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Ferrer Returns To Winners' Circle With Bastad Title

Mon, 24/07/2017 - 4:12am
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Victory never tasted so sweet for David Ferrer. Two years removed from his most recent ATP World Tour title, the Spaniard lifted a trophy once again, prevailing at the SkiStar Swedish Open on Sunday.

Elated and emotional, Ferrer raised his arms in triumph and held back tears as the 35 year old needed one hour and 26 minutes - and seven match points - to dismiss Alexandr Dolgopolov 6-4, 6-4. He fired three aces and saved four of five break points faced, turning in a vintage Ferrer performance predicated on great agility and depth off his forehand.

It was Ferrer's 27th ATP World Tour title, the most in the Open Era without winning a Grand Slam, and first since emerging victorious in Vienna in 2015. The former World No. 3, who has since fallen to No. 46 in the Emirates ATP Rankings, will enjoy a bump of 13 spots with the title. With Roger Federer, Feliciano Lopez and Victor Estrella Burgos also winning titles this year, it marked just the second time in the Open Era that at least four different players aged 35 & over have claimed ATP World Tour crowns in a single season.

Watch Final Highlights

"It's been two years that I haven't won a tournament, so I'm really happy for this win," said Ferrer. "I was a little nervous up 5-1 and Alexandr played without pressure. I tried to be focused on every point, but when I had all those match points I was thinking too much.

"I am going week by week, match by match and I still have the motivation. I know it will be very difficult to get back to the Top 10, but if I stay competitive like this week, I will play next year for sure. I still enjoy playing tennis, but it's different as I am 35 years old."

In addition, Ferrer joins Swedes Magnus Gustafsson (4), Mats Wilander (3) and Bjorn Borg (3) as the only players to win the Bastad title on three or more occasions in the Open Era. He previously defeated Nicolas Almagro for the 2007 crown and again downed his countryman for the 2012 title.

Most Bastad Titles (Open Era)

Titles Years Won
Magnus Gustafsson (SWE)
1991, '92, '96, '98
Mats Wilander (SWE)
3 1982, '83, '85
Bjorn Borg (SWE)
1974, '78, 79
David Ferrer (ESP)
2007, '12, '17

Ferrer was in cruise control on Centre Court on Sunday, breaking for a 5-4 lead on a Dolgopolov backhand error and streaking to a double break advantage in the second set. The eighth seed would earn a pair of match points on Dolgopolov's serve at 5-1, but the Ukrainian refused to go down without a fight, saving them both.


The tides began to turn as Ferrer was broken to love while serving for the match at 5-2 and another championship point would come and go in the next game. A majestic backhand slice drop shot winner from Dolgopolov saw him hold for 5-4 and the pressure soared. Three more match points were saved as Ferrer served for the title a second time, at 5-4, but he would eventually cross the finish line as a Dolgopolov forehand sailed long on his seventh championship point.

2017 Winners Aged 35 & Over

Age Tournaments Won
Roger Federer
Australian Open, Indian Wells, Miami, Halle, Wimbledon
David Ferrer
Feliciano Lopez
London/Queen's Club
Victor Estrella Burgos

Ferrer improved to 10-4 in their FedEx ATP Head2Head series, exacting revenge after Dolgopolov captured their most recent encounter in Rio de Janeiro in Feburary. It was their second final meeting, with the Spaniard taking a three-set affair in Valencia in 2012.

Ferrer takes home €85,945 in prize money and 250 Emirates ATP Rankings points, while Dolgopolov earns €45,265 and 150 Emirates ATP Rankings points. The Ukrainian was contesting his eighth ATP World Tour final, seeking his fourth title. He notched his third crown earlier this year in Buenos Aires (d. Nishikori).

"I want to congratulate David, he didn't give me many chances," said Dolgopolov. "Thanks to everyone here in Bastad for the warm welcome. It's my first time here and I reached the final, so hopefully I will be back."

Two-Time Newport Champion Ram To Focus On Doubles

Mon, 24/07/2017 - 3:14am

Little by little, Rajeev Ram could feel the end coming. Last year the 33 year old played both singles and doubles at tournaments, but in practices, he couldn't push himself as much as he would have liked. Little injuries popped up here and there, and he had so much success in doubles with Raven Klaasen, including a run to the 2016 Nitto ATP Finals title match, that Ram started playing singles less and less.

“I had a great year last year in singles even and in doubles. But I could just feel the wear and tear starting to take its toll,” said Ram, who reached the Delray Beach Open singles final and won two doubles titles last year.

Ram wants to continue lifting trophies with Klaasen, which is why he will solely focus on doubles and retire from singles competition. The two-time Dell Technologies Hall of Fame Open champion played his final singles match in Newport.

“You grow up trying to be a singles player as a first thought and that’s what I have devoted my whole career to, up until now. It’s a chapter that’s ending and I definitely feel very privileged to end it here,” Ram told ATPWorldTour.com in Newport. “I’ve actually played this tournament every year since I’ve been a pro, since 2004. I can’t say that about anywhere else. It’s special. I’ve had two singles titles here, [two] doubles titles, and a number of great wins, and to top it off with playing my last singles match.”

Read More: Late To Tennis, Klaasen/Ram Revel In Strong Debut Season

Ram, who partnered with Aisam-Ul-Haq Qureshi to win the Newport doubles title on Saturday, would have preferred a better ending to his singles career. He fell in the first round to Aussie qualifier Matthew Ebden, who plays for his first ATP World Tour title on Sunday against John Isner.

“I wasn’t doing well, but then I just stopped and thought about it for a minute. It still didn’t go my way, but really I just enjoyed the fact that I got to play on the Stadium Court again here, in front of these fans and so many familiar faces over the years. It’s just really special,” said Ram, who had shared his retirement plans ahead of time with tournament director Todd Martin, who granted him a wild card.

Yet the final loss, Ram should leave his singles pleased with what he accomplished. He has surpassed any expectations he had for his career when he was a child. Ram didn't even take tennis seriously until he was 15.

