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Hot Shot: Coric Fires Pinpoint Backhand Halle 2018

Tue, 06/19/2018 - 1:56pm
Watch as Borna Coric finds the angle to beat Alexander Zverev at the net with a cross-court backhand passing shot. Watch live tennis at tennistv.com.

Hot Shot: Murray Turns Defence Into Attack At Queens 2018

Tue, 06/19/2018 - 1:53pm
Watch as Andy Murray ends a 26-stroke rally with a signature backhand passing shot in his first-round match against Nick Kyrgios at the Fever-Tree Championships. Photo credit: Matthew Stockman/Getty Images. Watch live tennis at tennistv.com.

After 342 Days, Murray Returns & Makes Kyrgios Work For First Queen's Club Win

Tue, 06/19/2018 - 1:42pm

Andy Murray didn’t expect too much in his first tour-level match for 342 days. It was more about renewing his love for the sport in a competitive environment, rather than winning at the Fever-Tree Championships on Tuesday. But in front of a capacity crowd, which gave him a standing ovation as he walked out onto Centre Court, he tested one of his good friends, Nick Kyrgios, throughout the first-round clash.

Kyrgios ultimately won 2-6, 7-6(4), 7-5 in two hours and 39 minutes for his first victory in four appearances at The Queen’s Club, extending his run of form that includes a narrow semi-final exit to Roger Federer at last week’s MercedesCup. But it was the way Murray competed that pleased the purist for his chances in the future to return to peak form.

A relieved Kyrgios, currently at No. 21 in the ATP Rankings, will now prepare to beat seventh-seeded Briton Kyle Edmund on Thursday.

"Kyle's been playing great," said Kyrgios. "I played juniors with him. I always knew he was going to be pretty good. He had a really good forehand.

"I never really get surprised when he does well. He can play on [grass] as well."

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Edmund progressed to the second round after beating American Ryan Harrison 7-6(4), 6-4. The 23-year-old went down an early break in the first set, but recovered well, winning 90 per cent of points behind his first serve en route to victory.

"I'm happy [to get my] first win on grass this season, said Edmund. "To come away with a win in my home country... I am very happy."

Since 12 July 2017, when Murray lost to Sam Querrey in the Wimbledon quarter-finals, the 31-year-old has tread a lonely path, largely away from the public spotlight in a bid to recover from a right hip injury, which required surgery in January. Only his closest confidants have known how close he is to full fitness, but upon his return to the ATP World Tour 500 tournament on Tuesday evening he struck the ball cleanly and largely appeared to move without too much discomfort.

"I thought I did okay. I certainly could have done some stuff better, at the beginning of the second set I thought my level at times was good; sometimes not so good," said Murray.

Two breaks of Kyrgios’ serve in the first set highlighted Murray’s resilience and later, in the second set tie-break after the pair had exchanged breaks on two occasions, Murray came within three points of victory. Kyrgios put his foot down at 4/4 and completed the set with a forehand into space, which Murray was slow to chase.

"He returns unbelievable," said Kyrgios. "Everything is the same, really. He's just got to get matches under his belt."

It was only in the second game of the decider that five-time champion Murray momentarily moved gingerly, relying on guile and shot placement over power. The threat of being broken loomed in each of Murray’s service games in the third set, with Kyrgios breaking in the final game of the pair's sixth meeting (Murray leads 5-1 in their FedEx ATP Head2Head series) courtesy of a double fault. Murray had saved two match points at 4-5, 30/40 and Ad-Out.

"I'm really happy that I got on the match court today and played," said Murray. "It was a close decision. I have not been practising loads at all... I really haven't played a whole lot of tennis, so I'm happy I got out there and competed and performed respectably." 

Kyrgios is now 14-5 on the season, which includes his fourth ATP World Tour title in the first week of 2018 at the Brisbane International presented by Suncorp (d. Harrison), where Murray had initially contemplated his return to action.

