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Murray: Dopers don't deserve wild cards

Wed, 03/01/2017 - 6:52am
Murray: Dopers don't deserve wild cards

Nadal Fires Early In Acapulco

Wed, 03/01/2017 - 4:52am

Rafael Nadal is up and running at the Abierto Mexicano Telcel with a convincing first-round outing against Mischa Zverev on Tuesday night. The two-time Acapulco champion saw off his fellow left-hander 6-4, 6-3 as he safely moved through in 76 minutes.

The second seed held break points at 4-3 for the chance to serve for the opening set. Zverev – coming off an outstanding Australian Open campaign in which he stunned top seed Andy Murray en route to his first major quarter-final – confidently saved both as his net-rushing paid dividends to level for 4-4.

Serving to stay in the set, however, the German faltered. He pushed a low forehand volley long to fall behind 0-30 before Nadal brought up two set points when he ripped a forehand pass down the line. The Spaniard took the set on his third opportunity with an off-forehand return winner for 6-4.

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Nadal secured the break for 3-1 in the second set and from there he sustained the advantage. He arrived at two match points when Zverev fired a backhand return long and sealed it on his first with a blistering backhand return pass down the line.

His 28 winners were 15 more than his opponent’s and the result extended his FedEx ATP Head2Head ledger with the German to 2-0 after an earlier win in Brisbane this year. He awaits the winner of Paolo Lorenzi and Yoshihito Nishioka.

Sixth seed Nick Kyrgios joined Nadal in the second round, but it was in contrasting fashion. The Australian survived a slow start to prevail against Israel’s Dudi Sela 3-6, 6-3, 6-3.

Kyrgios' eight aces and three breaks of serve helped him to advance in 93 minutes. American Donald Young is next, after earlier defeating Kyrgios’ countryman, Bernard Tomic.

 Watch Full Match Replays

The point of the night?

Watch Murray Advance In Dubai Opener

Wed, 03/01/2017 - 3:50am
Watch highlights of Andy Murray's opening win and see highlights of Damir Dzumhur upsetting Stan Wawrinka at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships. Watch live tennis at tennistv.com. Photo: Getty Images

Isner, Monfils Serve Their Way Out Of Trouble

Wed, 03/01/2017 - 12:45am

The Top 20 players in the world average a losing record holding serve from the precarious scoreline of 0/30.

The game is potentially half over, and for the majority at this elite level, their chances of holding serve have already dropped below 50 per cent. An Infosys ATP Beyond The Numbers analysis of the Top 20 from the 2016 season at 0/30, and the two nearby scorelines of 15/30 and 0/40, provide a fresh perspective of just how tough it is to hold serve once you fall behind by two points on the scoreboard.

The Top 20 average holding serve 49 per cent of the time from 0/30. American John Isner leads the field, holding a mind-blowing 70 per cent of the time. Others ahead of the pack include Ivo Karlovic (66 per cent), Stan Wawrinka (61 per cent) and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga (56 per cent).

The volatility of 0/30 sees a massive 46 percentage-point gap between Isner’s leading 70 per cent, and David Goffin, who managed to win only 34 per cent of his service games when falling behind 0/30.

The Best Among The Top 20 In 2016

Holding Serve From 0/30 Holding Serve From 15/30 Holding Serve From 0/40 John Isner              70% John Isner               80%  Gael Monfils        43% Ivo Karlovic            66%  Ivo Karlovic             76% John Isner           38% Stan Wawrinka       61%  Jo-Wilfried Tsonga  71% Stan Wawrinka    35% Jo-Wilfried Tsonga 56%  Milos Raonic           70% Kei Nishikori        28% 

If the Top 20 won the 0/30 point, their chances of holding serve jumped sharply from 49 per cent to 64 per cent – a significant 15 percentage-point leap that now has every player in the Top 20 statistically favored to hold serve.

World No. 1 Andy Murray was slightly above the Top 20 average from 15/30, holding 65 per cent of the time, as was No. 2 Novak Djokovic (66 per cent), No. 3 Milos Raonic (70 per cent) and No. 4 Stan Wawrinka (68 per cent).

If the Top 20 lost the 0/30 point to drop to 0/40, their win percentage of holding serve plummeted down to 22 per cent. No Top 20 players won more games than they lost from this deep hole.

