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Khachanov Cruises On Day 3 Of US Open Qualifying

Fri, 26/08/2016 - 12:01pm

Day 3 of US Open Qualifying on Thursday saw a NextGen star move within one round of qualifying for his first Grand Slam main draw, while a slew of other notable players also won their second-round qualifying matches.

NextGen star and third seed Karen Khachanov of Russia continued his impressive play with a straight-sets win over Adrian Menendez-Maceiras of Spain, 6-4, 6-3. The 20 year old fired nine aces and won 73 per cent of his first serve points in the match.

“It’s always tough to find your way at the beginning of a tournament and get through the first couple of matches,” said Khachanov. “But I’ve been able to adapt to to the situation, so I’m happy that I get to play again tomorrow.”

Khachanov has advanced to the final round of qualifying this year at the Australian Open and Wimbledon, but has yet to qualify for a Grand Slam in his young career. He’ll next play the winner of the match between NextGen star Noah Rubin of the U.S. and No. 28 seed Michael Berrer of Germany for a chance to make his maiden main draw at a major.

“It would be unbelievable for me to make it into the main draw here,” said Khachanov. “I just have to focus on my game tomorrow and show that I deserve it.”

Several other players also won their second-round qualifying matches to put themselves in contention to make their debut Grand Slam main draw: No. 15 seed Jozef Kovalik of Slovakia, No. 26 seed Saketh Myneni of India, Guilherme Clezar of Brazil, Ilya Ivashka of Belarus, Alexander Sarkissian of the U.S., Jan Satral of the Czech Republic, Marton Fucsovics of Hungary and Henri Laaksonen of Switzerland.

Mid-match showers saw play suspended with half of the 32 second-round qualifying matches still to be completed. Among the players on court when the rain came are No. 12 seed Joao Souza of Brazil, No. 13 seed Dennis Novikov of the U.S. and Rubin.

Players still to come on court for their matches on Thursday include top seed Yuichi Sugita of Japan, NextGen star and No. 14 seed Jared Donaldson of the U.S. and rising American teenager Reilly Opelka.

Nadal: 'I Need To Keep Competing'

Fri, 26/08/2016 - 10:52am

Rafael Nadal arrived in New York last Sunday to prepare for the US Open, which begins on 29 August at Flushing Meadows. The Mallorcan, who returned to the ATP World Tour in Cincinnati after overcoming a left wrist injury, goes into the tournament excited after his time on the sidelines.

"I need to keep competing and training," explained Nadal in an interview with EL ESPAÑOL. "I went a long time without training. That's the reality. I think that is what I need at the moment."

The 14-time Grand Slam champion had to withdraw from the third round at Roland Garros due to a left wrist injury, which caused him to miss several tournaments including Wimbledon.

"My wrist is fine," said Nadal. "It has held up through many hours of playing. I know I'm going to have some trouble and, in some moments, it will limit me a bit. I need to get my confidence back and get through a few weeks without playing in pain, something that hasn't happened yet.

"It never gets easier to come back,"said Nadal, who has overcome serious injuries to his foot and knees earlier in his career. "I was playing very well when I had to stop in the third round at Roland Garros. You remember the things that you were doing well. The bad thing, of course, is that I had to stop in a moment when I was doing well and which could have helped me have a great season, especially after a good clay-court swing.

"The injury I had is very complicated and delicate," he said. "There are two possibilities: either it gets better with rest or you have to operate. At the moment, it seems everything has gone well, but at the same time it could have turned out differently and I might have had to stop for surgery. I hope things keep going well. So far, after many hours of loading the wrist, it hasn't gotten worse. This is important and very positive. I hope that day by day and week by week the wrist will keep feeling more comfortable and I will feel freer when hitting the ball."

Nadal arrives at the US Open hoping for a good tournament despite not enjoying the same competitive rhythm as his rivals.

"Clearly, I'm arriving with little match practice after an injury in the middle of the season," said Nadal. "All this makes it more difficult. But the excitement is there. I hope my wrist will keep improving, so that it lets me play my forehand more freely.  I am really excited to get back to competing. I feel competitive again. I'm really looking forward to playing and enjoying being on the court."

Raonic Rings Opening Bell At NYSE

Fri, 26/08/2016 - 10:06am

Milos Raonic visited an iconic New York institution on Wednesday, ringing the opening bell at the New York Stock Exchange ahead of his US Open campaign. The NYSE, located on Wall Street, is the largest stock exchange in the world by market capitalisation. The opening bell traditionally kicks off the trading day at the exchange.

