May 26, 2017

A Pair of First-time ATP Winners as Zverev Takes Down Wawrinka for St. Petersburg Crown and Pouille Wins Metz


Alexander Zverev

Alexander Zverev

(September 25, 2016) The ATP World Tour saw two first-time winners on Sunday. US Open winner and top seed Stan Wawrinka lost to 19-year-old up-and-and-coming German Alexander Zverev in St. Petersburg, while Frenchman Lucas Pouille beat top seed and No. 10 in the world Dominic Thiem to win in Metz, France.

The third seeded Pouille is coming off a successful US Open where he beat Rafael Nadal in the fourth round on his way to the quarterfinals for the first time, where he lost to fellow Frenchman Gael Monfils.

The 22-year-old Pouille, ranked 18th won 7-6 (5), 6-2 to claim the Moselle Open.


Louis Pouille

Louis Pouille


“I’m very happy with my week, Pouille said after the victory. “Winning a title is a big step, it’s an objective I wanted to achieve this year. It was a well-played final. We both played at a high level.”


Dominic Thiem

Dominic Thiem

“I think the first set was a pretty high level from both of us,” said the 23-year-old Austrian finalist. “I should have won the tie-break, but had an easy volley mistake. All in all, he was the better player and had more chances in my service games. He deserved to win today. I think he put pressure on me all the time and was serving really well.

“He’s had an amazing year, reaching the quarter-finals in the last two Grand Slam and semis in the Masters 1000 in Rome. I think we will see him in the Top 10 soon.”

Just two weeks after winning his first US Open title for his third major title, Stan Wawrinka fell victim to the rising 19-year-old Zverev 6-2, 3-6, 7-5.

Zverev snapped the Swiss’ 11 match winning streak in finals in winning his first title. The last time Wawrinka lost in a final was in 2013. The German became the first teenager to win an ATP World Tour title since 2008 when Marin Cilic won in New Haven.

“This victory is something special,” the German said. “I played all the finals well. I lost to Dominic Thiem on clay and I could have won against Florian Mayer on the grass… Now I’m very happy with the win, especially over such a great player like Stan.”

“In the third set I had the initiative and played slice to his left more. I tried to neutralize his massive backhand. I’m satisfied with the win.”

Stan Wawrinka

Stan Wawrinka

“We showed high-quality tennis,” said Wawrinka. “I was struggling in the third set. I had chances but I didn’t manage to convert them. He deserved the win.”

“He is a good player right now. He scored a couple of big wins over top players. It means he is really strong.”


Roberta Vinci Victorious in St. Petersburg


(February 14, 2016) Roberta Vinci surprised No. seed Belinda Bencic 6-4, 6-3 to win the inaugural St. Petersburg Ladies Trophy on Sunday.

For the 16th-ranked Italian, this is her 10th career win snapping a four match losing streak in finals going back to 2013.

Although falling short of a win, finalist Benic will move into the top 10 on Monday.

In doubles, Martina Hingis and Sania Mirza won the doubles final, defeating Vera Dushevina and Barbora Krejcikova 6-3, 6-1. The No. 1 pair has now won 40 matches in a row.


Czech Republic Rallies to Defend Fed Cup Title

(November 15, 2015) Defending champion Czech Republic rebounded from 1-2 down on Sunday to claim their fourth Fed Cup title in five years in Prague against Russia in the O2 Arena.

In the first match on Sunday, Maria Sharapova put Russia a match away from the Fed Cup crown when she rallied from a set down to defeat Petra Kvitova 4-6, 6-3, 6-2.

Karolina Pliskova kept the home county’s hopes alive, besting Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova 6-3, 6-4 to level the tie at 2-2.

In the fifth and deciding rubber, the Czech pair of Karolina Pliskova and Barbora Strycova came back against the Russian team Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova and Elena Vesnina 4-6, 6-3, 6-2 to defend the Fed Cup title to win the tie 3-2.

The Czechs with a total of 9 Fed Cup titles, trail only the United States (17) on the all-time list. Russian and the Czech Republic last met in a Fed Cup final in 2011, with the Czech claiming victory 3-2.



