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Karlovic & Co. Tour Historic Sites, Tsonga Tries Handball

Wed, 02/08/2017 - 11:21pm

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Garanti Koza Sofia Open – Sofia, Bulgaria

Top two seeds Dominic Thiem and David Goffin visited Ancient Serdica archaeological complex for a brief hit in the capital’s Ancient Roman complex. Read More

“It’s a special occasion, a special area,” said Goffin. “I didn’t know it was such a special place here in Sofia. I saw this place and I will try to visit more if I have time this week because I heard it’s a very nice city.”

Home favourite Grigor Dimitrov joined Thiem and Goffin to celebrate at the tournament’s players’ party at the Marinela Hotel.

Defending champion Roberto Bautista Agut, Ken Skupski and Neal Skupski participated in kids’ day activities, while Mikhail Youzhny, Viktor Troicki and Martin Klizan met fans on site for autograph sessions.

Open Sud de France – Montpellier, France

Top two seeds Marin Cilic and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga put their handball skills to the test when they met French handball stars Vincent Gerard and Michael Guigou. Gerard and Guigou, who play for the French national team, were fresh off a World Championship win. Read More

Richard Gasquet was among the stars to meet fans and sign autographs.

Ecuador Open – Quito, Ecuador

Ivo Karlovic, Renzo Olivo, Santiago Giraldo and Matthew Ebden toured Quito’s Centro Histórico and learned about the history and the culture of the capital city of Ecuador. Watch

Santiago Gonzalez, David Marrero, Andres Molteni and Guillermo Duran participated in selfie contests with fans on site, while Daniel Gimeno-Traver, Santiago Giraldo, Horacio Zeballos, Nicolas Lapentti and Nicolas Kicker gave fans a treat at autograph sessions.

James Cerretani enjoyed trying out wheelchair tennis at a clinic.

 

Goffin Battles To Take Sofia Opener

Wed, 02/08/2017 - 10:40pm

Second seed David Goffin made a winning debut at the Garanti Koza Sofia Open on Wednesday. The Belgian prevailed past Radu Albot of Moldova 6-2, 6-7(7), 6-3 in two hours.

Goffin was two points away from winning the match in straight sets, tied at 7/7 in the second-set tie-break, but the right-hander regrouped and didn't face a break point in the third set. Goffin will meet Italian Andreas Seppi or countryman Steve Darcis in the quarter-finals.

“I could have finished the match in the second but I didn't,” Goffin said. “It was not easy, the first match here in Sofia. The conditions are really tough. It's not easy to control the ball, and it was not easy to find my rhythm but I'm happy to have another match in two days so hopefully it's going to be better.”

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Defending champion Roberto Bautista Agut joined Goffin in the quarter-finals by dismissing German qualifier Cedrik-Marcel Stebe 7-6(4), 6-3. The Spaniard improved to 10-1 on the season, having won his fifth career ATP World Tour title last month in Chennai and having reached the fourth round of the Australian Open (l. to No. 3 Raonic).

“I think I played very good tennis. I competed very well and I'm happy because it was a really great opponent today,” Bautista Agut said.

Ninth seed Viktor Troicki, a finalist a year ago, needed only 50 minutes to beat Turkish wild card Cem Ilkel 6-3, 6-2. The Serbian didn't face a break point and converted three of four break points. Troicki will meet Dutchman Robin Haase in the second round.

Jerzy Janowicz celebrated a milestone victory after an injury-prone 2016. The 26-year-old Pole dismissed Israeli Dudi Sela 6-4, 6-4 for his first tour-level win since October 2015 in Vienna. Janowicz played only three tour-level matches last season because of back and knee injuries.

“I was injured for a long time. I was struggling with my knee quite heavily,” Janowicz said. “It's always nice to be back on track. Still a long way to go but it's nice to win.”

Janowicz's reward: a second-round meeting with third seed and home favourite Grigor Dimitrov. The two are an even 1-1 in their FedEx ATP Head2Head series. “We used to play in juniors and we always have a huge fight on the court,” Janowicz said. “Tomorrow I think it's going to be a really nice match to watch.”

Reigning Champion Suárez Navarro Out Of Doha

Wed, 02/08/2017 - 8:16pm
Carla Suárez Navarro has been forced to withdraw from the Qatar Total Open, with an injury to her right shoulder, and Svetlana Kuznetsova is also out, citing an abdominal issue.

Insider Podcast: Spasibo, St. Petersburg! Mladenovic, Putintseva Pull Off 2017's Best Final St Petersburg Sunday Highlights

Wed, 02/08/2017 - 8:15pm
WTA Insider | The Insider team takes one last look back at the St. Petersburg Ladies Trophy final, and discuss what comes next for Kristina Mladenovic and Yulia Putintseva.

