2017 winner Gilles Muller lost his opening match in Hertogenbosch on Wednesday, joining a pair of other seeded players in second round defeat.
The 35-year-old from Luxembourg fell in straight sets, 6-3, 7-5, to Matthew Ebden, shortly after home favorite Robin Haase crashed out 6-3, 7-5 to Bernard Tomic.
Neither defeat was shocking, however. Muller has struggled mightily this season and entered the week with four consecutive losses; the No. 3 seed was even relegated to an outside court against the Australian. Ebden looked the more comfortable throughout, winning all but five points on Muller’s second serve and saving four of five break points.
He took advantage of one poor game from Muller in the first set, serving it out at love to edge in front. Ebden then survived a marathon final four game stretch that included three breaks and nine break points, eventually converting his second match point.
No. 5 seed Haase, meanwhile, ran into trouble against a player more suited to grass. The Dutchman dictated a handful of long rallies early in the match, but began to fade after dropping his serve at 2-3. Tomic, who made a strong 70 percent of first serves, had little trouble seeing out his one-set advantage.
The wheels came off for a listless Haase after he was broken to open the second set. Tomic comfortably served his way through several service games, but suddenly struggled to find his first serve at 4-3, and Haase took full advantage of his first break point to level the proceedings.
It would be short-lived, though, as Tomic rattled off four straight points in a brilliant return effort two days later, then forced Haase to miss a forehand slice on match point.
“I played well and I needed to play well, because he plays really good tennis here,” Tomic said. “I was happy to win today.”
The qualifier Tomic will meet Fernando Verdasco, the only seeded player to win on Wednesday, in the quarterfinals, after the Spaniard saw off Daniil Medvedev 6-4, 6-1. Medvedev started strongly, breaking at love in the opening game, but Verdasco fought back three games later and weathered three break points in an ensuing marathon game.
Pressure from the 34-year-old forced Medvedev into a double fault on the second set point, giving Verdasco a lead and derailing his opponent. The Russian won just eight points in the second set, saved no break points and put just 44 percent of first serves in play.
“I’m very happy with the way I finally finished the match,” Verdasco said. “For the first match of the season (on) grass, I can be happy.”
Seventh seed Yuichi Sugita also joined the parade of defeated favorites, falling 7-5, 4-6, 6-4 to Marius Copil of Romania. That sets up an all-unseeded quarterfinal between Ebden and Copil.
The ATP Next Gen Finals, a showcase for future tennis stars
The 2018 ATP Next Gen Finals have been officially presented to the Italian media during the official press conference at the Palazzina degli Orafi at City Life, the modern commercial and business district in Milan. The press conference was attended by AT Executive Chairman and President Chris Kermode, FIT President Angelo Binaghi. Giovanni Gorno Tempini, President of Fiera Milano, Martina Cambiaghi, Councilor for Sport of Regione Lombardia, and Roberta Guaineri, Councilor for Sport of Milan City Council.
The second edition of the ATP Next Gen Finals will be held from 6-10 November 2018 at the Fiera Milan.
Denis Shapovalov from Canada, Frances Tiafoe from the USA and Alex De Minaur from Australia have secured their spot for the prestigious tournament with the top eight Under 21 players in the world joining the already qualified Stefanos Tsitsipas from Greece.
“The Italian Tennis Federation is ready to set up a new edition of the ATP Next Gen Finals with ATP and Coni Servizi and the support of Fondazione Fiera Milano, Ente Fiera, Regione Lombardia and Milan municipality. Milan confirms its leading tradition in Italy and around the world in organizing top events for young players. The ATP Next Gen Finals will be a showcase for future tennis stars. Major junior tournaments like the Trofeo Bonfiglio, the Trofeo Porro Lambertenghi and the Trofeo Avvenire take place every year. Players, who have reached the top in the world of tennis, started their career in Milan. The 2018 season has been very successful for Italian tennis. For the first time since 1979 two Italian players have reached the top 20 in the ATP Ranking. Fabio Fognini won three tournaments in Sao Paulo, Bastad and Los Cabos. Marco Cecchinato lifted two trophies in Budapest and Umag, Camila Giorgi won her second title in Linz. We have a good group of young players. We are confident that we will be able to do better than last year. We expect this event to be not only very exciting, but also capable of responding fully to the needs of producing a great stage for tomorrow’s world tennis dominators. We also trust that our ATP Next Gen Finals will confirm Milan as a strategic for our national and international tennis movement. Last year Hyeon Chung won the first edition of the ATP Next Finals and went on to reach the semifinals at the Australian Open. This year the level is even higher than in 2017”, said FIT President Angelo Binaghi.