Venue: O2 Arena, Prague (hard – indoors)

Petra Kvitova (CZE) d. Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova (RUS) 26 61 61

Maria Sharapova (RUS) d. Karolina Pliskova (CZE) 63 64

Maria Sharapova (RUS) d. Petra Kvitova (CZE) 36 64 62

Karolina Pliskova (CZE) d. Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova (RUS) 63 64

Karolina Pliskova/Barbora Strycova (CZE) d. Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova/Elena Vesnina (RUS) 46 63 62


Berdych, Ferrer and Cilic Take ATP Titles

Tomas Berdych

Tomas Berdych

(October 25, 2015) Tomas Berdych, David Ferrer and Marin Cilic won singles titles on the ATP World Tour this week.

Tomas Berdych claimed the Stockholm Open for a third time besting American Jack Sock 7-6 (1), 6-2 in the final. Bedych came back from a break down in the first set.

It’s Berdych’s 12th ATP World Tour title. The Czech, who has already qualified for the ATP World Tour Finals in London in November.

“I’ve definitely built up a good history here, which always helps,” Berdych said. “The tournament does a really good job taking care of us, making us feel at home. Sometimes you find a place in the world that suits you well, and it’s the case here. I’m glad to be able to add to my titles here.”
Later in the day, Sock and Nicholas Monroe won their first team doubles title as a team against Mate Pavic and Michael Venus. For Sock, this was his third doubles title of the year.

“My goal is always to do the best I can in singles,” Sock said. Doubles I play for fun and to get some more practice during the week, so singles is definitely my priority. (Berdych) is top-five, top-seven in the world for a reason. He stays in every game.”



David Ferrer

David Ferrer


David Ferrer made strides to reach the ATP World Tour Finals in London next month when the Spaniard won his 26th career title coming back from a set down to beat American Steve Johnson 4-6, 6-4, 7-5 to win the Erste Bank Open in Vienna on Sunday. The top seed and world No. 8 won his fifth title of the year. He won titles in Doha, Rio de Janeiro, Acapulco and Kuala Lumpur.

“It was a very tough match and difficult to beat Steve, who has a good serve and played aggressively throughout the match,” Ferrer said. “I waited for my opportunity and my experience counted. He also had his chance to win the tournament. Steve is playing very well, he’s beaten a lot of good players this week.”

“He just had a bit more experience,” said first-time ATP finalist Johnson who is ranked 47th. “I had some looks at 5-4 [in the third set], then at 5-5 he played a couple of incredible shots. I had an awesome week and am super-proud about how I played. I’m not going to be sad about this week and I look forward to the rest of the year. I have gained a lot of confidence and will work hard in the off season, because I know I can beat these guys.”
In the doubles final, first-time partners Lukasz Kubot and Marcelo Melo came back from a set and a break down to win the final 4-6, 7-6(3) 10-6.

With the win, Melo will move up to No. 1 in the doubles rankings on November 2.

“I’m living the dream, playing three tournaments and winning 500, 1000 and 500 [Emirates ATP Rankings] points again,” Melo said. “There was a lot of pressure on my shoulders to become No. 1, this is a tough achievement. I am a really lucky guy to [soon-to-be] No. 1 with the Bryans still around.”

“It’s an amazing feeling, following surgery in May and the decision to focus solely on doubles,” Kubot said. “I couldn’t find a permanent partner this year, after I came back, so I am very happy to have won one of my favourite tournaments. I’m glad they got [ATP World Tour] 500-level status, because they really do deserve it as an indoor tournament. It’s my fourth title of the year, with my fourth different partner on four different surfaces. I am very happy to have played with Marcelo, maintaining his momentum. Our opponents had everything under control, but we took our chances and won the last point.”


Marin Cilic

Marin Cilic

In a case of what the late Hall of Fame baseball player Yogi Berra would have said, it was déjà vu all over again as Marin Cilic defended his title at the Kremlin Cup, in a repeat of last year’s final beating Roberto Bautista Agut 6-4, 6-4 – the same score as last year.

For the 2014 US Open champion, it’s his 14th career crown and his first final since last year’s Moscow final.

“Maybe the first four or five games I didn’t feel so confident, but then it got better,” said the Croatian. “I’m glad the result was repeated. Last year was emotional for me. Of course, this year’s a little different. I felt very comfortable and relaxed on the court. Perhaps the victory this year is special in the sense that it is usually more difficult to defend than to win the tournament for the first time. The Kremlin Cup has become special for me and I can’t wait to come back here again.”


