.

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In the Harrison/Venus semi-final, a single break of serve in each set was all that was required to force a decider on Court Suzanne Lenglen. Both teams held comfortably throughout the final set, but Harrison/Venus secured the crucial break at 4-4. The prospect of reaching their first Grand Slam final led to a nervy affair serving out the match, but they made good on their third match point to advance in one hour and 56 minutes. 

Roland Garros">

Wawrinka Edges Murray In Thriller To Reach Final

Fri, 06/09/2017 - 12:23pm

Stan Wawrinka will challenge for a fourth Grand Slam championship after hitting 87 winners to edge Andy Murray 6-7(8), 6-3, 5-7, 7-6(3), 6-1 in a pulsating semi-final at Roland Garros on Friday.

The Swiss will look to win his second Roland Garros crown when he faces either nine-time champion Rafael Nadal or Dominic Thiem in Sunday’s final. Wawrinka won the clay-court major in 2015, beating Novak Djokovic, and also counts triumphs at the 2014 Australian Open and 2016 US Open in his major haul.

"I'm really happy to be in the final," said Wawrinka. "I think it was quite a tough match today. A big battle. I want to enjoy it a lot, because, as I say, it's not all the time you can say you're going to play a final of a Grand Slam, especially in Paris. I really want to enjoy that."

By reaching the final in Paris, Wawrinka is guaranteed to go to No. 3 in the Emirates ATP Rankings, meaning Djokovic will slip to No. 4. Should he win the title, he would go to a new career-high No. 2. 

It was sweet revenge for Wawrinka, who was beaten in the semi-finals of his title defence last year by Murray, who would go on to lose to Djokovic in the final. That they were both in the semi-finals again was testament to the level of tennis they were able to produce after underwhelming results on the clay coming in.

"I came in playing garbage,” joked Murray, whose best result had been the semi-finals in Barcelona (l. to Thiem). While Wawrinka had begun to hit top gear just the week before Roland Garros, banishing memories of early losses in Madrid and Rome by winning his home title in Geneva (d. M. Zverev).

Watch: Wawrinka Revelling In Underdog Role

But they both delivered their finest tennis in front of an enthralled Philippe Chatrier Crowd in a match lasting four hours and 34 minutes, and decided, fittingly, with the 87th winner from Wawrinka’s racquet. The story of the match could be seen quite simply from the winners-unforced error stats: 87-77 for Wawrinka, 36-36 for Murray.

"For sure it was amazing match I felt on the court," said Wawrinka. "I enjoyed playing this match. For sure when you win it's better after. We had some crazy points with some good rallies, with some good level of tennis. And to play a semi-final here, at the French Open against Andy, No. 1 in the world, that's something really special, so for sure I enjoy it."

"I'm proud of the tournament I had," said Murray. "I did well considering. I was one tie-break away from getting to the final when I came in really struggling. So I have to be proud of that.

"Maybe the lack of matches hurt me a little bit in the end today. That was a very high intensity match. A lot of long points. When you haven't been playing loads, over four-and-a-half hours, that can catch up to you a little bit. I only have myself to blame for that, for the way I played coming into the tournament.

"But I turned my form around really, really well and ended up having a good tournament, all things considered."

10 match wins in a row!

It's another French finale for @stanwawrinka: https://t.co/SOXQvbJ3I6#RG17 pic.twitter.com/osj9mEbeLZ

— Roland-Garros (@rolandgarros) June 9, 2017

Murray, contesting the Roland Garros semi-finals for the fifth time, used every ounce of his guile and defensive skills to sneak the opener. It was a set Wawrinka will know he should have won. The Swiss served for it at 5-3, and held a set point in the tie-break, but his go-for-broke play proved his undoing as well as his weapon, as his unforced error count mounted, due in no small part to Murray's phenomenal defence.

After thwarting Wawrinka's bid to serve for the set in the ninth game, Murray then edged a nervy tie-break, which saw both players squander leads. Murray twice had a mini-break advantage, but neither time managed to build on his lead. The Dunblane native came in behind his first serve at 5/5, but it was Wawrinka who won the game of cat and mouse at the net to earn his first set point. The Swiss failed to convert, though, as he fired a backhand into the net - one of 23 unforced errors he committed in the set, compared to just 10 from Murray. Murray then seized his own set point opportunity, steering the point his way with a brave backhand topspin lob in the wind, and sealed the opener as Wawrinka dumped a forehand return into the net.

But the 2015 Roland Garros champion would not be cowed. Wawrinka struck back in the second set, keeping Murray under constant pressure with a continuing barrage of shots. The 32-year-old Swiss brought his unforced errors down to 15 for the set, and fired rockets from the baseline to keep Murray scrambling. Murray dug himself out of a nine-plus minute game at 2-2, saving a break point, but he could not keep Wawrinka at bay in the seventh game. Feeling the pressure, Murray double faulted to go down 0/40 and could only watch on as Wawrinka rifled a backhand winner to seal the break.

This time, Wawrinka made no mistake with his lead. The Lausanne native went after Murray’s serve again in the ninth game and secured the set at the first opportunity, firing a forehand winner off the return to level the match.