The innovative tournament will continue the innovations, which were trialed at the inaugural tournament last year. The new rules include the best-of-five set format, shorter sets to 4 (tiebreak at 3-All), No-Lets and In-Match player coaching via head-sets. The player warm-up will be reduced by a further minute from 5 minutes to 4, and players will be instructed to use a towel rack at the back of the court to remove the onus on ball-kids to handle towels.
“Many people have asked me why we chose Milan as host city. It’s a simple question to answer and is summed up by two simple words: innovation and passion. People, who are behind the organization of this event have the passion for tennis. Italian people are passionate fans. Last year this tournament was very successful and that was was incredible for a first edition. Milan has the opportunity to see players, who are on the threshold of world excellence. The ATP Next Gen Finals is a launchpad for future players. The depth of this year’s tournament is really exceptional. Tsitsipas has reached the top 15, Shapovalov qualified for the Masters 1000 semifinals in Madrid. Our sport is very conservative, but it has to adapt to changes. We need to find a new generation of tennis fans and be brave and innovative. We will not rush innovations but do strategically”, said ATP Executive Chairman and President Chris Kermode.
The most eagerly awaited stars of this year’s edition are Denis Shapovalov and Stefanos Tsitsipas.
Canadian teenager Denis Shapovalov has qualified for the second consecutive year. He came close to reaching the semifinal in 2017 after a very successful season in which he became the youngest ATP Masters 1000 semifinalist since 1990 at the Canadian Open. This year the left-hander reached another Masters 1000 semifinal at the Madrid Mutua Open. He also qualified for two more semifinals in Delray Beach and Tokyo. He was born in Tel Aviv. He is the son of Tessa and Viktor Shapovalov. His mother was a former player and moved from Russia to Israel, where she became a tennis coach. The family moved from Canada before Denis’ first birthday.
Greek sensation Stefanos Tsitsipas became the youngest player in ATP World Tour history to beat four top 10 players in Toronto’s Rogers Cup (Dominic Thiem, Novak Djokovic, Alexander Zverev after saving two match points, and Kevin Anderson after fending off another match point). He became the youngest Masters 1000 finalist since 19-year-old Novak Djokovic at 2007 Miami. He is coached by his father Apostolos. His Russian mother Julia Salnikova was a top Soviet player in the 1980s. His father helped Stefanos develop his aggressive game and his one-handed backhand.
Two US players Frances Tiafoe and Taylor Fritz have already secured their spot in the line-up. Fritz reached his first ATP World Tour final in only his third tour-level event in Memphis where he finished runner-up to Kei in the 2008 Delray Beach Open. The 20-year-old player married Raquel Pedraza, who played at all four Grand Slam tournaments. Their first child Jordan was born in January 2017. Taylor’s father Guy was a former professional player and his first coach. His mother Kathy May Fritz won sevent WTA titles.
Tiafoe won his maiden ATP title last February in Delray Beach after beating Juan Martin Del Potro, Hyeon Chung, Denis Shapovalov and Peter Gojowczyk. He became the first wild-card recipient to win the Delray Beach title in the 26-year history and the youngest US champion on tour since Andy Roddick at 2002 Houston. His first idol was Juan Martin Del Potro. Tiafoe became the youngest player to reach an ATP Tour final on European clay in 30 years. His parents Frances and mother Alphina moved from Sierra Leone to the USA in 1996. When Frances was a kid, his father worked at the Junior tennis Champions Center in College Park in Maryland.
Australia’s Alex De Minaur reached a career-high of world number 31 after starting the year at world number 210 in the ATP Ranking. Last August Alex saved four match points against last year’s ATP Next Gen Finals runner-up Andrey Rublev in the semifnal of the Citi Open ATP 500 level tournament in Washington to reach the final.He also reached the semifinal in Brisbane and the final in Sydney. De Minaur works with Australian legend Lleyton Hewitt, who is Alex’s mentor during Grand Slam tournaments and Davis Cup ties. De Minaur’s father Anibal comes from Uruguay. His mother Esther is Spanish. They moved to Australia, when Alex was 13 years old.
There are still remaining spots. The favourites to clinch the remining two automatic spots are last year’s ATP Next Finals runner-up Andrey Rublev and Spain’s Jaume Munar. The eighth spot will be reserved for the winner of an Italian qualifying tournament to be held in Milan in the week before the ATP Next Gen Finals.
TAG Heuer will partner with the Italian Tennis Federation to become the Official Watch and Timekeeper of the ATP Next Gen Finals and will provide the on-court clock and the Shot Clock.
