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Seoul Open: American Ahn upsets Maria

Wed, 09/20/2017 - 7:49am
Seoul Open: American Ahn upsets Maria

Muguruza, Pliskova reach Pan Pacific quarters

Wed, 09/20/2017 - 5:45am
Muguruza, Pliskova reach Pan Pacific quarters

Zopp Surging In Comeback Behind 29-2 Run

Tue, 09/19/2017 - 10:05pm

Twenty-nine wins in 31 matches. It’s a run most players could only dream of.

For Jurgen Zopp, the dream has become a reality. The culmination of five years of hard work and dedication, Estonia’s most successful player is thriving once again in his bid to return to the Top 100 of the Emirates ATP Rankings.

Amidst a litany of injury setbacks, including back ailments and an abdominal tear, Zopp struggled to find his footing after reaching a career-high of No. 71 in 2012. Confidence was low and consistent success was hard to find. But that all changed in an instant in July. Hovering just inside the Top 500, Zopp would produce a magical run.

Four consecutive Futures events resulted in three titles and a final finish and he would kick off the month of September with an impressive return to the ATP Challenger Tour, notching his first title in three years in Alphen, Netherlands. With two days of torrential rain testing players’ patience, Zopp claimed seven wins as a qualifier to lift the trophy. He defeated former World No. 5 Tommy Robredo in the final at the Tean International.

“I didn’t even expect to get to the semis,” Zopp said, reflecting on his title run in Alphen. “I just took it match by match. I had a tight first round in the main draw, and then won 7-5 in the third in the second round. It could have gone either way. If somebody had told me I would win that week, I wouldn’t have believed it, but when you keep trying and keep pushing yourself, you might get lucky. I think this is what happened. I have had the level to play with those guys, but many times things don’t come together. This time though it really worked out well.”

In total, the Estonian has amassed a 29-2 record over the past two months, culminating with a run the semi-finals at the prestigious Challenger stop in Szczecin, Poland just last week. Most importantly, his flurry of wins has also yielded a significant boost in the Emirates ATP Rankings, soaring nearing 300 spots to No. 194.

A speechless Zopp attempted to explain his staggering run.

“Five years ago, I got to the Top 100 and then I started struggling with my back injury. I was out seven months, and then I played five months off and on, and then I was out six months again. I was struggling pretty much for one-and-a-half years. Now I’ve been fine for almost three years, but this year I had a little tear on my abdominal.

“In July, I just started winning. To be quite honest, I can’t point my finger at something specific. I went to play a $25k Futures in Germany and I managed to win that week. I think that was the key, to win that first week.”

As the wins continue to pile up, Zopp is refusing to be complacent in his work ethic. With new coach and former Finnish player Kim Tiilikainen joining his team in July, he believes he is still striving to discover his top level. The Top 100 is within reach once again and the 29-year-old’s journey is far from over.

“He has been a good mental support and now knowing that I am not alone has helped also,” Zopp said about Tiilikainen’s impact. “We haven’t really tried to work or make something really better, but it is a better feeling when you are not alone traveling and you have someone who is responsible for you and taking care of you.

“This year it didn’t start off good because of injury, but it’s been getting better. Tennis isn’t about how you feel with your forehand, or how good you feel you are moving. Sometimes it is difficult to understand tennis. I think maybe if you ask my coach he would say I am playing close to the Top 100 level. I am beating the guys around there and these past weeks I definitely played at that level. We will see if I can keep it up the next six months or next 12 months. That is the key I believe.”

With the 2017 season nearing the end, returning to the Top 100 is a lofty goal, but one that Zopp will not back down from. However, all numbers aside, he plans to make the most of his hot streak as he goes to play in the ATP Challenger Tour events in Ortisei, Italy and Ismaning, Germany.

“[Top 100] is always the goal, but I try not to think about it too much, because when you think about the numbers too much it might affect you. In tennis, if you get too emotional and want something too much, the emotion might get in the way of your game and performance. I just try to do my job and play my level. We will see what happens.”

Broady beats Gulbis in St Petersburg

Tue, 09/19/2017 - 5:46pm
Broady beats Gulbis in St Petersburg

St. Petersburg 2017

Tue, 09/19/2017 - 4:45pm

Metz 2017

Tue, 09/19/2017 - 4:44pm

Gasquet falls in Moselle Open; Busta withdraws

Tue, 09/19/2017 - 4:41pm
Gasquet falls in Moselle Open; Busta withdraws

Istomin Upsets Gasquet In Metz

Tue, 09/19/2017 - 4:00pm

It was an unhappy return for Frenchman Richard Gasquet as he played his first match in Metz since 2001. The sixth seed was beaten 1-6, 6-4, 6-4 by Denis Istomin in the first round of the Moselle Open on Tuesday.