Commentating for Eurosport, John McEnroe remarked that Murray was “paralysed” in the face of the explosiveness and pace coming off Wawrinka’s racquet, and the Scot appeared flat at the start of the third set as Wawrinka raced to a 3-0 lead.

Murray stopped the run of seven games against him as he dug in to hold serve, though, and he seized his opportunity as Wawrinka’s level dipped in the following game to get the break back. In a set that would swing both ways, Wawrinka again went up a break to lead 4-2, but Murray once more hit back. It seems likely Wawrinka would have scored yet another break in the eighth game, were it not for some improvised defence from Murray at key moments, including a half-volley lob at 15/15.

Having held for 4-4, Murray might have rued two missed break points in the following game as his trusty backhand return temporarily deserted him at 15/40. But the Scot responded well to hold for 5-5 and then scrapped his way to the decisive service break in the 11th game. After Paris’ take on the Mexican Wave, the Scot was able to serve out the third set.

How. Did. He. Do. This?

Any explanations welcome, @stanwawrinka...#RG17 pic.twitter.com/73yfQltx7B

— Roland-Garros (@rolandgarros) June 9, 2017

Following five service breaks in the third set, neither player created a break point chance in the fourth, which was ultimately decided in another tie-break. Despite Murray’s high level throughout the set, the Scot was made to rue an ill-executed drop shot at 2/3. It was all the opening Wawrinka needed. Roared on by the Parisian crowd, the Swiss reeled off the following three points, including an explosive forehand return winner on set point.

Wawrinka did not look back in the fifth set. Almost unstoppable, the Swiss surged into a double-break lead. Murray tried to fire himself up and stem the momentum against him, but it was to no avail as Wawrinka broke again. Murray held off defeat momentarily with a break in the sixth game, but succumbed in the following game as Wawrinka rifled a backhand winner up the line.  

Roland Garros"> 

Raonic, Krajicek Mutually Part Ways

Thu, 06/08/2017 - 9:50pm

Milos Raonic and Richard Krajicek have officially parted ways. The Canadian and the 1996 Wimbledon champion started working together this past December, but Raonic confirmed via his Twitter account that their coaching relationship had amicably come to a close. 

“My coach, Richard Krajicek, and I have decided to part ways. This decision has been a mutual one,” wrote Raonic. “I would like to thank Richard for his help with my game, his dedication and professionalism. I wish him all the best.”

Raonic is still working with longtime coach Riccardo Piatti. The World No. 6 in the Emirates ATP Rankings is scheduled to kick off his grass-court campaign in two weeks at the Aegon Championships in London.

'Christ The Redeemer' Illuminated In Honour Of Guga's Roland Garros Anniversary

Thu, 06/08/2017 - 9:49pm
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One of Brazil's top postcards has been specially decorated to celebrate the 20-year anniversary of Gustavo Kuerten's unprecedented victory at Roland Garros. Christ The Redeemer was illuminated in blue and yellow, colours of the uniform of the Brazilian tennis player who arrived in France as No. 66 in the Emirates ATP Rankings and in two weeks later won one of the main Grand Slam tournaments, exactly on 8 June.

The homage done by the archdiocese of Rio de Janeiro in partnership with the French Tennis Federation (FFT) is a tribute to the conquest of Guga in 1997. Guga is in Paris participating in some commemorative events. He has followed the tribute from afar:

"I feel an extraordinary emotion and gratitude, because Christ the Redeemer is our main symbol of hope, faith, surpassing, generosity, and this title of '97 was built through those same feelings that [inspired] people, uniting a whole country in a belief never imaginable. And it was thus, with the union of all that we managed to win the first title of Roland Garros. In addition a curiosity: the construction of Christ the Redeemer also created, coincidentally, a link between Brazilians and French," said Kuerten.

A Brazilian engineer designed the monument with the collaboration of a French engineer and sculptor.

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Murray, Wawrinka Defy The Odds For Rematch

Thu, 06/08/2017 - 3:40pm

Andy Murray and Stan Wawrinka will be the first to admit that much of their clay seasons didn’t meet their lofty standards, but they’ve raised their games at the right moment for a rematch on Friday at Roland Garros.

Murray defeated the 2015 champion in four sets at this very round last year, but the rematch is one some tennis critics may not have predicted at the start of the fortnight. Murray arrived in Paris with a 4-4 record on clay this year and lost before the quarter-finals in three of his four events on the dirt. Dropping sets in his first two matches this fortnight to Andrey Kuznetsov and Martin Klizan didn’t do much to fuel optimism, but he has fully turned the corner.

He bageled longtime rival Juan Martin del Potro in the third round and then scored a convincing win two days later over #NextGenATP player Karen Khachanov. On Wednesday, he started slow and finished strong in hammering 31 winners to defeat Kei Nishikori in a four-set quarter-final.

“I came in playing garbage,” joked Murray. “If someone had offered me a semi-final spot before the tournament, I would have signed up for that because I was not playing well at all. And practice also was not good. It's been really good so far. I want to keep going.”

Roland Garros"> 

Meanwhile, Wawrinka started his clay season with a tame 2-3 record, but now sports a nine-match win streak on the dirt. He retained his title on home soil in Geneva (d. Zverev) before storming into the final four in Paris without dropping a set. His mental toughness has been on full display by saving three set points in his first-round win over qualifier Josef Kovalik, and another trio of set points in a third round victory over Fabio Fognini.

