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  • The Bryan Brothers: ‘We’re Enjoying The Afterlife’

    Bob Bryan and Mike Bryan, the most accomplished doubles team in history, retired last August. Five months later, the legendary twins are at ease with their decision.

    “Now we’re enjoying the afterlife. We’ve both got families. A lot of time with our kids. We understand how important it is to put that energy into raising good human beings,” Mike said. “Maybe they can carry on the legacy, the Bryan Brothers. You [Bob] have the Bryan Brothers, I have one. We’ll see, we’ll have fun doing something else. We’ll figure it out.”

    Bob has three children — two sons and a daughter — and Mike has one son. Even before their retirement, family was important to the Americans. When the Bryan Brothers lifted some of their biggest trophies in recent years, Bob’s kids tended to be nearby (Mike’s son was born last April). In what ended up being the team’s final tournament, the 2020 Delray Beach Open by VITACOST.com, Bob’s children were their to celebrate another trophy.

    “We had a great 23 years, it’s almost too much time to do one thing,” Bob said. “I don’t miss it too much right now, but I do miss waking up having something to shoot for. The goals, the tournaments, just improving the game, having something to shoot for and doing it with you [Mike].”

    Bob and Mike enjoyed unparalleled success, lifting 119 tour-level doubles trophies together. Some fans will remember them for their trademark chest bumps and all the time they spent signing autographs and taking pictures with fans. But the Bryan Brothers were also ferocious competitors, and that’s not something that will go away.

    “The competition is fun,” Bob said. “I’m getting now into chess, parcheesi, other games.”

    It wasn’t always as easy as the brothers made it look, especially in recent years. Bob underwent surgery on his right hip in August 2018, for example. But the pursuit of goals — in many cases, lofty for the Americans — kept them pushing forward into their 40s.

    “You have one singular focus: that’s to win matches, to win tournaments, to try to finish No. 1. You have that drive and that vision that gets you out of bed,” Mike said. “We’re both competitors, we like getting the adrenaline rush. The highs and the lows of winning, losses, knowing where you stand against the rest of the teams on a weekly basis.”

    As well-liked as they were — the twins won the Doubles Fans Favourite Award 14 times — and as tough as they still might have been on the court, Bob and Mike were ready to hang up their racquets aged 42. This was living proof that nothing lasts forever.

    “We had a blast, but it was our time to step aside,” Bob said.

    “I’m just going to miss the Tour,” Mike added. “This is what we’ve done for so long, it’s so comfortable. It’s really a simple life.”



  • World's Top 4 Players In Action On Day 1 Of ATP Cup

    The match schedule for the 2021 ATP Cup, the 12-country event being played at Melbourne Park from 2-6 February, was released Monday. The tournament dates have been pushed back 24 hours to allow quarantined players the best possible preparation and training opportunities.

    See Tournament Daily Schedule

    Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal, Dominic Thiem and Daniil Medvedev will all begin their 2021 campaigns on Day 1 of the event. In the day session, defending champion Serbia will open its bid for a second straight title against Canada on Rod Laver Arena and Austria will face Italy on John Cain Arena.

    At last year’s event, Serbia overcame Canada 3-0 in the knockout stages. The tie produced one of the most memorable matches of the event, when Djokovic outlasted Denis Shapovalov in a final-set tie-break. They are set for a rematch as their country’s No. 1 singles players.

    In the evening session, 2020 finalist Spain will face hosts Australia on Rod Laver Arena. Rafael Nadal and Alex de Minaur will meet again in singles after last year’s semi-finals, when Spain prevailed 3-0. Russia, which reached the semi-finals at the inaugural ATP Cup, will begin its title bid against Argentina. The two countries met in the knockout stages last year, with Russia earning a 3-0 victory.

    An individual match to watch includes World No. 2 Nadal against 2019 Nitto ATP Finals champion Stefanos Tsitsipas, which will take place when Spain faces Greece in the evening session on Thursday 4 February.

    Germany, Greece, France and Japan will play their first ties of the tournament on Day 2. Each tie will consist of three matches with No. 2 singles players competing before the No. 1 singles, followed by a doubles match.

