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The St. Petersburg Open was honoured Sunday as one the Tournaments of the Year in the 2015 ATP World Tour Awards presented by Moët & Chandon. World No. 3 and top seed Stan Wawrinka, who finished runner-up to Alexander Zverev in the St. Petersburg final, presented Tournament Director Alexander Medvedev with the trophy.
“In 2015, the St. Petersburg Open Tournament was revived after a year's break,” Mikhael Mirilashvili, owner of the St. Petersburg Open, said earlier this year. “That was a landmark event in the sporting life of the city and the country. We are proud that the work of our big renewed team was appreciated on such a high level. I am sure that in the future the level of the tournament will continue to grow and reach new professional heights.”
The Tournament of the Year awards, voted annually by ATP players, recognise the leading standards set across the three tournament categories on the Tour.
The St. Petersburg Open was named a joint-winner in the ATP World Tour 250 category alongside the Qatar ExxonMobil Open, held in the first week of the season. The BNP Paribas Open and Aegon Championships won respectively in the Masters 1000 and 500 categories.
That did not take long. #NextGen star Hyeon Chung is back with a vengeance after missing four months with an abdominal injury. A week after reaching the final in Nanchang, China, the 20 year old lifted his sixth ATP Challenger Tour title on Sunday with a 6-4, 6-2 victory over Duckhee Lee at the OEC Kaohsiung Challenger in Kaohsiung, Taiwan.
Despite lasting just 75 minutes, the final was highly significant for both the growth of tennis in Asia and the continued rise of the Next Generation of ATP stars. Chung, 20, and Lee, 18, provided the first final between Koreans in Challenger history, with the elder countryman successfully defending his title. The second player to retain a Challenger title this year, joining Facundo Bagnis (Santiago), World No. 132 Chung is continuing his push towards a Top 100 return in the Emirates ATP Rankings.
"I am so happy to be back competing after missing most of the summer due to injury and be able to defend my title here in Kaohsiung," Chung told ATPWorldTour.com. "It is a great event and I really like playing here.
"It was a hard week with lots of tough matches including today against Duckhee, who I know very well. I am happy for him to reach his first Challenger final and it was an honour to play in an all-Korean final. I am looking forward to the rest of the Asian swing and will do my best to finish the year strong."September 25, 2016
Chung is the 12th #NextGen winner on the ATP Challenger Tour this year, while Lee, who was appearing in his first final, was bidding to become the ninth teenage titlist. Teens are now 8-8 in finals in 2016.
Columbus Challenger (Columbus, U.S.A.): Ohio State University junior Mikael Torpegaard completed a fairytale week on his home campus, streaking to his maiden ATP Challenger Tour title on Sunday. The 22 year old notched his first victory over a Top 100 opponent with a rollercoaster 6-4, 1-6, 6-2 win over Benjamin Becker in the final.
The win was even more remarkable considering Torpegaard was competing in his first main draw on the Challenger circuit. The first Dane to lift a trophy since Kristian Pless in Saint-Brieuc, France in 2007, he is just the sixth player from his country to win a Challenger title overall. Torpegaard is also the second player to win in his Challenger debut this year, joining fellow Scandinavian player Casper Ruud of Norway.
"To win it is unbelievable," said Torpegaard, who was the third-lowest ranked winner this year at World No. 642. "It's just a really good feeling. I came into the tournament as the underdog on paper in every match, but I believed in myself and went in wanting to have some fun and figure out my level to beat these guys.
"I definitely take that I can perform at this level and I'm happy to figure that out this week. It looks more realistic to be a professional after college."
Sibiu Open (Sibiu, Romania): Robin Haase claimed his 13th ATP Challenger Tour title on Sunday in Sibiu, downing Italy's Lorenzo Giustino 7-6(2), 6-2. Top seed and World No. 65 Haase did not face a seeded opponent all week in notching his second victory of the season. Also the champion on home soil in Scheveningen, he is the 25th player to win multiple titles this year.
The feel-good story of the tournament belonged to Tim Puetz, as the 28-year-old German reached the semi-finals in his first main draw in exactly one year following knee surgery. He also won the doubles title alongside Haase.
TEB Izmir Cup (Izmir, Turkey): It was a week of firsts on the ATP Challenger Tour: the first all-Korean final in Kaohsiung and the first all-Turkish final in Izmir. Former World No. 77 Marsel Ilhan added a fourth Challenger title with a 6-2, 6-4 victory over countryman Cem Ilkel on Sunday. Wild card Ilkel had never reached a quarter-final entering the week.