Yet the 6'4” right-hander went onto enjoy a successful collegiate and professional career. At the University of Illinois, he was part of the 2003 national championship team and also won the 2003 NCAA doubles title.

On the ATP World Tour, he reached a career high of No. 56 in the Emirates ATP Rankings and won two ATP World Tour titles – 2009 Newport and 2015 Newport.

“Rajeev has had a great career, especially in doubles, but he's also has a very good singles career. He's won two ATP titles, not many people can say that,” Isner told ATPWorldTour.com. “He's done a lot with his game and he's got a very long doubles career to look forward to.”


Ram was a lucky loser in 2009 before beating Sam Querrey of the U.S. In 2015, he outserved Croatian Ivo Karlovic.

“This venue is a little different than most,” Ram said. “It’s a low-bouncing grass court, which apparently was what it used to be like in the ‘70s, ‘80s, ‘90s, and I developed my game through that style; it’s how I felt the best and I felt the most comfortable playing.”

Casual tennis fans might look at Ram's age – 33 – and think about another 30-something – 35-year-old Roger Federer – and wonder if the American is leaving years on the court. But Ram has some breaking news for everyone: Federer is a unique breed.

“If we all were comparing ourselves to Roger, I think we'd all feel badly about what we did in life. He's a special case,” Ram said. “And it's not like I'm stopping completely. I feel like I have a lot of goals I want to achieve in the doubles game and a great partner at the moment. We've had a good couple years together, and I just feel like it's time to fully focus on that.”

Roddick Reflects On Newport Honour 2017

Mon, 24/07/2017 - 12:23am
We chat with Andy Roddick, newly inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame in Newport, on life after tennis and what he has done with all of his trophies. Photo: Ben Solomon

Ram Announces Retirement From Singles Newport 2017

Mon, 24/07/2017 - 12:23am
Rajeev Ram discusses moving on from singles to focus on his flourishing doubles career after playing his last singles match in Newport. Photo: Ben Solomon

Khachanov Ready For The Challenge Hamburg 2017

Sun, 23/07/2017 - 7:03pm
NextGen star Karen Khachanov says he plans on succeeding in Hamburg by focusing on his performance one match at a time. Watch live matches at tennistv.com.

Simon Talks Strategy Hamburg 2017

Sun, 23/07/2017 - 7:03pm
2011 champion Gilles Simon discusses the talent in Hamburg this year and how he plans on excelling at the German Tennis Championships. Watch live matches at tennistv.com.

Ramos Vinolas Looks To Continue Success Hamburg 2017

Sun, 23/07/2017 - 7:03pm
Top seed Albert Ramos Vinolas reflects on his successful 2017 season and and hopes to continue his success in Hamburg. Watch live matches at tennistv.com.

Qureshi/Ram Take Doubles Title In Newport

Sun, 23/07/2017 - 3:02pm

Playing together for the first time this week, Aisam-Ul-Haq Qureshi and Rajeev Ram notched the doubles title at the Dell Technologies Hall of Fame Open.

Qureshi and Ram defeated Aussie duo Matt Reid and John-Patrick Smith 6-4, 4-6, 10-7 on Saturday. The win came one day after rallying past third seeds Sam Groth and Leander Paes 11-9 in a Match Tie-break, saving eight match points.

It was the second doubles title in Newport for both players, with Qureshi prevailing in 2015 with Jonathan Marray and Ram in 2009 with Jordan Kerr. In total, Qureshi captured his 15th ATP World Tour doubles crown and fourth of the year (with four different partners). For Ram, it was title No. 13 and his third of the season.


"It's been a pleasure to play with Rajeev," said Qureshi. "It's been a great week. I love Newport and I love coming back here. He's won so many titles on grass so it was a perfect combination. Hopefully we can play in the future again. Winning a tournament when playing together for the first time is a great feeling."

The Pakistani-American tandem split $29,010 in prize money and 250 Emirates ATP Rankings points. Ram is now a two-time singles and two-time doubles champion in Newport. He defeated Sam Querrey for his maiden title in 2009 and emerged victorious again in 2015, defeating Ivo Karlovic in a deciding tie-break.

"They did good in the second set to come back, but we kept believing like we did yesterday when we came out of one that we maybe shouldn't have (saving eight match points)," said Ram. "That was a big factor."

Duran/Molteni Claim Umag Doubles Title

Sun, 23/07/2017 - 1:43pm

Guillermo Duran and Andres Molteni claimed their first team ATP World Tour doubles title at the Plava Laguna Croatia Open Umag on Saturday.

The third-seeded Argentines needed one hour and 36 minutes to dispatch Croatian wild cards Marin Draganja and Tomislav Draganja 6-3, 6-7(4), 10-6. They fired four aces, while converting four of nine break chances.

Duran and Molteni had an opportunity to close it out in the second set, but failed to convert on a pair of match points in the ninth game. They would drop the ensuing tie-break, but eventually emerged victorious in the deciding Match Tie-break.

"We are so happy to win this week," said Duran. "Thanks to Andres for playing with me. We were a little nervous in the final, but it's amazing to win this tournament."


The duo are the first all-Argentine team to win on the ATP World Tour since Molteni and Horacio Zeballos prevailed in Atlanta one year ago. The third seeds battled to the title, having taken a three-set encounter against top seeds and doubles legends Max Mirnyi and Daniel Nestor in Friday's semi-finals.

"It was a great week here with my partner," added Molteni. "We had a great time in Umag. We are very happy to win the tournament. I hope next year we can come back to defend it. It's a really good tournament and the organisation is really good. It was really nice to be here."

Duran improved to 3-0 in tour-level finals while Molteni moved to 3-1 in title matches. All of their titles have come with different partners, with Duran previously lifting the trophy in Quito last year with Pablo Carreno Busta and in Marrakech with Maximo Gonzalez. Molteni's first triumph also came last year, with Zeballos in Atlanta, before prevailing with Adil Shamasdin in Lyon two months ago.