Milos Raonic rings the opening bell at the NYSE." src="/~/media/images/news/2016/08/25/20/07/raonic-nyse-2016-us-open.jpg?h=433&w=768&la=en" style="height: 433px; width: 768px;" />

(Photo credit: NYSE)

“To have the opportunity to ring the bell in such an iconic setting is special, especially because I have interest in finance,” Raonic said. “It was nice to see the setup and the procedure of how the floor works. It was definitely a nice experience to be at the NYSE and, who knows, maybe one day after my tennis career I’ll end up here.”

The Canadian, No. 6 in the Emirates ATP Rankings, will take part in the US Open for the sixth time. He reached the third round at Flushing Meadows last year. He reached the fourth round in 2012, 2013 and 2014. Raonic is 42-11 on the year and defeated Roger Federer in the final of Brisbane to earn his eighth ATP World Tour title.

 

Fire Burns Bright As Bryans Chase No. 1

Fri, 26/08/2016 - 7:44am

Victims of their own, unmatched, success, Bob Bryan and Mike Bryan have come under scrutiny in 2016. And that is despite being second in the Emirates ATP Doubles Race To London, with just under three months to go until the World No. 1 spot is decided at the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals.

But such is the level of expectation that is placed on arguably the greatest doubles team of all time, by fans, media and most importantly, themselves. Indeed, when you’ve won 16 major titles, 36 ATP World Tour Masters 1000 and finished as year-end World No. 1 team 10 times, nothing less than US Open glory and clinching year-end World No. 1 will constitute a “great” 2016 season for the Bryans.

It is the attitude and outlook that has seen the Bryans win everything there is to win in tennis. But with a bursting trophy cabinet and happy family lives beckoning, what motivates the 38-year-old California natives to keep grinding on the ATP World Tour?

Perhaps their domination of doubles is behind them – due in no small part to the strength and depth on tour now - but the Bryans are confident that they remain a force to be reckoned with as they approach the latter stages of their career.

"We still feel like we have some stuff to do. We don't feel like our journey is over,” Bob told ATPWorldTour.com. “There are goals we want to accomplish. We still love the feeling of working hard and holding up a Grand Slam trophy. We feel like we have those moments left. We're working hard and tinkering with stuff in our game, changing up stuff in the gym and just trying to have one last great run. We're both very confident we can do that.”

This season has seen the Bryans lift three ATP World Tour trophies – in Houston, Barcelona and Rome – while also finishing runners-up at Roland Garros (l. to Lopez/Lopez) for the second year in a row. They go into next week’s campaign at Flushing Meadows looking to win their first major title since the 2014 US Open, which also marked their 100th tour-level team title.

“Looking back on the year there have been some highlights and some lowlights,” said Mike. “It's been a pretty solid year. By our standards, a little bit below par. If we'd won a couple of matches here and there we could have looked back and said we've had a great year.

“For so many years we were dominating,” Mike continued. “If we go into a tournament and we don't win it, then we're disappointed. Sometimes we can get into a little bit of a negative spiral if we're not going in and winning weeks.

“But players would die to have the year we've had this year. They're wondering when the Bryans are going to get back to No. 1 and win slams again. But I think it'll come with just enjoying the game and tinkering with a few things and I still think we have some bright spots on the horizon.”

The changes have rung off the court for the Bryans in recent years. Both are married, with Bob and wife Michelle parents to three children – Richie, the newest addition, born in October 2015. They live on separate coasts now and life has become a balancing act between tennis and family for the 38-year-old twins.

“There are more challenges of staying healthy and just the challenges of having fun and trying to find new things to work on,” said Bob. “I'm balancing a lot of stuff with my family. Our relationship has to stay healthy. We have goals and we're working very hard to achieve them. We're optimistic about this summer.”

But one of the most pivotal changes for the Bryans came last month, when their coaching partnership with David Macpherson came to an end after 11 years. With Macpherson taking up a position at George Washington University, the Bryans have turned to former Serbian player Dusan Vemic as their new coach, a partnership that began with a semi-final showing in Cincinnati last week.

“David's been the rock for so many years. He's a big loss, but we've got some fresh blood. We're excited with whom we picked as our coach. Hopefully it will spark something,” said Mike.

