Tour Veteran Fernando Verdasco Eyes Silverware As Youngsters Blossom In Houston - UBITENNIS
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Tour Veteran Fernando Verdasco Eyes Silverware As Youngsters Blossom In Houston

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Fernando Verdasco (zimbio.com)

When Fernando Verdasco made his ATP debut at the 2002 Estoril Open, America’s Ernesto Escobedo was just six-year-old. 15 years later the two men find themselves making headlines at this year’s U.S. Men’s Clay Court Championships in Houston.

 

Fifth seed Verdasco, who won the Houston title in 2014, came through a tough 7-6(4), 7-6(4), match against South Africa’s Kevin Anderson. The tight two-hour encounter saw both men drop serve only once as Verdasco fended off a duo of set points in the opening set. Eventually the Spaniard prevailed with the help of a 72% winning service rate (compared to Anderson’s 68%).

“It was a really complicated, tough first round,” said Verdasco, who will play Nicolas Kicker in the second round. “He has one of the best serves on tour. Even if he’s on clay he’s super tough to return… I feel lucky that I’ve been able to win both tie-breaks.”

Currently ranked 31st in the world at the age of 33, Verdasco is showing no signs of slowing down with more players playing into their mid-thirties. Since his Houston triumph in 2014, he has only managed to win one title on the tour (Bucharest 2016). Still, with wins over Rafael Nadal and Stan Wawrinka last year, Verdasco believes he can still play amongst the world’s best.

“I still feel I can win the big matches,” he stated.

Learning from the veterans

Joining Verdasco in the second round will be 20-year-old Escobedo. The wildcard entrant claimed 83% of his first service points as he dismissed Tennys Sandgren 6-3, 6-3, in just 77 minutes. Clinching his maiden ATP main draw win on the clay, It is the latest confidence for the rising star, who broke the top-100 earlier this year.

“Because I feel with my game style, I could do pretty good on the clay, just because I play super aggressive with a lot of spin,” Chron.com quoted Escobedo as saying. “So I just have to adapt to it.”

Along with a surge up the ranking, is also a growing maturity for the player of Mexican heritage. Last year he claimed a duo of Challenger titles on the hard-courts. On the clay, he also reached the final of the 2016 ATP Sao Paulo Challenger to illustrate his talent on more than one surface. There is a sharp contrast in playing on a hard-court compared to the clay. Regardless of the difference, Escobedo knows how to tackle the surfaces.

“You just have to be mentally tough,” he said. “On the hard court, it’s a different game. I could play a lot of shorter points. On the clay, there’s longer rallies. Sometimes it takes another shot, four or five more shots, to win the point.”

Escobedo will next play Brazil’s Thiago Monteiro, who knocked out seventh seed Donald Young 6-3, 6-4.

Elsewhere at the tournament, there were mixed fortunes for other rising stars in the men’s game. 20-year-old South Korean talent Hyeon Chung outlasted Victor Estrella Burgos 6-4, 5-7, 6-4. Eighth seed Thomaz Bellucci dismissed Francais Tiafoe 7-5, 1-6, 6-2. Finally, Feliciano Lopez defeated Bjorn Fratangelo 7-5, 6-4.

 

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Updated Entry Lists For Eastbourne, Mallorca

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Photo by mallorca-championships.com

Two ATP 250 events will be played on grass before Wimbledon, with a new tournament taking place in Mallorca (Spain).

 

The third week of the shortened grass-court season will see two ATP 250 events being played in Eastbourne (Great Britain) and Mallorca (Spain) from the 20th to the 26th of June. Eastbourne has been hosting a grass-court tournament since 2009, when it took the place of Nottingham in the ATP Tour’s calendar, while the Mallorca Championships is a new event.

World’s number one Novak Djokovic plans to play doubles in Mallorca, while Dominic Thiem and Daniil Medvedev have received a Wild-Card in the singles draw. The defending champion Taylor Fritz has withdrawn from Eastbourne due to injury.


