TENNIS – The grass season is in full swing this week with two historic tournaments, the AEGON Championships at Queen’s Club in London and the Gerry Weber in Halle, Germany. Both tournaments have been upgraded this year to ATP 500 and have attracted 16 of the top 20 players in the ATP Ranking. Diego Sampaolo
Five of the top 10 players will be in action at the Queen’s Club: Top-seed Andy Murray, Roland Garros champion Stan Wawrinka, Milos Raonic, Marin Cilic, Rafa Nadal and defending champion Grigor Dimitrov.
Murray won the Queen’s Tournament three times in 2009, 2011 and 2013. He is making his 10th appearance at the Queen’s Club. In 2013, he scored the Queen’s/Wimbledon double as he won both titles. He is in good form as he won his first two clay tournaments in Munich and Madrid and reached the semifinals at Roland Garros. Murray will take on Yen Hsun Lu on Tuesday.
Nadal won the Queen’s in 2008 some weeks before winning the epic final against Roger Federer at Wimbledon for his first of two Wimbledon titles. He has won his first grass title since Wimbledon 2010 last weekend in Stuttgart. Nadal will open against Aleksandr Dolgopolov.
Wawrinka will make his return to the court after his triumph at the Roland Garros couple of weeks ago. Last year he lost against Grigor Dimitrov in the semifinal and lost the quarterfinal against Federer at Wimbledon.
Queen’s first round match round-up:
Grigor Dimitrov rallied from a break down against Sam Querrey to win the second set with 6-3 after losing the first set with 6-4. However, because of poor lighting, the match was suspended and will be on Tuesday. Dimitrov is the defending champion at these championships.
Milos Raonic, who is making his first appearance after undergoing foot surgery which forced him to miss the French Open. He had a tough test in his opening match as he had to fight back from a set down to edge past James Ward with 5-7 6-3 6-2.
Ward played a solid first set in which he won 81 percent of his first serve points and broke serve in the 11th game. The British player came close to breaking serve early in the second set. However, it was Raonic who converted on his break point opportunity to take the 2nd set 6-3 winning the decider with 6-2.
“It’s past me. I am just trying to make the most of being back on court”, said Raonic
Raonic will face Richard Gasquet who cruised past Italian Simone Bolelli 6-1 6-2 to clinch his 400th career win. The Frenchman has become the 13th player and the third player from his country after Yannick Noah and Fabrice Santoro to reach the milestone 400th win. Gasquet broke serve four times in the first set. The Frenchman won 73 percent of his service points
Also noteworthy at these championships is the fact that Australian Lleyton Hewitt lost his last match on his 16th and final appearance at the Queen’s Club against Kevin Anderson with 7-6 5-7 2-6.
The match was a hard fought contest as Anderson faced 5 break points in the opening set saving all of them to force the set to be decided in a tiebreaker. Hewitt got a mini-break at 2-0 en route to winning it with 7-5 points. The second set went on serve until the 7th game when Hewitt broke Anderson’s serve to love. The Aussie player had a match point at 5-4 in the second set but Anderson saved it and went on to win the set 7-5. In the third set Anderson stepped up his game to clinch the decider with 6-2.
“This has been one of my favourite tournaments. I am going to have so many memories in this tournament”, said Hewitt, who won the Queen’s four times in 2000, 2001, 2002 and 2006. In 2002, Hewitt also won Wimbledon.
Fernando Verdasco fought back from a set down and saved three match points to win the all-Spanish first round match against Roberto Bautista Agut with 3-6 7-5 7-6(4). Bautista Agut broke serve for 3-1 and dropped just four points on his serve en route to winning the first set with 6-3.
Bautista saved the first break points of the second set in the seventh game but he dropped his serve in the 11th game with a double fault. Verdasco clinched the second set 7-5 forcing the match to the second set.
The third set remained on serve and thus the match had to be decided by the tie-break where Verdasco maintained his early lead to take it 7-4 points and thus the match. Guillermo Garcia Lopez beat Pablo Andujar 7-6 (7-3) 6-2 in another all-Spanish match.
Halle Gerry Weber Open: Federer opens with a hard-fought win against Kohlschreiber
Roger Federer fought back from a second-set loss and a mini-break down to battle past another Gerry Weber former champion Philipp Kohlschreiber 7-6(8) 3-6 7-6(5). Federer, who is playing for the 13th time in Halle, went up a break for 4-2 but Kohlschreiber broke straight back to force the first set to the tie-break.
Federer had to fend off two set points in the tie-break of the first set before clinching a hard-fought set 10-8 points.
Kohlschreiber converted his second break point chance in the 8th game and held his serve to love in the next game to win the second set 6-3 forcing the match to the third set.
