Cameron Norrie continues push for Top 100, Smyczek regains form - UBITENNIS
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Cameron Norrie continues push for Top 100, Smyczek regains form

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Norrie could earn his third Challenger title of the year in Stockton (Zimbio.com)

Britain’s hopes of having another player in the Top 100 of the ATP rankings are growing stronger. Cameron Norrie has had a stunning run on the Challenger circuit in 2017. The Briton earned his first Challenger title in Binghampton. He then went on a tear by reaching the final in Cary, and then winning the title in Tiburon in back-to-back events.

 

His results this year, which also include a second round run at the US Open, are all the more impressive given that Norrie only officially turned professional this year. Norrie’s ranking going into this week is No.136.

Norrie revisited his Tiburon success in the Stockton quarter-finals, as he played the same player he faced in that final, Tennys Sandgren. The result was much the same, as though Sandgren fought to make the second set a little more competitive, Norrie still emerged a straight sets winner 6-3, 7-6.

Norrie had eased past wildcard Deiton Baughman in the first round before surviving a tough examination of his skills from fellow Brit Brydan Klein in the second round. He will face American third seed Michel Mmoh in the semi-finals.

Mmoh earned a retirement win from veteran Russia Dmitry Tursunov. Mmoh was leading 6-3 when the former Top 30 player called an end to the match.

In the top half of the draw two players who have their sights set on returning to the Top 200 advanced to the semi-finals. Both Tim Smyczek and Darian King recently saw their rankings slip but have put up strong showings this week.

Smyczek benefited from Elias Ymer’s win over top seed Ruben Bemelmans in the first round to knock out the young Swede in the quarter-finals 6-4, 6-4. Smyczek had defeated Fredrik Nielsen and Christian Harrison to rebound from a opening round loss in Tiburon.

Darian King won the Tiburon title last year, but put up a poor defence of his title, losing in the first round to Mackenzie McDonald. That loss put King back 49 places in the ATP rankings but is still seeded in Stockton as the seedings are determined a few weeks in advance. His chances of making the semi-finals looked bleak at times against Noah Rubin, but King finished strongly, losing just three games in the last two sets to advance 2-6, 6-1, 6-2.

ATP Challenger

Roberto Bautista Agut reaches his second career final in Doha

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Roberto Bautista Agut reached the second final of his career at the Qatar Exxon Mobil with a 6-3 6-3 win over defending champion Andrey Rublev. 

 

Bautista Agut broke serve in the fourth game with a forehand winner to open up a 3-1 lead and held on his next service games to close out the first set 6-3 after 29 minutes. 

The Spaniard started the second set with an early break. Rublev broke straight back in the second game and won his next two service games to take a 3-2 lead. Bautista Agut saved two break points to hold serve before getting two consecutive breaks to claim the second set 6-3. 

Rublev was playing his first match this week after two walkovers. The Russian player claimed the ABN AMRO World Tennis Tournament in Rotterdam last week. 

“It was very difficult to play tennis today, with the windy conditions, but I put a lot of pressure on his second serve and played really good tennis. I played a long match yesterday against Dominic Thiem, but I felt fresh and I had a lot of power on the court. This is one of my favourite tournaments. I played one of my best matches here in Qatar two years ago, and I hope I can win one more match tomorrow”, said Bautista Agut.

Bautista Agut set up a final against Nikoloz Basilashvili, who beat Taylor Fritz 7-6 (7-3) 6-1. 

Basilashvili, who beat Roger Federer in the quarter final, rallied from one break down to win the tie-break of the first set 7-3. The Georgian player broke twice in the second and sixth games to close out the second set 6-1.  “To reach the final means a lot. I am playing well and I am relaxed. It’s great to play in front of a crowd and a nice atmosphere”, said Basilshvili. 

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ATP Challenger

Andy Murray defeated in the final of the Biella Challenger

The former world number was runner-up to the Ukrainian Ilya Marchenko. Both will feature in next week’s event in the same location

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Andy Murray - ATP Challenger Biella 2021 (Credit: Felice Calabrò)

Andy Murray suffered a surprising defeat in the final of this week’s tournament in Biella. Playing his second Challenger event in 16 years (the other one occurred in Mallorca in 2019 when, limping on a battered hip, he lost against Matteo Viola in the eighth of finals). Before today’s runner-up finish, he had played twice against his opponent, Illya Marchenko from Ukraine (N.212 in the ATP Rankings), both times at the Australian Open, in 2011 and 2017 respectively, winning both times.

 

But it was the Ukrainian who got off to a flying start, while the Scotsman looked a bit cumbersome and immediately lost his serve, giving a nice boost of confidence to his opponent, who broke his serve once more in the fifth game, taking a 4-1 lead. Murray couldn’t control his changes of pace, while Marchenko was pretty much spotless. The 6-2 score in his favour was the logical consequence, as confirmed by the numbers, which saw him win 83% of points on his first serve (against a meagre 53% for Murray), with no break points allowed.

In the first game of the second set, Marchenko immediately leapt ahead, breaking the Brit’s serve and even earning a chance for a 3-0 lead. Murray managed to stay close and started to play in a more conservative way, with great humility, in an attempt to reduce the number of unforced errors. Murray saved a match point at 3-5 with his second serve, exploiting Marchenko’s clumsiness with the backhand, but couldn’t do the same on the return, conceding defeat at the third match point. must defend with the second. Luckily for him, Marchenko is a bit clumsy in his preparation steps and puts up a not particularly difficult backhand. The former world number one will try to exact revenge in the same location starting tomorrow, as a Challenger 125 will take place once more in Biella, with players like Lorenzo Musetti (the seventh seed), Alejandro Davidovich Fokina (ATP N.54) and Sebastian Korda (N.88).

Report by Massimo Gaiba; edited by Tommaso Villa

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ATP announces five-week ATP Challenger calendar for 2021

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The ATP has issued a five-week schedule for the start of the 2021 ATP Challenger Tour, which is scheduled to launch on 18th January with a 125-event in Istanbul. The Turkish city celebrates its 31st consecutive year on the Challenger Tour.

 

Turkey will host three consecutive tournaments at the start of the season. Istanbul will host a hard court tournament from 18th January. The tour will move to the seaside town of Antalya, the venue of two clay tournaments on 25th January 2021 and 1st February 2021. 

The week of 25 Januray will be the first of back-to-back Challenger events in Antalya and an indoor hard-court tournament in the French town of Quimper. 

France will host two more indoor tournaments, the 125-level tournament in Orleans (1 February) and the 28th edition of Cherbourg (8 February). 

Cherbourg will be held in the same week as hard-court tournaments in Biella in Italy and Potchefstroom in South Africa. Biella will also host a 125-level tournament in the following week on 15 February. Potchefstroom will host a second consecutive tournament on 15 February. Challenger-level tournaments will feature 32 singles players and qualifying draws with 16 players. 

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