Indian Wells: Men's Qualifying First Round sees progress for seeds including Austin Krajicek and Andrey Rublev - UBITENNIS
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Indian Wells: Men’s Qualifying First Round sees progress for seeds including Austin Krajicek and Andrey Rublev

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Tommy Paul made good progress in his first-round win in Indian Wells Qualifying. The current French Open Junior Champion will next face compatriot Tim Smyczek (Image via Zimbio,com)

There were a few shocks to be found on the first day of ply at Indian Wells, as nineteen of a total twenty-four seeds in action won their openers in the Men’s Qualifying Tournament.

 

Top seed Yuichi Sugita (1) eased past Australian Matt Reid for the loss of just three games, 6-1, 6-2. He will now face Renzo Olivo (17) who struggled in parts against Italy’s Salvatore Caruso, though did eventually win 6-4, 6-7, 6-2.

Austin Krajicek (2) played a particularly erratic match against Brazil’s Caio Zampieri. Things had looked good for the American when he won the first set, dropping just a single game. Zampieri roared back in the second though, breaking three times before both men traded two breaks of serve in the third before Krajicek eventually sealed an unconvincing win 6-1, 2-6, 7-6.

Krajicek’s reward for edging Zampieri is a match with Vicent Millot (16), who defeated Nicolas Meister 7-5, 6-3. The men traded four consecutive breaks of serve midway through the first set before Millot settled, breaking in the penultimate game in the first, and breaking twice without reply in the second.

Pierre-Hugues Herbert got his tournament off to a promising start, winning 6-3, 6-2 against Benjamin Mitchell. The Frenchman broke four times to ensure that he will feature in the second round of qualifying.

Herbert will face another big-serve in that match, as he will face German Mischa Zverev, who dispatched Brazil’s Fernando Romboli 6-2, 6-3 in one hour and four minutes. Zverev broke four times and saved the single break point that Romboli managed to create.

Veteran German Michael Berrer (4), who performed a U-turn on a decision to retire from tennis, is also into the second round, defeating Frenchman Jonathan Eysseric 7-6, 6-2.

That sets up a fascinating encounter with in-form Andrey Rublev (13) who came from a set down to defeat former Top 100 player Somdev Devvarman 3-6, 6-2, 7-5.

(5) Tim Smyczek managed an even more remarkable comeback. After taking the first set in a tiebreak against young American Michael Mmoh, Smyczek lost nine of the next twelve games, and found himself down a break and facing more break points. He recovered, broke and eventually won without the need for a third set tiebreak as Mmoh had untimely double-faults.

Smyczek will face another compatriot, Tommy Paul (24) in the qualifying round. Paul defeated Czech Marek Michalicka 7-6, 7-5 after recovering from a break deficit in the first.

(6) John-Patrick Smith was the highest-profile casualty as he fell to Jason Jung 6-3, 6-4. Jung will now face Ryan Harrison (18) after he defeated Matthew Barton 6-3, 6-3.

(7) Go Soeda suffered a shock loss to Marcelo Arevalo, 2-6, 6-2, 6-3, and James McGee also fell to (PR) Peter Polansky, the Canadian overturning a two-four tiebreak situation, and then an early break in the second to progress.

(8) Daniel Brands also fell to Ecuador’s Giovanni Lapentti 7-6, 6-3. Lapentti is now the opponent for Jozef Kovalik (20), who defeated Philip Bester 6-4, 6-2.

(9) Edouard Roger-Vasselin, who has enjoyed a decent season so far, edged young American wildcard Ernesto Escobedo 6-2, 1-6, 7-6, and will now face Marco Trungelliti (21) after he beat Connor Smith 6-1, 6-4.

Mitchell Krueger scored a good win as he beat (10) Alejandro Gonzalez 7-6, 6-4. Krueger let slip a 4-0 lead in the second, but recovered to break Gonzalez at the end to reach the second round. Krueger will face countryman Alexander Sarkissian(19) for the right to qualifying after he defeated Sekou Bangoura 6-2, 6-2.

(11) Bjorn Fratangelo made short work of Britain’s Josh Milton, winning 6-2, 6-2, and will now face veteran Radek Stepanek after he beat fellow veteran Victor Hanescu 7-5, 0-6, 6-1.

(12) Dennis Novikov beat the lowest direct acceptance entry Facundo Mena 6-1, 6-0 and will face Noah Rubin (23) after he won 6-4, 6-2 against wildcard Mikhail Ledoviskikh

 

 

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REPORT: Grigor Dimitrov Appoints New Coach

The former ATP Finals champion appears to have found a new mentor.

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Former top 10 player Grigor Dimitrov has found a replacement following the departure of Radek Stepanek, according to one Bulgarian news source.

 

TennisKafe.com has reported that the world No.20 is now working alongside Christian Groh. A German-born coach who has worked with a number of top players on the men’s tour. Including Tommy Haas and Taylor Fritz. It is his work with Haas that Groh is best known for. During their 24 months together, he guided him from outside the top 200 to 11th in the ATP rankings.

The development comes a month after the 28-year-old stated that he was in no hurry to find a new mentor on the tour. Back in May he ended his collaboration with Dani Vallverdu after almost three years working together. He made the decision shortly before he exited the world’s top 50 for the first time since 2012.

“I’m not in a panic right now to find a coach. I always think that when I don’t have someone beside me, it’s hard to train. However, in the past months, I have done things myself that I have not done.” Dimitrov told reporters in November.
“You need to have freedom, to find yourself, to become closer to yourself.” He added.

