Sofia Kenin wins all-American quarter final clash against Danielle Collins - UBITENNIS
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Sofia Kenin wins all-American quarter final clash against Danielle Collins

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This year’s Australian Open champion and number 4 seed Sofia Kenin edged Danielle Collins 6-4 4-6 6-0 in an all-American quarter final clash to reach the semifinals at Roland Garros. 

 

Collins had won all their previous head-to-head matches, including two at ITF level, without dropping a set. 

Collins held serve at love in the first game, but she saved a break point in each of her next three service games at deuce. Kenin earned her only break in the fifth game at love and held her next service games to win the opening set 6-4. 

Kenin earned her two break points at 15-40 in the second game of the second set, but she did not convert them. Kenin went up a break in the fifth game to take a 3-2 lead. Collins broke straight back in the sixth game to draw level to 3-3 lead. Collins converted her fifth break point at deuce in the 10th game to take a 6-4 lead forcing the match to the third set. 

Kenin started the third set with a break at love after a double fault from Collins. Kenin went up a double break to take a 3-0 lead with a crosscourt backhand winner. 

Kenin broke for the third time to take a bagel win in the third set to secure her spot in the semifinal, where she will face Petra Kvitova. 

“I am super happy. I know she plays really aggressive and I knew I needed to play aggressive myself, have a hgh first-serve percentage and I think I did that. The difference is definitely mental. I like winning in three sets. It’s going to be tough but I got the win and I am proud of myself”, said Kenin. In last year’s edition of the French Open Kenin upset Serena Williams, becoming the first US player to defeat the US legend at a Grand Slam tournament since Sloane Stephens in the quarter finals of the 2013 Australian Open, before losing to eventual champion Ashleigh Barty in three sets. 

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Leylah Annie Fernandez talks about the challenge to balance tennis and school

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Leylah Annie Fernandez told her story on Noah Rubin’s website Behind the Raquet. 

 

Fernandez won the French Open Junior title in 2019. The Canadian teenager born in 2002 made her Grand Slam debut at the 2020 Australian Open. She got through the qualifying round before losing to Lauren Davis in the opening round. 

Fernandez lost a WTA final against Heather Watson in Acapulco in 2020. One week later she upset Grand Slam champion Sloane Stephens to reach the quarter finals at the Monterrey Open before losing to eventual champion Elina Svitolina. 

Fernandez is now ranked world number 88. 

“I started playing tennis on a recreational level. At the age of ten, I decided to compete and become a professional player. My father was my coach, but is new to the tennis world since he was a soccer player. My dad surrounded us with other coaches who understood our philosophy, style and game. I never felt pressure from my father to play sports or do anything in life. He gave me the green light to make my own decisions and introduced me to many different activities. I played baseball, soccer, volleyball and ran on the track. However I loved tennis and once I realized there were Junior Grand Slams, I set the goal to win one. Last year I reached the Junior Australian Open final and was disappointed to lose. A few months later, I won the Junior French Open and became the first Canadian player in seven years to capture a Junior Grand Slam. This year I started playing on the WTA Tour”, said Fernandez. 

Fernandez spoke about the start of her career, the challenges she had to face and the balance between her tennis career and school. 

“It’s difficult to balance tennis, school and friends. When I started playing tennis, I was in regular school. I had friends and teachers who supported me but I constantly traveled to compete. I missed moments in my friends’ lives so it was hard to reconnect when I returned. I put my dream first and we had disagreements. I realized I wanted to play tennis full-time. My friends are now acquaintances but my family is always by my side. My two sisters are my best friends. They keep me going on the court and encourage me to achieve more in the sport”. 

Fernandez is planning to study at the University to secure her future after the end of her career. “I want to graduate from University and earn a college. I am currently attending the online programmme of Indiana University East. After tennis, I want to be involved in different business ventures and be able to help businesses succeed. I hope to inspire young Canadian players and show them we can become professionals in tennis and in the business world”, concluded Fernandez. 

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Casper Ruud Opens Up About What It Is Like Playing Roger Federer

The 21-year-old explains what it is like to face somebody who is considered by some as the ‘greatest legend’ in tennis.

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Norway’s top tennis player admitted that he had difficulty sleeping the night before he was set to play Roger Federer for the first time in his career.