Duran and Molteni split €26,110 in prize money, while also earning 250 Emirates ATP Doubles Rankings points.

The Draganja brothers, meanwhile, were appearing in their first team final. Marin fell to 4-5 in finals, while Tomislav was seeking his maiden crown.

Top Seed Isner To Face First-Time Finalist Ebden In Newport

Sun, 23/07/2017 - 12:33pm

Top seed John Isner will vie for his third title at the Dell Technologies Hall of Fame Open, setting a final clash against first-time ATP World Tour finalist Matthew Ebden on Sunday.

World No. 21 Isner booked his spot in his 23rd tour-level final and first of the year with a comprehensive 6-2, 6-4 victory over Bjorn Fratangelo. The big-hitting American's serve was on song throughout the 73-minute affair, firing 15 aces, while not facing a break point. He won 78 per cent of total service points.

"It went well and was a pretty good match," Isner, who has not dropped serve all week, told reporters. "I served well and started it off well. I was all over him from the get-go. I'm happy to get off the court in just over an hour. I was saying on the Tennis Channel set that now I know what it's like to be Djokovic and Murray and get off the court in an hour in all of my matches.

"I have great memories in Newport. Sometimes that helps when you know in the past that you've won a lot of matches here. I came into this tournament with a pretty good mindset."

Isner previously lifted the Newport trophy in back-to-back years in 2011-12, defeating Olivier Rochus and Lleyton Hewitt for his lone grass-court crowns. The American is bidding to capture his first piece of silverware on the ATP World Tour in nearly two years, when he prevailed in Atlanta in 2015.

Isner will face Ebden for the third time on Sunday. He leads their FedEx ATP Head2Head 2-0, having not dropped a set in prevailing at the BNP Paribas Open in 2012 and Wimbledon second round in 2015.


"I played [Ebden] at Wimbledon I think three years ago," Isner added. "He's won six matches here and is certainly match tough. He's playing the best tennis in a long time. Grass is his best surface. Tomorrow could be my toughest match and his toughest match as well. We'll be in for a good fight."

Ebden reached his first ATP World Tour final with a 6-3, 6-3 victory over Peter Gojowczyk. He claimed five of 11 break chances during the 63-minute encounter. The Aussie rallied after being broken to open the match, executing his gameplan to claim his first meeting with the German.

"This is pretty cool," said Ebden. "First time for this. I'm very happy. I've been building up my game the last six months. I love it here on the grass. I couldn't be happier. Not only winning, but getting all these matches. I've had some good results here in the last six or seven years. Being out for six months last year allowed me to appreciate being on tour and let me turn the corner mentally."

Ebden earned a rather straightforward semi-final victory after a quarter-final battle on Friday against another German - Tobias Kamke - where he rallied from a set down. Having won six matches in six days, he is the fourth qualifier to reach a final this year, joining Mischa Zverev (Geneva), Aljaz Bedene (Budapest) and Guido Pella (Munich).

The Aussie, who opened the 2017 season at No. 699 in the Emirates ATP Rankings, is on the comeback trail after a six-month absence last year following knee surgery. The 29 year old, who reached a career-high No. 61 in 2012, is playing arguably the best tennis of his career. Up to No. 249, he is the lowest-ranked player to reach an ATP World Tour final since 866th-ranked Raemon Sluiter in 's-Hertogenbosch 2009.

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 Watch Full Match Replays

From Wimbledon To Scheveningen: Bemelmans Breaking New Ground

Sun, 23/07/2017 - 10:02am

Transitioning between two surfaces in consecutive weeks is a difficult task, even for the most talented and most experienced of players. Ask anyone on tour and they will likely tell you that the summer swing from the European clay to grass and over to the North American hard courts is the toughest test of their abilities.

Ruben Bemelmans is making the transition look easy this week at The Hague Open, a €64,000 event on the ATP Challenger Tour. The 29-year-old Belgian is peaking at the right time, extending his dominant form from a third round finish at Wimbledon to the clay of Scheveningen, where he advanced to his third Challenger final of the year.

"For me, it's no problem," Bemelmans told ATPWorldTour.com at The Hague Open. "I've had a week and a half on clay, so I feel good. The transition is going well. I think for my game I don't have to adjust that much, just be a bit more patient sometimes.

"My ranking is back to the Top 100 but I'll still need to play Challengers and ATP World Tour events for the rest of the year. It'll be a mix, but my mindset is the same for every tournament. I just want to win."

Bemelmans has excelled on faster surfaces throughout his career, but is earning a new reputation in the Dutch beach town after reaching his 17th Challenger final and first on clay. In fact, entering the week he boasted a combined 126 match wins on hard and grass in his career and just 15 on clay.

Just two weeks ago, Bemelmans was surging on the grass of Wimbledon, notching his best result at the All England Club. He reached the third round as a qualifier, defeating former World No. 2 Tommy Haas and #NextGenATP star Daniil Medvedev along the way.

With the result, Bemelmans moved back into the Top 100 of the Emirates ATP Rankings for the first time in nearly two years. Now just a few spots off his career-high of No. 84 and with little points to defend through the US Open, he is poised to continue plotting his ascent.


"I've proven before that I have the game to go far in Grand Slams. I've made the third round at the US Open (in 2015) and have done well in ATP events. I just feel good at Wimbledon. It's my favourite surface and the Grand Slam where I've qualified the most. This year I've improved my game a lot and I've been very consistent. That's the key.

"At Wimbledon, I played my game, dominating the points and being in control. I think I have a clear view of how I want to play and that's been the big difference from the years before. Beating Tommy was something very special. I was very nervous before the match. Obviously he's a great player and can still play amazing tennis, beating Federer a few weeks ago.

"I handled it well and he said afterwards that I was playing really well and was putting a lot of pressure on him. Against Medvedev, it was the same. On grass, he's really good and won a lot of matches coming in. As you can see, if I'm in control, I can win some big matches."