Maria Sharapova Pulls Out of Fed Cup

Maria Sharapova

Maria Sharapova

(April 14, 2015) Maria Sharapova is withdrawing from playing for Russia in the Fed Cup semifinals this weekend against Germany with a leg injury. Sharapova posted a message about her withdrawal on her Facebook page:


Maria Sharapova

Athlete · 14,627,224 Likes

· 5 hrs ·

Withdrawing from this weekend’s Fed Cup was no easy decision. You probably haven’t seen me post any pictures on court, that is simply because there haven’t been many. I just started a couple of days ago and going to work myself up to creating a good healthy base.

I will be following the girls on my live stream this weekend, cheering them on, as I try to be ready for next week’s tournament in Stuttgart.

Withdrawing from this weekend’s Fed Cup was no easy decision. You probably haven’t seen me post any pictures on court,…

Posted by Maria Sharapova on Tuesday, April 14, 2015


Maria Sharapova Leads Russian Athletes in Olympic Torch Lighting


(February 7, 2014) Tennis star and former Sochi native Maria Sharapova led a group of six decorated Russian athletes for the torch lighting at Friday’s Opening Ceremony at the Sochi Olympics.

Sharapova brought the flame into the stadium to hand it off to pole-vaulter Yelena Isinbayeva. Also involved in the torch relay, former gymnast Alina Kabaeva, wrestling star Alexander Karelin, with figure-skating legend Irina Rodnina, and former hockey goaltender Vladislav Tretiak lighting the Olympic caldron.


Sharapova will serve as Olympics correspondent for NBC.


Ward Rallies Past Tursunov to even tie with Russia 2-2


By Ros Satar

James Ward [GBR] def. Dmitry Tursunov [RUS] 6-4, 5-7, 5-7, 6-4, 6-4


(April 7, 2013) COVENTRY, England – After facing the press on Friday in utter desolation, British No. 2, James Ward, rallied against a sometimes agitated Tursunov to bring GB level with Russia.


After starting so impressively against Evgeny Donskoy, only to lose in five sets from being two sets and a break up, there was a lot of pressure on Ward’s thin shoulders.


If any nerves were evident on Ward’s side, he hid them well, banging down two aces a-piece, as the first five games went with serve.


The first sign of frailty appeared on Tursunov’s serve, taken to deuce twice in successive serves.


It paid off for Ward as he needed just one break point to edge ahead 5-4, before topping off the first set with a hold to love.


The games were going tightly with serve in the second set.


At times Tursunov seemed just a little slow and Ward struggled to get into Tursunov’s service games, letting two break points go, at 5-5.


It was Ward’s turn for fraying nerves, starting with a double fault, while serving to stay in the set, and ending with a netted cross-court forehand to hand Russia the second set 7-5.


British hopes were raised with an early break in the first game of the third set, only for Tursunov to break straight back.


A stream of errors from Ward gave Tursunov a second break in the third set, to leave Ward coming out to stay in the set at 2-5.


Ward was rewarded for his tenacity by breaking Tursunov in the next game to put himself back on serve.


Despite that, Ward found himself having to save break points on his next two serves.


Tursunov turned up the pace, aided and abetted with another error-strewn game by Ward, to take the third set 7-5.


Ward started the brighter in the fourth set breaking early, and Tursunov picked up a code violation as he started to get annoyed with the crowd.


Ward just needed the one set point as Tursunov netted forehand return to even the match and take the rubber into a deciding set.


Ward got a break to lead 3-2, courtesy of a Tursunov double fault on break point, after a long rally where the Russian sent a forehand flying long.


Just keeping his nose ahead, the Brit was only taken to deuce once on his serve, before coming out to serve for the match at 5-4.


To the watching crowd’s delight, Ward held his final serve to 15, finishing with an ace to go from zero to hero.


Ward said: “It would have been very tough to take 2 5-set losses in a weekend.


“If anything it’s even more pleasing beating Tursunov, who I’ve lost to twice in the past”


Team captain, Leon Smith had been reiterating the same advice, to serve out wide to the Russian unless he started to read the serve.


And Ward was happy to acknowledge the captain’s belief in him.


He said: “I’m grateful to him for the opportunity to play again and show heart and desire and everything that he wanted this weekend, and I think I showed it.”


Ros Satar is a British Journalist- an IT journalist by day, and a sports journalist in all the gaps in between. Follow her on twitter at @rfsatar.


