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Uncovered: Behind The Scenes At Dubai 2018

Tue, 03/06/2018 - 7:17am
ATP World Tour Uncovered presented by Peugeot goes behind the scenes at the 2018 Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships, featuring and off-court activity and interview with top seed Grigor Dimitrov.

Qureshi’s Stop War Start Tennis Spotlights Cambodia

Tue, 03/06/2018 - 3:26am

Ten-year-old Teck Toy should have been in school instead of foraging through the forest. But when hunger is extreme and your family is in danger of dying due to starvation, education takes a backseat. In remote villages of northwest Cambodia, hunger is staved off by boiling brackish water and making soup. Snakes, frogs, rats, lizards and anything else caught that can provide a bit of protein gets tossed into the pot and flavoured with forest plants and starchy roots. Toy reached down into the dense forest undergrowth full of vines to pick up what he thought to be a wild mushroom. Instead, he picked up a ‘bomblet’, a small-sized fragmentation bomb that is packed with hundreds of others into a larger cluster bomb, which is then dropped from the air or launched from the ground.

In a flash, Toy lost his left leg and joined Cambodia’s vast legion of amputees due to unexploded ordinance from decades-old fighting. Today, thanks to a Catholic mission established in the Battambang prefecture by a Spanish priest and his devoted volunteers, the 10-year-old no longer goes hungry or misses school. And he spends his free time not in the forest, but on a new tennis court playing wheelchair tennis with other amputees.

In February, I visited Cambodia on behalf of Stop War Start Tennis, the foundation that Aisam-Ul-Haq Qureshi founded to promote peace through tennis and to help communities ravaged by war to rebuild through our great sport. The foundation received a grant through the ATP ACES For Charity programme this year, as it did in 2013.

The funds are meant to help kids like Lisa Sokor, who wants to be a tennis star. The 11-year-old comes from the province of Siem Reap, home of the temples of Angkor Wat, which are considered one of the wonders of the world. Sokor grew up slightly more than a stone’s throw away from those magnificent Khmer structures in another village lying in ruins, Derc Sun Cang T’boung, quite possibly one of the poorest squatter villages in all of Cambodia. In Sokor’s village, homes are built on top of black slime mud; a sewage mix of gray water and black water spit out of thatched-palm huts through PVC pipes into a rain-soaked ground. Among the stench and filth, naked children run amok through a melting pot of malaria, cholera and dysentery.

It was Scott Windus who discovered a then seven-year-old Lisa Sokor. Windus is a former Tennis Australia Senior Club Coach, who has been introducing tennis to disadvantaged kids in Cambodia’s northwest territory for five years. Project Empower, which Windus spearheads, is funded by Australia’s Baptist Mission Agency.

“Lisa caught hold of the tail end of tennis, knowing that it would be her ticket out of this situation and to a bigger, brighter future,” said Windus. “At the age of 11, Lisa inspires all of us on a daily basis, as we are in awe of her self-motivated, never-say-die training and match attitude.”

Windus sets up shop and recruits players from the poorest villages in Siem Reap. For him, the challenges in Cambodia are not just providing opportunities for the poor, but also eradicating hatred and racial prejudices. Windus’ success stories range from a tuk-tuk driver turned tennis coach, to a half-dozen boys who have made it to the top of the national rankings. But his most impressive victory is a bit more subtle.

“The civil war of the 1980s dragged on in the northwestern region of the country for 19 years after hostilities stopped in the capital, Phnom Penh, in some areas not ceasing until as late as 1999,” stated Windus. “One of the enduring consequences is the tension that still exists between the Khmer national and the local Khmer/Vietnamese citizens, fathered by Vietnamese soldiers during the Vietnamese occupation.

“One success story is the village of Da Pol in Siem Reap City, home to a large number of the Khmer/Vietnamese families. Through the sport of tennis, the village is experiencing a unity like never before.

“Getting permission to use makeshift nets on the local Vietnamese dirt volleyball court, we were able to host a large number of Khmer and Vietnamese youth coming each week to learn tennis. Tennis gave them a chance to run around together and have fun, while forgetting about their existing prejudice towards the other. As these players grow in their tennis abilities, gain new experiences through travelling and meeting people from all over the world, their character and attitudes also mature to encompass expanded horizons and a vision of a world that is much bigger than the one they come from.”

In November 2017, some of Windus' students joined Tennis Cambodia’s national junior team for a trip to Vietnam.