Bemelmans will vie for his sixth ATP Challenger Tour title and second of the year on Sunday, facing Guillermo Garcia-Lopez in the Scheveningen final. He lifted the trophy on the indoor hard courts of Koblenz, Germany, in January. Garcia-Lopez, previously the champion in 2006, enters the final with a 12-1 tournament record. It will be their first FedEx ATP Head2Head encounter.

2006 champion @GuillermoGLopez will take on @rubenbemelmans in Sunday's final in 25th edition of The Hague Open in Scheveningen. pic.twitter.com/AEHtZC2zaH

— The Hague Open (@TheHagueOpen) July 22, 2017

Emotional Roddick Glad To Have Played With 'Big Four'

Sun, 23/07/2017 - 9:32am

They beat him in ATP World Tour finals and denied him his Grand Slam dreams. But Andy Roddick said on Saturday during his induction speech at the International Tennis Hall of Fame in Newport that he feels fortunate, not unlucky, to have played at the same time as all-time greats Andy Murray, Novak Djokovic, Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal.

“I can't believe the level of tennis that I got to see in my career. The shots hit, the records that were broken, and the records that continue to be broken. Thanks to Murray, Novak, Roger and Rafa for playing the game at a higher level than it's ever been played,” Roddick said.

Trying to win titles against the 'Big Four' had its downside, to be sure, he said. But the American views his career through this prism: He had the privilege of competing against some of the greatest players who have gripped a racquet.

“The 'Big Four' guys really pissed me off most of the time but I'm absolutely proud to have my life and career associated with such quality individuals,” Roddick said. “I got to guard Jordan, I went the distance with Ali, I pitched to Babe Ruth. I feel like I know what it must have been like to watch Picasso. I saw it all.”


He and the foursome also remain friendly. Federer was the first person to send Roddick a congratulatory text on Saturday. “He's just a great human,” Roddick said.

Sporting his new Hall of Fame blue blazer, Roddick, as he was throughout his career, was self-deprecating, witty and funny during his 27-minute speech that concluded the induction ceremony on Stadium Court at the Dell Technologies Hall of Fame Open. The big-hitter who thrived on quick surfaces joked about his clay-court skills, remembering how he felt destined after watching the 1989 Roland Garros final between Michael Chang and Ivan Lendl, the first match Roddick saw.

“That's when I knew I was going to win Roland Garros,” he said to a stadium full of laughter. “I actually wrote, 'Pause for laughter'.”

He also mocked his overall level while taking time to individually thank all of his coaches, including Brad Gilbert and Larry Stefanki, who both attended. “I've had a lot of coaches, that's what happens when you're not very talented,” said Roddick, who won 32 tour-level titles, including the 2003 US Open and five ATP World Tour Masters 1000 crowns.

But the model for consistency on the tour – Roddick finished in the year-end Top 10 nine consecutive years – was also serious and immensely appreciative in front of a supportive crowd. He fought back tears when talking about those who couldn't be with him today and about what the prestigious Hall of Fame honour means to him, his team, and his family and friends.

“We're all getting into the Hall of Fame,” Roddick told those close to him when he learned the news.

He remarked about his late agent, Ken Meyerson, and what he would say to his late father, Jerry Roddick, who passed away suddenly on 8 August 2014.

“It would have meant the world to me to know that he approved of the way my life turned out. I would have loved hearing it,” Roddick said. “It won't happen but I sit here knowing he would have been proud and satisfied. He wasn't an easy man to satisfy.”

Longtime fans of his made their emotions known as well. “We love you, Andy!” they shouted.

Doug Spreen, Roddick's longtime trainer, introduced the American, recounting his accomplishments and playing style.

“Andy played the game of tennis the way it should be played. He played with enthusiasm, pride, passion, and insatiable desire to win, and he played with great effort and with great heart. And, yes, there was that serve, Andy played with power,” Spreen said.

Roddick's booming delivery led him to much of his success, but, more than his 140 m.p.h. serve, the Nebraska native was inducted in the International Tennis Hall of Fame for his drive and his desire to squeeze everything about of his abilities. He fell short of some of his goals, but Roddick retired with no regrets; he had tried everything.

“I'm not the best of all-time. I'm not going to win Wimbledon. I'm not the best of my generation. I'm not the most well-behaved. I'm not the most polished,” Roddick said. “I'm also never going to take this honour for granted. I'm never going to forget those who paved the way for us... I may not be a lot of things, but from this day forward, I'll never be anything less than a Hall of Famer. I thank you from the deepest parts of my heart.”

Read More: Retirement Tribute: Roddick Passes The Baton

#NextGenATP Rublev Books First Final Spot Vs. Lorenzi

Sun, 23/07/2017 - 7:36am

#NextGenATP Russian Andrey Rublev showed great maturity in reaching his first ATP World Tour final on Saturday at the Plava Laguna Croatia Open Umag. He will now meet fourth seed Paolo Lorenzi.

World No. 74 Rublev knocked out wild card Ivan Dodig 7-6(4), 6-1 in one hour and 41 minutes to become the second teenager (after then 19-year-old Alexander Zverev at the Open Sud de France in February) to reach a tour-level final this year.

"I'm happy that I'm in my first final," Rublev said. "The key was staying strong mentally. I feel that both of us weren't feeling really well on the court and the conditions were tough. It was more mental."

The Moscow native is into the final as a Lucky Loser, having fallen to Hungary's Attila Balazs in straight sets on Monday. He is the first Lucky Loser to reach an ATP World Tour final since Marcel Granollers in Valencia 2010 (l. to Ferrer) and is bidding to become the first to win a title since Rajeev Ram in Newport 2009.

Rublev took a 5-3 lead in the first set, but could not convert a set point opportunity on Dodig’s serve at Ad-Out, when he led 5-4. The 19 year old was then broken in the next game, but regrouped to win the tie-break and broke a further two times – at 2-1 and 4-1 – in the second set.

The Russian teenager will face 35-year-old Italian veteran Lorenzi on Sunday after the Rome native defeated countryman Alessandro Giannessi 6-2, 4-6, 6-3. It will be their first FedEx ATP Head2Head encounter.