It was a fast turnaround for Gasquet, who captured his first ATP Challenger Tour title in seven years when he triumphed in Szczecin on Sunday. Istomin saved 10 of the 13 break points he faced as he overturned a 1-6 FedEx ATP Head2Head record against Gasquet to prevail in one hour and 54 minutes.

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Seventh seed Benoit Paire recorded his third match win on his fifth appearance in Metz by beating Greek qualifier Stefanos Tsitsipas 6-2, 6-4 in 57 minutes. He now plays Spain’s Marcel Granollers, the 2012 finalist, who lived to fight another day by saving one match point in the deciding set tie-break to scrape past Italian qualifier Simone Bolelli 7-6(9), 3-6, 7-6(8) in two hours and 42 minutes. Granollers, who struck 17 aces, saved one set point at 5/6 in the first-set tie-break, then one match point at 5/6 in the third-set tie-break in the pair’s first meeting for nine years.

Nicolas Almagro levelled his FedEx ATP Head2Head record with Frenchman Julien Benneteau at 3-3 after a 7-6(3), 7-5 victory. The Spaniard hit 10 aces and broke in the final game on his third match point to secure the victory.

It is the first match win in Metz for the former No. 9 in the Emirates ATP Rankings. He will next face No. 2 seed David Goffin for a place in the quarter-finals. Georgian Nikoloz Basilashvili toughed out a 2-6, 7-(5), 6-4 win over French qualifier Vincent Millot and now challenges fourth seed Gilles Muller of Luxembourg.

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Troicki, Youzhny Win St. Petersburg Openers

Tue, 09/19/2017 - 3:17pm

Russian Mikhail Youzhny opened his 16th appearance (2001-13, ‘15-17) at the St. Petersburg Open on Tuesday by beating Australian qualifier John-Patrick Smith 7-6(6), 6-4 in one hour, 33 minutes. The 2004 champion, with a 34-13 record at the ATP World Tour 250 tournament, will next face third-seeded Italian Fabio Fognini in the second round.

Seventh seed Viktor Troicki fired nine aces and saved four of five break points as he edged Andrey Kuznetsov 7-6(6), 7-6(2) in one hour and 45 minutes.

"I think it was a good quality match," said Troicki. "I came up against a great player, a very talented Russian player, who I always had trouble with in the past. It was a tough one today, which I expected and I'm happy to go through to the second round."

Briton Liam Broady, currently No. 242 in the Emirates ATP Rankings, recorded just his second tour-level match win – and his first since 2015 Wimbledon – in sweeping past fellow qualifier and 2013 titlist Ernests Gulbis of Latvia 6-3, 6-0 in 63 minutes. Broady, 23, will now prepare to meet fourth seed Adrian Mannarino of France.

Ricardas Berankis set a second-round clash with fifth seed Philipp Kohlschreiber as he defeated qualifier Daniel Masur 3-6, 6-3, 6-2. 

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Blake: Cop didn't ID himself before arm bar

Tue, 09/19/2017 - 1:18pm
Blake: Cop didn't ID himself before arm bar

Sibiu Challenger Day One Highlights

Tue, 09/19/2017 - 10:47am
Watch highlights from Monday at the Sibiu Open, where Bjorn Fratangelo, Adrian Ungur and Marco Cecchinato advanced. Video courtesy of Sibiu Open.

Emirates ATP Race To London Update 18 September 2017

Tue, 09/19/2017 - 10:01am
ATP World Tour Uncovered presented by Peugeot reviews the Emirates ATP Race To London on 18 September 2017.

Rublev's Meteoric Rise: What's Made The Difference?

Tue, 09/19/2017 - 8:24am

The evolution of a tennis player typically develops along a pathway where the serve matures quicker than the return of serve.

Not so for Andrey Rublev.

The talented 19-year-old Russian already has one of the best return games on tour, fueling his meteoric rise up the Emirates ATP Rankings in the past three months to a career-high No. 37 this week.

Flash back just 12 weeks to mid-June and Rublev was not even ranked in the Top 100, losing in the second round of a clay-court ATP Challenger Tour event in Caltanissetta, Italy.

Fast forward three months to mid-September and he now has his first ATP World Tour 250 title under his belt after coming through qualifying to win at the Plava Laguna Croatia Open Umag. He followed that up with two Top 15 victories at the US Open (No. 9 Grigor Dimitrov and No. 14 David Goffin) to become the youngest quarter-finalist in New York City since Andy Roddick in 2001.

The improvement curve is about as steep as it gets.