The Bryans have always demanded the best from each other on and off the court. With two such driven individuals, arguments are inevitable, and it had been part of Macpherson’s job to separate the pair and maintain harmony in the team when things got heated after tough losses.

But while it may hurt their relationship, it is that intensity and passion that can largely be credited for the Bryans’ huge success on the ATP World Tour.

“Macca did a great job of coming in between us when we were going at it,” said Bob. “He was a great guy we could talk to, a very calming and a very positive influence. When you lose, you can sometimes think it's the end of the world. But our coach never got into that negative mind frame. He was great at looking forward and never looking back. I think Dusan, our new coach, has that same relaxed, smart, calming influence.

“That helps us because we are very intense. We let each other have it in practice. We expect the most and the best out of each other at all times. That can be harmful on our relationship at times, because we are very tough. It's great to have someone between us.”

Mike added, “Our competitive nature has made us great. We're perfectionists. We want to play perfect every time we step out onto the court - make every shot and win every big point. That's why we've had a high standard for so many years and we still have that high standard. That's why it's disappointing to lose some of these matches and tournaments. We're working harder than ever and we're just as hungry as ever at the ripe age of 38.”

Cue the challenge for the remainder of 2016 – usurp Pierre-Hugues Herbert and Nicolas Mahut atop the doubles rankings. The French team, champions at Wimbledon, Queen's, Monte-Carlo, Miami and Indian Wells, lead the Bryans by 1,185 points in the year-to-date team standings. With doubles more open than it has been in years, it serves as added motivation for the Bryans to reclaim the top spot and taste more Grand Slam glory at the US Open, where they have lifted the trophy five times.

“The field is a lot more level,” said Bob. “It's a challenge for us to try and reinvent our games and improve stuff that has fallen off a little bit. We're up for this challenge. We would love to make a run at the end of the year and hold up the No. 1 trophy. It's going to be tough. The French guys are playing great tennis. We're going to have to really bring it to beat them.”

“The French guys have a good lead,” agreed Mike. “But it's one slam away to catch them. It's fun to have these rivalries and teams we're butting heads with at the top. There's a ton of teams that are great partnerships and are vying for these big titles every week. London's going to be fun. There are 16 good teams, but only eight qualify. So it's going to get tight there at the end of the year, but hopefully we're in the hunt for No. 1."

Cilic Inspires Kids At Flushing Meadows 2016

Fri, 26/08/2016 - 3:37am
Former US Open champion Marin Cilic takes time out to inspire a group kids in a special tennis clinic onsite at Flushing Meadows.

Wise Words From Tennis Legends

Fri, 26/08/2016 - 2:08am
Tennis legends, including Pat Cash, Henri Leconte and Mats Wilander reveal their best advice for stars of the ATP World Tour.

Sweet Success For Harrison In New York

Thu, 25/08/2016 - 10:11pm
Christian Harrison talks about coming back from a bone infection and seven surgeries to record his first Grand Slam qualifying win at the US Open.

Americans Lead Assault On Day Two Of US Open Qualifying

Thu, 25/08/2016 - 5:58pm

The home crowd had much to cheer about on Wednesday at US Open qualifying, with American hopefuls Jared Donaldson, Reilly Opelka, Noah Rubin and Christian Harrison leading the second-round charge.

Coming off a strong result at the ATP World Tour Masters 1000 event in Cincinnati, reaching the second round and taking a set off World No. 3 Stan Wawrinka, Donaldson fought past Eduardo Struvay 6-3, 6-3. The Rhode Island native is seeking to qualify at the US Open for the first time, having received a wild card in each of the past two years.

"He didn't play with a lot of rhythm, serving and volleying a lot," reflected Donaldson, who awaits Spain's Jordi Samper-Montana next. "It was a little difficult to find my rhythm, but I stayed mentally tough and played the big points well. I think that was the difference. I was controlling the match. I can play with these guys and beat them, so playing some qualies matches isn't a bad thing."

Fellow American #NextGen star Noah Rubin raced to a 3-0 lead before opponent Yan Bai retired with a right wrist sprain, while 18-year-old Reilly Opelka rallied from a set down to upset former World No. 35 Edouard Roger-Vasselin 3-6, 6-4, 6-3. The big-serving American, who is fresh off a breakout semi-final run at the BB&T Atlanta Open, fired 14 aces and converted three of four break chances to prevail after one hour and 58 minutes.