“Interaction through tennis helps people form a more encompassing worldview and it also has the power to break down generational fears and prejudice across racial lines,” said Windus. “For the first time, they were able to witness the truth about their Vietnamese hosts being friendly, welcoming and encouraging. On the other side of this new experience and having met, played with and shared a meal with many of the Vietnamese team players and officials, the Cambodian children now have tools and a voice with which to challenge the status-quo within their communities and schools that want to continue the feud with their close neighbours.”

By the national road, it takes less than three hours to reach the city of Battambang from Siem Reap. While Siem Reap is on the map for its rich world heritage sites, Battambang has been a flaming arrow on the map for another reason — warfare. Invaders, rebels, bandits and deserting soldiers have all struck camp in and around Battambang. Even the name, Battambang sounds like it’s about to explode. The effects of anti-tank mines, cluster bombs and cheap homemade land mines are visible everywhere you go. Every year, just like clockwork, as the rainy season washes away thin layers of laterite soil thus bringing hidden explosives a little bit closer to the surface, a new batch of amputees appear on the scene.

Father Enrique Figueroda first came to Cambodia in the mid 1980s and was immediately struck by the amount of agony and misery he saw everywhere. Later, he was drawn to Battambang by the stories of how a small band of local Christians defied the Khmer Rouge genocidal mandate forbidding Christianity. It was here in Battambang that the soft-hearted father saw the maimed and disabled suffering while literally crying out for help. Soon, Figueroda became known as the wheelchair priest. Today, at his Arrupe Center, which is dedicated to helping teach and train locals, tennis wheelchairs are scattered about a cement slab that has a net strung across. Tennis is just one of the wheelchair activities that they sponsor. The Arrupe Center is staffed by young Spanish volunteers and local adults. Most of the Spanish staff live about 25 kilometres away in the village of Ta Hen at the sister school commune. The expression, “off the beaten track”, could have been talking about Ta Hen, but that is where the land was granted and a school and agriculture center were built. And it is also the least likely place that you will ever see two brand new lighted tennis courts constructed, complete with a practice wall — a gift from tennis-loving Spanish donors.

On the day I visited Ta Hen, both disabled and disadvantaged kids, many from parents who gifted them to the church because they were too poor to care for them, were trying to play tennis. I say trying, because there were not enough racquets and balls available for everyone to use at once. None of the kids had tennis shoes. I suppose that quite a few would rather have prosthetic legs first. Through previous Stop War Start Tennis visits in hard hit areas around the world, Aisam-Ul-Haq Qureshi and I have seen similar scenes. But here was something different. I looked around the tennis courts at kids as poor as church mice — some were missing limbs, others had birth defects, a few were stricken with incurable diseases and one child had never grown. There they all were running, limping, rolling and hobbling all over the place, as a constant roar of laughter seemed to shake the very hard-court surface.

"I am so happy to support and recommend these two projects in Siem Reap and Battambang," Qureshi told me. "What they have done for these children with so little is a testament to the dedication to improving lives through tennis. On the ATP World Tour, we have the best of everything. We often don't realise the value of used balls, racquets and shoes. Equipment we tend to discard could be used to bring joy to those less fortunate."

Later, I was allowed to visit the dorm rooms where kids slept three or four to a bed, watch other children tending to their assigned plots in the garden, and see others completing their daily tasks. Everywhere I went kids were smiling, singing, laughing and those that could; skipping and dancing around the commune. Then it dawned on me why these kids, who had every reason to be angry, sad or bitter seemed so happy. Here in a remote village — where remote takes on a new meaning — surrounded by rice paddies and corn fields, coconut palms and banana trees, lies a little haven where kids that nobody wants feel loved no matter what condition, shape or size they come in. During my visit, I quit counting the amount of times that I observed the Spanish volunteers hugging, holding hands or carrying these little children. Maybe that is why they are all volunteers — you cannot pay people to love in those unfortunate conditions. Over two days, I got to know a few of the volunteers: Ivan, Martia, Juan and Borja. Though they are not trained professional tennis coaches, there is nothing these young people would not do to encourage the kids to play tennis.

Afterwards, Qureshi asked me what I learned from this visit that we might share with other people who are considering creating similar projects around the world.

I could think of no easy answer. What I observed with Windus in Siem Reap and Figueroda’s team in Battambang — to whom Qureshi donated five wheelchairs last year — is just how amazing the amount of joy and hope that tennis can make in the lives of those who are afflicted in one way or the other. Against some pretty incredible odds, these two men and their teams have succeeded where lesser-determined people would have given up long ago.

