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Sharapova's Decadent Debut

Tue, 02/02/2016 - 7:13pm
Maria Sharapova's candy empire is set to get a whole lot sweeter with the debut of Sugarpova Premium Chocolates.

Mathieu Beats Ymer To Advance In Montpellier

Tue, 02/02/2016 - 6:01pm

Former World No. 12 Paul-Henri Mathieu reached the second round of the Open Sud de France on Tuesday in Montpellier as he dismissed 19-year-old qualifier Elias Ymer, 15 years his junior, 6-1, 6-4.

The Frenchman advanced in 78 minutes, saving the seven break points he faced. Mathieu reached his ninth ATP World Tour final last year in Kitzbuhel, finishing runner-up to Philipp Kohlschreiber. For a place in the quarter-finals at this ATP World Tour 250 indoor hard-court tournament, Mathieu will face fourth seed Benoit Paire.

Ernests Gulbis set a second round clash with top seed and defending champion Richard Gasquet after a 6-4, 6-3 win over French wild card Quentin Halys

"I had a really good practice week after the Australian Open so I'm feeling really on top of my game," Gulbis said after notching his first win of 2016. "I'm happy to win one round at a time."

Two seeded players suffered first-round exits. Belgium's Ruben Bemelmans upset No. 6 Joao Sousa 6-4, 3-6, 6-4, while Michael Berrer of Germany ousted No. 7 Borna Coric 7-6(5), 6-2.

There was more German success in the first round as Jan-Lennard Struff defeated Nicolas Mahut 6-3, 7-5 and qualifier Dustin Brown edged Steve Darcis 7-5, 7-5.

In doubles, Alexander Zverev and Mischa Zverev claimed a 6-4, 7-6(6) victory over fellow brothers Ken Skupski and Neal Skupski, while fourth seeds Jonathan Erlich and Colin Fleming beat Marin Cilic and Nikola Mektic 6-1, 6-3.

Tiafoe Fake And Bake Dallas Challenger Hot Shot 2016

Tue, 02/02/2016 - 4:57pm
Frances Tiafoe has given up on this point Tuesday at the Dallas Challenger... or has he? Watch the 18 year old turn the tables on Sam Groth.

Kohlschreiber Makes Winning Start In Sofia

Tue, 02/02/2016 - 1:19pm

Fifth seed Philipp Kohlschreiber made a strong start at the inaugural Garanti Koza Sofia Open, beating Sergiy Stakhovsky 6-2, 6-2 on Tuesday in the first round.

The German improved to a 2-1 FedEx ATP Head2Head lead over Stakhovsky as he converted six of his 12 break points and won 70 per cent of points behind his first serve.

"The key today was my return of serve, breaking early in each set," said Kohlschreiber. "The Centre Court is a little bit slow, so you can take advantage of the short ball. I think I played a very good match."

Kohlschreiber goes on to face Damir Dzumhur of Bosnia and Herzegovina. The No. 79-ranked Dzumhur rallied from the loss of the second set to beat Jiri Vesely 6-3, 3-6, 6-3.

Sixth seed Gilles Muller fired 16 aces and lost just seven points on serve as he defeated Malek Jaziri 6-3, 6-2 in 61 minutes. The Luxembourg native claimed his sixth win of the season, having already reached the semi-finals in Sydney (l. to Dimitrov).

"For sure it helped breaking early on, especially as I didn't feel my serve in the first two or three games," said Muller. "I wasn't serving that well and I didn't hit a lot of first serves into court. It's always difficult playing indoors, having played outdoors for a few weeks and recovering from jet lag. I knew what to expect and it was a tough match." 

Romanian qualifier Marius Copil took advantage of his extra matches in the altitude of Sofia to defeat 19-year-old Korean Hyeon Chung 6-2, 6-3 in one hour. Meanwhile, Thiemo de Bakker set a second-round clash with fourth seed Andreas Seppi after dismissing Matthew Ebden 6-4, 6-1.

Top Seeds Reach Quarters

Top seeds Philipp Petzschner and Alexander Peya are through to the quarter-finals after beating Gilles Muller and Frederik Nielsen 7-5, 6-3. The German/Austrian duo reached their first final of the season in Doha, where they finished runners-up to Feliciano Lopez and Marc Lopez.

