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  • Khachanov, Fognini & Medvedev Seek Top 10 Breakthrough At Roland Garros

    The ATP Tour’s best are ready to roll at Roland Garros, the year’s second Grand Slam. While everyone will be chasing the Coupe des Mousquetaires, the tournament is especially important to several players who are trying to crack the Top 10 of the ATP Rankings for the first time.

    With World No. 9 Juan Martin del Potro dropping 720 points from making the 2018 semi-finals, and World No. 10 John Isner, who will not be competing in Paris, dropping 180 points since he made the fourth round last year, it is possible that two players could make their Top 10 debuts after this event.

    Russians Karen Khachanov and Daniil Medvedev as well as Italian Fabio Fognini are all on the verge of achieving the milestone, and they could break through with big performances on the Parisian terre battue.

    ATP Ranking Points Entering #RG19 & Points Dropping From 2018

     Player  Points Entering RG  Points Dropping  Points Remaining
     9. Juan Martin del Potro   3,235  720  2,515
     10. John Isner  2,895  180  2,715
     11. Karen Khachanov  2,800  180  2,620
     12. Fabio Fognini  2,785  180  2,605
     13. Marin Cilic  2,710  360  2,350
     14. Daniil Medvedev  2,625  10  2,615

    While Fognini, the Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters champion, is currently No. 11 in the ATP Rankings, he will fall behind Khachanov on Monday due to points dropping off from reaching the Geneva semi-finals last year. He did not compete this week, thus will not add any points.

    Both players advanced to the fourth round in Paris last year, so even after considering points they are dropping, Khachanov will carry a 15-point advantage over Fognini into Roland Garros.

    Medvedev, who was outside the Top 50 this time last year, is also well positioned. The Russian lost to Lucas Pouille in the first round in 2018, so he will only drop only 10 points. Therefore, he will be 10 points ahead of Fognini and five behind Khachanov when taking points dropped into consideration.

    Read More #RG19 Stories
    Did Novak Turn Into The Hulk In Paris?
    Roger On Paris Title Hopes: 'I'm Not Sure If It's In My Racquet'
    Federer, Tsitsipas Feature On Opening Sunday

    With Isner unable to add any points as he continues to recover from the injury he suffered in the Miami final, the trio trying to crack the Top 10 will need to reach at least the fourth round to pass the American. And if Del Potro fails to advance to the fourth round, Khachanov, Fognini and Medvedev will all be ranked ahead of the Argentine after Roland Garros. So pending the results of players ranked below them, all three players have a legitimate chance to reach the milestone.

    Fognini is trying to become the third Italian man to crack the Top 10 of the ATP Rankings. Furthermore, the nine-time ATP Tour champion can become the oldest player to reach the milestone for the first time since 38-year-old Ken Rosewall and 35-year-old Rod Laver on 23 August 1973, when the ATP Rankings were first established.

    Corrado Barazzutti was the last Italian in the elite group the week of 22 January 1979. The only other Italian to break into the Top 10 was Adriano Panatta, who ascended as high as World No. 4 (24 August 1976).

    Italians To Crack The Top 15

     Player  Career-High
     Adriano Panatta  4
     Corrado Barazzutti  7
     Fabio Fognini  12
     Paolo Bertolucci  12

    The Russians are trying to become the first men from their country to crack the Top 10 since Mikhail Youzhny the week of 17 January 2011. If both Khachanov and Medvedev break into the Top 10, it will be the first time that two Russians are in the elite group since the week of 11 October 2010, when Nikolay Davydenko was No. 6 and Youzhny No. 8.



  • Five Challenger Stars To Watch At Roland Garros

    For the next fortnight, all eyes will be on the ATP Tour's top guns as they battle for the coveted Coupe des Mousquetaires at Roland Garros.

    Storylines abound as Rafael Nadal bids for a staggering 12th tournament title, Novak Djokovic targets a second 'Career Grand Slam' and Roger Federer makes his first appearance since 2015. Will Dominic Thiem, Alexander Zverev and Juan Martin del Potro make a charge on the terre battue? And which #NextGenATP star will break through on the big stage?

    There are plenty of questions to be answered over the next 15 days. The stakes couldn't be higher, not only for the title contenders in Paris, but those hoping to crash onto the scene for the first time. For players looking to rise the ATP Rankings on the ATP Challenger Tour, a berth in a Grand Slam main draw is a significant prize. A platform to showcase their skills and eventually take the next step on the ATP Tour, it presents a huge opportunity on a global stage.

