2014/10/31

Approach Shots: Getting to Know Tennis Umpire Ali Nili

By Wendy M. Grossman

(June 14, 2014) LONDON – “To be close to professional tennis,” says Ali Nili, in explaining his motivation for working as a tennis umpire. Nili is an Iran-born US citizen and one of the ATP’s cadre of ten full-time umpires. This makes him as much of an elite member of his profession as the players whose matches he oversees: only 25 umpires in the world have, like him, earned the profession’s highest qualification, a gold badge. Ten of them work full-time for the ATP, traveling the tour alongside the players.

Umpiring wasn’t what he set out to do. “I wanted to play. I wasn’t good enough.” He sounds comfortable with that.

“It’s just a fun job in general, especially if you’re a tennis fan.” Nili is speaking shortly after umpiring the semifinal between Stanislas Wawrinka and Grigor Dimitrov. It was a match not without incident: down a set and 3-5, Wawrinka crashed his racquet repeatedly on the court and then, apparently dissatisfied with the demolition job, deliberately folded it in half. Nili seems unbothered by that or any suggestion that angry players might be at all scary. “Just because of the fact that I know them, I work with them every week.”

On the other hand… “I would rather deal with any professional player than any junior’s parents. They want their kid to win at any cost, and anybody in their way is an enemy. I realized that early in my career and tried to stay away from it.”

From the sounds of it, umpiring is a more social job than playing: umpires at the top level hardly ever work with anyone they don’t know, and accordingly they have each other as company.

But players do have one advantage. In a long match they can leave the court for bathroom breaks or request medical treatment. Umpires, on the other hand, stay in place throughout, climbing down only when the match ends or, on clay, if someone wants a mark inspected. It’s not surprising, therefore, when Nili says that ,”My only pre-match routine is go to the bathroom.” When he’s working at Wimbledon or one of the other Grand Slams, where the men play five-set matches, he doesn’t drink anything until the end of his last five-set match.

“It’s easier to stay sharp thirsty than when you have to go to the bathroom out there.”

Nili earned his first international certificate in 1998. Like players, umpires start out in the weeds of the game – small, local events or junior matches. As they learn, gain experience, and improve, they move up the ranks through a series of certificates: white, bronze, silver, and, finally, gold. A tournament like Queen’s, with a singles main draw of 56 and a doubles draw of 16, uses six umpires, four from the ATP’s group, the rest contractors.

Nili jokes about preferring women’s matches at the major because they’re only best-of-three sets, but you have to suspect that every umpire would have liked to have been in the chair for the historic 2010 Wimbledon first-round match between John Isner and Nicolas Mahut, which went to 70-68 in the fifth and took more than 11 hours over three days to complete.

“Even he” – meaning the umpire in that match, Mohamed Lahyani – “would tell you that it goes a lot faster than the action time.” In general, he says, “The better the match is, the easier it is to keep your level of concentration. You do a tough five-set match which lasts four hours and when you sit up there it feels like a half an hour.” By contrast, “The opposite is also possible. You might do a match, that might never really pick up, you know, and it’s not the most exciting match in the world and it’s one hour and it feels like three hours. The closer the match is, the tougher the match is, the better the tennis is, the easier it is to concentrate. You get into the flow and the match just drives you along.”

Mistakes still do happen, of course. Umpires are taught not to dwell on them. “We just really always think forward. We always just think about the next call. The more you think about what happened the more chance there is that you’ll miss something else because you’re losing concentration.”

Few mistakes have lasting effects like the one in Venus Williams’ second round match at Wimbledon 2004, when the umpire incorrectly awarded an extra point to her opponent, Karolina Sprem, in the second-set tiebreak. No one corrected the error, and Sprem went on to win the match, though Williams did earn – and lose – three set points along the way.

“Usually, at least in men’s tennis, if you call the score wrong for two points in succession one of the players is going to tell you.” Or, if not the players, a line judge. “It’s not something that happens really often.” Modern technology helps: umpires have tablets that connect directly to the scoreboard so when he punches in the score everyone sees it and it feeds through to TV. A wrong score popping up in those circumstances generally gets a reaction in the stadium.