"I have been waiting obviously to get back and [start] competing again... It was also nice I guess that my first match was back here in the UK and in front of a full crowd, at a tournament I love playing at."

Did You Know?
Murray was making his 13th appearance at The Queen’s Club, since his 2005 debut (l. to Thomas Johansson in the third round). He is now 30-7 lifetime at the historic grass-court tournament, which first began in 1890.

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Coric Gets The Better of Zverev Again

Tue, 06/19/2018 - 1:22pm

Borna Coric started his grass-court season with near perfection on Tuesday at the Gerry Weber Open in Halle, upsetting two-time finalist Alexander Zverev 6-1, 6-4.

Coric had won two of their three FedEx ATP Head2Head meetings but had lost their last contest, in the quarter-finals of the Miami Open presented by Itau. Zverev, meanwhile, was coming off his best Grand Slam finish, a quarter-final run at Roland Garros.

But the 21-year-old Croatian rolled past Zverev, benefitting from some loose errors from the German – 32 in total – and staying focused against the second seed. Coric fell behind 15/40 while serving for the first set but came back to take the opener on his racquet.

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The Croatian, who was controlling baseline rallies with his backhand, was then broken while serving for the match at 5-2 but remained calm and secured the win in the 10th game.

Coric had his best start to a season earlier this year, reaching the semi-finals at the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells and the quarter-finals in Doha, Dubai and Miami. He looks ready to return to the quarter-finals this week in Halle. The 2017 Next Gen ATP Finals semi-finalist will meet Georgian Nikoloz Basilashvili or 17-year-old German Rudolf Molleker.

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Greece's #NextGenATP star Stefanos Tsitsipas, playing at a career-high No. 35 in the ATP Rankings, upset fifth seed and 2017 MercedesCup champion Lucas Pouille 6-2, 7-6(3). Tsitsipas will next meet American qualifier Denis Kudla.

Germany's Florian Mayer, 2016 Halle champion (d. Zverev), needed only 62 minutes to beat eighth seed Richard Gasquet 6-2, 6-2. Gasquet won the grass-court Libema Open in The Netherlands on Sunday. Mayer will next play Italian Andreas Seppi, who beat countryman Matteo Berrettini 6-3, 7-5.

Russian Karen Khachanov booked a second-round meeting with seventh seed Kei Nishikori by beating German Mischa Zverev 7-6(5), 6-3.

Second Seeds Advance In Halle

In doubles action, second seeds Nikola Mektic/Alexander Peya beat German wild cards Philipp Kohlschreiber/Philipp Petzschner 6-2, 6-4. Dominic Inglot/Franko Skugor advanced past Steve Johnson/Dominic Thiem 7-6(2), 6-7(5), 10-6. Marcel Granollers/Robin Haase were also victorious, beating the Japanese team of Ben McLachlan/Kei Nishikori 6-3, 7-6(3).

Hot Shot: Kyrgios Plays One Point, Two Tweeners Queens 2018

Tue, 06/19/2018 - 12:16pm
Watch Nick Kyrgios put on a show against Andy Murray at the Fever-Tree Championships in London. Watch live tennis at tennistv.com.

Dzumhur Slides Under The Net At 2018 Queens

Tue, 06/19/2018 - 12:06pm
Damir Dzumhur slides a little too far against Grigor Dimitrov at the Fever-Tree Championships in London. Watch live tennis at tennistv.com.

Federer Sprints Through Halle Opener

Tue, 06/19/2018 - 11:21am

Roger Federer raced through his opening match at the Gerry Weber Open in Halle on Tuesday, taking only 71 minutes to beat Slovenia's Aljaz Bedene 6-3, 6-4. The top seed and No. 1 player in the ATP Rankings stretched his grass-court win streak to 17, dating back to last year's titles in Halle and Wimbledon and including his 98th title run last week at the MercedesCup in Stuttgart.

Federer fought through an eight-minute game to break Bedene and immediately grab control for a 2-0 lead. He served flawlessly, winning 84 per cent (41/49) of his service points for the match, including a hold to love for the opening set.