    View 2021 Match Schedule

    ATP Cup 2021 schedule

    The opening three days of the tournament will feature 12 group stage ties, with the four group winners advancing to the semi-finals. The semi-finals will be held simultaneously on Friday, before the two finalists meet in Saturday’s championship match.

    To ensure the safety of all patrons on site, the Melbourne Park precinct will be split into different zones.

    Spectators wanting to watch ATP Cup Group A and Group B matches will need to purchase a Rod Laver Arena Zone ticket while a John Cain Arena Zone ticket is required for Group C and Group D matches.

    Group stage ticket prices are $20 for adults and $5 for kids and go on sale Thursday 28 January at 12.00pm AEDT via Ticketmaster.



  • Korda, Pouille Lead Quimper Challenger Draw; Munar Headlines In Antalya

    This week, the ATP Challenger Tour rolls into France and Turkey for a pair of star-studded tournaments. All eyes will be on the indoor hard courts of Quimper, France and the outdoor clay of Antalya, Turkey, with former Top 10 stalwarts and #NextGenATP stars in action.

    In Quimper, the 11th edition of the Open Quimper Bretagne Occidentale features former World No. 10 Lucas Pouille as its top seed and 20-year-old Sebastian Korda seeded second. Fellow #NextGenATP stars Brandon Nakashima and Hugo Gaston are also in the loaded field, along with Sunday's Istanbul champion Arthur Rinderknech.

    It will be a long-awaited return to the tour for Pouille, as the five-time ATP Tour champion and 2019 Australian Open semi-finalist competes in his first tournament since undergoing right elbow surgery last year. To add another layer of emotions to his comeback, the Frenchman is also playing in his first tournament since becoming a father. Last week, his wife Clemence gave birth to their first child, Rose.

    View Quimper Draw

    Having played just one match in the last 15 months, Pouille returns to the ATP Challenger Tour in search of matches and much-needed rhythm between the lines. He opens against Slovakia's Filip Horansky, with Rinderknech a potential quarter-final opponent. Fellow former Top 10 star Ernests Gulbis and in-form Americans Nakashima and Denis Kudla are also in his half of the draw.

    Meanwhile, the bottom half of the Quimper draw is headlined by World No. 103 Korda, as the Florida native continues his quest for a Top 100 breakthrough. The runner-up at the ATP 250 event in Delray Beach earlier this month, he has won 17 of his last 20 matches, also including a maiden Challenger title in Eckental, Germany.

    Korda will open against a qualifier, with sixth seed Jurij Rodionov a potential quarter-final opponent. Elsewhere, fellow 20-year-old Gaston battles 2019 champion Gregoire Barrere in a first-round clash, while a red-hot Marc-Andrea Huesler faces last week's Istanbul finalist Benjamin Bonzi.

    Antalya
    Centre court in Antalya

    At the inaugural Club Megasaray Open I, players hit the clay of Antalya for the first of two straight tournaments in the Turkish resort town. World No. 110 Jaume Munar leads the field, alongside second seed Daniel Elahi Galan and #NextGenATP stars Thiago Seyboth Wild and Lorenzo Musetti.

    Munar concluded his 2020 campaign as one of the hottest players on the Challenger circuit, posting a 12-3 record to finish the season. He lifted the trophy in Lisbon, Portugal, in early October and reached another final in Marbella, Spain, later that month. The Spaniard opens against countryman Carlos Taberner this week.

    View Antalya Draw

    Munar is joined by fourth seed Facundo Bagnis and Germany's Daniel Altmaier in the top half of the draw. Altmaier is also looking to carry the momentum from a strong 2020 campaign, having streaked to the Round of 16 at Roland Garros as a qualifier. There, he secured his first Top 10 victory over Matteo Berrettini.

    Second seed Galan, meanwhile, opens against a qualifier on Tuesday. The Colombian is joined by Seyboth Wild and Musetti in the bottom half of the draw, as well as former World No. 21 Leonardo Mayer.

    ATP Challenger Tour 




  • Dennis Novak & Thiem: Who's Baby Bowser During Quarantine?

    Dennis Novak broke into the Top 100 of the FedEx ATP Rankings for the first time last season, and his surge started at the ATP Cup.