The hardest thing to learn, Nili says, is “to see the ball well”. Most, though not all, of the top rank of umpires play tennis themselves. “And then communication and not taking things personally.”

One surprising thing to learn is that just as the players must change their games in shifting from clay to grass, so must umpires change their procedures.

“It’s kind of like an art to umpire on clay,” Nili says. “It’s very different. You have to have a better feeling for the match. You have to have done a lot of clay-court matches in order to be a good clay-court umpire.” Years of experience on other surfaces doesn’t automatically translate.

“It’s a lot different.” On other surfaces – hard, indoor, grass – whether or not Hawkeye is available, as soon as a point ends the umpire looks at the loser in case he has questions, comments, or breaks a racquet. “On clay you keep staring at the mark so you don’t lose it.” Obviously. Because: if there’s a disagreement you will have to get down and go check it.

Asked to name the stand-out matches he’s umpired, Nili picks first the 2008 match between Rafael Nadal and Carlos Moya, which stretched to three tiebreaker sets and took two hours, 35 minutes to finish. “The longest three-set match ever played on hard court,” Nili says, and also, “Every point was really amazing. That’s probably the best tennis I would say, I’ve umpired.” Then he names a match from a few months ago: Federer versus Djokovic at this year’s Indian Wells final – “That was a good match.” He umpires comparatively few women’s matches, but obliges with Serena Williams versus Jelena Jankovic in Rome.

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Klizan beats Fognini to win BMW Open Crown

Klizan wins BMW Open

By Florian Heer

(May 3, 2014) MUNICH – Top-seed Fabio Fognini and qualifier Martin Klizan clashed in Sunday’s final at the BMW Open by FWU AG to crown a new champion. The pair met for the fifth time on the ATP World Tour with the Italian leading the head-to-head record 3-1 before the day’s encounter. The only time the Slovakian world No. 111 beat Fognini was in his only previous final in St. Petersburg in 2012 lifting his maiden trophy.

In sunnier and warmer conditions compared to Saturday, the match started with three breaks in a row giving the Italian a 3-1 lead. Fognini took the opening set after only 27 minutes in the eighth game. Klizan seemed to be injured and took a toilet break during changeover. From then on the 24-year-old Slovakian found his rhythm, cruised past the second set by hitting a couple of strong forehand baseline winners. The Italian was annoyed by his game and even received a point penalty after his second warning for breaking his racket. Klizan remained calm as well as focused and eventually served the match out winning 2-6, 6-1, 6-2 in one hour and 28 minutes. The qualifier claimed his second title on the ATP World Tour.

“After Monte Carlo and Barcelona I was a little bit physically down but overall I think this was a good week for me here. I played the final and I feel to be in a good shape with a lot of big tournaments coming up like Madrid and Rome Masters as well as Roland Garros,” Fognini said. “I think that Martin made a bit of a show out of his injury today. I don’t know if it disturbed me or not, actually this is not my problem. I congratulate him because he won the tournament but by the end of the year we will see how many matches he is going to win like this,” the Italian was also a bit upset afterwards but wants to focus on his next tournaments now.

“The final was crazy today but I think it was a great match from both sides,” Klizan said. “After the first set I thought that if he breaks me now, it’ll be time to retire because I don’t want to act like a clown on court. My stomach was cramping all the time. I was also very tired. I had to play a lot of matches during the week coming from the qualification and I didn’t sleep very well last night. Nonetheless, I fought until the end of the match. After I had taken two pills against cramping, I played very well today, tried to kill every ball and in the end I was on fire,” the Slovakian explained.

“Of course he felt that anything was wrong with me. This wasn’t easy for him either because you never know what will happen with your opponent but this wasn’t any show. It’s a final, you cannot do a show,” Klizan told about the seriousness of his injury. “I going to have one week off now, then I try to get into the qualification of the Masters in Rome,” the world number 111 said about his further plans.

