Improved Monfils Moves Into London Contention

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Published  August 9, 2016

ATP World Tour Uncovered presented by Peugeot profiles Gael Monfils, who is up to No. 11 in the Emirates ATP Rankings and a contender for the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals in London.
Source: ATP News

Del Potro Backs Up Djokovic Upset In Rio

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Published  August 8, 2016

Juan Martin del Potro backed up the biggest upset of the Rio Olympics with another strong performance on Monday in Brazil.

The Argentine moved into the third round with a 6-3, 1-6, 6-3 win against Portugal’s Joao Sousa, No. 36 in the Emirates ATP Rankings. Del Potro struck 13 aces and lost only two points on his serve (20/22) in the third set. The 27 year old also bullied play with his forehand, hitting 16 forehand winners compared to one from his backhand side.

The 6’6” right-hander, who has struggled with wrist injuries the past few years, will look to reach the quarter-finals in Rio when he faces Japan’s Taro Daniel, who swept #NextGen player Kyle Edmund of Great Britain, 6-4, 7-5. Del Potro started his Olympics with a 7-6(4), 7-6(2) victory against World No. 1 Novak Djokovic.

Luxembourg’s Gilles Muller also pulled off an upset, hitting 14 aces to prevail past fifth seed Jo-Wilfried Tsonga 6-4, 6-3. It’s the latest big win for Muller, who’s reached two of his five career ATP World Tour finals this season.

Muller, who carried the flag for his home Luxembourg in the opening ceremonies, will try to continue his best Olympic run when he faces 10th seed Roberto Bautista Agut in the third round. Muller fell in the second round in London in 2012. Bautista Agut denied Italian Paolo Lorenzi 7-6(2), 6-2 in an hour and 29 minutes. The Spaniard improved to 3-0 against Lorenzi in their FedEx ATP Head2Head series.

Ninth seed Marin Cilic also swept his way into the third round, dispatching Moldova’s Radu Albot 6-3, 6-4. The top Croatian broke Albot four times and will next face Frenchman Gael Monfils, who upset the home crowd by beating Brazilian Rogerio Dutra Silva 6-2, 6-4 in an hour and 13 minutes. Monfils is coming off his first ATP World Tour 500 title in Washington and a runner-up at the ATP World Tour Masters 1000 in Toronto (l. to Djokovic).

Read More: Monfils Outlasts Karlovic For D.C. Crown

Andrej Martin of Slovakia received a walkover into the third round when German Philipp Kohlschreiber withdrew because of a right foot injury. Martin, 26, will face Aussie John Millman or Japan’s Kei Nishikori, who play tonight.

Source: ATP News

Ferrer Starts Third Olympics With Sweep

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Published  August 7, 2016

Seventh seed David Ferrer opened his Rio Olympics with a straight-sets win on Sunday, moving past Uzbekistan’s Denis Istomin 6-2, 6-1 in an hour and 15 minutes. The 34-year-old Ferrer, No. 12 in the Emirates ATP Rankings, hit five aces and won almost 70 per cent of his service points (28/41).

The Spaniard, playing in his third Olympics, was particularly effective attacking Istomin, winning 12/14 net points. Ferrer will face Russian Evgeny Donskoy in the second round. Ferrer won their only previous FedEx ATP Head2Head match-up, a 6-1, 6-2, 6-0 sweep at Roland Garros earlier this season.

Home favourite Thomaz Bellucci advanced to the second round when German Dustin Brown retired up 6-4, 4-5 because of a left ankle injury. The Brazilian will face 11th seed Pablo Cuevas of Uruguay or Nikoloz Basilashvili of Georgia. Bellucci’s countryman, Rogerio Dutra Silva, also prevailed against Thomas Fabbiano of Italy 7-6(4), 6-1. Dutra Silva will face Frenchman Gael Monfils.

Tenth seed Roberto Bautista Agut, playing in his first Olympics, also prevailed 6-7(4), 6-2 when Russian Andrey Kuznetsov retired.