After Epic Encounter With Federer, Daniil Medvedev Sets Sights On Rise To The Top
The Russian No.1 is hoping to end the season on a high as he looks to make his mark on the tour.
After being so close to the biggest win of his career, Daniil Medvedev is seeking solace in a newfound confidence as he plays at the Kremlin Cup in Moscow.
The Asian swing saw the world No.21 win the Japan Open in Tokyo in what was his first ATP 500 title. Following on from his triumph, Medvedev set up a second round showdown against Roger Federer at the Shanghai Rolex Masters. Despite being the clear underdog in the match, Medvedev pushed the 20-time grand slam champion to battle for the 6-4, 4-6, 6-4, win. Prompting Federer to say afterwards ‘I have a lot of respect for him and he is a tough guy.’
“I realized that I could beat players like Federer. I was very close, it was all about a couple of rallies. Everything could have turned my way.” Medvedev told reporters in Moscow on Wednesday.
Prior to 2018, Medvedev hadn’t broke into the world’s top 50. His rise up the rankings has been aided by a trio of titles he has won on the tour. Claiming trophies in Sydney and Winston-Salem, as well as Tokyo. He has also reached the third rounds at both Wimbledon and the US Open. His best results in grand slams to date.
“This is just the result of the work I have been doing throughout the season, starting with the off-season.” He explains.
“I started to take tennis differently than last year and it began to bear fruit. The hardest thing in life is when you give it 100%, but nothing happens, so I’m glad it started to bring results.”
Whilst moving in the right direction, the Russian is under no illusion of the work he has ahead of him. He has only ever recorded one win over a top 10 player, which was Stan Wawrinka at the 2017 Wimbledon Championships. He is currently 0-4 against top 10 opposition this year.
Whilst the results are not there, the belief is. This week, Medvedev is bidding to become the first Russian man to win the Kremlin Cup since Mikhail Youzhny in 2009. Receiving a first round bye for the first time in his career, he blasted his way past Dusan Lajovic 6-2, 6-1. Should he win the tournament, Medvedev would become only the third player to win four singles titles on the ATP Tour in 2018. Following in the footsteps of Rafael Nadal (5) and Novak Djokovic (4).
“When you are up against a top-level player, you immediately feel that the rhythm of the game is different. Due to their strong and fast strikes, they do not allow you to breathe during the game. Because of this, they are in the Top 10.” He said.
“This is what experience is all about, I have to learn how to beat them.”
Medvedev will take on Ričardas Berankis in the quarter-finals on Friday.
Gael Monfils edged Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in Antwerp
Gael Monfils edged Jo-Wilfried Tsonga 6-4 3-6 6-4 to advance to the quarter finals of the ATP 250 in Antwerp.
Monfils hit 11 aces and fended off six of the seven break points he faced. The French star entertained the crowd with a spectacular leaping tweener. Monfils got a break of serve in the first game and saved two break points in the sixth game to win the first set 6-4. The second set went on serve until the 8th game, when Tsonga converted his second break point of the set to win the second set 6-3. Monfils saved two break points in the fifth game of the decider to hold his serve for 3-2 and broke serve at love in the 10th game to win the third set 6-4.
British number 1 player Kyle Edmund cruised past Albert Ramos Vinolas 6-0 6-2 in just 55 minutes to qualify for his 10th quarter final of the season. Edmund dropped just nine points in seven service games and saved just one break point he faced. The 2018 Australian Open semifinalist earned a break at 15 in the first game, when Ramos Vinolas netted a forehand. Edmund hit four winners in the second game to open up a 2-0 lead. He went up a double break with a deep return and fired four winners to race out to a 4-0 lead. Edmund broke for the third time in the fifth game earning his chance to serve for the first set in the following game after just 20 minutes. He hit two winners to hold at love to close out the first set with a bagel after 19 minutes.
Edmund build up a 3-0 lead with an early break at the start of the second set after a forehand error from Ramos Vinolas. Edmund fended off a break point with a service winner before holding his serve to race out to a 4-0 lead. Edmund hit a forehand down the line to build up a 5-1 lead. He did not convert three match points on return in the seventh game. Ramos Vinolas reeled off five consecutive points to claw his back to 2-5. Edmund hit four winners to close out the match setting up a quarter final match against Ilya Ivashka, who battled past Italian lucky loser Salvatore Caruso 6-3 6-7 (8-10) 7-5.
Diego Schwartzman edged British player Cameron Norrie 7-6 (7-1) 6-7 (3-7) 7-5. Norrie went down a break in the third set at 2-4 to take a 5-4 lead by winning three consecutive game. Schwartzman reeled off the final three games with a break of serve in the 11th game to clinch the third set 7-5.
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