Andy Murray suffered a surprising defeat in the final of this week’s tournament in Biella. Playing his second Challenger event in 16 years (the other one occurred in Mallorca in 2019 when, limping on a battered hip, he lost against Matteo Viola in the eighth of finals). Before today’s runner-up finish, he had played twice against his opponent, Illya Marchenko from Ukraine (N.212 in the ATP Rankings), both times at the Australian Open, in 2011 and 2017 respectively, winning both times.
But it was the Ukrainian who got off to a flying start, while the Scotsman looked a bit cumbersome and immediately lost his serve, giving a nice boost of confidence to his opponent, who broke his serve once more in the fifth game, taking a 4-1 lead. Murray couldn’t control his changes of pace, while Marchenko was pretty much spotless. The 6-2 score in his favour was the logical consequence, as confirmed by the numbers, which saw him win 83% of points on his first serve (against a meagre 53% for Murray), with no break points allowed.
In the first game of the second set, Marchenko immediately leapt ahead, breaking the Brit’s serve and even earning a chance for a 3-0 lead. Murray managed to stay close and started to play in a more conservative way, with great humility, in an attempt to reduce the number of unforced errors. Murray saved a match point at 3-5 with his second serve, exploiting Marchenko’s clumsiness with the backhand, but couldn’t do the same on the return, conceding defeat at the third match point. must defend with the second. Luckily for him, Marchenko is a bit clumsy in his preparation steps and puts up a not particularly difficult backhand. The former world number one will try to exact revenge in the same location starting tomorrow, as a Challenger 125 will take place once more in Biella, with players like Lorenzo Musetti (the seventh seed), Alejandro Davidovich Fokina (ATP N.54) and Sebastian Korda (N.88).
Report by Massimo Gaiba; edited by Tommaso Villa
ATP announces five-week ATP Challenger calendar for 2021
The ATP has issued a five-week schedule for the start of the 2021 ATP Challenger Tour, which is scheduled to launch on 18th January with a 125-event in Istanbul. The Turkish city celebrates its 31st consecutive year on the Challenger Tour.
Turkey will host three consecutive tournaments at the start of the season. Istanbul will host a hard court tournament from 18th January. The tour will move to the seaside town of Antalya, the venue of two clay tournaments on 25th January 2021 and 1st February 2021.
The week of 25 Januray will be the first of back-to-back Challenger events in Antalya and an indoor hard-court tournament in the French town of Quimper.
France will host two more indoor tournaments, the 125-level tournament in Orleans (1 February) and the 28th edition of Cherbourg (8 February).
Cherbourg will be held in the same week as hard-court tournaments in Biella in Italy and Potchefstroom in South Africa. Biella will also host a 125-level tournament in the following week on 15 February. Potchefstroom will host a second consecutive tournament on 15 February. Challenger-level tournaments will feature 32 singles players and qualifying draws with 16 players.
Stefanos Tsitsipas cruises past Kevin Anderson to reach the third round at the Western and Southern Open in New York
Last year’s ATP Finals champion Stefanos Tsitsipas cruised past two-time Grand Slam finalist Kevin Anderson 6-1 6-3 after 69 minutes to advance to the third round at the Western and Southern Open in New York.
Tsitsipas came into his match against Anderson with a a 2-1 lead in their three previous head-to-head matches in 2018. The young Greek player beat his South African rival in the Round of 16 in Estoril (6-7 6-3 6-3) and in the Rogers Cup semifinal (6-7 6-4 7-6 after saving a match point). Anderson scored his only win in the Round of 16 in Shanghai (6-4 7-6).
“I think the fact that I kept my serve very aggressive and I remained aggressive with my groundstrokes helped a lot and I am pleased that I was able to maintain my game throughout the entire match, the same intensity. It was an excellent first set. It was great”, said Tsitsipas.
Tsitsipas broke four times and fended off three break points he faced. Tsitsipas broke three times in a row to win the first set 6-1. At 2-2 in the second set Tsitsipas went down 0-40 on his serve. Anderson hit a forehand return, but Tsitsipas recovered with a passing shot. Tsitsipas saved three break points to hold his serve at love in the fifth game and broke serve at 15 in the eighth game after Anderson made a double fault.
“The fifth game was crucial. Being able to come back there and maintain the focus that I focus that I needed to be back in the match and not be a break down, that was a very good effort from me. It was my fighting spirit that turned on and my service points there were incredible”, said Tsitsipas. Tsitsipas will face either John Isner or John Millman in the third round.
2020 US Open: ATP Players Presented With Three Options, Decision Time Approaches
The USTA explained their working hypotheses: Cincinnati would come at the expense of the qualifying tournament. All players to be hosted in a hotel at JFK airport
No ground-breaking news were revealed on Wednesday during the conference call organized by the ATP for all its players. Almost 400 members participated to the call, where CEO Andrea Gaudenzi and Chairman Massimo Calvelli presented the various options on the table for the US Open and the Cincinnati Masters 1000.
The newly appointed US Open Tournament Director, Stacey Allaster, was invited to present the three options available:
- The US Open and the Masters 1000 to be played at Flushing Meadows, but this would require the cancellation of the qualifying tournament and the downsizing of the doubles draw to 24 couples;
- The cancellation of Cincinnati with the US Open maintaining the qualifying draw and a full-size doubles event;
- The cancellation of both Cincinnati and the US Open.
The US Open prize money will be maintained at 95% of 2019 levels, which still means an increase over 2018; the cancellation of Cincinnati would result in a 2 million dollar saving for the USTA, and the money would likely be distributed among the players who were not allowed to compete in the qualifying tournament.
All players and allowed entourage will be hosted at the TWA Hotel, located near Terminal 5 at JFK Airport. The hotel, opened in May 2019, has been build repurposing the iconic Eero Saarinen building that was Trans World Airlines’ terminal between 1962 and 2001. All 512 rooms will be occupied by players and staff of the US Open, and the property claims to be the hotel with the biggest gym in the world.
The distance between the hotel and Flushing Meadows would be comparable to the distance from the traditional Manhattan hotels, but obviously the ambiance would be significantly different, since players would most likely be “prisoners” of the TWA hotels during their days off and outside their practice sessions.
It has been revealed that each player would be able to designate up to two members of his staff to accompany him, provided these two members share a room at the TWA hotel and only one of them travels with the player to Flushing Meadows.
Players would now need to evaluate the options and communicate their preference to the USTA. ATP President Gaudenzi confirmed during the call that players unwilling to travel to New York would not be penalized ranking-wise should the tournament go ahead.
A final decision is expected by 15 June.
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