Meanwhile, it was a successful return to the tour-level stage for Christian Harrison, who earned his first Grand Slam qualifying victory. Harrison saved two match points in upending Aussie Luke Saville 4-6, 6-0, 7-5. It was an emotional win for the 22 year old, who has been snake bitten by a slew of injuries, including hip and shoulder, over the past few years.

Other Americans registering victories on Day Two were University of Virginia standout Ryan Shane, who rallied past Kimmer Coppejans 2-6, 6-4, 6-1, and Sekou Bangoura, turning in a 6-2, 6-1 rout of Gonzalo Lama in 58 minutes. Teenagers Stefan Kozlov and Tommy Paul weren't as fortunate, however, suffering defeats to veterans Michael Berrer and Steve Darcis, respectively.

"It's a win and I'll take it when you're out for six or seven months," said Darcis. "It's a good feeling to come back here and to play well. I don't think Tommy played a great match, but I was mixing it up a lot and he didn't like it very much. I know Tommy and he's a good player, but he's still has time."

Inching closer to a Top 100 return, former World No. 44 Darcis is coming off a title at the ATP Challenger Tour event in Trnava and will face Korean teen Duckhee Lee on Thursday.

In other action, #NextGen star Karen Khachanov, seeded third, fired eight aces and converted three of six break chances to advance past Mirza Basic 6-4, 6-4 in 69 minutes. Bidding to reach his first Grand Slam main draw, the Russian will face Adrian Menendez-Maceiras next, with a potential all-NextGen clash against Rubin looming large in the final round.

Fellow Russian rising talent Andrey Rublev, 18, was upset by Serbia's Miljan Zekic 6-7(4), 7-6(5), 6-4 in a marathon two-hour and 32-minute battle. The 28-year-old Zekic saved five of six break points faced for his first Grand Slam qualifying victory. Last month, the Belgrade native streaked to his first ATP Challenger Tour title in Todi, Italy, as a qualifier.

"It was really tough, but I was serving well, so I knew I could come back," said Zekic. "It was just a couple points that I won that made the difference. Andrey is very good on the hard courts and I'm more of a clay-court player, so it was difficult to play against him. I felt much more pressure, because I'm older, but I'm happy to get the win."

Former Top 50 players Radek Stepanek, Santiago Giraldo, Mischa Zverev and Go Soeda also notched wins to open their qualifying campaigns.

Vesely Feeling Comfortable In Winston-Salem 2016

Thu, 25/08/2016 - 4:44pm
Jiri Vesely talks about enjoying Winston-Salem and its impressive facilities at Wake Forest University in North Carolina. Photo credit: Susan Mullane/Camerawork USA, Inc.

Emirates ATP Rankings 23 August 2016

Thu, 25/08/2016 - 4:36pm
See the latest Emirates ATP Rankings as of 23 August 2016.

Top Seed Gasquet Into Winston-Salem QFs

Thu, 25/08/2016 - 12:05pm
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Richard Gasquet breezed into the quarter-finals of the Winston-Salem Open with a 6-1, 6-3 win over fellow Frenchman Stephane Robert. Gasquet saved seven break points (7/8) and broke his opponent’s serve five times in the 66-minute win.

“I’ve known Stephane for a long time now, so I know how dangerous he can be. It was a great win for me and I’m happy to be in the quarter-finals,” said Gasquet, who has yet to drop a set against his 36-year-old countryman in two FedEx ATP Head2Head meetings. “He likes to play close to the baseline. We’ve practised together often so I know his game and he knows mine. I didn’t make many mistakes today and that was the difference. It was quite humid and hot on the court, so it’s better to be able to finish in one hour.”

“It’s a great opportunity to play against top players, because you see the difference. I will learn from this match,” Robert said. “I started the match nervously, but I was playing better in the second set. Then I made some mistakes and got negative. That is something I need to manage. At this level, you have to be focused all the time and not fight against yourself.”

Next up for the top seed will be Aussie John Millman, who rallied to win 5-7, 6-0, 6-3 against wild card Bjorn Fratangelo. Millman closed out the match with authority, landing 85 per cent of first serves and only losing one point on serve in the deciding set.

“I’ve never played against [John], but I’ve seen his matches and I respect him a lot.” Gasquet said.

Yen-Hsun Lu advanced to the quarter-finals with a 6-4, 6-0 performance against Diego Schwartzman. Lu fired nine aces and did not face a break point in the 62-minute win.