Following a great week last week where I bagged my first ATP Challenger Tour title in Cary, North Carolina, I’d like to fill you in on the story behind what is a milestone moment in my career.
It’s funny how it all came about but I wasn’t even meant to be playing Cary Challenger! Just a few weeks before, I had qualified into the Winston-Salem ATP World Tour 250 event and it was there that I chose to play three events in China next. I went online to enter three events (Nanchang Challenger, Kaohsiung Challenger and an ATP event in China) and called a friend who coaches in Singapore to see if he could help out one of the weeks in China. He agreed and I went straight into making travel plans, hotel bookings and preparing all the logistics behind the trip. The final thing to sort out was applying for a Chinese Visa and I’d be set. ”Easy” I thought..
A week after applying for my Visa and going through all the administrative details of paperwork, invitation letters, head shots etc. I woke up to a phone call from the Chinese lady I spoke to at the Visa Office. ”Uh, sorry sir but your Visa has been rejected.” I thought she was actually joking as she sort of laughed as she said it but after 20 minutes of questions and answers, I came to learn that there was a G20 Summit in China at the time and apparently the Chinese Consulate in Houston was rejecting applications for foreigner Visas. The timing couldn’t have been worse and there was nothing I could do about it.
Thankfully, I still had the option of playing a different tournament that week so I decided to sign-in to play the qualifying of Cary Challenger. It was just a six-hour road trip up from Atlanta so myself and my friend Julian Bradley rented a car and headed up there Thursday morning.
I was the first seed in the qualifying event and played my first match on Saturday afternoon on Stadium Court in Cary. I struggled with the feel of the ball and the court surface at first but knew I could work my way into it. I came through my qualifying matches after playing three current and former college tennis players and drew another former college tennis player in the first round of the main draw, Evan King. Evan is a great guy with a big lefty serve and I managed to come through that match, although neither of us played our best tennis on the day. I went on to beat the No. 6 seed, Darian King followed by a quarter-final win over Brayden Schnur, who had some local support as he is a former UNC Tar Heel.
How does it feel to be standing here with the trophy, your first ATP World Tour title?
It's great at such a young age as well. It's something that I could only dream of and I'm really proud of myself right now.
Did you ever imagine that at the age of 19 you'd be an ATP World Tour winner?
I got to a few finals where I was really close but before when I was a kid, no I could have not imagined that. It's something really special to be here and getting this trophy for the first time.
Was it your dream growing up to win a title?
Of course. I think for anybody who plays tennis, it's a dream to win a tour title.
Did you go into this final with a different mindset compared to your past two in Nice and Halle?
In Nice, I was quite tired. I think I spent 12 hours on court before that final. I played three-set matches every single match I played. But Halle was a chance that I could have taken and won the final. But the mindset has to be the same. How I handle the situation is different now because I had those two finals before.
How does it feel to be the first teenage winner on the tour since Marin Cilic in 2008?
Really? I'm the first one. Wow. No, it's great. As I said winning a tour title was always a dream and now it came true and being the first since '08, it's great.
Does it make it special to have beaten two Top 10 players along the way, back-to-back?
Oh yeah it's definitely something special, beating Tomas Berdych in the semis and beating Stan Wawrinka, who's the US Open champion, in the final. It's something even more that I'm proud of.
You didn't lose a set en route to the final. Talk about your exceptional play and what you did well this week.
I played OK. I played pretty well. I was serving pretty good the whole week, which helps on a fast court, indoors. And I was pretty good, pretty solid from the baseline. Obviously I had a few tough opponents but yeah, I was happy with the way I played.
Now that you've won your first title, have you thought about what's next, your next goals?
Winning another one hopefully.
You and Nick Kyrgios are the first #NextGen players to win an ATP World Tour title this season. Talk about this young group of future stars.
As I said before there's a strong group of guys coming up who all play pretty good tennis. You mention Nick, who's Top 20 now. He's been playing exceptional this year. Other teenagers like Taylor Fritz or Borna Coric, they've been playing pretty good. Some Russian guys are coming through quite well as well, like Karen Khachanov, Daniil Medvedev, Andrey Rublev. They've all been playing quite good tennis this year.
Lastly, when you were growing up, who were the players you followed most closely?
Roger. Quite simple.
How does it feel to win your first ATP World Tour title in Metz?
I’m very happy. It’s a big honour to win my first ATP World Tour title in France, in front of family and friends. It’s even more special to win when they are here, since I can share the happiness with all of them. Winning a title is something I’ve dreamed about since I was a kid watching tennis on television. I’ve played to win since I was young so this one means a lot.
