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  • Hewitt Tops International Tennis Hall Of Fame Class Of 2021 Fan Vote

    It was announced on Wednesday in a press release that former World No. 1 Lleyton Hewitt received the most votes in the Class of 2021 International Tennis Hall of Fame Fan Vote presented by BNP Paribas. Swede Jonas Bjorkman received the third-most votes.

    “Being nominated for the Hall of Fame is such a huge honour for me already, and to experience this incredible support from the fans while going through the Hall of Fame process just makes it even more special,” Hewitt said according to the release. “There are four additional great candidates with me on the ballot for the Hall of Fame, and I’m really honoured and appreciative of all the support I’ve received from tennis fans in Australia and around the world.”

    To be elected into the Hall of Fame, a candidate must receive an affirmative vote in 75 per cent or more of ballots submitted from the Official Voting Group, which is comprised of tennis media and experts, or a combined total of 75 per cent or higher from their Voting Group result and any bonus percentage points earned in the Fan Vote.

    As the first-place finisher in the International Tennis Hall of Fame Fan Vote presented by BNP Paribas, Hewitt will receive three bonus percentage points on his results from the Official Voting Group, while Bjorkman will receive one bonus percentage point. In addition to Hewitt and Björkman, Spaniards Juan Carlos Ferrero and Sergi Bruguera as well as American Lisa Raymond are on the ballot in the Player Category for Class of 2021 induction.

    "In today’s digital world, sports fans are more knowledgeable and connected to athletes than ever before. We are pleased to give them the opportunity to express their opinions in determining who will be the recipients of tennis’ ultimate honour,” said International Tennis Hall of Fame CEO Todd Martin. “It’s been great to see fans embrace this opportunity with a strong voter turnout from all over the world. In such an unusual year for tennis, we are glad to offer this unique and important way for fans to engage with the sport, and we are grateful for our longstanding partner BNP Paribas for their support of the 2021 Fan Vote.”

  • ‘Can You Endure?’ Djokovic’s Advice For The #NextGenATP

    The next generation of tennis stars has already arrived according to World No. 1 Novak Djokovic, but their biggest challenge will be to endure at the top in order to establish themselves as great champions in the sport.

    Speaking to press after his hard-fought victory against 23-year-old Borna Coric in the second round of the Erste Bank Open in Vienna, Djokovic reflected on the rise of young stars — including Alexander Zverev, Stefanos Tsitsipas, Jannik Sinner and Andrey Rublev — and what they can do to establish themselves at the top.

    “I definitely see a lot of quality in the young players,” said Djokovic, highlighting 19-year-old Sinner as ‘one to watch’. “[Sinner] definitely possesses a game that is powerful and is with a lot of quality, and you can say he has the potential to be a top player of the world.

    “Sinner is definitely, I would say, the leader of the guys younger than Zverev and Tsitsipas, who I think by many experts’ opinions [is] the next ‘top’ top player.”

    Djokovic also reserved some words of praise and caution for 23-year-old Zverev and 22-year-old Tsitsipas, who have become fixtures in the Top 10 of the FedEx ATP Rankings and lifted the trophy at the Nitto ATP Finals in 2018 and 2019, respectively.

    “These are the guys of the ‘next’ generation, so to speak,” said Djokovic. “They’re still very young, but they have a lot of titles. Both Zverev and Tsitsipas won the [Nitto ATP] Finals, which after Slams is the biggest event in our sport. So those guys are already established top guys. I can’t speak of them as ‘potential’ in tennis, because they already have achieved some great heights in tennis… But let’s see.

    “Many things have to come together in a career and life of a tennis player in order for him to be able to find his best and maximise his potential and to thrive every single year,” he added. “And to endure, because I think you have a much better chance to have a great Grand Slam or a great season. But can you endure for three, four, five, 10 years? Fifteen years?”

    [WATCH LIVE 1]

    It’s something that Djokovic has a career of experience in doing, ever since lifting his first Grand Slam title at the 2008 Australian Open at 20 years old. He’s since gone on to break some of the longest standing records in the sport, racking up 17 Grand Slam titles as well as holding the No. 1 spot in the FedEx ATP Rankings for 292 weeks and counting.

    “Obviously winning a Grand Slam is one of the biggest successes and achievements that you can have in our sport. And of course, anyone can have an unbelievable couple of weeks, but then can you really do that year after year, be No.1 in the world and finish the year as No.1?” Djokovic pondered.