“Fortunately I played really well on game points and on break points. My serve was there when I needed it and that helped me a lot today,” said Lu, who is into his fourth consecutive Winston-Salem quarter-final. “I always seem to play very relaxed, very freely here. Maybe it’s something that is missing for me in other tournaments, but I’m able to find that feeling here."

Lu will take on second seed Roberto Bautista Agut, who defeated Marcos Baghdatis 4-6, 6-3, 6-1. Lu has yet to win a set in two FedEx ATP Head2Head meetings with the Spaniard.

New American No. 1 Steve Johnson was stopped by Fernando Verdasco 6-4, 7-6(7). The No. 15 seed fired 10 aces and saved all three break points faced to improve to 4-0 in tour-level matchups against Johnson. The American saved three match points in the second-set tie-break before succumbing in 87 minutes.

"I was lucky on the important points. I didn't have too many chances in the first set, but had a great return game at 5-4," Verdasco said. "In the second set, it was more of the same. I was positive the whole match, feeling good and moving well. The court is quite fast so you have to be focused on your serve, and do what you can on your returns. It worked pretty well for me today."

In the quarter-finals, Verdasco will face Viktor Troicki, who edged American Sam Querrey 6-2, 7-6(5). The Serb broke serve three times and secured his first win over Querrey since 2011 in 70 minutes.

"I would love to win the tournament. The competition is quite tough and it will be a different match tomorrow, but I will try to enjoy this," Troicki said. "I've had some tough draws this summer. It seemed that everyone I lose to ends up winning the tournament. Last week it was Cilic in the first round of Cincinnati. I hope it's my turn now."

First Doubles Semi-Final Set

No. 2 seeds Mate Pavic and Michael Venus will face Guillermo Garcia-Lopez and Henri Kontinen in the semi-finals. Pavic/Venus rallied to win 6-7(1), 6-1, 10/7 while Garcia-Lopez/Kontinen edged Jonathan Erlich and Santiago Gonzalez 7-6(1), 4-6, 10/8.

Millman And Friends Are All Smiles In Winston-Salem

Thu, 25/08/2016 - 9:48am
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Follow all the latest off-court action on MyATP! Download the app for iPhone or Android or visit MyATP.com.

Winston-Salem Open - Winston-Salem, North Carolina

Top seed Richard Gasquet was on hand for the draw ceremony at the Wake Forest University campus.

Steve Johnson, the No. 1 American in the Emirates ATP Rankings, met PGA Tour golfer Rickie Fowler at the nearby Wyndham Greensboro Open.

John Millman and NextGen’s Frances Tiafoe took part in the fun activities on Kids’ Day.

Mackenzie McDonald, NCAA champion from UCLA and US Open wild card, attended the USTA Member Appreciation Day.

NextGen American Taylor Fritz met fans at the VIP Friends Reception, while Eric Butorac and Bjorn Fratangelo attended the USPTA Reception.

Butorac and partner Scott Lipsky tried something they had never done in their careers – wheelchair tennis. Read More

Roberto Bautista Agut, Yen-Hsun Lu, Paul-Henri Mathieu, Sam Querrey, Rajeev Ram Albert Ramos-Vinolas and Jiri Vesely attended autograph signings.


 

European Open To Host Guinness World Record Attempt For Charity

Thu, 25/08/2016 - 9:42am

The European Open, an ATP World Tour 250 event set in Antwerp, Belgium, will be promoting a Guiness World Record attempt for a good cause. Maxime Braeckman, former coach of ATP World Tour player Xavier Malisse and WTA players Kim Clijsters and Kirsten Flipkens, will play 37 matches in a row in an effort to raise € 25,000 for the charity SOS Children's Villages and to promote the sport of tennis in Belgium. SOS Children's Villages is the tournament's official charity and Clijsters is an ambassador for the organisation.

Braeckman, currently coaching at the Kim Clijsters Academy in Bree, Belgium, will play 37 best-of-three matches in a row. The current Guinness World Record was set by Mike Mitchell of Great Britain, who played 36 matches over 34 hours last year. The first match will begin in the morning of Saturday 8 October on a practice court next to the Antwerp Central station, in the middle of the city. Proceeds from the event will fund the construction of a new multi-sport court in Trjavna, Bulgaria, which will serve over 100 children living in the area.

The inaugural edition of the European Open will take place from 17 to 23 October. ATP World Tour stars David Goffin, Richard Gasquet and David Ferrer will headline the event. #NextGen stars Borna Coric and Taylor Fritz are also slated to play.