Lorenzi, who has a 1-2 record in ATP World Tour trophy matches, needed two hours and 36 minutes to defeat Giannessi. He squandered a 4-2 lead in the second set, as Giannessi reeled off six of seven games to force a decider, where he grabbed an early break. But Lorenzi would right the ship, breaking right back for 2-all, before eventually surging past the finish line with a service winner.

"I'm really happy to be in the final in Umag," said Lorenzi. "It was a really tough match because I know Alessandro really well and we're good friends. It was a battle, but I hope to recover and be ready for tomorrow."

World No. 34 Lorenzi will contest his first ATP World Tour final since February, when he fell to Victor Estrella Burgos in the Quito final. He is bidding to secure a second title, having prevailed on the clay of Kitzbühel exactly one year ago. The Italian is also looking to join Ryan Harrison and Yuichi Sugita as winners on both the ATP World Tour and ATP Challenger Tour this year. He lifted the trophy on home soil in Caltanissetta last month.

Lorenzi is looking to become the second straight Italian winner in Umag, following in the footsteps of reigning champion Fabio Fognini. Rublev, meanwhile, is hoping to join Nikolay Davydenko (2009) as Russian titlists in the Croatian beach resort town.

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Roddick, The Relentless Professional, Achieves Newport Lore

Sun, 23/07/2017 - 2:35am

As far as attributes go, Andy Roddick, who will be inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame in Newport on Saturday, has always been world-class. His all-time great serve, which helped him win 32 tour-level titles and finish in the year-end Top 10 nine straight years; his competitive personality, which endeared him to millions of fans; and his leadership – the American carried the U.S. flag for years, hauling the burden of sky-high expectations after the preceding generation of Pete Sampras, Andre Agassi, Michael Chang and Jim Courier.

But Roddick, more than anything else, was methodical. He was one of the hardest workers on the ATP World Tour, a relentless professional who did everything to max out his abilities.

“That's what's so honourable about the guy... You have to put in that extra mile, especially when you don't have a huge toolbox, meaning you're not really, really gifted,” said Larry Stefanki, who coached Roddick the last four-and-a-half years of his career. “I used to call him the 'Turbo Diesel' because he always put in that extra effort. All the way through the end, he gave it his all, and that's why when he walked away from the game, he walked with his head high and he had no regrets.”


Blessed with a thunderbolt serve, a world-class forehand, unmatched dedication and an inquisitive mind, the Nebraska native quickly transitioned to the ATP World Tour, winning five titles before his 20th birthday.

But before he'd capture any “Big Titles”, Roddick would partner with an established coaching great who would make changes on day one. In 2003, Brad Gilbert was fresh off his eight-year coaching relationship with Agassi. He started working with Roddick in June at The Queen's Club.

During his first practice with Gilbert, Roddick, as he was wont to do, showed up with gel in his hair and a backwards visor on his head. Gilbert drew the line: Both had to go. A 20-year-old Roddick looked at Gilbert, and capitulated.

“OK, I guess if it means that much to you,” Gilbert remembered Roddick saying.

They quickly clicked. Gilbert adapted to Roddick's high-energy personality on the court, “He took no time to warm up. The guy could come out and five minutes later be blasting serves”; as well as off the court, noticing how Roddick would speed-eat through meals.

The results followed: Roddick sprinted the North American hard-court swing, winning two ATP World Tour Masters 1000 titles – Canada and Cincinnati – and his maiden Grand Slam championship crown, the 2003 US Open.

“When he won Canada, it was like, damn, I don't think I was surprised anymore,” Gilbert exclusively told ATPWorldTour.com. “Obviously you never expect anything but you knew something big was happening. He had a lot of confidence and mojo working.”

The American reached World No. 1 two months after his Grand Slam triumph and stayed there through the turn of the calendar year, adding his name to one of the most exclusive lists in tennis. Only 17 men have finished year-end No. 1 in the Emirates ATP Rankings since 1973.

During the next three years, Roddick's prime continued, even after he and Gilbert split in December 2004. Roddick would win two more Masters 1000 titles – 2004 Miami and 2006 Cincinnati – and reach three more Grand Slam finals – two at Wimbledon (2005, 2009) and a US Open (2006), falling to Roger Federer in all three.

But as Federer and his friends Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal ignited the golden age of the sport, Roddick risked fading away. His power game wasn't standing up, and he knew it.

“It was less about power and shotmaking, like you saw in the '90s with Pete and Goran [Ivanisevic] and the tail end of that generation. All of a sudden it moved to, you had to be able to run, you had to be able to move. The incredible athleticism,” Roddick exclusively told ATPWorldTour.com in Newport.

He faced a dilemma: Simply hang around, win a title here and there but largely bask in his money and the Top 20; or go for it all again, change his game during the latter stage of his career and re-dedicate himself.

“You start getting, I'm not going to say complacent, but maybe a little lacking direction, and to keep up with the top cream of any sport you've got to make adjustments,” Stefanki said.

At the end of 2008, Roddick hired Stefanki and, for the first time in his career, dropped weight – 15 to 20 pounds. At 26, and eight years after he turned pro, the American transformed his play.

“He started working even harder. He did everything he possibly could in every facet,” Stefanki said. “He always said, 'Larry, I'm not going to limp out of this deal. I'm not going to coast through. I'm going to go every single time, whether I'm at a practice session or a match'.”

The work paid off. In July 2009, Roddick returned to a Grand Slam final for the first time in three years and battled Federer for four-and-a-half hours in one of the greatest title matches at SW19. Roddick fell 16-14 in the fifth set as shadows began to envelop Centre Court.

“The match against Roger is probably one I think about the most,” Roddick said. “We all want opportunities back, but to be able to execute a game plan close to perfection, as well as I could anyways, for the better part of four-and-a-half hours on the biggest stage is not easy to do, especially when there's an uphill battle in general skill and talent on the other side of the net. I'm proud of that match.”