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The Swiss right-hander then broke in the ninth game of the second set before another routine service hold clinched his place in the second round.

The 36-year-old is going for his 10th Halle title (2003-06, 2008, 2013-15, 2017). Half of Federer's 18 grass-court crowns have come in the German city. He needs to repeat as Halle champion to stay No. 1, or else Rafael Nadal will reclaim the top spot in the ATP Rankings.

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Federer will next try to improve to 6-0 in his FedEx ATP Head2Head series with Frenchman Benoit Paire, who beat Steve Johnson of the U.S. 7-5, 7-6(5).

In other action, sixth seed Philipp Kohlschreiber advanced when Hungary's Marton Fucsovics retired down 6-4, 3-6, 1-2. Kohlschreiber will next meet Aussie Matthew Ebden, a finalist last year at the grass-court Dell Technologies Hall of Fame Open in Newport. Ebden beat Tunisia's Malek Jaziri 6-0, 7-6(2) in Halle.

Did You Know?
Roger Federer improved to 60-6 in Halle on Tuesday.

Murray loses at Queen's, Djokovic wins

Tue, 06/19/2018 - 11:04am
Andy Murray long-awaited return to competitive tennis ended in 6-2, 6-7 (4), 5-7 defeat to Nick Kygrios at the Fever-Tree Championships on Tuesday.

Svitolina holds off Vekic for Birmingham win

Tue, 06/19/2018 - 11:04am
Second-seeded Elina Svitolina briefly faltered again in the last set before beating Donna Vekic at the Birmingham Classic on Tuesday.

Behind The Scenes: Practising With Steve Johnson Halle 2018

Tue, 06/19/2018 - 9:36am
Go behind the scenes during a practice session with Steve Johnson and his coach Craig Boynton at the Gerry Weber Open in Halle.

Hot Shot: Gasquet's 'Absolutely Magical' Backhand Halle 2018

Tue, 06/19/2018 - 9:31am
Watch as Richard Gasquet does it again with his world-class backhand at the Gerry Weber Open in Halle. Watch live tennis at tennistv.com. Thomas Starke/Getty Images photo.

Djokovic In Confident Mood, Next Up Dimitrov At Queen's Club

Tue, 06/19/2018 - 9:26am

Novak Djokovic made a winning return to the Fever-Tree Championships on Tuesday, his first appearance at The Queen’s Club since 2010.

The Serbian wild card competed with great confidence and quickly broke down the game of John Millman, the Australian qualifier, 6-2, 6-1 in 65 minutes for a place in the second round.

“It was a good match,” said Djokovic. The focus was there, I had the right intensity every shot. Every shot was working really beautifully. I thought I put a lot of pressure on him, on his service games, because I was getting a lot of returns back in play. Also I was quite solid on my returns, my strokes, and he was on the back foot from the beginning of the point. I'm very pleased to be able to start off the grass court season this way at the tournament where I haven't participated for eight years.”

Djokovic, runner-up to Rafael Nadal in the 2008 final, will next challenge second-seeded Bulgarian Grigor Dimitrov, the 2014 champion. Djokovic leads 6-1 in their FedEx ATP Head2Head series, with their lone grass-court match coming at Wimbledon in June 2014. 

“Right now it's all about tennis, all about improving, and getting on a high level,” said Djokovic.”So a match against Dimitrov, obviously, is a very good challenge for both of us, especially me at this time, with not too many matches under my belt in general this year or the past 12 months."

Dimitrov said, “You have to go through matches like this in order for you to win a tournament. Whether it's early rounds or late in the tournament, you still have to beat those kind of guys. (Novak) played a very good match. I watched a little bit… I'm here to play, I'm here to compete and try to find a better game. Simple as that.”

Djokovic, who is now 7-3 at The Queen’s Club, continues his return to peak form, following a small medical intervention on his right elbow in late January. In recent weeks, the former World No. 1 has reached the Internazionali BNL d’Italia semi-finals (l. to Nadal) and the Roland Garros quarter-finals (l. to Cecchinato).