    Novak played three tough three-setters for Austria as the country’s No. 2 singles player, and he earned a win against World No. 25 Guido Pella. The 6’ righty climbed as high as World No. 85 in March. Now, he is ready to begin another season by representing Austria in the ATP Cup.

    Before the start of the 12-country event, Novak sat down with ATPTour.com to reveal how he has been passing the time during quarantine.

    What is a day in the life of quarantine like for you?
    We wake up, we get tested, we have breakfast. We get ready for practice... We have time to be outside. We come back, do some stretching, eat, shower and then watch some movies and try to kill the time.

    Who is your most frequently contacted person during this quarantine period?
    Dominic [Thiem]. [We keep in touch by] texting, playing games online against each other.

    What games do you play against each other online?
    We play a lot of Mario Kart on Nintendo Switch. That’s at the moment the only thing we play [on Nintendo Switch]. I play with Baby Bowser and he takes Toad. I also have a PlayStation with me. I play with his brother [Moritz Thiem]. We play Formula 1 and we have a few more games.

    Have you been watching any shows in quarantine?
    I just started a new show on Netflix, Shooter. I’m just really into it. I cannot stop. Also a French one, Lupin. But there is only one season out, so it’s only five or six episodes. For Shooter there are a lot more.

    Are you reading any books or doing anything else?
    I [recently] read two books about Covid, which were really interesting. I like to read biographies of sportsmen. For me, the best sports biography I’ve read was about Niki Lauda.

    What are some of the best in-room workout tips that you have found?
    You can do a lot just with your body weight and with the band, maybe. I think those are the two things I do the most.

    What’s your go-to pick-up order that you have?
    A lot of pasta and fish.

    You’ve been watching some shows, playing some games. What else do you do to pass the time?
    Just watching some news from home in Austria on the Internet, just being on the Internet, playing games, maybe sleeping. But that’s it.



  • Arthur's Ascent: Rinderknech Kicks Off 2021 With Istanbul Title

    New season, same story for Arthur Rinderknech.

    One year ago, the Frenchman opened his 2020 campaign with a piece of silverware wrapped in his arms. This week, Rinderknech kicked off his 2021 ATP Challenger Tour season in similar fashion.

    The 25-year-old wasted no time in finding the winning formula in Istanbul, reeling off seven wins in eight days as a qualifier to lift the trophy. With the Turkish metropolis blanketed in snow, Rinderknech turned up the heat on the indoor hard courts of the TED Sports Club. He rallied past countryman Benjamin Bonzi in Sunday's championship, taking the title 4-6, 7-6(1), 7-6(3) in two hours and 17 minutes.

    "It feels great to win the first Challenger of the year and even more when it's a 125-level tournament," said Rinderknech. "I'm happy about the way I handled things this week and went through seven matches in eight days."

    Rinderknech's triumph moves him 43 spots to a career-high No. 135 in the FedEx ATP Rankings. A former college standout at Texas A&M University, he outlasted #NextGenATP star Brandon Nakashima, before overcoming an in-form Marc-Andrea Huesler in the quarter-finals and defeating seventh seed Jozef Kovalik for a spot in the title match.

    "I think the key was to go day-by-day and take it match-by-match, as it was a long week," Rinderknech added. "Taking care of my body and making sure I was staying fresh, mentally too. I wanted to play doubles with my partner Manuel Guinard, but we didn't get in and that would have been too much. We will play together in Quimper."

    The Parisian is carrying some serious momentum from a breakout 2020 campaign. One of the revelations on the Challenger circuit last year, Rinderknech soared nearly 200 spots to a year-end position inside the Top 200. Not only did he open his season with a title on home soil in Rennes, but he followed that with a second crown in Calgary, Canada, just weeks later. And in September, he was rewarded for his efforts with a main draw wild card at Roland Garros, making his Grand Slam debut in his hometown.

    Rinderknech, who finished 2020 in fourth place on the Challenger wins list with a 22-12 record, is the first qualifier to lift a trophy since Carlos Alcaraz achieved the feat in August. In addition, the 25-year-old is the youngest French champion in nearly two years.