    A strong performance in Roland Garros can prove to be career-altering for many Challenger stars, as they target the Top 100 and beyond. So, which players are poised to wreak havoc on the draw? We look at five to watch at the second Grand Slam of the year...

    Gregoire Barrere (FRA)
    Playing in front of the home fans is a special opportunity for all Frenchmen at Roland Garros. For Barrere, it takes on added significance. A native of Charenton-Le-Pont, located just 20 minutes from Stade Roland Garros, Barrere has played his best tennis on home soil. In fact, this year, 22 of his 24 victories have come in France, including Challenger titles in Quimper and Lille and a first ATP Tour match win in Marseille.

    Barrere, who opens against Australia's Matthew Ebden, received a wild card into the main draw after putting together a strong run of results in 2019. Up to No. 129 in the ATP Rankings, he has been a force on the ATP Challenger Tour this year, compiling a 21-7 record - tied for third among match wins leaders on the circuit.

    Entering Roland Garros on the heels of a semi-final on the clay of Bordeaux, the 25-year-old's potential path includes 10th seed Karen Khachanov in the second round and countryman Lucas Pouille in the third.

    2019 Challenger Win-Loss Pct. Leaders (min. 20 matches played)

    Player W-L Pct.
    (1) Ricardas Berankis*
    19-3 .864
    (2) Andrej Martin
    18-4
    .818
    (3) Kamil Majchrzak
    24-7 .774
    (4) Soonwoo Kwon
    25-8 .758
    (5) Gregoire Barrere*
    21-7 .750
          Mikael Ymer* 18-6 .750

    *Appearing at Roland Garros

    Hugo Dellien (BOL)
    When Dellien steps onto Court 13 on Sunday afternoon, facing India's Prajnesh Gunneswaran, there will be little fanfare but plenty at stake. Making his Grand Slam debut, the Bolivian will become the first from his country to compete in a major since 1984, ending a 35-year drought.

    It is a well-deserved achievement for the 25-year-old, who crashed onto the Challenger scene last year behind a trio of titles and a Top 100 breakthrough. Now, up to No. 92 in the ATP Rankings, he recently lifted his fourth trophy on the clay of Santiago, Chile, and has already translated success to the ATP Tour. His first ATP Masters 1000 match win was also his first over a Top 50 opponent, stunning Gilles Simon this month in Madrid. And he enters Roland Garros on the heels of a quarter-final run in Geneva, where he pushed eventual champion Alexander Zverev in a tight three-setter.

    Dellien could face sixth seed Stefanos Tsitsipas in the second round, with Frances Tiafoe the other seeded player in his immediate path.

    Dellien

    Tommy Paul (USA)
    Few players are relishing the chance to play at Roland Garros more than the 22-year-old American. Last year, Paul was fighting a knee ailment for the majority of the season and he would miss the first three months of 2019 with a quad tendon injury. But, in just his second tournament back, he exhibited nerves of steel to lift a maiden clay-court trophy on home soil in Sarasota.

    Paul saved all 15 break points faced to defeat Tennys Sandgren for his second Challenger title, which he followed with a final run in nearby Tallahassee and quarter-final finish in Savannah. It all resulted in a main draw wild card for the clay-court Grand Slam. After starting the year outside the Top 200, the American is up to No. 136 in the ATP Rankings. His dogged defence translates perfectly to clay and the 2015 junior champion is back once again on the terre battue.

    Paul will be thrown into the gauntlet from the first ball, opening against fourth seed Dominic Thiem. But, having pushed Kei Nishikori to the brink in his only other Top 10 match, at the 2017 Citi Open, the American has proven he lives for these moments.

    Stefano Travaglia (ITA)
    With nine players in the draw, Roland Garros has an Italian flair in 2019. Monte-Carlo champion Fabio Fognini and last year's semi-finalist Marco Cecchinato lead the charge, with Matteo Berrettini also seeded. But don't overlook qualifier Stefano Travaglia. The World No. 120 battled through qualifying to reach his first Roland Garros main draw, carrying the momentum from an impressive run on the Challenger circuit.

    The 27-year-old has risen more than 30 spots in the ATP Rankings during the clay-court season, thanks to a first title of the year in Francavilla al Mare, quarter-final run in Ostrava and semi-final finish at the award-winning NECKARCUP in Heilbronn. It was in Heilbronn that he suffered a heart-breaking defeat from a set and double break up against top seed Filip Krajinovic. But the Italian has since turned that result into motivation, reeling off six sets in a row to qualify at Roland Garros.

