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Updated: 2 weeks 5 days ago

Nadal Looks Forward To Home Support in Madrid 2018

Mon, 05/07/2018 - 11:09am
Watch as Rafael Nadal discusses playing in front of a home crowd and the challenge of adapting to conditions as he chases a record sixth Mutua Madrid Open title. Watch live tennis at tennistv.com.

Raonic Books Dimitrov Clash In Madrid

Mon, 05/07/2018 - 10:48am

Milos Raonic set up a second-round meeting with third seed Grigor Dimitrov on Monday, defeating Argentina’s Nicolas Kicker 6-3, 6-2 at the Mutua Madrid Open.

The two-time quarter-finalist (2015, 2016) took just 74 minutes to secure victory, hitting 17 aces to beat the Madrid debutant. Raonic has now won 10 matches on the ATP World Tour this season, highlighted by strong showings at the opening ATP World Tour Masters 1000 events of the season in Indian Wells and Miami. The Canadian reached the semi-finals in California and the quarter-finals in Florida before losing to Juan Martin del Potro on both occasions.

The World No. 24 secured the only break of the first set in the fourth game of the match and took a one-set lead after converting his sixth set point. The 27-year-old once again earned an early break in the second set and raced to victory, dropping just one point on serve throughout the set to advance to a fifth meeting with World No. 4 Dimitrov.

Raonic trails Dimitrov 1-3 in their FedEx ATP Head2Head series, having lost three consecutive matches to the Bulgarian in Australia since his sole victory at the Intrum Stockholm Open in 2011.

Damir Dzumhur also booked his place in the second round, beating France’s Julien Benneteau 6-4, 6-2. The World No. 32 won 79 per cent of points behind his first serve, breaking the 36-year-old on four occasions to set up a second-round encounter against fourth seed Juan Martin del Potro.

Serbia's Dusan Lajovic needed exactly one hour to upset Open 13 Provence champion Karen Khachanov 6-3, 6-2. The 27-year-old qualifier converted four of his five break-point opportunities and won 79 per cent of first-serve points to reach the second round.

Federico Delbonis required a final-set tie-break to overcome Germany's Mischa Zverev 6-1, 2-6, 7-6(6). The World No. 78 withstood nine aces throughout the first-round meeting which lasted just over two hours, converting his third match point to set a meeting with 2017 finalist Dominic Thiem. Kazakhstan's Mikhail Kukushkin also moved into the second round, beating Ecuador Open champion Roberto Carballes Baena 6-3, 6-2.

Did You Know?

Milos Raonic’s best performances at the Mutua Madrid Open came in 2015 and 2016 where he reached the quarter-finals. On both occasions he was eliminated in straight sets by the eventual champion; Andy Murray in 2015 and Novak Djokovic in 2016.

Nadal Leaving Nothing To Chance In Madrid

Mon, 05/07/2018 - 8:59am

Rafael Nadal may be 19 matches (and 46 sets) unbeaten on his favourite surface, but even one of the sport’s greatest icons isn’t leaving anything to chance in his preparations for the Mutua Madrid Open, where he is a five-time champion.

“I think that I go through a process of adaptation,” said Nadal on Monday. “I have played a couple of tournaments before where I have played really well. In Monte-Carlo and Barcelona, you have the feeling that you are in control of the situation. Here, it's different. It takes you time to adapt to how the ball bounces and flies.

“Day by day I keep improving. I have better feelings. I'm happy to be back here. It's always special to play at home. It's a very, very special moment, a very special occasion for me to be able to play here.”

The 31-year-old superstar, who has sunk his teeth into five titles from nine Mutua Madrid Open finals, arrived early in the Spanish capital to acclimatise in training sessions with Dominic Thiem, who he beat in last year’s championship match, Grigor Dimitrov and Guillermo Garcia-Lopez.

Nadal has already picked up 11th titles at both the Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters (d. Nishikori) and the Barcelona Open Banc Sabadell (d. Tsitsipas), where he also passed 400 match wins on clay courts. With a 401-35 lifetime record on the surface (.920), according to the FedEx ATP Performance Zone, the best winning percentage of any player in ATP World Tour history, Nadal remains humble of his achievements.

“I don't think that I am superior to the other players [on clay],” said Nadal. “Maybe some tournaments have been better than others, but that doesn't guarantee that in the future I'm going to be better than my opponents.