ATP 250 Eastbourne (GBR, Grass), entry list:
Monfils, Gael (FRA)
De Minaur, Alex (AUS)
OUT Wawrinka, Stan (SUI)
Karatsev, Aslan (RUS)
Sonego, Lorenzo (ITA)
Basilashvili, Nikoloz (GEO)
OUT Fritz, Taylor (USA)
Opelka, Reilly (USA)
Davidovich Fokina, Alejandro (ESP)
Ramos-Vinolas, Albert (ESP)
Bublik, Alexander (KAZ)
OUT Paire, Benoit (FRA)
OUT Krajinovic, Filip (SRB)

Norrie, Cameron (GBR)
Millman, John (AUS)
Fucsovics, Marton (HUN)
OUT Cilic, Marin (CRO)
Djere, Laslo (SRB)
(SE)
(SE)
(WC)
(WC)
(WC)
Alternates:
IN Bedene, Aljaz (SLO)
IN Koepfer, Dominik (GER)
IN Nishioka, Yoshihito (JPN)
IN Popyrin, Alexei (AUS)
IN Pospisil, Vasek (CAN)

Alt.1 Tsonga, Jo-Wilfried (FRA)
Alt.2 Tiafoe, Frances (USA)
Alt.3 Ruusuvuori, Emil (FIN)


ATP 250 Eastbourne (GBR, Grass), qualifying:
Tiafoe, Frances (USA)
Ruusuvuori, Emil (FIN)
Gerasimov, Egor (BLR)
Kwon, Soonwoo (KOR)
Herbert, Pierre-Hugues (FRA)
Gombos, Norbert (SVK)
Ivashka, Ilya (BLR)
Seppi, Andreas (ITA)
Duckworth, James (AUS)
Bagnis, Facundo (ARG)
Ymer, Mikael (SWE)
Anderson, Kevin (RSA)
Kukushkin, Mikhail (KAZ)
Kuzmanov, Dimitar (BUL)
(WC)
(WC)
Alternates:
Alt.1 Mahut, Nicolas (FRA)
Alt.2 Viola, Matteo (ITA)
Alt.3 Klein, Lukas (SVK)



ATP 250 Mallorca (ESP, Grass):
Carreno Busta, Pablo (ESP)
Ruud, Casper (NOR)
Khachanov, Karen (RUS)
Humbert, Ugo (FRA)
Lajovic, Dusan (SRB)
Mannarino, Adrian (FRA)
Struff, Jan-Lennard (GER)
Kecmanovic, Miomir (SRB)
Harris, Lloyd (RSA)
OUT Delbonis, Federico (ARG)
OUT Kyrgios, Nick (AUS)
OUT Chardy, Jeremy (FRA)

Pella, Guido (ARG)
Querrey, Sam (USA)
Lopez, Feliciano (ESP)
Sandgren, Tennys (USA)
Andujar, Pablo (ESP)
Simon, Gilles (FRA)
Thompson, Jordan (AUS)
(SE)
(SE)
WC Medvedev, Daniil (RUS)
WC Thiem, Dominic (AUT)
(WC)
Alternates:
IN Vesely, Jiri (CZE)
IN Moutet, Corentin (FRA)
IN Travaglia, Stefano (ITA)

Alt.1 Munar, Jaume (ESP)
Alt.2 Caruso, Salvatore (ITA)
Alt.3 Giron, Marcos (USA)


ATP 250 Mallorca (ESP, Grass), qualifying:
Munar, Jaume (ESP)
Mager, Gianluca (ITA)
Cuevas, Pablo (URU)
Albot, Radu (MDA)
Pouille, Lucas (FRA)
Caruso, Salvatore (ITA)
Hanfmann, Yannick (GER)
Carballes Baena, Roberto (ESP)
Martinez, Pedro (ESP)
Sousa, Joao (POR)
Galan, Daniel Elahi (COL)
Istomin, Denis (UZB)
Bachinger, Matthias (GER)
Kuhn, Nicola (ESP)
(WC)
(WC)
Alternates:
Alt.1 Viola, Matteo (ITA)
Alt.2 Watanuki, Yosuke (JPN)
Alt.3 Klein, Lukas (SVK)

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Dominic Thiem Signs Up To New Athlete Management Agency Launched By Kosmos

The world No.5 has become the first athlete to ever be represented by Kosmos.

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Dominic Thiem says he is ‘proud’ to be joining a new agency that has been launched by Kosmos which specialises in athlete management.