    Travaglia is no stranger to the big stage either, having qualified and won a round at this year's Australian Open, before pushing Nikoloz Basilashvili to five sets. The 27-year-old will open against France's Adrian Mannarino, with another Frenchman - Gael Monfils - potentially waiting in the second round.

    Travaglia

    Mikael Ymer (SWE)
    Quick, name the #NextGenATP player with the highest Challenger win percentage this year. That's right, Ymer has been on fire since lifting his maiden trophy in Noumea to open the season. The 20-year-old has been flying the flag for Sweden alongside older brother and World No. 116 Elias Ymer, registering an impressive 18-6 mark (.750) this year.

    In just three clay-court tournaments leading up to Roland Garros, Ymer reached a pair of finals in Murcia and Bordeaux and quarter-finals in Francavilla al Mare. And with his mettle tested in qualifying, he came through three tough deciding-set battles, culminating in a 6-1, 2-6, 6-2 win over fourth seed Henri Laaksonen.

    Up to a career-high No. 149, Ymer is also sitting in ninth place in the ATP Race To Milan. A strong run at Roland Garros could see him bolster his bid to appear at the Next Gen ATP Finals. He opens against another qualifier, Blaz Rola, with Geneva champion Alexander Zverev potentially lurking in the second round.

    Ymer

    Others To Watch
    Two Frenchmen - Quentin Halys and Corentin Moutet - enter their home Grand Slam on the heels of clay-court Challenger finals. Halys finished runner-up to Pablo Cuevas in Aix-en-Provence, while Moutet was a finalist in Samarkand, Uzbekistan, two weeks ago.

    Blaz Rola claimed his first title of the year in Leon, Mexico, last month, before storming through qualifying in Paris without dropping a set. And keep an eye on Lithuania's Ricardas Berankis, who owns a tour-leading .864 win percentage this year (19-3) and three titles. His last match win on clay was in 2017, when he lifted the trophy in Shymkent.



  • Zverev Saves 2 M.P. For Geneva Title

    Alexander Zverev cemented his marathon man status on Saturday at the Banque Eric Sturdza Geneva Open. The top seed clinched his first ATP Tour title this season by winning his third consecutive three-setter, saving two match points against a determined Nicolas Jarry to prevail 6-3, 3-6, 7-6(8).

    “It was a very tough match. He was playing aggressively, serving big and hitting everything he can," said Zverev. "I thought I was in control until the rain came, but I’m happy to find a way. I felt it could have gone either way.”

    The German had struggled for form since finishing runner-up this March in Acapulco (l. to Kyrgios). Zverev arrived in Geneva with a 6-8 record in his previous eight tournaments, including an opening-round loss to Jarry last month at the Barcelona Open Banc Sabadell, which saw him squander a match point. He now has 11 ATP Tour titles, all of which have come in less than three years.

    "When I start playing good, I don't worry about titles. I know that I can be one of the best players in the world when I find my rhythm," said Zverev. "This week definitely helped with that."

    Watch Live

    Zverev also survived three-set battles this week against Bolivian Hugo Dellien and Argentine Federico Delbonis to reach the final, but the extra on-court time helped his game. He hit 41 aces this week, with 35 coming in his past three matches. Zverev led the tournament in first-serve return points won (38%, 100 of 263).

    Jarry powered into the Geneva final without dropping a set. He went into Saturday’s final leading the tournament in second-serve points won (67%, 54 of 81), service games won (95%, 37 of 39) and break points saved (78%, 7 of 9). The 23-year-old still seeks his first ATP Tour title, having also finished runner-up last year in Sao Paulo (l. to Fognini).

    “I don’t have the words to talk about it. I did my best, had some chances and fought until the last point. It didn’t go my way,” said Jarry. “I just have to keep on fighting and give myself the chance to compete for another title.”

    The match appeared to be firmly in Zverev’s hands at the beginning. He raced out to a 3-0 lead and comfortably took the opening set before rain halted proceedings with Zverev leading 6-3, 0-1.

    Play resumed after 90 minutes and it was Jarry who came out of the gate first. A backhand error from Zverev gave the Chilean the lone break of the second set to lead 4-2, but a second rain delay took place right after Jarry held in the next game. After another lengthy suspension, Jarry maintained his advantage to send the match into a deciding set.

