First-Time Winner Spotlight: Marton Fucsovics
Sat, 26 May 2018 18:18:00 Z

Marton Fucsovics clinched his first ATP World Tour title on Saturday, beating Germany's Peter Gojowczyk 6-2, 6-2 at the Banque Eric Sturdza Geneva Open. The 26-year-old dropped just four games to become the first Hungarian to win a tour-level title since former World No. 12 Balazs Taroczy in 1982 (Hilversum) and will make his debut inside the Top 50 of the ATP Rankings on Monday 26 May.

Fucsovics is the seventh first-time winner on the ATP World Tour this season, which equals the total number of maiden titlists throughout the 2017 season.

First-Time ATP World Tour Champions In 2018

Player Tournament
Daniil Medvedev Sydney
Mirza Basic Sofia
Roberto Carballes Baena Quito
Frances Tiafoe Delray Beach
Marco Cecchinato Budapest
Taro Daniel Istanbul
Marton Fucsovics Geneva

After the 67-minute triumph, Fucsovics spoke to ATPWorldTour.com:

How does it feel to become a first-time ATP World Tour champion?
[It is a] great feeling. It is good to experience it. I was always dreaming about it and finally I achieved it.

What was your approach heading into today's final?
I was very confident before the match. I was feeling the ball very well all week. I beat good players. I beat Wawrinka in the quarter-finals and I beat Johnson from a set and 3-0 down. I was very confident, I came into the match with a lot of energy. I really wanted to win this title.

You only lost one set en route to the title, what did you do so well this week?
I think I did everything well. I was serving very well, the court fitted to my game very well. I really liked the ball. I could use my strategy to hit big winners, come in to the net and play aggressively; that was the key I think.

You are the first Hungarian champion on the ATP World Tour since Balazs Taroczy in 1982, how does that feel?
It is special for me. He was the last one and it was a long time ago. Tennis was not the top sport in Hungary and now I am a Top 50 player so hopefully it will be even more popular in Hungary.

Now you are in the Top 50 of the ATP Rankings, what are your goals for the rest of the season?
My goal was to stay in the Top 100 at the end of the year, now I am in the Top 50. My biggest goals and dreams [are] to be a Top 10 player or... win a Grand Slam.

You started the 2018 season reaching a final on the ATP Challenger Tour in Canberra before making the fourth round at the Australian Open, what did that good start do for your confidence?
I had a good preparation working with my coach day-by-day. I started the year with the No. 85 ranking and after the Australian Open I was No. 63, now I [will be] No. 45. We are working day-by-day. I had a very bad start to the clay season, but at the end it ended up [going] well.

Who are the people that helped you get to this level that you are at now and who would you like to thank?
My coach. He helped me a lot, he changed my mind. I was No. 270 when we started to work together and now I am a Top 50 player; big thanks to Attila [Savolt]. My family who were always supporting me, even in the hard times. My fiancee who came into my life two years ago. My manager, my friends, my fitness coach and my team who were working with me day-by-day.

Which ATP World Tour players did you look up to when you were younger and who did you admire growing up?
I really liked the Swiss players. Federer was always my idol and then I started to like Wawrinka. That is why it is a little bit special for me to win here.

When you are not on the tennis court, what are your interests besides tennis?
I like to stay at home and play with my dog, go to the cinema, relax at home and hang out with friends.

Nishikori Leads Star-Studded Day One At Roland Garros
Sat, 26 May 2018 18:17:00 Z

There will be no shortage of star power on display as the second Grand Slam of the year kicks off on Sunday at Roland Garros.

Top 10 stars Alexander Zverev, Grigor Dimitrov and David Goffin join #NextGenATP talents Taylor Fritz and Corentin Moutet and home favourites Gael Monfils and Lucas Pouille on a loaded Day One in Paris. Also in action is an in-form Kei Nishikori, who enters as the 19th seed and is poised to make a deep run on the heels of a strong clay-court campaign on the ATP World Tour.

The Japanese star is hoping to continue his return to top form after registering impressive ATP World Tour Masters 1000 results in Monte-Carlo and Rome. A pair of Top 5 wins - over Zverev and Marin Cilic - saw him surge to the final at the Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters, which was followed by another signature victory over World No. 4 Dimitrov at the Internazionali BNL d'Italia.

A quarter-finalist at Roland Garros last year, the 28-year-old will be looking to build on a 15-7 record at the clay-court major. He opens against local wild card Maxime Janvier in the second match on Court 1. One of 15 Frenchmen in the main draw, Janvier is making his Grand Slam debut.

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Meanwhile, the first match of the tournament on Court Philippe-Chatrier will be fourth seed Dimitrov against Viktor Troicki. A rematch of the 2016 Sydney final, won by the Serbian, it will be their sixth FedEx ATP Head2Head encounter. Dimitrov leads 3-2.

With three straight defeats, the World No. 5 is struggling to find his feet on the clay, but will be buoyed by a pair of deep runs in Monte-Carlo and Barcelona. He scored his first Top 10 win of the year (in a completed match) over Goffin en route to the semis in the Principality. 

Dimitrov is trying to recapture the momentum from a dominant finish to the 2017 season, when he lifted the trophy at the Nitto ATP Finals. Currently sitting in 10th place in the ATP Race To London,  the Bulgarian will look to a strong campaign on the terre battue in hopes of boosting his chances of returning to The O2. He has a tricky path in Paris, potentially facing either Nicolas Jarry or Jared Donaldson in the second round, with 2016 champion Novak Djokovic also in his section.

Concluding the day on Court Suzanne-Lenglen is second seed Zverev, who rides into Roland Garros on a wave of momentum following consecutive titles in Munich and Madrid and a final appearance in Rome. Despite his wealth of success at the ATP World Tour Masters 1000 level - reaching five of the past 10 finals - the German remains in search of his first Grand Slam quarter-final.

Five First-Round Matches To Watch

The leader in tour-level match wins (30) in 2018 and the top player in the ATP Race To London, Zverev is hoping his recent success will translate to the second major of the year. He opens against Ricardas Berankis, with 2015 champion Stan Wawrinka, top Frenchman Lucas Pouille and unseeded threats Cameron Norrie, Peter Gojowczyk and Karen Khachanov all standing in his way of reaching his first quarter-final.

Joining Dimitrov and Zverev on the two main show courts are French stalwarts Pouille and Monfils. Pouille faces Daniil Medvedev third on Chatrier, while Monfils will open his 12th Roland Garros bid against 19-year-old wild card Elliot Benchetrit on Lenglen. Making his Grand Slam debut, the teen is coming off a quarter-final appearance at the ATP Challenger Tour event in Bordeaux as a qualifier.

In one of the most intriguing first-round encounters, another #NextGenATP Frenchman, 19-year-old Corentin Moutet, battles big-serving 39-year-old Ivo Karlovic. With a 20-year age difference, they are the youngest and oldest players in the draw. At No. 143 in the ATP Rankings, Moutet is closing in on the Top 100. He defeated Karlovic in a marathon 7-5, 6-7(3), 7-6(6) affair on the clay of Quito in February, en route to his first ATP World Tour quarter-final.

In other action, Fritz faces Argentina's Guido Andreozzi in his second appearance in Paris. The 20-year-old enters with a surge of confidence following a semi-final showing in Houston and quarter-final finish in Lyon, where he earned a straight-set upset of Jack Sock. 

Another highly anticipated match-up features Fernando Verdasco against Yoshihito Nishioka on Court 18, with the Spaniard making his 60th consecutive Grand Slam appearance. He will face a stern test in Nishioka, who is thriving in his return from ACL surgery. The 22-year-old Japanese lifted the trophy at the ATP Challenger Tour event in Gimcheon, Korea, three weeks ago.

Seeds in Action on Day 1...