An Infosys ATP Beyond The Numbers analysis identifies the Muscovite’s return game is mature beyond his years. Rublev is ranked just 63rd in the Infosys ATP Stats Serve LEADERBOARD with a 257.6 rating in the past 52 weeks. He is all the way up seventh best on tour on the Return LEADERBOARD, with a 156.0 Rating.

The average age of the other nine players in the Top 10 of the Return LEADERBOARD is 29 years old - 10 years his senior. The closest in age is Diego Schwartzman, who is 25. It normally takes players several years on tour to gather enough reps and experience when returning to reach the Top 10 in this category. Rublev is currently short-circuiting that theory.

Below are his impressive return metrics from the past 52 weeks.

Returning Ranking Win Percntage / Rating Breat Points Converted 6 45.5% Infosys Return Rating 7 156.0 2nd Serve Return Points Won 10 52.8% 1st Serve Return Points Won 14 31.3% Return Games Won 14 26.4%

Infosys Nia Data identifies that when Rublev won the opening point returning in the 2017 season and forged ahead 0/15, he broke a remarkable 49 per cent (60/122) of the time. By contrast, 20-year-old Alexander Zverev, who is ranked No. 4 in the Emirates ATP Rankings, only broke 40 per cent (117/289) of the time.

It’s correct to factor in that Zverev has played more than double the amount of points than Rublev against higher ranked opposition, but it’s clear to see that the young Russian is more than taking care of business as sets his own collision course with the Top 10.

Rublev’s most impressive return metric in the past 52 weeks is Break Points Converted, being sixth on tour winning 45.5 per cent of these critical momentum points. In 2017, he has converted 38 per cent (47/125) against first serves, and a decisive 60 per cent (40/67) against second serves.

Rublev is now the second highest ranked Russian behind 21-year-old Karen Khachanov, who is ranked just five spots ahead of him at No. 32. The third ranked Russian is 21-year-old Daniil Medvedev, who is ranked No. 61 this week. All three of these players are on track to compete at the inaugural Next Gen ATP Finals in Milan from 7-11 November.

Hawk-Eye to replace judges at Next Gen Finals

Tue, 09/19/2017 - 8:11am
Hawk-Eye to replace judges at Next Gen Finals

Carreno Busta: The Man Behind The Racquet

Tue, 09/19/2017 - 6:01am
After Pablo Carreno Busta's run to the US Open semi-finals, ATP World Tour Uncovered presented by Peugeot gets to know the man behind the racquet.

Emirates ATP Doubles Race To London Update 18 September

Tue, 09/19/2017 - 6:01am
See the latest Emirates ATP Doubles Race To London as of 18 September.

Nitto ATP Finals Welcomes J.P. Morgan As Platinum Partner

Tue, 09/19/2017 - 3:46am

The ATP today announced a new partnership that will see J. P. Morgan become a Platinum Partner and Official Banking Partner of the Nitto ATP Finals beginning in 2017. The news follows May’s announcement that the world’s biggest indoor tennis tournament would remain at The O2 in London through 2020.

"Our season finale in London has enjoyed great success since 2009, and continues to grow on a global level, attracting more than 100 million broadcast viewers in 2016. Today, we’re delighted to welcome J.P. Morgan as partner to our prestigious showcase event,” said Chris Kermode, ATP Executive Chairman & President. “This new agreement is a testament to what we have built over the last eight years at The O2, and we look forward to growing the tournament’s success even more with the support of such a world-renowned brand."

“The Nitto ATP Finals tournament is the perfect fit for J.P. Morgan. The competition features the world’s best singles and doubles players at the top of their game. Earning a coveted spot at the season showdown is a result of hard work, focus and success throughout the year – all values we share at J.P. Morgan,” said Vis Raghavan, J.P. Morgan’s Head of Banking for the Europe, Middle East, and Africa and Deputy CEO of the region.

“The Nitto ATP Finals will be an exciting show for tennis fans everywhere, but especially for those who get to experience the action live here in London. We’re thrilled to help bring the best-of-the-best to The O2,” said Alessandro Barnaba, J.P. Morgan’s Co-Head of International Sales and Marketing.

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To be held 12-19 November, the Nitto ATP Finals welcomes more than 250,000 fans to The O2 arena each year, as well as generating a global TV viewership of more than 100 million, as the ATP’s best eight qualified singles players and doubles teams compete over eight days at the biggest indoor tennis tournament in the world.

Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer have secured the first two singles berths to this year’s tournament. The players are locked in what appears to be a two-way battle for the coveted year-end No. 1 Emirates ATP Ranking, which could be decided in London for the second consecutive year. In 2016, Andy Murray needed to beat Novak Djokovic in the final to become the 17th man in history to finish the year No. 1.

Challenger Q&A: King Reacts To Stunning Win In Cary

Tue, 09/19/2017 - 12:24am

One year ago, Kevin King was on the sidelines recovering from hip surgery. On Sunday, he became an ATP Challenger Tour champion.

