Struff Finally Scores A Win At Halle - UBITENNIS
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Struff Finally Scores A Win At Halle

The seventh time was a charm for Jan-Lennard Struff. He came out on top in Halle today.

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Jan-Lennard Struff (@ATP_Tour - Twitter)

By Cheryl Jones

 

Jan-Lennard Struff did something he has never done before. No, he didn’t swim the English Channel or climb Mt. Everest, both of which he likely will never do. He pulled out a win in the first match on Center Court in Halle early this afternoon.

The twenty-nine year old German player had not managed to win in Halle in the previous six times he has competed here. Evidently, seven is now his lucky number. He defeated Laslo Djere of Serbia 6-4, 6-4 in an hour and eight minutes. His ranking has climbed in recent months and he has topped out in the ATP rankings at 35 after having a reasonably successful year – at least so far. Earlier this month he reached the fourth round for the first time ever at Roland Garros. Unfortunately, in that round, he met Novak Djokovic and the number one player hastened Struff’s journey home to the German countryside.

Even before his successes in Paris, he made a great showing at Indian Wells when he defeated his countryman, the German wunderkind, Alexander Zverev in the third round. The next round saw him losing to Milos Raonic. To quote Frank Sinatra, “It’s been a very good year”. Struff seems to agree, as he was beaming at his after-match interview.

It felt like someone had turned up the heat in Halle today. The weather has become like summer, even though it is still a few days away. Even though the match began just a bit after noon, it was more than just warm. The sun also was casting eerie shadows on parts of the court, making it difficult to get a clear view of what was happening with the bouncing yellow balls. That seemed contrary to what Struff said, “I had no problem in the sun. Maybe he (his opponent) had trouble focusing, but I didn’t.” It certainly didn’t appear to be an issue for either one of them.

It really seemed like it was PDQ tennis, as the first set lasted 35 minutes and the second 33 minutes. That all can be averages to about three minutes per game – very quick, indeed.

Struff proceeded to praise his training staff, saying “It’s hard work we do with the team that is paying off a bit now. We have been working very well for the last few years and now it is finally bringing some fruit. There are very many aspects. It is not all at once, but it is a process that is now going in the right direction.” It seemed to be working quite well from my observation point high in the stands.

Djere looked sluggish, even with what seems to be a fairly slow court. Struff offered an explanation for the slowness. He said that the courts that aren’t covered seemed faster and he thought it might be that they had more chance for the sun to evaporate the moisture trapped in the sod. But that is neither here nor there. Struff won today, and he will be facing a very tough opponent next time out – Russian, Karen Khachanov.

Khachanov is ranked just inside the top ten at 9. He turned 23 about a month ago and he’s a big lad, at 6’6” tall. Despite his youth, Khachanov was married in 2016 and he and his wife are expecting their first child in September. Struff will have to call in all his assets to pull off a win against the Russian. His victory today should buoy his spirits, and hopefully ramp up his game. Time will tell.

The Noventi Open is a new name for the tournament that is by now old hat for Halle. It remains to be seen if it’s merely a change of the guard or that the guard will change. Time will provide the answer to that question, too.

Tomorrow is another day, and all concerned are asking for sunshine. But a few raindrops have never been a problem in Halle since the roof was installed twenty-five years ago. Just a minute or two if it rains and the court is back to business as usual.

 

 

 

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Kei Nishikori In Doubt For The Australian Open

Asia’s highest ranked male tennis player is contemplating when he should return to the tour following surgery.

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Kei Nishikori (photo by chryslène caillaud, copyright @Sport Vision)

World No.13 Kei Nishikori is refusing to rule out the prospect of skipping the first grand slam event of 2020 as he continues his recovery from surgery.

 

Nishikori hasn’t played a match on the tour since his third round loss at the US Open back in September. A month later he underwent a procedure on his right elbow in a move that brought his season to an early end. Currently undergoing rehabilitation, it is unclear as to when the Japanese player believes he will return to the ATP Tour.

“The prospect of a return from surgery on right elbow in January. Maybe February. In the second half of next year I want to be able to play well.” Nikkan Sports quoted Nishikori as saying.
“I don’t want to overdo it,” he added.

The Australian Open will get underway on January 20th in Melbourne. Should he miss the grand slam, it will be the second time he has done so in the last three years. Nishikori also withdrew from the 2018 edition due to a wrist injury. In January he reached the quarter-finals and therefore has 360 points to defend next year.

During his time away from the court, the 29-year-old has been kept busy making changes to his team. Recently it was confirmed that he has started working alongside Max Mirnyi, who is a former world No.1 doubles player. Mirnyi, who has won 10 grand slam titles in men’s and mixed doubles, will be working full-time with Nishikori alongside existing coach Michael Chang.

“I’m getting closer to retirement. I want to be cured and come back to play good tennis in the second half of next year.” Nishikori stated.

Despite the injury setback, Nishikori has enjoyed success in 2019. Reaching the quarter-finals in three out of the four grand slam tournaments. The first time he has ever done that in his career. He also claimed his 12th ATP title at the Brisbane International. Overall, he won 29 out of 43 matches played.