The best performer of the Top 20 holding serve from 0/40 in 2016 was Gael Monfils, who held 12 of 28 times for a commanding 43 per cent average. Kei Nishikori was another stand-out from 0/40, holding 28 per cent of the time, as was Nick Kyrgios at 25 per cent.

It is interesting to see the sizable fluctuations in players’ fortunes of holding serve from either 15/30 or 0/40. Both Murray and Karlovic had a sizable 55 percentage-point difference of holding between the two scorelines, with Tomas Berdych close at 51 percentage points. The smallest gap by far was Monfils, at only 13 percentage points – 56 per cent at 15/30 to 43 per cent at 0/40.

Tennis is a game of feel and touch, but it’s also a game of patterns and percentages, and the more we know about these crucial scorelines, the easier it will be to successfully navigate them in the future.

Djokovic Fights Through Acapulco Debut

Tue, 02/28/2017 - 11:22pm
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Novak Djokovic shook off the rust and battled for more than 90 minutes to take his debut match at the Abierto Mexicano Telcel in Acapulco on Tuesday evening. The Serbian improved to 3-0 against Slovakian veteran Martin Klizan with a 6-3, 7-6(4) victory at the ATP World Tour 500 event.

“I wasn’t expecting an easy match, that’s for sure," Djokovic said. "I haven’t played an official tour match since Australia, one Davis Cup only.

"So I was looking forward to coming out on the court and playing ... I got Klizan in the first round, who’s well known for playing his best tennis on the big stage against the top players. He’s not afraid.

"Overall it was a good performance. It was a tough second set, up and down. It’s exactly what I needed in this moment to test myself and my game."

It was far from easy for the Serbian, who faced trouble often in the early goings. The World No. 2 had to save four break points during his first three service games, relying on his serves to help him dodge the breaks. Klizan would wince at the missed opportunities, especially when Djokovic converted his own break point for a 4-2 lead and later took the first set.

Klizan, a five-time ATP World Tour champion, didn't depart after the opener, though. The left-hander bludgeoned forehand after forehand and kept Djokovic off-balance by occasionally tossing in a forehand drop shot that Djokovic could often only watch drop inside the service box. Klizan would finish with 25 winners, nearly three times Djokovic's tally of nine. But the Slovakian also delivered 30 unforced errors, compared to Djokovic's 11.

In the second set, Klizan broke for 4-2 and it looked as if the match would head to a third set. But Djokovic broke back immediately and outplayed Klizan in the tie-break for the straight-sets win.

The contest was Djokovic's first tournament match since he fell in the second round of the Australian Open last month, his earliest exit Down Under since 2006 when the Serbian was ranked No. 76. Djokovic accepted a wild card into Acapulco last week. The 29 year old will meet Argentine Juan Martin del Potro, who beat #NextGenATP American Frances Tiafoe in the second round.

"He deserved all the success he’s had, especially because the past couple of years he was not playing much because of injury," Djokovic said of the prospect of facing del Potro. "He brings excitement to tennis because he has a big game, a big serve. He’s somebody we can call a big-match player."

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Marin Cilic earned his first win in Acapulco. The third seed knocked out Buenos Aires titlist Alexandr Dolgopolov 6-3, 4-6, 6-0. Cilic hit 14 aces and won more than 70 per cent of his service points during the 90-minute victory.

The 28-year-old Croatian had lost his opener last year to American Ryan Harrison. Cilic will meet countryman and #NextGenATP player Borna Coric in the second round.

Fognini Reaches Milestone Win In Sao Paulo

Tue, 02/28/2017 - 11:05pm

Fifth seed Fabio Fognini celebrated a milestone 250th victory on Tuesday at the Brasil Open in Sao Paulo. The Italian beat compatriot Marco Cecchinato 6-4, 7-6(4) in one hour and 35 minutes to advance to the second round.

Fognini, who reached the semi-finals here in 2008, was nearly untouchable on his first serve, winning almost 80 per cent of those points. He will next face another Italian qualifier in Alessandro Giannessi, who dismissed home favourite Rogerio Dutra Silva of Brazil 6-4, 6-3.

In an under-20 battle, #NextGenATP player Casper Ruud of Norway beat 19-year-old Akira Santillan of Japan 6-4, 6-4. The 18-year-old Ruud, who reached the semi-finals in Rio last week, will meet seventh-seeded Argentine Federico Delbonis in the second round. Delbonis beat 24-year-old Slovakian Jozef Kovalik 6-4, 7-6(5).