    Read More: Pavic/Marach Make Geneva History

    Both players traded service holds to force a third-set tie-break. A pair of groundstroke errors from Jarry gave Zverev a 3/0 lead and the top seed rode that momentum to a 6/3 advantage. Jarry refused to budge, saving the first championship point with a stretch backhand volley winner. He followed it up with a forehand winner and forehand volley winner to even the score at 6/6.

    A double fault from Zverev gave Jarry his first championship point at 7/6, but the Chilean hit a routine volley into the net. Another championship point came and went at 8/7 as Jarry misfired on a forehand. Zverev laced a difficult backhand passing shot winner at 8/8 to earn a fourth championship point and made good on his opportunity. As Jarry sent a forehand long and dropped to his knees, Zverev raised his arms in triumph as he wrapped up the win in two hours and 36 minutes.

    Zverev picked up 250 ATP Ranking points and €90,390 for his week. Jarry earned 150 ATP Rankings points and €48,870.

    Both players will now turn their attention to Roland Garros. Zverev, seeded fifth, start his campaign against Aussie John Millman, while Jarry faces a challenging opening test against eighth-seeded Argentine Juan Martin del Potro.



  • After Rome Surprise, Del Potro Looks Forward To Roland Garros Challenge

    Despite missing the majority of the 2019 season with a right knee injury, Juan Martin del Potro shared his optimism on the level of his game ahead of his first-round match at Roland Garros.

    The World No. 9, who owns a 4-3 record on the ATP Tour this season, has played just three events this year. But, in his most recent outing at the Internazionali BNL d'Italia, Del Potro rediscovered his best form in an epic quarter-final clash against World No. 1 Novak Djokovic. The Serbian was forced to save two match points in a second-set tie-break, before claiming a 4-6, 7-6(6), 6-4 victory against Del Potro.

    "I also surprised myself after the Djokovic match in Rome," said Del Potro. "I played great tennis for almost three hours, very high intensity, with the number one of the world, which is a very good thing looking towards the future."

    "But I know how my present [level] is at the moment. I know how far [away] my best level is. I have high expectations in the future, but not now because I want to be calm. I want to be safe, as well. This is part of my rehabilitation to get better and get to 100 per cent soon... I will try to play as best as I can, but I am going slowly."

    One particular aspect of the former World No. 3's game appears to be returning to full strength, which could spell danger for the rest of the ATP Tour. Del Potro believes that his old backhand is close to full potency, which may help elevate the Tower of Tandil's game to new heights in the near future.

    "I am getting back to my old backhand and that helps me for my whole game," said Del Potro. "I played a lot of backhands down the line [in Rome], making a lot of winners and it is a very good thing for my game. Now I can mix it up with my slices [and] different shots that I improved a few years ago. If my wrist still helps me, I will be playing harder backhands, as well as my forehands, and I will have a complete game for this year."

    One potential match which catches the eye in Del Potro's section of the draw in Paris is a possible third-round encounter against #NextGenATP Canadian Felix Auger-Aliassime. The 18-year-old enters the clay-court Grand Slam championship in impressive form, after reaching his second ATP Tour final on the surface this year at the Open Parc Auvergne-Rhone-Alpes Lyon (l. to Paire).

    But Del Potro is well aware of the challenges he will face to advance to the third round. The two-time Roland Garros semi-finalist will meet Banque Eric Sturdza Geneva Open finalist Nicolas Jarry in his first match. Jarry did not drop a set in Geneva en route to his second ATP Tour final, where he plays World No. 5 Alexander Zverev.

    Read Roland Garros Draw Preview

    "I know [Felix's] potential. He has a big future but also he is playing great at the moment," said Del Potro. "He plays a strong game. He has all the shots on court and he is getting better and better every tournament. It will be fun to watch him because I love his game, but we both have to win a couple of matches before. Looking to myself, I have a very tough first round with Jarry and I am just thinking about him and that is it."

    Del Potro enters Paris with the full backing of his doctor and is looking forward to testing himself in the latest stage of his recovery in Paris. With little pressure and expectations on the red dirt, Del Potro believes his top level is not far away as he eyes future success at the Grand Slam level.

    "The doctor gave me big confidence to play this tournament. I have been practising hard, getting ready to play another Grand Slam at this time of my rehab," said Del Potro. "It would be great if I finish this tournament healthy, playing good tennis, good level, because I am looking forward to being 100 per cent in the grass season and also in the summer of the United States. [Those] will be my biggest goals for this year."