View Qureshi's Charity Profile

Learn More About ATP ACES For Charity

If interested in communicating or supporting either project in Siem Reap or Battambang, Cambodia, please contact Robert Davis at editor@elitetennis.org for further details.

Federer teams with Bill Gates in charity match

Tue, 03/06/2018 - 12:46am
Roger Federer continued to show his world No. 1 form in his "The Match for Africa" exhibition, where he partnered with Bill Gates to benefit education for children in Africa.

Tennis TV To Stream Every March Masters Match

Tue, 03/06/2018 - 12:22am

After a frantic start to the 2018 season, the ATP World Tour turns its attention to the first Masters 1000 events of the season – the BNP Paribas Open and the Miami Open presented by Itaú.

With the world’s best players heading to North America for the 'Sunshine Double', fans can follow every singles and doubles match on the ATP's official streaming service, TennisTV.com.

Subscribe to either a monthly or annual subscription to Tennis TV today!

With live streaming from up to eight courts at once, you can enjoy the option of Tennis TV’s multi-screen player to make sure you keep up with all the action. Watch live and on-demand coverage of 252 matches from Indian Wells and Miami, on a range of devices including Apple TV, Amazon Fire TV, Roku and Xbox One.

Last year saw Roger Federer win memorable back-to-back titles to complete the 'Sunshine Double' for the third time. Will the new World No. 1 repeat the feat this year, or will the likes of Rafael Nadal, Alexander Zverev, Grigor Dimitrov, Marin Cilic or perhaps a dark horse triumph in either the Californian desert or the Florida Keys?

Federer will play his first event since becoming the oldest man in history to hold the World No. 1 spot in the ATP Rankings. Nadal will be hot on his heels as he bids to regain the top position at the first Masters 1000 event of the year.

The action will then roll over to the east coast in Miami, beginning 21 March, with the tournament being held at Crandon Park for the last time before moving to Hard Rock Stadium for 2019.

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Sign up for Tennis TV today to watch up to 2,000 matches from all 64 ATP World Tour tournaments in 2018 including live streaming from ATP World Tour Masters 1000, ATP 500* and 250* events.

*Geo-restrictions may apply. Click here for more information.

Serena back in action at MSG tiebreaker event

Tue, 03/06/2018 - 12:00am
Serena Williams played her first singles matches Monday since her 2017 Australian Open victory at the Tie Break Tens event at Madison Square Garden, losing in the semifinals of the eight-woman field that also included sister Venus.

Federer's Hard-Court Numbers Are Hard To Beat

Mon, 03/05/2018 - 11:12pm

Roger Federer has been one of the premier hard-court performers on the ATP World Tour throughout his career. But since the beginning of 2017, when the Swiss was as low as No. 17 in the ATP Rankings, he has far exceeded his already-impressive average win-rate on the surface.

In fact, Federer has led the Tour with a 52-4 record (92.9 per cent) on hard courts during that span, winning seven of his nine tour-level titles on the surface since the start of last year. Five of those seven triumphs came at either an ATP World Tour Masters 1000 event (2017 Indian Wells, 2017 Miami, 2017 Shanghai) or a Grand Slam (2017 & 2018 Australian Open).

But perhaps what is most impressive is that the 97-time tour-level champion has far exceeded the best win-loss rates on the surface in the history of the sport. According to the FedEx ATP Performance Zone, Novak Djokovic has the highest all-time winning percentage on hard courts, triumphing an impressive 84.2 per cent of the time, with Federer right behind at 83.4 per cent.

Best Career Records On Hard Courts

 Player W-L Rate Career W-L Tour-Level Hard-Court Titles  Novak Djokovic 84.2 % 511-96  51   Roger Federer 83.4 % 720-143  67   Jimmy Connors 82.8 % 547-114  49   Ivan Lendl 82.1 %  395-86  31   Rod Laver 81.3 %  156-36  18 

Then, you can compare that stretch to the best career records on other surfaces. Rafael Nadal is undeniably the greatest clay-court performer in history, winning 91.7 per cent of his matches (389-35). Don Budge leads the way on grass with a 52-5 record (91.2 per cent).

Visit FedEx ATP Performance Zone

Sure, Federer’s run of success has lasted just more than a year at this point, but 56 matches is not a small sample size. And when you take a look at the rest of the Swiss' career, it shows that Federer’s recent win-loss record on hard courts is not a fluke. In 2005, the right-hander won 50 of 51 hard-court matches (98 per cent) on the surface and followed that up the next year by winning 59 of 61 (96.7 per cent) matches. In total, he has exceeded a 90 per cent win-rate on hard courts for an entire season four times. This year, he is off to a 12-0 start.