The work kept paying off. A year later, Roddick would beat Nadal en route to his fifth and final Masters 1000 crown at Miami in March 2010. He wouldn't win Wimbledon or another Grand Slam, but Roddick had been courageous again, leaving no stone unturned in order to maintain his place as a contender on the biggest stages of the sport.

“I had gone from Nos. 2 to 4, 6 to 8 and it was trending the wrong direction, so to revamp everything, really commit... and have a look at the basket for Wimbledon, which was the ultimate goal, I'm proud of that,” Roddick said. “I think being able to look at yourself objectively when something might be going in another direction is not easy for an athlete. I was happy that I did it.”

Read More: In Newport, Roddick Talks Federer Dominance, What Happened To His Trophies

The joy was on display all Friday morning as Roddick toured the International Tennis Hall of Fame, with his wife, Brooklyn Decker, their son, Hank, and more than a dozen family members and friends. Roddick's life is much different now, but Hank and younger tennis fans won't have to rely on old stories about Roddick's former career.

They'll be able to come to Newport, see his name alongside the list of tennis greats and read about the talented player who used his serve, forehand and the will to work to arrive at the International Tennis Hall of Fame.

“It's just insane, and I don't know that that will ever make sense to me,” Roddick said of the honour. “I'm happy to sit here and spend my tennis forever with these legends in Newport.” 

Ferrer To Meet Dolgopolov For Båstad Crown

Sun, 23/07/2017 - 2:13am

David Ferrer recorded his 25th match win at the SkiStar Swedish Open on Saturday, where he hopes to claim his third title at the beach resort tournament against Alexandr Dolgopolov. It will be Ferrer’s first ATP World Tour final since October 2015 at the Erste Bank Open 500, one of five titles he won that year.

Former World No. 3 Ferrer, who ranks fifth in the active title-leaders list behind the ‘Big Four’ with 26 career crowns, takes a 9-4 FedEx ATP Head2Head record against Dolgopolov into the final. Dolgopolov did, however, win their last clash 6-4, 6-4 at the Rio Open presented by Claro in February.

Eighth seed Ferrer cruised into his fourth Båstad final – and his 52nd overall (26-25 record) – on his 10th tournament appearance, with a 6-1, 6-7(3), 6-4 victory over fellow Spaniard and sixth seed Fernando Verdasco, the 2013 and 2016 runner-up.

Ferrer lost 10 points in the opening set, which saw him sweep to a 4-0 lead in 13 minutes before Verdasco held to 30 for his first game. But it was a different matter in the second set with Verdasco winning eight of the first 10 points and, at one point, holding a 3-1 advantage. Ferrer fought back, breaking in the sixth game, but could not convert two match point at Ad-Out on Verdasco’s serve at 4-5.

Ferrer responded and while Verdasco recovered from 0/40 in the first game of the decider, which included five break points, the pressure mounted. Ferrer broke once to 30 in the third game and held on to complete victory in two hours and 10 minutes. The 35 year old is now 14-14 on the season.

Ferrer beat his compatriot Nicolas Almagro in the 2007 and 2012 finals. He also finished runner-up to Robin Soderling, who has attended the ATP World Tour 250 tournament this week as part of its 70th anniversary celebrations, in 2011.

Ukraine’s Dolgopolov will compete for his fourth ATP World Tour title on Sunday. Dolgopolov defeated Russia’s Andrey Kuznetsov, in their first tour-level meeting, 6-3, 6-2 over 64 minutes for a place in his eighth final (3-4 record). The World No. 89 captured the Argentina Open title in Buenos Aires (d. Nishikori) in February.

"We had a lot of tight games and he had a number of chances on my serve, but I kept it tight and ran away with it in the second set," said Dolgopolov.

The 28-year-old Dolgopolov got off to a perfect start by coming close to taking a 4-0 lead, but could not convert three break point opportunities in the fourth game. He broke twice in the second set at 2-2 and 4-2, before closing out on his third match point chance.

On Friday, Ferrer and Dolgopolov both saved two match points in their quarter-final victories over Henri Laaksonen and fifth seed and #NextGenATP Karen Khachanov, respectively.

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Knowle/Petzschner End Swedes Run
Julian Knowle and Philipp Petzschner knocked out Swedish brothers Elias Ymer and Mikael Ymer 6-4, 2-6, 10-3 in 75 minutes for a place in the final. Knowle and Petzschner won nine of 10 points from a 1-2 deficit in the Match tie-break.

Knowle, who sealed the 2007 trophy with Swede Simon Aspelin (d. Garcia-Prieto), will attempt to win his first ATP World Tour doubles crown since June 2014 at the Gerry Weber Open (w/Begemann). The 43-year-old Austrian has an 18-25 record in finals.

Petzschner will attempt to improve upon a 6-7 record in doubles finals. His last trophy came in October 2014 at the Erste Bank Open 500 in Vienna (d. Melzer).

They will meet Sander Arends and Matwe Middelkoop in Sunday’s championship match.

Community, Culture & Clay: The Hague Open Celebrates 25 Years

Sat, 22/07/2017 - 1:26pm
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On the ATP Challenger Tour, some of the most successful tournaments are those that integrate local community and culture into the fabric of the event's identity. The Hague Open has embraced this concept since the tournament was founded in 1993, evolving into one of the premier Challenger destinations for not only the players, but Dutch fans in the surrounding region.

This week, the tournament is celebrating its 25-year anniversary, having remained a staple on the circuit with a commitment to growing the game and cultivating the talent of its rising stars. With world-class competition including Marat Safin, Marcelo Rios, David Nalbandian, Nikolay Davydenko, Gael Monfils and Richard Gasquet, some of the game's greats have walked through its doors.

Located in the coastal town of Scheveningen, Netherlands, the event is a 10-minute walk from a beachfront promenade that includes a boardwalk, ferris wheel and many shops and cafes. But it's the immediate community surrounding the historic Mets Tennis Club that gives the tournament its charm.

