Luca Van Assche edges past Abdullah Shelbayh at the Next Gen ATP Finals in Jeddah - UBITENNIS
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Luca Van Assche edges past Abdullah Shelbayh at the Next Gen ATP Finals in Jeddah

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Luca Van Assche beat Abdullah Shelbayh 4-3 (7-5) 3-4 (5-7) 4-1 4-1 to move to 1-0 in Red Group at the Next Gen ATP Finals in Jeddah. 

Shelbayh thrilled the crowd with net approaches and drop shots but he converted just 2 of his 17 break points. 

Both players were making their first appearance at the Next Gen Finals. 

Shelbayh hit 28 winners to Van Assche’s 17. Van Assche made only 19 unforced errors to Shelbayh’s 34. 

Van Assche earned an early break in the first game and saved three break points to hold serve on the deciding point in the second game to take a 2-0 lead. Shelbayh broke back at love in the fourth game to draw level to 2-2. Van Assche came back from 2-4 down to win the tie-break 7-5.

The second set went on serve en route to the tie-break. Van Assche saved four break points in the third game to hold serve on the deciding point. Shelbayh earned four set points at 6-2. Van Assche saved the first three set points to claw his way back to 5-6, but Shelbayh earned his fourth mini-break with a drop-shot to seal the tie-break 7-5. 

Van Assche broke twice in the first and fifth games to win the third set 4-1. Shelbayh converted his third break point in the first game of the fourth set to take a 1-0 lead, but Van Assche won four consecutive games with two breaks of serve. 

Van Assche won seven of the ten deciding points of the match. 

“It was a tough match today against a tough opponent. I know Abdullah very well. He is an amazing player. He was almost at home with the crowd cheering for him. It was a good match for me and really tough from the beginning to the end. It is very difficult not to have a warm-up. I just hit a couple of balls before I entered the court”, said Van Assche. 

Shelbayh received a strong support of the crowd from neighbouring Jordan.

Medjedovic beats Michelsen in five sets 

Hamad Medjedovic beat Alex Michelsen 4-2 4-3 (7-3) 3-4 (3-7) 3-4 (5-7) 4-3 (7-4) in Jeddah in the longest match in the history of the Next Gen ATP Finals.  

Medjedovic won 17 points more than Michelsen and saved nine of the eleven break points he faced. 

Medjedovic broke Michelsen with a deep return in the third game of the first set. Medjedovic consolidated the break with a hold in the fourth game and served for the first set at 3-2. The Serbian player fired four winners in the sixth game to close out the first set 4-2 in 18 minutes. 

Michelsen faced three break points at the start of the second set. The US player saved them and won the deciding point at 1-1. Medjedovic converted the third break point and served for the set at 3-2. The Serbian player faced faced a break point and saved it with a volley. Michelsen won a decisive point with a backhand crosscourt winner to draw level to 3-3 setting up a tie-break, which started with five mini-breaks in the opening six points. Medjedovic earned three mini-breaks and fired a serve at 5-3 to seal the tie-break 4-3 moving two sets to love after 52 minutes. 

Both players saved a break point in the third set and held their serve setting up another tie-break. Michelesen hit a service winner at 6-3 to close out the third set. 

The fourth set also went on serve en route to the tie-break. Michelsen clinched a mini-break at 3-3 and earned three set points with two serves. Medjedovic fended off the first two set points before Michelsen converted his third chance when Medjedovic made a backhand error forcing the match to the decider after 1 hour and 56 minutes. 

Medjedovic held three service games and forced a deciding point on return in the fourth game. Michelsen won the “killer point” with a service winner. The fifth set was decided by a tie-break. Both players traded four mini-breaks. Michelsen went up a 4-3 lead in the tie-break, but Medjedovic won two consecutive points to take a 5-4 lead. The Serbian player hit a forehand to take a 6-4 and sealed the win on his first match point with a deep return.  

Medjedovic fired 47 winners, including 14 aces.

Medjedovic arrived in Jeddah at 1 a.m.  on Monday after being part of the Serbian team in the Davis Cup semifinal. 

“It’s a very special feeling to win my first match at this tournament. When he levelled at two sets all I felt he had the momentum after I didn’t use the chances that I had. I was lucky that I played the last match today. I watched these guys and saw how they were doing, and I was ok with the rules”, said Medjedovic. 

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Ugo Humbert saves three match points to beat Hubert Hurkacz in Dubai

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Fifth-seed Ugo Humbert came back from one set down to beat Hubert Hurkacz 3-6 7-6 (10-8) 6-3. Humbert had beaten Hurkacz en route to his title in Marseille. 

Hurkacz converted his third break point in the fourth game to win the first set 6-3. Humbert saved three match points in the tie-break of the second set before converting his first set point to force the match to the decider. Humbert broke twice to seal the third set 6-3. 

“It was a great battle. I tried to battle for every point. In the tie-break I saved three match points, tried to do my best and thanks to those French fans for the amazing support”, said Humbert. 