Fed Cup Kicks Off: Meet World Group I & II

Wed, 02/08/2017 - 8:14pm
After a rollercoaster first month of WTA play Down Under, players have scattered across the globe to compete for their countries in Fed Cup. Meet the teams in action right here!

Azarenka's Tiny New Assistant Coach

Wed, 02/08/2017 - 8:13pm
Victoria Azarenka teased a new addition to her coaching team as the former World No.1 remains optimistic of a comeback after giving birth to her first child.

Cibulkova Confident She Can Handle The Heat

Wed, 02/08/2017 - 8:13pm
The Slovak feels unburdened by expectation as she heads to Doha and Dubai looking for a first tournament win of 2017.

Konta Seals Second Win For Great Britain

Wed, 02/08/2017 - 8:12pm
Johanna Konta and Heather Watson were both victorious, giving Great Britain an unassailable 2-0 lead over Latvia in its second Fed Cup match in Tallinn.

Meet The #NextGenATP In The Race To Make Milan

Wed, 02/08/2017 - 7:59pm
The Next Gen ATP Finals in Milan will witness the best young talent the game has to offer in this new, exciting tournament. ATP World Tour Uncovered presented by Peugeot takes a look at the stars in contention to qualify.

Murray, Del Potro Up For Global Sports Honours

Wed, 02/08/2017 - 7:49pm

Two of the ATP World Tour's biggest stars have been nominated for Laureus World Sports Awards, following a ballot of the world's media. Scot Andy Murray has been nominated for the Laureus World Sportsman of the Year Award and is competing against Usain Bolt, already a three-time Laureus winner, 5k and 10k Olympic champion Mo Farah, Cristiano Ronaldo and basketball duo Stephen Curry and LeBron James.

Juan Martin del Potro is in contention for the Laureus Comeback of the Year Award and also has stiff competition. The Argentine is up against Michael Phelps, the most successful Olympian ever, Spain’s high jumper Ruth Beitia, British show jumper Nick Skelton, Mauritius triathlete Fabienne St Louis and Norwegian skier Aksel Lund Svindal.

Olympians fill all six nomination places for the Laureus World Sportswoman of the Year Award, including Americans Simone Biles, Katie Ledecky and Allyson Felix. German WTA No. 1 Angelique Kerber, Jamaican sprint star Elaine Thompson and British cyclist Laura Kenny are the remaining nominees.

Laureus World Sports Academy Chairman Sean Fitzpatrick: “You always know in an Olympic year you are going to see a strong group of nominees and this year has certainly proved that. What delights me is that we have an amazing mix of some of the greatest names in sport who have been performing at the highest level for as long as a decade, combined with some of the most exciting new faces we have seen for many years. It really is going to be an exceptional Laureus Awards.”

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In another strong category, Mercedes AMG Petronas are nominated for the third straight year for the Laureus World Team of the Year Award, along with three football teams: European Champions Portugal, Champions League winners Real Madrid and Neymar-inspired Olympic gold medal winners Brazil. American teams Chicago Cubs, winner of their first baseball World Series for 108 years, and NBA champions Cleveland Cavaliers, led by LeBron James, are also shortlisted.

After finishing second in 2014 and 2015, Nico Rosberg finally won the Formula One World Championship last year and has earned nomination for the Laureus World Breakthrough of the Year Award. Joining him are Olympic world-record breakers Almaz Ayana and Wayde van Niekerk, and three teams who performed heroically in 2016: English Premier League Champions Leicester City, European Championship quarter-finalists Iceland and Olympic Rugby Sevens gold medal winners Fiji.

The Rio Paralympic Games provide all six nominees for the highly respected Laureus World Sportsperson of the Year with a Disability Award: Swimmers Ihar Boki from Belarus and New Zealand’s Sophie Pascoe; visually-impaired Cuban sprinter Omara Durand, Iran weightlifter Siamand Rahman, Swiss wheelchair racer Marcel Hug and Italian fencer Beatrice Vio.

The men’s and women’s surfing world champions John John Florence and Tyler Wright are nominated for the Laureus World Action Sportsperson of the Year Award, along with snowboarder Chloe Kim, skateboarder Pedro Barros, mountain biker Rachel Atherton and Estonia’s freestyle skier Kelly Sildaru, who at 13 became the youngest ever winner of a gold medal at the Winter X-Games.

The eventual winners, as voted for by members of the Laureus World Sports Academy, will be revealed in Monaco on February 14. For the first time ever, sports fans will have the chance to make their voices heard in a brand new Best Sporting Moment of the Year Award, which will celebrate the power of sport. More information coming soon.