"Since I was a six-year-old kid, you could find me here at this club," said local resident and 2016 champion Robin Haase. "I know every inch of it, every court and how it plays. It has a great centre court in an environment between the houses. To have a court named after me and one next to Richard Krajicek's court, is an honour. It feels like you're at home and this is home for me, because I grew up here. Tennis needs the consistency of getting to know an event and enjoying it and that's what they do so well here."

The venue is embedded in the community, with adjacent houses seemingly rooted in the foundation of the club. Local residents can peer outside their windows and step on their patios for a glimpse of the action. As tournament director Ivo Pols explains, the 78-year-old club and vintage clubhouse has never conformed to the tides of change and always maintained its unique and intimate identity.

"The tournament is the site and the site is the tournament," said Pols. "That goes hand in hand. This small building is built for the event. The passion is still there. It's part of the rhythm of the season of this club. The tournament is really part of the calendar of this community.

"We had a linesman who was here for 24 years. This was the first time he hasn't been here. We see families and people who have been here forever, wearing our old merchandise with t-shirts and sweatshirts with the tournament logo on it. Sometimes you see these people with 18-year-old sweatshirts."

The club, which includes 13 clay courts and six with floodlights, has also hosted Davis Cup ties on 39 occasions as well as the Dutch National Championships for 40 years.

"Looking back at the 25 years, I played here in 1993 and it's always been a fantastic Challenger," said former doubles No. 1 Paul Haarhuis. "But before it was a Challenger, this club already had unbelievable heritage and tradition as one of the top clubs in Holland to produce top tennis. All the big international stars, including Laver, Emerson and Rosewall have all played here at some point.

"It's still one of the few biggest tournaments we have in Holland. It's our strongest Challenger and for Dutch tennis it's very important. Ivo and his team are doing a wonderful job to keep it here and keep it at a great level. It's nice because you can get very close to the players and that makes it a lot of fun."


One of four big tournaments held in The Netherlands, including the ATP World Tour events in Rotterdam and 's-Hertogenbosch and the Challenger in Alphen, The Hague Open has earned a reputation as a premier sporting event in the nation. The tournament earned Challenger of the Year honours in 2006.

"This is actually my favourite tournament," said #NextGenATP star Stefanos Tsitsipas. "Scheveningen is one of my favourite Challenger tournaments. The spectators make this tournament so special. They come to support the players. And the organisation is very good. We have a very good hotel and food and I feel like I'm at home here."

"We were the first Challenger in Holland, so we're the oldest," added Pols. "We've survived the test of time and change. The level is still really high."

Roddick Talks Federer Dominance, What Happened To His Trophies

Sat, 22/07/2017 - 12:39pm

Andy Roddick has had a busy start to his induction weekend at the International Tennis Hall of Fame in Newport. He toured the museum on Friday, checking out his own exhibit as well as the rest of the museum, which is divided into three sections: The Birth of Tennis (1874-1918); The Popular Game (1918-1968); and The Open Era (1968-present).

Roddick also took time to talk with ATPWorldTour.com about a variety of subjects, including what exactly happened to his trophies and Roger Federer's continued dominance.

Has it started to sink in yet, that you're inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame?
I don't know that it will ever be real, walking through here and seeing my superheroes... It's just insane and I don't know that that will ever make sense to me. It's a pretty humbling experience walking through here. As I've said a couple times today I'm happy to here and spend my tennis forever with these legends in Newport.

You came so close to beating Roger Federer at Wimbledon. Do those matches look even more impressive now that Federer is still dominating?
No, I don't think the fact that Roger is dominant at 35 somehow makes me better. I'm amazed at what he's doing. I think we all, certainly me more than most, are aware of what he's able to do on a tennis court. I certainly thought that he was in with a shot, maybe at Wimbledon and the US Open, to make a run at another Grand Slam.

To come back and be dominant at 35 is another conversation. I'm awed by that. I'm surprised by that. There's not many things that Roger Federer could do to surprise me. It's amazing to watch.


There's been a lot of talk about your trophies. What exactly happened?
Yeah, this story kind of took on a life of its own. I don't know that it was as dramatic as people want to make it out to be. We were just really moving houses. And the story gets retold and all of a sudden I have one trophy left.

I have more than one trophy left. I didn't want someone to walk into our living room and it to be a shrine to a former career. I was there. I played the matches. I have the memories. They're not going anywhere. So there were some that exited the premises.

It was more about you didn't need the shrine then?
Honestly, let's break it down to the simplest moment: Most people who are in my house probably know that I played tennis at some point. So I don't know that I need shiny objects to try to enforce the fact that I played tennis at some point.

Dodig Ousts Top Seed Goffin In Umag

Sat, 22/07/2017 - 10:39am

Ivan Dodig used home soil to his advantage, ousting top seed David Goffin 7-5, 6-3 to reach the semi-finals of the Plava Laguna Croatia Open Umag on Friday. The 32-year-old Zagreb native fired five aces to advance in 92 minutes. Goffin was making his Umag debut this week after missing the entire grass-court season due to an ankle injury.

“I tried to be aggressive from the first point and tried to play shorter points,” said Dodig. “In the end, today was my day. I really felt good on the court and I was really aggressive.”

Dodig will next face #NextGenATP’s Andrey Rublev, who entered the draw as a Lucky Loser and has now reached his first ATP World Tour semi-final. The Russian advanced Friday with a tight 6-7(5), 6-2, 7-6(2) win over third seed and defending champion Fabio Fognini. In their third meeting, Rublev fired seven aces and won 70 per cent of his first serve points to claim victory after two hours and 16 minutes.

“I have no words to explain it," said Rublev. "It’s my first semi-final and I’m really happy. This match was so tough. I had to fight for every point. I had to give my all. This match was one of the toughest I’ve ever played.”

Elsewhere, Alessandro Giannessi beat Rogerio Dutra Silva 6-7(3), 6-2, 7-5. The 27-year-old Italian saved eight of the 11 break points he faced to win in a two-hour, 51-minute battle. Giannessi improved his FedEx ATP Head2Head with the Brazilian to 3-0.