But while Wawrinka admits his game may have betrayed him at the beginning of the clay season, his motivation never did.

“I never give up. I work hard. I try to do what's right. I listen to my team members. And sometimes I lose. Your confidence goes down, and then you have to work hard again to rebuild your confidence,” said Wawrinka. “I'm here now. I'm playing really well and very happy with how things have gone so far. I'm very calm and extremely confident about my game.”

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Murray leads his FedEx ATP Head2Head rivalry with Wawrinka 10-7 and has won their past two matches, including a round-robin contest at last year’s Nitto ATP Finals in London. He’ll also take heart in knowing his victory over Wawrinka last year came under similar circumstances. The Swiss star soared into the final four while Murray struggled in several of his matches, but the Brit dug deep for a hard-fought win.

However, Wawrinka said the loss last year will have no bearing on how he approaches their battle on Friday.

“I remember he was playing better than me, but it’s a different year,” said Wawrinka. “I think he's struggling a little bit since the beginning of the year, but he's in the semi-final. So a champion like him, when they find a way to win matches, they play better and better. I expect him to play his best tennis.”

Both Murray and Wawrinka are aiming to reach their second Roland Garros final and become the 20th man in the Open Era to reach the final here on multiple occasions. Should Murray win, he’d become the seventh man in the Open Era to reach all four major finals at least twice. At 32 years and 75 days, Wawrinka is seeking to become the oldest finalist in Paris since Niki Pilic (33 years, 280 days) in 1973.

They've also both earned three Grand Slam titles in perhaps the toughest era in tennis history. A fourth major trophy would be highly significant for their tennis legacies.

But for both men, the flattering milestones won’t mean as much as achieving a place in another Grand Slam final.

“I don't think we need extra motivation. When you arrive in the semi-final of a Grand Slam, the motivation is quite high,” said Wawrinka. “It’s always a great challenge to play the World No. 1 in a Grand Slam. It’s going to be a great match.”

Gonzalez/Young Advance To Roland Garros Doubles Final

Thu, 06/08/2017 - 3:40pm

Santiago Gonzalez and Donald Young reached their first Grand Slam championship doubles final on Thursday at Roland Garros. The Mexican-American team battled hard to knock out Fernando Verdasco and Nenad Zimonjic 6-7(3), 7-5, 6-3 in two hours and 28 minutes for a place in Saturday’s title match.

While Verdasco and Zimonjic clinched the first set, that saw early service breaks, it was Gonzalez and Young who had their 3-1 advantage clawed back in the second set. From 5-5 in the second set, the Mexican and American duo won five straight games to take a 3-0 lead in the decider. Zimonjic, who won the 2010 Roland Garros doubles title with Daniel Nestor, remains on 698 match wins.

Gonzalez has an 11-7 record in doubles finals, including one ATP World Tour 500-level title at the 2011 Barcelona Open Banc Sabadell (w/Scott Lipsky), but Young lost his only previous final appearance at the 2015 Memphis Open (w/Artem Sitak).

They await the winners of Colombian No. 16 seeds Juan Sebastian Cabal and Robert Farah or American Ryan Harrison and Kiwi Michael Venus, who contest their semi-final on Friday.

Farah, in partnership with Anna-Lena Grönefeld, finished as runner up to Rohan Bopanna and Gabriela Dabrowski in the mixed doubles final earlier on Thursday.

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Go inside the tournament at RolandGarros.com.

No Secrets For Nadal And Thiem In Roland Garros SF

Thu, 06/08/2017 - 3:06pm
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It’s fitting that the biggest rivalry of this clay season will conclude on Court Philippe-Chatrier. Rafael Nadal and Dominic Thiem have already met three times in the past six weeks and will battle one more time on Friday for a spot in the Roland Garros final.

There will be no surprises when they share the court once again. Both players have a healthy respect for each other and the weapons they bring to the court. Nadal acknowledged the Austrian’s power and that he “doesn’t give you a lot of options.” With his massive forehand, backhand and big serve, Thiem is one of very few players with the firepower to make life uncomfortable for Nadal on clay. Meanwhile, Thiem praised Nadal’s forehand as the best in the game and admitted conceding some winners on that side will be unavoidable.  

Players who have defeated Nadal at least twice on clay

Player

Wins

Djokovic, Novak SRB

7

Gaudio, Gaston ARG

3

Fognini, Fabio ITA

2

Ferrer, David ESP

2

Murray, Andy GBR

2

Federer, Roger SUI

2

Thiem, Dominic AUT

2

Nadal leads their FedEx ATP Head2Head 4-2, with all six of their matches coming on clay. The Spaniard ousted Thiem in the Barcelona Open Banc Sabadell and Mutua Madrid Open finals, but the Austrian turned the tables by handing Nadal his only loss on clay this year in the Internazionali BNL d’Italia quarter-finals. But for Nadal, their past matches mean nothing when they face off again.