Day Two of tennis at Rio will be highlighted by the top ATP World Tour stars hitting the courts, including 2012 gold medalist Andy Murray, third seed Rafael Nadal and top seed Novak Djokovic.

Source: ATP News

Nishikori, Cilic Advance On Opening Day In Rio

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Published  August 6, 2016

Kei Nishikori opened proceedings on Day One at the Rio Olympics, cruising to a 6-2, 6-4 victory over Albert Ramos-Vinolas.

Nishikori fired 20 winners, including eight on his backhand wing, to book his spot in the second round after one hour and 19 minutes. The World No. 6, who has amassed 40 match wins on the ATP World Tour this year, is competing in his third Olympics. The Japanese reached the quarter-finals in London four years ago.

Nishikori will face Australia’s John Millman next. Millman turned in a flawless performance in needing just 50 minutes to dispatch Ricardas Berankis 6-0, 6-0. It was the first double bagel in the history of men’s singles play at the Olympics.

Ninth seed Marin Cilic also moved into the second round, streaking past Grigor Dimitrov 6-1, 6-4. The Croat, who fired 21 total winners including 12 aces, took a 2-1 lead in their FedEx ATP Head2Head.

Frenchmen Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Gael Monfils also headline play on opening day, with NextGen stars Borna Coric and Kyle Edmund in action as well. Thanasi Kokkinakis makes his 2016 debut against Portugal’s Gastao Elias.

Fifth Seeds Mergea/Tecau Advance In Doubles Action
Romanians Florin Mergea and Horia Tecau got off a successful start in their Rio opener, downing Argentines Federico Delbonis and Guillermo Duran 6-3, 6-2 on Saturday. They join Lukasz Kubot and Marcin Matkowski in the Round of 16, after the Poles ended Leander Paes‘ seventh Summer Games, defeating the 43 year old and partner Rohan Bopanna 6-4, 7-6(6).

Former World No. 1 Max Mirnyi, singles No. 1 Novak Djokovic and Juan Martin del Potro are also in action on Saturday.

Source: ATP News

Boys To Men: Querrey, Young, Smyczek & Levine Remember Kalamazoo Journey

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Published  August 5, 2016

For young Americans, 5 August 2016 marks the beginning of a great adventure. The USTA Boys’ 18s National Tournament, held in Kalamazoo, Michigan each August, is the Holy Grail of junior events. Each year, 192 aspiring collegiate and professional players descend from all corners of the United States and do battle over a 10-day span in an attempt to win a wild card into the main draw of the US Open. caught up with four outstanding Kalamazoo alumni, who recounted their favourite anecdotes from the annual classic.

Querrey: The More Things Change…

Sam Querrey, the 2005 Boys’ 18s singles finalist, only took part in the tournament once. After losing in three sets to top seed Donald Young, the lanky Californian took his power game to the pro ranks. The most outstanding ATP World Tour player of Kalamazoo’s Class of 2005, Querrey’s career highlights includes reaching No. 17 in the Emirates ATP Rankings in 2011, winning eight ATP World Tour titles and defeating World No. 1 Novak Djokovic at Wimbledon earlier this year.

“It was definitely the biggest tournament of my junior career. Winning gets you a wild card into the US Open, so there is so much on the line. It really feels like a Grand Slam for an American junior player,” said Querrey, who noted that Kalamazoo’s daunting 192-player draw is larger than that of any professional event.

Despite sweeping the 2004 Boys’ 16s singles and doubles titles and entering the 2005 Boys’ 18s tournament seeded second, the Thousand Oaks native had not considered going all-in on tennis until his late teens. Ironically, this easy-going attitude helped develop the explosive, free-swinging style which has allowed him to keep pace with the best in the world for a decade and counting.

“Sam kind of came out of nowhere. He was not really a top junior in the 14s and 16s, then all of a sudden, he was one of the best guys out there,” said Tim Smyczek. “Back then, he could really blast people off the court. He plays the exact same way now, except a lot better.”