“I'm very happy for all the things that have happened… I'm not worried about being the favourite player or not. I try to do things the best possible way, to be in shape. When I'm able to do this, well, it's all fine. The day I'm not going to be worried about my shape or about my tennis, that will be the day when I won't be successful any more.

“I just have to be ready in every single moment [and] be patient. That's what I've done. I've always been very respectful of my opponents because each day it's completely different when you go out there and play on a tennis court. You have to bear in mind that you can either win or lose.”

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In the 10th year of play at the Caja Magica, the 31-year-old will be hoping to draw inspiration from the fantastic atmosphere in his first match against France’s Gael Monfils or Nikoloz Basilashvili of Georgia.

“The crowd is always great. Every year that I’ve played here, I play with the full court with the crowd supporting. The crowd here is special… We had a great event in indoor, [conditions] too, before. But, at the same time, this event is even bigger than what used to be in indoor. The tournament is a great event and hopefully will stay here for a long time.”

Dimitrov Relives Djokovic Win In Madrid

Mon, 05/07/2018 - 8:07am
Watch as Grigor Dimitrov shares his thoughts on his surprise victory over Novak Djokovic at the 2013 Mutua Madrid Open. Watch live tennis at tennistv.com.

Paire Ousts Pouille In Madrid Opener

Mon, 05/07/2018 - 7:49am

Benoit Paire struck 39 winners on Monday to beat fellow Frenchman Lucas Pouille 6-2, 6-3 for a place in the Mutua Madrid Open second round.

The World No. 50, who will next play #NextGenATP Canadian Denis Shapovalov, beat No. 15 seed Pouille for the first time in their fourth FedEx ATP Head2Head meeting over 79 minutes. Pouille beat Paire en route to his fifth ATP World Tour title at the Open Sud de France in February, but is now winless in three clay-court matches.

Paire broke serve in the sixth game, then later converted his fourth set point chance with a backhand winner down the line. He took a 3-0 lead in the second set, but was broken for the first time when an over rule call went in Pouille’s favour in the fifth game. Paire was gifted a 5-3 advantage when Pouille struck a backhand long, then, in the next game, on his second match point opportunity hit a forehand winner.

Argentina’s Diego Schwartzman, the No. 13 seed, improved to 11-4 on red dirt this year by winning 21 of 22 first-serve points for a 6-1, 6-3 victory over Adrian Mannarino of France. He awaits the Spanish winner of wild card Pablo Andujar, the recent Grand Prix Hassan II champion on the road back from injury, or Feliciano Lopez, who will begin his role at Tournament Director of the ATP World Tour Masters 1000 tournament in 2019.

Also later today, Frenchman Gael Monfils takes on Nikoloz Basilashvili for a second-round test against World No. 1 and five-time titlist Rafael Nadal.

ATP Rankings Movers: Sousa Returns To Top 50 With Home Title

Mon, 05/07/2018 - 5:08am

No. 48 Joao Sousa, +20
It had long been a dream of Joao Sousa's: become the first Portugese-born player to win an ATP World Tour title on home soil. And with the crowd's help on Sunday, Sousa achieved the milestone to win his third ATP World Tour title and first since 2015 Valencia.

He also climbed closer to his career-high ATP Ranking of No. 28, which he reached in May 2016. The right-hander jumped 20 spots to No. 48 and could come close this season to breaking the Top 30 again. Before Estoril, Sousa had reached a semi-final (Marrakech) and beaten two Top 10 players at ATP World Tour Masters 1000 tournaments (No. 9 Goffin, Miami; No. 5 Zverev, Indian Wells).

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No. 28 Philipp Kohlschreiber, +6
The 34-year-old German veteran climbed back into the Top 30 of the ATP Rankings by reaching the final of the BMW Open by FWU in Munich. Kohlschreiber hadn't dropped a set before falling to Alexander Zverev, who retained his Munich crown. It was Kohlschreiber's first final of the season.

No. 40 Stefanos Tsitsipas, +4
In Estoril, the #NextGenATP Greek continued his accelerated pace on the red dirt by making the semi-finals (l. to Sousa) and setting a new career-high in the ATP Rankings. It marked the second consecutive week that the 19-year-old had reached a semi-final and beaten a Top 10 player (d. No. 8 Anderson). In Barcelona, Tsitsipas swept No. 7 Dominic Thiem in the quarter-finals before falling to No. 1 Rafael Nadal in the final.