Federer's Best Years On Hard Courts

 Year W-L Rate Year W-L Tour-Level Hard-Court Titles  2005 98.0 % 50-1 8  2006 96.7 %  59-2 9   2004 92.0 %  46-4  7   2017 90.9 %  40-4  5   2014 88.7 %  55-7  4 

One of the leading factors spurring this recent run is that in 14 of his 56 matches since the beginning of last year, Federer has not faced a break point, and in nine more, he saved each break opportunity held against him.

So, how has he been so successful on hard courts recently? Former World No. 1 Jim Courier says that one shot in particular has improved dramatically.

“Roger’s addition of backhand aggression from the start of 2017 has had a massive impact on his results,” Courier told ATPWorldTour.com. “To go 4-0 [all on hard courts] versus Nadal last year was awfully impressive and due in large part to the backhand wing.”

And while this hard-court run has been magnificent, Courier says that it’s not just about the surface.

“Roger is impressive on all surfaces, including hard courts, due to his all court acumen and fantastic technique,” Courier said.

Federer now enters a critical stretch of events at the BNP Paribas Open and the Miami Open presented by Itau — the first two ATP World Tour Masters 1000 events of the season — where he defends 2,000 ATP Rankings points from last season’s victories. Federer will have to be at his best, as he must advance to at least the semi-finals in Indian Wells to maintain his spot atop the ATP Rankings. 

ATP World Tour: Poetry In Motion

Mon, 03/05/2018 - 10:36pm
ATP World Tour Uncovered presented by Peugeot shows you why tennis, at its roots, is poetry in motion.

10 Years On, Acapulco Honoured Again

Mon, 03/05/2018 - 1:13pm

After an entertaining final featuring Top 10 stars Juan Martin del Potro and Kevin Anderson, the Abierto Mexicano Telcel presentado por HSBC concluded its 25th edition. But, it was not just Del Potro who was celebrating. ATP Executive Chairman and President Chris Kermode presented Renata Burillo, Chairman of Grupo Pegaso, and Tournament Director Raul Zurutuza with a trophy honouring the Acapulco event's place as one of the Tournaments of the Year in the 2017 ATP World Tour Awards presented by Moët & Chandon.

Read & Watch Highlights: Del Potro Wins 21st Tour-Level Title

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Ten years after first receiving this award, the Abierto Mexicano Telcel has once again been named the ATP World Tour 500 Tournament of the Year. The event, held at the Acapulco Princess Mundo Imperial, switched to blue hard courts in 2014 after 20 years on clay. Tickets for all sessions of the 25th edition were sold out months before the start of the event.

“It is an honour for Grupo Pegaso to receive this recognition from the players of the ATP World Tour,” said Renata Burillo, President of Grupo Pegaso. “We thank the players, all the fans, the media and sponsors that made this possible. We will work hard to keep improving in the years to come.”

Zurutuza said that the award was a recognition of the tournament’s long list of enhancements. "We moved Court Three and Court Four... to the parking lot. We moved the press room, we have a new television compound, we added 1,500 seats to the main stadium," he said. "Those improvements are well deserved for a tournament that sold all of the tickets within two months of announcing the player field."

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The Tournament of the Year awards, voted annually by ATP World Tour players, recognise the leading standards set across the three tournament categories on the Tour. The BNP Paribas Open and the Qatar ExxonMobil Open won the remaining two awards, in the ATP World Tour Masters 1000 and 250 tournament categories respectively.

Visit the official ATP World Tour Awards section on ATPWorldTour.com.

10 Things To Watch In Indian Wells

Mon, 03/05/2018 - 1:10pm

It is one of the most important times of year on the ATP World Tour — the world's best gather in Indian Wells, California, for the first ATP World Tour Masters 1000 event of the season: the BNP Paribas Open. Roger Federer, the five-time champion and World No. 1, leads the field into the Coachella Valley where he is defending the 1,000 ATP Rankings points he claimed last year. 

1) No. 1 for Now: Five-time champion Roger Federer defends his title and No. 1 ATP Ranking when he returns to the BNP Paribas Open. Federer will remain the World No. 1 if he reaches the semi-finals. Otherwise, Rafael Nadal re-claims No. 1 on 19 March for his fifth stint in the top spot and the 168th week of his career.