    Next week, Rinderknech will return home for the Open Quimper Bretagne Occidentale. He opens against a qualifier, with top seed and former World No. 10 Lucas Pouille also in his quarter at the Challenger 100 event. Rinderknech is one of nine players in the Top 150 to feature in Quimper.

    ATP Challenger Tour 



  • New Australian Schedule To Help Players In Lockdown

    The Australian Open lead-in week has been revamped to help give the 72 players in the 14-day quarantine lockdown the best possible preparation and training opportunities.

    Following extensive consultation between the players and the Tours, Tennis Australia has designed a new schedule, taking into account the limited time many players have had to prepare.

    The Murray River Open, the Great Ocean Road Open and the ATP Cup will be pushed back by 24 hours. The two ATP 250 events will commence on Monday 1 February, each featuring an increased singles main draw size of 56, while the ATP Cup will start on Tuesday 2 February.

    “This has been a particularly challenging time for the athletes in hard lockdown and we, along with the WTA and ATP, aim to do everything we can to help,” Australian Open Tournament Director Craig Tiley said.

    “These changes to the lead-in events have been made to give the 72 players a little bit of extra time to help them prepare. We also will prioritise them for things like practice sessions, gym and ice baths.”

    ATP Chairman Andrea Gaudenzi also added, “Our number one goal with Tennis Australia and the WTA was to be as fair as possible to the players coming out of a hard quarantine.

    “The extra 24 hours before the first ATP Tour events together with priority over practice and preparation will help. We are eager to start what I am sure will be a fantastic summer of tennis in Melbourne in front of our great Australian fans.”

    2021 Australian Summer Tennis Calendar

    There will now be three WTA 500 events - the two originally planned from Sunday 31 January to Saturday 6 February, with slightly reduced draw sizes. A third event, for those players who have been unable to train, will commence on Wednesday 3 and finish on Sunday 7 February.

    “This revised schedule comprised of three WTA 500 events in the week leading into the upcoming Australian Open will allow for our athletes coming out of the respected quarantine period to properly focus on their preparation in a return to competition,” WTA CEO Steve Simon said.

    “We appreciate the positive spirit of collaboration demonstrated by our friends at Tennis Australia and the ATP as these solutions were worked through in recent days. All of our players appreciate the opportunity to be here in Melbourne and look forward to getting on the court to compete and entertain the terrific fans that are here with some great tennis over the weeks ahead in what will be a very a safe and healthy environment.”

    Tickets start from $20 for adults and just $5 for kids and will go on sale this week.



  • Andy Murray Withdraws From The Australian Open

    Three-time Grand Slam champion Andy Murray has confirmed that he won’t be competing in the 2021 Australian Open. Murray, now ranked No. 123 in the FedEx ATP Rankings, had been granted a wildcard to play in the tournament’s main draw but he tested positive for Covid-19 last week shortly before he was due to fly to Melbourne.

    The 33-year-old Scot was asymptomatic and still hoped to compete in the event, but was unable to agree upon a “workable quarantine” after extensive talks with Tennis Australia. Murray had already been quarantining in the U.K. but would have faced an additional 14-day quarantine upon arrival in Melbourne.

    “Gutted to share that I won’t be flying out to Australia to compete at the Australian Open,” Murray said in a statement. “We’ve been in constant dialogue with Tennis Australia to try and find a solution which would allow some form of workable quarantine, but we couldn’t make it work. I want to thank everyone there for their efforts, I’m devastated not to be playing out in Australia. It’s a country and tournament that I love.”

    So sorry we won’t see you this year @andy_murray. We look forward to welcoming you back in 2022. pic.twitter.com/NstmHFnCGm

    — #AusOpen (@AustralianOpen) January 23, 2021

    It would have been Murray’s first appearance at the Australian Open since 2019, when he lost in the first round to Roberto Bautista Agut and was given an emotional farewell tribute that proved to be premature. After returning from hip surgery in 2019, Murray won the European Open in Antwerp in October 2019 but has struggled to remain fit in recent months. He ended the 2020 season in October to address a pelvic injury but is now apparently ready to return to action.



