Laura Robson scored her first WTA main draw win since 2013 at the GP SAR La Princesse Lalla Meryem; top seed Timea Bacsinszky cruised against a Russian wildcard.
Who can keep a tennis ball in the air the longest using only their racquet? All year long we've been challenging players to the WTA Frame Challenge, and here's how they've done.
An inspired Cagla Buyukakcay harnessed the energy of her home crowd in Istanbul to lift a maiden WTA title and achieve an historic ranking rise.
#NextGen star Borna Coric kept up his good start to the clay-court season on Monday, beating qualifier Andrea Arnaboldi of Italy 6-4, 6-1 at the Millennium Estoril Open. Coric, who made the final at the Grand Prix Hassan II in Marrakech earlier this month, erased the only break point he faced during his first-round match in Portugal.
No. 7 seed Leonardo Mayer, the other singles seed in action on Monday, had similar luck against a home underdog, World No. 368 Pedro Sousa, who received a wild card into the tournament. The Argentine needed one hour and 20 minutes to dismiss Sousa 6-1, 6-4. Mayer next will play Italian Paolo Lorenzi or #NextGen star Elias Ymer of Sweden, who qualified for the event.
Nicolas Almagro also started another clay-court event well with a straight-set win against Frederico Ferreira Silva 6-3, 6-2. Almagro reached the final of the Argentina Open earlier this year before losing to Austrian Dominic Thiem. The Spaniard will face a home favourite in the second round, No. 4 seed Joao Sousa of Portugal. It will be their first meeting.
Qualifier Stephane Robert of France persisted through another round, beating Thomas Fabbiano of Italy 6-2, 6-2. The 35 year old next will play either German Michael Berrer or No. 5 seed Guillermo Garcia-Lopez.
Diego Schwartzman shares the last time...
I missed a flight?
I lost something important?
I paid money to rent a tennis court or buy tennis balls?
Being famous helped me?
I strung a tennis racquet?
I cooked for myself and others?
I met a childhood idol?
I shared a hotel room with another player?
I asked someone famous for an autograph or selfie?
Watch hot shot from the Savannah Challenger final, as Bjorn Fratangelo saves a break point in style.
Watch highlights of the 2016 BRD Nastase Tiriac Trophy, featuring Fernando Verdasco versus Lucas Pouille. Photo credit: Raed Krishan/Gazeta Sporturilor
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Verdasco swept past first-time finalist Lucas Pouille, part of the ATP's Next Generation, 6-3, 6-2 in 75 minutes.
"I'm very happy because I won this trophy," said Verdasco. "It was a long time since I was in this position, to win a tournament or to play in a final.
"It's not easy to wait a day to play. It wasn't stressful, but hard. When it rains you have to be ready to play at every moment, especially if it is a final, not a first round. I wanted to play, no matter what. We did play, even if the last game was complicated when it started raining again. I'm glad that it all ended there."
The 32-year-old Spaniard improved to 7-13 in finals by lifting his first trophy since April 2014 at Houston (d. Almagro). He earned €82,450 in prize money and 250 Emirates ATP Rankings points for his efforts in Bucharest.
Verdasco saved three break points in a 17-point third game before breaking Pouille to love. He went on to open up a 4-1 lead and completed the 43-set on his first set point opportunity.
The World No. 60 carried the momentum into the second set, breaking Pouille to love in the opening game. He took a 5-1 lead courtesy of another break to 30 in the fifth game. Verdasco is now 13-7 on the season.
The 22-year-old Pouille goes onto his next tournament with €43,430 and 150 points. He had been trying to become first French winner since Gilles Simon in 2012.
"It was not easy to play my first final in these conditions," said Pouille. "We had to wait for a long time. We didn’t know when we would play. However, it was the same conditions for both players and Fernando just played better than me today.
"I had some break points in the first set, it was close and very intense from the beginning. Then I started the second set poorly and Fernando played some really good tennis. He didn’t give me many points. Congratulations to him. As far as I am concerned, despite the loss, it was a positive week and I hope to keep on improving in the coming weeks."
Tecau claimed the 300th match win of his career with his fourth title at the ATP World Tour 250 tournament by partnering fellow 31-year-old Mergea to a 7-5, 6-4 victory over Chris Guccione and Andre Sa in 76 minutes.
"All these days we've done everything to be prepared to play when the weather allowed it," said Tecau. "We waited on Sunday, we played a set, and today we woke up very early, like 6:00 a.m. to be here and see what happens. This title, for us, is a dream come true. Something we thought of since we were children. We are happy and we thank our team and the people who came to support us all week, despite the rain."