What did you do differently this time, compared to your first final in Bucharest?
This time I knew what time the match was starting, since in Bucharest it was raining quite a bit and the match had to be postponed. Today I did all I could to play my game and to go for that first title.
What did you do well during the week to win the title?
I had some difficult moments, down break points or set points. But I never let up and that helped me win the title.
You beat the top two seeds, No. 1 Dominic Thiem in the final and No. 2 David Goffin in the semi-finals. How were you able to put together those big wins?
I’ve had wins in the past against those two players. I was feeling well physically and mentally so I knew that if I gave 100 per cent, I had a chance to win.
Which players did you admire and pattern your game after?
Growing up I admired Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal. I didn’t copy the way they played, but I tried to emulate their attitude on the court and their mental strength.
Did you have a goal for the end of the season?
I would love to end the year in the Top 16 [of the Emirates ATP Rankings], so that I can have a good seeding at the Australian Open.
What have you improved this season to break into the Top 20?
I’ve changed the way I worked off the court to be better prepared physically. All the little changes clicked for me in Miami, and since then I’ve been a different player.
Who would you like to acknowledge for helping you to your first title?
I wouldn’t be here today without the help of my coach Emmanuel Planque. He’s the person I would most like to thank for my career to date.
The 19 year old Zverev withstood a late charge from Wawrinka to win the St. Petersburg Open final 6-2, 3-6, 7-5 in two hours and 23 minutes. The Hamburg native had been 0-2 in his previous finals this season and in his career (l. to Mayer at Halle; l. to Thiem at Nice).
“This victory is something special,” Zverev said. “I played all the finals well. I lost to Dominic Thiem on clay and I could have won against Florian Mayer on the grass... Now I'm very happy with the win, especially over such a great player like Stan.”
The upset ends two winning streaks for Wawrinka: His finals streak, which ends at 11 and started in January 2014 with a victory against Edouard Roger-Vasselin in Chennai. The win also snaps Wawrinka's overall win streak at 10, dating back to his first-round match at the US Open.
“We showed high-quality tennis,” Wawrinka said. “I was struggling in the third set. I had chances but I didn't manage to convert them. He deserved the win.”
Zverev had lost his previous finals in three sets, and he looked out of it in the early goings of Sunday's third set as well. Wawrinka was up a break at 3-0 and had grabbed control of the match by forcing the 6'6" Zverev to chase balls all over the court – up, back and from side to side – by using a variety of slice and topspin.
But Zverev, the 2015 ATP Star Of Tomorrow presented by Emirates, crawled back into the final. The two were tied at 5-all and in the midst of a 21-shot baseline rally when Wawrinka blasted a forehand wide to give the German his fourth and final break. Heading into Sunday, Wawrinka had won 28 consecutive service games and erased all eight break points faced in St. Petersburg.
"In the third set, I had the initiative and played slice to his left more. I tried to neutralize his massive backhand," Zverev said.
Serving for the match, Zverev stepped up to the line with confidence and sealed the title with a forehand winner. He's the first teenage titlist on the ATP World Tour since 19 year old Marin Cilic won New Haven in 2008.
In beating World No. 3 Wawrinka in the final and World No. 9 Tomas Berdych in the semi-final, Zverev also becomes the first player to win his maiden ATP World Tour title by defeating back-to-back Top 10 opponents since Albert Portas won the 2001 Hamburg crown (d. No. 7 Hewitt in semi-final; d. No. 6 Ferrero in final).
Zverev will receive 250 Emirates ATP Rankings points and $163,485. He'll also match a career high of No. 24 in the new Emirates ATP Rankings. Wawrinka will receive 150 Emirates ATP Rankings points and $86,100.
Asian Circuit Kicks Off: The three-week, five-tournament Asian circuit on the ATP World Tour begins with two tournaments in China, including the first-year Chengdu Open and the third edition of the Shenzhen Open. This is the third year in a row that China will host tournaments across all three ATP World Tour tournament categories (250, 500, Masters 1000). The swing continues with a pair of 500 tournaments, the China Open in Beijing and Rakuten Japan Open Tennis Championships 2016 in Tokyo, before culminating with the eighth ATP World Tour Masters 1000 tournament of the season at the Shanghai Rolex Masters on 9 October.