  • Ten To Watch In 2021: ATP Challenger Tour

    As crazy, unpredictable and unprecedented as the 2020 season was, one thing left us captivated on the ATP Challenger Tour. A bevy of fresh faces entered the fray, challenging the established stars and introducing themselves with aplomb.

    The #NextGenATP contingent was bolstered by the arrival of Carlos Alcaraz, Lorenzo Musetti and Sebastian Korda, with each lifting their maiden Challenger trophies while gaining global attention on the Grand Slam stage and the ATP Tour. And with the likes of Aslan Karatsev and Jurij Rodionov also soaring up the FedEx ATP Rankings, the season provided many unexpected and intriguing breakthroughs on the Challenger circuit.

    So, which budding stars should you keep an eye on in 2021? We look ahead to the players that are eager to follow in their footsteps on the ATP Challenger Tour in the coming year.

    Francisco Cerundolo [No. 139]
    The man they call Fran was one of the breakout performers of the 2020 season and there is little to suggest that he won't carry the momentum into the new year. If you blinked, you may have missed the 22-year-old's rapid rise in October and November. But be assured, he's just getting started.

    Inconspicuous yet ruthless, Cerundolo is poised to become a household name across the tennis world. He put the rest of the tour on notice in the final months of 2020, reeling off 20 of 23 matches and lifting three trophies - tied for the most on the ATP Challenger Tour. His dominant run saw him soar more than 100 spots to a career-high No. 139 in the FedEx ATP Rankings, becoming the youngest Argentine in the Top 200.

    And if that wasn't an impressive feat in itself, his success on the court is coming while he's dominating in the classroom. Cerundolo is pursuing a bachelor's degree in management, taking online classes in economics and finance while competing on the road.

    Marc-Andrea Huesler [No. 148]
    Another of 2020's unheralded breakout stars, Huesler quietly built an impressive portfolio of titles and statement wins. The only player to lift Challenger trophies on multiple surfaces a year ago, he was one of the more dominant players on the planet following the tour's restart in August.

    Not only did Huesler triumph on the clay of Sibiu and speedy carpet courts of Ismaning, in back-to-back tournaments no less, he also stepped up to the ATP Tour in grand fashion. The 24-year-old Swiss streaked to the semi-finals at the ATP 250 stop in Kitzbuhel, reeling off five straight wins as a qualifier, including his first career Top 20 victory over Fabio Fognini. Having opened the 2020 season on the sidelines with a foot injury, a healthy Huesler is hoping to continue turning the page on his career in 2021. He rose 132 spots to a career-high of No. 146 in the FedEx ATP Rankings.

    Botic Van de Zandschulp [No. 156]
    One year ago, we featured Tallon Griekspoor on this list. Now, it's time for another rising Dutch star to crash the party. At No. 155 and No. 156, respectively, Griekspoor and Van de Zandschulp are looking to take tennis in The Netherlands to new heights in 2021.

    While his name might be a mouthful to pronounce, his game is certainly a handful for opponents. Armed with a mammoth serve and booming forehand, Van de Zandschulp boasts an imposing brand of tennis that has seen him climb the FedEx ATP Rankings in the past year. He leapt more than 50 spots in 2020, peaking at a career-high No. 152 after reaching a pair of Challenger finals in Koblenz and Ismaning.

    And just one week ago, the Dutchman secured victories over Lorenzo Musetti, Joao Menezes and Mathias Bourgue to punch his ticket to the Australian Open. It marks his first Grand Slam main draw appearance. Alongside Griekspoor, they are a Dutch double threat to watch in 2021.

    Botic

    Hugo Gaston [No. 161]
    It was one of the biggest upsets at Roland Garros in recent memory. A young upstart, aged 20, Gaston shocked the world with a thrilling five-set victory over former champion Stan Wawrinka. The scenes on Court Suzanne-Lenglen remain some of the prevailing images of the 2020 tournament. Sitting outside the Top 200 and having never reached a Challenger final, the Frenchman turned in a fairytale run to the Round of 16 on home soil.