Humbert set up a semifinal match against Danil Medvedev, who beats Alejandro Davidovich Fokina 6-2 6-3. Humbert leads 2-1 in their head-to-head matches, but Medvedev won their most recent match in three sets at the China Open in their most recent head-to-head match in Beijing last year.

“It’s going to be a great challenge against Danil tomorrow. We had a few great fights. Hopefully I will recover well to be ready for this match”, said Humbert. 

Aleksander Bublik was leading Jiri Lehecka 6-4 4-1 when the Czech player was forced to retire due to an injury. Bublik set up a match against Andrey Rublev, who was leading Sebastian Korda 6-4 4-3  when the Czech player withdrew due to injury. 

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Brazilian Rising Star Joao Fonseca Waives College Eligibility To Turn Pro

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Image via https://twitter.com/RioOpenOficial/

One of Brazil’s most promising young tennis players has made the bold decision to abandon a dream of his to play college tennis in America to turn pro. 

17-year-old Jaoao Fonseca was committed to playing college tennis at the University of Virginia but says professional tennis has called him in a way he couldn’t refuse. The rising star has played just two Tour-level events so far in his career and is currently ranked 343rd in the world. 

At last week’s Rio Open, he became the second-youngest player after Alexander Zverev to reach the quarter-finals of an ATP 500 event since the category was introduced. In his home tournament, the Brazillian beat Arthur Fils and Cristian Garin before losing to Mariano Navone.

“It was an incredibly tough decision for me and my family as I have been dreaming about living a college life in Charlottesville, playing the sport that l love with a wonderful team and coach, but, in the last months, professional tennis called me in a way that I simply couldn’t say no,” Fonseca wrote in a statement published on Instagram
“Although I will not be attending school, I think it is an extremely valuable and viable path for young players in their way to professional careers,” he added.

Fonseca has already enjoyed success on the junior circuit. Last year he was runner-up in the doubles tournament at the Australian Open boy’s event. Then at the US Open, he won his first Grand Slam junior title in singles. He is also a former ITF Junior World No.1 and is currently ranked second in the standings. 

The youngster has already been hailed by compatriot Beatriz Haddad Maia, who is currently ranked 13th on the WTA Tour. Speaking to reporters at the San Diego Open, she has offered her support to Fonseca if he needs it. 

“João is a nice person. He has a great future, if he keeps working hard and keeps doing what he’s doing. I think he has a very aggressive mentality and tennis.” She said.

“We sometimes text each other, but not that much. But I’m always following.. not only him.. but the Brazilians. I’m proud of what he’s doing. He has a long way and he needs to understand that it’s a marathon, it’s not a 100 meter race.’
“Tennis has its ups and downs. I wish him all the best, for sure. I’ll be here whenever he wants. I’m happy with what he’s doing.” 

Fonseca played at the Chile Open this week but lost in the first round to Thiago Agustin Tirante.

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Emma Raducanu Among Trio of Grand Slam Winners Handed Miami Open Wild Cards

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Emma Raducanu - Cincinnati 2022 (foto Twitter @cincytennis)

Emma Raducanu has avoided the possibility of having to go through qualifying at the Miami Open after being awarded a wild card for the event on Thursday. 

The 2021 US Open champion is among four players to have received passes into the main draw of the prestigious event, which is classed as a WTA 1000 for the women and as a Masters 1000 for the men. It will be the third straight year that Raducanu has played in Miami but she is yet to win a match there. In 2022 she lost her opening match to Katerina Siniakova before getting beaten by Bianca Andreescu 12 months later. 

Raducanu has won two out of five Tour-level matches played so far this year. Recently her agent, Max Eisenbud, hit back at those who have criticised the tennis star’s results since winning the US Open. Raducanu also missed a chunk of last season due to injury after undergoing wrist and ankle surgery. 

“The girl did everything backward. She skipped every step. She won the US Open, she went to the next tournament, she didn’t even know where the player lounge was, she didn’t know where the practice courts were,” Eisenbud told the Served With Andy Roddick podcast.
“I don’t think just being tough on her or critical on her like any other player [is wrong]. But she is still figuring it out. I just think that people should not be malicious.”

Other players to have received wild cards into Miami include Venus Williams, who is a three-time champion at the event but hasn’t won the title since 2001. The 43-year-old hasn’t played on the Tour since August and is currently ranked outside the world’s top 400. 

Carolina Wozniacki completes the line-up of former Grand Slam winners being given wild cards. The Dane was a Miami finalist back in 2017 and has made 12 appearances at the tournament. Earlier this week, she suffered a 1-6, 6-4, 6-1, loss to Anna Blinkova in the first round of the San Diego Open. 

As for the men’s tournament, the only confirmed wild card recipient is Kei Nishikori who will be making his first competitive start since July 2023. Recently the injury-stricken Japanese player added Thomas Johansson to his team. 

The Miami Open will get underway on March 17th.

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