J Murray and Ross Hutchins win BMW Open

Earlier the day Colin Fleming and Ross Hutchins were contesting their first ATP World Tour final as a team in 23 months when they took on Jamie Murray and John Peers for the title. The British pair entered the draw by protected ranking and made an impressive run in Munich reaching the final without dropping a set in their only second ever tournament together on clay. Today, however, the third-seeded Australian-British combination was the more solid tandem. Murray and Peers took their first title of the season winning 6-4, 6-2 in 65 minutes.

“It’s nice to be back in a final. We had a great week here in Munich. It’s one of the best ATP 250 events on the calendar and I would also like to thank my partner Ross. It’s nice to have him back on court,” Fleming said. “It’s a real honour to be in a final again and we enjoyed this week here in Munich,” Hutchins added.

“We had a great week, it is a fantastic tournament and we had a lot of fun here. Obviously, it’s nice to win the title, although it was against our friends today. It’s also a great thing to see Ross back on court,” Murray was happy lifting their first trophy in 2014 after the team lost in the semi-finals in their last two tournaments in Casablanca and Bucharest.

DSC_0884-001

“Between 33.000 and 34.000 spectators attended the matches this week here. It was an exciting tournament with great tennis to watch. We had eight players out of top 30, which is an extraordinary field for a tournament of our category comparing it internationally throughout the year,” tournament director Patrick Kühnen was satisfied with the week in Munich.

“This year’s edition concludes today but we already are looking forward to 2015,” organiser Michael Mronz added. “This will be really special for us, as the tournament will celebrate its 100-years existence. The club MTTC Iphitos is one of the founding members of the ATP World Tour 25 years ago. And from tomorrow on, there are 360 days for us to develop new ideas and improve our tournament continuously hopefully celebrating a great anniversary next year,” Mronz concluded.

 

Florian Heer travels the tennis tour with a focus on ATP Challenger events and the ITF Future Circuit!  Follow his twitter account @Florian _Heer.

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Klizan Upsets Haas to Reach Munich Final Against Fognini

Tommy Haas

Tommy Haas

By Florian Heer

(May 3, 2014) MUNICH – Fabio Fognini and Martin Klizan moved into the Munich final on Sunday. The 28-man draw at the BMW Open by FWU AG had been whittled down to the remaining four players on Saturday. The tournament’s two top-seeds as well as two qualifiers were fighting it out on Saturday for two spots in Sunday’s final. It has been the first time since Sydney in 2012 that two players from the qualifying made it into the semi-final stage at an ATP World Tour event.

In cold conditions (8 degrees Celsius/46 degrees Fahrenheit) with some drizzle, local hero Tommy Haas opened proceedings on Centre Court against Martin Klizan, with the German winning their only previous meeting, a straight sets victory in Hamburg two years ago. The Slovakian made a strong start in the match gaining a break in the opening game and dominated most of the rallies. The second-seeded German on the other hand just produced too many unforced errors and lost his serve for the second time in the fifth game. Klizan took the opening set in only 34 minutes. The weather obviously didn’t suit Haas’ shoulder and during changeover, the German veteran seemed to look for some warmness covering himself with towels. The qualifier was able to take advantage of the situation and broke serve in the fourth game of the second set. A second break in the eighth game, Klizan eventually advanced into his second career final on the ATP World Tour winning 6-3, 6-2 in 63 minutes.

“This is a bitter day for me. Conditions on court couldn’t have been worse for me today,” a disappointed Haas said afterwards. “Nonetheless you have to accept it, although it is not easy to do so. You have to try playing your game as good as possible. Unfortunately it didn’t work out for me today. I’m not that happy at the moment. In particular here in Munich I wanted to reach another final. The crowd’s support was great during the week and I’m sorry that I wasn’t able to play my best tennis today. Who knows, if there will be another chance for me to participate here next year or if this was even my last match in Munich,” Haas said and set off for the ATP Masters 1000 in Madrid starting next week.