    “I think that’s probably the ultimate goal really, is how to find your balance in your private and professional life in order for you to thrive throughout the entire year and to be one of the contenders for No.1 in the world.”

    Djokovic continues his Vienna quest against Hubert Hurkacz or Lorenzo Sonego in the next round for a spot in the semi-finals.

  • Rublev & Sinner Face Off In Vienna

    When Andrey Rublev and Jannik Sinner meet for the first time Thursday in Vienna, fans may be forgiven for seeing double when two of the ATP’s brightest young stars kick off the evening session on Next Gen Court. Both are lanky 6’ 2” right-handers with flowing red hair and thunderous groundstrokes. The pair even shares the same kit sponsor in Nike, making it hard at times for fans to tell them apart.

    Just don’t get their names mixed up, as Rublev’s countryman Daniil Medvedev found out the hard way during the Australian Open in January. "Andrey gets really, really angry if you call him ‘Jannik’ because he looks like Jannik Sinner a little bit," said Medvedev with a laugh on Tennis United in July.

    [WATCH LIVE 1]

    "During this Australian Open he comes into the locker room and I said, 'Hi Jannik, how are you?' He got angry, he [went] away for 10 minutes, came back 10 minutes later, and goes, 'You are Davydenko then!'"

    Rublev eased into the second round of the Erste Bank Open after a 6-3, 6-2 victory over qualifier Norbert Gombos 6-3, 6-2 on Monday, while 19-year-old Italian Sinner had to battle past Casper Ruud, 7-6(2), 6-3 on Wednesday to advance to win his opener.

    Rublev and Sinner will hope that their best tennis stands out on the court, as they clash for a spot in the Vienna quarter-finals against No. 2 seed Dominic Thiem or Chile’s Cristian Garin.

  • Daniell/Oswald Continue Hot Streak In Nur-Sultan

    Marcus Daniell and Philipp Oswald have been one of the most in-form teams on the ATP Tour in recent weeks and they continued their hot streak on Wednesday in Nur-Sultan.

    The third seeds beat veterans Dominic Inglot and Aisam-Ul-Haq Qureshi 6-4, 6-1 to reach the second round of the Astana Open. Daniell and Oswald broke serve four times and won 87 per cent of their first-serve points to triumph after 67 minutes.

    The tandem recently won their first title together at the Forte Village Sardegna Open, where they defeated Juan Sebastian Cabal and Robert Farah in the final. They also reached the semi-finals last week in Cologne.

    Luke Bambridge and Divij Sharan also advanced in Kazakhstan, battling past Ariel Behar and Gonzalo Escobar 7-5, 4-6, 10-6. In the other doubles match of the day at the ATP 250, Sander Arends moved on with a 6-3, 4-5 lead when Nikola Cacic and Marcelo Demoliner retired.

    [WATCH LIVE 2]

    Kubot/Melo Continue Push For London
    Third seeds Lukasz Kubot and Marcelo Melo began the Erste Bank Open in 11th place in the FedEx ATP Battle For London. But the team that has competed together in London in the season finale's past three editions made a good start in Vienna. Kubot and Melo beat Raven Klaasen and Jean-Julien Rojer 7-6(4), 6-7(4), 10-7 to reach the second round.

    John Peers and Michael Venus, who began the week sixth in the Battle, fell against two-time Roland Garros champions Kevin Krawietz and Andreas Mies. The Germans, who have already qualified for this year's Nitto ATP Finals, triumphed 6-4, 6-4. 

    Jamie Murray and Neal Skupski moved into seventh on Monday with a first-round win in Austria, but Jurgen Melzer and Edouard Roger-Vasselin retook that position with a 6-2, 7-5 victory against Daniel Evans and Oliver Marach. 

    In the only quarter-final of the day, Robert Farah and Fabrice Martin reached the last four with a 6-7(5), 6-4, 10-2 triumph against Karen Khachanov and Andrey Rublev.

  • Sinner Shines Against Ruud, Felix Falls In Vienna

    Nineteen-year-old Italian Jannik Sinner needed nearly two hours on Wednesday to claim a straight-sets victory over Casper Ruud in a first-round battle between rising stars at the Erste Bank Open in Vienna.

    The Italian’s win booked him a second-round meeting against fifth seed Andrey Rublev as he seeks his third quarter-final of the season on indoor hard courts, after posting last eight appearances in Cologne and at the ABN AMRO World Tennis Tournament in Rotterdam.

