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Attendance for last week’s $125,000 event in Caltanissetta was among the highest this year on the ATP Challenger Tour, with more than 2,000 fans coming to watch the all-Italian final between Paolo Lorenzi and Matteo Donati.
The tournament concluded its 18th consecutive year and has become an annual staple in the small Sicilian town. Full crowds turned up each day and had plenty of local players to support, with 10 Italians competing in the main draw this year.
“They start matches late in the day so a lot of fans can come out and watch the matches,” explained American Bjorn Fratangelo, last year’s runner-up. “The tournament is great. The club is very nice and the centre court overlooks a valley. It's in the countryside and a small town, so the people really appreciate the tennis.”
Part of the tournament’s appeal is the scenic beauty that can be viewed throughout the site. The town lies in an area of rolling hills with small towns and villages, with one of the three hills that surrounds the ancient city visible from center court.
It’s one of the reasons why this year’s champion, top seed and local favourite Paolo Lorenzi, keeps coming back. He made his third career appearance this year in Caltanissetta, but assured it wouldn’t be his last.
"I think that Caltanissetta is great," said Lorenzi. "This tournament was fantastic and full of people and the organization was great. I'm sure that I will come back here."
How's this for a close ending?
The brothers saved five match points in the Match Tie-break and sealed the contest on their fifth opportunity. They'll next face third seeds Raven Klaasen of South Africa and American Rajeev Ram, who beat Julian Knowle and Florian Mayer 6-3, 6-7(5), 10-6.
Lukasz Kubot of Poland and Alexander Peya of Austria also saved some match points in their 4-6, 7-6(12), 10-7 win over Philipp Kohlschreiber and Dominic Thiem, who faced each other in Monday's Stuttgart final. Kubot/Peya saved four match points in the second-set tie-break. They'll next face qualifiers Brian Baker and Denis Istomin, who beat Andreas Seppi and Joao Sousa 7-6(8), 6-4.
Leave it to Mike Bryan and Bob Bryan to handle things matter of factly on Tuesday. The top seeds swept David Goffin and Lucas Pouille 6-2, 6-3. They erased all three break points and will face Tomas Berdych and Marcel Granollers in the quarter-finals.
Frenchmen Upset Fourth Seeds In London
Frenchmen Julien Benneteau and Edouard Roger-Vasselin upset fourth seeds Rohan Bopanna and Florin Mergea 3-6, 6-3, 12-10 on Tuesday at the Aegon Championships in London. Benneteau/Roger-Vasselin, who reached the quarter-finals at Roland Garros, will face John Isner and Marcin Matkowski or Marin Cilic and Marin Draganja in the quarter-finals at The Queen's Club.
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Mahut had successfully defended his title in a rain-delayed final on Monday at the Ricoh Open in ‘s-Hertogenbosch (d. Muller). But the Brit used powerful serving, including 15 aces, and clutch play in the match's biggest moments to advance.
“It was a good win. Nicolas is a very good grass-court player, coming off winning an event just yesterday. So he's confident and has played a lot on the grass,” Murray said. “I haven't really hit many balls on the grass the last few days... So to get a win against a player as good as him on grass, [without] loads of preparation, is a good win.”
Murray overcame a break in the first set to force a tie-break and win a tight opener. The first-set point tally: Murray, 43, Mahut, 41. In the second set, Murray rallied from 2-5 down and fought off three set points to force another tie-break. He is now 2-1 against Mahut at The Queen's Club.
Murray, who was rejoined by former coach Ivan Lendl this week, is looking to win his fifth title at The Queen's Club in London, having previously won in (2009, ’11, ’13, ‘15). Only four other players – John McEnroe (1979, ’81, ’83-84), Boris Becker (1985, ’87-88, ’96), Lleyton Hewitt (2000-02, ’06) and Andy Roddick (2003-05, ’07) – also have won five titles.
The World No. 2 will face countryman Aljaz Bedene, who beat Frenchman Benoit Paire 7-6(6), 6-7(7), 6-4. Bedene said he expects a packed crowd for his match against Murray. “I'm just going to try and enjoy it,” Bedene said.
Gilles Muller, who finished runner-up to Mahut in ‘s-Hertogenbosch, opened his campaign with victory over another British player, wild card James Ward. Muller did not face any break points on serve, recording a 6-4, 6-4 win after 63 minutes.
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Aces and double faults. High risk and high reward jump right out at you to begin a point in tennis.
These two specific ways a point can be constructed are best understood when you compare them to each other, because after all, they both end the point before it really gets started.
The ace king of our sport is 6’11” (211cm) Croatian Ivo Karlovic, who has smashed 10,624 aces in just 552 matches. His serve is a massive weapon. He's averaged more aces per match, 23, in the past 52 weeks than any other player. But those free points have come at a price paid for in double faults.
Karlovic has averaged four double faults per match in the past 52 weeks, and while that number may seem high, it’s really the ratio between aces and double faults that best explains overall performance in this key strategic area.
For example, Karlovic averages nearly six aces for every double fault he hits. That’s an outstanding return on investment any way you want to slice it.
In the past 52 weeks, John Isner has averaged fewer aces than Karlovic, with 21 a match. But he has also averaged fewer double faults, about two a match. This all adds up to a very impressive ace/double fault ratio for Isner, about 10 aces per match for every double fault.
ATP #NextGen star Nick Kyrgios is one of the game’s biggest servers, averaging almost 13 aces a match so far in his emerging career. To give that some perspective, that’s a better career average than big-serving icons Andy Roddick (11.6 aces/match), Greg Rusedski (11.0 aces/match) and even Pete Sampras, who averaged 10.6 aces per match.