Tsitsipas currently leads the ATP Race To Milan, which will determine seven of the eight players who compete at the 21-and-under Next Gen ATP Finals, to be held 6-10 November in Milan.

No. 56 Frances Tiafoe, +8
The #NextGenATP American, like Tsitsipas, is having the breakout season of his career. Two months after winning his maiden ATP World Tour title in Delray Beach, Tiafoe made his second tour-level final in Estoril (l. to Sousa). Next for Tiafoe, who matched his career-high of No. 56: cracking the Top 50. The right-hander is currently in second place in the ATP Race To Milan.

See Who's Trailing Tsitsipas, Tiafoe In The ATP Race To Milan

No. 82 Taro Daniel, +32
The Japanese right-hander hadn't reached a semi-final before last week in Istanbul, but on Sunday evening, he was celebrating his maiden ATP World Tour title and a new career-high ATP Ranking after beating Malek Jaziri to win the TEB BNP Paribas Istanbul Open.

Daniel, who won four tour-level matches in all of 2017, won five matches in a row in Istanbul, knocking out Italian Matteo Berrettini, Aljaz Bedene of Slovakia, Brazil's Rogerio Dutra Silva and French veteran Jeremy Chardy before beating Jaziri, who was also competing in his first ATP World Tour final.

Djokovic: Match Against Nishikori 'Could Have Gone Either Way'

Mon, 05/07/2018 - 3:17am
Watch as Novak Djokovic discusses his 7-5, 6-4 victory over Kei Nishikori in the first-round of the Mutua Madrid Open.

Highlights: Zverev Shines, Retains Title In Munich 2018

Mon, 05/07/2018 - 1:42am
Watch highlights as Alexander Zverev retains his trophy in Munich with a victory against compatriot Philipp Kohlschreiber. Photo Credit: Alexander Hassenstein/Getty Images for BMW.

He's Got Seoul: McDonald Rallies For Second Title

Mon, 05/07/2018 - 1:17am
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A LOOK BACK
Vitro Seoul Open Challenger (Seoul, Korea): Mackenzie McDonald has found his groove as we enter the month of May. The American returned to the winners' circle with an impressive performance on the hard courts of Seoul, capped by a 1-6, 6-4, 6-1 comeback victory over Jordan Thompson in Sunday's final. 

McDonald lifted his second ATP Challenger Tour crown and first since October, when he prevailed at home in Fairfield, USA. This time, however, the California native found his top gear more than 5,000 miles away from home to take the title at the $100,000 event. Most importantly, he jumps 32 spots in the ATP Rankings to a career-high No. 114.

"I'm thrilled about my win," said McDonald. "This is my first time in Asia and I'm happy I could start it off on a good note. The conditions were tough this week with the weather and getting acclimated, but I'm happy with how I competed and battled throughout the tournament."

First title of 2018. Congrats @mackiemacster!

The

Savannah Challenger Celebrates 10th Anniversary

Mon, 05/07/2018 - 1:14am
A staple on the ATP Challenger Tour in the United States, Savannah continues to make a great impression in its 10th season.

Challenger Q&A: Dominant Dellien Takes Savannah Crown

Sun, 05/06/2018 - 10:03pm

Two weeks ago, Hugo Dellien ended the drought for Bolivian tennis, claiming his nation's first ATP Challenger Tour title since 1983. But the 24-year-old was far from satisfied with lifting just one trophy, so he added a second. 

On Sunday, Dellien capped a dominant three-week stretch with a triumph on the clay of the St. Joseph's/Candler Savannah Challenger, overcoming Christian Harrison 6-1, 1-6, 6-4 in the final. After waiting nearly 35 years for a title, Bolivia now has two in three weeks, as Dellien added to his win in Sarasota with a hard-fought victory on the clay of Savannah.

Entering Sarasota, Dellien was sitting at No. 231 in the ATP Rankings. Now, thanks to the pair of titles and a semi-final finish in Tallahassee, he has soared more than 100 spots to a career-high No. 129. His 13-1 record over the three-week span has already given him more Challenger match wins in 2018 than he had in the past three years combined.

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Moreover, the title came perilously close to never happening for Dellien, as the Bolivian was forced to save four match points in a quarter-final win over Guilherme Clezar. He reeled off six straight points from 2/6 down in a deciding tie-break. And the next day he battled from the brink once again, as Michael Mmoh served for the match in the second set of their semi-final encounter. In total, three of his five wins in Savannah featured comebacks from a set down.