    The reigning Next Gen ATP Finals champion came into Vienna with a career-high FedEx ATP Ranking of No. 43 after a scintillating run of tennis saw him reach the semi-finals at last week’s bett1HULKS Championship in Cologne, backing up a breakthrough at Roland Garros, where he reached his first Grand Slam quarter-final.

    Sinner continued the momentum against World No. 27 Ruud in his Vienna opener, dropping serve only once across both sets and winning 76% of his first-serve points en route to a 7-6(2), 6-3 victory.

    Fellow #NextGenATP star Felix Auger-Aliassime faced a different fate on Wednesday in Vienna. The Canadian crashed back to earth after a successful fortnight in Cologne, where he reached his sixth ATP final at the bett1HULKS Indoors and backed it up with a semi-final run at last week’s bett1HULKS Championship.

    But he ran up against a battle-tested Pospisil, who was contesting his third match in Vienna after going the distance in back-to-back qualifying matches. Pospisil posted his first straight-sets victory of the week in style, triumphing against Auger-Aliassime 7-5, 7-5 after a one-hour, 50-minute clash.

    [WATCH LIVE 1]

    Pospisil broke Auger-Aliassime’s serve in the final game of each set, helped along by a double fault on set point in the opening tilt. He honed in on 20-year-old Auger-Aliassime’s vulnerable second delivery, winning 53% of his return points and breaking the World No. 21 three times from eight chances.

    The victory is Pospisil’s first against Auger-Aliassime, who is currently ranked 60 places higher, and improves his count in their ATP Head2Head record to 1-3.

    Like Sinner, Pospisil advanced to face a high-seeded Russian opponent in the second round of Vienna in the form of fourth seed Daniil Medvedev. Pospisil and Medvedev have split their ATP Head2Head series at a win apiece, with Pospisil stunning Medvedev in their most recent clash at Rotterdam in February.

  • Djokovic Survives Coric Scare, Reaches Vienna QFs

    Borna Coric pulled Novak Djokovic into deep waters in the first set of their second-round match at the Erste Bank Open on Wednesday. But the top seed drowned the Croatian with unrelenting play to reach the quarter-finals.

    Djokovic saved four set points in the opener before stepping on the gas in a 7-6(11), 6-3 victory over two hours and eight minutes against the two-time ATP Tour titlist. Djokovic is now guaranteed to finish as year-end No. 1 in the FedEx ATP Rankings for a record-tying sixth time unless Nadal takes a wild card into Sofia. Should the Serbian win the Vienna title, he is certain to finish year-end No. 1 regardless of whether the Spaniard competes in Sofia.

    “It was very tiring and very challenging. Obviously Borna is a great fighter. He’s a very good friend of mine. Off the court we’ve known each other for quite a long time,” Djokovic said in his on-court interview. “He has kind of a similar style of tennis as I do. From the backhand corner [he’s] very solid [and he is] trying to create points with his forehand. He was serving very well, especially in the first set. It was very difficult for me to return his serve.”

    [WATCH LIVE 1]

    Coric entered the clash with an 0-3 ATP Head2Head record against the World No. 1, losing all six of their previous sets. But the 23-year-old played tremendous all-court tennis to earn four chances to win the first-set tie-break. 

    At 5/6, Djokovic floated a backhand volley deep in the court, giving Coric plenty of time to unleash a backhand passing shot. But the top seed guessed the right direction and although he didn't hit his forehand volley cleanly, he did enough to win the point. 

    ”The tie-break again like yesterday against Krajinovic decided the match, I guess. I read his passing shot at 5/6 in the tie-break. He had quite an easy backhand. I read him, I made a short forehand volley,” Djokovic said. “These kinds of things happen and I’m just really glad to stay focussed and play my best at the right time.”

    Coric missed forehands on set points at 7/6 and 8/7 before Djokovic painted the line on the fourth set point he faced at 9/10. The 2007 Vienna champion then escaped trouble when the Croatian missed a backhand long.

    Djokovic is now 21-2 in tie-breaks since the start of last year's Wimbledon final against Roger Federer. Once he got through the opener, he raised his level even higher. Coric hit his first double fault of the match when facing break point at 1-1 in the second set, and that proved costly.

    Although Coric showed great baseline play throughout the match and even won some cat-and-mouse points against the Serbian, Djokovic consistently found a way to win the big points. The World No. 1 increased his aggression in the second set and saved all three break points he faced.

