Challenger Tour: Dallas highlighted by Sam Groth and Kyle Edmund, trio of American teenagers make for exciting draw - UBITENNIS
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Challenger Tour: Dallas highlighted by Sam Groth and Kyle Edmund, trio of American teenagers make for exciting draw




There is a lot at stake for defending champion Tim Smyczek in Dallas (Image via

The Dallas Challenger is one of the most lucrative of the year, with one hundred ATP points up for grabs. To highlight just how important winning one hundred points can be, more points can be earned by winning the Dallas Challenger than by reaching the semi-finals of the ATP 250 events this week in Montpellier, Quito, and Sofia.


Unsurprising then that some Top 100 players are in the draw, with Sam Groth and Kyle Edmund the top two seeds. Former top 70 player Tim Smyczek is under significant pressure to retain the title, as an early defeat could see him fall down the rankings. Young Americans Frances Tiafoe, and Ernesto Escobedo are also going to be worth watching. Jared Donaldson will be looking to arrest a poor start to the year, and Taylor Fritz is surprisingly absent.


Sam Groth (2) vs Frances Tiafoe

Qualifier vs Connor Smith

Henri Laaksonen vs (alt) Marek Michalicka

Denys Molchanov vs (6) Tatsumo Ito

Benjamin Becker (3) vs (wc) Jean Anderson

Qualifier vs (wc) Ernesto Escobedo

Andrey Rublev vs Dan Evans

Jared Donaldson vs (8) Bjorn Fratangelo

Radu Albot (5) vs Qualifier

Qualifier vs Marco Trungelliti

Alex Kuznetsov (wc) vs Ryan Harrison

Mitchell Krueger (alt) vs (4) Tim Smyczek

John-Patrick Smith (7) vs Qualifier

Grega Zemlja vs Jason Jung

James McGee vs Dennis Novikov

Sekou Bangoura (wc) vs  (2) Kyle Edmund

Highlight first-round matches and picks (in bold).

Sam Groth vs Frances Tiafoe: The player with the fastest recorded serve in history takes on a rising American star. Tiafoe enjoyed a great run in American Challengers last year, earning the USTA wildcard for the French Open. Groth has a fast serve but can struggle to back it up at times, and if Tiafoe can return enough serves and remain consistent from the back of the court he could spring an upset. Predicted winner: Groth in three sets.

Andrey Rublev vs Dan Evans: Russia’s upcoming next generation star Andrey Rublev takes on Britain’s talented but unpredictable Dan Evans. This match is likely to hinge on Evans’ form on the day, as his best is likely to be enough to beat Rublev. However, Rublev displays a higher level of consistency overall, and if Evans fails to produce a good level Rublev will surely win. Predicted winner: Rublev in three sets.

Qualifier vs Ernesto Escobedo: Ok, so Escobedo’s opponent has not yet been determined, but the young American has displayed enough talent to warrant his wildcard for this event with good results in recent Challengers and Futures. This could be for the first time for many to view another teenage American. Predicted winner: Escobedo

Mitchell Krueger vs Tim Smyczek: Last year’s defending champion Smyczek has seen his ranking fall after failing to translate his Challenger success to the main tour. Smyczek still remains an intimidating prospect on the Challenger Tour though. Krueger is the proverbial joker in the pack though, capable of completely defying ranking and form to produce shock results. He proved it last week by defeating fourth seed Bjorn Fratangelo in Maui last week. Winner: Smyczek in straight sets




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Novak Djokovic secures win for Serbia in Davis Cup Finals in Innsbruck




Novak Djokovic eased past Dennis Novak 6-3 6-2 to secure a 2-0 win over Austria in Group F at the Davis Cup by Rakuten Finals in Innsbruck. 


Djokovic did not face a break point and won nine of the last eleven games to seal the win after 60 minutes. Djokovic has won his 16th consecutive Davis Cup match. The Serbian player dropped six points on his first serve and never faced any break points. He converted three of his five break points. 

Djokovic earned his first break in the eighth game with an unreturned serve to open up a 5-3 lead and closed out the first set with a hold at 15 in the ninth game after 30 minutes. 

Djokovic went up an early break at the start of the second set and opened up a 3-0 with a double break. Both players held serve in the next five games without facing any break points. Djokovic hit a backhand down the line winner to close out the match, as he was serving for the win at 5-2. 

“It feels great to play for Serbia again. We are part of an individual sport, but I love to play for my country and I try to play when they need me. It has a long year, but you always find extra motivation playing for your country”, said Djokovic. 

Earlier today Dusan Lajovic earned a late break in the third set to battle past Gerald Melzer 7-6 (7-5) 3-6 7-5 to give Serbia an early 1-0 lead. Lajovic wasted a break point but he came back to convert his fourth match point after 2 hours and 42 minutes. 

Spain beats Ecuador 3-0

Olympic bronze medallist Pablo Carreno Busta battled past Ecuador’s Emilio Gomez 5-7 6-3 7-6 (7-5) to seal the win for Spain in Group A at the Caja Magica in Madrid. 