Congrats Hugo. How does it feel to win in Savannah?
The truth is that I'm really happy to win both these titles, because I wasn't expecting it. Last year I had a surgery, but my work during the off-season was very good and I think that was essential for winning these tournaments.

How big is it to win a second tournament for your country?
It's very special. It has been a long time since Bolivia has had good tennis players. I think I'm raising the expectations and emotions in my country. It's a little bit of pressure, but I'm enjoying it.

After you dropped the second set 6-1, you fell behind an early break in the third. How did you turn it around?
I was very tired. I have been playing many matches these weeks and physically it was very demanding. But I had a lot of heart and I knew that there were a lot of people coming to see me and cheer for me. I needed to win for them. I think that was the key.

The Biofile: Taro Daniel

Sun, 05/06/2018 - 8:29pm

Before his maiden ATP World Tour title in Istanbul on Sunday, Japan's Taro Daniel hadn't reached a tour-level semi-final, let alone leave a tournament with the biggest trophy.

But at the TEB BNP Paribas Istanbul Open, the 25-year-old won five matches in a row to claim the ATP World Tour 250-level tournament. In doing so, Daniel jumped 32 spots in the ATP Rankings to a career-high of No. 82.

Earlier this year at the Miami Open, he spoke with Scoop Malinowski about his career highlights, the traveling life of a tennis player and which quality he admires most in people.

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First Tennis Memory: My parents used to be members of a tennis club in Japan. They had clay courts. I started playing there. It’s probably why I play the way I do.

Tennis Inspirations: Federer

Last Book Read: I think I read McEnroe’s autobiography.

First Famous Player You Met Or Encountered: David Ferrer. I used to practise in Valenica. And he used to practise at the same place. So I was able to practise with him and meet him.

Greatest Career Moment: It’s either Olympics or when I beat Djokovic in Indian Wells.

Read & Watch: Daniel Downs Djokovic In Indian Wells

Most Painful Moment: Many weeks [chuckles]. Thirty weeks of the year are very painful [smiles].

Favourite Movies: Woody Allen movies.

Musical Tastes: Led Zeppelin.

Favourite Tournaments: Indian Wells, US Open, it just depends. If you win, it’s a great tournament. If you don’t, it’s not, so it’s hard to choose.

Closest Tennis Friends: JP [John-Patrick] Smith, James McGee, Kei Nishikori, all the Japanese guys.

Funniest Players Encountered: Fognini is pretty funny. He’s a joker for sure.

Favourite Sport Outside Tennis: I don’t follow any sports but I like playing table tennis. I’m pretty good at it.

Three Athletes You Like To Watch & Follow: Michael Jordan but he’s already done. Marshawn Lynch, that’s like the only American football player I like. What else? … Cristiano Ronaldo.

Read More: Daniel's First-Time Winner Spotlight

Funny Tennis Memory: I can laugh about it now. I had a car accident in China when I was riding a taxi on the way to the airport. And I almost missed my flight. That was pretty funny when I think about it now.

Best I Ever Felt On Court: The best I ever played was maybe half of the match against Nadal in the US Open in September when I was a set and a break up.

Favourite Ice Cream Flavour: It’s quality, not the flavour [chuckles].

Why Do You Love Playing Tennis: It’s the only thing I’ve known. I can’t explain why. I guess if I see it from a farther perspective, it’s a very unique career to have. You’re traveling around the world almost every week, playing tournaments and you’re fit. Seemingly living a nice life. So it’s tough, but it’s also rewarding.

People Qualities Most Admired: I like people who are truthful. They’re not afraid to say what they believe in without being disrespectful. That balance is very important I think.

Scoop’s books Facing Sampras, Facing Federer, Facing McEnroe, Facing Nadal, Facing Hewitt and Marcelo Rios: The Man We Barely Knew are available at Amazon.

First-Time Winner Spotlight: Taro Daniel

Sun, 05/06/2018 - 5:35pm

Taro Daniel arrived at the TEB BNP Paribas Istanbul Open having never advanced to an ATP World Tour semi-final. The Japanese right-hander was on the verge of falling short again, trailing 0-4 in the deciding set of his quarter-final. But after an impressive performance Sunday against fellow first-time tour-level finalist Malek Jaziri, Daniel raised his first ATP World Tour trophy. 