Match-up FedEx ATP Head2Head
[2] Alexander Zverev vs. Ricardas Berankis First meeting
[4] Grigor Dimitrov vs. Viktor Troicki Dimitrov leads 3-2
[8] David Goffin vs. Robin Haase Goffin leads 4-1
[15] Lucas Pouille vs. Daniil Medvedev Pouille leads 2-0
[19] Kei Nishikori vs. [WC] Maxime Janvier First meeting
[32] Gael Monfils vs. [WC] Elliot Benchetrit  First meeting 
Marach/Pavic Clinch Fourth Title of 2018 in Geneva
Sat, 26 May 2018 14:50:00 Z

Oliver Marach and Mate Pavic won their fourth tour-level title of the season on Saturday, saving one championship point to defeat Ivan Dodig and Rajeev Ram 3-6, 7-6(3), 11-9 at the Banque Eric Sturdza Geneva Open.

"I am very happy to win this tournament here," said Marach. "I won last year in Gstaad, so I guess I like Switzerland a lot."

The top seeds won three straight points from 8/9 down in the Match Tie-break to win the title after one hour and 47 minutes. Marach and Pavic, who will move to No. 1 in the ATP Doubles Race to London on Monday, won 83 per cent of first-serve points and saved seven of the nine break points they faced en route to victory. It is Marach’s 21st tour-level doubles crown. Newly-crowned World No. 1 Pavic has now lifted 12 tour-level titles.

Dodig was bidding to lift his 11th tour-level trophy, while Ram was aiming to clinch his 16th crown at tour-level. The BMW Open by FWU champions (d. Mektic/Peya) hold a 13-9 record this season.

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A ripped Dodig backhand return on deciding point at 3-2 clinched the only break of the first set for the second seeds, who quickly took a one-set lead on their first set point after confident serving from both men.

Dodig and Ram appeared to strengthen their grip on the championship match in the second set, getting the better of Marach and Pavic on yet another deciding point before moving to a 4-2 lead. But the Austrian-Croatian duo were not to be denied, breaking back to level the scores at 4-4 before missing out on a set point at 6-5 to level the match.

Dodig and Ram opened up an early 2-0 lead in the tie-break, but Marach and Pavic stormed back, winning seven of the following eight points to grab the momentum and take the final into a Match Tie-break.

Both teams held serve until 8/8, with the Croatian-American tandem seizing the first mini-break to earn championship point at 9/8. But Marach and Pavic showed their class from there, serving strongly to avoid their third consecutive final defeat before converting their first championship point at the net to win their fifth team title.

"We were just fighting through the match, they played a good match," said Pavic. "They are tough opponents and they were serving pretty good."

Marach and Pavic receive 250 ATP Doubles Ranking points and share €27,170 in prize money for lifting the trophy. Dodig and Ram gain 150 points and will split €14,280.

Did You Know?
Oliver Marach and Mate Pavic hold a 31-6 record this season. The duo began the season with 17 consecutive victories, picking up titles in Doha, Auckland and at the Australian Open. Marach and Pavic also reached championship matches earlier this season in Rotterdam and Monte-Carlo.

Fucsovics Claims Hungary's First Title In 36 Years
Sat, 26 May 2018 14:49:00 Z

It has been nearly four decades since Hungary last celebrated a champion on the ATP World Tour. But that finally changed on Saturday at the Banque Eric Sturdza Geneva Open.

Marton Fucsovics secured his maiden ATP World Tour title in front of a packed crowd in Geneva, capping an impressive week on the Swiss clay. The Budapest resident ousted Peter Gojowczyk 6-2, 6-2 in one hour and eight minutes to emerge with the biggest trophy of his career.

The 26-year-old is the first Hungarian to claim a tour-level crown since 1982, when Balazs Taroczy won the last of his 13 titles in Hilversum, Netherlands. And Fuscovics is also assured of becoming the first from his country to break into the Top 50 of the ATP Rankings since former World No. 12 Taróczy. He is projected to rise to a career-high No. 45, earning 250 points and €89,435 in prize money.

"I really love Switzerland," Fucsovics exclaimed. "Last year, I played my first ATP quarter-final in Basel and now I won my first title here, so it's really special for me. We've been working a long time for this. The last two years were very hard for me in my life, but hopefully I will have a very long career after this."

Fucsovics was a man on a mission on Saturday at the Tennis Club de Geneve. He dominated proceedings from start to finish, never facing a break point and converting on four of his own. An immediate break to open the match set the tone, as the Hungarian dictated play throughout the encounter and forced Gojowczyk out of his comfort zone.

Fucsovics' serve was an impenetrable force, as he conceded just two points on his first delivery and earning 78 per cent of total service points - to Gojowczyk's 50 per cent. He would streak to a set and a break lead and celebrated the title on his first championship point. Chair umpire Fergus Murphy overruled a serve initially called wide, giving Fucsovics his sixth ace of the match and the title.

 

It was a well-deserved victory for the 26-year-old, who came through a murderer's row of opponents to lift the trophy. Straight-set wins over fifth seed Albert Ramos-Vinolas, #NextGenATP star Frances Tiafoe and two-time champion Stan Wawrinka moved him into the semi-finals, where he rallied from a set and a break down to stun Steve Johnson.

On Saturday, Fucsovics exacted revenge on Gojowczyk after dropping their lone previous encounter at US Open qualifying in 2015. It is shaping to be a signature season for the Hungarian, who earned his first Top 20 win (d. Querrey) in reaching the Australian Open fourth round and scored his first ATP World Tour Masters 1000 match victory in Indian Wells.

Meanwhile, Gojowczyk was appearing in his third ATP World Tour final and second of the season. A first-time winner on the indoor hard courts of Metz last year, he finished runner-up to Tiafoe in Delray Beach in February. The German also ascends to a career-high inside the Top 50, rising to a projected No. 43 in the ATP Rankings.

"Marton, congrats on your first title," said Gojowczyk. "Your coach and your box did a great job this week. For me, I was here without a coach. He was at home, so I came with my family - my sister and my niece. Thanks a lot for supporting me this week. 

"It was great to reach the final in Geneva, even if it's on clay, which is not my best surface. It was also not my best day today. But the good thing in tennis is that every week there's a new chance and on Monday or Tuesday I will play in Roland Garros. I'm looking forward to that.

Both competitors will shift their focus to the terre battue of Roland Garros, with Fucsovics opening against Vasek Pospisil and Gojowczyk battling Cameron Norrie. Both are making their main draw debuts in Paris.

Did You Know?
Fucsovics is the seventh first-time winner this year, joining Daniil Medvedev, Mirza Basic, Roberto Carballes Baena, Frances Tiafoe, Marco Cecchinato and Taro Daniel.

Ten Titles For Thiem
Sat, 26 May 2018 14:22:00 Z

Dominic Thiem arrived in France for the Open Parc Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes Lyon having lost back-to-back matches on clay for the first time since 2016. Then, the Austrian had to play nine sets in the final three days of the tournament.

But nothing was able to stop the top seed — not even a set and a break deficit — from defeating home favourite Gilles Simon 3-6, 7-6(1), 6-1 to lift his 10th ATP World Tour trophy.

"I'm super happy. I fought really, really hard for this title," Thiem said. "I'm really happy that I won the title. It's always something very special. It's my tenth title, which is a great number."

Thiem

That wasn’t the only milestone for Thiem, as the Austrian also claimed his 200th tour-level match win on Saturday. The 24-year-old has now won 20 matches on clay this season to lead the ATP World Tour. He has 29 victories in 2018 overall, just one shy of Alexander Zverev’s 30, which is the most on Tour.

This is Thiem's eighth clay-court title, and it comes just weeks after ending Rafael Nadal's 50-set winning streak on clay — a record on a single surface — in Rome, before finishing off the Spaniard en route to the final (l. to Zverev). He has also won three of his championships in France.

"I really enjoyed being here," said Thiem, who has reached back-to-back Roland Garros semi-finals. "France has a very special place in my heart. I've always played great tennis here and I hope I will always play great tennis here... it was a great atmosphere even though I played against a home guy. But still, it was really nice, and I really enjoyed it."

Perhaps surprisingly for the clay-court sensation, the victory came from the brink of defeat. After finishing his quarter-final against Guillermo Garcia-Lopez on Friday morning, he played a three-set semi-final against Dusan Lajovic. All of the tennis appeared to have taken its toll on the talented Thiem.