Emirates ATP Race To London: There are four players among the Top 16 in the Emirates ATP Race To London standings competing this week. There are five remaining spots to the season-ending Barclays ATP World Tour Finals in London, 13-20 November. Here is a look at the Race standings and players in action in the first two Asian tournaments of the three-week circuit:
Novak Djokovic (Qualified)
Andy Murray (Qualified)
Stan Wawrinka (Qualified)
14Nick Kyrgios +
+ Chengdu # Shenzhen
Chengdu Open (Chengdu): The Chengdu Open is a new tournament and one of four events in China on the ATP World Tour. Leading the way is Dominic Thiem, who is No. 7 in the Emirates ATP Race To London. Other seeds with first-round byes are: No. 2 Nick Kyrgios, No. 3 Grigor Dimitrov and No. 4 Feliciano Lopez. The other remaining seeds are: No. 5 Albert Ramos-Vinolas, No. 6 Viktor Troicki, No. 7 Joao Sousa and No. 8 Paolo Lorenzi. Thiem (four), Kyrgios (two), Lopez, Ramos-Vinolas, Troicki and Lorenzi have all won ATP World Tour titles this season.
Thiem Top Seed: This is the second week in a row and fourth time this season that Thiem is the top seed. The wild card entry lost in the Metz final on Sunday (l. to Pouille). The 23-year-old Austrian is looking to qualify for his first Barclays ATP World Tour Finals in London. He is No. 7 in the Emirates ATP Race To London standings with four titles in six finals. His four titles is the second most on the ATP World Tour this season (along with Murray and Wawrinka), trailing only Djokovic (seven). He is also one of four players with at least 50 match wins.
Kyrgios Looks to Finish Strong: Top Aussie and No. 2 seed Kyrgios, who is No. 13 in the Emirates Race To London, enters with a 34-13 match record on the season (21-7 on hard). The 21-year-old #NextGen star is trying to finish in the Top 20 for the first time after a year-end best No. 30 last year. Kyrgios is the youngest two-time ATP World Tour winner this season, capturing titles in Marseille (d. Cilic) and Atlanta (d. Isner). He has five Top 10 wins this season (had four from 2013-15).
Grigor Eyes Top 20: No. 3 seed Dimitrov is playing his first tournament since reaching the fourth round at the US Open (l. to Murray). The 25-year-old Bulgarian enters with a 30-20 match record on the season and No. 18 in the Emirates ATP Race To London. Over the North American summer hard court circuit, he reached the quarter-finals at the Rogers Cup (l. to Nishikori), the semi-finals at ATP World Tour Masters 1000 Cincinnati (d. No. 4 Wawrinka in 3R, l. to eventual champion Cilic) along with the fourth round at the US Open. His best results this season are runner-up efforts in Sydney (l. to Troicki) and Istanbul (l. to Schwartzman).
Anderson on the Rebound: Kevin Anderson, who has struggled with injuries this season, retiring from two matches and pulling out from eight tournaments due to left knee and right shoulder injuries, has slipped to No. 45. After a 5-11 start, he has compiled a 7-5 record, highlighted by a quarter-final at the Rogers Cup (l. to Wawrinka) and a third-round showing at ATP World Tour Masters 1000 Cincinnati (l. to Murray) and US Open (l. to Tsonga). If he beats Jordan Thompson in the first round, he will play Kyrgios.
Ruud Makes Debut: Future #NextGen star Casper Ruud of Norway is making his ATP World Tour main draw debut. The 17-year-old wild card has climbed to a career-high No. 260 in the Emirates ATP Rankings after finishing No. 1,126 last year. Ruud won his ATP Challenger Tour debut tournament in Seville, Spain two weeks ago. His father, Christian, played on the ATP World Tour and reached a career-high ranking of No. 39 on 9 October 1995. The younger Ruud plays on the Norwegian Davis Cup team.
Chinese Wild Card: China’s No. 2 player Di Wu is No. 195 in the Emirates ATP Rankings after reaching a career-high No. 140 in April. The 25-year-old is 19-17 in ATP Challengers this season with one title.
Doubles Draw: The top seeds are Raven Klaasen and Rajeev Ram, who are trying to secure a spot in the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals in London. They are No. 7 in the Emirates ATP Doubles Team Rankings. No. 2 seeds Juan Sebastian Cabal and Robert Farah are No. 12 in the team rankings.
Shenzhen Open (Shenzhen): The third edition of the Shenzhen Open is led by World No. 9 and defending champion Tomas Berdych, who is the top seed for the second year in a row. Berdych is looking to qualify for the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals for the seventh consecutive year. Other seeds are: No. 2 David Goffin, No. 3 Richard Gasquet. No. 4 Bernard Tomic, No. 5 Alexander Zverev, No. 6 Benoit Paire, No. 7 Fabio Fognini and No. 8 Jiri Vesely. In the inaugural tournament two years ago, Andy Murray saved five match points in a 57 76(9) 61 win over Robredo.