 

Kosmos, which was founded by Barcelona F.C star Gerard Pique, says their venture is aimed at supporting those in the world of sport. In a statement issued on Thursday, their objective is to provide ‘comprehensive service to athletes where, in addition to representation, commercial and public relations, it will also provide sports, legal and financial advice.’ The new division will be headed by Galo Blanco who is a former player and coach. Blanco previously served as the Competition Director of Kosmos.

“We are very excited about this project. Many people who have been linked to sport for many years and specialise in different key areas in the development of an athlete’s career work at Kosmos. We know what is important for the active player and for their future, because many of us are or have been professional players,” says Gerard Piqué, President of Kosmos.

27-year-old Thiem is the first athlete to have signed up to the agency. Coincidentally the Austrian was co-coached by Blanco on the Tour between 2017-2018. Blanco ended their collaboration in order to focus on the redevelopment of the Davis Cup. Thiem is now coached on the Tour by Nicolas Massu, as well as his father Wolfgang.

“I am very happy that Galo is part of the team again. He has been very close to me and my family, even when he stopped being my coach,” said Thiem.
“The season has not started as I would have liked, I am working very hard to get back to the level of the end of 2020, and adding Galo and the rest of the Kosmos team can bring a lot of positive things.”

Kosmos has become a growingly influential business in tennis since its launch. The company are the financial masterminds behind transforming the Davis Cup and have pledged to invest $3bn into the competition over a 25-year period.

This year’s Davis Cup finals have been spread across three cities in Madrid, Innsbruck and Turin over 11 days. Pique said the decision to use multiple cities is to prevent late-night finishes in the competition which was a problem back in 2019. Two year’s ago, Italy’s clash with the USA concluded at 4am.

“Some of the matches ended very late, so we made the decision to go to other cities and to play in 11 days instead of seven,” he said at the event’s official launch earlier this year. “The event has been evolving, maturing.”

Albert Costa, who is currently the Davis Cup Finals Director, will also take on the role of Competition Director for Kosmos.

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Uncle Toni Backs Rafael Nadal To Win 21st Grand Slam Title Before Season Ends

Nadal’s former mentor also explains why he was hoping Novak Djokovic would lose in the French Open final.

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The former coach of Rafael Nadal says he remains confident that he will win another major title in 2021 despite losing in the semifinals of the French Open.

 

Toni Nadal, who is Nadal’s uncle that introduced him to the sport at a young age, says he is ‘maintaining confidence’ that the Spaniard can achieve more major glory. The king of clay is currently tied with Roger Federer for the most Grand Slam titles won by a male singles player, which is 20. Although Novak Djokovic is now on 19 and could possibly overtake his two rivals this year should he achieve a calendar Grand Slam.

It was Djokovic who knocked Nadal out of the French Open after prevailling in four sets during their semi-final encounter. The Serbian has become the first player in history to have beaten him at the tournament on multiple occasions.

“We saw a good game and a denouement that brings Novak dangerously close to Federer and Rafael, in their struggle to close their respective careers as the greatest conqueror of Grand Slam titles,” Toni wrote for El Pais. “The next two tournaments, Wimbledon and the US Open, will probably be decisive in unveiling it. I would not dare to venture conclusions, but I do dare to maintain the confidence that it is my nephew who raises one of the two.”

Nadal is a two-time Wimbledon champion but he hasn’t lifted the trophy since 2010 and it has been a decade since he reached the final. At the US Open he has enjoyed more success by winning four titles, including two out of the past four times. He missed the US Open last year due to concerns related to the COVID-19 pandemic.

In his column the 60-year-old admitted that he was hoping Djokovic would lose the French Open final to Stefanos Tsitsipas because it ‘would help alleviate’ his nephew’s disappointment. In the title match the world No.1 battled back from two sets down to clinch the title. Becoming the first man in the Open Era to have won every major tournament at least twice.

“The only thing that could have somewhat alleviated the disappointment over Rafael’s defeat in his Roland Garros semi-final match against Novak Djokovic would have been that he was defeated in the final by Stefanos Tsitsipas,” he wrote.
“Throughout these last two weeks of competition I was telling my children. The player that I saw as most capable of beating the Serbian on clay if the opportunity arose, apart from my nephew, of course, was precisely the Greek. And for much of the meeting I held out hope that it would happen.”

Nadal is currently back home in Manacor where he attended the graduation ceremony of his academy on Wednesday. He is not expected to play in any tournament leading up to Wimbledon which will begin a week Monday.

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