2) Fantastic Fed: Federer, 36, is the oldest World No. 1 in ATP Rankings history and owns records for the most weeks at No. 1 (306 as of 12 March), years since No. 1 debut (14) and years between stints at No. 1 (5). The Swiss is 64-5 with nine tour-level titles since returning in 2017 from a left-knee injury.

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3) Novak Seeks Title No. 6: Following a “small medical intervention” on his right elbow, Novak Djokovic is scheduled to compete for just the second time since Wimbledon. Djokovic lost to Hyeon Chung in the Australian Open fourth round on 22 January before undergoing surgery. He is a five-time BNP Paribas Open champion, tied with Federer for the most titles in tournament history (since 1976).

4) Three’s The Limit: After reaching finals at two of the past three Grand Slam events, Marin Cilic became the World No. 3. The Croat is the 16th player to be ranked No. 3 since 25 July 2005. Only four players during that span have been in the Top 2 (Federer, Nadal, Djokovic and Andy Murray).

5) Breaking Back: Juan Martin del Potro and Kevin Anderson have broken back into the Top 10 this season. Del Potro dropped to No. 1,045 before beginning his comeback from three left-wrist surgeries in 2016. Anderson fell to No. 80 after spending one week inside the Top 10 in 2015.

6) Delpo On The Rise: The Argentine is fresh off of winning the title at the Abierto Mexicano Telcel presentado por HSBC, where he beat three Top 8 players consecutively to clinch his first ATP World Tour 500-level trophy since 2013 Basel. Del Potro is now up to No. 8 in the ATP Rankings. 

7) #NextGenATP Turns 2: Alexander Zverev, Frances Tiafoe and Taylor Fritz were 18 when they helped launch #NextGenATP at the 2016 BNP Paribas Open. They are among the hottest players on Tour two years later. Zverev is ranked in the Top 5, Tiafoe captured the Delray Beach Open title on 25 February, and Fritz won the Oracle Challenger Series title in Newport Beach on 28 January.

8) Wild Cards: Four of the five wild cards are Americans: Ernesto Escobedo, Bradley Klahn, Reilly Opelka and Tennys Sandgren. Aussie #NextGenATP star Alex de Minaur, who reached the Sydney final, is the other wild card. De Minaur, Escobedo and Sandgren are making their main draw debut at Indian Wells.

9) Frenchman Rising: No. 1 Frenchman Lucas Pouille has reached three finals in the past four weeks, highlighted by his fifth ATP World Tour title earlier this year in Montpellier. Pouille is at a career-high No. 12 in the ATP Rankings. 

10) Double Your Fun: Oliver Marach and Mate Pavic enter the BNP Paribas Open with an 18-2 record on the season, sweeping doubles titles in January at Doha, Auckland and the Australian Open. Also in the draw are Californians Bob Bryan and Mike Bryan, who will make their 20th consecutive appearance at the BNP Paribas Open. The Bryans won the Indian Wells title in 2013 and 2014.

Fabio Fognini: My Story

Mon, 03/05/2018 - 10:38am
Fabio Fognini talks about the birth of his first child and whether his son will grow up to play tennis in this edition of My Story, delivered by FedEx.

Edmund ends Murray's reign as British No.1

Mon, 03/05/2018 - 8:51am
Andy Murray's near 12-year reign as British No.1 has come to an end, with Kyle Edmund taking over the mantle.

Bautista Agut Rises In ATP Rankings, Mover Of The Week

Mon, 03/05/2018 - 7:30am

No. 16 Roberto Bautista Agut, +7
The Spaniard clinched his second ATP World Tour title of the season (Auckland), and eighth tour-level crown, at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships, beating France’s Lucas Pouille in the final. Bautista Agut became the first player outside the Top 10 of the ATP Rankings to win the tournament since Fabrice Santoro in 2002, after overcoming Borna Coric, Malek Jaziri and Pouille in straight sets. The 29-year-old jumps seven positions to No. 16. Read and Watch Highlights

No. 8 Juan Martin del Potro, +1
The 29-year-old won his biggest title since 2013 (Basel) at the Abierto Mexicano Telcel presentado por HSBC, overcoming US Open finalist Kevin Anderson in Saturday’s final. Del Potro navigated a tough draw in Acapulco, beating Mischa Zverev, four-time champion David Ferrer, and Top 10 stars Alexander Zverev, Dominic Thiem and Anderson to lift the trophy. The title was Del Potro’s 21st crown on the ATP World Tour and his earliest triumph in a season since his 2014 success at the Sydney International (d. Tomic). The Argentine rises one spot to No. 8 in the ATP Rankings, his highest position since 3 August 2014. Read and Watch Highlights

No. 12 (Career High) Lucas Pouille, +3
Pouille climbs three places after reaching his third final in four weeks at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships (l. to Bautista Agut). The Frenchman avenged his Marseille final loss to Karen Khachanov before defeating seeds Yuichi Sugita and Filip Krajinovic to reach the championship match. The 24-year-old moves to a career-high No. 12 in the ATP Rankings. He could have broken into the Top 10 for the first time (at No. 10) with the Dubai title.