Despite Stepanek stepping away, Dimitrov is still in contact with eight-time grand slam champion Agassi. Agassi is not a coach to the Bulgarian, but has agreed to a sort of consultation role where the two talk with each other regularly.

Dimitrov has experienced a roller coaster run on the tour this season with a win-loss record of 22-21. At one stage he failed to win back-to-back matches at six consecutive tournaments over the summer. However, his form surged during the last quarter of 2019 where he reached the semi-finals at both the US Open and Paris Masters.

Neither Dimitrov or Groh has yet confirmed their new partnership on the tour. Groh has recently been working as a consultant for the United States Tennis Association (USTA).

Heading into the new season, the first test for the duo will be at the ATP Cup in Australia. As well as playing, Dimitrov is the captain of the Bulgarian team.

Groh’s coaching CV

  • 2011: Michael Berrer
  • 2012-2013: Tommy Haas
  • 2014: Bradley Klahn and Taylor Fritz
  • 2015: Tommy Haas and Taylor Fritz
  • ATP/WTA Players and United States Tennis Federation Player Development since 2015
    Source -ATP/Linkldn

UPDATE*

Since the publication of this article, Ubitennis has received some additional details on Dimitrov’s work with Groh. The editor of TennisKafe.com, Borislav Orlinov, confirmed it was Dimitrov’s manager (Georgi Stoimenov) who revelled the two will be working together. They are currently training in Monte Carlo, but will head to Australia before the New Year.

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Rival Backs Dominic Thiem To Win Stefan Edberg Sportsmanship Award

Only two players have won the award since 2004.

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For the past 15 years only two players have managed to get their hands on the prestigious Stefan Edberg Sportsmanship Award, but one player thinks there could be a brand new winner this year.

 

Diego Schwartzman has lent his support behind world No.4 Dominic Thiem. The award recognizes those who have conducted the highest level of professionalism and integrity on the ATP Tour throughout the season. Established in 1977, Roger Federer has won the honour in 13 out of the past 15 years. The only other player to triumph during that period was Rafael Nadal, who won it in 2010 and 2018.

“I think Thiem can win it, he showed throughout the year a competitiveness and a respect with everyone that was spectacular,” Schwartzman told ole.com. “On top of that he is having great years of his career and this season was even better for the achievements he had.’
“He has a good chance of winning it.” He added.

Schwartzman, who reached the quarter-finals of the US Open earlier this year, has also been shortlisted for the award. Along with regular nominees Federer and Nadal. Only once has an Argentinian player won the title, which was José Luis Clerc back in 1981. At that time it was known as the ATP Sportsmanship award before getting renamed in 1996.

“I learned first (of getting nominated) through social networks rather than the official designation that the ATP sends you by mail.” The 27-year-old revealed.
“It is more spectacular than anything for the players I have next to me. It is a very important prize that recognizes a little what you do off the court, not only hitting the ball.”

Whilst he is dreaming of winning the honour himself, Schwartzman is just happy that he has been nominated.

“If I won this award, it would be spectacular. Now I am on that payroll that is very good and represents the values ​​that I try to maintain on a day-to-day basis and that (my coaching teams over the years) have taught me. It is very nice to be recognized for that. “ He concluded.

The four nominees for the Stefan Edberg Award was shortlisted by the ATP. However, it will be the players who will decide the winner. The result will be revealed later this month.

Multiple winners of the Stefan Edberg/ATP Sportsmanship award

Roger Federer – 13
Stefan Edberg – 5
Pat Rafter – 4
Alex Corretja – 2
Todd Martin – 2
Paradorn Srichaphan – 2
Rafael Nadal – 2

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Kei Nishikori In Doubt For The Australian Open

Asia’s highest ranked male tennis player is contemplating when he should return to the tour following surgery.

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Kei Nishikori (photo by chryslène caillaud, copyright @Sport Vision)

World No.13 Kei Nishikori is refusing to rule out the prospect of skipping the first grand slam event of 2020 as he continues his recovery from surgery.

 

Nishikori hasn’t played a match on the tour since his third round loss at the US Open back in September. A month later he underwent a procedure on his right elbow in a move that brought his season to an early end. Currently undergoing rehabilitation, it is unclear as to when the Japanese player believes he will return to the ATP Tour.

“The prospect of a return from surgery on right elbow in January. Maybe February. In the second half of next year I want to be able to play well.” Nikkan Sports quoted Nishikori as saying.
“I don’t want to overdo it,” he added.

The Australian Open will get underway on January 20th in Melbourne. Should he miss the grand slam, it will be the second time he has done so in the last three years. Nishikori also withdrew from the 2018 edition due to a wrist injury. In January he reached the quarter-finals and therefore has 360 points to defend next year.

During his time away from the court, the 29-year-old has been kept busy making changes to his team. Recently it was confirmed that he has started working alongside Max Mirnyi, who is a former world No.1 doubles player. Mirnyi, who has won 10 grand slam titles in men’s and mixed doubles, will be working full-time with Nishikori alongside existing coach Michael Chang.

“I’m getting closer to retirement. I want to be cured and come back to play good tennis in the second half of next year.” Nishikori stated.

Despite the injury setback, Nishikori has enjoyed success in 2019. Reaching the quarter-finals in three out of the four grand slam tournaments. The first time he has ever done that in his career. He also claimed his 12th ATP title at the Brisbane International. Overall, he won 29 out of 43 matches played.

Nishikori will turn 30 on December 29th.

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