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But despite trailing by a set and a break, and facing two break points to stare down what appeared would be an insurmountable deficit, Thiem found his best tennis when it mattered most, racing to victory in the third set after two hours, 25 minutes to earn 250 ATP Rankings points and €89,435 in prize money. 

For most of the first two sets, the Austrian's heavy groundstrokes were misfiring, while the Frenchman was comfortably awaiting an error. But Thiem struck two important winners to save the opportunities Simon had for a double-break in the second set. And from there, he dialed back his aggression and consistently used a backhand slice, waiting for the perfect opportunity to strike. And that paid dividends in the third set, as fatigue began to set in for the Pune titlist and Thiem was able to grab control.

Simon will be disappointed, as he was on the doorstep of claiming multiple titles in a season for the first time since 2011 (Sydney, Hamburg), and winning his 14th trophy overall. It also would have been the Frenchman's first victory on home soil since Marseille in 2015. He still heads to Roland Garros with 150 points and €47,105 in prize money for reaching his 20th tour-level final (13-7).

"Congratulations for the match, for the tournament and for everything you've achieved on clay. Beating Rafa in Madrid, that's impressive," Simon said to Thiem during the trophy ceremony. "It's always tough to beat you and congratulations on all the great results."

Did You Know?
Dominic Thiem now heads to Roland Garros, where he opens his campaign against Ilya Ivashka. If he advances, the Austrian will face one of two #NextGenATP players: Stefanos Tsitsipas or Carlos Taberner.

Uncovered: The Secrets To Tsitsipas' One-Handed Backhand
Sat, 26 May 2018 12:36:00 Z
#NextGenATP Greek Stefanos Tsitsipas joins ATP World Tour Uncovered presented by Peugeot to discuss the intricacies behind his one-handed backhand, the shots he likes to hit most and the reasons why he decided to go with one hand rather than two hands.
Sock/Kyrgios Lift Lyon Title
Sat, 26 May 2018 12:25:00 Z

Nick Kyrgios and Jack Sock clinched their first team title at the Open Parc Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes Lyon on Saturday, beating Roman Jebavy and Matwe Middelkoop 7-5, 2-6, 11-9.

The Australian-American duo saved one championship point in the 63-minute final, winning three consecutive points from 8/9 in the Match Tie-break to secure victory. Kyrgios and Sock won 65 per cent of first-serve points en route to their 11th win in 13 matches as a pairing.

It is Kyrgios’ first ATP World Tour doubles title, while Sock has now lifted 11 trophies from 21 tour-level finals. The win marks Sock’s third doubles success, with three different partners, this season. Sock also triumphed in Delray Beach (w/Withrow) and Indian Wells (w/Isner).

Jebavy was aiming to win his third tour-level title after winning in Istanbul and St. Petersburg in 2017. Middelkoop, like Sock, was bidding to clinch a third tour-level crown this season after victories alongside Robin Haase in Pune and Sofia. Jebavy and Middelkoop drop to 9-4 as a team.

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Kyrgios and Sock started strongly, breaking serve to love in the third game to open a 4-2 lead. But Jebavy and Middelkoop, appearing for the first time together this season, recovered well, winning three consecutive games to lead 5-4. Kyrgios and Sock then trailed 30/40 on serve, but raised their level, winning 10 of the next 12 points to capture the first set.

The Czech-Dutch duo responded in the second set, holding serve comfortably and breaking Kyrgios and Sock at 2-1 and 5-2 to force a decisive Match Tie-break. Both teams held two-point leads early in the decider, but, after 16 points, could not be separated. Jebavy and Middelkoop earned the first championship point at 9/8, but it was Kyrgios and Sock who emerged victorious, winning three successive points to secure the title.

Kyrgios and Sock receive 250 ATP Doubles Ranking points and share €27,170 in prize money for winning the tournament. Jebavy and Middelkoop gain 150 points and will split €14,280.

Did You Know?
Nick Kyrgios and Jack Sock were appearing in just their third tournament together on clay (fourth overall). In their two previous outings on the surface, Kyrgios and Sock reached ATP World Tour Masters 1000 semi-finals in Rome (2015) and Madrid (2017).

David (Goffin) vs. Goliaths
Sat, 26 May 2018 12:06:00 Z

The abiding memory is of a brittle-looking youth, who appeared fresh out of high school, explaining, in an insightful post-match interview, how he had had the audacity, the feel and instinct to worry one of his heroes, Roger Federer, whose posters adorned his bedroom wall. Six years have passed since David Goffin blazed a trail into the 2011 Roland Garros fourth round, when, as a 21-year-old lucky loser, his fluid movement and anticipation came to the fore on a global scale, over four sets. It was a pre-cursor of the future. He appeared to be blissfully unaware of the ceiling of his talent, but today, as he steps out to practise in Paris, ahead of the clay-court major, the Belgian is revered as a player’s player — a product of hard work, talent and the right attitude.

In an era of goliaths, 5’11” Goffin is an anomaly, 26 pounds off the next lightest player in the Top 10 of the ATP Rankings, but is still able to pack a punch. How? Just like Michael Chang, his childhood hero Lleyton Hewitt, David Ferrer and Gilles Simon, whom he admires greatly, Goffin challenges the sport’s elite performers by countering his lack of size and power and turning his speed into a weapon, permitting him time to use every shot in his armoury. His peers recognise his qualities. “David is a complete player,” says Rafael Nadal. “He has all the shots… He's very good in all aspects. He's super quick. He has big talent and he’s [among the Top 10] because he has everything that a tennis player needs to become top player.” Marin Cilic agrees, stating, “Goffin is extremely quick, his forehand and backhand [are] very solid. He creates the points really well from his forehand… moves extremely well and also returns well.”

As a competitor, weighing in at 150 pounds (68 kilograms), Goffin will rarely overpower an opponent on serve, but in attempting to throw his ball toss further forward and by working hard on his second delivery, the right-hander relies on timing to tactically out-think and take time away from his opponents. “The serve is really important in modern tennis, so I had to work on that,” Goffin told ATPWorldTour.com. “Especially my second serve, building up the pace and placement during the winter of 2016. I’ve found that small adjustments have made big improvements.”

These clever tweaks are the brainchild of Goffin and his coach since 2004, Thierry van Cleemput, who admitted to ATPWorldTour.com, “I wasn’t happy about how he pushed off his left foot.” Van Cleemput started off as a physical education teacher, prior to 1993, when he began coaching Olivier Rochus, and later helped Goffin first break into the Top 10 in February 2017. Rochus, 5’6” in height, was a builder of points, who, just like Goffin, needed matches to strike top form. Both share Van Cleemput’s belief that “a player must understand the game, be tactically adept and able to play more than four or five shots.

“It means that the player can develop their physical conditioning, their coordination and tactical qualities. It’s more than hitting a serve hard, it’s understanding the reasons why you win or lose. With David it’s so easy, as he knows where to put the ball and to find a solution to winning the point. He is amazing to work with.”

Goffin plays an elegant, intelligent game that takes time away from his opponents. He produces his best tennis on top of the baseline, ever ready to step into his backhand — his favourite stroke, down the line — or, of late, approach the net. Thomas Johansson, who was a part of the Belgian’s team from February to November 2016, set the wheels in motion to improve movement forwards. Grigor Dimitrov, a regular practice partner and a good friend, believes, “David's one of the most intelligent players out there. He always tries to find a way to win — I like that. He also has a very positive demeanour on the court. Even when things aren't going well for him, he's playing well.”

Goffin places great emphasis on his positioning, which is extremely important, because if he runs far from the baseline, his poise and groundstroke shape breaks up — and he can get exposed on his forehand. By concealing his emotions, more often than not, the 27-year-old does not allow his opponents any early psychological advantage. Also, in keeping his unforced error count to a minimum, the Belgian’s compact game draws upon his strengths of great movement, but also his penetrating returns (No. 10) and his ability to prosper in pressure situations (No. 9), according to Infosys ATP Scores & Stats.