Mergea added, "It wasn't an easy week for us, but we wanted to play together here. We are happy with the title. Now we have more confidence in ourselves, in our game. It's a first step towards our goal, which is a medal at the Olympics in Rio."
This week, Tecau and Mergea played together at an ATP World Tour event for the first time since the same tournament in 2008. They shared €25,070 in prize money and earned 250 Emirates ATP Doubles Rankings points.
The start of the doubles final on Sunday was initially pushed back two hours. Mergea and Tecau eventually sealed the first set 7-5 in 41 minutes, but no further play was possible as ATP supervisor Gerry Armstrong called off play at 5:50 p.m. local time.
Scheduled for an 9:30 a.m. resumption on Monday, the final did not begin due to light rain until 10:25 a.m. Both teams exchanged early serve breaks, but Mergea and Tecau broke for a fourth time in the match for a 4-3 lead en route to the title.
Mergea is now 6-6 lifetime in ATP World Tour finals, while Tecau - in his first title match of 2016 - improves to 28-16 overall. Tecau has won 16 straight matches in Bucharest since his last loss in the 2011 quarter-finals with Robert Lindstedt.
Guccione and Sa were contesting their third ATP World Tour team final, having won in Nottingham and reaching the final in Shenzhen last year. Guccione is 4-6 in finals, while Sa dropped to 10-17. They moved onto their next tournament with €13,170 and 150 points.
Gilles Simon, Joao Sousa and Nick Kyrgios share why they enjoy Estoril during the tournament's Launch Party at the Forte da Cruz. Video courtesy Millennium Estoril Open.
Verdasco wins Nastase Tiriac Trophy for 7th title
Watch highlights of NextGen star Borna Coric, Leonardo Mayer and Nicolas Almagro on Monday at the Millennium Estoril Open. Video courtesy Millennium Estoril Open
A LOOK BACK
St. Joseph's/Candler Savannah Challenger (Savannah, Georgia, U.S.A.): Bjorn Fratangelo was ruthless in completing a dream week on the green clay of Savannah, dropping a combined eight games in the semi-finals and final to lift his second ATP Challenger Tour trophy. He downed #NextGen star Jared Donaldson 6-1, 6-3 in an all-American title match, a day after knocking out top seed and countryman Denis Kudla 6-2, 6-2. Fratangelo, who is closing in on a Top 100 debut, rises to World No. 117 in the Emirates ATP Rankings.
The 22-year-old, who notched his maiden title more than a year ago in Launceston, Australia, is riding a tidal wave of momentum after also winning his first ATP World Tour main draw match in Indian Wells and reaching the semis last week in Sarasota. He takes the lead in the USTA's Roland Garros Wild Card Challenge.
Sao Paulo Challenger de Tenis (Sao Paulo, Brazil): It was over in a flash. Fifth seed Gonzalo Lama completed the fastest victory in an ATP Challenger Tour final this year, needing just 49 minutes to defeat Ernesto Escobedo 6-2, 6-2. It was the 22-year-old's second Challenger crown. An integral part of Chile's resurgence, along with Nicolas Jarry and Christian Garin, Lama rises to a career-high World No. 166 in the Emirates ATP Rankings.
Escobedo, meanwhile, was contesting his first Challenger final. The 19 year old from Los Angeles is the seventh different American teenager to reach a title match on the circuit in the last seven months.
American Teen Challenger Finalists Since October
Taylor Fritz 18
Stefan Kozlov 18 Le Gosier
19 Sao Paulo
TAC Cup China International Nanjing Challenger (Nanjing, China): Two weeks, two surfaces, two titles. Top seed Ricardas Berankis went back-to-back in Asia, claiming the clay-court Nanjing title 6-3, 6-4 over Grega Zemlja one week after also downing the Slovenian for the crown on the hard courts of Gwangju, South Korea. It was the Lithuanian's sixth ATP Challenger Tour title in total. He improved to an impressive 14-2 on the circuit this year, joining Gerald Melzer, Mikhail Youzhny, Facundo Bagnis and Malek Jaziri as the lone multiple title winners.
What The Players Said
A LOOK AHEAD
The $75,000+H event in Taipei, Taiwan, returns for the third straight year. No. 1 seed Ricardas Berankis will look to continue his dominant form in Asian challengers this month, while defending champion Sam Groth returns as the No. 2 seed. Former World No. 31 Sergiy Stakhovsky is the No. 5 seed, while Daniel Evans, a winner last month at the ATP Challenger Tour event, is the No. 6 seed. Another notable name in the draw is last year’s finalist, Konstantin Kravchuk, who returns as the No. 8 seed.