Giannessi will next face compatriot Paolo Lorenzi, the fourth seed, who notched his first victory over Jiri Vesely, winning 1-6, 7-5, 6-3 in two hours and 10 minutes. The 35-year-old Italian has reached his third semi-final of the season.

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Isner Sets All-American SF In Newport

Sat, 22/07/2017 - 9:23am

Second seed John Isner continued his bid to reclaim the Newport title, advancing to the semi-finals with a 6-4, 6-4 win over fellow American Dennis Novikov on Friday afternoon at the Dell Technologies Hall of Fame Open. The top seed fired 20 aces and did not face a break point in the 73-minute victory. 

"Just one of those matches on a surface like this, with two pretty good servers, that's how it can go – you just get one break and you try to hold onto it. That's what I did," he said. "I felt like in the second set I could have extended it to a two-break lead but a lot of times one break is all I need so I'm happy to get off the court in pretty quick fashion so I'll be ready to go tomorrow."

Two-time champion Isner (2011, ’12) will be looking to reach his first final since last November's Rolex Paris Masters (l. to Murray) when he faces fellow American Bjorn Fratangelo for the first time.

"It’s going to be fun, I know John well and he knows me well," said Fratangelo. "It’ll obviously be our first meeting but we’ve practised together a bunch and we’re pals… I’m going to have to return well and make sure my serve percentage is high… He’s not going to want to lose to me, so I think he’s going to come out with extra motivation… Hopefully I can put up a good battle."

Fratangelo reached his first ATP World Tour semi-final after beating fourth seed Pierre-Hugues Herbert 6-2, 5-7, 6-4, capitalising on four of his five break point chances to seal victory on his first match point opportunity after two hours and nine minutes.

"I feel like I’ve been returning well all week," he said. "That’s one thing – I do have a good return and I feel like this week I’ve really been making sure that if I get a racquet on it I’m putting it in the court, and I’m doing a great job of that."


Qureshi/Ram Prevail Against Groth/Paes 

In a hard-fought doubles semi-final, top seeds Aisam-Ul-Haq Qureshi and Rajeev Ram battled past No. 3 seeds Sam Groth and Leander Paes 4-6, 7-6(6),11-9 in just under two hours. They will face Aussies Matt Reid and John-Patrick Smith on Saturday evening for the ATP World Tour 250 grass-court title. The Australians defeated compatriots Alex Bolt and Andrew Whittington 6-2, 4-6, 10-5.

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Dolgopolov Saves 2 M.P. To Beat Khachanov

Sat, 22/07/2017 - 5:09am

Alexandr Dolgopolov saved two match points to oust fifth seed Karen Khachanov 7-6(5), 3-6, 7-6(2) and reach the semi-finals of the SkiStar Swedish Open on Friday. The 28 year old from Ukraine withstood 20 aces from his #NextGenATP opponent in the match, which clocked in at exactly two hours.

"He was serving at 3-0 [in the third set] with a double break and my leg was troubling me a bit on serve," said Dolgopolov. "But the game went my way and I made a fast break and kept it to just one break. I was just playing my game, relaxed, not expecting anything because I was down a lot. I wasn't being too tough on myself and it just went my way I guess."

Dolgopolov, who hoisted the trophy in Buenos Aires earlier this year, will meet Andrey Kuznetsov for the first time for a spot in the final after the Russian ousted seventh seed Diego Schwartzman 6-3, 6-3. Kuznetsov fired five aces and capitalised on four of his seven break point chances to advance to the semi-finals in 66 minutes.

“It was a good day for me. I played my best tennis so far this tournament. In these conditions it wasn’t easy… but I think I chose the right tactics and it was working. I didn’t make a lot of mistakes,” said Kuznetsov, who is looking to reach his first ATP World Tour final. “I feel good on the clay, and we’ll see.”

Sixth seed Fernando Verdasco closed on a third final appearance in Bastad as he defeated defending champion Albert Ramos-Vinolas 6-3, 6-2 to reach the semi-finals. In an all-Spanish clash, Verdasco prevailed in 85 minutes, converting three of his 13 break point chances and dropping only 10 points on serve.

"I played one of my best matches of the year," said Verdasco. "I was very solid with my serve the whole match and had chances in most return games. I'm very happy with the level I played today and I think I need to produce this level at least if I want to be in the final again.

"I've been close two times in the finals and made quarter-finals and semi-finals. I've always played well here in Bastad and I always feel unbelievable. Since my first year here, in 2004, it's felt like home - although maybe not the same weather! The people are always so nice to me. It's my 10th time here, it's a nice number and hopefully I'll have a big chance to win the tournament here. It would be very special."

The 33-year-old Verdasco was runner-up at this ATP World Tour 250 clay-court tournament in 2013 (l. to Berlocq) and against Ramos-Vinolas last year. The Madrid native is looking to win his eighth ATP World Tour title this week.

Verdasco goes on to face countryman and eighth seed David Ferrer who, in the last match of the day, saved two match points to prevail over Henri Laaksonen 7-5, 3-6, 7-6(3). The two-time champion (2007, '12) needed two hours and 14 minutes to improve to 24-7 lifetime in Bastad and reach his second ATP World Tour semi-final of the season.

“I think my experience was the key in the tie-break,” said Ferrer. “I tried to fight on the important points."

It will be the 21st meeting between Verdasco and Ferrer. The No. 8 seed leads their FedEx ATP Head2Head rivalry 13-7.

"Fernando’s playing really good this season. He’s improved a lot and having a really good year. I feel this court is good for him,” added Ferrer.

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In doubles, the all-Dutch team of Sander Arends and Matwe Middelkoop reached the final with a 2-6, 6-2, 10-8 win over Thomaz Bellucci and Andre Sa. They await the winner of the match between Julian Knowle/Philipp Petzschner and home favourites Elias Ymer/Mikael Ymer.