    But, as he did in Rome, could Del Potro be ready to once again surprise himself on the red dirt? Only four men have defeated the Argentine since 2009 at the second Grand Slam championship of the year; Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal, Roger Federer and Andy Murray. It could take a similar level to stop him again this year.



  • Seeing Nadal Practice A Happy Surprise For Roland Garros Fans

    Vincent Balme didn't know who was practising inside Court Suzanne Lenglen, but the 39-year-old from Belgium saw droves of people running to Roland Garros' second biggest show court, and thought: We have to get there.

    The Brussels resident was glad he did. Balme, along with his wife and two of their children, nestled into four seats together behind the baseline, about halfway up, to watch 11-time champion Rafael Nadal prepare for another historic run in Paris.

    The Spaniard and Pablo Cuevas of Uruguay practised for nearly two hours in front of a nearly-full stadium as thousands of parents, along with their children, busied the grounds during Kids' Day at Roland Garros, where main draw play begins on Sunday. It was a stark change for Nadal, who practised in front of only credentialed spectators on Friday inside Court Philippe Chatrier.

    But the Spaniard didn't mind the constant murmur from fans' chatter and surely appreciated the claps and cheers, "Allez!", after lengthy rallies and pleasing points. Balme and the thousands of fans enjoyed the session. “It's a nice surprise, and to see it real, it's much different than on TV,” Balme said.

    He was most impressed by Nadal's precision and his consistency, how he hits every ball well. “He places the ball where he wants... The racquet is a third arm,” Balme said.

    He has followed the sport for the past 30 years but no longer plays regularly – a family of five and his job as a financial controller in the hotel industry keeps him plenty busy during the week.

    But his two oldest children, 11-year-old Clemence and eight-year-old Thomas, both have been playing the sport since last year and were sandwiched in between Balme and his wife, Marjorie, 35.

    It's a good opportunity for them to discover what real tennis is,” Balme said of Clemence and Thomas. “It's a good atmosphere also, and Roland Garros is really famous all around the world, so it's really nice.”

    Clemence also watched in awe. “It's quite impressive, seeing it in person and not on the TV. I can't believe it,” she said, through her father's translation.

    The 11-year-old, who plays with low-compression orange balls, was most impressed by Nadal's power. “She's not playing that hard,” her father said.

    Read More: Did Djokovic Turn Into The Hulk? | Nadal Rested, Confident Ahead Of Fortnight

    Seeing Rafa the day before the season's second Grand Slam begins was also a happy accident for Martina Lombard and her 10-year-old boy, Emil. The Parisian boy was so eager to watch tennis at Roland Garros, he stopped at the first court he saw and gawked.

    No, no, come on!” his mother told him. “There will not be many places.”

    She wasn't far off, as more and more fans filled the stadium during Nadal's two-hour practice. Lombard, 43, said she had met Nadal years earlier on a train ride, when the Spaniard smiled and posed for a photo with her group. On Saturday, Nadal's focus caught her eye. “I think he's very concentrated,” she said.

    What impressed Emil the most might be the key to whether Nadal wins his 12th Roland Garros title this fortnight. It wasn't Nadal's hustle or his intensity that the 10-year-old liked the most, but rather, Nadal's forehand.



  • Ferrero On Roland Garros: ‘If Nadal Is 100% Physically, He’s Going To Win’

    Former World No. 1 Juan Carlos Ferrero won the Roland Garros title 16 years ago. Two years later, another Spaniard, 18-year-old Rafael Nadal, triumphed on the Parisian terre battue. Little did Ferrero know that Nadal would emerge victorious at the clay-court Grand Slam 11 times. And the World No. 2 could add to that tally in the coming fortnight.

    “Rafa, if he’s 100 per cent physically, I think he’s going to win it again,” Ferrero told ATPTour.com.

    But Ferrero, who consistently keeps up with the ATP Tour throughout the year, especially at ATP Masters 1000 tournaments and Grand Slams, knows that it won’t be easy for his countryman. Nadal needed until the Internazionali BNL d’Italia to win his first title of the season, the Spaniard’s longest title drought to start a year since 2004, when he captured his maiden tour-level trophy. Even with Nadal now near his best, there are plenty of challengers ready to make their own mark in Paris.