 

Casper Ruud has shed light on what it was like for him playing the Swiss Maestro during an interview with TV 2. The 21-year-old took on Federer in the third round of the French Open last year which he ended up losing 6-3, 6-1, 7-6. At the time it was only Ruud’s fourth appearance in the main draw of a Grand Slam.

“When you meet the man who is considered the greatest legend in your sport in history, it is clear that then you were a little extra nervous,” he said of 20-time Grand Slam winner Federer.
“I remember before I was going to play against Federer, it was a bit difficult to sleep the night before. When you lie with your head on the pillow, your thoughts come.”

Ruud says Federer’s achievements in the sport made him feel more nervous about playing him. Overall, the 39-year-old has won 103 ATP titles and currently holds the record for most time spent holding the world No.1 ranking at 310 weeks. He played his first ATP event at the 1998 Gstaad Open, which was a year before Ruud was born.

Although the Next Gen star says he has admiration for all members of the Big Three, which also include Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal. The two highest ranked players currently on the men’s tour.

“It was in Melbourne a few years ago, and then I remember that we sat in a large cafe where all the players sit to eat. When Federer came in, it was completely quiet and everyone turned around. Now the legend is here,” he said.
“These three legends, they look taller than they might be. They are probably around 1.85 meters, but it may seem that they are two meters because of the respect you have for them.”

Since his meeting with Federer in Paris, Ruud has managed to make a name for himself as he gradually climbs up the world rankings. In February he won the Argentina Open to become the first Norwegian player in history to have won a title on the ATP Tour. He also reached the final of another tournament in Santiago. In September he defeated Matteo Berrettini in the Italian Open to record his first and so far only win over a top 10 player in his career.

“I do not remember everyone in my career. But there are some matches that stand out a bit, and that you remember extra well. Some ball exchanges, some punches here and there that you get, which you usually do not do. It is something that stands out a bit,” Ruud explains.

Unusually Ruud confirmed that both of his parents are now classed as his employees. He is coached by his father Christian who is a former player himself. Christian is a former world No.39 who was his country’s highest ranked male player in history until his son.

“The ultimate boss is probably (my) mother. She rules over both of us. In between at least,” he jokes.

After ending his season with three consecutive Tour losses, Ruud closes out 2020 with a win-loss record of 22-13 and has won $965,653 in prize money. He is currently ranked 27th in the world.
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Six Next Gen players to watch in 2021

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Six under 21 players born in the 2000s have come to the fore this season and are ready to make a major breakthrough in the coming years. 

 

We look back at the Next Gen season featuring six Next Gen players outside the top 100 (Thiago Seyboth Wild, Lorenzo Musetti, Sebastian Korda, Carlos Alcaraz, Hugo Gaston and Brandon Nakashima), who produced an impact on the ATP Tour and Challenger season in 2020 and could break into the top 100 next year. 

Thiago Seyboth Wild (world number 115) born in 2000

The 20-year-old Brazilian player emerged in 2018 when he won the US Open Junior title. He became the first ATP Tour champion born in 2000s when he beat number 1 seed Christian Garin in Santiago, followed by Norwegian clay specialist Casper Ruud 7-5 4-6 6-3 in the final. At the age of 19 Seyboth Wild became the youngest Brazilian champion in ATP Tour history and the youngest champion during the Golden Swing since an 18-year-old Rafael Nadal won the Acapulco title in 2005. 

Seyboth Wild was the lowest-ranked winner at World number 182 and the youngest tour-level champion at 19 years and 11 months. He broke into top 200 in the ATP Ranking on 24 February and climbed up 69 positions reaching his career-high of world number 113 on 2 March. 

“It’s an incredible achievement. It’s something I have always dreamed about”, said Seyboth Wild.

Thiago saved three match points to beat Alejandro Davidovich Fokina in the first round in Rio de Janeiro as wildcard after 3 hours and 49 minutes in the longest ATP Tour match since the 2009 Madrid semifinal, when Rafa Nadal beat Novak Djokovic after 4 hours and 3 minutes.

Sebastian Korda (world number 117) born in 2000

Sebastian Korda is following in the footsteps of his father Petr Korda, who won the Australian Open title in 1998 and reached the French Open final in 1992, and tennis player Regina Rajchrtova. Sebastian grew up playing competitive ice hockey, but he decided to switch to tennis at the age of 9 after accompanying his father Petr to the US Open in 2009. 