Berdych Top Seed/Reigning Champ: Last year Berdych defeated No. 4 seed Guillermo Garcia-Lopez 63 76(4) in the final. The 31-year-old Czech Republic native is playing in his second straight tournament after returning last week in St. Petersburg, where he lost to Zverev in the semi-finals. Berdych’s streak of 52 consecutive Grand Slam tournament appearances ended with his withdrawal from the US Open due to appendicitis. Berdych’s best results this season are the semi-finals in Doha, Marseille, Wimbledon and St. Petersburg. He is No. 9 in the Emirates ATP Race To London standings.
#NextGen Stars Meet: No. 5 seed Zverev and Japanese No. 3 Yoshihito Nishioka meet for the second time on the ATP World Tour in the first round. The 19-year-old Zverev won his first ATP World Tour title on Sunday in St. Petersburg (d. No. 3 Wawrinka). Zverev became the first teenager to capture an ATP title since Marin Cilic (19) in 2008 New Haven. Nishioka, who celebrates his 21st birthday on Monday, reached a career-high No. 85 on 8 August in the Emirates ATP Rankings and also advanced to his first ATP World Tour semi-final in Atlanta (l. to Kyrgios in three).
Goffin Eyes Top 10: No. 2 seed Goffin, who is No. 11 in the Emirates ATP Race To London, comes into Shenzhen after reaching the semi-finals in Metz (l. to Pouille). The 25-year-old Belgian, making his Shenzhen debut, has a 38-18 match record on the season. He also advanced to the semi-finals at ATP World Tour Masters 1000 Indian Wells and Miami.
Local Wild Cards: Two of China’s top three players in the Emirates ATP Rankings are wild cards in the singles draw. China’s No. 1 player Ze Zhang is No. 176 in the Emirates ATP Rankings and he has compiled a 25-19 match record on the ATP Challenger Tour this season. His best ATP World Tour result is a quarter-final in 2012 Beijing (d. No. 14 Gasquet in 2R, l. to F. Mayer). Chinese No. 3 Zhe Li is ranked No. 234. The 30-year-old is looking for his first career match win in an ATP World Tour tournament (0-3). The other wild card is 19-year-old Japanese native Akira Santillan, who is ranked a career-high No. 233. He made his ATP World Tour debut as a wild card in Kitzbuhel in July (l. to Struff in 1R).
Doubles Draw: The top seeds are Treat Huey and Max Mirnyi, who are trying to secure a spot in the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals in London. They are No. 6 in the Emirates ATP Doubles Team Rankings. No. 2 seeds Oliver Marach and Fabrice Martin are No. 15 in the team rankings. No. 3 seeds Mate Pavic and Michael Venus, who have captured four ATP World Tour titles this season, are No. 17 in the team rankings.
Emirates ATP Race To London Movers
13 Lucas Pouille +2
19 Alexander Zverev +3
30 Viktor Troicki +1
34 Nicolas Mahut +1
Grigor Dimitrov – 199 wins
Richard Gasquet – 448 wins
Malek Jaziri – 49 wins
Jonathan Erlich – 347 wins
Guillermo Garcia-Lopez – 97 wins
In Case You Missed It
Pouille also discussed what made winning in his home country so special. Read
28 September – Marin Cilic (28)
Pouille rallied from 0-4 down in the first set tie-break and cruised in the second to defeat top seed Dominic Thiem 7-6(5), 6-2 for his maiden ATP World Tour title in Metz. The 22 year old notched his fifth victory over a Top 10 opponent this year and a milestone 30th match win overall in 2016.
Pouille continues the recent trend of French champions in Metz, becoming the seventh homegrown winner in the past eight years. Gael Monfils won in 2009, followed by Gilles Simon in 2010 and '13 and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in 2011-12 and '15.
"I'm very happy with my week," said Pouille. "Winning a title is a big step, it's an objective I wanted to achieve this year. It was a well-played final. We both played at a high level."
Neither player flinched on serve in the early proceedings, with Pouille dropping just two points in his first five service games. After denying a trio of set points at 5-4, Thiem surged ahead in the ensuing tie-break, taking the first four points behind two mini-breaks. But Pouille held his nerve, reeling off seven of the next eight points to snatch the opener. A Thiem double fault at 5-5 handed him the decisive mini-break, which he would not relinquish.