No. 48 (Career High) Jared Donaldson, +11
Donaldson reached his first ATP World Tour semi-final at the Abierto Mexicano Telcel presentado por HSBC. The American scored convincing back-to-back wins over Matthew Ebden and Feliciano Lopez to reach the last four, where he fell to New York Open champion Kevin Anderson. The 21-year-old soars 11 places to career-high No. 48 in the ATP Rankings.

No. 61 (Career High) Nicolas Jarry, +12
The 22-year-old ended his breakthrough Golden Swing with a runner-up finish at the Brasil Open (l. to Fognini). Jarry fought his way through to his first ATP World Tour final after hard-fought three-set wins over Dusan Lajovic, Guido Pella, Albert Ramos-Vinolas and Horacio Zeballos. The Chilean notched nine wins from 12 matches in Quito, Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo, with each of the three losses coming against the eventual champion. Jarry climbs 12 spots to a career-high No. 61 in the ATP Rankings.  Read and Watch Highlights

No. 84 Malek Jaziri, +33
The Tunisian scored a huge upset win over top seed Grigor Dimitrov en route to his first ATP World Tour semi-final since 2015 (Winston Salem) at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships. Jaziri backed up his stunning win over the World No. 4 with wins over Robin Haase and #NextGenATP star Stefanos Tsitsipas, before falling to soon-to-be champion Bautista Agut in the last four. The 34-year-old flies 33 places up the ATP Rankings, re-entering the Top 100 at No. 84.

View ATP Rankings

Other Notable Top 100 Movers This Week
No. 26 Hyeon Chung, +3
No. 28 Filip Krajinovic, +6
No. 32 Feliciano Lopez, +6
No. 33 David Ferrer, +6
No. 54 Ryan Harrison, +6
No. 71 Stefanos Tsitsipas, +11
No. 75 Vasek Pospisil, +8
No. 93 Pierre-Hugues Herbert, +6

Highlights: Fognini Beats Jarry For Sao Paulo 2018 Title

Mon, 03/05/2018 - 6:18am
Watch highlights of the 2018 Brasil Open final, featuring Fabio Fognini versus Nicolas Jarry.

Klizan Claims Indian Wells Challenger Crown

Mon, 03/05/2018 - 3:55am
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A LOOK BACK
Oracle Challenger Series Indian Wells (Indian Wells, U.S.A.): Martin Klizan capped a sun-drenched week of tennis in paradise, taking the title at the inaugural Challenger in Indian Wells on Sunday. The Slovakian defeated Darian King 6-3, 6-3 to lift his first trophy in two years, since prevailing at the ATP World Tour 500 event in Hamburg in 2016. Klizan, a former World No. 24, is on the comeback trail after struggling with a left calf injury last year. He registered impressive wins over Sergiy Stakhovsky, Henri Laaksonen, Peter Polansky, Vasek Pospisil and King to take the $150,000 title.

A five-time ATP World Tour champion, Sunday's victory was Klizan's seventh ATP Challenger Tour crown. The left-hander rose 52 spots in the ATP Rankings to No. 129.

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Keio Challenger International Tennis Tournament (Yokohama, Japan): Yokohama celebrated its 13th edition with an all-Japanese final, as Yasutaka Uchiyama rallied past Tatsuma Ito 2-6, 6-3, 6-4 on Sunday. The 25-year-old lifted his second ATP Challenger Tour trophy and first in one year, since triumphing in Kyoto in 2017. He soars 77 spots to No. 213 in the ATP Rankings.

Indian Wells Shines In Challenger Debut

Mon, 03/05/2018 - 12:10am
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The beginning of the 2018 ATP World Tour Masters 1000 season is just a few days away, as players begin to descend on Indian Wells for the BNP Paribas Open.

But the Coachella Valley has already been buzzing with world-class tennis over the past week. With seven seeds inside the Top 100 of the ATP Rankings, the inaugural Oracle Challenger Series Indian Wells has given prime exposure for players on the ATP Challenger Tour. The opportunity to compete at a Masters 1000 venue does not come often for many in the draw, and the competitors relished the opportunity to play in one of the biggest tennis settings in the world.

