Rising Star Felix Auger-Aliassime Becomes Youngest Player To Reach An ATP 500 Final In Rio - UBITENNIS
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Rising Star Felix Auger-Aliassime Becomes Youngest Player To Reach An ATP 500 Final In Rio

At the age of 18, Auger-Aliassime is set for a big jump in the rankings following his run in the Brazilian capital.



Felix Auger-Aliassime - Toronto 2018 (via Twitter, @rogerscup)

Next Gen star Felix Auger-Aliassime is a win away from winning his maiden title on the ATP Tour after defeating former champion Pablo Cuevas 6-3, 3-6, 6-3, in the semi-finals of the Rio Open.


The 18-year-old wild card stunned his more experienced opponent with a powerful display consisting of 30 winners and nine aces. At one set all, it was a sole break in the decider that secured the win for Auger-Aliassime. Leading 1-0, a Cuevas backhand landed out to hand the teenager the break for 2-0. Allowing Auger-Aliassime to battle towards the finish line after just over two hours of play.

“It feels great, the match was pretty tough, pretty complete today, I felt good from the start and thought I could have a shot to win.” The world No.104 told reporters afterwards.
“I was feeling my shots well and serving well too. But then he came back strong at the second set and I felt a lot of pressure from him. And then in the third set I came back strong again, I was able to break him early and then hold my serve. It was tough to finish when you’re so close to the line but I managed to stay calm and got the job done.”

As a result of his latest win, Auger-Aliassime has become the youngest player to reach the final of an ATP 500 event since the category was introduced back in 2009. The previous record was held by Alexander Zverev, who reached the final of the 2016 Gerry Weber Open at the age of 19.



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Earlier in the week, the rising star recorded his best ever win in terms of ranking. Stunning top 20 player Fabio Fognini in the first round of the tournament. He has also scored wins over Chile’s Christian Garin and Spain’s Jaume Munar.

“It’s been great. Every time you have a breakthrough as a young guy it’s a special moment and all the environment is important and from the first day I felt good in Rio, from the hotel I’m staying at, the places I’ve seen and the energy from the people. That’s really strong and I strongly believe that it has pushed me to where I am today, this week, and maybe I can give one last push with the support of the crowd tomorrow.” He said.

Auger-Aliassime has been tipped as a future star in the sport since his teenage years. At the age of 14 he qualified for the main draw of a Challenger event for the first time. He is a former US Open boys champion and is one of the youngest players of all time at win a Challenger title at the age of 16 years and 10 months. In total, he currently has four Challenger titles to his name.

“It’s something I’ve dealt with for a few years now. You just have to manage it, work on that and focus on what you have to do every day,” Auger-Aliassime told atptour.com. “For me, [winning the] title or not [winning the] title is not the most important thing today [for me], because at the end I want to have a successful career, every year. I don’t want to be remembered for just a final or just a title when I was 18.”

Djere next

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In Sunday’s final Auger-Aliassime will take on Serbia’s Laslo Djere, who knocked out top seed Dominic Thiem in the first round. The former junior Orange Bowl champion will be contesting his first ATP final at the age of 23. Djere moved into the final after Aljaz Bedene withdrew from the tournament due to a leg injury.

“Felix is a young and very talented player. I watched him a few times, he’s been playing really well, has a big serve, big forehead. But I think I’m ready and prepared and I’ll do my best. Hopefully I can win my first final here in Rio,” Said Djere.

Djere currently has two Challenger trophies under his belt and has featured in the main draw of six grand slam tournaments. Currently at a ranking high of 83rd in the world, he paid tribute to the support he has received from his family over the years.

“It wasn’t easy getting here. It’s really tough to become a professional tennis player, it doesn’t matter if you’re from Serbia or any other place. Conditions where I practiced were not ideal and I struggled a lot to get where I am today. When I was 15 mom was diagnosed with cancer, which was really tough for me, and she passed away two years later. And I lost my dad last December also to cancer. It’s not easy to be here at 23 not having parents, but I’m thankful for my younger sister and my girlfriend. I just want to make them proud.”

Regardless of the outcome of the final, Auger-Aliassime will break into the top 60 for the first time. Should he win the title, he will crack the top 50.


Australian Tennis Great Passes Away Aged 83

Ashley Cooper is one of only 11 men in history to have won three grand slam titles within the same year.



Women’s world No.1 Ash Barty has led tributes to multiple grand slam champion Ashley Cooper, who passed away on Friday.


Cooper was one of the sports best players in the years leading up to the birth of the Open Era. He was declared the world’s best amateur player in 1957 and 1958. It was during 1958 where he really stood out by winning three out of the four major tournaments within the same season. Something only 10 other players in the history of men’s tennis have been able to achieve. Cooper also achieved success in the doubles by winning another four grand slam titles. In the Davis Cup he led Australia to a 3-2 victory over America in the 1957 final.

Whilst his achievements occurred during the 1950s, Cooper did sort of have a taste of what it was like to place in a major event during the Open Era after featuring in the main draw of the 1968 French Open. He progressed to the second round after his opponent retired before withdrawing from the tournament without playing a single point.

After retiring from the sport, he maintained his links with tennis. Working alongside Tennis Queensland with their player development and was on the Board of Directors for Tennis Australia.

“Ashley was a giant of the game both as a brilliant player and an astute administrator and he will be greatly missed,” said Tennis Australia CEO Craig Tiley.
“His contribution to the sport went far beyond his exploits on the tennis court. His rich legacy includes the magnificent Queensland Tennis Centre, a project he was passionate about, nurturing the development from the very beginning, and resulting in the return of world-class international tennis to Brisbane.”
“Ashley was also the most humble of champions and a great family man. Our hearts go out to his wife Helen and his family, along with his wide and international circle of friends, including so many of our tennis family.”