“Conditions on court were really tough today but the thing is that we both had to face it. It was a difficult match playing in only about five degrees but the plan was to play aggressively and I think that I was the better player on court today,” said a happy Klizan. “Last year was very tough for me as I struggled with wrist injuries for a couple of months. During this time, I tried to stay positive and worked hard every day. Now I feel fit again and I’m ready to compete in the final,” the world number 111 said and is looking forward to tomorrow’s match and added that he loves fast cars in allusion to might win a new BMW tomorrow.

Top-seed Fabio Fognini and Jan-Lennard Struff met in Munich for the first time. The German advanced to the semifinal for just the second time in his career, recovering from a set down to beat lucky loser Ricardas Berankis in yesterday’s encounter. The 26-year-old Italian has reached the stage of the final four without dropping a set beating Dustin Brown in his opening match and Thomaz Bellucci in yesterday’s quarterfinal. Fognini, who played with long sleeves today, seemed to acclimatize to the cold conditions pretty well and gained his first break in the fifth game when Struff overcooked a backhand baseline shot. In the ninth game the top-seed served the opening set out. Overall, the underdog wasn’t able to really challenge his opponent today. Fognini was in total control and eventually advanced untroubled into his third final of the season winning 6-3, 6-1 in only 62 minutes.

“I had the feeling today that I wasn’t able to hit many winners. Fabio showed some great defensive skills, which forced me to take riskier shots. It was also tough for me to anticipate his forehand. I really couldn’t see in what direction he is going to hit,” Struff analysed the encounter. “Of course I’m disappointed but in general I’m pretty satisfied with my week here in Munich. I also enjoyed my first experience being part of the Davis Cup team and I will work hard for being there again,” the German added and said that he is going to play the ATP Challenger in Heilbronn next as well as the ATP 250 event in Düsseldorf in preparation for Roland Garros.

“Jan played a really good week here beating some tough players like Stakhovsky or López but I was very solid from the baseline today. I’m happy,” Fognini said. “The last time I played Martin in a final, he beat me easily,” the Italian added but also knew that he won all of the last three meetings between the two. “Tonight I won’t do anything special. Just try to sleep and tomorrow I will have to focus on my game and try to win the title,” the top-seed seemed to be confident.

Munich’s finals day will take place without any Germans participating. In the second doubles semifinal, last remaining local Dustin Brown lost with his partner Julian Knowle against Colin Fleming and Ross Hutchins in straight set 3-6, 2-6. The British pair will take on Jamie Murray and John Peers.

Florian Heer travels the tennis tour with a focus on ATP Challenger events and the ITF Future Circuit!  Follow his twitter account @Florian _Heer.

 

 

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Two-Time Munich Champion Kohlschreiber Falls in First Round

Philipp Kohlschreiber

Philipp Kohlschreiber

By Florian Heer

(April 29, 2014) MUNICH – It was a busy second day at the BMW Open by FWU AG with the eight remaining first round singles matches all taking to court on Tuesday.

In the opening match on Centre Court qualifier Jan-Lennard Struff took revenge on Feliciano López for the defeat in Hamburg last year. This time the German, who turned 24 last week, emerged victorious in his Munich debut winning 6-3, 6-4 in 78 minutes and the first seeded player of the tournament was knocked out. “Feliciano prefers to play in sunny conditions when the courts are faster,” Struff analysed afterwards. “I knew from our last meeting that I needed to keep fighting and I’m happy that it worked out in end,” the German youngster added.

Another German hope, however, was not that successful. Only 17-year-old Alexander Zverev, who captured the Australian Open junior title this year, was without any chance in his tournament debut against Jürgen Melzer. The Austrian veteran dominated the encounter beating the teenager in 63 minutes. 6-1, 6-2.

In his tenth appearance on home soil, Philipp Kohlschreiber was actually looking to complete a hat-trick of Munich titles this week. However, last year’s finalist had to face Denis Istomin for a third time on the ATP Tour and the German has never been able to gain a victory against the Uzbekistan native. Today’s match should not be an exception. In an exciting encounter on Centre Court it was Istomin in the end winning 7-5, 2-6, 6-4 after two hours and three minutes.

