Wesley Koolhof and Nikola Mektic win their first doubles title as a team at the ATP Finals - UBITENNIS
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Wesley Koolhof and Nikola Mektic win their first doubles title as a team at the ATP Finals

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Fifth seeds Wesley Koolhof and Nikola Mektic crowned their first season as a team on the ATP Tour with their maiden title, as they beat Jurgen Melzer and Edouard Roger Vasselin 6-2 4-6 10-5 after 76 minutes in the the Nitto ATP Finals in London. 

 

Koolhof and Mektic made their debut as a team last January in Adelaide and lost their first two finals at the Open 13 in Marseille and at the US Open before reaching the semifinal at Roland Garros. 

Mektic earned the first break of the match with a forehand return winner down the line. The Croatian player hit low returns at 3-1 to get a double break at 3-1. Koolhof and Mektic closed out the opening set with a love service hold. 

Melzer and Roger Vasselin got the first break of the second set. They held three service games to clinch the second set 6-4 forcing the final to the Match Tie-Break. 

Both teams were tied at 5-5 in the Match Tie-Break before Koolhof and Mektic reeled off five consecutive points to seal the title on the first championship point, as Melzer made a double fault. 

“It’s an unbelievable feeling. It’s not just the way to finish this year. This is something to remember throughout the whole life. This is for sure the biggest achievement of my life and of my career. It’s a great way to finish the year and there are a lot of reasons to celebrate now. It’s our first title together. Not bad for a first one. It’s been a great tournament for us”, said Mektic. 

Koolhof becomes the fourth Dutch player to win the Nitto ATP Finals title following in the footsteps of two-time champions Jacco Eltingh and Paul Haaruis in 1993 and 1995 and Jean Julien Rojer in 2015. Mektic is the first Croatian player to win the ATP Finals doubles title. 

“Paul and Jacco were one of the best, maybe the best doubles team, before the Bryans started playing. I think they achieved so many things and it is always nice when you walk to Centre Court here to see their names on the wall two times and even Jules Rojer is up there. He was always the one, especially in my era, that I looked up against to try to beat him. He was always the number 1 in Holland. It means a lot that I am alongside those three big names in Holland and that I am the last one. It’s a dream come true to have qualified here for this event. We managed to play some very good tennis and made it through the group stage. We won yesterday, played a very good match yesterday. We played the final here today, which is always a dream. It’s very big to win the final of the Nitto ATP Finals and we are extremely happy to have won”, said Koolhof. 

Melzer tried to draw positives from this week despite the defeat in the final. Melzer and Roger Vasselin will not be playing together next season. 

“It was a hell of a ride. We have been fighting hard since Roland Garros. We played almost every week to get here and then coming to the Nitto ATP Finals is a great achievement. Of course it stings today. It hurts, but in the end we are going to look back at being runnes-up here. The Nitto ATP Finals is the pinnacle of our sport. Every player wants to be part of this event. I was lucky enough to make it three times and I will always look back and cherish this moment”, said Melzer. 

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Ugo Humbert saves three match points to beat Tallon Griekspoor in Montpellier

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Ugo Humbert came back from one set down to beat Tallon Griekspoor 6-7 (4-7) 7-6 (7-5) 7-6 (7-5) after 2 hours and 50 minutes at the Open Sud de France in Montpellier in his first match since he was not able to convert two match points against Nick Kyrgios at the Australian Open. Humbert saved three match points

 

The first set went on serve with no break points en route to the tie-break. Griekspoor earned two mini-breaks in the tie-break to open up a 6-2 lead. Humbert saved two set points, but Griekspoor converted his third chance to win the first set 7-4. 

Griekspoor earned a break in the sixth game of the second set and held serve at love to build up a 5-2 lead. The Dutch player wasted three match points, as he was serving at 5-3. Humbert broke back before winning the second-set tie-break 7-5 to force the match to the third set. 

Both players stayed neck and neck in the third set, which came down to the tie-break with no breaks of serve. Humbert claimed seven of the next ten points from 0-2 down to win the tie-break 7-5. 

“It was tough today. Griekspoor played a great level. I tried to stay combative. It was tough. We played three tie-breaks and I am super happy to win this match”, said Humbert. 

David Goffin rallied from one set down to beat Benjamin Bonzi 4-6 6-4 7-5. Goffin saved 14 of the 19 break points he faced and broke serve six times to set up a quarter final match against Lorenzo Sonego. The opening set started with three consecutive breaks. Goffin broke twice to take a 3-1 lead. Bonzi broke back in the sixth game to draw level to 3-3. Bonzi converted his fourth break point in the 10th game to seal the first set 6-4. 

Goffin went up a double break to race out to a 4-0 lead. Bonzi pulled one break back to claw his way back to 3-5 but Goffin served out the second set at love in the 10th game. Goffin converted his third break point to open up a 4-2 lead. Bonzi broke back at love in the eighth game to draw level to 4-4. Goffin got a late break in the 11th game to close out the match. 

“This is what I needed, a fight like this to finish with the win no matter what. I was fighting from the start until the end and I am happy that finally I won a good fight”, said Goffin.