With Focused Plan, Vesely Breaks Through Against Best

Thu, 25/08/2016 - 3:28am
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Before this season, something was missing in Jiri Vesely's game.

He had the weapons – the 120 m.p.h. serve, the whipping forehand. He had confidence from a 2015 Auckland title and a Top 50 ranking. But every time he'd face the top players on the ATP World Tour, Vesely was lacking.

The Czech had gone 0-8 against players ranked inside the Top 10 of the Emirates ATP Rankings. But he's changed his luck this season. He shocked World No. 1 Novak Djokovic in Monte-Carlo and beat then-World No. 8 Dominic Thiem at Wimbledon.

So what's changed? His strategy. Namely, he's picked one and stuck with it.

In the past, sometimes Vesely had been hurrying himself to play more aggressive. Other times, the 6'6” Czech preferred more defensive tennis and tried to push the ball back.

But this season, he's employed an aggressive game plan, starting with his serve, that's helped him beat the top players in the world. The 23 year old hopes the strategy will also help him continue his breakthrough year and finish the season at a new career high.

Read More: Vesely Shocks Djokovic In Monte-Carlo

“I really didn't know which game style, which plan to play against these guys or overall,” Vesely told ATPWorldTour.com at the Winston-Salem Open. “I think that this year I found a little bit more of my rhythm. I found a little bit more of my game that I really would like to play. It's definitely a big change.”

The skills, without a doubt, were always there. He finished 2011 as the top junior in the world.

His power game naturally translated to the ATP World Tour as well, and two years later he was in the Top 100 and named the 2013 Emirates ATP Star Of Tomorrow. The expectations had been set: Vesely would soon contest the best in tennis.

But the next year, his struggles began. He fell to Andy Murray in Indian Wells. He lost to Milos Raonic at Roland Garros. By the end of 2014, the left-hander had climbed into the Top 70 but was 0-3 against the Top 10.

In 2015, the Pribran native won his first ATP World Tour title at the ASB Classic in Auckland. But Vesely lost five more matches against the top players, including a 6-4, 7-6(2) loss to Rafael Nadal in Hamburg.

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“I always was very close to these top guys but I never had a win,” Vesely said.

Everything surprisingly changed in Monte-Carlo, though. Vesely battled back after losing the second set and knocked Djokovic out in the second round, handing the Serbian his earliest loss in three seasons.

His aggressive serving helped carry him to the upset. Vesely won almost 70 per cent of his first-serve points against Djokovic and going big with the weapon has remained an integral part to his new approach.

“Serving is definitely my biggest gun,” Vesely said. “Trying to be a little bit more aggressive. Trying to go to my forehands more.... And I think that's where I made good progress.”

The focused blueprint was on display again on Tuesday evening in Winston-Salem. Facing defending champion Kevin Anderson, Vesely erased the only break point faced and won almost 80 per cent of his service points (50/64). He also frequently followed his serve with a forehand to prevail 7-6(5), 6-4.

“I served well and I think that's what decided it today,” Vesely said after the match.

Read More: Vesely Beats Winston-Salem Defending Champion

In attempting to play more consistent, in a way, Vesely is trying to be more like his childhood idol and countryman Tomas Berdych, who's finished in the Top 10 the past six seasons. The two played at the same club in Prostejov, and Vesely remembers as a 12 year old admiring Berdych, who was 20 but already in the Top 100.

“I really was always looking up to him and I was trying watch his practice sessions and watch what kind of stuff he's doing,” Vesely said.

As Vesely has improved his game against the Top 10 and come closer to matching Berdych, though, he senses their relationship might be changing. It's a shift that he's glad to see taking place.

“We are fine. We are friends. But of course right now I think also we start to be rivals,” Vesely said before laughing. “I like that.”

Doubles Discussion Part II

Thu, 25/08/2016 - 1:04am
Ross Hutchins sits down with Horia Tecau, Jamie Murray, Bruno Soares and Rohan Bopanna to talk about the camaraderie on tour, communication between team mates and the challenges of playing top singles stars.

Bahrami Sets Trick Shot Challenge

Thu, 25/08/2016 - 1:04am
Trick shot master Mansour Bahrami lays down a challenge for current ATP World Tour stars to try and reproduce some of his best tricks. How will they fare?

Jenga, Anyone?

Wed, 24/08/2016 - 11:35pm
Stan Wawrinka and Milos Raonic lead ATP colleagues in a fast-paced game of Jenga... with a twist.