“I have to move well to take the ball early, to run quickly and play fast,” Goffin told ATPWorldTour.com. “I have to be aggressive and play with my best weapons — aggressively on return and I must also serve really well to be effective on court. If I am fresh mentally, and I'm physically okay, it can be a great leveler on court.”

While he has developed his leg strength, Goffin’s brand of tennis means he has little need for a bigger upper body. But that hasn’t meant he’s shied away from the gym during his 10-season pro career. Two freak accidents led to enforced absences from the courts, just as he was building momentum. One, on 2 June 2017, when he left Roland Garros on crutches after getting caught on a tarpaulin cover; and then on 17 February this year, when a ball ricocheted off his frame and into his left eye during his ABN Amro World Tennis Tournament semi-final against Dimitrov.

Goffin spun a six-week post-Roland Garros lay-off into a positive and it was a major reason why he produced such a strong finish to the 2017 season, going 25-8 in the final stretch, with a career-high 59 match wins from 83 matches. “Mentally I was fresh, following the injury at the French Open,” Goffin told ATPWorldTour.com. “I had some time to rest and that was the key to perform well at the end of the year, when it’s never easy to play your best after nine months of competition. The injury wasn’t easy, it meant that I wasn’t feeling well and confident on my feet.”

Back-to-back ATP World Tour titles at the Shenzhen Open (d. Dolgopolov) and the Rakuten Japan Open Tennis Championships (d. Mannarino) in October, broke a six-final losing streak and propelled him to the elite eight-player 2017 Nitto ATP Finals at The O2 in London, where he earned a big breakthrough. Goffin told ATPWorldTour.com, “When I beat Simon for the first time, early in my career, I remember it was something special as I knew he was a great player with a similar style of game. When I beat Rafa in the first match at London in November [2017], then against Roger in the semi-finals, just weeks on from a bad loss to him in Basel, it was another mental step. When you lose, you have to change something. Again, although I lost 6-0, 6-2 against Dimitrov in the group stage, it wasn’t easily mentally when we met in the final. I played a great match, although he won.”

Van Cleemput remembers it was an important week, telling ATPWorldTour.com, “When we got the draw, we thought bad luck. I thought it was possible against Nadal, then two days later it was a disaster winning two games against Dimitrov. His attitude was really bad, he didn’t try anything new. But Dimitrov played really well and later the semi-final against Federer was important in his rehabilitation of attitude and confidence. When he lost the first set of the final against Dimitrov 6-3, David had two possibilities: to stay the same, in his comfort zone, or change and start to work. Rather than 2-3 shot rallies, dictated by Dimitrov, David played four-five-six shot rallies, bided his time and found a way back.”

So it was a bitter pill to swallow in February, when he injured his left eye, but it did allow Van Cleemput further time to work on Goffin’s physical conditioning after a short off-season. Although the coach regretted sending Goffin back too early for the Miami Open presented by Itau in March, where his pupils were unevenly dilated in a swift exit. “When I returned from Miami, I trained and played tennis once again specifically for the clay-court season,” said Goffin, who initially played at the Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters, Barcelona Open Banc Sabadell and Mutua Madrid Open with a special contact lens in his left eye. With daily eye-strengthening exercises and regular contact with a travelling doctor, now his vision has corrected itself and he no longer uses the aid.

Already with 13 match under his belt this year on clay (9-4), his favourite surface, Goffin has put in the hard yards too on the practice court — undertaking two, two-hour sessions prior to matches, where Van Cleemput told ATPWorldTour.com, “the focus is on training specific to the service, and then building up the playing of points; adapting his body, the ball speed and trajectory.” But with the self-belief and expectation of playing a lot of matches at this year’s Roland Garros, there cannot be any talk of winning a Grand Slam championship, with just two quarter-final showings at the tournament in 2016 and at the 2017 Australian Open.

After doing well in London last year, a Belgian TV channel broadcast a report on the pressure on him to potentially win at the Australian Open,” Van Cleemput recalled to ATPWorldTour.com. “It was a disaster for David, he played well for one week, not six months. Maybe he will find the level one day. We are working hard to get to his maximum level, the highest level.”

Hailing from a stable family background, and with his girlfriend of seven years, Stephanie Tuccitto, and their chocolate Labrador, Narro, who lives with his partner's parents in Liège, never too far away, Goffin has a good balance in life to continue to work hard and play at the highest level for the next six or seven years. In playing freely, with little conflict in his head, the Belgian will continue to follow his own tennis blueprint for consistency and longevity.

Tomic Into Eighth Consecutive Roland Garros Main Draw
Fri, 25 May 2018 20:32:00 Z

Bernard Tomic has played just one tour-level match this year, falling as low as No. 243 in the ATP Rankings. But that did not stop the Australian in Roland Garros qualifying.

The former World No. 17 defeated Goncalo Oliveira 7-6(5), 7-5 on Friday to advance to the main draw in Paris for the eighth consecutive year. The 25-year-old, a three-time ATP World Tour titlist, did not drop a set throughout qualifying, advancing with the loss of just 3.5 games per set on average. Tomic’s qualification sets the stage for an interesting first-round matchup against compatriot Nick Kyrgios. It will be the first FedEx ATP Head2Head series meeting between the two talented Aussies.

Another former Top 20 player, 2014 Roland Garros semi-finalist Ernests Gulbis, also moved on. The Latvian will compete in the main draw for the 12th straight year after ousting Alessandro Giannessi 4-6, 6-4, 6-2.

This will be Gulbis’ 40th appearance in a Grand Slam main draw. The former World No. 10 seeks his first tour-level victory since the 2017 US Open, where he beat Giannessi in the first round before falling against eventual finalist Kevin Anderson. He will face No. 29 seed Gilles Muller in their second FedEx ATP Head2Head meeting. Luxembourg’s star won their first encounter at the 2011 US Open.

Three #NextGenATP stars also advanced on Friday, with Norwegian Casper Ruud joining Spaniards Jaume Munar and Carlos Taberner in what will be the first Roland Garros main draw for all three players.

Rounding out the qualifiers on the terre battue are Guido Andreozzi, Thomaz Bellucci, Rogerio Dutra Silva, Santiago Giraldo, Martin Klizan, Jozef Kovalik and Elias Ymer.

Can Five-Setters Prove A Boon For Djokovic At Roland Garros?
Fri, 25 May 2018 19:13:00 Z

The Grand Slams provide a unique challenge for the ATP World Tour’s stars, as players compete in a best-of-five set format. And judging by historical success, one superstar has risen to that challenge exceedingly well, which may prove important during the Roland Garros fortnight.

Novak Djokovic is second among active players in both fifth-set win-rate (75.7%) and five-set victories (28-9) according to the FedEx ATP Performance Zone — the only other player in the Top 5 of both categories is Feliciano Lopez (68.6%, 24-11). Only Roger Federer, 30-20, has won more five-setters than Djokovic.

Most Five-Set Wins Among Active Players

Player
 Five-Set Record
 Roger Federer  30-20
 Novak Djokovic  28-9
 Marin Cilic  27-13
 Stan Wawrinka  26-20
 Feliciano Lopez  24-11

In recent years, the former World No. 1 has been especially dominant when matches at the majors have gone the distance. Dating back to 2010 Wimbledon, the Serbian has won 19 of 23 five-setters, with 10 of those victories coming against opponents inside the Top 10 of the ATP Rankings. Just one of his previous nine five-set triumphs came against a Top 10 opponent.

So maybe, as Djokovic continues his recovery from a right elbow injury, he will be able to lean on the confidence he has gained from battling through tough matches at Grand Slams to climb back toward the top of the ATP Rankings, in which he currently sits at No. 22. Djokovic’s most recent five-setter was in Paris last year against Diego Schwartzman. Afterward, he explained the key to his victory.

“I was mentally still strong and as calm as I could be, even though I was two sets to one down,” Djokovic said. “I kept believing I could break his resistance.”

Best Fifth-Set Win-Rates Among Active Players

Player
 Win-Rate Record
 Tommy Robredo  77.3%  17-5
 Novak Djokovic  75.7%  28-9
 Kei Nishikori  72.7%  16-6
 Tomas Berdych  72.4%  21-8
 Feliciano Lopez  68.6%  24-11

Djokovic has not been the only one to say that. Spaniard Tommy Robredo, who leads active players with a 77.3 per cent win-rate (17-5), agrees.