“I didn’t have any physical problems in my match today,” Kohlschreiber said after he was forced to retire last week in Barcelona. “I just wasn’t able to capitalize on my chances as well as to make the big points, in particular in the third set. I also think that I faced a very tough opponent today, who served big and eventually he was better in the decisive moments. I think Denis is a really good player, not only due to the fact that I lost three times against him, but he has a lot of good shots and I think he could be ranked higher. There are only few weaknesses in his game. I think I played pretty well but he was really solid,” the 30-year-old German complimented Istomin on his performance today. “Of course I would have preferred to stay longer in the tournament. Madrid will start on Sunday, so I think that I will start my journey to the Masters over there on Thursday or Friday,” Kohlschreiber talked about his further plans and added that he is not going to attend Tuesday’s football Champions League semi-finals between Bayern Munich and Real Madrid live in the Allianz Arena, but will watch it on television.

With lucky loser Michael Berrer another German had to suffer defeat in his match against Andreas Seppi. The seventh-seeded Italian sealed victory in one hour and 24 minutes winning 6-3, 7-5.

A disappointing day for the local players concluded in the defeat of Peter Gojowczyk against Sergiy Stakhovsky. Right when the sun came out over Munich’s Centre Court, the German wild card ran out of steam after winning the opening set. The Ukrainian took the match 3-6, 6-4, 6-1 after one hour and 27 minutes.

Lleyton Hewitt was last up on Centre Court today returning to Munich for the second time. His only previous outing in Bavaria’s capital came in 2009 when he advanced into the quarterfinal. The Australian went up against Spanish qualifier Albert Ramos for the first time. The 33-year-old former No. 1 took the opening set in the tie-break but Ramos eventually found his rhythm serving the second frame out in the seventh game. The Spaniard improved continuously to finally advance into the next round right before sunset winning 6-7, 6-1, 6-0 after two hours and 16 minutes.

Earlier in the day on Tuesday, a unique event off the courts in Munich took place. All five organizers of the ATP World Tour tournaments held in Germany met to discuss possibilities to intensify their co-operation in the future. The idea arose in Monte Carlo two weeks ago. The organizers pointed out the importance of the German tennis market worldwide. With tournaments in Munich, Stuttgart, Halle, Hamburg as well as Düsseldorf, Germany is number two in terms of holding ATP World Tour events after the United States with having ten events.

“Here in Munich, we have a nice venue located right next to the English Garden with a familiar atmosphere,” said Michael Mronz. He and his colleagues Michael Stich (Hamburg), Dietloff von Arnim (Düsseldorf), Edwin Weindorfer (Stuttgart) and Horst Erpenbeck (Halle) agreed to find common strategies like establishing a kind of a player’s pool. Young German players like Alex Zverev as well as rising ATP stars of the next generation like Grigor Dimitrov or Alex Dolgopolov should be supported by granting them wild cards for all of the German events between April and July. “We all have to deal with the fact that the top stars on the ATP Tour are expensive getting them to play your tournament. We also need to sell our events to the fans as a mixture of tennis and entertainment,” former Wimbledon Champion Michael Stich said. There is also the idea of establishing a superior series with an umbrella partner in co-operation with the ATP, maybe according to the US Open Series. As a goal, it seems to be sure that all organizers have in common to improve the significance of the tennis sport in Germany and this meeting today could have been a first step into the right direction.

Florian Heer travels the tennis tour with a focus on ATP Challenger events and the ITF Future Circuit!  Follow his twitter account @Florian _Heer.
RESULTS – TUESDAY, 29 APRIL 2014

Singles – First Round
D Istomin (UZB) d [5] P Kohlschreiber (GER) 75 26 64
[Q] J Struff (GER) d [6] F Lopez (ESP) 63 64
[7] A Seppi (ITA) d *[LL] M Berrer (GER) 63 75
[Q] T Bellucci (BRA) d [8] I Dodig (CRO) 76(0) 64
J Melzer (AUT) d [WC] A Zverev (GER) 61 62
S Stakhovsky (UKR) d [WC] P Gojowczyk (GER) 36 64 61
[Q] M Klizan (SVK) d D Sela (ISR) 61 62
[Q] A Ramos (ESP) d L Hewitt (AUS) 67(6) 61 60

