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Halle’s Last 8 Club

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Roger Federer (zimbio.com)

Winning a Grand Slam tournament title of any sort confers prestige. It places a player in a unique and very special group. It goes without saying that the achievement is career defining.

For those who never realize the ultimate dream, there is another, often overlooked, accomplishment that once it is realized, is cherished. Reaching the quarterfinals at a major provides automatic membership into a very prestigious organization – the Last 8 Club.

Though the Gerry Weber Open is an ATP Tour 500 series tournament and not a Grand Slam, reaching the quarterfinals in Halle, Germany is significant. In the event’s previous twenty-four tournaments, those who have joined the Last 8 Club are most certainly, among the game’s best players.

The members of this year’s Last 8 Club offer a captivating mix of “something old, something new”. Going a descriptive step further, it would be fair to say it is a veteran and youth collage, with a touch of surprise adding to the feature.

Roger Federer, the No. 1 seed, has won Halle eight times and been a finalist on three other occasions. With such an illustrious record, it is not surprising in the least, that he is the Last 8 Club appearance leader for the 2017 members. What is astounding is that he has played the tournament 14 times and has earned a place in the quarters on every occasion. In fact, his worst performances on the lawns at the Gerry Weber Open took place in both 2000 and ’01 when he dropped quarterfinal decisions to Michael Chang of the US and Patrick Rafter of Australia, respectively.

Florian Mayer, the 2016 champion who is unseeded in Halle just a year later, has competed nine times in the event. Impressively, the German’s has reached the quarterfinals six times. Alexander Zverev, the No. 4 seed, lost to Mayer in the all-German title round a year ago, in three sets. He has played Halle twice and achieved the Last 8 Club once previously. Unseeded Richard Gasquet of France has had four Gerry Weber Open adventures. Other than reaching the semifinals in 2010, he has never visited the quarters.

Roberto Bautista Agut of Spain, the No. 7 seed, had never before participated in the tournament. Making the quarterfinals in his first go in Halle substantiates his prominence as an ATP performer. Karen Khachanov of Russia, who is another unseeded player, highlighted his first Halle appearance by playing his way into his first quarterfinal.

In 2016, Andrey Rublev of Russia was defeated in the first round. Given a wild card in this year’s edition of Halle, he has justified the “free pass” into the main draw by claiming his inaugural quarterfinal position.

For many, the performance by veteran Robin Haase of the Netherlands defines what makes the Gerry Weber Open a storybook event. His six previous showings were, at best, forgettable. In two of them, he was unable to advance beyond the qualifying. In 2014, he won his only GWO match then, lost in the second round. Now, three years later, Haase has put on a show by reaching the quarterfinals and becoming a Last 8 Club member.

The Last 8 Club is not a group where a membership can be bought. Hard work, skill and practice are the only price of admission.

 

 

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Tommy Paul Downs Lorenzo Musetti Wins Maiden Grass Court Title At Queen’s Club

Tommy Paul is the new American number one!

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Tommy Paul has won his maiden grass court title at Queen’s Club after defeating Lorenzo Musetti 6-1 7-6(8).

The fifth seed was too good for the Italian who never really got going as Paul claimed his first title at ATP 500 level.

It was Paul’s third ATP title of his career and moves to world number 12 after an impressive week.

Heading into the final, Paul had beaten Jack Draper and Sebastian Korda and the American continued his red-hot form in the opening set.

Incredible movement on the grass as Paul played efficient counter-attacking tennis as he frustrated Musetti early on.

The American secured the early break for a 3-0 lead as the world number 13 dictated with power and touch.

Looking for a response, Musetti aimed to dictate play on the backhand and the Italian’s serve was firing in the next game as he secured his only hold of the match.

However, Paul was too consistent and solid as the American broke again and would soon win the opening set 6-1.

In the second set, Musetti started more positively as he was more proactive and aggressive as he looked to control his power more.

Paul managed to outlast Musetti’s early power to keep moving the Italian about and creating angles to hit winners into.

After a controlled start, Musetti produced a reckless seventh game as erratic unforced errors saw Paul break for a 4-3 lead.

The American was calm and collected for the majority of the match but when serving for the match Paul faltered under pressure.

Too many missed first serves saw Musetti with an opportunity to break back and the Italian didn’t need a second invitation as a crisp backhand return winner sealed the break back to level the set at 5-5.

