Pierre Hugues Herbert and Nicolas Mahut lead the French team in Davis Cup by Rakuten Finals in Innsbruck - UBITENNIS
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Pierre Hugues Herbert and Nicolas Mahut lead the French team in Davis Cup by Rakuten Finals in Innsbruck

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France has been one of the most successful teams in Davis Cup history with 10 titles. With their triumph over Belgium in Lille in 2017 in front of their home fans,

 

France has moved level with Great Britain in third place on the all-time roll of honour of Davis Cup champions behind Australia and the USA. 

The French team has been drawn against Great Britain and Czech Republic in Group C of this year’s Davis Cup by Rakuten Finals at the Olympia Halle in Innsbruck. French captain Sebastian Grosjean nominated this year’s ATP Finals doubles champions Pierre Hugues Herbert and Nicolas Mahut, veteran Richard Gasquet, rising star Ugo Humbert and Arthur Rinderknech. 

Herbert and Mahut cowned a very successful 2021 season with their second ATP Finals triumph in the doubles tournament at the Pala Alpitour in Turin over Rajeev Ram and Joe Salisbury last weekend. The French doubles stars also won their fifth Grand Slam Trophy at Roland Garros on home soil last June. 

“It is difficult to say what makes us successful. It is a lot of things and sometimes you cannot really explain these things, but when we are on court together, we feel we are one team. It has been so long that we have played together now. It is hard to play to a good level with someone, and it is even tougher to play to a good level for a long time”, said Herbert. 

Mahut and Herbert became the eighth doubles team to complete career Grand Slam, winning titles at 2015 US Open, 2016 Wimbledon, 2018 Roland Garros, 2019 Australian Open and 2021 Roland Garros. They did not dop a set en route to 2019 Nitto ATP Finals doubles title. They boast a 19-8 team record in tour-level doubles finals, including a 7-2 win-loss record at Masters 1000 level with seven different titles (Indian Wells, Miami and Monte-Carlo in 2016, Rome, Montreal and Cincinnati in 2017 and Paris Bercy 2019. Herbert, a former 36th ranked singles player, beat number 5 Stefanos Tsitsipas for the biggest win of his career en route to his fourth ATP Tour singles final in Marseille 2021. 

“We are coming here with a lot of confidence. It is a team event. The team is counting on us to bring the point for France. I am really excited to play on Thursday against Czech Republic. We are playing for France, so there is big motivation there. If you want to talk about Davis Cup memories, I have a lot. This is a new format. We want to do well for our country and make new memories in the next few years. Doubles matches have always been an important part of Davis Cup. Every points count. We hope the team won’t need us, but of course we are ready and will be giving our best for France”, said Mahut. 

Herbert was part of the team which won the Davis Cup beating Belgium at Pierre Mauroy in Lille in 2017. He teamed up with Richard Gasquet to beat Ruben Bemelmans and Joris De Loore in the doubles match. 

“They are amazing memories. It was a final on home soil in Lille against Belgium. It was just incredible. There were 15000-20000 fans in the stands and there was a lot of emotion. After winning, following a long wait, it was incredible”, said Herbert.  

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Roberto Bautista Agut beats Felix Auger Aliassime to reach the second round at the Astana Open

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Roberto Bautista Agut upset eight-seed Felix Auger Aliassime 6-4 7-6 (8-6) after 1 hour and 55 minutes to reach the second round at the Astana Open in Nur Sultan. 

 

Bautista Agut earned his first break in the fifth game to take a 3-2 lead and held his next service games to seal the first set 6-4. 

Auger Aliassime went up a break in the fourth game to take a 3-1 lead. Bautista Agut pulled one break back in the fifth game and held on his serve to draw lo draw level to 3-3. Bautista Agut went up a mini-break twice in the tie-break, but Auger Aliassime pulled back on serve both times to draw level to 4-4. Bautista Agut sealed the win on his second match point. 

“It is my first time here. I played great in these conditions. I am very happy to win against a top 10 player. It’s not easy to beat Felix, especially on hard courts. That means I had to playa very good match. I was very solid and and very aggressive. I am very happy”, said Bautista Agut. 

Hubert Hurkacz edged past Francisco Cerundolo 6-2 7-6 (7-2) after 82 minutes in the first round of the Astana Open. 

Hurkacz broke twice in the third and seventh games to win the first set 6-2. The Polish player fired 11 aces and saved the one break point he faced in the second set. Both players went on serve en route to the tie-break. Hurkacz earned three mini-breaks to win the tie-break 7-2. 