Doubles – First Round
[1] E Butorac (USA) / R Klaasen (RSA) d J Brunstrom (SWE) / H Kontinen (FIN) 64 67(2) 11-9
L Dlouhy (CZE) / M Pavic (CRO) d F Delbonis (ARG) / A Falla (COL) 63 64
D Brown (GER) / J Knowle (AUT) d O Marach (AUT) / J Melzer (AUT) 67(3) 64 10-3

*[LL] M Berrer (GER) replaced J Vesely (CZE) – left achilles

SCHEDULE – WEDNESDAY, 30 APRIL 2014

CENTRE COURT start 11:00 am
D Istomin (UZB) vs M Matosevic (AUS)
Not Before 12:55 pm
S Stakhovsky (UKR) vs [Q] J Struff (GER)
[Q] M Klizan (SVK) vs [3] M Youzhny (RUS)
Not Before 5:00 pm
**[LL] R Berankis (LTU) vs J Melzer (AUT)

SZ start 11:00 am
R Junaid (AUS) / J Nieminen (FIN) vs [WC] M Bachinger (GER) / K Krawietz (GER)
[PR] C Fleming (GBR) / R Hutchins (GBR) vs [2] J Cabal (COL) / R Farah (COL)
After Suitable Rest – L Hewitt (AUS) / M Matosevic (AUS) vs [4] T Bednarek (POL) / M Draganja (CRO)
After Suitable Rest – [3] J Murray (GBR) / J Peers (AUS) vs [WC] A Satschko (GER) / J Struff (GER)

**[LL] R Berankis (LTU) replaced [4] G Monfils (FRA) – ankle

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Grigor Dimitrov Wins Bucharest Title

Dimitrov waves

(April 27, 2014) No. 1 seed Grigor Dimitrov knocked out defending champion Lukas Rosol of the Czech Republic 7-6 (2), 6-1 on Sunday to win the Nastase Tiriac Trophy for his third career ATP World tour title.

The world No. 16 completed the tournament without losing a set.

Domitrov joined his girlfriend in the winner’s circle on the same day as Maria Sharapova won the Stuttgart title for the third time in a row.

“It feels good to have won. I lifted my game, not having been happy with my previous matches in the tournament,” Dimitrov said. “I knew I had to lift my level, especially after the first set. Lukas is a very good winner, who hit some outstanding winners. It was a pleasure to play in front of Ilie Nastase and other greats.

“I have worked really hard to start winning titles. I have put in enough effort, time and sacrifices to get here.”

“A run to a final was very good,” said last year’s winner Rosol. “It was a perfect week. If you had told me I would have reached the semi-finals at the start of the week, I would have taken it. Grigor was just amazing today. I played good tennis, but Grigor was better on the court and I had no answer. I am sure he will break into the Top 10 very soon.”

The 22-year-old Bulgarian will rise to a career high No. of 13 in the Emirates ATP Rankings on Monday.

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ATP Munich Tournament Kicks Off at Airport

Main draw ceremony

By Florian Heer

(April 26, 2014) MUNICH – The 99th edition of the International Bavarian Tennis Championships, the BMW Open by FWU AG kicked off with the official main draw ceremony at Munich’s international airport, right between the two terminals.

The tournament’s second seed, Tommy Haas and junior world No. 1 , Sascha Zverev, two German players attended the opening. The 36-year-old from Hamburg, who receives a bye in the first round of the 28-players-draw, is looking forward to defending his title in Bavaria’s capital.

“I have already practiced here in Munich for a couple of days and it went well,” Haas said at the airport. “It has already been a long time ago that I played a tournament, so it’s time for me to prepare for competition. During a match a lot of things can happen but I’m pretty confident that everything will work well and I know what I have to do to show my best tennis,” the German veteran was optimistic about playing his first Tour event since he lost to Roger Federer at the ATP Masters 1000 in Indian Wells in March.