“You need to be very strong physically and I think one of my qualities is that physically I’m very good. Then mentally, you have to believe,” Robredo told ATPWorldTour.com. “I think that's because I’m strong physically, I can believe that I can do it a little bit better than others. Obviously there’s a bit of good luck, which helps. But when you’re 17-5, I think it’s more about the mental and physical [aspects].”

While Robredo did not qualify for Roland Garros this year, the terre battue is home of perhaps his most impressive streak. In 2013, he won back-to-back-to-back five-set matches from two sets down in the second round, third round and Round of 16 to reach the quarter-finals in Paris for the fifth time. He has won seven matches in his career from two sets down, which left him no room for error.

“To come back from two sets down, it’s important to be mentally strong, to believe that you still can. And then you have to see yourself as strong after winning the third set because you need to win two more,” Robredo said. “When you come back from two sets down to 2-1 down, the other player has to start thinking and then if you’re physically good, you have a chance.”

Besides Robredo and Djokovic, only two other active players have won more than 70 per cent of their five-setters — Kei Nishikori (72.7%, 16-6) and Tomas Berdych (72.4%, 21-8). Rounding out the Top 5 is Feliciano Lopez, who holds a 24-11 record (68.6%).

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And if the stats showing Djokovic's prowess in these categories are not enough, World No. 1 Rafael Nadal shared his thoughts about the longer format at Grand Slams after defeating Alexander Zverev to claim his eighth Internazionali BNL d’Italia title last weekend.

“Tennis is tennis. It doesn't matter best of three, best of five,” Nadal said. “[But] playing best of five is a big advantage for the best players.”

Could that be a key for Djokovic in the French capital?

Explore the FedEx ATP Performance Zone

Nadal Looks To Fire Up From The Start
Fri, 25 May 2018 18:38:00 Z

Rafael Nadal has been tested — by his body, as well as his opponents this year — in pressure situations and he arrives at Roland Garros full of confidence and seeking his 11th trophy at the clay-court major.

In spite of an outstanding 79-2 record on Parisian red dirt, the World No. 1 cannot define what makes May in the French capital so pleasing. “I’m not sure what it is about Roland Garros that brings out the best in me; but playing on clay, where I've had so much success, and also having to play best-of-five matches, all of that makes a difference."

Set to face Alexandr Dolgopolov in the first round, the 31-year-old feel’s he's physically in a good place, but is well aware he'll need to be better than good if he's to win his 17th Grand Slam championship trophy.

"I'm feeling good,” said Nadal, who had suffered from a right hip injury earlier in the year. “Of course, after a very tough start to the season with two injuries, I've managed to come back and play very well. I’ve played a lot of matches this season and have had good success. Every tournament is different, and here in Paris we're trying to get in some solid practices so that I'm fit and ready for my first match. I want to be as competitive as I can be from the start."

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The Spanish superstar has dominated the spring European clay swing, winning 11th titles at both the Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters (d. Nishikori) and the Barcelona Open Banc Sabadell (d. Tsitsipas), in addition to his 32nd ATP World Tour Masters 1000 crown — and eighth — Internazionali BNL d’Italia last week (d. A. Zverev). With a 23-2 mark this year, he has compiled a 19-1 record on red dirt.

But it was his Madrid quarter-final loss to Dominic Thiem, on 11 May, which snapped 21-match and 50 consecutive sets winning streaks on clay courts, in addition to battling wins over Fabio Fognini, Novak Djokovic and Alexander Zverev at the Foro Italico in Rome, which have tested the mettle of the World No. 1.

"Everyone knows Madrid is the most difficult clay court event of the season," Nadal explained. "Because of the high altitude, the balls tend to fly. I lost. After that, it was important for me to stay strong mentally and to focus on Rome.

"I think I played a good tournament in Rome, winning some important matches, and at the same time pushing through tough situations — situations that I didn't have to endure at events leading up to this. I’ve had plenty of high-pressure moments, and I came back from a set down against Fognini. Then, I played a very tough first set against Novak in the semi-finals. The final had a little bit of everything. These situations help to keep me going and help me stay confident. It's tennis; it's normal to find yourself in difficult spots like I did [in Rome]."

After a one-week hiatus, following his loss in Madrid, Nadal is back at No. 1 in the ATP Rankings and looking forward to creating more history in Paris.

In-Form Zverev Taking It Slowly At Roland Garros
Fri, 25 May 2018 18:27:00 Z

Alexander Zverev may have won two titles and compiled a 14-match winning streak during the clay swing, to rank as one of the hottest talents on red dirt this year, but he isn’t leaving anything to chance on his third appearance at Roland Garros.

The German entered the clay-court major last year on the back of winning the Internazionali BNL d’Italia, his first ATP World Tour Masters 1000 crown, but lost in the first round to Spaniard Fernando Verdasco.

“I've played good tennis in the clay-court season so far, and I know that I'm able to do so hopefully here, as well,” said Zverev, in Paris, on Friday. “But, I just want to go match by match and see how the tournament goes and we'll see who will play his best tennis here.

“I'm not trying to think ahead. I have done that before in Grand Slams, and I lost early. I'm going to try to avoid that. I'm going to try to prepare myself the best I can and play the best tennis I can. The rest will take care of itself.”

Zverev, who will play Lithuania’s Ricardas Berankis in the first round next week, features in the bottom quarter that includes 2015 titlist Stan Wawrinka, two-time semi-finalist Dominic Thiem and Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters runner-up Kei Nishikori.

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“If I lose to somebody that plays better than me on that day, and I have done everything right and I have played great tennis during the day and I lost, that's okay, as well, because it happens. Sometimes other players are better than you.

"But I know that right now it's more about preparing yourself for the long match, preparing yourself for the best tennis that you might play here.”

In his 11 previous Grand Slam championship appearances, Zverev has only reached the fourth round once at Wimbledon in 2017.

“This is a long tournament with a lot of hard matches,” said Zverev, the second seed. “I'm not trying to think that I'm going to play Rafa in the final. That's not how I'm thinking. I'm thinking about every single match. I'm thinking about how to beat Berankis in the first round. That's my thought process right now.”

The 21-year-old Zverev has put together an ATP World Tour-high 30 match wins this year (30-8), which includes two titles from four finals. He’s won 16 of his past 18 matches, including back-to-back triumphs at the BMW Open by FWU (d. Kohlschreiber) and the Mutua Madrid Open (d. Thiem).

“It's obviously been a fantastic clay court season for me,” said Zverev on Friday. “Winning so many matches in a row, as well, over a period of Munich, Madrid, and Rome (l. to Nadal), was great coming in here.

“Obviously, there is a lot of other great players playing here, Rafa, Novak, and everybody. They are all getting on top of their game. I think this is going to be a very interesting tournament.”

Michael Stich remains the only German in the Open Era (since April 1968) to have reached the Roland Garros final. Stich was beaten by former World No. 1 Yevgeny Kafelnikov in the 1996 title match.

Scouting Report: 10 Things To Watch At Roland Garros
Fri, 25 May 2018 17:59:00 Z

The preparation is now over. After three clay-court ATP World Tour Masters 1000 events, two 500-level tournaments on the surface and 11 ATP World Tour 250 events, the ATP World Tour is ready to take on Roland Garros. There is a lot on the line on the Parisian terre battue, with a massive 2,000 ATP Rankings and ATP Doubles Rankings points available for the winners. From former champions to the rapidly rising #NextGenATP, tennis fans are in for a treat as the fortnight is set to begin.

View Draw

1) Undécima: Rafael Nadal eyes a historic 11th championship at Roland Garros, where he could tie Margaret Court at the Australian Open for the most titles won by a man or woman at a Grand Slam event. Nadal is 79-2 at Roland Garros and 104-2 in best-of-five-set matches on clay. Outside of the World No. 1’s two losses, only John Isner (2011) and Novak Djokovic (2013) have pushed Nadal to five sets in Paris before losing.