The 2021 Miami Open champion set up a second round match against either Alexander Bublik or Tallon Griekspoor.

Hurkacz is currenly ranked ninth in the ATP Race to Turin, just 20 points behind Alexander Zverev, who has been sidelined by an injury. 

Andrey Rublev advanced to the second round with a 6-4 6-3 win over Laslo Djere in 71 minutes. Rublev saved all three break points and broke in the 10th game of the first set and in the 2nd game in the second set. 

Rublev set up a second round match against Chinese qualifier Zhizhen Zhang, who came back from one set down to beat Aslan Karatsev 4-6 6-4 6-1. 

Adrian Mannarino rallied from one set down to beat Stan Wawrinka 1-6 6-2 6-3 to extend his lead to 2-0 in his two head-to-head matches against his Swiss rival. Botic van de Zandschulp eased past Beibit Zhukzhiev 6-1 6-1. 

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Barbora Krejcikova wins her first title of the season in Tallin

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Barbora Krejcikova clinched the fourth title of her career and her first this season with a 6-2 6-3 win over local favourite Anett Kontaveit after 1 hour and 21 minutes in the first edition of the Tallin Open. 

 

Krejcikova won two Grand Slam titles in the doubles and singles at Roland Garros and two more WTA titles in Strasbourg and Prague. The Czech reached just one singles final in 2022 last January, when she lost to Paula Badosa in Sydney. 

Krejcikova collected her sixth career win over a top 10 player. She stopped Kontaveit’s 24-match winning streak on indoor cross court. 

Krejcikova broke serve in the sixth game to take a 4-2 lead. The multiple Grand Slam doubles champion earned her second break point  with a drop shot winner in the eighth game to close out the first set 6-3. 

Kontaveit earned an early break in the first game of the second set. Krejcikova broke straight back on her third opportunity at deuce in the second game. Krejcikova converted her third break point in the fourth game to take a 3-1 lead. Kontaveit pulled back on serve in the fifth game to draw level to 3-3. Krejcikova hit a forehand winner down the line in the eighth game to take a 5-3 lead and sealed the title after a wide forehand from Kontaveit on the first championship point. 

Krejicikova and her compatriot Katerina Siniakova won three doubles women’s titles at the Australian Open, Wimbledon and the US Open. Last year they won Madrid, Roland Garros, the Olympic Games and the WTA Finals. 

“Every trophy is special, especially in singles right now, where this year was really tough, so it means a lot. It was a really amazing week, a special week”, said Krejicikova. 

“I am really proud how I was able to bring my best performance for the final. I was expecting that Anett is going to play fast and she would try to put me under pressure from the first point. I was ju trying to play my game, and just trying to eliminate that. I just really wanted to go out there and play my best tennis and try to enjoy the final, because it took me a lot of fight and energy to get there”, said Krejcikova. 

Kontaveit was aiming to win her second title this season following her triumph in St. Petersburg over Maria Sakkari last February. The Estonian player reached two more finals in 2022 at the WTA 1000 in Doha and in Hamburg, but she finished runner-up in both tournaments. 

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Marc Andrea Huesler earns the first title of his career in Sofia

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Marc Andrea Huesler edged past Holger Rune 6-4 7-6 (10-8) after 1 hour and 42 minutes to earn the maiden title of his career at the Sofia Open in his first career final on the ATP tour.

 

Huesler broke Rune in the first game before holding in all five of his service games. Both players continued to dominate on their serve in the second set. He wasted two set points, when he was leading 6-5. Huesler held serve to take the second set to a tie-break. Rune failed to convert two more set points in the tie-break. Huesler earned two mini-breaks to seal the tie-break 10-8. 

Earlier this week Huesler beat Geoffrey Blancaneaux, Kamil Majchrzak and Lorenzo Musetti. He saved two match points against Majchrzak in the quarter finals. 

Huesler has become the first Swiss player to win an ATP Tour  since Roger Federer in Basel in 2019. 

“I played a great match for sure. I am completely taken aback. I am lost for words. It was a great match. I just tried to stay focused, stayed calm and I am just really happy I was able to make it. I would definitely say the conditions here suit me. I already felt that two years ago here suit me. I already felt that two years ago, when I played a good level of tennis,, beating Nikoloz Basilashvili before losing to Jannik Sinner. I am feeling good here .My game is based on my serve a lot and I think that indoor here, I am really happy to put a lot of pressure on the opponent that way, and the way I was volleying this week, I surprised myself as well”, said Huesler. 

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