    “Thiem I also think is one of the favourites. He played the final last year. I think he [has] got the experience he needs to create an opportunity to win a Grand Slam on clay after beating Rafa more than one time,” said Ferrero of Dominic Thiem, who after beating Nadal in Barcelona has defeated the legendary lefty on clay in three consecutive seasons. “Obviously Novak is going to be there. Other guys, it’s tough to say. Roger, on clay, best-of-five sets, I’m not going to put him as one of the favourites this time.”

    Federer is competing at Roland Garros for the first time since 2015. Before playing in Madrid and Rome, the 37-year-old had not entered a clay-court event since 2016. He made the quarter-finals at each of those two Masters 1000 tournaments.

    On the other hand, Djokovic is the World No. 1, and he gained momentum heading into Paris by lifting the trophy at the Mutua Madrid Open. And in Rome, the Serbian battled through two grueling three-setters, in the quarter-finals against Juan Martin del Potro and the semi-finals against Diego Schwartzman, to reach the final against Nadal.

    Although Djokovic battled hard, pushing the championship match to a third set, Nadal ultimately lifted his ninth trophy at the Foro Italico.

    “It was a bit weird, the match, because the first set and the third set were not the battles that you expect from these kind of matches in finals or if you see some of the matches that Novak and Rafa have played in the past,” Ferrero said. “It was very weird to see 6-0 and then the third 6-1. Rafa, I think he was playing very aggressive, maybe a bit more than the other tournaments. Of course Rafa was a little bit hurt to lose in the tournaments that maybe he was expected to win like Barcelona, Monte-Carlo or Madrid.

    “He was wanting to win the tournament very badly and you could see from the beginning in Rome and definitely in the final, he went for it from the first point. Maybe the concentration of Novak, it was not the same of Rafa’s [throughout the week].”

    Read More #RG19 Stories
    Did Novak Turn Into The Hulk In Paris?
    Roger On Paris Title Hopes: 'I'm Not Sure If It's In My Racquet'
    Federer, Tsitsipas Feature On Opening Sunday

    Now, plenty of history could be made at Roland Garros. Nadal could claim a record 12th Coupe des Mousquetaires, Djokovic could win his fourth consecutive major, doing so for the second time in his career, and Federer can lift his 21st Grand Slam trophy.

    “When I was playing, it was strange to think someone is going to achieve these kind of numbers. But now you see Roger or Novak or Rafa and seeing them, it’s like normal numbers for them because they’re fighting every Grand Slam to win,” Ferrero said. “After being No. 1 and achieving a very good career, it’s almost impossible to think someone could achieve these kind of numbers.”

    Ferrero also believes that the likes of Djokovic, Nadal and Federer build their level so as to peak at Grand Slams and Masters 1000 events.

    “I think now they play more for the numbers, for the records,” Ferrero said. “It’s the history of numbers and who’s going to win more Grand Slams and who’s going to win more Masters 1000s. They have to have some big motivation in there and those numbers could be one of those.”



  • Dodig/Roger-Vasselin Target Nitto ATP Finals After Lyon Title Run

    Ivan Dodig and Edouard Roger-Vasselin set their sights on a spot at the Nitto ATP Finals after claiming their second team title of the season on Saturday at the Open Parc Auvergne-Rhone-Alpes Lyon.

    The Croatian-French duo, which owns a 15-9 record as a team, saved all eight break points it faced to beat Ken Skupski and Neal Skupski 6-4, 6-3 after 70 minutes. Dodig and Roger-Vasselin have won two ATP Tour titles in France since their team debut at the Sydney International in January. The second seeds picked up their maiden team trophy at the Open Sud de France (d. Bonzi/Hoang) in February.

    "[Our goal for the end of the year], as a team, would be to qualify for the Nitto ATP Finals," said Roger-Vasselin. "That would mean that we are in the top eight teams in the world. This is, for sure, the goal. To be part of this [event], we have to win many more matches and play well in Grand Slams. Roland Garros is right there, so it is important for us to play well and we'll see at the end. It is definitely one of the biggest goals of the year."

    Watch Live

    Dodig and Roger-Vasselin did not drop a set en route to the title in Lyon, which also included a semi-final victory against fourth seeds Luke Bambridge and Jonny O'Mara. Dodig has now won 13 trophies from 27 tour-level finals, while Roger-Vasselin improves to 18-11 in tour-level championship matches.

    "From the first match, we started to build a little bit of confidence... from the semi-finals and the final I think we played a great level," said Dodig. "That was very important for us, to play some matches and to win this tournament is definitely the best possible preparation for us to go to Roland Garros and keep the momentum and confidence."