“My attitude and demeanor have never changed. But I take it much more seriously now. It’s a career rather than something that I do for fun, which is how I saw it back then. At the same time, I enjoy it more now than when I was younger,” added Querrey. “If I had to give advice to a player competing at Kalamazoo this year, I’d tell him to enjoy the moment. It’s probably the coolest junior tournament out you’ll get to experience. You play in front of thousands of people and it might well be the biggest stage you’ll ever play on, so have fun.”

Young: Unlocking The Potential

A decade ago, Atlanta, Georgia’s Donald Young was hailed as The Next Great Thing in American tennis. The 2005 and 2006 Boys’ 18s singles champion has worked hard to translate his creative left-handed game to the ATP World Tour ranks, reaching No. 38 in the Emirates ATP Rankings in 2012 and earning more than $3 million in prize money.

“Only a handful of players in every birth year are able to make the Top 100 and enjoy a long pro career,” said Querrey, who noted that most sporting phenoms are held to unreasonably high standards when it comes to their professional futures. “Donald has had a very good career; you’d have to be crazy to say otherwise.”

“It’s a big change from going deep in almost every tournament as a junior to often being ‘one and done’ at the pro level,” said Young, who owns three victories over Top 10 players (Andy Murray, Gael Monfils and Tomas Berdych) since turning pro in 2004. “Since winning in Kalamazoo, the main difference in my game is that I’ve gotten stronger. Not just physically but mentally. I’ve become a lot better at handling the different dynamics in the game from 16 to 27 now, though I am still working on my mental game.

“Life was simple as a junior. I was still living at home, without a lot of responsibilities. Life changes a lot as you become an adult. You become a home owner, you develop relationships,” said Young of the off-court challenges associated with choosing tennis as a career. “You have to grow up and become more independent.”

Smyczek: Finding A Way

Milwaukee, Wisconsin is by no means a tennis hotbed. But for 2006 Boys’ 18s third-place finisher Tim Smyczek, the city provided the right environment for his sporting ambitions.

“I played a lot of sports growing up,” said Smyczek, the son of a basketball coach. “Tennis is such a one-sided sport that it promotes a lot of imbalances in the body, so I used different sports in order to develop as an athlete.”

While Querrey and Young had already developed pro-ready games at 17, it took some time for Smyczek to find the right tactical mix.

“It took me a long time to figure out what type of player I am. In juniors I really had no idea,” the 5’9” Smyczek said. “Back then, I didn’t play like a small guy, I went for winners a lot more and played more aggressively. That’s why it took me a bit longer to put it together. Some other guys had a better idea of how they want to play tennis early on.

“Now, I give myself the opportunity to use my legs and my speed. If I’m going for winners, I’m taking away from my own strength,” said Smyczek, who reached his career-best ranking of No. 68 last year at the age of 27.

Looking back on his Kalamazoo experience, Smyczek identified a specific turning point: “In 2004, my first year in the 18s, I lost in the fourth round but won the back draw. It was ridiculous, I played something like 10 or 12 matches in the same week. That was pretty cool.

“You see a lot of top juniors who lose and then pull out of the consolation draw. When I was in juniors, I really tried to think about development, so it was important for me to get those extra matches in. That’s what junior tennis should be about, playing a lot of matches and learning how to compete.

“Lots of kids get caught up in the wrong things in juniors. If you think about those things in the pros, it’s going to affect your livelihood. Things such as: ‘He beat me, therefore he is going to be recruited higher.’ Or: ‘Is that agent paying attention to me?’ Most pros have a better idea of what to focus on and don’t spend a lot of time thinking about unproductive things. They focus on developing as a player and doing the right things on the court. Then the results will take care of themselves.”

Levine: Life After Tennis

For Jesse Levine, real life is just starting. The Canadian-born, Florida-raised left-hander played his last competitive match in 2014 and was forced into retirement due to an elbow injury. Since the end of his playing career, Levine has remained close to tennis, working as a talent scout for Nike, starting his broadcasting career with Sportsnet’s Rogers Cup coverage and coaching ATP and WTA Tour players.

