Challenger Charlottesville: Rubin saves match points for first Challenger title - UBITENNIS
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Challenger Charlottesville: Rubin saves match points for first Challenger title

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Noah Rubin won the battle of the teenage Americans, taking his first Challenger title with a comeback 3-6,7-6, 6-3 win over Tommy Paul. Rubin saved two match points, one against his serve in the second set, and another in the tiebreak.

Both are touted as the future stars of American tennis, and both have won junior Grand Slam titles. Rubin won the junior Wimbledon title in 2014, and Paul Roland Garros this year. Paul was also a runner-up against Taylor Fritz in the final of the junior US Open.

Rubin had enjoyed a stunning tournament, defying his position of 537 to beat the likes of Henri Laaksonen and Jared Donaldson to make the final. Paul in contrast had a far easier run, as the seeds on his side of the draw, Malek Jaziri and Tim Smyczek, were defeated before he was due to face either of them.

Paul is ranked the higher, at 316, and the match started by completely following the ranking. Paul dominated from the baseline as a difference in power quickly  became apparent. Like his semi-final with Henri Laaksonen, Rubin was struggling to hold serve, and Paul broke twice at the start of the match for a four-love lead. Rubin though has demonstrated a strong return game, and managed to retrieve of the breaks for four-one. Both men settled, as just one point went against serve the rest of the set, Paul serving out to love for a six-three score.

Set two followed a very similar early pattern, as Paul again took the lead. Rubin was serving at above fifty percent, but his serve was not penetrative, and Paul would again break twice in Rubin’s first two games. Rubin again was finding some success on the Paul serve, returning well, and earning nine break points, seven of them coming in game six with Paul serving at four-one. He would fail to take any of them though, as his backhand often failed at the crucial stage, allowing Paul to escape.

The failure to break forced Rubin to address the unenviable task of serving to just stay in the match, and he again he struggled. Another backhand, this time in the net, brought Paul a match point. Rubin fought hard to hold, a final backhand slice from Paul ending in the net, as Rubin added a second hold to his side of the scoreboard.

Rubin’s escape of a match point seemed to give him a little more belief, and he would break Paul as he served for the match to love. Rubin would dig himself out of a fifteen-thirty hole to hold serve, and Paul was forced to try and serve the match out again.

Incredibly, he failed again, as Rubin showed great tenacity to once again force the break, his cause made easier by a pair of double faults from Paul. Both men then held again for a tiebreak. Paul took an early three-love lead in the tiebreak, only for Rubin to return to three-all. Rubin then missed with a forehand up the line when well placed to hand Paul the advantage again at five-four. Again Rubin recovered to five-all, putting away a smash after executing a forehand very similar to the one he missed on the last point, only this time making it. Paul held his second service point to earn another match point against the Rubin serve. He would miss long with a backhand though, and the two would change ends at six-all. A very late line call in favour of Paul on Rubin’s set point had the latter furious, but he won the next point, and then the set, when a Paul backhand found the net.

Rubin received treatment for a back injury between sets, and the treatment seemed to reinvigorate him. He would break in game three as the Paul backhand again failed. Paul then himself took treatment for an issue that looked similar to the one faced by Rubin. Paul continued to struggle though, and Rubin broke again for four-one . Rubin quickly surrendered the double break, though as Paul fought back. Paul then earned another break point to level the match, but framed it long, and Rubin escaped.

Paul’s challenge quickly disappeared after that, and Rubin broke to love, winning his first Challenger title when Paul missed a forehand wide.

Paul will make ground on Francis Tiafoe and Taylor Fritz, two other young Americans moving up the rankings at a torrid pace. Rubin will also gain ground, rising to as high as 350 with the title win.Both have been awarded special exemptions to the main draw of Knoxville next week, again on the Challenger circuit.

 

 

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Rafael Nadal Returns To Cincinnati With Shot At No.1 Ranking

This is what the king of clay has to do to reclaim the top position.

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ATP RAFAEL NADAL OF SPAIN - PHOTO: DIEGO SOUTO / MMO

It has been over a month since Rafael Nadal last played a match on the Tour but in the coming days, he will have a chance to return to the top of the ATP rankings.

 

The 22-time Grand Slam champion has been absent from action ever since pulling out of his semi-final match at Wimbledon due to an abdominal tear. He was set to play at this week’s National Bank Open in Montreal but withdrew after feeling a ‘slight bother’ in his abdominal region following training. Nadal decided not to play after consulting with his doctor.

Instead, the Spaniard will return next week at the Western and Southern Open in Cincinnati. He confirmed his return in an Instagram post, where he wrote: “Very happy to play again in Cincy. Flying there tomorrow (Thursday).”

Whilst the Spaniard will be finding his feet in the coming days, in Cincinnati he has a chance to dethrone Daniil Medvedev from the world No.1 position. Medvedev lost his opening match in Montreal to Nick Kyrgios. To do this he would need to win the Masters 1000 event for the second time in his career and hope that Medvedev doesn’t make the quarter-finals. Nadal won Cincinnati back in 2013 after defeating John Isner in the final.

So far in his career, Nadal has spent 209 weeks as world No.1 with his longest streak being 56 weeks in a row (2010-2011). In total, he has been at the top of the rankings for eight separate periods and last held the position in February 2020.