    Djokovic will play Hubert Hurkacz or Lorenzo Sonego for a spot in the semi-finals.

    Did You Know?
    Djokovic now has a 260-140 record in tour-level tie-breaks (65%). The only player with a better winning percentage is Roger Federer (460-244, 65.3%).

  • How Food & Strong Serving Helped Medvedev Make Strong Vienna Debut

    Daniil Medvedev made an impressive Erste Bank Open debut on Wednesday, cruising past lucky loser Jason Jung 6-3, 6-1 in 65 minutes to reach the second round.

    "It was a great start, I think. The most important thing in the first round is to win," Medvedev said on court. "We always see tough matches in the first round, so really happy to be through and looking forward to the next matches."

    [WATCH LIVE 1]

    The fourth seed entered the match having lost four of his past five matches. But Medvedev didn't look short on confidence in Vienna, breaking Jung's serve four times and saving the five break points he faced to start well at the ATP 500. He added that he is certainly comfortable in Austria.

    "It's great. The hotel is good, the food is amazing, maybe the best of the year. These small things make tennis players happy all the time," Medvedev said. "The most important is to play good on the tennis court, so the organisation is very good."

    Medvedev, who won four ATP Tour titles last season — including his first two ATP Masters 1000 crowns — is pursuing his first trophy of 2020. He will next play #NextGenATP star Felix Auger-Aliassime or Vasek Pospisil.

    There were virtually no hiccups for Medvedev in his victory against Jung. The World No. 6 faced a break point in the opening game of the second set, but he quickly wiped it out with a big first serve down the T that his opponent was unable to put back into play. In the next game, Medvedev earned the break with a tricky cross-court forehand passing shot at the end of a cat-and-mouse point.

    Medvedev didn't look back from there. He won 82 per cent of his first-serve points in the second set and finished his triumph with a resounding smash.

    In the same quarter of the draw, two-time Grand Slam finalist Kevin Anderson reached the quarter-finals with a 7-5, 6-1 victory against Pablo Carreno Busta. 

    The South African now leads their ATP Head2Head series 5-1. Carreno Busta began the week in 15th place in the FedEx ATP Battle For London.

  • With New Shoe, Stef Steps It Up Against Struff In Vienna

    Stefanos Tsitsipas had to switch his shoe in the third set of his first-round match against Jan-Lennard Struff at the Erste Bank Open on Wednesday, but that didn't stop the third seed from rallying past the German.

    The reigning Nitto ATP Finals champion raised his level as the match wore on to oust Struff 6-7(3), 6-3, 6-4 in one hour and 52 minutes. Tsitsipas will next play former World No. 3 Grigor Dimitrov, who also has triumphed at The O2 in London (2017).

    "I'm happy that I was relaxed and in that kind of state of mind and mood. I think it helped overall my performance today," Tsitsipas said in his on-court interview. "For sure there are a lot of benefits you can take when you're playing relaxed and when you're not panicked."

    [WATCH LIVE 1]

    Tsitsipas and Struff entered this match tied at two wins apiece in their ATP Head2Head series, with three of their clashes going to a deciding set. The pivotal moment in Vienna came at 1-1 in the third set. Just before Struff served to begin the game, Tsitsipas realised he needed to switch his left shoe.

    When play resumed, the Greek broke serve and he never looked back. Tsitsipas only lost three service points in the decider, landing 83 per cent of his first serves in the set to put pressure on the German. The World No. 5 clinched his victory with a forehand winner, advancing to the second round on his debut at the ATP 500.

    "I think Jan played good today and we were both serving well, [playing well] from the baseline. I wouldn't say there were many rallies," Tsitsipas said. "It was a demonstration of serves and I managed to overcome the difficulties that were presented in his service games."

    For much of the early part of the match, Struff controlled play with his big serving and powerful groundstrokes. But he relinquished a pivotal break at the end of the second set by missing a high forehand volley into the net. That proved the opening Tsitsipas needed. He takes a 1-0 ATP Head2Head series advantage into his meeting against Dimitrov.

  • Rafa In Class Of His Own In This Serving Stat

    When returners dig into a service game and extend it to multiple deuces, they attempt to wear the server down both physically and mentally to eventually extract the prized break of serve.

    An Infosys ATP Beyond The Numbers analysis of the Top 10 from the 2019 season identifies that trend to be accurate, with one notable exception: Rafael Nadal.