“[Even in retirement], I’ll never lose the same competitive spirit I had back then. Whether it’s playing tennis or hockey recreationally now, I don’t like to lose in anything,” said Levine, who reached No. 69 in the Emirates ATP Rankings in 2012.

“I’ve realised how lucky and blessed I have been to have played in that environment,” said Levine, who cites his 6-7(2), 6-1, 6-4 Boys’ 18s semi-final win over Smyczek in 2006 as his best Kalamazoo memory. “Smyczek, Young, Querrey; we had a great group of guys around the same age who really pushed each other. I have a connection with all of them just from playing all the years of juniors and on the ATP World Tour together.”

Like the vast majority of players laying it all on the line in Kalamazoo this August, Levine will end his tennis journey without an ATP World Tour title to his name. However, he believes that success is relative. It is the battles, the friendships and the memories that matter.

“Success for me was just giving everything I got day in and day out, throughout my junior and pro career. Not many people get to say they played tennis as their job; I got to do that for nine years. That’s success to me.”

Source: ATP News

Kyrgios Picks LeBron and KG for NBA Dream Team

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Published  August 5, 2016

It is every NBA fan’s dream: Build your team. Forget the modern-day restrictions, such as the salary cap. No worrying about free agency or building a team to last. Out of the current NBA players, just choose the best starting five.

We assigned Nick Kyrgios this task, and the #NextGen star struggled with some positions – shooting guard – more than others. He also admitted his bias when he chose one particular aging former Boston Celtic. But once his decisions were made and his team built, the 21-year-old Aussie, No. 18 in the Emirates ATP Rankings, also made a guarantee: His team, if assembled, would dominate everyone and win an NBA title.

“Yeah, 100 per cent,” Kyrgios said. “You can’t lose with that team.”

Small Forward: LeBron James

The Selection: Kyrgios grabbed James off the board first, the Cleveland Cavaliers’ recent NBA championship likely front of mind. James, widely thought of as the best player in the NBA, also has reached the past six NBA finals, and has been on the winning side of three of them.

The Rationale: “I feel like he’s the best all-around player in the NBA. Hands down,” Kyrgios said.

Point Guard: Kyrie Irving

The Selection: To run the show, Kyrgios chose James’ Cleveland running mate, Kyrie Irving, who, with James, helped the Cavaliers win their first NBA title in 52 years last June. The 24 year old also was born in Melbourne and holds dual Australian and U.S. citizenship.

The Rationale: “Him and LeBron, they’ve got unbelievable chemistry,” Kyrgios said. “And they’ve already been through a lot together, obviously winning a championship.”

Shooting Guard: Klay Thompson

The Selection: Kyrgios hemmed and hawed more with this position than any of the five. “I’ll probably take, umm, I feel like, oh man this is tough,” he said before burying his head in his hand.

Finally, he chose his first non-Cleveland Cavalier: Golden State Warrior Thompson, one of the best three-point shooters in the league. Thompson would be playing with two of his rivals in James and Irving, but Kyrgios didn’t think that’d be a problem.

The Rationale: “He doesn’t really have to have the ball too much. I think he can just shoot from anywhere as well,” Kyrgios said. “He’s a humble guy and he’s pretty cool as well.”

Power Forward: Kevin Garnett

The Selection: Kyrgios admittedly let his bias slip into this pick. He started the choice off with a question: “Does it have to be past or present?” When we decided on just present NBA players, he still chose 21-year veteran Kevin Garnett. The 6’11”, 40 year old played for Kyrgios’ favourite NBA team, the Boston Celtics, and won an NBA title in the green and white (2008).

The Rationale: “He might not have that much to offer anymore on the offensive end, [but] I think he’s a great leader. He’s the type of guy that you’d love to have on your team and you hate to play against,” Kyrgios said. “He’s an unbelievable competitor. That’s a bit biased probably, but I’ll take him.”