Nishikori will turn 30 on December 29th.

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Family Of Venezuelan Doubles Star Launches GoFundMe Page For Cancer Treatment

Roberto Maytin was playing on the Challenger tour less than a month ago, but now faces a new battle.

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One of Venezuela’s highest ranked players on the ATP Tour is facing challenges off the court after being recently diagnosed with cancer.

 

Roberto Maytin, who currently has a doubles ranking of 136th, is undergoing treatment for testicular cancer Non-Seminoma. Non-seminomas are made up of different types of tumour, such as teratomas, embryonal tumours, yolk sac tumours and choriocarcinomas. Maytin’s brother Ricardo has launched a GoFundMe page to help cover the costs. The tennis player made $19,441 in prize money this season, which doesn’t factor into account numerous expenses such as travel, accommodation and paying for his coaching team.

“If life gives you a chance to live longer, I think nobody would miss the opportunity. In this plane, we all want to be (alive) for years however we forget that we are with a 50% chance of leaving at any time every day.” The fundraising page reads.
“My brother was diagnosed with testicular cancer NO Seminoma, at 30 years old. He now faces a crucial match that life has put him for growth as an individual, as a man and as an athlete. He is forced to undergo 4 stages of aggressive chemotherapy in order to heal at all and leave no trace of a Cancer that has been moving for months causing some damage.”

A former top 25 junior player, Maytin is one of only two players from his country to be ranked inside the top 200 in either singles or doubles on the men’s tour. This season he has won four Challenger titles across America. However, he has only played in one ATP Tour event since the start of 2018. He achieved a ranking high of 85th in the doubles back in 2015.

Once a student at Baylor University in Texas, Maytin formed a successful partnership with former world No.2 doubles player John Peers. Together they earned All-American honours with a win-loss of 36-5 and reached the quarter-finals of the 2011 NCAA tournament.

Maytin is also a regular fixture in his country’s Davis Cup team. Since 2007 he has played 15 ties and won 10 out of 16 matches played.

“I am also clear that the family is the gift of God for each one of us, so in this way and in whatever way I will put my desire and my energy so that my Brother Roberto Maytin, a Venezuelan professional tennis player, is back to the courts, which is where he belongs as soon as possible.”

Almost $25,000 has been raised so far to fund Maytin’s treatment. Click here to visit his GoFundMe page.

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John Newcombe Believes The Australian Open Will Be ‘A Big Ask’ For Nick Kyrgios

The tennis legend is unsure if the former top 20 player will be fit in time for the first grand slam of 2020.

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MADRID, SPAIN - Nick Kyrgios of Australia waking to the locked room Davis Cup by Rakuten Madrid Finals 2019 at Caja Magica on November 19, 2019 in Madrid, Spain. (Photo by Pedro Salado / Kosmos Tennis)

Former world No.1 John Newcombe has cast doubts on Nick Kyrgios’ chances of going deep in the draw at the upcoming Australian Open.

 

The 75-year-old, who won seven grand slam titles during the 1960s and 1970s, believes the injury-stricken world No.30 may struggle playing best-of-five matches in Melbourne. Kyrgios missed most of the final quarter of the 2019 season due to a shoulder issue. He returned to action last month at the Davis Cup, but skipped his country’s quarter-final clash with Canada due to a collarbone injury. Overall, he has won 23 out of 37 matches played this year.

“It’s a bit of a worry that he has recurring injuries, especially around where the muscles join the joints and that’s going to be an ongoing problem for him it seems,” Newcombe told The Age.
“At the Davis Cup he’d only played four sets of singles and his shoulder started to play up again and when you’ve got an injury like that it’s hard to go out and practice a lot.
“Leading into the Australian Open – five sets is a big ask for him.”

A two-time grand slam quarter-finalist, the 24-year-old has struggled to make his mark in the majors this year. Winning just three matches in three grand slam tournaments he played in. Kyrgios missed the French Open due to injury. At his home slam, he lost in the first round for the first time since making his main draw debut back in 2014.

As well as trying to get fit in time for the start of the new season, Kyrgios will continue to be playing under a probation on the ATP Tour for ‘aggravated behaviour.’ Should he violate that, he faces the prospect of a 16-week ban from the tour.

“I can’t speak for him but if it was me it would be tough having that ban hanging over you,” Newcombe said.
“But I guess you’ve just got to learn to zip up.”

Kyrgios is set to start 2020 at the inaugural ATP Cup, which is the only team event to have both prize money and ranking points available. After that, he is set to play in the Kooyong Classic in what will be his final test prior to the Australian Open.

“I am delighted that Nick has chosen to play Kooyong again, and hopefully it acts as the perfect tune up for his Australian Open (AO) campaign and sets him up for a massive 2020 season.” Tournament director Peter Johnson said in a statement.

So far in his career, Kyrgios has won six titles. Including Acapulco and Washington this year.

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