Saturday’s first round qualifying matches took place at the venue of the Iphitos Club in sunny conditions. The only player aiming to qualify for the main draw within the top-100, Jan-Lennard Struff, defeated Mirza Basic 6-3, 6-4 in only 78 minutes.

The only seeded player, who had to go the distance was Tomaz Bellucci. The world No. 109 from Sao Paulo had to work hard eventually overcoming Austrian Bastian Trinker 4-6, 6-3, 6-1 in almost two hours. “Bastian served pretty well today, so it was tough for me to return,” Bellucci said afterwards. “The first match of a tournament is always tough. You’re not at hundred percent but the most important thing is the victory in the end. My ranking is not that good at the moment and so I have to battle through the qualification but I’m trying to get back. So my motivation is to play my best tennis,” the Brazilian added.

Second-seeded Albert Ramos on the other hand was untroubled in his match today. The Spaniard needed only 55 minutes to cruise into next round winning 6-2, 6-1 against German Wild Card Adrian Olbert, who played his very first ATP World Tour event. “I played a good match today,” the world number 103 from Barcelona stated afterwards. “I played a lot of matches during the last couple of weeks, so I’m really happy to advance into the next round,” Ramos said.

All of the other seeded players advanced into the next round and will continue their battle for a spot in the main draw on Sunday.

Adrian Obert is playing his very first ATP World Tour event.

Florian Heer travels the tennis tour with a focus on ATP Challenger events and the ITF Future Circuit!  Follow his twitter account @Florian _Heer.

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Lleyton Hewitt Reaches 600th Win Milestone

Hewittt

(March 20, 2014) Former world No. 1 Lleyton Hewitt became the third active player to win 600 matches on the ATP World Tour on Thursday when he came back to defeat Robin Haase 3-6, 6-3, 6-3 in the first round of the Sony Open.

The 33-year-old veteran who captured major titles at Wimbledon (2002) and the US Open (2001) now joins an elite club with Roger Federer with 942 wins and Rafael Nadal with 675 wins in reaching a milestone.

“Today was just like another match and an opportunity to go out there and play well,” Hewitt said

“Yeah, obviously afterwards, you know, a great milestone.  Not many people get to achieve that.  Not many people get the opportunity to get close that, so means I have been around for an awfully long time, as well.  I’m getting old.

“Few years ago when I had the last couple lot of surgeries I probably would have doubted I’d get to this stage anyway.  I’m still grateful I’m out there and able to compete with the best guys.”

Hewitt spoke about ATP win No. 1 which came in his hometown event. “I was lucky enough to get a wildcard at the Adelaide event,” the Australian said.  “I won the tournament.  Yeah, I beat my good mate ‑‑ well, turned out he was my good mate probably six months, Scott Draper, another Australian Open in the first round.  We always joke about that.”

In the second round has the uneasy task of raking on World No. 1 Rafael Nadal.

“I still play the game to have an opportunity to play against the best guys in the world, and, yeah, Rafa is,” Hewitt said.  “No doubt about it.

“I look forward to the challenge.  This is, you know, obviously a really tough draw and frustrating, you know, you don’t get to have a crack at him later in the tournament.

“But, yeah, I’m happy to get to go out there and play against Rafa.”

While Hewitt was out making history with his 600th win, fellow Australian Bernard Tomic made some history that he will want to forget.

Tomic, making his first appearance at a tournament since double hip surgery lost to Jarkko Nieminen 6-0, 6-1 in 28 minutes – a record for the shortest match ever on the ATP tour

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Fognini Wins Title in Chile

F Fognini

(February 9, 2014) Top seed Fabio Fognini lived up to his seeding and defeated first-time finalist Leonardo Mayer to claim the title at the Royal Guard Open Chile.

For Fognini this was his his third ATP World Tour title in his last four clay tournaments, adding to his wins at Stuttgart and Hamburg last July. Including a finalist finish in Umag, the World No. 15 has a 19-1 clay-court record since Roland Garros.