With #NextGenATP stars Taylor Fritz, Reilly Opelka, Felix Auger-Aliassime, Stefan Kozlov and Sebastian Korda joined by established veterans Vasek Pospisil, Martin Klizan and Marius Copil, the field offered plenty of star power in the California desert.

"Overall I think it went great," said BNP Paribas Open tournament director and former World No. 2 Tommy Haas. "First, it's great for the fans who live locally and love the sport of tennis. The game has gotten so tough, especially at the Challenger level. A $150,000 event can help the players in so many ways. You gain [ATP Rankings] points and make some prize money and if you're in the [Masters 1000] swing of Indian Wells and Miami, you might as well get here early and get used to the facility and the courts.

"Guys like Taylor Fritz are here early, played on the main courts and are now used to the conditions. Many other players can say the same thing. There are players who have heard about this facility in the past, but now have a reason to play here at an amazing Challenger."

Klizan claimed the title on Sunday, defeating Darian King 6-3, 6-3 in one hour and nine minutes. The resurgent former World No. 24 capped an impressive week in his comeback from a calf injury. What does the Slovakian credit for his success in Southern California?

"This week was great. It's perfect preparation for the Masters 1000 event. Sometimes I lose my concentration but I was very focused here in Indian Wells. Maybe it was the mountains," Klizan joked, pointing to the adjacent peaks that surround the region.

"It's awesome to have a Challenger here," added Fritz, a Southern California native. "My family has come out to see all my matches. And there are lots of opportunities to play on the courts and get experience. It's also great for the American players of course, to have an extra tournament at home."

The tournament was particularly special for third seed and semi-finalist Vasek Pospisil, who extended his dominant start to the season. The Canadian bumped his 2018 ATP Challenger Tour record to 13-1, rising to No. 75 in the ATP Rankings. One year removed from registering a stunning win over top-ranked Andy Murray in the BNP Paribas Open, Pospisil has fond memories of the Indian Wells Tennis Garden. 

"I've had some good results here in the past and every time I come back I reminisce on those," said Pospisil. "There are tons of Canadian fans that come out as well and I have great support. Always a good feeling to be back here in Indian Wells."

The 2018 BNP Paribas Open begins on Tuesday with qualifying, with main draw action getting underway on Thursday.

 

Uchiyama Fires Smash Off A Smash In Yokohama Final 2018

Sun, 03/04/2018 - 8:04pm
Watch as Yasutaka Uchiyama claims Hot Shot honours en route to the title on home soil in Yokohama, Japan.

Delpo Carries Momentum Into Critical Stretch

Sun, 03/04/2018 - 6:09pm
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Juan Martin del Potro’s victory over World No. 8 Kevin Anderson in the Abierto Mexicano Telcel presentado por HSBC final is noteworthy for many reasons. It is the seventh time the Argentine has beaten a Top 10 player in a tour-level final. The win also completes a week in which he beat three Top 8 players — the last time anyone has done that at an ATP World Tour event outside of the Nitto ATP Finals was when Grigor Dimitrov raised the trophy in Brisbane last January.

But Del Potro, who will return to No. 8 in the ATP Rankings for the first time since 2 August 2014 on Monday thanks to his first ATP World Tour 500-level triumph since 2013 Basel, does not plan on stopping his ascent anytime soon.

“Winning such an important tournament and beating three opponents in the Top 10 gives me confidence, makes me feel good,” Del Potro said. “But I also have things to improve.”


Past Five Players To Earn Three Top 8 Wins At A Non-Nitto ATP Finals ATP World Tour Event
 Player  Tournament  Year Juan Martin Del Potro  Abierto Mexicano Telcel presentado por HSBC  2018 Grigor Dimitrov   Brisbane International presented by Suncorp  2017 Novak Djokovic  Rolex Paris Masters  2015 Novak Djokovic   Internazionali BNL D'Italia  2015 Andy Murray  Mutua Madrid Open  2015 * Grand Slams are not ATP World Tour events.

The ‘Tower of Tandil’ wants to continue his march up the ATP Rankings. And with good health as the first two ATP World Tour Masters 1000 tournaments of the year in Indian Wells and Miami approach, it is a good opportunity for the Argentine to make his mark.

“I'm having a great tennis moment, and I'm very happy to be able to find myself healthy, physically well,” Del Potro said. “It's something that has always caused me problems, but winning this tournament means a lot.”