Veterans Melzer, Smyczek Advance On Day One Of US Open Qualifying

Wed, 24/08/2016 - 5:40pm

Former World No. 8 Jurgen Melzer began his quest for a 15th US Open main draw appearance, downing American Tennys Sandgren 7-5, 6-1 on Tuesday. The 2011 doubles champion, Melzer kicked off the first day of qualifying in New York with the victory after just 74 minutes.

"The first match of a tournament is never easy, but it was a very solid match," said Melzer. "I kept my focus and won in straights so it's on to the next one."

Competing in his first Grand Slam since last year's US Open, having recently undergone shoulder surgery, he will face Guido Andreozzi in the second round. The Austrian is coming off a strong week at the ATP World Tour 250 event in Kitzbuhel last month, where he stunned top seed and countryman Dominic Thiem. It was his first victory over a Top 10 opponent in more than five years.

"It gave me all the confidence that I needed after a 10-month break, showing that by body can hold up. It was a very good match and a good tournament. I'm happy to play at a level I'm satisfied with. I want to win matches again and that's what I'm here for. It's not easy playing 14 years in the main draw here and then go through qualies but that's the way it is."

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Joining Melzer in the second round is fellow veteran Tim Smyczek, a 6-3, 6-4 winner of Russia's Alexander Kudryavtsev. The 10th-seeded American prevailed after 73 minutes, firing three aces, while saving all seven break points faced.

"It feels really good," said Smyczek, who will face Guilherme Clezar next. "I haven't been winning that many matches lately, so it feels good. I'm looking to build on it because I did some really good things out there. And they were things that I do well when I'm stringing matches together."

"Billy's message to me is pretty much the same throughout," Smyczek added, referring to coach Billy Heiser. "It's been about me receiving the message and playing every point with intensity and not taking any off."

Also battling into the second round of qualifying was #NextGen star Quentin Halys. The Frenchman snapped a six-match losing skid in style, launching nine aces en route to a dominant 6-1, 6-3 win over Egor Gerasimov. He will meet American Alexander Sarkissian on Thursday.

Meanwhile, 11th-seeded American Ryan Harrison earned a 7-6(1), 6-3 win over Cedrik-Marcel Stebe. Having previously lost to Stebe in a fifth set at Wimbledon qualifying in 2011, it was sweet revenge for the Louisiana native.

The upset of the day came on Court 4, where Stebe's countryman Daniel Brands stunned fourth seed and World No. 99 Thiago Monteiro 6-4, 3-6, 7-6(5). The big-serving German fired 14 aces in claiming the win after one hour and 56 minutes. Aussie Matthew Barton provided just as big a shock when the World No. 194 saved a match point in downing fifth seed Nikoloz Basilashvili 6-7(3), 6-2, 7-6(6).

Wednesday's action at the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center features #NextGen stars Karen Khachanov, Jared Donaldson, Stefan Kozlov and Andrey Rublev, with former Top 10 player Radek Stepanek and top seed Yuichi Sugita also opening their campaigns.

Bautista Agut, Querrey Battle Through In Winston-Salem

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Second seed Roberto Bautista Agut did it the hard way on Tuesday, needing more than two hours to secure a win in his opening match at the Winston-Salem Open. Much like top seed Richard Gasquet a day earlier, the Spaniard needed three sets to get his 2016 campaign off the mark. He prevailed 4-6, 6-3, 6-3 against Brit Aljaz Bedene, with his opponent serving 15 aces but finishing one for eight on break points won.

“I wanted to keep going,” Bautista Agut said of the turnaround. “I wanted to leave everything on the court, and I think I was still focused on the match after losing the first set and I could come back.”

Bautista Agut, a winner of hard-court titles this season in Auckland and Sofia, will play No. 14 seed Marcos Baghdatis in the third round after the Cypriot won through a two-hour-plus struggle of his own against Donald Young. Baghdatis won 76 per cent of first-serve points in the 6-4, 4-6, 6-4 result.

Three-time semi-finalist Sam Querrey also progressed to to the third round after narrowly holding off Spaniard Guillermo Garcia-Lopez. The sixth-seeded American posted a 6-3, 6-7(5), 7-5 victory in two hours and eight minutes on the back of 24 aces.

Querrey won 86 per cent of first-serve points and saved nine of 10 break points. He will play Viktor Troicki for a place in the quarter-finals after the Serbian defeated NextGen star Kyle Edmund 6-3, 7-5.