“I’m going to stay with the positives” said the Italian. “This was another important week for me. I was coming from reaching the fourth round at the Australian Open after overcoming an injury I had earlier in the year. I couldn’t ask for a better start of the season. It’s the third title, it’s important, and now I go to Buenos Aires with a lot of confidence.”

“I didn’t play that well today and he played incredible,” Mayer said. “I was sick in the morning, I almost didn’t play, but later the doctors and I decided that I could play.”
Fognini will try to reach his fifth straight clay-court final at next week’s Copa Claro in Buenos Aires, where he is the No. 2 seed.

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In All-French Final, Monfils Beats Gasquet for Montpellier Crown

 

(February 9, 2014) Gael Monfils captured his fifth ATP World Tour title in his 21st final, defeating his good friend and defending champion, Richard Gasquet 6-4, 6-4 to win the Open Sud de France in Montpellier for the second time.
“This is unbelievable for me,” Monfils said.”I had some back problems at the beginning of the week and I didn’t know if I was going to be able to play, so to now be with the trophy is pretty crazy.

“I have been elevating my game match after match and I am extremely proud in the way I played today. I really enjoy playing here in Montpellier. I love the atmosphere there is in this arena.”

“It was great to be in final here once again,” Gasquet said. I am extremely disappointed to have lost in the final, but that’s tennis. I need to congratulate Gael because he’s played unbelievable all week.

“I wasn’t able to read his serve, he was serving bullets all match. My only way out was to try to push him to a tie-break and wait for him to start making mistakes. But it didn’t happen.”

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Tennis – ATP Results Round-Up for February 8, 2014

ATP

ATP World Tour 250
Montpellier, France (+1 hour GMT)
3-9 February 2014 Surface: Indoor Hard

RESULTS – SATURDAY, 8 FEBRUARY 2014

Singles – Semi-finals
[1] R Gasquet (FRA) d [3] J Janowicz (POL) 76(6) 76(4)
[5] G Monfils (FRA) d [6] J Nieminen (FIN) 62 36 61

Doubles – Semi-finals
N Davydenko (RUS) / D Istomin (UZB) d [2] R Junaid (AUS) / A Qureshi (PAK) 36 63 10-7

SCHEDULE – SUNDAY, 9 FEBRUARY 2014

COURT CENTRAL start 12:15 pm
M Gicquel (FRA) / N Mahut (FRA) vs N Davydenko (RUS) / D Istomin (UZB)

Not Before 2:45 pm
[1] R Gasquet (FRA) vs [5] G Monfils (FRA)

 

ATP World Tour 250

Viña del Mar, Chile (-3 hours GMT)
3-9 February 2014 Surface: Clay

RESULTS – SATURDAY, 8 FEBRUARY 2014

Singles – Semifinals
[1] F Fognini (ITA) d [3] N Almagro (ESP) 64 16 76(5)
L Mayer (ARG) d S Giraldo (COL) 76(2) 63

Doubles – Final

[3] O Marach (AUT) / F Mergea (ROU) d [2] J Cabal (COL) / R Farah (COL) 63 64

SCHEDULE – SUNDAY, 9 FEBRUARY 2014

CENTRAL start 7:00 pm
SINGLES FINAL – [1] F Fognini (ITA) vs L Mayer (ARG)

 

 

ATP World Tour 250
Zagreb, Croatia (+1 hour GMT)

RESULTS – SATURDAY, 8 FEBRUARY 2014

Singles – Semi-finals
[1] T Haas (GER) d [LL] D Evans (GBR) 57 64 63
[5] M Cilic (CRO) d [Q] B Phau (GER) 63 64

Doubles – Semi-finals
P Marx (GER) / M Mertinak (SVK) d [4] M Draganja (CRO) / M Pavic (CRO) 63 64

SCHEDULE – SUNDAY, 9 FEBRUARY, 2014

CENTRE COURT start 2:00 pm
P Marx (GER) / M Mertinak (SVK) vs [2] J Rojer (NED) / H Tecau (ROU)

Not Before 5:00 pm
[1] T Haas (GER) vs [5] M Cilic (CRO)

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