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2) Rafa In Form: Nadal, who turns 32 on 3 June, is 19-1 on clay this season with his 11th Monte-Carlo, 11th Barcelona and eighth Rome titles. He must win his 11th Roland Garros title to remain No. 1 in the ATP Rankings. Otherwise, Roger Federer will resume as World No. 1 on 11 June. From last year’s event on the terre battue until this year’s Rome quarter-finals, Nadal won 50 consecutive sets on clay, a record for most sets won in a row on a single surface.

3) Sensational Sascha: World No. 3 Alexander Zverev has reached five of the past 10 ATP World Tour Masters 1000 finals, winning three titles. Could this be the moment for the 21-year-old German to reach his first Grand Slam quarter-final? Zverev leads the ATP World Tour with 30 wins this season. He is also No. 1 in the ATP Race to London, ahead of Federer by 25 points and Nadal by 95 points entering Roland Garros.

Read Draw Preview: Zverev In Loaded Bottom Quarter

4) Party Of Two: There have been 16 World No. 3s since 25 July 2005, while only Nadal, Federer, Djokovic and Andy Murray have been in the Top 2. Zverev can become No. 2 if he wins the title and Nadal does not reach the final or if he advances to the final and Nadal loses in the first round.

5) Rare Company: Djokovic is one of two men to defeat Nadal at Roland Garros, joining Robin Soderling by beating the Spaniard 7-5, 6-3, 6-1 in the 2015 quarter-finals. Now 7-16 in his FedEx ATP Head2Head rivalry against Nadal on clay, Djokovic is the only player with at least four clay-court wins against the 10-time champion.

6) Dominant Thiem: World No. 8 Dominic Thiem earned his third FedEx ATP Head2Head clay-court victory over Nadal on 11 May in Madrid, snapping the Spaniard’s 21-match and 50-set win streaks on the surface. Thiem has reached the semi-finals at Roland Garros in the past two seasons.

7) Stan The Man: Who has the most wins at Roland Garros since 2015? Not Nadal. Not Djokovic. Stan Wawrinka, that’s who. The Swiss is 18-2 on the Parisian clay over the last three years, winning the title in 2015, reaching the semi-finals in 2016 and advancing to the final in 2017.

8) Delpo Rising: Few players have impressed as much early on in 2018 as Juan Martin del Potro. The Argentine won 22 of his first 26 matches to start the year, claiming his maiden ATP World Tour Masters 1000 title at the BNP Paribas Open, ending Federer’s 17-match winning streak streak in the final.

9) #NextGenATP Watch: The Top 5 players in the ATP Race to Milan will be in action, including Frances Tiafoe, Stefanos Tsitsipas and Denis Shapovalov. Tiafoe won his first ATP World Tour title at Delray Beach, Tsitsipas reached his maiden tour-level final at Barcelona, and Shapovalov is the new No. 1 Canadian in the ATP Rankings.

Read: Bryans' Slam Streak To End

10) Super Streaks: Feliciano Lopez will play his 65th consecutive Grand Slam main draw at Roland Garros, tying Federer for the all-time singles record. Mike Bryan is appearing at his 77th straight major in doubles, but first without his injured twin brother, Bob Bryan. Sam Querrey will team with Mike and try to help the 40-year-old become the oldest World No. 1 in ATP Doubles Rankings history.

Kyrgios/Sock Book Place In Lyon Doubles Final
Fri, 25 May 2018 17:38:00 Z

Nick Kyrgios and Jack Sock booked their places in the Open Parc Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes Lyon final with a 7-5, 6-4 victory over Guillermo Garcia-Lopez and Divij Sharan on Friday.

Kyrgios will compete in his first ATP World Tour doubles final, while Sock has a 10-10 record in team title matches. He lost his lone clay final with Vasek Pospisil at the 2016 Internazionali BNL d’Italia (l. to Bryan/Bryan).

The Australian-American pair will next face Roman Jebavy and Matwe Middelkoop, who beat Fabrice Martin and Purav Raja 7-5, 6-1 in the semi-finals.

Jebavy and Middelkoop teamed up to capture last year’s St. Petersburg Open doubles title (d. Peralta/Zeballos). Jebavy has a perfect 2-0 in tour-level finals, while Middelkoop is 6-3 overall.

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At the Banque Eric Sturdza Geneva Open, top seeds Oliver Marach and Mate Pavic, who rose to No. 1 in the ATP Doubles Rankings for the first time on Monday, will contest their 10th team final (4-5 record) after coming through 6-1, 7-6(2) against Robert Lindstedt and Andrei Vasilevski in 70 minutes.

They will next face second seeds Ivan Dodig and Rajeev Ram, who beat Steve Johnson and Sam Querrey 7-6(9), 6-4 in 89 minutes. Dodig and Ram saved one set point at 7/8 in the first set tie-break, which they won on their ninth chance.

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Gojowczyk Forges Past Fognini, Into Geneva Final
Fri, 25 May 2018 14:32:00 Z

Peter Gojowczyk's run of form in Geneva continues, as the World No. 49 defeated second seed Fabio Fognini 6-4, 6-4 in one hour and 33 minutes to book his place in the final at the Banque Eric Sturdza Geneva Open on Friday. The German will face Marton Fucsovics, a 2-6, 6-4, 6-1 winner over sixth seed Steve Johnson for the title in their first FedEx ATP Head2Head encounter.

Gojowczyk is looking to cap off a stellar week in Geneva, where he has defeated Ivo Karlovic, David Ferrer, Andreas Seppi and Fognini. The 28-year-old admitted court conditions and his familiarity with the venue have benefited him throughout the week.

"I feel well here in Geneva, I have already played club matches here and know the court well," Gojowczyk said. "Normally clay isn't my best surface; I usually prefer hard court and grass. But here it is quite quick and that helps my aggressive game."

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Gojowczyk and Fognini are now 1-1 in their FedEx ATP Head2Head series. The 28-year-old moves to 17-12 in 2018 and is aiming for his second career title (2017 Moselle Open).

World No. 60 Fucsovics advanced to his maiden ATP World Tour final by overcoming Johnson in one hour and 58 minutes. After dropping the first set, the 26-year-old found his groove in the second and coasted through the final set in 31 minutes.

Fucsovics is the first Hungarian ATP World Tour finalist since Balazs Taroczy (1984 Indianapolis) and will try to become the first player from Hungary to capture a tour title since Taroczy (1982 Hilversum) when he faces Gojowczyk in Saturday's final.

Did You Know
Gojowczyk's four opponents in Geneva -- Karlovic, Ferrer, Seppi and Fognini -- have a combined 44 ATP World Tour titles between them.

Thiem To Play Simon For Lyon Title
Fri, 25 May 2018 14:12:00 Z

World No. 8 Dominic Thiem will play Gilles Simon on Saturday for the Open Parc Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes Lyon title and the 200th match win of his career (199-117). Thiem, who has won their past five matches, leads Simon 6-2 in their FedEx ATP Head2Head series.

Top-seeded Austrian Thiem will contest his 16th ATP World Tour final (9-6) after he defeated Dusan Lajovic of Serbia 6-4, 5-7, 6-4 in one hour and 58 minutes. Earlier in the day, Thiem needed 50 minutes to win the third set of his quarter-final against Spaniard Guillermo Garcia-Lopez for a 6-7(4), 7-6(0), 6-4 victory in just under three hours. The pair had returned on Friday at one-set apiece, after darkness suspended the match.

Thiem, 27, improved to a 28-8 record on the season (19-5 on clay), which includes his ninth title at the Argentina Open (d. Bedene) and a runner-up finish at the recent Mutua Madrid Open (l. to A. Zverev).

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Simon

France’s Gilles Simon broke serve three times in the first set, but then had to battle hard to beat first-time semi-finalist Cameron Norrie of Great Britain 6-1, 7-6(6) in 81 minutes. He will compete in his 20th title match (13-6), having improved to a 16-10 mark in 2018.