Daniel spoke to ATPWorldTour.com after the match about what the victory means to him, how he approached the moment and more.

How does it feel to be holding your first ATP World Tour trophy?
Obviously I’m very happy. But I’m very surprised, mostly. I lost in the first round of a Challenger two weeks ago, so winning an ATP World Tour event is amazing.

Was your goal growing up always to one day win an ATP World Tour trophy?
It’s something I always dreamt of, but I was never the kind of guy to say, ‘Oh, it would be so good to win something’. I just always trusted the process. It’s been a really fun road.

It was the first final for both of you today. What was your mindset and approach and how did you feel when you walked on the court?
I think we were both nervous because it was a great opportunity for us to win our first ATP [World Tour title]. Maybe he was more nervous — he had more to lose than me. I kept telling myself that, because I was nervous. But if he was more nervous, then I could be a little bit more relaxed.

Can you talk about your road to the final? You came down from a break in the third set twice in the semi-finals against Jeremy Chardy and then you also came back in the quarter-finals against Rogerio Dutra Silva.
When I won the first match here against [Matteo] Berrettini, I felt very good. It was a good match, and I felt like I could do something decent here. And then I beat [Aljaz] Bedene really well. I played extremely well in that match and then I had faith to win. I beat Dutra Silva and Chardy in very tough matches, a little bit lucky because I was down in both matches in the third set. But then when you win those, you think anything can happen.

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What did you do best this week? Was it that you came down in matches that you almost lost?
Coming into this tournament was very chaotic because I actually went to Estoril to play qualies and then I ended up coming here at the last minute, so I didn’t have much time to think about anything. That made me play a little bit looser and without much to lose.

You came into the tournament at a season-low in the ATP Rankings and on Monday you’ll crack your career-best, reaching No. 82. Can you talk about that ranking improvement?
I
’ve been in the Top 100 or 110 the past two and a half years or maybe even three years. So it’s great to finally have a career-high again. When you think about winning an ATP event, I thought I was going to jump a little bit higher. But these 250 points are going to allow me to be patient for results again.

Now that you have reached a new career-high ATP Ranking, do you have any new ranking goals for this season?
It would be great to break into the Top 80, which is something I’ve never done. We’ll see. I never play well when I think about what I want to achieve in terms of rankings or results, so I just want to keep concentrate on my process of improving.

Is there anyone you want to thank for helping you to this moment in your career?
My parents, especially my Dad because he’s the one who got me into tennis. He’s always been there. He never pressured me like maybe some of the other parents, so I’m very thankful for that. And obviously all the coaches that I’ve encountered, but especially the ones now that I’m working with in the Japanese federation.

Del Potro Eyes More Masters Success In Madrid

Sun, 05/06/2018 - 4:51pm
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As dominant as Rafael Nadal has been during the European clay-court swing, he is not the only player in red-hot form at this week's Mutua Madrid Open.

The Spaniard has some company among favourites to lift the trophy at the clay-court ATP World Tour Masters 1000 event. Despite making his first appearance on the dirt this year, Juan Martin del Potro poses a significant threat at the Caja Mágica.

Just six weeks removed from capturing his maiden Masters 1000 crown at the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells, Del Potro is eyeing even more success at the elite level. And having won 15 of his past 16 matches entering the week, the Argentine is undoubtedly one to watch in the Spanish capital.

"I'm happy to be able to come back to Madrid after a few years," said Del Potro. "The tournament each year is improving. I have a really nice time here when I come to Madrid. It's a really tough tournament with really good players, especially one player who is above all of the others. I'm talking about Rafa.

"I want to do great. I'm trying to get through the first few rounds. It's going to be a tough clay tournament. I think that maybe at the beginning it's going to be a little bit difficult for me, but I also think it's going to be something positive looking towards Roland Garros."

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Del Potro is back in Madrid after making just one tournament appearance since 2012. The Argentine will be buoyed by confidence gained from his stellar stretch in Indian Wells and Miami, as he looks to build on his return to the Top 10 of the ATP Rankings.

And despite hard courts being his preferred surface, Del Potro enters the clay-court season with great success on the dirt. Among active players, he owns the seventh-highest win percentage (.713) in the FedEx ATP Performance Zone, boasting a 72-29 record. He has enjoyed past success in Madrid as well, with  semi-final finishes in both 2009 and 2012.