    The Top 10 averaged holding serve 79.1 per cent from the point score of deuce, and slightly lower at 78.8 per cent when the game involves 2+ deuces. Seven of the Top 10 players from the 2019 year-end FedEx ATP Rankings held serve less when the game went to multiple deuces, clearly showing which way this point score dynamic gravitates in our sport.

    But Nadal totally bucks the trend, being more than seven percentage points higher holding serve when faced with multiple deuces. Nadal held 84.7 per cent (105/124) of the time from deuce and was the only Top 10 player to push through the 90 per cent threshold holding from 2+ deuces, at 91.8 per cent (122/142). Nadal is well known for his concentration, grit, focus and not rushing when serving, which all play a part in him elevating his game in this specific area.

    Matteo Berrettini, who surged into the Top 10 for the first time in 2019, also showed a big bump in holding in extended deuce games, rising 6.6 percentage points compared to his deuce average. The only other Top 10 player to be better in extended deuce games was Roberto Bautista Agut, who improved 1.5 percentage points compared to holding from deuce.

    A grouping of five players existed that were all within two percentage points of holding at 2+ Deuces compared to just at deuce. They were Dominic Thiem (-0.7), Stefanos Tsitsipas (-0.9), Roger Federer (-1.0), Novak Djokovic (-1.6) and Daniil Medvedev (-1.7). Alexander Zverev dropped off three percentage points, while Gael Monfils dropped off almost 10 percentage points holding in extended service games of 2+ deuces compared to deuce.

    When Nadal’s serve ‘pitch count’ goes up, he is clearly rising to the challenge and holding serve even more as adversity comes knocking.

    2019 Season: Year-End Top 10 Holding From Deuce & 2+ Deuces

    Player Hold From 2+ Deuces Hold From Deuce % Point Difference
    Nadal 91.8% 84.7% 7.1
    Berrettini 84.3% 77.7% 6.6
    Bautista Agut 83.6% 82.1% 1.5
    Thiem 75.3% 76.0% -0.7
    Tsitsipas 77.0% 77.9% -0.9
    Federer 84.9% 85.9% -1.0
    Djokovic 79.7% 81.3% -1.6
    Medvedev 75.6% 77.3% -1.7
    Zverev 66.2% 69.2% -3.0
    Monfils 69.6% 79.2% -9.6
    AVERAGE 78.8% 79.1% -0.3

  • Tiafoe Upsets Kecmanovic For Nur-Sultan Quarter-final Spot

    Frances Tiafoe powered into his second ATP Tour quarter-final of the year on Wednesday at the Astana Open. The 22-year-old American lost just five of his first-service points to upset second-seeded Serbian Miomir Kecmanovic 7-5, 6-3 in 81 minutes.

    Tiafoe, who also reached the Delray Beach Open by last eight (l. to Humbert) in February, lost four points on serve in the second set. Kecmanovic captured his first ATP Tour title last month at the Generali Open in Kitzbühel (d. Hanfmann).

    Tiafoe will next play Belarusian Egor Gerasimov, who avenged his 2020 Tata Open Maharashtra final loss to Jiri Vesely of the Czech Republic with hard-fought 4-6, 6-3, 6-4 victory over in one hour and 50 minutes. Gerasimov struck 14 aces for a place in his second ATP Tour quarter-final of the season (also Open 13 Provence in February).

    [WATCH LIVE 2]

    Elsewhere, one break of serve in each set was enough for fourth-seeded Australian John Millman in a 6-3, 6-4 victory over Fernando Verdasco of Spain. In the Nur-Sultan quarter-finals, Millman now challenges American Tommy Paul, the seventh seed, who swept past Radu Albot of Moldova 6-4, 6-0 in 72 minutes.

    In first-round action, Kazakhstan’s Mikhail Kukushkin dug deep to overcome Federico Delbonis 6-7(5), 6-3, 6-2 in two hours and 33 minutes. Kukushkin, who had led 5/3 in the first set tie-break, now faces top-seeded Frenchman Benoit Paire.

    American Mackenzie McDonald knocked out sixth-seeded Kazakhstani Alexander Bublik 6-3, 6-2 in 72 minutes for a second-round clash against wild card Andreas Seppi of Italy. Bublik has beaten McDonald 2-6, 7-6(2), 6-4 in the recent St. Petersburg Open first round.