Khachanov Outlasts Crowd Favourite to Reach Montreal QF - UBITENNIS
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Khachanov Outlasts Crowd Favourite to Reach Montreal QF

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Courtesy: ATP Media/TennisTV

-Montreal, Quebec

 

Karen Khachanov spoiled the party in Montreal on Thursday afternoon. Not only did he defeat Montreal native Felix Auger-Aliassime at his home tournament, he sent him home on his birthday no less.

Khachanov and Auger-Aliassime played a two hour 50 minute entertaining three setter on Court Central in the 3rd Round of the Rogers Cup and it was the 22-year old Russian who got the better of the 19-year old Canadian 6-7 (7-9), 7-5, 6-3.

It wasn’t the cleanest of matches between the two opponents. Both players combining for 98 unforced errors as opposed to just 53 winners. 12 of Auger-Aliassime’s 52 mistakes were double faults, something that has plagued the teenager in matches of late.

The crowd was understandably very pro Auger-Aliassime but at times they got a little too carried away. Fans began shouting “out” on a couple of occasions when a Khachanov ball appeared close to the baseline. The World No. 8 got somewhat agitated and chair umpire Mohammed Lahyani had to ask the crowd to be respectful to both players.

Khachanov who has won four career ATP titles, had a chance to take the opening set on several occasions. He served for the opener up 5-4 but was quickly broken after making three of his 23 errors in the set. He then lead 6-4 in the tiebreak but couldn’t convert either of his set points. After missing a forehand to go down 8-7 in the breaker, Khachanov whacked a ball entirely out of the stadium in frustration and received a warning from Lahyani. Auger-Aliassime hammered a big serve a short time later and the set was his.

In the second set, Auger-Aliassime looked to be building momentum breaking Khachanov in the opening game and then quickly  holding serve at Love to go up 2-0.

However, the Canadian couldn’t contain the lead. Auger-Aliassime was broken in three straight service games which again gave Khachanov a chance to serve out the set. But he couldn’t do it, as he was broken at Love.

Three games later he did get the job done. A double fault and a pair of forehands including one that went long on set point evened up the match for the No. 6 seed.

The difference in the third set came in the fourth game. With Auger-Aliassime beginning to look tired Khachanov gave himself two break point chances in the game. He converted the second after Auger-Aliassime sent a backhand long. That gave the Russian a 3-1 lead. Despite the Canadian crowd urging their player on, Khachanov was unfazed and wasn’t really challenged in his final service games. He finished things off with a big serve down the middle and sent the pro Auger-Aliassime crowd home disappointed.

“I’m happy. I have to stay proud of what I’ve done,” said the birthday boy. “For sure frustrated because it was a big occasion. There was a lot of expectations, pressure, you name it. I think I handled that well. But to be playing in the end good and to lead in a match, to have a chance to win… It’s tough to see it slip away, but there’s reason for that. It just means that I still have things to improve to win these type of matches and to deal better with these type of moments.”

“It was rollercoaster match. Sometimes it’s called winning ugly,” said Khachanov.  I think of the conditions and everything, it was completely different comparing when I played against Stan yesterday. I think it was really a competitive match from both of us. Felix is a great player, as I said many times before.”

At the end of the match as the players shook hands, the TV microphones picked up the Russian saying “Sorry” to his opponent. It was a moment Khachanov explained after the match to the Press.

“I didn’t have anything against him, so I just said sorry like in terms if he felt that I was going against him, that I was not polite to him. I just said sorry so he doesn’t think it was against him. I just explain him that it was the crowd. I don’t have anything against when they cheer for Felix. It’s normal. He’s home favorite, especially from Montreal. I wish they could cheer the same way in Russia for me (smiling). But still, you know, not when I miss or not wishing me to miss, screaming during the points, Out. I think it’s unrespectful. I just got crazy. On the other side, I provoke the crowd, and that gave me also some kind of energy, as well.”

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Next Gen Star Alexei Popyrin Fears He May Be Forced To Play US Open Despite Health Concerns

Like many other lower ranked players on the Tour, the 20-year-old finds himself in a tough situation.

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One of Australia’s rising stars has said he is worried that he may have to play at the US Open against his will or risk losing a chunk of ranking points.

 

Alexei Popryin has raised his concerns about travelling to the New York major in August amid a surge of COVID-19 cases in some areas of the country. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention there were 52,228 New Cases of the virus on July 5th compared to 24 hours before. Furthermore, the governor of New York recently announced that people travelling from 16 different states in America are now required to self-quarantine for 14 days if they visit the city. According to USA Today this ruling applies to roughly 48% of the entire American population.

Despite the concerns, the organisers of the US Open have insisted they will be able to hold the tournament in a safe manner and will be implementing various restrictions. Including holding the event without fans for the first time and conducting frequent testing of players. However world No.103 Popryin admits that he still has his concerns about attending.

“There are talks regarding the US Open but I really don’t want to go with the situation in America right now,” Popyrin said at the Ultimate Tennis Showdown over the weekend.
“But we have to see if we would be forced to go because of ranking points.
“If the ranking points won’t be frozen, then most of us would be forced to go play cause our ranking will drop and we wouldn’t have any say in it.
“But if the rankings are frozen, then I am staying here.
“I will stay in Europe where it’s safe with my family.”

Popryin has a considerable amount of points to defend in New York after reaching the third round there last year. Therefore, if he skips the event he faces dropping further down the rankings. Something which will then impact on his chances of entering the bigger tournaments later in the year. Usually the cut off for Grand Slam tournaments is around 105.