    Now, at No. 161 in the FedEx ATP Rankings, it's time for Gaston to bring that same talent and flair to the ATP Challenger Tour. The Toulouse native showed great maturity and resolve to not only defeat Wawrinka, but also push World No. 3 Dominic Thiem to five sets in the subsequent round. Having reached just one semi-final on the Challenger circuit - nearly one year ago in Bergamo - Gaston will be hoping to carry his Parisian magic to even greater heights in 2021.

    Brandon Nakashima [No. 170]
    Nakashima is the only repeat entry on this list from 2020. One year ago, the #NextGenATP American was sitting outside the Top 350, but he has since slashed his FedEx ATP Ranking in half, soaring from No. 364 to a career-high No. 166 in November. The 19-year-old has taken great strides in his development, demonstrating an impressive all-around game and unflappable mental fortitude.

    A native of southern California, Nakashima became the youngest American champion since Frances Tiafoe in 2017 with his maiden title in Orlando. At the age of 19, he did not drop a set all week at the USTA National Campus. Nakashima also triumphed in his Grand Slam debut at the US Open (d. Lorenzi) and reached the quarter-finals in his ATP Tour debut earlier in the year in Delray Beach.

    One of four teenagers in the Top 200, along with Carlos Alcaraz, Lorenzo Musetti and Jannik Sinner, Nakashima joins an intense battle to qualify for the Next Gen ATP Finals in 2021.

    Aleksandar Vukic [No. 195]
    and fellow former college stars J.J. Wolf [No. 127], Maxime Cressy [No. 168] & Arthur Rinderknech [No. 178]
    For many, attending university in the U.S. and competing in the collegiate ranks is the ideal pathway to the pros. Often, junior players aren't ready to take the next step to the professional level immediately, and can benefit from the structure and coaching provided at an elite institution.

    It seems like every year there is a former college star translating success to the ATP Challenger Tour. Recently, it was Cameron Norrie (TCU), Dominik Koepfer (Tulane) and Marcos Giron (UCLA), and in 2020 a bevy of players took the leap. Ohio State's Wolf, UCLA's Cressy and Texas A&M's Rinderknech all lifted trophies, surging towards the Top 100 behind breakthrough campaigns. And Vukic (Illinois) reached his first final in Monterrey.

    In addition, Wolf and Cressy won their first Grand Slam matches at the 2020 US Open, eventually falling to Daniil Medvedev and Stefanos Tsitsipas, respectively. The spotlight couldn't have been greater for the Americans. Both have intriguing backstories, with 26 of Wolf's relatives having taken up a sport at either the collegiate or professional level, and the Paris-born Cressy moving to the U.S. as a teenager. Rinderknech, meanwhile, finished Top 5 in Challenger wins in 2020, posting a 22-12 record.

    For Vukic, embarking on a journey from Australia to the University of Illinois was like going from one world to another. A three-time All-American at Illinois, 'Vuki' hails from Sydney, Australia, but has Eastern European heritage in his blood. His parents, who introduced him to the game at age five, are from Montenegro (dad) and Bosnia (mom).

    The 24-year-old graduated with a degree in finance in 2018 and has battled on the ATP Challenger Tour ever since. In March, all the work finally paid off. In the week before the COVID-19 shutdown, Vukic reached his first Challenger final on the hard courts of Monterrey, Mexico (l. to Mannarino). He secured the biggest win of his young career in upsetting World No. 56 Feliciano Lopez in the second round. Vukic would later qualify for Roland Garros, making his Grand Slam debut after saving two match points and rallying from a set and a break deficit against Alcaraz. His mettle tested, the Aussie demonstrated great poise in punching his ticket to the main draw.

    Now, just shy of his career-high No. 190 in the FedEx ATP Rankings, Vukic is hoping his breakout 2020 campaign carries to the new year. His efforts were already rewarded with a main draw wild card into next month's Australian Open.

    Vukic

    Tomas Machac [No. 197]
    Machac was the best kept secret on the ATP Challenger Tour in 2020. He's the #NextGenATP few are familiar with, but that won't last long. In February, right before the COVID-19 shutdown, the 20-year-old won his maiden Challenger crown on the indoor hard courts of Koblenz, Germany. And he's certainly shown that his game translates to all surfaces, storming through Roland Garros qualifying before pushing 27th seed Taylor Fritz to five sets.