From 1-2 down, Djokovic went on a tear, largely using his backhand to open up the court for forehand winners into space. He won seven straight games, illustrating how top-level players thrive on confidence, until World No. 63 Millman, this year’s Gazprom Hungarian Open finalist (l. to Cecchinato), broke the streak.

The 29-year-old Millman, who has battled to overcome hip and groin injuries in recent years, has now lost his past five tour-level matches since reaching his first ATP World Tour final in Budapest on 29 April.

Earlier in the day, Dimitrov dug deep to find a way past the gritty performance of Damir Dzumhur. The Bulgarian was solid on first serve, but struggled at times to outclass World No. 29 Dzumhur — playing just his eighth match on grass — 6-3, 6-7(4), 6-3 in just over two hours.

On his 10th straight appearance, Dimitrov saved six of eight break points to maintain his perfect record (3-0) against Dzumhur, who has now lost his past six matches against members of the Top 10 of the ATP Rankings (4-12 lifetime).

“It was one of those matches that the only thing I'm happy with is just winning,” admitted Dimitrov. “I definitely could have done a few things better, but, it’s still my first match on grass. I was a little rusty, obviously. Overall I served well and returned well when I had to. Those are all good signs for me. I just want to pick up that positivity and carry it on.”

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In other action, Frenchman Adrian Mannarino beat British wild card Daniel Evans 6-4, 0-6, 7-5. Mannarino will next meet countryman Julien Benneteau, who beat eighth seed Tomas Berdych 7-5, 3-6, 6-3.

Highlights: Cilic Cruises In Queen's Club Opener

Mon, 06/18/2018 - 4:34pm
Watch highlights as top seed Marin Cilic moves safely through on Monday at the Fever-Tree Championships, as do Gilles Muller and Stan Wawrinka. Photo Credit: Getty/Fever-Tree Championships. Watch live tennis at tennistv.com.

Suarez Navarro shock exit in Mallorca

Mon, 06/18/2018 - 4:28pm
Carla Suarez Navarro crashed out of the opening round of the Mallorca Open on Monday, suffering defeat to compatriot Lara Arruabarrena.

Thiem, Nishikori among winners in Halle

Mon, 06/18/2018 - 4:27pm
The first round of the Gerry Weber Open in Germany saw seeded players Dominic Thiem, Roberto Bautista Agut and Kei Nishikori win their first-round matches.

Defending Doubles Champs Survive In London

Mon, 06/18/2018 - 4:15pm

Jamie Murray and Bruno Soares were fully tested at the Fever-Tree Championships on Monday, saving seven of nine break points to oust Frenchmen Adrian Mannarino and Fabrice Martin 4-6, 7-6(3), 10-8.

The defending champions have won their opener at The Queen’s Club in each of their three appearances as a team. Three of their six victories at the event as a pair (6-1) have come in Match Tie-breaks. This year’s Acapulco titlists, who have lifted seven tour-level trophies together, next face Novak Djokovic/Stan Wawrinka or Tomas Berdych/Fernando Verdasco.

Murray, a home favourite, was not the only Brit to advance on the first day of action. Kyle Edmund and Neal Skupski earned their first-ever doubles victories at the tournament, beating Grigor Dimitrov and Ryan Harrison 3-6, 7-6(2), 10-3.

The Brits overcame a 0-3 deficit in the second set and saved one match point while serving at 5-6 before winning 18 of the match’s final 23 points.

Top seeds Oliver Marach and Mate Pavic also had to battle through a Match Tie-break, defeating Spaniards Felciiano Lopez and Marc Lopez 6-4, 6-7(5), 10-7. Marach/Pavic, who have won four tour-level titles this year will play Rohan Bopanna and Edouard Roger-Vasselin, who moved past Kevin Anderson and Julien Benneteau 6-3, 7-6(3).