The US player of Czech origin made a step forward in his career last summer, when he qualified for the main draw at the Western and Southern Open in New York by beating Gilles Simon. Korda pushed Denis Shapovalov in a four-set match in the first round at the US Open. 

At Roland Garros Sebastian came through the qualifying rounds to reach the main draw before beating Andreas Seppi and John Isner to get through the third round. He then beat Pedro Martinez becoming the first qualifier to reach the Round of 16 at Roland Garros in nine years. Korda won just four games in his straight-set defeat against 13-time Roland Garros champion Rafael Nadal, but the young US player will never forget this moment. 

“It was definitely the best moment of my life. It was super awesome”, said Korda. 

Korda went on to clinch his first ATP Challenger Tour title in Eckental (Germany). 

Lorenzo Musetti (world number 127) born in 2002

Lorenzo Musetti followed in the footsteps of Jannik Sinner, who won the Next Gen ATP Finals in Milan in 2019 and claimed his maiden ATP Tour title in Sofia this year. 

Musetti, who won the Australian Open title in 2019, made his ATP Tour debut last February in Dubai, where he lost to Andrey Rublev in Dubai. 

Musetti entered the Internazionali BNL d’Italia in Rome as the World Number 249 and dropped a set in two of his three qualifying matches. The Italian 18-year-old player went on to upset former top 10 players Stan Wawrinka and Kei Nishikori in back-to-back matches to reach the third round for the first round in his career. Musetti became the first player to reach the third round in Rome since Frenchman Fabrice Santoro in 1991. 

Musetti lost in the third round against Germany’s Dominik Koepfer. The Italian teenager carried the momentum winning his first ATP Challenger Tour title in Forlì and became the youngest semifinalist of the season at the Sardinia Open in Santa Margherita di Pula as a wild-card. 

Lorenzo’s father is a marble producer. His mother is a secretary. The only coach in his career is Simone Tartarini. Lorenzo considers him as his second father. 

Carlos Alcaraz (world number 140) born in 2003

Spanish rising star Carlos Alcaraz grabbed the headlines last February before his 17-year-old birthday, when he beat Albert Ramos Vinolas 7-6 (7-2) 4-6 7-6 (7-2) after 3 hours and 37 minutes in the ATP 500 tournament in Rio de Janeiro in his debut on the ATP Tour at 3.00 local time. 

Alcaraz went on to become the youngest player to win ATP Challenger Tour trophies in consecutive weeks and the second youngest player to claim three titles in Challenger history. Only Richard Gasquet was younger, when he won his third title in Naples in 2003. 

Alcaraz beat Musetti in the semifinal of the ATP Challenger in Trieste en route to winning his first Challenger title. The Spanish player coached by former world number 1 Juan Carlos Ferrero won two back-to back titles in Barcelona (beating Damir Dzumhur in the final) and Alicante. 

Alcaraz has ended the season with a record of 39 wins to just 7 defeats. 

Hugo Gaston (world number 161) born in 2000

Hugo Gaston entered the French Open without a tour-level win and a semifinal at ATP Tour Challenger in Bergamo as his best result. The 20-year-old Frenchman beat Yoshihito Nishioka to reach the third round in the Paris Grand Slam tournament. Gaston entertained the few French fans with his drop-shot in his five-set win over 2015 Roland Garros champion Stan Wawrinka to reach the fourth round for the first first time in his career. The player from Toulouse became the lowest-ranked player to reach the fourth round at the French Open since world number 283 Arnaud Di Pasquale in 2002 and the first Frenchman to reach the fourth round in Roland Garros debut since Patrice Dominguez in 1971. 

Gaston lost against US Open champion and two-time Roland Garros finalist Dominic Thiem in five sets. 

Gaston made his Grand Slam main draw at the Australian Open as a wild card losing to Jaume Munar in the first round. 

Brandon Nakashima (world number 166) born in 2001

Nakashima received a wild-card to his first ATP main draw tournament in Delray Beach. The young US player beat Jiri Vesely and Cameron Norrie to become the youngest quarter finalist since Kei Nishikori won this tournament at the age of 18 in 2008. 

Nakashima won his first Grand Slam match against Italy’s Paolo Lorenzi at the US Open and claimed his maiden ATP Challenger title in Orlando. He advanced to the ATP Challenger semifinal at Indian Wells.  

Nakashima is coached by 1987 Wimbledon champion Pat Cash. Brandon’s mother grew up in Vietnam. His father is of Japanese ancestry and was born in California. 

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