Elsewhere, Mariusz Fyrstenberg and Lukas Rosol dismissed Martin Klizan and Andreas Seppi 6-4, 6-4, while Thiemo de Bakker and Robin Haase beat Frantisek Cermak and Michal Mertinak 6-3, 6-2.

 

On Break Point, First Serves Count!

Tue, 02/02/2016 - 12:26pm

The most influential points to the final outcome of a tennis match are break points.

Taking care of your own serve is the first priority, and saving those precious break points goes a very long way to winning matches, and defining careers. But all break points are not created equal.

An Infosys ATP Beyond the Numbers analysis of players who finished in the year-end 2015 Emirates ATP Rankings shows that there is a big difference when players attempt to save a break point with a first serve or a second serve.

Let’s start with year-end World No.1, Novak Djokovic. Djokovic made his first serve in play two times out of three (66 per cent) when facing a break point in the 2015 season, and won a healthy 73 per cent of those critical points. But if Djokovic missed his first serve, the winning percentage dropped down to only 59 per cent.

The primary reason is the power of the first serve. Djokovic typically averages right around 192 km/h (119mph) with his first delivery, and 156 km/h (97mph) with his second serve.

Basically, the difference in speed means the returner is initially playing defense against Djokovic’s first serve, but switches to offence against the comparatively slower second serve.

Year-end World No. 2, Andy Murray has more of a spread saving break points, making it even more imperative that he makes his first serve when facing break point. Murray is very close to Djokovic saving break points on first serves at 72 per cent, with the Serb only one percentage point higher. But when Murray misses his first serve, he is only saving 53 per cent on second serves - a substantial six percentage points lower than Djokovic.

Jo-Wilfried Tsonga’s metrics really stand out in this area, having the largest spread between break points saved on first serves and second serves: 39 percentage points. Tsonga led the year-end Top 10 in break points saved following a first serve at a staggering 83 per cent. But curiously, he was at the bottom of the Top 10 list in saving break points on second serves, at only 44 percent.

Tsonga won 53 per cent of all second serve points in the 2015 season. Finding an under-performing area like this is actually good news for a player because they learn exactly where to spend their time on the practice court.

When you average out the Top 10 players in the 2015 season, they are saving break points 72 per cent of the time when making a first serve. On average, that drops to 53 per cent with second serves. That 19 per cent difference is one of the most important, hidden metrics in our sport.

One would imagine that making a slightly slower first serve - even one that looks and behaves a little bit more like a second serve - would be beneficial, because the returner is in a defensive mindset, simply trying to get back to neutral in the rally after returning a first serve.

Rafael Nadal’s year-end ranking dipped from No. 3 in 2014 to No. 5 in 2015, and that may be due in part to his performance on break points. Along with Kei Nishikori, Rafa had the lowest percentage of break points saved with a first serve, at 67 per cent. Nadal joined Tsonga as the only two Top 10 players below 50 per cent (at 49 per cent) saving break points on their second serves.

The Swiss connection in the Top 10 provides perfect symmetry in this statistical category for Roger Federer and Stan Wawrinka. Both are saving 77 per cent (equal second) of break points on first serves, and a very respectable 55 per cent on second serves.

Nishikori’s aggressive game style yields the smallest spread between saving break points on first and second serves. He is winning 67 per cent of break points on first serves, and a Top 10-leading 62 per cent on second serves.

Nishikori is three percentage points better with his second serve performance than Djokovic, and seven percentage points better than the next best in order, being the Swiss duo.

It stands to reason that these numbers would wash right through all levels of our sport. There is a lot to learn from these metrics for recreational players all over the world: Pay extra attention to making a first serve when facing the pressure of break points.

SAVING BREAK POINTS ON FIRST AND SECOND SERVES

2015 Ranking Player Serving % First Serve Serving % Second Serve 1 Novak Djokovic 73% 59% 2 Andy Murray 72% 53% 3 Roger Federer 77% 55% 4 Stan Wawrinka 77% 55% 5 Rafael Nadal 67% 49% 6 Tomas Berdych 73% 53% 7 Kei Nishikori 67% 62% 8 David Ferrer 68% 50% 9 Richard Gasquet 74% 52% 10 Jo-Wilfried Tsonga 83% 44%   AVERAGE 72% 53%

In Form Bautista Agut And Troicki Aim For Sofia 2016 Title

Tue, 02/02/2016 - 11:39am
Robert Bautista Agut and Viktor Troicki, the top two seeds at the Garanti Koza Sofia Open, both explain how they are looking to continue their strong starts to the 2016 ATP World Tour season.