The Frenchman continued to apply pressure in the second set, breaking immediately as Thiem sent a forehand long, and he would not look back. Pouille secured a second break for 5-2 and would convert his first match point after one hour and 19 minutes. He fired 27 winners in total and turned aside the lone break point faced. Pouille continued his strong play when coming forward, claiming 14 of 17 net points.
Both Pouille and St. Petersburg Open champion Alexander Zverev represent the seventh and eighth first-time winners on the ATP World Tour this year. He is 1-1 in finals, following a defeat on the clay of Bucharest in April (l. to Verdasco).
Thiem, meanwhile, was bidding for his fifth title of the year. He falls to 0-2 in the FedEx ATP Head2Head against Pouille, having also been defeated in straight sets at the Monte-Carlo Rolex Masters in 2015. Making his debut appearance in Metz, the Austrian maintains his strong footing in the Emirates ATP Race To London despite the loss. He is currently in seventh place, fewer than 200 points behind Gael Monfils.
"I think the first set was a pretty high level from both of us," said Thiem. "I should have won the tie-break, but had an easy volley mistake. All in all, he was the better player and had more chances in my service games. He deserved to win today. I think he put pressure on me all the time and was serving really well.
"He's had an amazing year, reaching the quarter-finals in the last two Grand Slam and semis in the Masters 1000 in Rome. I think we will see him in the Top 10 soon."
The Chilean-Argentine duo fired seven aces and saved all five break points faced to down third seeds Mate Pavic and Michael Venus 6-3, 7-6(4) in the Metz final. A rematch of the final on the clay of Gstaad in July, Peralta and Zeballos defeated their third straight seeded team to prevail. They had stormed back from a set down to upset both fourth seeds Robert Lindstedt and Aisam-Ul-Haq Qureshi and second seeds Oliver Marach and Fabrice Martin earlier in the week.
"We really felt great with our game today," said Zeballos. "It was a tough match like the others this week. The level was high and demanding and it gives us a lot of confidence to win. It's our third title of the year as a team and we're improving our ranking."
Chin chin "champiiiiiionnnssss" pic.twitter.com/R0lMSc0VgH— horacio zeballos (@HoracioZeballos) September 25, 2016
Also champions on the clay of Sao Paulo in February, Peralta and Zeballos improved to a dominant 13-3 this season. They earn 250 Emirates ATP Doubles Rankings points and split €25,070 in prize money with the victory. For Zeballos, it was the Argentine's sixth ATP World Tour title in total and fourth this season, having also triumphed with countryman Andres Molteni in Atlanta.
"I'm very happy to win our third title together and especially on indoor hard," added Peralta. "It's very good for our confidence going forward."
Pavic and Venus, meanwhile, were seeking their fifth ATP World Tour doubles title as a team this year, having previously lifted trophies in Auckland, Montpellier, Marseille and 's-Hertogenbosch. It was their seventh final together in 2016, falling to 4-3. They take home €13,170 in prize money and 150 Emirates ATP Doubles Rankings points for their efforts.
Dominic Inglot and Henri Kontinen saved a match point and captured their first ATP World Tour title together on Sunday at the St. Petersburg Open. The Brit and Fin improved to a perfect 4-0 together by prevailing against German Andre Begemann and Indian Leander Paes 4-6, 6-3, 12-10 to win the ATP World Tour 250 doubles crown.
The comeback in the final marked the third match of the tournament in which Inglot/Kontinen fought back from a set down. They cut their margins especially close against Begemann/Paes, who had not dropped a set before Sunday and were playing in their second ATP World Tour final of the season after falling at the Winston-Salem Open in August to Kontinen and Guillermo Garcia-Lopez.
Begemann/Paes held a match point at 9-8 in the match tie-break and appeared to have won the final before Inglot/Kontinen challenged an out call. The call was overturned and the point was replayed. Defending a match point for a second time, Inglot/Kontinen took no chances as Kontinen smashed a forehand overhead that landed well inside the lines. A few minutes later, he delivered a service winner to give them their first team title.
“We have had a couple of close matches and that helped us today when we found ourselves in very close situations. That gave us some confidence,” Inglot said. “Also, we're having lots of fun on court. I think we felt really relaxed and never felt too much pressure.”
Kontinen, who won the St. Petersburg Open title last season with Treat Huey, becomes the first player to win back-to-back doubles titles in St. Petersburg since Andrei Olhovskiy, who won titles in 1996 with Yevgeny Kafelnikov and in 1997 with Brett Steven. The 26-year-old Kontinen has now won five ATP World Tour doubles titles this season and 11 for his career.
“It's a great tournament and very close to Finland. It's easy to get here. Obviously I'm pretty sure it'll be in my calendar next year as well. I enjoyed playing there. The city is very beautiful,” Kontinen said.