Paying her own tribute, French Open champion Barty took to Twitter to send her sympathy to Cooper’s family. Last year she was presented with the Ashley Cooper Medal at the Queensland Tennis Awards. The highest individual honour that can be issued by the organisation named in after the tennis great.

Rod Laver, who is one of Australia’s greatest tennis players of all time, described Cooper as a ‘wonderful champion’ in his tribute.

“So sad to hear of Ashley’s passing. He was a wonderful champion, on and off the court. And what a backhand! So many cherished memories. Farewell my friend. My thoughts are with Ashley’s wife, Helen, and his family.” Laver wrote on Twitter.

The have been no details released on the exact cause of Cooper’s death, but it has been reported that he has been battling ‘a long illness.’ He was 83-years-old.

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Stefanos Tsitsipas Hails Laver Cup Participation Days After Jibe From Nick Kyrgios

The Greek tennis sensation said he was left feeling ‘emotional’ when selected to play in the three-day event last year.



Reigning ATP Finals champion Stefanos Tsitsipas has labelled the Laver Cup as his favourite tournament due to the ‘magical’ feeling of playing alongside some of the sports greatest ever players.


The 21-year-old has praised the team competition less than a week after he and his European team mates was criticised by Nick Kyrgios. Who has played in all three editions of the event since its birth that sees Europe take on the rest of the world over three days. During an Instagram Live chat with Andy Murray, a slightly intoxicated Kyrgios said his rivals had ‘no banter’ before going on to take a swipe at the friendship between Tsitsipas and Alexander Zverev.

“I am there with my best buds, trying to beat some European guys who have no banter, don’t give one-eff about each other and act like they care for one week which p*sses me off,” the Australian ranted.
“Let’s be honest, (Stefanos) Tsitsipas and (Alexander) Zverev hate each other, then they are besties all of a sudden…p*ss off.”

Tsitsipas, who has lost both of his matches against Kyrgios on the ATP Tour, didn’t directly address his rivals comment during a recent interview with Eurosport. However, he did speak about his enthusiasm for the event which has been scrapped from this year’s calendar due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Tsitsipas made his Laver Cup debut last year in Geneva, where he won two out of three matches played. He played in two doubles matches alongside Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal.

“My favourite tournament is the Laver Cup. I love the vibes at the Laver Cup, we were all so connected, we came into the tournament as a union, trying to represent our continent and it just felt magical to be on the same team as Roger [Federer] and Rafa [Nadal],” he told Eurosport’s Hanging out with Babsi.
“I got to play doubles with both of them and it was a great experience for me. It was a dream come true for sure. As a child, I would never have dreamed the Laver Cup would ever happen – a competition between Europe and the Rest of the World – I would never think that would be possible but it happened and I got to be part of it. I got invited which was such an honour.”

Elaborating further the world No.6 said he felt ‘emotional’ when he was selected to play. Team Europe won the 2019 event for the third year in a row with a score of 13-11.

“Playing for your country is one thing, but playing for Team Europe – if you just sit down and think about it – you are among the best European tennis players. You get to be chosen as one of the top tennis players to play for your continent. That makes you feel very emotional.” He added.

After being postponed this year, The Laver Cup is set to return in 2020 in the American city of Boston.

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‘Money Talks’ – John Millman Issues Stark Warning Over Resumption Of Tour

The world No.43 has said the coming weeks will show if tennis bosses are willing to put money ahead of health.



Australian tennis star John Millman has said the decision to start professional tennis at some stage will be an indicator as to if tennis’ governing bodies are willing to put money ahead of players’ health.


The WTA, ATP and ITF Tour’s have all been suspended since March due to the COVID-19 pandemic with officials hoping they will be able to resume the sport during August in North America. Meanwhile, the United States Tennis Association (USTA) are still hoping to stage the US Open later this year with a final decision expected to be made during June.

However world No.43 Millman believes the idea of starting the sport again in August is too soon given the global reach of tennis which requires players from all over the world to gather in one place. It is also unclear how the various travel restrictions would impact the Tour. Despite his concerns, Millman fears that money will be the decisive factor.

“I feel as if it is probably way too early to get back into it or even thinking about returning in August,” he told the AAP.
“Indian Wells, the last tournament we were meant to play, was cancelled because there was one case in the region. It is a bit of a contradiction if they say come August ‘there are cases around but you guys can travel and play some tennis’.
“But money talks at times and our hand could be forced, unfortunately.
“What is more important – money or the health of not just yourself but the community?” he added. “We will see what is tennis’s priority.”

Despite his own reservations, the former grand slam quarter-finalist feels that his fellow competitors may have no choice about returning should the Tour get a green light. Unlike team sports with contracts, tennis players are essentially self-employed. Therefore the majority of them, especially those outside the top 100, solely earn money from prize money generated from tennis tournaments.

“Unfortunately, when the tour says we are back playing your hand is forced a bit because it is your career at stake.

As to when the 30-year-old would be happy to return to the Tour himself, he said that he will need to be certain that it is safe to do so first. America, which is where tennis officials are hoping to start the sport, has more infections of COVID-19 than any other country in the world. An estimated 1.5 million Americans have tested positive for the virus which has resulted in 91,000 deaths.

“Players would have to be coming from places where the virus isn’t there any more and going to tournaments where the virus isn’t there any more,” he said. “For that to happen on a global stage, I think we are a fair way off that.”

Millman has reached two ATP Finals so far in his career and earned more than $3.6 million in prize money.

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