“We can have a look at the statistics. We can talk about statistics for hours, but what is important is to consider the match,” said Nadal. “Either you play well and you advance to the next round or you lose and you're out. If I play well, I hope that I will be able to book my spot in the final. If I don't play well, I will be out of the tournament.”

Watch highlights of the last meeting between Nadal and Thiem.

Nadal and Thiem have each had dominant runs to the semi-finals and are in top form. Neither player has dropped a set, but Nadal has been especially efficient. The nine-time Roland Garros champion has lost 22 games in his five rounds, an average of 4.4 per match, and only eight games in his past three matches. In his third round against Nikoloz Basilashvili, he nearly recorded a triple bagel after conceding just a single game.

However, it’s extremely rare for a player to go untested en route to clinching a Grand Slam title. Although Nadal has proved his mental toughness time and again throughout his career, it’s yet to be seen how he will respond to being pushed in a tight set or even dropping one.

For Thiem, the key will be to avoid having a letdown after scoring his first FedEx ATP Head2Head win in six attempts against Djokovic. After defeating Nadal in Rome, he appeared mentally and physically depleted after returning to the court 24 hours later to face Djokovic and lost 6-1, 6-0.

“I have always played way worse the following day if I beat a top guy,” said Thiem. “I hope I can improve that.”

Roland Garros"> 

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Experience could also play a role in this match. While Nadal is playing in his 25th Grand Slam semi-final, Thiem is only in his second. The Austrian is 0-1 at this juncture, while Nadal sports a dominant 21-3 record.

However, the 23 year old is no longer content with merely making it to the big matches. He said reaching the Roland Garros semi-finals last year was an achievement in itself, but that he’s now confident in his abilities to consistently go deep in majors.

“Everything was a new sensation for me last year. I could only win, basically. I think it was a little bit more difficult this year,” said Thiem. “I wasn't satisfied with the semis last year, but it was still amazing for me. This year, of course I didn't expect it, but I wanted to go deep. It’s a very different mindset.

“It’s a joke how tough it is to win a slam,” he added. “I beat Novak. On Friday, it’s Nadal. In the final, there is another top star. That's why it's a Grand Slam, because winning one is such a tough achievement.”

Go inside the tournament at RolandGarros.com

Most Scenic ATP Challenger Tour Venues

Thu, 06/08/2017 - 1:24pm

If you listen closely, you can hear the crunch of pristinely trimmed blades as players take to the grass courts of the Aegon Surbiton Trophy in suburban London this week. The grass-court season is here, and the fresh smell of carefully groomed lawns is in the air on the ATP Challenger Tour, with three weeks of tennis set to commence in England.

The tournaments in Surbiton, Nottingham and Ilkley provide some of the more quaint and picturesque settings on the circuit, but which Challengers are held in the most scenic, breathtaking locales? We look at the 10 best, presented in alphabetical order by city...

Kunming Challenger (Anning, China)
One of two events in the Asia-Pacific region that feature on our list (see Noumea below), the tournament in Anning is located in the Yunnan region in southern China. With beautiful pastoral views of the surrounding countryside, the Hot Springs Tennis Center is a popular destination for players on the ATP Challenger Tour.

The nearby rolling hills and hot springs embed the venue in a serene setting. Former World No. 8 Janko Tipsarevic claimed the title in the tournament’s sixth edition this year. The $150,000 event is part of a two-week Chinese clay-court swing, which also includes the tournament in Qingdao. 

Internazionali di Tennis di Cortina (Cortina, Italy)
The Alps in central Europe boast some of the most stunning mountain views in the world. Nestled in the Dolomite region in northern Italy is the beautiful ski resort town of Cortina, which hosts a €64,000 event on the ATP Challenger Tour in July. Few photos capture the true beauty of the Tennis Country Club Cortina, which basks in the shadow of the snowcapped peaks surrounding the courts. 

“Cortina is a very beautiful place,” said #NextGenATP star Karen Khachanov. “I like to be in the mountains. I like to ski too and it brings back memories of being with my family in the mountains. It’s a different atmosphere being around nature and that’s why this tournament is so nice.”

Neckarcup (Heilbronn, Germany)
Some of the top Challenger destinations reside in Germany, with multiple ATP Challenger Tournament of the Year winner Braunschweig boasting packed crowds and world-class entertainment, and the indoor hard-court event in Eckental celebrating its 20th edition in 2016.

Tucked in the southwest corner of the country, less than an hour north of Stuttgart, is the sleepy city of Heilbronn. With the river Neckar curling around the downtown district and a vast expanse of vineyards dotting the surrounding region, Heilbronn’s tranquility provides players with a relaxed setting for a tournament.

One of the few remaining clubs on the ATP Challenger Tour to be founded in the 1800s, the TC Heilbronn Trappensee E.V. 1892 has hosted the Neckarcup for the past four years. World No. 10 Alexander Zverev broke into the Top 100 for the first time after lifting the trophy in 2015.

“That was my second Challenger title and I never played another one after that,” said Zverev. “It got me into the Top 100 for the first time, so it was a big step for me. The event is very well run and the organisation really tries to listen to players and improve every year. That’s why players really enjoy coming there. There are two stadium courts as well, which is not common for a Challenger event. And many spectators come out to watch.”