An inspired Musetti applied pressure on Paul with some phenomenal hitting from the baseline as he secured consistent winners.

The American held his nerve to force a second set tiebreak as the American looked to overcome some jitters.

It looked like Musetti was going to cruise to the tiebreak but the Italian squandered a 4-1 lead in what was a highly entertaining tiebreak.

In the end Paul would win the tiebreak 10-8 and secure his first ATP 500 title as well as becoming the new American number one.

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Jannik Sinner Wins Maiden Grass-Court Title In Halle

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Jannik Sinner - Parigi 2024 (foto X @ATPTour_ES)

Jannik Sinner has reached another milestone in his blossoming career after claiming his first title on grass at the Terra Wortmann Open in Halle. 

The world No.1 ousted fifth seed and doubles partner Hubert Hurkacz 7-6(8), 7-6,(2), in a tightly contested encounter. Sinner was sternly tested by the big-hitting Pole who knocked French Open finalist Alexander Zverev out of the tournament on Saturday. Nevertheless, he managed to come out on top to become only the eighth player in PIF ATP ranking history to claim a trophy in his first tournament as world No.1.

“This means a lot,” Sinner told TennisTV. “It was a tough match against Hubi. I knew that I had to serve really well. You play only a couple of really important points throughout the whole set. I tried to produce in the best possible way in the important moments. 
“I’m very happy about this tournament because it’s my first time winning (a title) on a grass court. It’s a good feeling.”

Proceedings got underway with a 53-minuite opening set which saw no breaks of serves during the first 12 games played. However, each player had one opportunity to do so during the early stages. In the tiebreak, Sinner continued to be troubled by Hurkacz after failing to maintain a 5-2 lead. Then at 6-5, he was unable to convert his first set point due to an ace from his opponent. He missed a second opportunity to do so before prevailing on his third by hitting a shot deep to the baseline that his rival returned into the net. Making Sinner the first player to take a set off Hurkacz this week. 

It was a case of deja vu in the second frame with both players standing strong behind their serve. Hurkacz was unable to find a way to break but he did win over the crowd after hitting a fantastic over-the-shoulder passing shot without looking to win a point. 

Meanwhile, Sinner continued to weather the storm as he closed in on victory. The second tiebreaker saw him capitalised on back-to-back unforced errors from his rival en route to a 5-1 lead. Two points later he earned his first match point with the help of another costly mistake from across the court before closing the match out with ease.

Sinner’s latest victory is only the second time he has beaten a top 10 player on the grass with his first triumph being against Carlos Alcaraz at Wimbledon two years ago. He is also the second player to win Halle whilst ranked No.1 in the world after Roger Federer. 

Heading into Wimbledon, the 22-year-old has won four ATP trophies so far this season on three different surfaces. He has now won 38 out of his last 41 matches played. 

“I’m looking forward to it,” Sinner said of the next Grand Slam. “Last year I made the semis and played some good tennis. So let’s see what’s coming this year. 
“For sure I’m more confident on this surface. Obviously, the grass here (in Halle) might be a bit different to Wimbledon but I have a week to prepare so hopefully it is going to be a good tournament.”

Sinner is the 17th active male player to win a tour-level title on all three surfaces. 

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(VIDEO) Jannik Sinner And Lorenzo Musetti Create Italian Grass Court History

Italian tennis keeps getting stronger as Jannik Sinner and Lorenzo Musetti make more history on grass.

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Jannik Sinner and Lorenzo Musetti created Italian grass court history by becoming the first Italians to reach ATP grass court finals in the same week.

The world number one, Jannik Sinner, overcame Zhizhen Zhang in straight sets to reach the final in Halle.

It’s Sinner’s best ever performance at Halle and will now face doubles partner Hubert Hurkacz for the title on Sunday.

Meanwhile at Queen’s Club Lorenzo Musetti reached his second ATP 500 final with victory over Jordan Thompson in three sets.

It’s Musetti’s third ATP final of his career and his first ATP 500 final since 2022 where he beat Carlos Alcaraz in the Hamburg final.

Ubitennis founder Ublado Scanagatta reflects on the historic achievements by Sinner and Musetti and the impact it could have on the whole pyramid of Italian tennis.

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