Great Britain Wins Doubles Rubber Over Russia in Davis Cup


Fleming/Marray [GBR] def. Baluda/Kunitsyn [RUS] 6-1, 6-4, 6-2

By Ros Satar

(April 6, 2013) COVENTRY, England – The British team were always the favorites to win this doubles rubber, and Jonny Marray and Colin Fleming did not disappoint.


The British pair, ranked 16th and 28th respectively, were counting on a win, to give the British team any hope at all of salvaging the second round Europe /Africa zone Group 1 tie, after two crushing 5-set defeats on the first day.


Victor Baluda (doubles ranking of 440) and Igor Kunitsyn (439) would be facing the British team, although there had been some speculation that Dmitry Tursunov would replace Baluda.


After some tentative serves into the lights, Marray kicked off his Davis Cup debut with a strong hold.


The Russians may be ranked some 400 places below the Brits, but were already exhibiting some good tagging shots, especially coming from Kunitsyn.


First blood went to the Brits, breaking Kunitsyn to take an early lead.


With another break, this time against Baluda on the third break point, the Brits took the first set, in just under half an hour.


The first break of the second set came even earlier, again on Kunitsyn’s serve, but the Russians stayed in contention, when Kunitsyn held for the first time since the match began, as the Brits maintained a single break margin.


Fleming came out to hold, with an overhead smash from Marray sealing the second set 6-4.


The final set could not have started worse for Russian pair, with Baluda being broken in the first game, followed by Kunitsyn in the next service game.


The crispness that they had started to display in the second set deserted them, and although they got two games on the board, they never took the British pair to deuce on any serve.


Fleming came out to serve for the match, and although the Russian pair saved one of the match points, an ace nailed the win.


After the match, Marray described how he’d felt his debut had gone:

“It’s something I’ve always wanted to be a part of, to get the opportunity to represent your country, it’s fantastic.”


For Fleming, it was his eighth Davis Cup win in a row.

“It’s something to be proud of, but in tennis and life you’ve got to keep pushing forward,” he said.


“It’s all about focusing on what the team needs to do and my aim when it comes to DC, is to play one of those matches in the World group.

“It would be a special occasion and I’ve not managed to do that.”


There was a nice touch on the on-court interview, as Colin Fleming dedicated the win to Davis Cup team-mate Ross Hutchins, who is undergoing treatment for cancer.


He is over half way through his chemotherapy and the initial results show the treatment is working.


Later in press, Leon Smith and Colin Fleming described how Ross had spent hours watching and analyzing the Russian team.


Fleming said: “It’s great that he’s still involved in the team.

“I know Ross has got big plans to play again, and I’m sure he’ll be part of the team again in the future.”


Ros Satar is a British Journalist- an IT journalist by day, and a sports journalist in all the gaps in between.  Follow her on twitter at @rfsatar.

Day 2 Davis Cup by BNP Paribas Euro/Africa Zone Group 1 second round results:

Russia leads Great Britain 2-1

Rubber 1 – D. Tursunov (RUS) d. D. Evans (GBR) 64 67(5) 64 57 64

Rubber 2 – E. Donskoy (RUS) d. J. Ward (GBR) 46 46 75 64 86

Rubber 3 – C.Fleming/J.Marray (GBR) d. V.Baluda/I.Kunitsyn (RUS) 61 64 62


Donskoy Rallies from Two Sets Down to Give Russia 2-0 Lead Over Great Britain in Davis Cup


By Ros Satar


Evgeny Donskoy [RUS] def. James Ward [GBR] 4-6, 4-6, 7-5, 6-3, 8-6


(April 5, 2013) COVENTRY, ENGLAND – Evgeny Donskoy delivered a real heartbreaker in another five-set thriller on the first day of the Davis Cup tie between Great Britain and Russia in  the Euro/Africa zone second round Group 1 play.


Donskoy came from two sets down to give Russia a 2-0 lead at the end of the first day.


At the start of the match, though, the outcome looked far from certain.


In press, Dan Evans regretted not starting fast enough, James Ward more than made up for it.


The British No. 2 came out swinging solidly with very few unforced errors, and an early break secured him the first set.


A similar fast start to the second set meant it would be a long way back for the Russian, Evgeny Donskoy, who impressed many with his performance against Andy Murray at Indian Wells.


It was almost as though, with the pressure reversed, Donskoy was left floundering, at times his feet just not catching up with the rest of him.