Nadal’s No.1 stints
-Aug 18 2008 – Jul 5th 2009 (46 weeks)
-Jun 7 2010 – Jul 3rd 2011 (56 weeks)
-Oct 7th 2013 – Jul 6th 2014 (39 weeks)
-Aug 21 2017 – Feb 18 2018 (26 weeks)
-Apr 2nd 2018 – May 13th 2018 (6 weeks)
-May 21st 2018 – Jun 17th 2018 (4 weeks)
-Jun 25th 2018 – Nov 4th 2018 (19 weeks)
-Nov 4th 2019 – Feb 2nd 2020 (13 weeks)

At present nine out of the world’s top 10 players will participate in the Western and Southern Open. The only exception is Novak Djokovic who is currently banned from entering America because he isn’t vaccinated against Covid-19.

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Jack Draper Considered Skipping Montreal Masters Before Getting Biggest Win Of Career

The rising star completes a trio of British players who have booked their places in the third round of the Masters 1000 event.

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Image via https://twitter.com/OBNmontreal/

British qualifier Jack Draper says his decision to play in Montreal this week has paid off after he scored his first-ever win over a top 10 player on Wednesday.

 

The 20-year-old stunned world No.5 and third seed Stefanos Tsitsipas 7-5, 7-6(4), in what is only his fourth appearance in the main draw of a Masters 1000 event. Draper, who is currently ranked 82nd in the world, won 74% of his first service points and blasted 21 winners past his Greek rival. Recovering from a 1-3 deficit in the second set en route to a straight sets victory.

Leading up to this week, Draper and his team considered not playing in Montreal following his 6-4, 6-2, loss to Andrey Rublev in Washington. However, their decision to do so was the right one. After coming through two rounds of qualifying, he beat France’s Hugo Gaston in the first round before knocking out Tsitsipas.

“This is why I put in all the hard work, for nights like this on stages like this,” Draper said in an on-court interview. “Last week [after] Washington, me and my coach probably were thinking we weren’t even going to come here. We were going to maybe train a week, get a bit of confidence. But it paid off coming.”
“I didn’t really have much of a game plan. I just thought I needed to play good tennis to beat Stefanos. He’s at the top of the game for a reason. [He’s] someone I’ve looked up to the last few years. It’s just good to be out here and try to express myself on this stage.” He added.

Draper’s win comes during what has been a solid season for the Brit who has won four Challenger titles. A former top 10 junior player, he won his first main draw Grand Slam match in June at Wimbledon and reached the semi-finals of the Eastbourne International.

Awaiting the youngster in the third round will be French veteran Gael Monfils who is playing in his first tournament since May. Monfils defeated Maxime Cressy 7-6(10), 7-6(8).

Draper is one of three British players to have reached the last 16 in Montreal. Ninth seed Cameron Norrie will next play home favourite Felix Auger-Aliassime and Dan Evans faces Taylor Fritz.

According to the Pepperstone live ATP rankings, Draper will break into the world’s top 70 for the first time next week.

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Bianca Andreescu Battles Past Alize Cornet In Toronto

The Canadian is into the round of 16 of her home event after beating the Frenchwomen in another three-set battle.

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Image via https://twitter.com/NBOtoronto

Bianca Andreescu booked her spot in the round of 16 of the National Bank Open at Sobeys Stadium in Toronto after beating Alize Cornet in three tight sets 6-3, 4-6, 6-3 in two hours and 26 minutes.

 

The Toronto native hit 27 winners and won 60% of her first serve points in another marathon match on Center Court.

“It wasn’t easy at all coming off a tough match yesterday and another one today,” said Andreescu. “She played consistently and I had to go for every ball and I had to fight and I had to push through. I am happy with my mental strength”.

The match started with both players once again struggling with their serves and the first five games were breaks until Andreescu was able to hold serve to take a 4-2 lead. That break was enough for the world number 53 to serve out the first set.

The first three games of the second set went with serve before the Canadian once again to the delight of the home crowd earned three chances to break and broke Cornet’s serve to take a 3-1 lead. The Frenchwomen managed to get the break back the following game and at 4-3 broke the Toronto native one more time before serving out the second set.

In the decider the first three games went on serve and thanks to a poor service game from Cornet Andreescu got the break to take a 3-1 lead. That was enough to serve out the match.

Day 3 results

Another busy day at the National Bank Open in Toronto and there were a lot of surprising results.

Garbine Muguruza who has been flying under the radar lately beat the Estonian Kaia Kanepi in straight sets 6-4, 6-4, only needing one hour and 33 minutes.

Ons Jabeur the number five seed was forced to retire down 6-1, 2-1 to Qinwen Zheng of China while Paula Badosa of Spain also retired due to injury against Yulia Putintseva down 7-5, 1-0.

Jil Teichmann beat the number two seed Anett Kontaveitt also in straight sets 6-4, 6-4, and Aryna Sabalenka the number six seed beat the Spaniard Sara Sorribes Tormo 6-4, 6-3.

Leylah Fernandez was also upset as she lost to the Brazilian Beatriz Haddad Maia in two sets 7-6, 6-1. Simona Halep got past Shuai Zhang 6-4, 6-2.

Jessica Pegula beat the American qualifier Asia Muhammad 6-2, 7-5 in the all-American battle on court 4. Another American Alison Riske upset the Latvian Jelena Ostapenko in three sets 7-6, 0-6, 7-5.

The world number one Iga Swiatek had no issues beating the Australian qualifier Alja Tomlijanovic 6-1, 6-2 in 64 minutes and Coco Gauff sent the Wimbledon champion Elena Rybakina packing in three sets. The number 10 seed needed three sets and two hours and 49 minutes to beat her 6-4, 6-7, 7-6.

Karolina Pliskova, the tournament’s 14th seed, steamrolled the American Amanda Anisimova. Finally, in the first-night session match, Belinda Bencic beat Serena Williams 6-2, 6-4 in her last match in Canada.

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