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Former Tennis Star Reveals 2016 Retirement Was Linked To 18-Month Ban

The former world No.66 says she was suspended from the sport after engaging in a fight with another player following one of her matches.

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Ekaterina Bychkova (image via Wikicommons)

A top 100 player who stunned Svetlana Kuznetsova in the first round of the 2005 US Open when she was the defending champion has made a shock revelation about the reason why she retired from the sport.

 

Ekaterina Bychkova, who peaked at a ranking high of 66th in her career, was a familiar face on the women’s Tour that played in 15 Grand Slam main draws between 2005-2011. During her career, she won 10 ITF singles titles and five in the doubles. She hung up her racket in 2016 after playing one qualifying match in St Petersburg but the decision to retire wasn’t entirely her choice.

In a recent interview Bychkova revealed for the first time she was slammed with a 18-month suspension from the sport after engaging in a fight with another player. The incident took place following her match against Slovakia’s Kristina Kucova at an ITF $100,000 event in Nanjing, China.

“In the third set Kuchova began to suffer from convulsions (cramps). But according to the rules, you cannot call a doctor for convulsions and you cannot lie on the court for five minutes. However, she lay on the court for several minutes, then the supervisor came, who said that it was not a seizure, which means that a break was needed. He clearly sympathized with her,” she said during an interview with website Bookmaker Ratings.
“Kuchova returned to the match and immediately began to serve powerfully, kick the ball and move well. She was released psychologically, but on the contrary, I was shackled.”

A furious Bychkova ended up losing the first round match 7-5, 6-7(1), 3-6, to Kucova who is currently ranked 149th in the world. Although the incident between the two players didn’t take place on the court. It occurred later on that day when they crossed paths again.

“I was asked to take a walk for 20-30 minutes. Suddenly this beauty floats past me, cheerful. I broke down and started a fight,” she said.
“Two days later, the supervisor announced to me that our fight was on camera. It was a hostel on the court grounds, not an official hotel, and in fact the fight did not take place on the territory of the tournament.”

Reflecting on her actions, which was caught on CCTV, the Russian says they were in no way justifiable and she regrets how she reacted. Not only did she end up with a 18-month ban from the sport, she was also fined $3,150.

At the time Bychkova said she had the option to appeal the decision but opted not to do so because she didn’t want to go through the process of hiring lawyers and travelling to London for an ITF hearing. Claiming that the fight didn’t actually occur on the tournament site but at a hostel located on the surrounding grounds. She also said her decision to not to appeal was because she was ‘tired of tennis.’

Now at the age of 35 she has decided to give playing professional tennis another go. This week she played her first match in five years at an ITF event in Moscow where she lost in the first round to world No.611 Anastasia Tikhonova.

There has been no public comment from Kucova regarding Bychkova’s account of what happened in China.

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Aljaz Bedene rallies from one set down to beat Jannik Sinner in Montpellier

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Slovenia’s Aljaz Bedene came back from one set down to beat 2019 Next Gen ATP Finals champion Jannik Sinner 3-6 6-2 7-6 (7-5) to reach the second round at the Open Sud de France in Montpellier. Sinner was hindered by a back injury in the final stages of the match. 

 

Bedene entered the match with a 2-1 lead in his head-to-head matches against Sinner, but the Italian 19-year-old player won their most recent clash at the Great Ocean Road Open in Melbourne en route to the second title of his career.  

Sinner earned his only break in the fourth game to take a 3-1 and held his next service games to close out the opening set 6-3 with a forehand down the line. 

Sinner went down 0-40 in the fourth game of the second set on serve, but he saved three consecutive break points. Bedene converted his fourth break point at deuce, as Sinner made an error at the net. Sinner forced the next game to deuce, but Bedene held his serve to open up a 4-1 lead. Bedene closed out the second set 6-2 with his double break at 15.

Sinner saved a break point and held serve after two deuces in the second game. The Italian player wasted two break points in the third and fifth games. 

Sinner earned an erly mini-break, but Bedene got back on serve immediately. Bedene opened up a 4-2 lead with two more mini-breaks in the tie-break before Sinner received a medical time-out to a lower back injury. Bedene earned two more mini-breaks to close out the match after 2 hours and 39 minutes. 

Bedene becomes the first player outside the top 10 to defeat Sinner indoors in a year. Sinner entered the match on a 10-match indoor winning streak against players outside the top 10, which dated back to the quarter final defeat against Pablo Carreno Busta in Rotterdam. 

“In the first set Sinner was the better player. Afterwards, I became more aggressive and was making less mistakes. I think that decided it. On the important points I was there. I didn’t lose my focus”, said Bedene. 

Bedene set up a second round match against Egor Gerasimov, who beat Andy Murray 7-6 (10-8) 6-1on Tuesday evening. 

Alejandro Davidovich Fokina converted six of his fifteen break points to overcome Bernabe Zapata Miralles 7-6 (7-3) 5-7 6-2 setting up a second round match against Hubert Hurkacz. 

French qualifier Gregoire Barrere broke twice in each set and won 65 % of his second service points to defeat Nikoloz Basilashvili 6-4 6-4. 

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