King stormed past Cameron Norrie 6-4, 6-1 to earn his maiden title at the Atlantic Tire Championships in Cary, North Carolina. The 26-year-old entered the week outside the Top 400 in the Emirates ATP Rankings and has soared 181 spots to a career-high No. 253 with the victory.

The American had never reached a Challenger final coming into Cary, but he would score impressive wins over top seed Ernesto Escobedo, Noah Rubin and Norrie to clinch the crown.

King, a native of Peachtree City, Georgia, starred for Georgia Tech University before turning pro in 2012. He graduated with a degree mechanical engineering.

What a week for Kevin King! World No. 434 stuns Cam Norrie 64 61 for his first #ATPChallenger title at the @AtlanticTireCh in Cary. pic.twitter.com/CFp0yqw12m

— ATP Challenger Tour (@ATPChallenger) September 17, 2017

This was your first semi-final in two and a half years. Then your first final. It looked like you came out and were ready to go aggressively from the start. Was that the gameplan?
I definitely wanted to come out and be aggressive and dictate. I know he's a great player and when he starts getting control of points, he's very tough to beat. I was not going to let that happen.

For a lot of people playing in their first Challenger final, nerves show up. You had a great approach of just going after some shots really early.
When you start swinging out a little bit, you feel more free. I found more of a rhythm from the start of the match.

You won a Futures last week in Canada and came down here to take a Challenger title. It's rare to have that progression in back-to-back weeks. What's been working for you?
I've been focusing on one match at a time. In Toronto last week I was able to work on a few things. I was able to get some good momentum with my game and translated that into this week. I pulled out a few tough matches and that helped me gain some confidence to go out and play well today.

Talk about your journey over the past couple of years. Being out for almost the entirety of 2016, do you have a better appreciation of the game and also of your game and what you're able to do well?
Absolutely. Being out for a year makes you realize how special it is to be able to do what you love and play tennis at the highest level. It was good for me in that sense. I was able to do some coaching in the year I was out, with the Georgia Tech men's team. Coaching tennis can give you a better understanding of the game in trying to get different people to improve in different areas. That helped me in taking the information I learned into this year.

In terms of the technical aspect, what has been the biggest difference for you?
I would say I was focusing on the fundamentals in all areas of my game. Going back to those basics and details really helped me progress at a faster rate when I was coming back. Focusing on those small details were huge in my game.

It also seems like there's more intent now, in terms of your gameplan heading into a match. Is that part of the coaching factoring in there? That's something you definitely have improved on in the past couple of years.
Yeah, absolutely. When I first started out, right out of college, I didn't have an identity of how I wanted to be playing. I had different options in my game and I didn't stick to one. Having the year off allowed me to take a look at my game and what I want to be doing out there. I was able to really find a game plan and stick to that and get better each week.

It's pretty rare that you have a tournament director, Sean Ferreira, that's also serving as the coach for one of the players. Your girlfriend is here as well. You said that Cary is almost like a second home. It had to be pretty emotional there to get that trophy in front of some people you love very much.
It was very special. There are so many people here that care about me and support me. To be able to have them here and cheering for me was very special.

You are now at No. 253 [in the Emirates ATP Rankings]. The Australian Open qualies cut last year was 249. What would that mean to you, at this point of your career?
That's definitely one of the long-term goals in this comeback, to make it to one of the Grand Slams. I'm getting closer to that goal. Still more concerned with taking care of my game and trying to get better. We'll let those goals take care of themselves. Looking forward to the rest of the year.

Nadal, Federer race for No. 1 makes this fall much-watch tennis

Mon, 09/18/2017 - 3:49pm
Nadal, Federer race for No. 1 makes this fall much-watch tennis

Simon Begins Quest For Third Metz Crown

Mon, 09/18/2017 - 2:07pm

Two-time former champion and eighth seed Gilles Simon defeated Italian Andreas Seppi, the 2012 runner-up, 6-3, 6-0 on Monday at the Moselle Open. Former World No. 6 Simon, the 2010 and 2013 titlist, was broken in the fifth game of the first set, but immediately regrouped and went on to extend his perfect 6-0 FedEx ATP Head2Head record against Seppi. The Frenchman now faces Slovak Norbert Gombos or German qualifier Peter Gojowczyk in the second round.

In one other main draw match, Romania’s Marius Copil lost just three of his first service points and hit 12 aces to beat Alessandro Giannessi 6-3, 6-2 in 66 minutes for a meeting against third seed and defending champion Lucas Pouille.

Gojowczyk, Stefanos Tsitsipas, Vincent Millot and Simone Bolelli all qualified on Monday for the main draw.

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