Kyrgios has averaged about four aces per double fault so far in his career, which is almost the same as former World No. 1 Roger Federer.
The Swiss star averages exactly four aces for every double, with 7.6 aces and only 1.9 double faults per match. Rafael Nadal averages even fewer double faults, at only 1.5 per match, but his ace total reaches only 2.9 per match.
Big-serving Australian Sam Groth has averaged the most double faults in a match in the past 52 weeks at a little more than five per per match. But that elevated total is counter balanced with an average of more than 15 aces per match, delivering a ratio of nearly three aces per double fault.
Other notable players with a very high ratio of aces to double faults in the past 52 weeks are Bernard Tomic (5.2), Marin Cilic (4.8), Viktor Troicki (4.6), Kevin Anderson (4.4) and Milos Raonic (3.8).
At the elite ranking level, the ace-to-double-fault ratio is also a healthy one. Current World No. 1 Novak Djokovic is averaging 3.1 aces per double fault in the past 52 weeks, while World No. 2 Andy Murray is almost identical at exactly three aces per double fault.
Aces and double faults will always to be an integral part of our game. Getting the mix just right is a key component of any winning game plan.
Top 10 Career Best Ace-To-Double-Fault Ratio
For every double fault the below players hit during their careers, they hit the following number of aces:No. Player Ace-To-Double-Fault Ratio 1 John Isner 7.3 2 Ivo Karlovic 6.2 3 Andy Roddick 5.8 4 Milos Raonic 5.0 5 Bernard Tomic 4.8 6 Ivan Ljubicic 4.7 7 Jo-Wilfried Tsonga 4.1 8 Marat Safin 4.0 9 Roger Federer 4.0 10 Nick Kyrgios 3.9
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The 19-year-old German erased five of six break points and was three-for-three in breaking Troicki. “Viktor is a very good grass-court player,” Zverev said. “So I feel pretty good. I’m playing well. I didn’t do a lot of mistakes and served quite well.”
Zverev, No. 38 in the Emirates ATP Rankings, will face countryman Benjamin Becker in the second round in Halle. Zverev, the 2015 ATP Star Of Tomorrow presented by Emirates, won their prior FedEx ATP Head2Head meeting last year on clay in Munich.
In a rematch of the 2007 Halle final, Cypriot Marcos Baghdatis exacted revenge and upset fourth seed Tomas Berdych 7-6(3), 7-6(4). Baghdatis hit 10 aces and zero double faults in his first victory against the Czech since 2010. The 30 year old especially took advantage of Berdych's second serve, winning 21 of Berdych's 31 second-serve points.
“To beat Tomas anywhere, it's a great achievement and I'm happy that I did it today here,” said Baghdatis. “I think I put a lot of pressure on his serve with my returns... I mixed it up, tried to play some slice, tried to keep the ball low, not to let him be aggressive.”
He next will face German wild card Dustin Brown, a 6-3, 7-5 winner over Spaniard Albert Ramos-Vinolas, who was making his first appearance since a career-best quarter-final appearance at Roland Garros. Baghdatis leads Brown 2-0 in their FedEx ATP Head2Head series, including a victory two years ago at Wimbledon.
“I think I can play very well on grass. It suits my game, my style of play,” said Baghdatis, a former Wimbledon semi-finalist.
Malek Jaziri awaits the winner between top seed Roger Federer and German wild card Jan-Lennard Struff, after opening with a 7-5, 6-4 victory over Ricardas Berankis. Meanwhile, Ivo Karlovic struck 26 aces past Andrey Kuznetsov, defeating the Russian 7-6(6), 6-3. He will meet either eighth-seeded German Philipp Kohlschreiber or Spaniard Marcel Granollers in the second round.
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Verdasco won almost 80 per cent of his first-serve points (39/50) and erased all eight break points faced. The 32 year old also broke Wawrinka two times, both in the first set.
“I served well,” Verdasco said. “In general, I felt very good with all of my game... saving the break points that I had.”
Wawrinka, a 2014 semi-finalist in London, had beaten Verdasco the last time they played on grass (Wimbledon 2015). But the World No. 5 couldn't get it going against the left-handed veteran on Tuesday. “Grass court, it's always a challenging surface for my game,” Wawrinka said. “I need quite a lot of practice to play my best game. And I tried today with what I had, but I need more time I think to get my level there.”
Elsewhere, fifth seed and 2012 champion Marin Cilic came from behind to beat 2014 finalist Feliciano Lopez 4-6, 6-3, 6-4. The Croat hit 17 aces and won almost 80 per cent of his first-serve points. “My serve helped me obviously to keep that aggressive game going and going,” Cilic said. “I think it was really good win. Tough opponent for the first round, absolutely.”
Cilic will meet Janko Tipsarevic in the second round after the Serbian fought past 2014 champion Grigor Dimitrov 7-6(6), 4-6, 6-3. It marked Tipsarevic's first singles main draw win on the ATP World Tour since May 2015 in Munich. The former World No. 8 had been sidelined following the US Open and returned from foot and knee injuries this past April.
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See the latest Emirates ATP Rankings as of 14 June 2016.
Infosys ATP Beyond The Numbers analyses aces and double faults on the ATP World Tour.
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I cooked for myself?
I lost something important?
I had a travel drama?
I asked someone famous for an autograph or selfie?
I shared a hotel room with another player?
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