Carreno Busta wasted a 5-2 lead in the third set and two match points at 5-3, but he fought back to win the third-set tie-break 7-5 after 2 hours and 39 minutes. 

“I am very happy because it was a very important victory for the confidence and for the rhythm. In the second and third sets I felt more comfortable than in the first set. I had to continue fighting until the end because he played really well”, said Carreno Busta.  

Earlier on Friday Spanish veteran Feliciano Lopez saved all five break point to beat Roberto Quiroz 6-3 6-3. 

“I still have the passion for the game. Without that passion I would not be here. I am 40 years old and have been playing on the Tour for such a long time and it is true without this passion it would not be possible to keep training each day. I have been waiting for moments like this, giving the first point to my country”, said Lopez. 

Carreno Busta and Marcell Granollers battled past Gonzalo Escobar and Diego Hidalgo 6-4 6-7 (5-7) 7-6 (7-2) after 2 hours and 45 minutes. 

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Italy takes a 2-1 win over the USA in the Davis Cup in Turin




Lorenzo Sonego and Jannik Sinner earned Italy a 2-1 win over the USA in the two singles matches in the Davis Cup by Rakuten Finals at the Pala Alpitour in Turin. 


Turin-native player Lorenzo Sonego beat US giant Reilly Opelka 6-3 7-6 (7-4) in 1 hour and 31 minutes minutes. Sonego won 90% of his first service points and saved the only break point he faced at 3-3 before earning his first break at deuce in the eighth game after a double fault from Opelka to take a 5-3 lead. The local favourite served it out on his first set point. 

Opelka fended off a break point in the seventh game to hold serve at deuce. Both players went on serve in the next games en route to the tie-break without facing any break points. Sonego earned the decisive mini-break on the first point and held on his serve to win the tie-break 7-4. 

“It was not easy. It was the first time for me competing at the Davis Cup and I am really happy about the match. Thank you everyone”, said Sonego.

Jannik Sinner cruised past John Isner 6-2 6-0 after 1 hour and 2 minutes. Sinner won 9 consecutive games from 3-2 in the first set. Sinner broke twice in the third and seventh games to seal the opening set 6-2. Sinner went up a break in the first game before saving three consecutive break points in the second game. The Italian player earned two more breaks in the third and fifth games to take a bagel win in the second set. Sinner hit 16 winners to just 4 unforced errors. 

“Playing here was very special. Today we have already won. We have a great team and everyone is a great guy as well, so we are just trying to stay together. I am very honoured to be a part of this”, said Sinner. 

Rajeev Ram and Jack Sock edged past Fabio Fognini and Lorenzo Musetti 7-6 (7-5) 6-2 after 1 hour and 36 minutes.  Fognini and Musetti went up a mini-break to take a 5-4 lead, but Ram and Sock won the final three points to win the tie-break 7-5. In the second set Fognini and Musetti wasted five break points. Ram and Sock earned two breaks in the first and fifth games to close out the second set 6-2. 

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Nicholas Mahut and Pierre Hugues Herbert take decisive doubles match win in the Davis Cup




This year’s Nitto ATP Finals champions Nicholas Mahut and Pierre Hugues Herbert came back from one set down to beat Tomas Machac and Jiri Lehecka 3-6 6-4 6-3 in the decisive doubles match sealing a 2-1 win for France over Czech Republic in Group C of the Davis Cup by Rakuten in Innsbruck. 


Lehecka and Machac broke twice in the fourth and sixth games to win the first set 6-3. Lehecka saved four break points, but they dropped their serve in the 10th game to lose the second set 6-4. Herbert and Mahut converted their second break point to close out the third set 6-3. 

“It was difficult because the Czech team played very well, and we arrived late from Turin. I thought we had a slow start, but in the second and third sets we played well”, said Nicholas Mahut. 

Mahut and Herbert saved four of the five break points and hit five aces to seal the win after 2 hours and five minutes. 

Twenty-one year-old Machac gave an early lead to Czech Republic with a 7-6 (7-3) 6-2 over French veteran Richard Gasquet on his Davis Cup debut in the opening singles match. 

Machac came back from a break down and broke straight back to draw level to 2-2. The Czech player earned four mini-breaks to win the tie-break 7-3. Gasquet saved four break points in the first game of the second set, but Machac broke serve twice to win the second set 6-2. 

“It feels really good. I am so happy I played today and won today for Czech Republic. It was a really tough match from the beginning, mentally especially. I am really happy. In the tie-break I played really well without any mistakes. That was the crucial moment”, said Machac. 

Adrian Mannarino came back from one set down to beat Jiri Vesely 6-7 (1-7) 6-4 6-2 after 2 hours and 38 minutes. Mannarino won 77% of his first serve points. Vesely came back from 2-5 down in the first set to win the win the tie-break 7-1. Mannarino earned a break at love in the third game to win the second set 6-2. Vesely saved four break points in the first game of the third set. Mannarino broke twice in the third and fifth games to seal the third set 6-2. 

“I was trying my best to keep fighting. I served very well in the key moments, which helps. I got used to the speed of his serve He was serving very fast and at beginning it was tough. On his second serve at the end, I was putting a lot of pressure on it”, said Mannarino. 

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