Last season, Del Potro faced tough draws at both the BNP Paribas Open and the Miami Open presented by Itaú. He lost to Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer, both in the third round, respectively. But instead of entering the swing outside of the Top 30, he will arrive in California back in the Top 10 and with the momentum of three consecutive Top 8 wins.

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“It does not change my routine, nor my agenda,” Del Potro said of the victories. “I follow my own path. I know that if I’m physically good I can play as equals against the best. To achieve that, I train myself day by day. So this tournament [in Acapulco] gives me a little more desire to keep improving and practising hard so as not to lose the footsteps of those at the top.”

Del Potro, whose career-best ATP Ranking is No. 4 (11 January 2010), has just 290 points to defend through the Internazionali BNL D'Italia in May, which World No. 5 Alexander Zverev won in 2017. On the other hand, the three players who will be ranked directly ahead of Del Potro on Monday — No. 7 David Goffin, No. 6 Dominic Thiem and No. 5 Alexander Zverev — all have at least 565 more points to defend than him during that same stretch.


ATP Rankings Points To Defend Through ATP World Tour Masters 1000 Rome
 Player  ATP Rankings Points (5 March 2018) Points To Defend Through Masters 1000 Rome  No. 5 Alexander Zverev  4,540  1,790  No. 6 Dominic Thiem  3,810  1,540  No. 7 David Goffin  3,280  855  No. 8 Juan Martin del Potro  3,200  290

The now 21-time tour-level champion feels that not only was his Acapulco triumph important for the sake of raising the trophy, but the competition he beat to do it leaves him confident heading into these key tournaments.

“In an [ATP World Tour] Masters 1000, to be a champion you have to beat three opponents of the Top 10. And this tournament [in Acapulco] had a high level,” Del Potro said. “That shows you the great tennis that I played. I’m very happy to win a tournament like this and reach my title No. 21 in Mexico. I will remember it all my life."

Fognini crowned Brasil Open champion in Rio

Sun, 03/04/2018 - 5:14pm
Second seed Fabio Fognini recovered from a set down to beat Chile's Nicolas Jarry and win the Brasil Open in Sao Paulo.

Delbonis/Gonzalez Triumph In Sao Paulo

Sun, 03/04/2018 - 3:11pm

Federico Delbonis won his maiden ATP World Tour singles title in Sao Paulo four years ago, so it was only fitting that he would find his doubles breakthrough at the Brasil Open, too.

Delbonis partnered Maximo Gonzalez to cruise past recent New York Open finalists Wesley Koolhof and Artem Sitak 6-4, 6-2 on Sunday in 73 minutes to triumph at the Brasil Open, earning their first tour-level title as a team. It is Delbonis' first doubles crown and the fourth of Gonzalez's career. The pair had only won a single match together (1-2) at the tour-level prior to the week. 

"It's great. First time in singles, first time in doubles. I think it's a special city for me," Delbonis said of Sao Paulo. "I want to enjoy this title a bit. It's always special to win a title. Now, I have a little more confidence for the next tournament and the next month."

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The match was not as easy as the scoreline might indicate, as Delbonis and Gonzalez faced eight break points in the match. But the Argentines nullified seven of the eight opportunities that the Dutch-Kiwi pair held, while converting on four of their seven break chances. They needed three sets in two of their four victories in Sao Paulo, including a tough opener against second-seeded Hans Podlipnik-Castillo and Andrei Vasilevski.

"We really started with a tough draw, but we started playing good," Gonzalez said. "Today we had the best match of the week. I'm happy to be with Federico, he's a good friend of mine."

Gonzalez and Delbonis will share $27,980 and bank 250 ATP Doubles Rankings points each. 

Koolhof and Sitak fall to 0-4 in tour-level finals together. It is the second time in three weeks that they have finished runner-up on the ATP World Tour, losing to Max Mirnyi and Philipp Oswald in the New York Open championship match. Both players are still pursuing their fourth ATP World Tour titles. They will split $14,710 and add 150 ATP Doubles Rankings points to their tally. 

Did You Know?
Delbonis and Gonzalez had played three tour-level matches together (1-2) prior to this year's Brasil Open. They won four matches this week to claim their first title together.

Watch Highlights: Del Potro Beats Anderson For 2018 Acapulco Title

Sun, 03/04/2018 - 1:51pm
Watch highlights as Juan Martin del Potro beats Kevin Anderson to win the Abierto Mexicano Telcel presentado por HSBC title in Acapulco. Watch live tennis at tennistv.com. Hector Vivas/Getty Images photo.