Inglot claims his second ATP World Tour title of the season after winning in Nottingham with Canadian Daniel Nestor. The 30-year-old Brit now has six for his career. He and Kontinen will receive 250 Emirates ATP Doubles Rankings points and split $49,660.
Begemann/Paes were going for their first ATP World Tour title together. Begemann falls to 4-5 in ATP World Tour doubles finals. Paes was trying to win an ATP World Tour doubles title for the 20th consecutive year. The 43 year old, who is now 55-41 in doubles finals, has won at least one ATP World Tour doubles title since 1997. He and Begemann will receive 150 Emirates ATP Doubles Rankings points and split $26,110.
Sonchat Ratiwatana and Sanchai Ratiwatana have become the first doubles team to win 40 Challenger doubles titles with their victory at the ATP Challenger Tour event in Kaohsiung, Taiwan. They already broke the record for most Challenger doubles titles last year by winning No. 38 in Yokohama, Japan, surpassing the record held by Rik De Voest. They further padded their record by winning in Gwangju, Korea, in April, before prevailing again in Kaohsiung.
The 34-year-olds from Thailand have been a reliable staple in the winner’s circle, winning at least one title each year since 2003. The Ratiwatanas have been especially dominant in Asia, with 29 of their ATP Challenger Tour titles and both of their ATP World Tour titles (in Chennai and Bangkok) coming on the continent.
“It’s always good to break records. We’re happy to create something new,” said Sonchat, the older of the two brothers by four minutes. “We feel good every time we play in Asia and have won many titles here. I prefer to play here because it’s not far from home in Bangkok, but we’re also lucky that there are more Challengers here now.”
Sanchai admitted that it’s difficult for casual tennis fans to tell the two apart when they’re playing, but said it’s easier once people get to know them because he’s the more soft-spoken and laid-back of the two. On the court, though, the twins have become so ingrained as a team that they’ve found it difficult to play with anyone else. They’ve competed in 241 Challenger events as a team, but have only paired with other partners on three different occasions.
“There was one tournament where we didn’t play together and we faced each other in the first round,” said Sonchat. “It didn’t work out for us.”
The brothers admitted that they’d like to have more success on the bigger stages this year, but also said that they weren’t bothered with being labeled the “Challenger Bryans” since it means they’re a winning combination.
“The Bryan Brothers are one of the best doubles team ever and we’ve always looked up to them,” said Sonchat. “If we can’t be like them on the biggest stage, we can be like them on the second stage. Even if we may not win most of the ATP World Tour titles, we’re happy about everything we’ve done in our careers. It might take another team 10 or 20 years to break the record we have now.”
Having moved their rankings back inside the Top 100 of the Emirates ATP Doubles Rankings this year, the Ratiwatana brothers are hoping to pad their ranking with a few more Challenger titles this season. Sanchai said their ultimate goal is to make it back onto the main stages of the biggest tournaments in the world.
“We obviously want to make it back on to the ATP World Tour, but we’re also trying our best to have good results in Challengers,” he said. “We want to get back into the Top 75 and play the Grand Slams. That’s why we’re still playing despite our age. We still love to do this.”
Pouille is set to face top seed Dominic Thiem in the Metz final after dispatching 2014 champion David Goffin 7-6(6), 6-1 on Saturday. He punctuated the one-hour and 21-minute victory with an emphatic forehand pass at the net on his first match point. The third seed, who fired 32 winners, crashed the net often in claiming 12 of 14 points when coming forward.
Pouille enters his second ATP World Tour final in fine form following a quarter-final run at the US Open. Runner-up in Bucharest (l. to Verdasco) earlier this year, he is hoping to extend France's dominance at the indoor hard-court event. A Frenchman has now reached the final in eight of the past nine years, claiming six of the past seven titles.
World No. 18 Pouille, who earned his sixth victory over a Top 15 opponent in beating Goffin, boosted his chances of qualifying for the year-end Barclays ATP World Tour Finals. Currently at No. 15 in the Emirates ATP Race To London, he is looking to make his debut at The O2 in London.
"I had chances to go up two breaks and maybe win the first set 6-1 or 6-2, but he found a way to come back," said Pouille. "I held strong in the tie-break, then started to really play freely in the second set. I'm feeling good physically on the court after my US Open run. Quicker than before."
Goffin, meanwhile, suffered his first defeat in Metz after reeling off seven straight victories in the French city. The Belgian had his chances to close out the first set, but was unable to take his lone set point at 6-5 in the tie-break. He remains in search of his first victory against Pouille, falling to 0-3 in their FedEx ATP Head2Head series.