The 33-year-old recovered from a 1/4 deficit in the tie-break and saved two set points from 4/6 to move to within one win of a second trophy this year. In the first week of the season, he captured the Tata Open Maharashtra crown (d. Anderson). The former World No. 7, who is currently No. 75 in the ATP Rankings, has not reached two ATP World Tour finals in a season since 2015, when he captured the Open 13 Provence crown (d. Monfils) and finished runner-up at the Moselle Open (l. to Tsonga).

Norrie, 22, will break into the Top 100 for the first time at around No. 85 on Monday. He recorded his first Top 10 victory over American John Isner in the quarter-finals. Lajovic, who had been appearing in his first ATP World Tour semi-final since the 2016 Abierto Mexicano de Tenis Mifel presentado por Cinemex, drops to an 11-12 mark this year.

Did You Know?
Gilles Simon has a 5-1 record in ATP World Tour clay-court finals, with his last red dirt trophy coming at 2012 Bucharest (d. Fognini).

#NextGenATP Hurkacz To Make Slam Main Draw Debut
Thu, 24 May 2018 22:30:00 Z

If you are unfamiliar with Hubert Hurkacz, you’ll know the #NextGenATP Pole well soon. The 21-year-old defeated Argentine Marco Trungelliti 6-3, 4-6, 6-4 in the final round of Roland Garros qualifying on Thursday in one hour, 55 minutes to move into his first Grand Slam main draw.

Hurkacz seeks his first ATP World Tour win, but he has enjoyed plenty of success on the ATP Challenger Tour in 2018, helping him to the No. 13 spot in the ATP Race To Milan. He made the final, semi-finals and quarter-finals at three consecutive Challenger events in China. The only Polish man in the men’s singles draw, Hurkacz owns a 2-9 tour-level record, and will look to make a splash on the terre battue.

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American Denis Kudla will play in his third Roland Garros main draw after the No. 7 seed beat No. 24 seed Jurgen Zopp 6-2, 6-1.

“Clay has never been my best surface, that’s no secret, but I’ve been playing really well in the lead-up without results really being there,” Kudla told RolandGarros.com. “I’m happy I really showed up for Roland Garros for the big show.”

Czech Adam Pavlasek will compete in the main draw for the second time after ousting Austrian Dennis Novak 7-6(8), 6-4. Pavlasek beat this year’s Quito champion, Roberto Carballes Baena, to make the second round in 2016.

“I feel amazing after the way I’ve played in all three matches of qualies," Pavlasek said. "I’m just so happy to make the main draw again, that was tough.”

Rounding out the early qualifiers is Belarusian Ilya Ivashka, who will debut on the Parisian clay after defeating Ukrainian veteran Sergiy Stakhovsky 6-4, 6-7(5), 6-2. The No. 2 seed in qualifying broke out on the ATP World Tour earlier this year with a run to the Marseille semi-finals, which included a win against Stan Wawrinka.

The remaining 12 qualifiers will be decided on Friday, with notable players such as #NextGenATP Norwegian Casper Ruud and 2014 Roland Garros semi-finalist Ernests Gulbis in action.

Bryans' Stretch of 76 Consecutive Grand Slams To End
Thu, 24 May 2018 22:28:00 Z

Bob Bryan will take on a new role during this year's Roland Garros: coach.

The left-handed half of one of the all-time greatest doubles teams will miss the season's second Grand Slam, marking the first time since the 1999 Australian Open that a Grand Slam doubles draw won't feature the American twins.

Their streak of 76 consecutive Grand Slams will be snapped, but not by choice. Bob is still recovering from the right hip injury he suffered during the Mutua Madrid Open doubles final on 13 May. The Bryans retired down 3-5.

“We've played Slams before where we've been a little hurt and sick, and we've always been able to tough it out. This one I couldn't get on my feet,” Bob told ATPWorldTour.com.

Bryan Brothers At Grand Slams

Tournament

Record

Titles

Australian Open

72-13

6

Roland Garros

66-17

2

Wimbledon

70-16

3

US Open

65-18

5

He tried rehabbing his hip and set timelines for his return, but the deadlines kept coming and going, until he told his brother he wouldn't be making the trip to Paris, where they captured their first Grand Slam title in 2003 and won their second Roland Garros title in 2013.

“I couldn't physically get on the court,” Bob said.

Mike Bryan, however, will be in the Roland Garros doubles draw with longtime friend Sam Querrey, who will be Mike's seventh different partner during tour-level competition.

Playing Without Bob: Times Mike Bryan Has Played Without His Twin Brother

Tournament

Result

2002 Sydney (Rikl)

SF

2002 St. Poelten (M. Hill)

Finalist

2002 Nottingham (Knowles)

Winner

2002 Long Island (Bhupathi)

Winner

2008, 2012 Davis Cup (Fish)

2-0

2015 Vienna (Johnson)

1R

Years ago, in 2002, Mike won two ATP World Tour titles with people not named “Bob”: Nottingham with Mark Knowles, and Long Island with Mahesh Bhupathi. But this will be the first time he's played a Grand Slam with someone else.

I don't know what to expect,” Mike Bryan told ATPWorldTour.com. “[Querrey] brings a lot of weapons to the table, he brings a lot firepower... I think it will be fun. We're really close.”

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The injury comes at a particularly unfortunate time for the 40-year-old Bryans, who have been rewinding the clock to their glory years. The two reached the BNP Paribas Open final in Indian Wells and won the Miami Open presented by Itau and Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters titles before having to retire in Madrid.

It's been great to win big titles again. I feel like we're playing as well as any team out there right now. Hopefully this is not a big step back to our momentum. It's been a great run and I want to keep it going so I'm going to just do everything in my power to get back as soon as possible,” Bob said.

Bryan, Bryan

He plans to return in time for the Fever-Tree Championships at The Queen's Club, which begins 18 June. Bob will be watching his brother and Querrey and scouting opponents from his home in California. He sees the new squad making a deep run. “I think they can do some serious damage,” Bob said.

And if Mike wins it all with Querrey, Bob said, “He'll have a extra Slam.”

The twins currently have 116 tour-level team titles, including 38 ATP World Tour Masters 1000 crowns and 16 Grand Slam titles.

The brothers have seen it happen in the past. Newly formed teams ride the honeymoon period and string together matches off their relationship high. It's not something they've had to think about in the past, but at this year's Roland Garros, everything will be different for the Bryans.

Hopefully we can draw on some of that magic and just have fun. I think Sam plays his best when it's not too serious. I have no expectations. Obviously we're going to be floating around the draw, and we're going to be unseeded,” Mike said. “Who knows what will happen? I'm here, and I'm motivated to keep playing some good tennis without Bob and have a good run.”

Nadal Learns Roland Garros Draw, Bottom Half Loaded
Thu, 24 May 2018 21:42:00 Z

Rafael Nadal will begin his quest for an 11th Roland Garros title against Alexandr Dolgopolov, but all eyes in Paris will be on a loaded bottom half, which features Alexander Zverev, Dominic Thiem, Grigor Dimitrov, 2015 titlist Stan Wawrinka, Kei Nishikori and 2016 champion Novak Djokovic.

In-form second seed Zverev, the winner of 16 of his past 18 matches (and an ATP World Tour Tour-leading 30-8 overall), will have to beat Lithuania’s Ricardas Berankis in his opener, with the prospect of a fourth-round clash against Wawrinka or Lucas Pouille. Thiem or Nishikori may then lie in wait for the recent BMW Open by FWU and Mutua Madrid Open champion in the quarter-finals.

World No. 8 Thiem, who has reached back-to-back Roland Garros semi-finals (2016-17), faces a qualifier, but may play Nishikori in the fourth round. Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters finalist Nishikori faces French wild card Maxime Janvier in the first round, while former World No 3 Wawrinka, who was in action this week at the Banque Eric Sturdza Geneva Open, challenges Guillermo Garcia-Lopez of Spain.