    At the age of 19, his victory in Koblenz marked the first time a Czech teen had lifted a Challenger trophy since Jiri Vesely in 2013. Having opened the year outside the Top 350, Machac would surge to the year-end Top 200, also reaching the final in Bratislava. It looks like 2021 is shaping to be even more fruitful for the Czech, having blitzed his three opponents to qualify for the Australian Open in Doha. He did not drop serve once.

    Felipe Meligeni [No. 230]
    We look outside the Top 200 for these last three entries. They are three players that made small strides in 2020 and certainly have the firepower to make some noise in the new year.

    Exactly 27 years after his uncle Fernando Meligeni won his maiden Challenger title in Sao Paulo, Felipe lifted his first trophy in the same city. The 22-year-old Brazilian dropped one set all week at the Clube Hipico Santo Amaro in November, eventually rising to a career-high No. 230.

    His uncle was a former World No. 25 and Roland Garros semi-finalist in 1999. During his career, Fernando claimed more than 200 matches, including wins over former World No. 1s Pete Sampras, Yevgeny Kafelnikov, Patrick Rafter, Carlos Moya and Andy Roddick. Now, 27 years later, the Brazilian's nephew is carving a path of his own. He would kick off 2021 with his biggest win on a hard court, upsetting former World No. 24 Martin Klizan in Australian Open qualifying.

    Meligeni

    Kacper Zuk [No. 267]
    The future of Polish tennis has arrived. His name is Kacper Zuk. The 22-year-old provided one of the upsets of the year in 2020, stunning current World No. 61 and top seed Vasek Pospisil on the indoor hard courts of Calgary, Canada. Just one month after defeating another Top 100 star, Dennis Novak, at the ATP Cup, Zuk would reel off four wins in five days to reach his first Challenger semi-final.

    That spurred the Pole to dominate the ITF circuit upon the resumption of professional tennis in August. He would clinch three titles, posting a 15-0 record, en route to cracking the Top 300 of the FedEx ATP Rankings for the first time. With an affable and infectious personality off the court, Zuk is a ruthless competitor between the lines. He may be slender in stature, but the 22-year-old packs a punch from the baseline and is a relentless attacking force. Having peaked at No. 259 in November, he is poised to continue to climb towards the Top 200 and beyond in 2021.

    Have a day, Kacper Żuk!

    One month after stunning Dennis Novak at the @ATPCup, the 21-year-old 🇵🇱 earns his biggest victory over top seed Vasek Pospisil in Calgary. pic.twitter.com/rQm8YSMgOA

    — ATP Challenger Tour (@ATPChallenger) February 27, 2020

    Duje Ajdukovic [No. 321]
    In October, a new era of Croatian tennis launched in the seaside city of Split. The inaugural Split Open featured native son Ajdukovic among its semi-finalists. The 19-year-old made an impressive Challenger debut in his hometown, stunning former Top 100 players Martin Klizan and Jozef Kovalik. He dropped a combined 10 games in those two matches.

    Born and raised in Split, near the Firule Tennis Club where the tournament is held, Ajdukovic is joined by former Top 10 stars Goran Ivanisevic, Mario Ancic, Nikola Pilic and doubles No. 1 Mate Pavic as Croatians who developed their games at that very site. Now, the budding #NextGenATP star enters his second season on the ATP Challenger Tour. He reached a second semi-final in Maia, Portugal, to conclude his 2020 campaign and the World No. 321 will be targeting the Top 300 and beyond as 2021 gets underway.

    Ajdukovic

    ATP Challenger Tour 




  • Hard-Court Hero: Rublev's Foundation For Success

    Andrey Rublev soared from No. 23 to No. 8 in the FedEx ATP Rankings on the back of five ATP Tour titles in 2020, when he was named by his peers as the ATP Most Improved Player of the Year.

    His breakthrough was centred on his hard-court performances last year, with an ATP Tour-leading 31 match wins on the surface — better than World No. 1 Novak Djokovic (30), Nitto ATP Finals champion Daniil Medvedev (28) and US Open finalist Alexander Zverev (25).