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Tomic quits in Acapulco citing 'unbearable heat'

Tue, 02/28/2017 - 8:26pm
Tomic quits in Acapulco citing 'unbearable heat'

Sharapova Handed Rome Wildcard

Tue, 02/28/2017 - 8:15pm
The three-time Internazionali BNL D'Italia champion will continue her 2017 comeback at the tournament in Rome in May.

WTA Charities Serving Outside The Lines In Dubai & Budapest

Tue, 02/28/2017 - 8:14pm
From a clinic with former World No.1 Monica Seles in Budapest to having breakfast with a champion in Dubai, here's how WTA Charities gave back to the community this past week.

Svitolina Pulls Out Of Malaysian Open

Tue, 02/28/2017 - 8:13pm
Top seed Elina Svitolina has withdrawn from the Alya WTA Malaysian Open with a lower-leg injury.

Linette Gets Cooking In Kuala Lumpur

Tue, 02/28/2017 - 8:12pm
Magda Linette took some time away from the court at the Alya WTA Malaysian Open to learn to cook some traditional local dishes.

Kerkhove Through To Debut Quarterfinal

Tue, 02/28/2017 - 8:10pm
Dutch qualifier Lesley Kerkhove is through to her first ever WTA quarterfinal at the Alya WTA Malaysian Open after defeating Sabina Sharipova, 6-4, 6-4.

Free Of Shingles, Murray Advances In Dubai

Tue, 02/28/2017 - 6:58pm

Andy Murray, who won his Dubai opener on Tuesday, wasn't quite sure he had shingles until his mother-in-law got involved. Murray had returned from the Australian Open and had noticed a rash developing on his side.

“I had a little bit of a rash basically like on my bum 'round to kind of my stomach, and it wasn't terrible. But then normally if you have a little bit of a rash and you scratch it, it feels better. But with that, it was really, really painful.

“I didn't think much of it at the beginning, and then it was actually my wife's mum, we were having dinner, and I was, like, 'This is really irritating'. She was, like, 'Pull your pants down. Show me. It might be shingles,'” Murray said to laughs on Tuesday.

“I was, like, 'OK'. Then the next day, got a doctor, and she was right.”

Murray continued, saying his wife's mum probably guessed shingles, or adult chickenpox, because her son Scott had experienced the illness in the past. “It's quite strange,” Murray said of the illness, “because it comes in like an arc and it doesn't go past the centre of your body. It stays on one side.”

Murray fans shouldn't worry, though. He said he took some anti-viral medicine and applied a cream, and that he's all better.

“The rash is completely gone now, and I felt fine when I was training. I don't think I'd be able to do what I was doing out there this evening if [I still had it],” he said. “A lot of people said that afterwards, once the rash is gone, that you can feel very tired for quite a few weeks, a number of weeks afterwards. I was maybe a little bit more tired than usual at the beginning, but I really feel fine now.”

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The top seed looked in good shape on Tuesday at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships. He coasted past Tunisia's Malek Jaziri 6-4, 6-1 in 79 minutes to win their first FedEx ATP Head2Head meeting.

“I have never hit with him or played against him before. It took a little bit of time to get used to his game. But I played better as the match went on,” Murray said.

The Scot landed only 40 per cent of his first serves but overcame the low percentage by defending his second serve well, taking nearly 70 per cent of those points (19/29). Murray was broken once but converted four of his eight break-point opportunities against the 33-year-old Jaziri, who reached the Dubai quarter-finals in 2014.

“The only thing I didn't do well was the first serve... I'm not sure exactly why. Maybe first match under the lights, haven't practised in those conditions since I have been here,” Murray said.

The World No. 1 will next meet Spaniard Guillermo Garcia-Lopez. The Brit leads their FedEx ATP Head2Head series 2-1, but they haven't played since the 2012 BNP Paribas Open.

Dzumhur Discusses Wawrinka Upset Dubai 2017

Tue, 02/28/2017 - 6:53pm
Damir Dzumhur reacts to beating defending champion Stan Wawrinka at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships. Watch live tennis at tennistv.com

Djokovic And Nadal Wow Huge Crowds In Acapuclo 2017

Tue, 02/28/2017 - 5:10pm
Top two seeds Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal receive warm welcomes to Acapulco as thousands attend their practices ahead of the Abierto Mexicano Telcel. Photo: Abierto Mexicano

Emirates ATP Rankings Update 28 February

Tue, 02/28/2017 - 4:16pm
See the latest Emirates ATP Rankings as of 28 February, 2017.