Aegon Ilkley Trophy (Ilkley, U.K.)
The ATP Challenger Tour grass-court season concludes with the Aegon Ilkley Trophy at the 136-year-old Ilkley Lawn Tennis & Squash Club. Arguably one of the most picturesque venues on the Challenger circuit, the tournament is nestled adjacent to the idyllic Ilkley Moor, Cow & Calf Rocks and River Wharfe. With the rocks perched atop the moor, the expanse is 402 m (1,319 ft) above sea level and overlooks the town and surrounding countryside.

"It's pretty amazing in Ilkley," said 2015 champion Denis Kudla. "There are lots of fans here supporting the tournament and the players. It has the environment that players love."

Tennis Championships of Maui (Maui, Hawaii, U.S.A.)
Located steps from the Pacific Ocean on the Hawaiian island of Maui, the Royal Lahaina Resort is home to one of the player and fan favourite events on the ATP Challenger Tour. Mammoth waves crash on the adjacent shoreline as players hit the court for the $75,000 hard-court tournament. Held during the second week of the Australian Open in late January, its spot on the calendar is just as ideal as its breathtaking location.

“Maui is definitely a beautiful place,” said 2015 champion Jared Donaldson. “The scenery is great and the beach is awesome. You get to see the whales off the shore and I think it’s their mating time of year. That was my first Challenger title, so I got a lot of confidence from that event and have great memories.”

“I’ll be honest, it’s tough to focus on the tournament when you have the beach right there,” added fellow American Taylor Fritz. “And the resort is great. There’s nothing stopping you from going to the beach and relaxing all day. It’s just an amazing setting to have a tennis tournament.”

Monterrey Open (Monterrey, Mexico)
The Monterrey Open – a $100,000 event on the ATP Challenger Tour – made a strong introduction to the circuit with its award-winning inaugural edition in 2015. The co-Challenger of the Year, it is held at the base of a vast mountain range extending from the United States to Central America. With 3,700 m peaks towering over the Deportivo Alpino Chipinque, it provides one of the more picturesque Challenger locales and contributes to the tournament’s intimate atmosphere.

“The venue is beautiful. It’s a great Challenger that I would recommend to anyone coming out to Monterrey,” said former World No. 8 Mark Philippoussis, who competed at the concurrent ATP Champions Tour event. “The players are well taken care of and the people here are incredibly hospitable. They make you feel like you’re at home.” 

Challenger BNP Paribas (Noumea, New Caledonia)
Travel to Maui and Noumea and you’ll be plunged into arguably two of the most stunning beach settings to host a sporting event of any kind. The capital of an island collectivity of France called New Caledonia, located off the east coast of Australia, Noumea is home to a hard-court event during the first week of the year. A short saunter from the Coral Sea in the South Pacific, the Ligue de Tennis du Ouen-Toro boasts breathtaking, unobstructed ocean views. Frenchman Gilles Simon is its most accomplished champion, going back-to-back in 2005-06 en route to ascending to No. 6 in the Emirates ATP Rankings. 

Tilia Slovenia Open (Portoroz, Slovenia)
The Croatia Open Umag is known as one of the hidden gems on the ATP World Tour, with its tennis complex located directly on the Adriatic Sea and the beach just steps away. Hop in your car and drive 30 minutes north of the city, crossing the Croatia-Slovenia border, and you will arrive in Portoroz, home of the Tilia Slovenia Open. With sea views that rival its ATP World Tour neighbor, the Sports-Recreation Center Marina Portoroz is also nestled along the Adriatic. It is home to 13 clay courts as well as two indoor and five outdoor hard courts, including a multipurpose stadium that seats 1,600 fans. #NextGenATP Russian Daniil Medvedev reached his first Challenger final there last year.

Movistar Open by Cachantun (Santiago, Chile)
Held in late October at the Club de Polo y Equitacion San Cristobal, the clay-court event in Santiago, Chile, is one of the premier Challengers on South American soil. Led by Catalina Fillol, daughter of former World No. 14 Jaime Fillol Sr., the event’s hospitality is just as impressive as the stunning peaks that blanket the region.

The Chilean capital is located on the southern edge of the Andes Mountains and provides players and fans with a jaw-dropping setting for a tournament. Founded in 1947, the historic club is now home to 20 tennis courts, including 19 under the lights, on its sprawling 60-hectare (148-acre) property.

"The venue is pretty amazing,” said Norwegian teen Casper Ruud, who reached the quarter-finals last year. “The weather was a little cold but it's a beautiful club, a beautiful city and a beautiful country. The centre court is awesome and surrounded by the Andes Mountains."

Wells Fargo Tiburon Challenger (Tiburon, California, U.S.A.)
The sprawling wine country of Northern California welcomes the ATP Challenger Tour in late September to early October, kicked off by the $100,000 event in Tiburon. Located minutes from the Golden Gate Bridge and downtown San Francisco, the Tiburon Peninsula Club is steps from a popular marina, which shuttles locals and tourists throughout the San Francisco Bay. During last year’s tournament, players enjoyed a cruise on a club member’s private boat.

Celebrating its 11th edition in 2017, the event has featured multiple future Top 20 stars, including 2011 champion Ivo Karlovic, 2012 winner Jack Sock and 2014 titlist Sam Querrey. #NextGenATP American Michael Mmoh reached his first ATP Challenger Tour final there last year, finishing runner-up to Darian King.