"The last few weeks were great to me. I was at home for a while, spending good time with friends and family. Also training to be ready for these tournaments. We decided to come here maybe a couple of weeks ago when I got good feelings on the clay courts.

"Physically you must be 100 per cent all the time. Playing on clay, you have to hit the ball harder to win the point. Maybe you have to play more than two, three hours a match. It's not easy for my game or for my body, too, after all my injuries to play on clay.

"But I'm excited to see how good I am in these tournaments... I'm still thinking it's a good opportunity for me to keep going up in the [ATP Rankings] and keep doing well. But I know how tough this tournament is for me. I'm happy to be back in Madrid after a long time."

Seeded fourth, Del Potro will open against either Julien Benneteau or Damir Dzumhur in the second round. Fellow seeds Kevin Anderson and Roberto Bautista Agut loom large in his quarter of the draw, with five-time champion Nadal a potential semi-final opponent. 

Del Potro is also in the doubles draw, teaming with Dominic Thiem. They will face Pablo Cuevas and Marcel Granollers in the first round, with top seeds Lukasz Kubot and Marcelo Melo awaiting the winners. 

"We have a good relationship. For us, it's a good chance to play doubles before our singles. We never played together, so we will see what happens. I think it is going to be fun for us. 

"I like to play here in Madrid. Here the conditions are good. We have altitude. The ball goes fast. The server has chances to win here because of these conditions. So it could be a good opportunity for me."

Federer To Return In Stuttgart

Wed, 05/02/2018 - 11:13am

Roger Federer announced on Wednesday that he will return to ATP World Tour action at the Mercedes Cup, held 11-17 June.

The 36-year-old will appear in Stuttgart for the third time in his career, after falling in the first round in 2017 (l. to Haas) and reaching the semi-finals in 2016 (l. to Thiem). Federer won two titles on grass in 2017 (Halle, Wimbledon) and will be bidding for an 18th title on the surface in Stuttgart, which will mark the beginning of his grass-court schedule leading towards The Championships at Wimbledon.

Federer shared the news with more than 15 million fans on Facebook on Wednesday morning. “Excited to announce that I will be coming back to Germany for the Mercedes Cup in June,” said Federer. “Looking forward to seeing you at the grass courts in Stuttgart!”

The Swiss star holds a 164-24 FedEx ATP Win/Loss Record on grass, winning 87.2 per cent of matches on the surface. Federer will be joined in Stuttgart by defending champion Lucas Pouille, Australia’s Nick Kyrgios, 2016 Wimbledon finalist Milos Raonic and reigning Next Gen ATP Finals champion Hyeon Chung.

Following on from Stuttgart, Federer will travel to Halle in search of a record 10th title at the Gerry Weber Open, having triumphed for a ninth time at the event in 2017 (d. Zverev).

Edmund Books Spot In Estoril QFs

Wed, 05/02/2018 - 11:09am

Kyle Edmund booked his place in a fourth tour-level quarter-final of the year on Wednesday at the Millennium Estoril Open. The third-seeded Briton proved to be too strong for 19-year-old Australian wild card Alex de Minaur 6-2, 7-5 in one hour and 37 minutes.

De Minaur worked his way back from a 2-4 deficit in the second set, but had his serve broken in the 11th game when he hit a backhand slice wide at 15/40. Edmund calmly closed out to love for his 12th match win of 2018, which includes a runner-up finish at the Grand Prix Hassan II (l. to Andujar) and an Australian Open semi-final exit (l. to Cilic).

He awaits the winner of an all-Portuguese clash between Joao Sousa and wild card Pedro Sousa.

Later today, fourth seed and last year's runner-up Gilles Muller faces #NextGenATP American Frances Tiafoe, and Argentina's Federico Delbonis challenges qualifier Simone Bolelli of Italy.

Djere Upsets Seppi; Seeds Fall In Istanbul

Wed, 05/02/2018 - 9:23am

Serbia’s Laslo Djere reached the BMW Open by FWU quarter-finals for the second successive year on Wednesday, defeating third-seeded Andreas Seppi 6-3, 6-7(4), 6-3 in two hours and 16 minutes.

Djere trailed by two breaks of serve in the first set, before securing six straight games to take a one-set lead. The Italian levelled the match, winning a tight second set, but Djere regained control with a crucial break of serve in the eighth game of the decider. The World No. 110 entered Istanbul on a 10-match losing streak, with his last win coming in the opening week of the season at the Tata Open Maharashtra against Marius Copil.