The $50,000+H tournament in Ostrava, Czech Republic, is back for the 13th consecutive year. Last year’s finalist and No. 1 seed Adam Pavlasek will look for a big run this week to allow him to make his debut inside the Top 100 of the Emirates ATP Rankings. Former World No. 8 and 2004 champion Janko Tipsarevic also returns to the tour after a seven-month layoff due to a knee injury. Pedja Krstin, who won last month’s ATP Challenger Tour event in San Luis Potosi, Mexico, is the No. 4 seed.
The always-popular $50,000 event in Tallahassee, Florida, also returns for the 17th consecutive year. The tournament features an illustrious list of past champions including Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, John Isner, Mardy Fish and Robby Ginepri. Top seed Donald Young hopes to add his name to that list, but has a tricky opening round against teenager Ernesto Escobedo, who reached the final in Sao Paulo. A slew of #NextGen stars are also in the draw including No. 7 seed Jared Donaldson, Noah Rubin and Frances Tiafoe. Other notable names in the draw include former world No. 51 Brian Baker, who is continuing his comeback from injury.
ATP CHALLENGER TOUR ON TWITTER: New in 2016, the ATP Challenger Tour has launched a dedicated Twitter account for the latest news and information about players and events. Follow @ATPChallengerTour at twitter.com/ATPChallengerTour.
Rain in Bucharest, snow in Munich... Players encountered both ends of the weather spectrum on the ATP World Tour on Sunday.
While the singles and doubles finals at the BRD Nastase Tiriac Trophy were postponed due to persistent downpours, competitors at the BMW Open by FWU AG fought through the snowflakes ahead of the outdoor clay-court tournament.
Qualifying at the ATP World Tour 250 event was briefly halted due to a snow shower that hit Munich, and main draw players practising at the venue were also given a unique opportunity by Mother Nature.
"I have never seen anything like this before," said John Peers, who is seeded third in the doubles draw with Henri Kontinen. "It's the first time at an outdoor tour-level event that I have seen snow and matches had to be suspended. Being Australian it was definitely something different. We actually got lucky as it didn't snow during practice, but literally right before and right after it did. It was so cold and our hands were frozen. Apparently we could get some more over the next day or two. Time to rug up I think."
Estoril, Istanbul, Munich Continue Clay Circuit: The ATP World Tour European clay court circuit moves on to Estoril, Istanbul and Munich. Estoril is a second-time tournament at the Clube de Ténis do Estoril although Portuguese tennis on the calendar goes back to the Tour’s inception in 1990. Istanbul is also a second-year tournament stop on the ATP World Tour. Munich is one of the oldest clay court tournaments on the ATP World Tour, which was first held in 1974. There are five of the Top 20 players in the April 18 Emirates ATP Rankings in action, led by World No. 13 David Goffin, No. 14 Gael Monfils and No. 15 Dominic Thiem in Munich, while in Estoril, No. 18 Gilles Simon and No. 20 Nick Kyrgios lead the way.
BMW OPEN BY FWU AG (Munich): The first of five German tournaments on the ATP World Tour calendar takes place at Munich’s Iphitos Tennis Club, which was first staged in 1974. The International Tennis Championships of Bavaria was first held in 1900. Germans have won the title six times since then, most recently Tommy Haas in 2013 (d.Kohlschreiber) in the tournament’s first all-German final since 1965. There are two former champions in the field: No. 1 German Philipp Kohlschreiber (2012, ‘07) and Mikhail Youzhny (2010). Last year’s champion is not returning World No. 2 Andy Murray, who won his first career ATP World Tour clay court title (d. Kohlschreiber). The seeds are: 1) David Goffin, 2) Gael Monfils, 3) Dominic Thiem, 4) Kohlschreiber, 5) Fabio Fognini, 6) Thomaz Bellucci, 7) Vasek Pospisil and 8) Alexander Zverev.
Goffin Top Seed: Goffin is the top seed in an ATP World Tour tournament for the third time in his career, the first this season. Last year, the top Belgian was the No. 1 seed in Bastad (bye, 2R, l. to eventual champion Paire) and in Gstaad (runner-up, l. to Thiem). The 25-year-old Belgian enters Munich for the third time (1-2) with an 18-7 match record on the season with SF showings at ATP Masters 1000 Indian Wells (l. to Raonic) and Miami (l. to Djokovic). He began the season with a 6-4 record in the first two months but since March he is 12-3.