Learn more about the ATP Challenger Tour and watch free live streaming from all tournaments 

 

Bopanna/Dabrowski Clinch Roland Garros Mixed Doubles Crown

Thu, 06/08/2017 - 11:32am

India’s Rohan Bopanna and Gabriela Dabrowski of Canada saved two championship points on Thursday to capture the Roland Garros mixed doubles title.

Bopanna and Dabrowski recovered from a 7/9 deficit in the Match tie-break to beat Colombia’s Robert Farah and Anna-Lena Grönefeld of Germany 2-6, 6-2, 12-10 in 67 minutes. The team, who also competed at this year’s Australian Open, share €118,000 in prize money.

"It is truly special," said Bopanna. "When you start playing tennis, you want to win a Grand Slam... I think we didn't start off great today, but we kept pushing, kept working hard together, and we finally got through... For me, it was always a personal goal to win a Slam. And it's still sinking in, to be honest."

Farah and Grönefeld broke Dabrowski’s serve three times - in the third and seventh games of the 22-minute first set, then again at 2-1 in the second set. Bopanna and Dabrowski were then able to regroup by winning five straight games, prior to taking a 3/1 lead in the Match tie-break. Farah and Grönefeld let slip a 9/7 advantage, with Grönefeld double faulting on Bopanna and Dabrowski’s second championship point.

When asked how he felt at 7/9, Bopanna admitted, "At that point in time, you just play what you have done in practice and in matches. You don't really try to do anything different. You don't think that it's a match point. You just go play aggressive. I think Gaby came out with a great return on 8/9, when Robert served. She trusted her instinct and hit a great backhand. I think that's what made this match special."

Farah and Grönefeld had previously finished as runners up at Wimbledon last year, losing to Henri Kontinen and Heather Watson 7-6(5), 6-4.

Farah is still alive in the men’s doubles draw with his regular partner, Juan Sebastian Cabal. The No. 16 seeds will play Ryan Harrison and Michael Venus in the semi-finals later today.

Go inside the tournament at RolandGarros.com.

Gustavo Kuerten... Remembering 1997 Roland Garros

Thu, 06/08/2017 - 10:37am

The abiding memory is of a stick-thin figure bedecked top-to-toe in yellow and blue, who unleashed explosive groundstrokes and a monotonous groan, which echoed around Stade Roland Garros, to wear down the best clay-court players the professional circuit had to offer. With each win as Gustavo Kuerten walked off court, came an infectious smile in acknowledgement of his growing legion of followers, to whom he became universally known as ‘Guga’.

“To win Roland Garros was unbelievable,” Kuerten told ATPWorldTour.com, on the 20th anniversary of his win. “It’s become more absurd as the years have passed. Now I know how hard it is to win a Grand Slam, but back then I kept questioning, ‘What is this?’ and ‘How did I win?’ It was simple and fun. In hitting new angles, I became a new player. I saw a new universe as a tennis player. In 1997, it was simple, ‘Oh, let’s win this’. It was only in 2000, with my second triumph, that I began to understand what had happened.

“Life was a new match, one that I couldn’t imagine. Now, 20 years on, it makes me curious about how Mats Wilander [17 at 1982 Roland Garros], Boris Becker [17 at 1985 Wimbledon], Michael Chang [17 at 1989 Roland Garros] and Rafael Nadal [who had recently turned 19 at 2005 Roland Garros] all felt in winning their first major titles at a young age.”

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Kuerten had first visited Paris in 1992 with Larri Passos, his only coach throughout his professional career that ended at Roland Garros in 2008. In finding that tickets had sold out, the carefree spirit entered the grounds at night to hide inside the Court Suzanne Lenglen stadium, only to appear when the first spectators were looking for their seats. Yet by May 1997, he was assured of his place in the third Grand Slam championship of his career as one of only five Latinos – No. 10 Marcelo Rios, No. 53 Marcelo Filippini, No. 64 Hernan Gumy and No. 88 Fernando Meligeni – in the Top 100 of the Emirates ATP Rankings.

For the 20 year old had watched more matches as a fan on his television in Florianopolis, Santa Caterina, an island in southern Brazil, than he had played on the ATP World Tour circuit (45). But a win on Brazilian soil at an ATP Challenger Tour stop in Curitiba boosted his confidence and the five matches had not only helped to improve his consistency, but given World No. 66 Kuerten the conviction that he could produce his best performances. “The spirit was there. I knew if I kept pushing myself something very special would happen,” said Kuerten, who remembers a helicopter flew over the court at the start of the second set, creating a dust storm, during his three-set victory over No. 158-ranked Razvan Sabau in the Curitiba final of May 1997.

Lifting a trophy had effected a positive mental change in his on-court demeanour. “Guga initially had two difficulties,” Passos told ATPWorldTour.com. “His handling of the ball and the way that he defended. He had more issues moving to the right side, his forehand, but in Curibita, and subsequently at Roland Garros, we prepared tactics so that he could play with his backhand, which would become one of the best and deadly shots in the world. When he controlled the game with his backhand, he unsettled his opponents. While he liked to attack, he also had to learn how to defend.”