Djere will meet qualifier Marco Trungelliti or fifth seed Paolo Lorenzi for a place in the semi-finals.

Like Seppi, fourth seed Aljaz Bedene also crashed out at the second-round stage after reaching the semi-finals in Budapest last week.

Japan’s Taro Daniel dropped just four games to beat the Bedene 6-2, 6-2. The 25-year-old broke his Slovenian opponent on four occasions, winning 68 per cent of second-serve return points throughout the 80-minute contest. Daniel progresses to the quarter-finals where he will meet Rogerio Dutra Silva. The Brazilian stunned sixth seed Viktor Troicki 6-2, 6-3.

Did You Know?
Andreas Seppi and Aljaz Bedene both reached the Gazprom Hungarian Open semi-finals last week. Seppi and Bedene both led by a set in their semi-final encounters before losing in three sets to eventual champion Marco Cecchinato and Australia’s John Millman respectively.

Wedding Bells Fuel Defending Champ Cilic In Istanbul

Tue, 05/01/2018 - 6:25pm

Marin Cilic makes his return to the TEB BNP Paribas Istanbul Open this week with fond memories to fuel his campaign, not least from having won the title in 2017 as a wild card. It marks the 29-year-old’s first tournament as a married man.

It was only last weekend the Croatian wed his long-time girlfriend Kristina Milkovic in a ceremony in Dubrovnik. Now he sets about re-igniting his season at the same tournament which kick-started an impressive 2017.

“It was not easy to find a date [for the wedding],” Cilic said. “I said after the wedding, 'OK I’m going to Istanbul, I’m going to go on my own.' She said, 'You can’t go alone for the first week [of married life].' So she was coming. 

“[Kristina] is always great support, standing by my side. That is something that has given me a lot of strength and inner peace. So for here, we’ll see… whether I’ll have more strength, more motivation, hopefully yes.”

After reaching the Australian Open final in January, where he fell to Roger Federer in five sets, Cilic rose to a career-high No. 3 in the ATP Rankings. The Croatian has made no secret of it since he holds high hopes of ascending to the top.

“Yes, my ultimate goal is to reach No. 1,” Cilic said. “I feel at the moment I’m in a great position. I started the year with a nicely played final at the Australian Open, played the final at Wimbledon last year, also. This gives me the confidence that I know I have those abilities to be in the Top 5 in the world. That’s the goal for this year, to stay in the Top 5 and, also, to win another Grand Slam. 

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“I know that it’s also very challenging. The competition is very strong, and also very demanding. It’s not easy to keep your focus, your level of play for every single tournament. Roger and Rafa are showing they are playing to win every single tournament. I’m working for that every single day and hopefully I’ll make it.”

Cilic is back in Istanbul as the top seed. He did not drop a set on his way to the title last season, with victories over this year’s No. 2 seed Damir Dzumhur, last year’s top seed Milos Raonic and 2016 champion Diego Schwartzman. Victory ensured he had won an ATP World Tour title for 10 straight seasons. He opens his 2018 campaign against Tunisian Malek Jaziri on Thursday.

“If we go back this time last year, Istanbul was [the start of] my great form that I built up at the French Open [Roland Garros] and later to Wimbledon,” Cilic said. “Even though clay and grass are very different, if you are playing well on clay it gives you that good confidence for Wimbledon and for grass tennis. So that’s also one of my goals this year, to keep that good form, to try to play well here and to continue to have good tournaments until the French Open and beyond.” 

Highlights: Hewitt Makes Successful Return In Doubles, Advances At Estoril

Tue, 05/01/2018 - 4:41pm
Watch highlights as Lleyton Hewitt returns to join forces with fellow Australian Alex de Minaur to eliminate Raven Klaasen and Michael Venus at the Millennium Estoril Open on Tuesday. In a battle between qualifiers, Simone Bolelli emerges victorious against home favourite Joao Domingues, while Joao Sousa and Stefanos Tsitsipas also secure wins. Video courtesy of Millennium Estoril Open.

Cecchinato Converts On Match Point To Oust Fognini

Tue, 05/01/2018 - 2:57pm
Watch as Marco Cecchinato serves out the match to complete his comeback from a set down against Fabio Fognini in the first round at the BMW Open by FWU on Tuesday.