Zverev Brothers Upset Third Seeds In Halle
Alexander Zverev and Mischa Zverev surprised No. 3 seeds Aisam-Ul-Haq Qureshi and Jean-Julien Rojer 6-7(7), 7-6(2), 10-8 at the Gerry Weber Open on Monday. The brothers brought a three-match losing streak as a pair to an end, advancing to face Raven Klaasen/Michael Venus or Tim Puetz/Jan-Lennard Struff.

Pliskova falls hard in Wimbledon tuneup

Mon, 06/18/2018 - 3:51pm
Karolina Pliskova, who left spectators puzzling yet again why her powerful game has never translated to grass-court glory, lost in the first round of the Wimbledon warmup at Birmingham on Monday.

Grass Great Federer Nearing A New Record

Mon, 06/18/2018 - 3:45pm

Roger Federer has excelled on one surface more than any other: grass. And he is closing in on making more history on the surface. After triumphing at the MercedesCup, his first tournament in three months, the Swiss is just six match wins away from matching Jimmy Connors’ all-time record of 174 victories on the mown lawns. According to the FedEx ATP Performance Zone, no other player in history has won more than 136 grass-court matches.

Most Wins On Grass In Tennis History

 Player  Record  Win-Rate  1. Jimmy Connors  174-34  83.7%  2. Roger Federer  168-24  87.5%  3. John Newcombe  136-36  79.1%  4. Lleyton Hewitt  129-41  75.9%  5. Phil Dent  123-68  64.4%

So really, it was no surprise that Federer lifted his 18th tour-level title on the surface. The Swiss now owns a 16-match grass-court winning streak leading into the Gerry Weber Open, which he has won a record nine times.

According to the FedEx ATP Performance Zone, no active player has won a higher rate of grass-court matches than Federer at 87.5 per cent (168-24). In fact, only two other active rivals have triumphed more than 80 per cent of the time on the surface: Andy Murray (84.8 per cent) and Novak Djokovic (81.9 per cent), who have both held the No. 1 ATP Ranking for more than 40 weeks.

Highest Active Win-Rates On Grass

 Player  Record  Win-Rate  1. Roger Federer  168-24  87.5%  2. Andy Murray  106-19  84.8%  3. Novak Djokovic  77-17  81.9%  4. Rafael Nadal  61-18  77.2%  5. Jo-Wilfried Tsonga  47-20  70.1%

But perhaps what is most impressive is that Federer ranks among the best in tennis history on both hard courts and clay courts, too. The Swiss is second all-time on hard courts, behind Djokovic, at 83.3 per cent (725-145) and 14th on clay at 75.9 per cent (214-68). But he has simply been better on grass.

The 36-year-old has won 42.9 per cent (18/42) of the tour-level grass-court tournaments he has played. To put his 18 titles in perspective, only two other players in the history of tennis — Bill Tilden and Pete Sampras — have lifted 10 trophies on grass. Murray, the second active player on the list, has eight grass-court titles to his name.

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In a way, it’s fitting that Federer is projected to break Connors’ record at Wimbledon. Many might argue that Federer truly announced his arrival on the tennis scene when he beat Sampras on the Wimbledon grass in 2001 at the age of 19.

“I lost to a talented player that's a great shot-maker,” Sampras said at the time. “He's got a great grass-court game. He's got all the tools.”

Sampras was right. And Federer is continuing to make his mark on the surface 17 years later.

Explore The FedEx ATP Performance Zone

Wawrinka makes light work of Norrie at Queen's

Mon, 06/18/2018 - 3:12pm
Three-time Grand Slam champion Stan Wawrinka made light work of Britain's Cameron Norrie in the opening round of the Queen's Club grasscourt tournament on Monday, winning 6-2 6-3.

Hot Shot: Thiem Tags Backhand Pass In Halle

Mon, 06/18/2018 - 1:51pm
Watch Dominic Thiem drill a backhand passing shot for a winner against Mikhail Youzhny in the first round of the 2018 Gerry Weber Open. Watch live tennis at tennistv.com.