With renewed drive, strength and energy, Kuerten arrived in Paris with a small suitcase. Expectations were light, despite his recent success. “I came here to win one match,” smiled Kuerten, 20 years on. “I was not trying to win it, but I was trying to improve. As the tournament progressed, I needed to go away from the fantasy of potentially winning, so Larri was always very precise over how he planned my time. I just needed to feel the clay and I got better.”

Sticking with tradition, Kuerten and Passos stayed at the $70 per night, two star Mont Blanc Hotel, near the Porte de Versailles, a 20-minute bus ride to the courts. It was a 15-square metre enterprise, with two rooms and a corridor down the middle that allowed guests to pack their suitcases. Passos had stayed at the hotel since 1990, but it importantly ensured that Kuerten was far from the spotlight.

“I first stayed there as a junior in 1992,” said Kuerten, who won the 1994 Roland Garros junior doubles title with another future Top 10 player Nicolas Lapentti of Ecuador. “We knew everyone from the cleaners to the owners. It was very simple.” Each night, the pair ate pasta at Victoria's Trattoria and by day Passos, per superstition, would wear his favourite shirt to watch his charge progress through the draw. “As I began to win matches the press had a tough time finding the hotel,” said Kuerten. Passos adds, “By irony of fate, our hotel room in 1997 was No. 1.”

Kuerten’s run to the trophy, and his subsequent ascent to No. 1 in the Emirates ATP Rankings four years later in December 2000, was a product of hours on the practice courts. The Brazilian always played with his heart, and he endeared himself to the tennis world by virtue of his personality and the fact that he didn’t hide his emotions.

“At the beginning, it was difficult to believe that he would be such a great tennis player,” admitted Passos, who first started working with a 13-year-old Guga in 1990. “But he was always a boy who loved to train. I had to change his two-handed backhand to a single-hander, then we began to work on the technique and the shape of his game.

“Guga loved what he did and, in addition to all of his technical qualities, he achieved what he did throughout his career as a result of the love he had to play. We worked with a lot of harmony, focus and lived for every moment. We used to have fun, play and laugh a lot. Sometimes we had more fun than we trained, but being on the court was always a very special time.”

At 1997 Roland Garros, Kuerten experienced “two separate weeks”: the realisation that he was performing better than he expected and then the switch in mentality that came as a result of beating Thomas Muster, the fifth-seeded Austrian ironman and 1995 champion, 6-7(3), 6-1, 6-3, 3-6, 6-4 in the third round.

“I’d hit 10 drop shots against Muster, who yelled out in German, ‘What the hell is this? I’m playing my best tennis and this kid is killing me. Who is he? A genius?’ The crowd got involved and Muster was an amazing battler to the end. Then, struggling at 0-3 in the fifth set, at the change of ends, I said, ‘Get me out of here, he’s going to eat me!’ I was close to giving up, but my brother Rafael, sitting in the stands, told me, ‘You’ve come this far, get up and keep fighting.’

“After the Muster win, I had a full press conference in the big room. Before that I’d only spoken to two or three people.” Kuerten’s subsequent two-day victory over Andrei Medvedev, that transported him “to another universe” heralded a quarter-final against Yevgeny Kafelnikov, the third seed and defending champion. The match was broadcast live in Brazil, and saw the arrival of his long-time PR manager, Diana Gabanyi, who would answer “99 per cent of the telephone calls” to the Mont Blanc Hotel – now, 20 years on, a tourist hotspot for Kuerten’s compatriots.

“I thought Kafelnikov was impossible,” said Kuerten. “Even if he didn’t play his best, I couldn’t win.” But he did, 6-2, 5-7, 5-7, 6-0, 6-4, and then the player dubbed by L’Equipe, the French sports newspaper, ‘The Clay Surfer’, felt that he had a real chance. “The intensity of the spotlight changed when I beat Kafelnikov, the favourite to retain his title. It was two separate tournaments from then on. I had great conviction. I knew the trophy was mine.”

By then the tennis world had fallen in love with the frizzy-haired and richly gifted player, a colourful and exciting personality, who sang in the locker room, played the guitar and listened to reggae in his free time. “After beating Kafelnikov in the quarter-finals, we both knew that the title could not escape us by the way he felt the ball,” admitted Passos. “Our conviction was so great that we called Guga’s house and asked the family to build a large gate outside the entrance of his house, because they had to be prepared for the harassment of fans in Brazil."

Having beaten qualifier Filip Dewulf in the semi-finals, “the only match I was the favourite”, red-dirt warrior Sergi Bruguera – who is now Richard Gasquet’s coach – was favoured to add to his 1993 and 1994 triumphs. “Before he went out onto the court,” remembers Passos, “I said to him, ‘Guga you worked hard and did everything right, now go enjoy dessert.’”

Kuerten just smiled, thinking about the path he’d taken. His casual demeanour belied his intensity, and during the title match he showed no sign of nerves in ruthlessly dealing with his Spanish opponent in a 6-3, 6-4, 6-2 triumph over one hour and 50 minutes. It was the 52nd tour-level match of Kuerten’s career, his “best match of the fortnight” and ensured he had become the lowest-ranked Grand Slam champion since Mark Edmondson (No. 212) at the 1976 Australian Open.