Center: DeMarcus Cousins

The Selection: To help Garnett down low, Kyrgios decided to bring in some youth in Sacramento Kings big man DeMarcus Cousins, who stands at 6’11” and weighs 270 pounds. Last season, the 25 year old was an NBA All-Star and averaged almost 27 points and 12 rebounds a game.

The Rationale: “I’m a massive fan of DeMarcus Cousins,” Kyrgios said. “I think he’s the greatest talent in that position. As long as he’s focused and he puts his mind to it, I think he’s unstoppable.”

Coach: Brad Stevens

The Selection: Kyrgios may have let his Celtics passion slip into this pick as well, although Stevens, the Celtics coach, is widely respected and has quickly turned around Boston’s NBA squad. They went 25-57 in his first season but have made the playoffs the past two years.

The Rationale: “They were the underdogs and they really pushed through, and I think that comes down to the coaching staff,” Kyrgios said. “Brad Stevens did a great job. The Celtics are just the team to beat.”

Video: Watch Kyrgios Make His Selections

NBA TV’s Steve Smith Weighs In

We ran Kyrgios’ picks past someone who knows NBA talent: Former NBA player Steve Smith. The current NBA TV host played 14 seasons in the league and won a title with the 2002-03 San Antonio Spurs. He also met and shot some hoops with Kyrgios at the NBA TV studio in Atlanta earlier this week.

“I think it’s a very good team,” Smith said. “It’s balanced. You have veteran leadership. You have a player that can post up, in Cousins. And obviously you have the ultimate playmaker and just basketball mind in LeBron James… I mean, how can you go wrong with that team?”

Basketball Dream Team of ATP World Tour Stars

Kyrgios, who tries to play basketball in between tennis matches, also had some fun choosing the best starting five comprised of ATP World Tour stars. Disclosure: He chose his starting five fresh off some two-on-two hoops with Reilly Opelka, Christopher Eubanks and #NextGen star Taylor Fritz in Atlanta while playing in the BB&T Atlanta Open.

Center: 6’11” Reilly Opelka, 18-year-old American

“He’s practically unguardable,” Kyrgios said. “I’ve played a lot of basketball players and I’ve played a lot of tennis players. He’s definitely one of the best ones I’ve seen.”

Power Forward: 6’7” Christopher Eubanks, 20-year-old American

“The guy can shoot the lights out.”

Small Forward: 6’4” Gael Monfils, 29-year-old Frenchman

“Good athlete that can just go to the rim all day.”

Shooting Guard: 6’3” Jack Sock, 23-year-old American

“He can shoot pretty well.”

Point Guard: Himself

“I can play.”

Sixth Man: 6’4” Taylor Fritz, 18-year-old American

“He played well,” Kyrgios said after their games.

Veteran Leader/Coach: 6’10” John Isner, 31-year-old American

“I hear that he can play. I’ve never seen him before, but I think he’s a good veteran that can lead us.”

Moet and Chandon off-court news 

Source: ATP News

‘Federer Outduels Berdych’ Crowned Toronto Golden Moment

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Published  August 1, 2016

Roger Federer’s comeback win over Tomas Berdych at the 2010 Rogers Cup has been crowned the Golden Moment of Toronto’s ATP World Tour Masters 1000 tournament. 

View Golden Moment Bracket

Over eight days and three rounds, fans cast their votes for their favourite of eight Classic Moments from the Rogers Cup. ‘Federer Outduels Berdych’ received 91.84 per cent of votes cast in the final against ‘Safin’s First Masters Title’. It also won by overwhelming margins in the first two rounds, advancing in Round 1 over Andre Agassi’s 1992 defeat of Ivan Lendl and in the quarter-finals over Patrick Rafter’s dominant run in 1998.

In that night-time thriller, Federer avenged consecutive defeats to Tomas Berdych as he battled from 2-5 down in the third set to prevail 6-3, 5-7, 7-6(5). “The crowds were absolutely amazing,” said the Swiss at the time. “Rarely do you get those kind of atmospheres, so I knew that was something special.  I have always around the world great support, but when it gets so loud and so exciting, it’s obviously something different. Adrenaline starts going, and you hope you come out, you know, on the better end at the end, and that’s what I was able to do. I’m really, really happy.”