VIEW DRAW

Former World No. 1 Djokovic, who is currently No. 22 in the ATP Rankings, starts against a qualifier, but could face fourth seed Dimitrov in the fourth round. The Serbian star, who underwent elbow surgery following the Australian Open in January, last week showed flashes of a return to peak form in losing to Nadal in the Rome semi-finals. Djokovic has a 59-12 record at the Paris major. Dimitrov, who is 16-10 in 2018 and has reached the Roland Garros third round on two previous occasions, starts against Viktor Troicki of Serbia.

World No. 1 Nadal has a 7-2 FedEx ATP Head2Head record against his first-round Ukrainian opponent Dolgopolov and could potentially meet Canadian Denis Shapovalov or American Jack Sock in the fourth round, prior to a potential quarter-final against sixth seed Kevin Anderson – who opens against Paolo Lorenzi of Italy. Nadal has suffered just two losses in 81 matches at the clay-court Grand Slam championship – to Sweden’s Robin Soderling in the 2009 fourth round and to Djokovic in the 2015 quarter-finals.

The Spanish superstar has a 19-1 clay-court record this year (23-2 overall), which includes 11th titles at both Monte-Carlo (d. Nishikori) and the Barcelona Open Banc Sabadell (d. Tsitsipas), in addition to an eighth crown at last week’s Internazionali BNL d’Italia (d. A. Zverev).

World No. 4 Marin Cilic, who reached last year’s quarter-finals and is 18-8 in 2018, features in the second quarter of the draw alongside 2009 semi-finalist Juan Martin del Potro. Cilic, who advanced to his first clay-court ATP World Tour Masters 1000 semi-final last week in Rome, plays Australia’s James Duckworth and may face Fabio Fognini of Italy or Great Britain’s Kyle Edmund in the fourth round.

Del Potro, who is recovering from a left leg injury, meets France’s Nicolas Mahut and could potentially meeting 2010 semi-finalist Tomas Berdych of the Czech Republic in the fourth round. Del Potro went on a 15-match winning streak earlier this year (23-6 overall), including titles at the Abierto Mexicano Telcel presentado por HSBC (d. Anderson) and his first ATP World Tour Masters 1000 crown at the BNP Paribas Open (d. Federer).

The 2018 Roland Garros draw ceremony was held at L'Orangerie, located in the botanical gardens of the site, featuring Gabriella Papadakis and Guillaume Cizeron, three-time world figure skating champions (2015, 2016 and 2018) and winners of the silver medal at the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeong Chang.

Tiafoe v Querrey Among 5 Must-See First-Round Roland Garros Matches
Thu, 24 May 2018 20:50:00 Z

If you thought you could wait to get the popcorn cooking for Roland Garros, think again. There are plenty of intriguing matchups in the first round of the clay-court Grand Slam, and the ATP World Tour's best are ready to put on a show on the Parisian terre battue.

Sam Querrey v Frances Tiafoe
This is a battle of Americans that would be plenty entertaining even if it were to occur in a later round in Paris. But the second-ranked player from the United States, Querrey, will attempt to hold off #NextGenATP Tiafoe’s charge in their second FedEx ATP Head2Head series meeting. Tiafoe has proven to be in great form this year, sitting at No. 4 in the ATP Race To Milan. The 20-year-old entered the season having never reached a tour-level quarter-final. But he won his first ATP World Tour crown at the Delray Beach Open and advanced to the final at the Millennium Estoril Open. Querrey, on the other hand, is just two spots off of his career-best ATP Ranking (No. 11) and looking to make an impact in France.

Querrey is at his best when dictating with his forehand at the first opportunity. And when the 30-year-old is able to do so, there are few players on the ATP World Tour who can stop him. But Tiafoe is one of the most athletic players on the circuit, and the #NextGenATP American will attempt to stave off the No. 12 seed’s aggressive play so he can take control himself. Look out for which player will make the most of their opportunities. When they played in Shanghai last October, Querrey saved nine of 10 break points en route to his victory. Tiafoe fell in five sets at Roland Garros last year. Will his newfound confidence allow him to break through on the terre battue?

Kyle Edmund v Alex de Minaur
Few players began the 2018 ATP World Tour campaign as well as Edmund and De Minaur. The current British No. 1 broke through to the Australian Open semi-finals, the best result of his career. Despite beginning the season outside the Top 200 of the ATP Rankings, #NextGenATP Aussie De Minaur battled to his first semi-final in Brisbane before advancing to his maiden ATP World Tour final in Sydney. By the way, the Aussie is just 19 years old. Yet, he has surged with the maturity of a veteran, climbing quickly to his current career-high of World No. 106.

The pair began their FedEx ATP Head2Head rivalry earlier this year on Estoril’s clay, with Edmund moving on in straight sets. The key lay in the second-serve stats — Edmund won 54 per cent of points on his second delivery, while de Minaur claimed just 38 per cent of his. The Brit will look to attack with his massive forehand whenever possible, especially with more time to set up on the Parisian clay. But the question that will be answered in this match will be simple: Will the Aussie manage to hold off Edmund’s offence long enough to counter-attack?

Philipp Kohlschreiber v Borna Coric
The duo’s most recent FedEx ATP Head2Head meeting was one of the wildest clashes on the ATP World Tour last season. In the Marrakech final, Kohlschreiber led by a break in both the second set and the third set, and even held five championship points to claim what would have been his eighth tour-level trophy. But instead, Coric stormed back to earn his maiden ATP World Tour title. Since then, the Croatian has qualified for the inaugural Next Gen ATP Finals, made the semi-finals at Indian Wells this year and followed that up with a quarter-final showing in Miami.

So while Kohlschreiber is the No. 22 seed, Coric will make this a popcorn-worthy first-round match. It will be interesting to see which player will be able to hold his ground on the baseline. While Kohlschreiber stands 5’10” and Coric 6’1”, neither player shies away from being the aggressor in rallies. In fact, both have heavy forehands, and especially on the clay, they will look to keep one another deep in the court with heavy deliveries close to the baseline.

Lucas Pouille v Daniil Medvedev
Pouille-Medvedev is undoubtedly one of the first-round matchups to watch given their significant talents and success in 2018. Pouille triumphed in Montpellier before finishing runner-up in Marseille and Dubai. Medvedev followed up his 2017 Next Gen ATP Finals qualification by claiming his maiden ATP World Tour in Sydney. But Pouille has lost four of his past five matches and Medvedev has dropped four in a row, so both players will be at maximum focus in an attempt to get back on track.

There will be a clear contrast of styles as home favourite Pouille looks to thrill the French fans and gain a 3-0 lead in the pair's FedEx ATP Head2Head series. The No. 15 seed is a rhythmic offensive player, who will look to dictate from the baseline with his forehand and keep the match on his racquet. Ironically, Medvedev’s style is predicated on throwing off an opponent’s rhythm. The Russian typically strikes the ball later than most players, and generally hits relatively flat shots off both wings. Pouille won the pair’s most recent meeting last year in Shanghai 6-4, 6-2. But don’t be deceived by the score — Medvedev won just six fewer points in the match.

Nick Kyrgios v Bernard Tomic
There have been few Australians in recent years as talented as Kyrgios and Tomic. Kyrgios is one of just two players (also Lleyton Hewitt) to defeat Rafael Nadal, Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic in their first FedEx ATP Head2Head meetings. On the other hand Tomic made history of his own seven years ago at Wimbledon, where he became the youngest quarter-finalist since Boris Becker in 1986. Kyrgios has not played a singles match since a quarter-final loss in Houston against Ivo Karlovic, and Tomic is outside the Top 200 of the ATP Rankings, making this a crucial first FedEx ATP Head2Head encounter between the pair. 

The Aussies play about as opposite a gamestyle as possible. Kyrgios thrives on energy, pulling off jaw-dropping winners from any spot on the court. His simple service motion also allows him to consistently elicit short balls off his opponents' return and earn plenty of free points. Tomic likes to lull his opposition to sleep, calmly slapping forehands and backhand from the baseline with little pace, keeping rivals out of rhythm until he can seize an opportunity in a rally. If Kyrgios is firing on all cylinders, with the confidence gained from clinching his maiden ATP World Tour doubles title with Jack Sock in Lyon on Saturday, there might be little Tomic, a qualifier, can do. 


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