While celebrating the greatest sporting successes of the year, the Laureus Awards Ceremony also showcases the work of Laureus Sport for Good, which uses the power of sport to end violence, discrimination and disadvantage, proving that sport can change the world. Today Laureus supports more than 100 programmes, in around 40 countries. Their work to transform society is championed by the Laureus World Sports Academy of more than 60 legends of sport. They are supported by more than 180 Laureus Ambassadors.

 

Behind The Scenes At The ATP Photoshoot

Wed, 02/08/2017 - 7:00pm
Canadian Milos Raonic gives ATP World Tour Uncovered presented by Peugeot a look behind the scenes at the annual ATP World Tour photo and video shoot in Melbourne.

Brown beats top-seeded Cilic in Montpellier

Wed, 02/08/2017 - 5:54pm
Brown beats top-seeded Cilic in Montpellier

Dimitrov Set For Homecoming In Sofia 2017

Wed, 02/08/2017 - 8:02am
After an exhilarating Australian Open semi-final clash with Rafael Nadal, Grigor Dimitrov is ready for a nostalgic homecoming at the Garanti Koza Sofia Open.

Medvedev On The March In Montpellier

Wed, 02/08/2017 - 1:53am

Next Gen ATP player Daniil Medvedev marked his Montpellier debut at the Open Sud de France with a 6-2, 7-6(3) triumph over Tobias Kamke on Tuesday.

The 20-year-old Russian, who reached a maiden ATP World Tour final at the Aircel Chennai Open last month, prevailed in straight sets to earn a contest with eighth seed Fernando Verdasco. The Spaniard put in an emphatic performance to move past Gregoire Barrere 6-2, 6-1.

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Great Britain’s Aljaz Bedene defeated another Next Gen ATP player, Borna Coric, 7-5, 4-6, 6-1, setting a second-round match-up with another rising star Alexander Zverev. Benoit Paire, 2013 finalist, managed to stifle the threat of 20-year-old Karen Khachanov in a 7-6(4), 6-4 battle. Paire has built on his promising start to 2017 after the Frenchman reached the semi-finals in Chennai.

Previewing Fantastic February On The ATP World Tour

Wed, 02/08/2017 - 12:59am
ATP World Tour Uncovered presented by Peugeot previews what will be a fantastic February on the ATP World Tour. Getty Images photo.

Ram Rallies To Stun Fifth Seed In Quito

Wed, 02/08/2017 - 12:28am

Rajeev Ram ensured it was a day for the underdogs in the first round of the Ecuador Open on Tuesday. The unseeded American fought back from a set and a break down to stun the No. 5 seed Alexandr Dolgopolov 3-6, 7-6(4), 6-3.

Dologopolov, a former World No. 13 in the Emirates ATP Rankings, served for the match after breaking for 6-5 in the second set before Ram swung momentum in his favour to secure his first victory over the Ukrainian.  “I think I was playing quite solid,” Dolgopolov said. “I was serving for the match and got a bit unlucky in that game.

“He played really well and hit a few winners and then it was a tie-break and he served well. I lost the tiebreak and the third set did not go my way, he was hitting a lot of winners from everywhere.

“He broke straight away to start the third set … it was not easy. I tried to come back after that but it was too late.”

Spanish qualifier Roberto Carballes Baena easily accounted for Brazil’s Rogerio Dutra Silva 6-3, 6-1, while Matthew Ebden, on a protected ranking, fought back to deny Argentina’s Agustin Velotti 2-6, 6-4, 6-3. In an all-Argentine battle, Nicolas Kicker defeated Guido Andreozzi 4-6, 6-3, 6-4.

Renzo Olivo was the only seed to advance in Quito. He survived a fight from Ecuadorian wild card Emilio Gomez 5-7, 6-2, 7-6(5).

Colombian lefty Alejandro Falla landed his first ATP World Tour 250 main draw win since February last year. Falla defeated Alessandro Giannessi 6-4, 6-3.

Lapenttis Fail To Convert 1 M.P.

It wasn’t to be for locals Giovanni Lapentti and Nicolas Lapentti. The Ecuadorian brothers failed to convert one match point opportunity, on a deciding deuce point, at 5-4 in the second set against Hans Podlipnik-Castillo and Max Schnur, who went on to win 5-7, 7-6(4), 10-8. Nicolas, 40, was playing his first match since 2010 Roland Garros, while younger brother, Giovanni, is playing his final tournament. Giovanni will play singles against qualifier Roberto Carballes Baena on Wednesday evening.