The German fought off two match points at 4-5 in the 9th game of the third set. As neither player broke in the decisive set, another tiebreaker was needed to decide the match. The German player got the early mini-break for 3-2. Federer rallied from 4-5 in the breaker by reeling off the final three points. He converted the match point to clinch the match after two hours and 11 minutes.
Federer will play either against Sergiy Stakovskiy (who beat the Swiss player and then defending champion in the 2nd round of Wimbledon in 2013) or Ernests Gulbis.
Roger Federer won the Gerry Weber Open a record seven times. He reached the final in Rome and the quarterfinal at the Roland Garros on his less favourite clay surface but he is determined to add more titles in Halle and Wimbledon. Federer is projected to play against Bernard Tomic in a possible quarter final.
The Halle line-up features Tomas Berdych who is making his return to the Gerry Weber Open for the first time since 2012. He has been drawn in the same quarter as rising stars Borna Coric won his first match on grass with his 6-4 3-6 6-3 over Donald Young and Alexander Zverev.
The second seed is Kei Nishikori who will face a tough first round match against Dominic Thiem before a possible quarterfinal against this year’s Istanbul finalist Pablo Cuevas.
Gael Monfils, who reached the semifinal in Stuttgart, could face a potential quarter final against Tommy Robredo.
“I am looking forward to Halle and Wimbledon. It’s a big goal. I want to win it and I feel like my game is good. It’s been solid. It’s been positive and I have just got to keep it up”, said Federer
Dustin Brown, a German player of Jamaican origin who plays very well on grass and beat Rafa Nadal last year in Halle, beat Andreas Haider-Maurer 7-5 6-2 after losing just six of his first service points. German rising star Aleksander Zverev beat Jarkko Nieminen 6-4 6-4. Florian Mayer edged Jan Lennart Struff 6-2 0-6 7-6 (7-4).
Borna Coric Still Feels Shoulder Pain Seven Months Into His Comeback
Playing professionally with niggles is never ideal but it is a price the Croat is willing to pay.
The phrase ‘no pain, no gain’ is one that world No.28 Borna Coric can closely relate to.
Exactly 12 months ago Coric was in the middle of a lengthy hiatus from the sport due to a serious right shoulder issue which required him to undergo surgery. He didn’t play a match between March 2021 – March 2022 and previously admitted he contemplated if he would be able to return to the sport again.
Fortunately the 25-year-old was able to resume his career and enjoyed a breakthrough moment during his comeback by winning his first Masters 1000 title at the Western and Southern Open in August. It was at that tournament where he scored three wins over top 10 players. Since then, he suffered a loss to Jenson Brooksby in the second round of the US Open before winning two out of his three matches played at the Davis Cup.
Seeking to break back inside the world’s top 20 for the first time since October 2019, it appears that Coric’s injury woes are behind him. However, things are never as simple as they look.
“I do feel good. I can play tennis and extra training, way more than I was before the surgery,” Coric told reporters earlier this week. “Still I have sometimes a little pain and I need to manage that. But I can play. A little bit of pain, sometimes I think that’s fine.
“I’m not very young anymore so I need to be ready to have some pain sometimes, If that’s what it takes, I’m fine with it.” He added.
Coric is currently playing at the Japan Open where he is the eighth seed in the draw. On Tuesday he began his campaign with a straight sets win over Thanasi Kokkinakis to record his first-ever win in Tokyo.
He will play his second round match on Thursday against Brandon Nakashima, who has Japanese heritage from his father’s side but is playing an ATP event in the country for the first time in his career. Nakashima defeated Shintaro Mochizuki 6-3, 6-2, in his opening match earlier this week.
“The love for tennis here (in Tokyo) is a thing to experience,’ Coric wrote on Instagram.
Coric has won ATP titles in three separate continents but is yet to be triumphant in Asia.
Carlos Alcaraz and Rafael Nadal, A Spanish Dominance
Ubitennis looks at the biggest movers in this week’s ATP Pepperstone rankings.
Let’s start from the title winners of last week.
Marc-Andrea Husler paid a most worthy tribute to the retirement of his fellow countryman Roger Federer by winning the ATP 250 in Sofia and showcasing a style which thrilled all net game lovers. As a result, he soars to his career highest of No. 64. Yoshihito Nishioka tops his excellent second part of season by securing his second career title in Seoul and moving up to No. 41, his best ranking ever. Finally Novak Djokovic consolidated his chances to qualify for the Nitto ATP Finals in Turin thanks to his win in Tel Aviv.
A few comments:
- Rafael Nadal overtakes Casper Ruud. The two Spaniards are towering over the rest of the pack.
- Hubert Hurkacz and Taylor Fritz both gain one position since Jannik Sinner, former title holder in Bulgaria, had to withdraw in the semifinal due to an ankle injury, and failed to defend the points he had earned in 2021 in Sofia.
- Marin Cilic is back in the top 15 players of the world, after reaching the final in Tel Aviv.