    Ken Skupski and Neal Skupski were bidding to capture their third trophy in eight ATP Tour finals as a team. The British brothers have reached four tour-level finals this year, following a title run in Budapest (d. Daniell/Koolhof) and runner-up finishes in Delray Beach (l. to Bryan/Bryan) and Houston (l. to S. Gonzalez/Qureshi).

    Dodig and Roger-Vasselin receive 250 ATP Doubles Ranking points and share €29,650 in prize money. Skupski and Skupski gain 150 points and split €15,200.



  • Paire Beats Auger-Aliassime For Lyon Title

    Frenchman Benoit Paire denied #NextGenATP Canadian Felix Auger-Aliassime his first ATP Tour title on Saturday, defeating the 18-year-old sensation 6-4, 6-3 to triumph at the Open Parc Auvergne-Rhone-Alpes Lyon.

    "I think I played well already in Marrakech. I started the season a little bit bad with some injuries... so it was not easy at the beginning," Paire said. "But I feel much better now. I feel good on court, I feel very confident. When you feel confident, you can win a lot of matches against good players."

    Auger-Aliassime, the youngest player to reach at least two tour-level finals since Andy Murray in 2005-06, was trying to become the youngest ATP Tour champion since 18-year-old Kei Nishikori in Delray Beach 11 years ago. But Paire was locked in from the first game of the match, claiming his third ATP Tour crown after one hour and 20 minutes after Auger-Aliassime missed a backhand half volley long.

    The 30-year-old entered April with just one tour-level title, but having also won Marrakech, he has now captured two trophies in less than two months. Paire struggled to start the season, going 4-9 on hard courts in 2019. But he has found his rhythm on the red clay, moving to 12-3 on the surface this year. Paire is the sixth player to earn two ATP Tour titles in 2019, joining Novak Djokovic, Roger Federer, Cristian Garin, Dominic Thiem and Stefanos Tsitsipas.

    "I expect a lot for Roland Garros now," said Paire, who will face Marius Copil in the first round. "[I want to] win a lot of matches. I don't know how many... if physically I feel 100 per cent, I hope I can go to the second week because for a Slam it would be my first time in Paris, so that's my goal and we will see if I could do it."

    Paire wasted no time challenging Auger-Aliassime's serve, earning two break points in the first game of the match. Although the Frenchman did not convert, that early pressure set the tone for the match. In his next service game, Auger-Aliassime double faulted the break to Paire, who never wavered. 

    The World No. 51 had chances to go up a double-break later in the opener, but his favoured two-handed backhand let him down. It did not cost him though, closing out the set without difficulty.

    Paire let slip an early break in the second set. But again, Auger-Aliassime was unable to capitalise, as the Frenchman continued to keep him off balance, both from the baseline and in other facets of the game. Paire consistently forced the teen to play from uncomfortable positions, at the back of the court and even when he came to net. While Paire's forehand is typically the first of his shots to break down, it held firm throughout the final.

    At 2-2 in the second set, Paire hit a forehand return winner from well off the court to earn a break point right after losing his serve for the first time in the match, and Auger-Aliassime, who began to look physically hampered as the match wore on, missed an inside-in forehand wide to return that break. The Frenchman never looked back from there, winning all but five of his first-serve points.

    Paire, who fell to No. 69 in ATP Rankings on March 4 — his lowest mark since 1 June 2015 — gains 250 points, which is projected to propel him into the Top 40 on Monday. He also earns €90,390 in prize money.

    Auger-Aliassime will be disappointed to fall short of his first title, but it was an impressive week nonetheless for the teen, who is the youngest Top 30 player since Lleyton Hewitt in 1999. The Canadian earns 150 points, which will help him climb to a career-high World No. 22, and €48,870.

    "I had a good week even though it didn’t end the way I wanted, not playing the way I wanted or being physically well," Auger-Aliassime said. "There’s disappointment because these finals don’t come around often but there’s a lot of positives to take from that week. Hopefully I give myself other chances for titles."

    Did You Know?
    Two of this ATP 250 tournament's three winners have been French home favourites. Jo-Wilfried Tsonga captured the trophy in 2017.



  • Pavic/Marach Make Geneva History

    Oliver Marach and Mate Pavic became the first team to win back-to-back Banque Eric Sturdza Geneva Open doubles titles on Saturday, defeating Matthew Ebden and Robert Lindstedt 6-4, 6-4.