Monfils on the Move: Monfils comes into Munich as the No. 2 seed and off to a career-best 20-6 start. In his last tournament he reached the final at ATP Masters 1000 Monte-Carlo (l. to Nadal). He also was runner-up in Rotterdam (l. to Klizan) and a quarter-finalist at the Australian Open and at ATP Masters 1000 events in Indian Wells and Miami. This is the Frenchman’s third Munich appearance, first since a second-round finish in 2013 (l. to Brands). He made his debut in 2008 (l. to Andreev in 1R).
del Potro Back on Clay: Wild card Juan Martin del Potro is playing in his first ATP World Tour clay court tournament since the week of May 13, 2013 at ATP Masters 1000 Rome (l. to Paire in 3R). This is also the Argentine’s second appearance in Munich, first since 2008 when he lost in the quarter-finals (l. to El Aynaoui). He has a 5-3 match record this season with a SF in Delray Beach (l. to Querrey) and second-round results at ATP Masters 1000 Indian Wells (l. to Berdych) and Miami (l. to Zeballos).
Thiem Improvement: Thiem, who is playing in his 10th tournament of the season, enters Munich with a 26-7 match record, which is the second-most wins on the ATP World Tour this year (only behind Djokovic-28). Last year he didn’t win his 26th match until his title run in Gstaad in August. The 22-year-old Austrian has won titles in Buenos Aires (d. Almagro) and the 500 level event in Acapulco (d. Tomic). He has played well on both surfaces with a 16-5 record on hard courts and 10-2 on clay.
Sascha Eyes Top 50: German No. 2 Alexander Zverev is projected to break the Top 50 Emirates ATP Rankings for the first time this week (April 25). The recently-turned 19-year-old has a 13-10 match record on the season and a year ago he entered Munich ranked No. 119. He opens against Malik Jaziri and the Tunisian beat Zverev 76 64 in the third round of Barcelona last week. With No. 41 Borna Coric the other teenager in the Top 50, it will mark the first time since Sept. 15, 2008 two teenagers were ranked in the Top 50. On that date, Marin Cilic and del Potro, both 19, were ranked No. 22 and No. 13, respectively.
Local Title Hopes: There are nine Germans in the main draw (three qualifiers), led by No. 27-ranked Kohlhschreiber, who is a two-time Munich champion and last year’s runner-up. The No. 1 German has a 24-9 tournament match record. The other local title hopes are: Alexander Zverev, Dustin Brown and Jan-Lennard Struff along with wild cards Maximilian Marter and Mischa Zverev. Former World No. 18 Florian Mayer, who has been sidelined with a groin injury since most of last year, qualified into his first main draw of the season. Other qualifiers are Matthias Bachinger and Nils Langer or Cedrik-Marcel Stebe (met in final qualifying round).
MILLENNIUM ESTORIL OPEN (Estoril): The second-year ATP World Tour 250 clay-court tournament will take place at the Clube de Ténis do Estoril. A Portuguese tournament on the ATP World Tour calendar has been a fixture since the Tour’s inception in 1990. In partnership with the Municipality of Cascais, the tournament will see fans enjoy greater proximity to the players and the action on court. There are three of the Top 25 players in the field, led by the top three seeds: 1) Gilles Simon, 2) Nick Kyrgios and 3) Benoit Paire. The others are: 4) Joao Sousa, 5) Guillermo Garcia-Lopez, 6) Borna Coric, 7) Leonardo Mayer, and 8) Pablo Carreno Busta.
Simon Top Seed: Simon is the top seed for the eighth time in his career in an ATP World Tour tournament, the first since last August in Winston-Salem (l. to Bedene in 2R after bye). In 2009, when Estoril was held in the other location, Simon came in as the top seed ranked No. 8. He lost in the quarter-finals (l. to Montanes). His lone title as top seed came in Bucharest in 2012 (d. Fognini). The Frenchman has an 11-8 record on the season with a quarter-final showing at ATP Masters 1000 Miami (l. to Goffin) and 4R at the Australian Open (l. to Djokovic in five sets).
Kyrgios Makes Clay Debut: Last year Kyrgios came into Estoril ranked No. 46 and he advanced to his maiden ATP World Tour final (l. to Gasquet). Now a year later the Next Generation 20-year-old Aussie star (turns 21 on Wednesday) is the youngest player in the Top 20 Emirates ATP Rankings at No. 20. The top Aussie is making his season debut on clay with a 14-4 overall match record. In February, he captured his first ATP World Tour title in Marseille (d. Cilic) and then reached the semi-finals in Dubai (ret. vs. Wawrinka) and ATP Masters 1000 Miami (l. to Nishikori).