Safin had narrowly earned a place in the final, edging Guillermo Canas’s 2002 giant-killing effort by a two per cent margin. In Round 1, Safin’s Classic Moment advanced over Novak Djokovic’s battling 2014 win over Gael Monfils

Source: ATP News

Nishikori Rises In Barclays ATP World Tour Finals Bid

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Published  August 1, 2016

Kei Nishikori continued his qualification push last week for a spot at the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals, to be held at The O2 in London from 13-20 November. The Japanese star rose one spot to fourth place in the Emirates ATP Race To London after a Rogers Cup runner-up finish – his third ATP World Tour Masters 1000 final run. He is now 510 points behind No. 3 Milos Raonic (4,015).

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The recent Citi Open champion Gael Monfils moved Tomas Berdych out of an automatic qualification position by advancing to the Toronto semi-finals (l. to Djokovic). The Frenchman, who is now at No. 8, is 185 points behind seventh-placed Stan Wawrinka, who also reached the last four (l. to Nishikori) at the Aviva Centre.

Wawrinka (2,730 points), Monfils (2,545) and Berdych (2,440) are all now within sight of sixth-placed Dominic Thiem (2,845), who has gone 1-3 in his past three tournaments.

View Emirates ATP Race To London

Five-time Barclays ATP World Tour Finals titlist Novak Djokovic, who captured his 30th ATP World Tour Masters 1000 trophy last week, and No. 2 Andy Murray have already qualified. Six singles spots are up for grabs.

Dodig/Melo Make Their Move

Ivan Dodig and Marcelo Melo secured their third ATP World Tour Masters 1000 team title with victory in Toronto on Sunday. It helped the Croatian-Brazilian pair to jump three spots to fifth position (3,130) in the Emirates ATP Doubles Race To London, just 140 points behind No. 4-ranked Feliciano Lopez and Marc Lopez (3,270). Pierre-Hugues Herbert and Nicolas Mahut (6,175) lead overall with all eight doubles team berths available.

View Emirates ATP Doubles Race To London

Source: ATP News

Djokovic Shuts Down Monfils To Reach Toronto Final

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Published  July 31, 2016

Novak Djokovic did not serve his best against Gael Monfils at the Rogers Cup on Saturday, but the outcome was never in doubt, as the Serbian marched to a 6-3, 6-2 semi-final triumph against the Frenchman in 73 minutes. With the loss, Monfils fell to 0-12 against Djokovic in the pair’s FedEx ATP Head2Head rivalry despite the World No. 1 firing one ace and six double-faults.

Djokovic, who had overcome a stern test against Tomas Berdych in the quarter-finals on Friday, found the margin of victory with flawless play from the baseline. The three-time Rogers Cup champion (2007, 2011-12) aimed to extend rallies and covered the court so well that the explosive Monfils, who beat hometown hero Milos Raonic the previous night, was unable to make use of his creativity. The 2016 Citi Open champion only won 28 per cent of second-serve points and dropped serve four times before succumbing.

“I guess he missed a few shots at the beginning. I got some opportunities and I took them,” said Monfils, who secured the first break of serve of the match before Djokovic took over. “And then suddenly he was not missing anymore. He was going for his shots and being much better in the rallies. He became super solid. When Novak is playing like that, it’s very tough to beat him.”

The top player in the Emirates ATP Rankings continued his domination at the ATP World Tour Masters 1000 level. He has now reached the final in 14 of his past 15 appearances and is aiming for an 11th title in that span. On Sunday, he is playing for a record 30th ATP World Tour Masters 1000 title.

In the final, Djokovic will face Kei Nishikori, who won in straight sets against Stan Wawrinka earlier in the day. Djokovic is 9-2 at tour-level against the Japanese star and is riding an eight-match winning streak over the No. 3 seed.

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Source: ATP News