    The top seeds extended their unbeaten record in Geneva to 8-0 after 74 minutes, lifting their first tour-level trophy since triumphing at this event last year (d. Dodig/Ram). Marach and Pavic, who began their partnership at the 2017 Miami Open presented by Itau, now own six trophies from 14 tour-level championship matches together.

    "Thanks to Mate for a great week, again. We love Geneva, obviously we have an 8-0 [record here]. We won last year and this year, so [we are] very happy to come back," said Marach. "I personally love Geneva. I lived here for two years. It is a great tournament. It has one of the nicest centre courts of all the tournaments I have played."

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    The 2018 Australian Open champions were appearing in their first ATP Tour final of the season, improving on semi-final runs in Auckland, Indian Wells and Rome. Marach and Pavic have now won 20 of their 32 tour-level matches this year.

    "We love to come back here in Geneva," said Pavic. "Two years in a row, winning, feels great and I hope we can come back next year."

    Marach now owns 22 doubles trophies and has earned a tour-level crown in 11 of the past 13 seasons. After lifting his 14th tour-level trophy, Pavic has now won a title in each of the past five years.

    Ebden and Lindstedt were aiming to lift their maiden trophy in their first ATP Tour final as a team. Lindstedt was bidding to win a tour-level title for the 13th straight season, while Ebden was seeking his first doubles crown since capturing the Acapulco trophy in 2014 alongside Kevin Anderson.

    Marach and Pavic gain 250 ATP Doubles Ranking points and split €29,650 in prize money. Ebden and Lindstedt earn 150 points and share €15,200.



  • Why Federer Should Not Be Counted Out At Roland Garros

    Roger Federer may be competing at Roland Garros for the first time since 2015, and he returned to the surface earlier this month for the first time since 2016 Rome. But don’t discount the Swiss on the Parisian clay, as the 101-time tour-level titlist is no stranger to success on the red dirt.

    According to the FedEx ATP Performance Zone, Federer has been one of this era’s clay-court leaders in all key categories, despite it being his least successful surface.

    Federer has won 76 per cent of his matches on clay, third-best among active players. The only men who have done better are Rafael Nadal (91.7%) and Novak Djokovic (79.5%). Federer’s results put him in 15th place in the Open Era, and only 1.3 percentage points separate him from the Top 10.

    Best Clay-Court Winning Percentage (Active Players)

     Player  Record  Winning Percentage
     1. Rafael Nadal  429-39  91.7%
     2. Novak Djokovic  209-54  79.5%
     3. Roger Federer  218-69  76%
     4. Dominic Thiem  124-43  74.3%
     5. Juan Martin del Potro  81-34  70.4%

    The 37-year-old has won 218 tour-level matches on clay, fourth-best among active players. He did not play on the surface for two full seasons, in 2017-18. Nadal (429), Tommy Robredo (261, 66.6%) and Fernando Verdasco (227, 61.9%) are the only players still competing who own more victories than the Swiss star.

    And then there is the matter of titles. Federer, the 2009 Roland Garros champion, is one of just four active players who has lifted the Coupe des Mousquetaires. Nadal has done so 11 times, while Federer, Djokovic and former World No. 3 Stan Wawrinka have accomplished the feat once each. Federer has won 11 tour-level titles on clay overall, tied for third among active players with Robredo, trailing Nadal (58) and Djokovic (14).

    Federer might not have played on clay for a substantial period of time, but he has already shown his clay-court prowess in the two tournaments he has played on the surface this year. The Swiss held two match points against clay stalwart Dominic Thiem in the Mutua Madrid Open quarter-finals before ultimately falling short, and he made the last eight at the Internazionali BNL d’Italia before withdrawing due to injury.

    “I felt I actually came back fairly quickly. Especially now with having played Madrid, I think the decision-making also came back quite naturally,” Federer said before the Internazionali BNL d’Italia. “I think it always goes back to the fact that I did grow up on this surface. Sliding is something I actually enjoy doing. The problem is, the more time I spend on clay, maybe sometimes the more excited I get playing on the surface, I start sliding around too much instead of actually moving sometimes like on the hard courts and only sliding when really required.

    “I must say also in practice in Switzerland I felt good right away. Very happy where I'm at, to be quite honest. I was a bit surprised that it went as easy as it did.”

    Did You Know?
    Federer reached at least the quarter-finals at Roland Garros in nine consecutive appearances from 2005-13. The Swiss advanced to the final four straight times (2006-09) and made a fifth championship match in Paris in 2011.