Mature #NextGenATP Rubin With An Appetite To Succeed

Tue, 02/28/2017 - 4:14pm

If the criteria to qualify for the Next Gen ATP Finals were to have an insatiable appetite to learn, and an inner belief and professionalism to attain a desired goal, then Noah Rubin would be a certain participant in Milan later this year. The amiable American is currently among the top seven 21-and-under players in the Emirates ATP Race to Milan, but with nine months to go until the inaugural event there is work to do, and points and matches to be won. “It’s a massive motivation to be involved, particularly with new, young talent already making an impact and looking to press their claims as regulars in the Top 100,” Rubin told ATPWorldTour.com. “I’m self-motivated and keen to improve all the time, so it will be a test, and tough to qualify and get involved in a big tournament.”

Learn About Next Gen ATP Finals

Time spent off the court due to an ankle injury in mid-2016, but also in grueling nine-hour off-season sessions in Boca Raton, where he alternated between the court and gym for three weeks, reaped dividends earlier this month with the Neville Smith Forest Products Launceston International crown. It was his first ATP Challenger Tour title for 15 months (since November 2015 at Charlottesville) and ended a frustrating wait for the dedicated and disciplined right-hander, who recently turned 21.

“Last year, I was mentally off,” said Rubin. “Having turned pro in 2015, I did well at the Australian Open, but then experienced a poor clay swing prior to getting hurt before Wimbledon. I love the sport so much and the life I lead as a professional player, so I didn’t want to enter a negative space. My family and friends help me stay focused, telling me I just needed to practise and improve. By the time I got back on court I was excited and that’s what I’ve carried over into the new year.”

Learn About ATP Challenger Tour

Under the guidance of Stan Boster, the USTA National Men’s Coach, and former World No. 15 Robby Ginepri, Rubin has added to his armoury to become a more destructive force. ”Noah has a high intelligence level and is able to implement information given to him quickly on the court,” Ginepri told ATPWorldTour.com. “He is extremely professional on and off the tennis court.”

Having played Roger Federer at this year’s Australian Open, where he won a match for the second year running, Rubin witnessed first-hand the intensity in preparation and off-court training of the star names. Having played only seven tour-level events, the Long Island native, currently at World No. 172, is fully aware of what he needs to do in order to rise up the Emirates ATP Rankings.

“I try to keep an open mind, have a flexibility in the way I adapt to results and travel,” said Rubin, who won junior Wimbledon in 2014. “I’ve learned a lot about myself and work on a day-to-day basis. I’ve had a good first month to the year, learning a lot about the intensity of playing against Federer in Melbourne and how to raise my own game. With my current ranking, and with only a handful of points to defend between May and September, I am reassured I can push on, stay free from injury and develop my consistency.

“My backhand was already solid, but my forehand has become a major weapon now. My fitness was always good, but now it’s at another level and, importantly, I’ve become more grounded and mature to adapt to what I’m being asked to do by Robby or Stan. But my Dad [Eric], who taught me to play tennis, and also Lawrence Kleger, who coached me from the age of eight and knows the game so well, continue to mentor me. Lawrence, because of his time with me, picks up instinctively, unlike any other person, what I’m doing wrong on the practice or match court.”

Rubin admits that Ginepri, who was 21 when he lifted his first ATP World Tour trophy at 2003 Newport, has been able to adapt to his own style and provide specific guidance since joining his coaching team. Ginepri also “makes each session fun and talkative”.

“I'm able to give insight from my own tennis experiences and can relate on a daily basis on what he is feeling throughout the day,” said Ginepri. “Noah is filled with confidence and his inner belief is second to none. As long as he keeps his relentless attitude towards perfecting his craft, there's no reason why he can't achieve great things in his career.”

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Rio Open Uncovered 2017

Tue, 02/28/2017 - 2:08pm
Go behind the scenes with ATP World Tour Uncovered presented by Peugeot at the Rio Open, where Dominic Thiem was hoping to re-discover his top form.

Wawrinka's Dubai title defense ends in Round 1

Tue, 02/28/2017 - 8:45am
Wawrinka's Dubai title defense ends in Round 1

Watson sees off Mattek-Sands in Acapulco

Tue, 02/28/2017 - 4:20am
Watson sees off Mattek-Sands in Acapulco