"It's been a solid year so far," Querrey said. "I don't feel a ton of pressure. I'm just trying to feel good, just trying to play some good matches.

"The fans are great here. They're really supportive. They get behind the Americans so that was nice."

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Third seed Pablo Cuevas had a smoother path to the third round. The Uruguayan downed Malek Jaziri 7-5, 6-1 to book a clash with Spaniard Pablo Carreno Busta. The No. 16 seed moved past Jan-Lennard Struff 6-4, 7-5.

For the second year in a row, Gilles Simon bowed out in his Winston-Salem opener. The seventh-seeded Frenchman fell to Argentine Diego Schwartzman 7-6(2), 6-1 on Tuesday. Schwartzman, World No. 68 in the Emirates ATP Rankings, won his first ATP World Tour title earlier this year at the TEB BNP Paribas Istanbul Open (d. Dimitrov). He next plays Yen-Hsun Lu, who advanced with a 6-2, 6-4 win over 10th seed Joao Sousa.

It was an early exit also for Spanish eighth seed Albert Ramos-Vinolas. He fell 4-6, 7-5, 6-3 to John Millman. The Australian next meets American wild card Bjorn Fratangelo, who knocked out 11th-seeded Italian Paolo Lorenzi, 4-6, 6-2, 6-3 in two hours.

“I had belief going into the match that I could do it, especially my first time I beat him it was on clay, which is his favourite surface,” said Fratangelo. “It was a similar match where he got up early, and I kind of came clawing my way back. I think I played pretty well toward the end of the match. I took time away from him, which I think made him pretty uncomfortable. I think the heat got to him a little bit, and I’m just happy to be in the next round.”

New-Look Johnson Makes Winning Start In Winston-Salem

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There was a new look to Steve Johnson on Tuesday at the Winston-Salem Open. Gone was the beard – “Shaved it off, it was getting a little too itchy… clean it up a little bit and keep my momma happy” – and, more importantly, the California native wore the badge of No. 1 American as he swept 2014 champion Lukas Rosol 6-3, 6-2 in 57 minutes.

“Economical. Get in, get out, it’s past my bedtime,” he said. “Lot of ups the last couple weeks. You never know how the body is going to respond mentally, physically. Came out, didn’t serve great tonight… not bad by any stretch, but not the best, and I still felt like I played the important points well and I played great from the ground.”

On Monday, Johnson snapped John Isner’s three-year reign as the top American, backed by a stellar summer run including his first ATP World Tour title in Nottingham, his first ATP World Tour Masters 1000 quarter-final in Cincinnati and first Grand Slam Round of 16 at Wimbledon. He currently stands at a career-high No. 21 Emirates ATP Ranking, one spot ahead of Isner.

“Right now I’m just not hitting the panic button at any moment, until the match is over and at that point there’s not much you can do,” he said. “Even last week in Cincy, losing to Grigor [Dimitrov] I feel like I had a chance to win until that last point, and that’s just how I’m approaching matches now and that’s a big difference for me.”

Johnson will next go for his first win against Fernando Verdasco, though their previous three FedEx ATP Head2Head clashes have come on clay, most recently at Roland Garros this year. Verdasco, the No. 15 seed, advanced with a 3-6, 6-3, 6-2 win over American NextGen star Taylor Fritz.

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Fifth seed Kevin Anderson's title defence at the ATP World Tour 250 hard-court tournament came to an early end as he fell in a tricky opener against Czech Jiri Vesely 7-6(5), 6-4. The 23-year-old Vesely, who upset World No. 1 Novak Djokovic this past April in Monte-Carlo, evened his FedEx ATP Head2Head series against Anderson in their fourth meeting. 

“We know each other very well," said Vesely. "We both serve good. I knew it was going to be really up to one or two important points, and I think that's what it showed today.

“I'm very happy the way I coped with it, the way I fought because you always have to stay there and you always have to just wait for your chance. That's what I did today. I was just very patient and waiting for my opportunities.”

In doubles, third seeds Robert Lindstedt and Aisam-Ul-Haq Qureshi fought for a 3-6, 7-6(4), 10-6 win over the wild card duo of Skander Mansouri and Christian Seraphim. Wild cards Leander Paes and Andre Begemann, meanwhile, set up a quarter-final meeting with top seeds Lukasz Kubot and Nenad Zimonjic after defeating Chris Guccione and Andre Sa 6-4, 6-4.