While the Brazilian fans broke into the samba as they celebrated their first Grand Slam triumph since Maria Bueno’s victories more than 40 years previous, the gifted newcomer received the trophy from his idol Bjorn Borg and Guillermo Vilas. "I played like I did in practice and I really enjoyed it,” said Kuerten, 20 years on. “In beating Bruguera, I thought to myself, ‘This is my trophy and I deserve it.’ Permitting myself to dream about raising the trophy was crucial for us."

Passos had promised Kuerten’s father Aldo, who had passed away as the result of a heart attack whilst umpiring a match in Curibita when Guga was eight in 1985, that he would one day develop his son’s tennis skills. It had been Passos’ job to take a rough diamond and to polish it, to nurture Guga’s dreams and, ultimately, set new goals that would drive and inspire him for the rest of his career. “When the final was over, we met in the locker room,” recalls Passos. “We went up to the rest rooms. We prayed, we thanked God, and dedicated the title to his father. “We looked at each other and I said to him, ‘Let's continue being the same! Let's not change!’ We then hugged and wept a lot.

“I always say that Guga has a larger heart than his body, and it was with this great heart that Guga won Roland Garros in 1997.”

When one of the ATP World Tour’s most popular champions pops up at tournaments around the world today, as Kuerten will when he presents the trophy to the 2017 Roland Garros champion on Sunday, it is easy to cast your mind back back to the halcyon days of 20 years ago when he received the first of his three Roland Garros trophies (also 2000 and 2001). Simply, because Guga hasn’t changed. He continues to dedicate his life to his family, that was once more affected by tragedy in November 2007 by the loss of his greatest supporter, his brother Guilherme, who suffered from cerebral palsy.

“Tennis helped me value my family, the pieces that they put together for the great moments,” says Kuerten, from his home on the magical island of Florianopolis, in southern Brazil. “It was a huge work effort. I could maintain my values and the way I approach life, because of them. It’s difficult to maintain the same life with money and fame, but life has always been more important to me than tennis or any Grand Slams I have won. Tennis ends and you need to return to normal.”

Today, 20 years on from beating Bruguera to complete an almost spiritual journey to the clay-court title in Paris, Kuerten’s countrymen and women empathise with the boy who came from a simple family and overcame numerous obstacles with just the same attitude as he had when he was a wide-eyed child dreaming of success in sport and life.

“My life was never normal again after 1997 Roland Garros, yet I have tried to preserve and maintain my approach to life,” said Kuerten. “My father was a huge part of my life, my idol and I dedicate my life to him. He really liked to try his best, and he always fought for what he wanted. So I think I got some of this from him. He just wanted his sons - me and my two brothers - to grow up and do well in their lives and have a good reputation."

Guga’s heart permitted him to dream and his tremendous work ethic, which continues to this day through the Instituto Guga Kuerten, allowed him to fulfil his potential. His father would, indeed, be very proud.

Roland Garros">

Behind The Scenes At Geneva 2017

Wed, 06/07/2017 - 8:40pm
ATP World Tour Uncovered presented by Peugeot goes behind the scenes at the Banque Eric Sturdza Geneva Open, where Stan Wawrinka repeated as champion.

Murray Downs Nishikori To Reach SFs

Wed, 06/07/2017 - 5:25pm

Andy Murray will face Stan Wawrinka in a must-see semi-final at Roland Garros after battling past eighth seed Kei Nishikori on Wednesday 2-6, 6-1, 7-6(0), 6-1. The Scot overcame a slow start to reach his fourth consecutive Roland Garros semi-final and come within a match of returning to the Roland Garros final, where fell to Novak Djokovic last year.

Wawrinka advanced by beating Croatian Marin Cilic 6-3, 6-3, 6-1. The semi-final will be a rematch of a last-four match-up last year, in which Murray dismissed the 2015 titlist Wawrinka in four sets. The Scot leads their FedEx ATP Head2Head series 10-7 and has won their past two contests, including a round-robin contest at last year's Nitto ATP Finals in London.

Kyrgios Talks Grosjean Influence Roland Garros 2017

Thu, 06/01/2017 - 12:46pm
Nick Kyrgios talks about the role his new coach, Sebastian Grosjean, brings to the his team at Roland Garros.

Djokovic Reflects On Sousa Win At Roland Garros 2017

Thu, 06/01/2017 - 10:46am
Defending champion Novak Djokovic reflects on his second-round win over Joao Sousa on Wednesday at Roland Garros. Video courtesy Roland Garros.

Nadal Discusses Haase Win At Roland Garros 2017

Thu, 06/01/2017 - 10:31am
Nine-time former champion Rafael Nadal discusses beating Robin Haase on Wednesday and the challenges ahead at Roland Garros. Video courtesy Roland Garros.

Djokovic Tops Sousa In Roland Garros 2017 Highlights

Thu, 06/01/2017 - 8:53am
Watch highlights of defending champion Novak Djokovic versus Joao Sousa on Wednesday at Roland Garros. Video courtesy Roland Garros. Photo: Peter Staples/ATP World Tour