    According to the Infosys ATP Performance Zone, Rublev had the third-best winning percentage on hard-courts (79.5%) over the past 52 weeks, behind only Djokovic (88.2%) and Gael Monfils (80%).

    Best Winning % On Hard Courts In 2020

     Player  Win-Loss Record  Winning %
     1) Novak Djokovic  30-4  88.2%
     2) Gael Monfils  16-4  80%
     3) Andrey Rublev  31-8  79.5%
     4) Daniil Medvedev  28-8  77.8%
    5) Rafael Nadal  18-6  75%

    Rublev opened the 2020 season with an 11-match winning streak on hard courts, including back-to-back ATP Tour titles in Doha (d. Moutet) and in Adelaide (d. Harris), making him the first player to win consecutive titles in the first two weeks of the season since Dominik Hrbaty in 2004. He compiled another 11-match winning streak on the surface in October with titles in St. Petersburg (d. Coric) and Vienna (d. Sonego).

    It was quite the turnaround for Rublev, who saw his career winning percentage on hard courts skyrocket from the start of 2020 thanks to his 31-8 record (79.5%). Remarkably, the Russian compiled a 72-60 career record (54.5%) on the surface between 2014 and 2019.

    Visit Infosys ATP Performance Zone

    With growing confidence, Rublev has captured five of his seven ATP Tour titles on hard courts, and since 2014 he has won four times as many matches on hard courts (103) than he has on clay courts (25). Last year, the 23-year-old went 10-2 on clay — including the Hamburg European Open title (d. Tsitsipas) — for an overall 41-10 season record (80.3%).

    The World No. 8 has recorded 103 of his 132 career match wins on hard courts. Next month, he will begin his 2021 campaign alongside Daniil Medvedev, when they both represent Russia in the ATP Cup.

    Rublev's Career Win-Loss Record By Surface

     Surface  Win-Loss Record / %  Titles
     Hard  103-68 / 60.2%  5
     Clay  25-18 / 58.1%  2
     Grass  4-3 / 57.1%  0
     Total  132-89 / 59.7%  7


  • The Last Time... With Roberto Bautista Agut

    “The Last Time” that Roberto Bautista Agut lost an ATP Cup match? Never happened.

    The World No. 13 earned a reputation for being Spain’s reliable closer at last year’s inaugural event, winning all six of his singles matches without dropping a set to put his country into the final. Bautista Agut will hope to reprise that role as he teams up with Rafael Nadal, Pablo Carreno Busta and Marcel Granollers to try to bring home Spain’s first ATP Cup crown.

    Speaking to ATPTour.com from quarantine, Bautista Agut revealed "The Last Time"...

    I forgot an important birthday or anniversary?
    Actually last year. It was my anniversary with my wife! Somehow I managed to survive...

    Being famous helped me?
    It was one time I was going out to dinner. There was a restaurant in America during the summer that always seems to be overbooked. And so I called… and I let them know it was me. And they were able to get me a table and I got to have dinner there.

    I went to a music concert?
    It must have been over a year ago by now, more or less. I went to see a concert at the Plaza de Toros in Valencia. [Spanish pop singer] Manuel Carrasco was performing.

    I watched a new TV series?
    I’m actually watching a new one now, it’s a Spanish series called La Valla (“The Barrier”). I recommend it.

    I missed a flight?
    Actually I’ve never missed a flight. The only time I missed one was when the flight was cancelled, but never because I was running late. 

    I paid money to rent a tennis court?
    I don’t remember at all… I have no idea, but it definitely couldn’t have happened in Spain. If it happened it must have been abroad, but I honestly don’t remember.

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    I strung a tennis racquet? 
    I have never strung a tennis racquet in my life. I know nothing about stringing.

    I met a person that I really admired?
    Recently I met a violinist that did me the favour of performing at my son’s baptism. I was really excited to meet him. He put together a beautiful concert for the family and the baby. 

    I shared a hotel room with another player?
    That’s got to be so long ago. Juniors? No, actually back when I played Challengers. When you play at the [ATP Challenger Series] level it’s pretty common to share hotel rooms because that way we split the costs.