Verdasco Wild Card: Former World No. 7 Fernando Verdasco comes into Estoril after reaching his 20th career ATP World Tour final in Bucharest (vs. Pouille). The 32-year-old Spaniard takes on countryman Carreno Busta in the first round.
Local Title Hopes: Portugal’s No. 1 player, Joao Sousa, is the country’s highest ranked player in the history of the Emirates ATP Rankings. The 27-year-old is ranked No. 34, just one spot off his career-high No. 33 on Nov. 9, 2015. In 2013, he became the first Portuguese native to win an ATP World Tour singles title in Kuala Lumpur. He is the No. 4 seed in the tournament. There are three other Portuguese players in the draw: Gastao Elias, a quarter-finalist in 2013-14, along with wild cards Frederico Ferreira Silva, who is ranked No. 253, and No. 392 Pedro Sousa.
TEB BNP PARIBAS ISTANBUL OPEN (Istanbul): The second staging of the TEB BNP Paribas Istanbul Open at the spectacular Garanti Koza Arena, features a retractable roof on Centre Court and provides seating for 7,500 spectators. There are two other clay show courts and the clubhouse features a fitness centre, spa, swimming pool and restaurant. Turkey is the 36th different country an ATP World Tour tournament has been held in since the formation of the ATP World Tour in 1990. A year ago Federer won the inaugural title. This year’s seeds are: 1) Bernard Tomic, 2) Grigor Dimitrov, 3) Ivo Karlovic, 4) Federico Delbonis, 5) Marcel Granollers, 6) Jiri Vesely, 7) Teymuraz Gabashvili and 8) Albert Ramos-Vinolas.
Tomic Top Seed: No. 2 Aussie Bernard Tomic, is the top seed for the second straight week and makes his Istanbul debut after returning from a right wrist injury. Last week the 23-year-old Aussie returned in Bucharest and lost in his opening match (vs. Haase). He last played at ATP Masters 1000 Indian Wells where he retired in the third round (vs. Raonic) on 14 March. Tomic comes in with a 14-9 match record on the season and his best result is a runner-up in Acapulco (l. to Thiem).
Grigor No. 2 Seed: Dimitrov comes in as the No. 2 seed for the second year in a row with a 15-8 record on the season. He opened his clay court campaign in Monte-Carlo by reaching the second round. The 24-year-old Bulgarian, a three-time winner in 2014, reached the final in the second week of the season in Sydney (l. to Troicki), his best result to date. He also advanced to the semi-finals in Delray Beach (l. to Ram).
Jiri Turnaround: Vesely began the season with a 1-7 match record before turning things around with a semi-final in Marrakech (l. to Coric). He then followed with a third-round result at ATP Masters 1000 Monte-Carlo where he posted the biggest win of his career over No. 1 Djokovic in the second round before losing to eventual finalist Gael Monfils. The 22-year-old Czech Republic native is making his Istanbul debut.
Russians on the Rise: New Generation Russian teenager Karen Khachanov is a wild card entry into the main draw. Last week the 19-year-old qualified in Barcelona and posted three-set wins over Aljaz Bedene (plays in 1R Istanbul) and No. 17 Roberto Bautista Agut before falling to Alexandr Dolgopolov. He is projected to jump to around a career-high No. 130 in the Emirates ATP Rankings. Another Next Gen teenager, Russian Andrey Rublev, who last year came into Istanbul ranked No. 292, qualified into the main draw on Sunday. Rublev, who reached the second round last year, is ranked a career-high No. 154 on Mar. 21
Ivo Eyes 300th Win: The oldest player in the singles draw, 37-year-old Ivo Karlovic, makes his Istanbul debut. The No. 3 seed is trying to earn his 300th career match win (299-269). He returned in Monte-Carlo after being sidelined for six weeks with a knee injury. Karlovic is also looking for his first match win of the season (0-6).
Turks in Main Draw: Marsel Ilhan is the No. 1 player in Turkey at No. 152 after reaching a career-high No. 77 on Mar. 2, 2015. The 28-year-old has a 5-3 record in Challengers and 2-3 in ATP World Tour level play this season. The other Turk in the field is local wild card Cem Ilkel, a 20-year-old ranked No. 437. He is making his second Istanbul appearance. He is a member of the Turkish Davis Cup team.
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