Muller Ignites Sofia Title Charge

Tue, 02/07/2017 - 10:37pm

Gilles Muller safely navigated through his opening match at the Garanti Koza Sofia Open on Tuesday to book a second-round encounter with Mikhail Youzhny.

The fifth-seeded Muller progressed to the 2016 semi-finals in Bulgaria and ignited his title charge with a 6-3, 6-2 victory over qualifier Mathias Bourgue. Youzhny, ranked No. 89, prevented Marko Tepavac from a debut ATP World Tour win, navigating past the Serbian 7-6(2), 6-4.

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Qualifier Cedrik-Marcel Stebe took advantage of his main-draw opportunity by defeating Teymuraz Gabashvili 2-6, 6-0, 6-1. The World No. 406’s reward is a contest with reigning champion Roberto Bautista Agut. Eighth seed Martin Klizan overcame Russia’s Andrey Kuznetsov 6-0, 7-6(4), whilst top Dutchman Robin Haase was too strong for home wild card Dimitar Kuzmanov in straight sets 6-4, 6-3.

Stefan Edberg: The King Of Returns

Tue, 02/07/2017 - 9:58pm

Stefan Edberg was a masterful server. He was an even better returner.

The 1991 season is a distant 26 years ago, but the numbers the cool, calm and calculated Swede put up that year on the returning side of the game still greatly impress to this day.

An Infosys ATP Beyond The Numbers analysis of Edberg’s 1991 season highlights a player who conquered the year-end No. 1 ranking primarily on the return side of the equation. The 1991 season was the first year complete statistics were recorded in tennis, providing an interesting snapshot of what was going on in our game more than 25 years ago. It is subsequently the initial year recorded in the year-end No. 1s ATP Stats LEADERBOARDS, powered by the Infosys Information Platform.

We remember Edberg as an accomplished serve-volley player who also attacked the net behind his ultra-flat forehand and heavy slice backhand. His pinpoint volleys were majestic, and his stoic, imperturbable demeanor was a delight to watch.

When you compare the analytics of Edberg’s 1991 season against the other 25 years up to Andy Murray’s stellar 2016 season where he finished year-end No. 1 in the Emirates ATP Rankings, you get a deeper understanding of what helped Edberg finish 1991 as the best player in the world.

He always relied on his great serve, but his return was invaluable, particularly when returning first serves. The Swede’s 1991 season has stood the test of time in this specific area, ranked second overall in 26 seasons in points won returning first serves at 35.5 per cent. He ever so slightly trails Novak Djokovic’s 2011 season, where the super Serbian won 35.7 per cent of his first-serve return points.

Stefan Edberg: 1991 Season Analysis

Strategy Winning Percentage How It Compares To Year-End No. 1s From 1992-2016 First-Serve Return Points Won  35.5% Second Break Points Converted  45% Seventh Infosys Return Rating  168.1 Eighth Return Games Won  33.3% 10th Second-Serve Return Points Won 54.3% 12th Infosys Serve Rating  277.7 24th

Edberg’s ATP Stats LEADERBOARDS Serve Rating, powered by the Infosys Information Platform, has his 1991 season ranked a lowly 24th out of 26, but his return rating sits much higher at No. 10. The Swede also finished seventh overall in break points converted, at 45 per cent, which was higher than banner years of three current champions in our game.

Break Points Converted Comparison

1991 Stefan Edberg 45%
2008 Rafael Nadal 44.5%
2015 Novak Djokovic 44.2%
2005 Roger Federer 44.2%

Edberg sits 35th in career service games won at 83 per cent, but he's ranked a much higher 22nd in return games won at 30 per cent. He was really a great returner masquerading as a serve-and-volleyer.

The Swede won only one Grand Slam event in 1991, defeating six Americans in seven matches to capture the US Open. Significantly, he defeated No. 22 Michael Chang in the Round of 16, No. 3 Ivan Lendl in the semi-finals and No. 5 Jim Courier in the final – all in straight sets to win the $400,000 champion’s paycheck.

Edberg could serve and volley and crash the net with the best our sport has ever seen, but once you dig deeper into the numbers of his great game, we get a much greater appreciation of his returning skills.

Sharapova Picks Up Madrid Wildcard

Tue, 02/07/2017 - 8:15pm
Former World No.1 Maria Sharapova has claimed one of the wildcards for May's Mutua Madrid Open as she plans her WTA comeback.

Watson Leads Great Britain To First Triumph In Tallinn

Tue, 02/07/2017 - 8:14pm
Heather Watson was quick out of the blocks, leading Great Britain on the path to a 3-0 victory in the Fed Cup opener against Portugal.