Pouille and Thiem will face off for the second time on Sunday, with the Frenchman claiming their lone encounter at last year's Monte-Carlo Rolex Masters.
Pavic/Venus Reach Seventh Final Of Season
Mate Pavic and Michael Venus advanced to their seventh ATP World Tour final of the 2016 season, downing Colin Fleming and Scott Lipsky 7-6(4), 6-1 on Saturday in Metz. The Croatian and the Kiwi are looking to claim their third title on French indoor hard courts this year, having won in Montpellier and Marseille. They also notched titles in Auckland and 's-Hertogenbosch.
Stan Wawrinka will try to win a career-best fifth ATP World Tour title of the season on Sunday when he faces #NextGen player Alexander Zverev in the St. Petersburg Open final. The top seed advanced to his fifth final of the year and 25th of his career by beating Spaniard Roberto Bautista Agut 7-6(8), 6-2 in one hour and 51 minutes on Saturday.
The Swiss saved two set points in the first set before claiming the 18-point tie-break. He broke to start the second set and again at 4-2 to take his 10th victory in a row. Wawrinka also improved to a perfect 6-0 in sets in St. Petersburg.
Both players fought for every big point in the semi-final. Wawrinka saved all three break points; Bautista Agut erased seven of nine faced.
Last season, Wawrinka also won four titles but never earned the chance to go for a fifth. He'll arrive confident on Sunday. He's 11-0 in his past 11 finals, dating back to his 2014 title in Chennai (d. Roger-Vasselin). The last time Wawrinka lost in a final was more than three years ago: 's-Hertogenbosch in June 2013 against Frenchman Nicolas Mahut.
Zverev, however, also hasn't lost a set in St. Petersburg. The 6'6”, 19 year old will be going for his first title and will be playing in the third final of his season and career. The two will be meeting for the first time.
With the top four seeds in the semi-finals of an ATP World Tour event for the first time in 2016, a pair of enticing match-ups were on tap on Saturday at the Moselle Open.
Top seed Dominic Thiem kicked off proceedings in Metz with a dramatic rally to overcome two-time champion Gilles Simon 4-6, 7-5, 6-3. The Austrian found himself with his back against the wall with Simon serving for the match at 5-4 in the second set, but he would not be denied his spot in the final. Thiem broke back with a massive down-the-line forehand and secured another break at 6-5 to force a decider with a cross-court backhand winner.
Thiem continued to apply pressure on Simon's serve in the third set and despite failing to break from 0/40 at 2-1, he would claim the decisive lead four games later when the Frenchman sent a backhand long. The World No. 10 fired 38 winners and took 16 of 25 net points to prevail after two hours and 18 minutes. He is now a staggering 21-1 in deciding sets this year.
"I expected a very hard match," said Thiem. "We always have long rallies. If he played one more good game at 5-4, the match is finished.
"It's a dream to play in six finals. I never expected it. It's always something really special."
Thiem, who is No. 7 in the Emirates ATP Race To London, continued his push to qualify for the season finale for the first time, as he advances to his sixth ATP World Tour final of the season. Having already won on the clay of Buenos Aires and Nice, outdoor hard courts of Acapulco and grass of Stuttgart, he is seeking his first title on indoor hard this week. The Austrian awaits home hope Lucas Pouille on Sunday.
Simon, a two-time champion (2010, '13) in Metz, had won 14 of his past 15 matches in the French city entering Saturday. He was appearing in his first ATP World Tour semi-final of the season.
Marcos Baghdatis attended the draw ceremony for the inaugural Chengdu Open on Saturday. The historic Chinese city, capital of Sichuan province, will host an ATP World Tour event for the first time. The state-of-the-art venue in Chengdu boasts a centre court capacity of 6000, two additional show courts with 2000 seats each, and a total of 20 hard courts and 12 indoor courts. Main draw action at the ATP World Tour 250 event will kick off on Monday.
“[Chengdu] is a great city and I am happy to be here,” Baghdatis said. “The environment is very beautiful here, the facilities are great and I am excited to get my tournament underway.”
The luck of the draw did Baghdatis no favours, as the Cypriot will face Spaniard Pablo Carreno Busta in his opening match. Carreno Busta, No. 39 in the Emirates ATP Rankings, is just three spots below Baghdatis and recently won his maiden ATP World Tour title on the hard courts of Winston-Salem.
“He’s a very tough opponent to play against in the first round,” Baghdatis said. “He won a title not too long ago so he will be confident.”