It is still to be announced as to what will happen with the ranking points system at the US Open and if there will be any adjustments made due to the pandemic. Although organisers will likely be against any idea to remove them from the event as it is a key factor to attract players to take part.

Another player to voice their concerns about the US Open is France’s Benoit Paire, who has said he would not attend the event if it was taking place today. Speaking to RMC Sport the world No.22 said he would rather not go to the event if he meant that he would be ‘taking a risk’ with his health.

“Going to the United States would be at risk of catching it. I am a great professional and I am one of those who would always like to play tennis, but your health is the most important thing,” he said.
“If going there is taking the risk of catching the disease and staying quarantined when I return, I prefer not to go, really.’
“It looks like if we play the US Open, we will have to sacrifice not to play the Mutua Madrid Open or the Masters 1000 in Rome.”

Meanwhile, world No.3 Dominic Thiem recently told Austrian media that he believes a final decision regarding the Grand Slam will be made within a week. Something that is yet to be confirmed by officials.

Should it go ahead, the US Open will start on August 31st.

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REPORT: Former Spanish Tennis Star In Talks To Coach Alexander Zverev

A former world No.3 could be returning to the Tour later this year in a new position.

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Tennis sensation Alexander Zverev could soon be mentored by somebody whose career he ended last year at the Madrid Open.

 

Spanish newspaper Marca have reported that the world No.7 is set to enter in a 15-day trial with former French Open finalist David Ferrer where the two will get to know each other better. Ferrer has reportedly travelled to Monte Carlo to start working alongside Germany’s top player. Should everything go well, the two could start a formal partnership in September ahead of the European clay-court swing of the Tour, which has been delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Both men are already fairly familiar with each other after facing off nine times on the ATP Tour, including three times last year. Zverev was the last player Ferrer played against at the Madrid Open before officially retiring from the sport at the age of 37.

“He’s the most respectful guy for me on Tour, and one of the most loved people on the Tour as well,” Zverev told reporters in the Spanish capital following their match.

Whilst never winning a Grand Slam, Ferrer achieved numerous accolades throughout his career. Including spending 4914 consecutive days in the world’s top 50, winning 27 ATP titles and achieving a ranking high of No.3 back in 2013. Overall, he has played 1011 matches on the ATP Tour (including Grand Slams) which is more than John McEnroe.

Should Ferrer receive the green light, Zverev will be the first high-profile player he will be responsible for. The Spaniard had previously hinted at his desire to enter coaching with his long time objective being to captain the Spanish Davis Cup team. He is also currently serving as the tournament director of the Barcelona Open.

“I would be very proud to be able to be (Davis Cup captain),” Ferrer told Marca in April 2019. “I also understand that this is very far away and there are players who are ahead. First, I have to train as a professional in teaching (coaching).”

Neither Ferrer or Zverev has publicly commented on the report. At present Zverev is coached on the Tour by his father who guided him to the semi-finals of the Australian Open in January.

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Father Of Dominic Thiem Condemns Criticism Of Novak Djokovic’s Role In Adria Tour Fiasco

Wolfgang Thiem has come to the defence of the world No.1 before suggesting that COVID-19 cases among players at charity events are worth it.

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The father of world No.3 Dominic Thiem has said it is ‘too cheap’ to blame Novak Djokovic over the outbreak of COVID-19 at the controversial Adria Tour.

 

Wolfgang Thiem lent his support behind the 17-time Grand Slam champion during an interview with Austrian newspaper Die Presses on Friday. The Adria Tour, which was founded by Djokovic, was cancelled following an outbreak of the virus during the Zadar leg of the event in Croatia with Grigor Dimitrov being the first player to confirm a positive test. Shortly after, Djokovic and Borna Coric also tested positive as well as some coaching staff. Viktor Troicki also contracted COVID-19, but only played the first leg of the Tour in Belgrade.

Throughout the Belgrade and Zadar events organisers were criticised for a lack of social distancing being applied. Players were seen playing basketball matches, attending nightclubs and interacting with the public. Although all of those actions were in line with local government rules.

“I do not approve of what happened on the Adria Tour, but condemning Djokovic and saying he screwed it up is too cheap for me,” Wolfgang commented.
“Of course the dance at the disco was not optimal, but Djokovic basically did nothing wrong. They just got a little sloppy, they were euphoric,” he continued.

Djokovic, who has been at the centre of the criticism, is yet to publicly speak about the incident. On Friday it was confirmed that both him and his wife Jelena have now tested negative for the virus. 10 days after they were first diagnosed.

As for Thiem, his father said the Austrian tennis star will be donating his money from the event to charity. Although he did not say how much that would be or which cause it would go towards. It comes just days after Djokovic donated 40,000 euros to the Serbian town of Novi Pazar, who has been hit hard by the pandemic.

Speaking about the outbreak of COVID-19 among players, Wolfgang has suggested that it is worth it if it meant raising money for charity.

“I prefer that there be a few more cases of coronavirus and be able to raise a few thousand euros for a childhood cancer clinic,” he explained.

Since the Adria Tour, Thiem has played at the Ultimate Tennis Showdown (UTS) in France. He has undergone five COVID-19 tests in recent days with all of them testing negative for the virus. The 26-year-old withdrew from the UTS on Wednesday to focus on the upcoming Thiem 7 event in Kitzbuhel which will start on July 7th.

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