NITTO ATP FINALS RACE TO TURIN
Alcaraz, Nadal, Ruud and Tsitsipas are already qualified for the ATP Finals scheduled in Turin from 13 to 20 November; Djokovic is another likely contender in the star-studded event, since, as a Grand Slam winner, he just needs to be ranked in the top 20 in order to qualify.
Six places are yet to be conquered, including the 2 reserves, which means that 9 players will be battling to book their ticket to Turin in the next weeks. 2021 ATP Finals winner Sasha Zverev, still grounded by injury, is not among them.
2500 points are at stake in the upcoming weeks featuring one ATP Masters 1000, two ATP 500 and two ATP 250.
This is the week of the ATP 500 Astana Open in Nur-Sultan and of the Japan Open in Tokyo, which have just kicked off. Alcaraz, Ruud, Tsitsipas, Medvedev, Rublev, Hurkacz, Fritz and Djokovic are out for the glory and the points, whereas Sinner and Berrettini are in the pits. Berrettini will be back on the tour the following week in Florence.
INTESA SANPAOLO NEXT GENERATION FINALS
Qualifying for the Next Gen Finals in Milan from 8 to 12 November is going to be a tough battle. Alcaraz and Sinner are likely not to take part in the event and all the other players are so close that anything could happen.
This week seven players in the top 100 are celebrating their career highest.
A double applause for the two winners of Seoul and Sofia: Yoshihito Nishioka and Marc-Andrea Husler.
Article written by By Roberto Ferri for ubitennis.com, translated by Kingsley Elliot Kaye
Playing Clay Events After Wimbledon Was A Mistake, Says Diego Schwartzman
The former French Open semi-finalist is seeking to win his first title since March 2021 at the Tel Aviv Open this week.
Diego Schwartzman will likely reevaluate his schedule for next year after admitting that part of his plans for this summer backfired.
The world No.17 enters into the final quarter of the season with 31 wins against 22 losses on the Tour but is yet to win a title. Although he did reach back-to-back finals back in February in Argentina and Brazil. He has won two out of eight matches against top 10 opposition, defeating Stefanos Tsitsipas at the ATP Cup and Felix Auger-Aliassime in Barcelona.
Reflecting on his performance, Schwartzman admits that his decision to return to European clay after playing at Wimbledon was a mistake. He lost his second match in Gstaad to Pablo Carreno Busta and then his first in Hamburg to Emil Ruusuvori.
“It’s difficult to play at the same level every tournament, I’ve made a bad decision playing clay tournaments after Wimbledon, I didn’t have time to rest,” he said during his pre-tournament press conference at the Tel Aviv Open. “I paid the price and had some bad losses. But I started to feel much better in USA hard court season, lost to Stefanos Tsitsipas who reached the final in Cincinnati and to Frances Tiafoe at the US Open. Now I am feeling very good, I really love playing indoor tournaments.”
The 30-year-old has headed straight to Tel Aviv from the Laver Cup where Roger Federer played the last match of his career. Despite Schwartzman’s Team World winning the title for the first time, his only contribution to the tie saw him lose 6-1, 6-2, to Tsitsipas.
Retirement was very much the topic of conversation during the Laver Cup with others such as Andy Murray and Novak Djokovic questioned by reporters about their plans in the sport. As for Schwartzman, he stayed coy about how much longer he would continue playing after saying in the past he might stop at the age of 33.
“33 — is a good age to retire, isn’t it? South Americans are in different situations compared to European players. We travel too much, and sometimes we are not coming back home for 2-3 months, while Europeans can fly home every week. It’s tough,” he said.
“As for Roger — he’s a special player, I think he is just the greatest in our sport.”
The Argentine is seeded third this week in Israel and will begin his campaign against Arthur Rinderknech who defeated qualifier Marius Copil in his opening match.
Miomir Kecmanovic saves six match points to beat Daniel Evans in Tokyo
Novak Djokovic Storms Past Van De Zandschulp To Reach Astana Quarters
Billie Jean King Praises Grand Slam Semi-Finalist Nadia Podoroska For Coming Out
Roger Federer’s Legacy Will Be Greater Than Nadal And Djokovic, Says Berdych
Nick Kyrgios Relishing Double Duty And Local Culture At Japan Open
Roger Federer To Make Last-Minute Decision Over Laver Cup Participation, Says Coach
Juan Martin Del Potro Reveals Physical And Mental Trauma From Tennis Retirement
Should Roger Federer Become A Super Coach? Djokovic And Murray Give Their View
Andy Murray Calls For Earlier Start To Davis Cup Ties After Great Britain Loses Late-Night Thriller
Carlos Alcaraz Is Playing At 60% Of His Potential, Says Coach Ferrero
(VIDEO EXCLUSIVE) ITF President David Haggerty ’Satisfied’ With Davis Cup Format Despite Issues
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