Garcia Lopez Hopeful Of Strong Week At Sofia 2016

Tue, 02/02/2016 - 11:25am
Guillermo Garcia-Lopez, who is bidding to defend 250 Emirates ATP Rankings points this week, is hopeful of a strong performance at the Garanti Koza Sofia Open.

Muller Impressed By Sofia 2016 Facilities

Tue, 02/02/2016 - 11:06am
Gilles Muller is feeling looked after at the Garanti Koza Sofia Open, where he is looking forward to starting the European indoor swing.

Seppi Gets Special Feeling At Sofia 2016

Tue, 02/02/2016 - 10:46am
Andreas Seppi reveals its special to visit a new country and play at the Garanti Koza Sofia Open.

Kohlschreiber Looking Forward To Sofia 2016

Tue, 02/02/2016 - 10:32am
Philipp Kohlschreiber is looking forward to competing at the Garanti Koza Sofia Open and his goals for the 2016 season.

Erhan Oral Discusses Sofia 2016 Preparation

Tue, 02/02/2016 - 10:15am
Erhan Oral, the Tournament Director of the Garanti Koza Sofia Open, talks about the Bulgarian capital and the work that's gone into staging the newest ATP World Tour 250 tournament.

Emirates ATP Rankings 2 February 2016

Tue, 02/02/2016 - 9:57am
See the latest Emirates ATP Rankings as of 2 February, 2016.

Infosys ATP Beyond The Numbers Saving Break Points

Tue, 02/02/2016 - 9:48am
Infosys ATP Beyond the Numbers shows that on break point, putting a first serve into play is critical

Looking Ahead To Frantic February

Tue, 02/02/2016 - 9:39am
With 12 tournaments across four continents, there is non-stop action for fans to enjoy on the ATP World Tour in February.

Emirates ATP Doubles Team Rankings 2 February 2016

Tue, 02/02/2016 - 9:34am
See the latest Emirates ATP Doubles Team Rankings as of 2 February, 2016.

Garanti Koza Sofia Open Prepares For Inaugural Event

Tue, 02/02/2016 - 8:39am
The inaugural Garanti Koza Sofia Open is well underway, but here's a look back at how the indoor hard court came together at the Armeec Arena. Video courtesy of the Garanti Koza Sofia Open

Baghdatis Advances In Montpellier; Zverev Saves Match Point

Mon, 02/01/2016 - 9:34pm

Montpellier plays host to the Open Sud de France for the sixth time, with defending champion Richard Gasquet as top seed and five of the Top 20 in the Emirates ATP Rankings in the strong, 28-player field.

Eighth seed Marcos Baghdatis notched his first win of 2016 with a 7-5, 7-5 victory over Lukas Lacko on Monday. The Cypriot fired nine aces in the 97-minute match.

“Today was a good match,” said Baghdatis. “I don’t have many matches in my legs because I only played the Australian Open this year. Here I was lucky enough to get the wild card… but I think I played pretty well. Today was a matter of trying to find a way to win, to fight and that’s what I did.”

Baghdatis will next face Taro Daniel, a 6-2, 6-2 winner over Denis Istomin.

Second seed Marin Cilic will open his Montpellier campaign in the second round against German teen Alexander Zverev, who saved one match point to advance with a 6-7(3), 6-4, 7-5 win over Luca Vanni.

“He played really well from the baseline and he was serving well,” said Zverev. “I had to fight hard and really dig in deep to get that win.”

In doubles, Borna Coric and Antonio Sancic teamed to oust third seeds Oliver Marach and Fabrice Martin 3-6, 6-3, 10-1.

Halep To Play Fed Cup

Mon, 02/01/2016 - 7:15pm
World No.3 Simona Halep postponed a nose surgery to take part in Romania's first Fed Cup World Group tie in over 20 years.

Seven Things: Melbourne Review

Mon, 02/01/2016 - 7:14pm
WTA Insider Courtney Nguyen | WTAi sums up the seven things to know after a riveting first month of play Down Under.

Seven Things: An Aussie Sunset

Mon, 02/01/2016 - 7:14pm
WTA Insider Courtney Nguyen | WTAi sums up the seven things to know after a riveting first month of play Down Under.