That is not to say that he did not have some chances of his own, breaking back to make sure that Ward would not take this match for granted.


Into the third set and there was a distinct feeling that Donskoy was feeling his way back into the match.


Nerves seemed to overtake Ward, as he scrambled to save three set points, capitulating on the fourth.


After such a blistering start, suddenly it was Ward’s turn to look ill at ease, going down a break quickly in the fourth set.


Ward exhibited some of that earlier confidence, holding to love to stay in the set as the Russian was taken to deuce on his serve, for the fourth set.


Ward saved two set points but a lazy squash shot sailed just long past the corner of the court, to take the second rubber into a deciding fifth set.


It was beginning to look a little like last man standing out there, as the fifth set progressed with serve, particularly grueling on Ward’s service game, saving the first break points against is serve in the decider.


Donskoy was coming up with the goods both times he was serving to stay in the set.


As Ward came out to serve at 6-6 there was a sense that he had made his last stand, as the Russian broke.


There was a brief glimmer of hope as the Russian went 0-30 down, serving for the match, and then again as Ward saved the first match point against him.


Suddenly it was Donskoy’s turn to feel under the hammer, as Ward wrestled a break point back, and then had to save a second match point.


The third time was the charm for Donskoy as Russia took the second rubber, 8-6 in the final set.


It was an interesting contrast in press, with an equally dejected Ward hoping to work harder to improve, whereas Evans understood that he was struggling with that desire to improve.


Leon Smith concluded the conference, believing that the tie could be turned around, starting with the doubles tomorrow, with the top British pairing of Fleming and Marray favorites to put a rubber on the board for Britain.

Despite trailing 0-2 in the tie, Captain Leon Smith said, “I am so proud of both Dan and James today. It was excellent international tennis, very high level, more than eight hours and great value for money. The team spirit was great today and we have it still all to play for tomorrow in the doubles and in Sunday’s singles.”


Then on Sunday, can two players who have proved they can punch above their weight, turn things around?


Ros Satar is a British Journalist- an IT journalist by day, and a sports journalist in all the gaps in between. Follow her on twitter at @rfsatar.

Related Article:

Tursunov’s Five-Set Win Over Evans Gives Russia 1-0 Lead Over Great Britain in Davis Cup



Tursunov’s Five-Set Win Over Evans Gives Russia 1-0 Lead Over Great Britain in Davis Cup


By Ros Satar

Dmitry Tursunov [RUS] def Dan Evans [GBR] 6-4, 6-7(5),6-4, 5-7, 6-4

(April 5, 2013) COVENTRY, ENGLAND -It was a great gamble, that almost, but did not quite pay off.

Great Britain’s Davis Cup Captain Leon Smith replaced first choice, Jamie Baker, at pretty much the eleventh hour, in favor of Dan Evans.

Evans’ heroics in last year’s ties and perhaps more of a familiarity with faster courts that Baker, meant the pressure was on the shoulders of a player ranked 325 in the world.

Coming out, Evans seemed relaxed enough, but first blood went to Dmitry Tursunov, breaking Evans to love to lead 4-2.

Evans broke back, but it wasn’t enough to keep the first set from going to the Russian 6-4.

Evans seemed to want to go for crowd pleasing forehand winners, that soon became his undoing, and Tursunov was looking sharp at the net.

In the second set, Evans showed that he was made of sterner stuff, breaking the Russian to lead 4-3, but again consistency seemed to desert him, just when he needed it most.

Coming out to serve for the set, he saved one break point but a double-fault on another handed a reprieve to Tursunov.

Forcing the second set into a tiebreak, Evans kept his nose ahead just enough to level the match.

A lapse in concentration at the start of the third set, left Evans looking a little flat at times, again losing out by a single break margin.

A change of top and a change of fortunes in the fourth set as it was Tursunov’s time to look a little tired, as Evans broke to take the fourth set 7-5.

Was the faith Smith had showed in Evans about to pay off in another heroic win?

Sadly not, as Evans lost the opening game of the final set, and although the men traded a couple of breaks, it was not enough to keep Tursunov at bay.

In press, Evans had to face the inevitable questions about why he cannot translate his level of play to the events week in, week out?

He said: “I don’t train hard enough and I don’t work hard enough day in day out.”

He acknowledged that in the past, he had just been enjoying life.
“It’s not that I don’t want to do it, I obviously want to do it, but for whatever reasons, there are distractions.“

“Hopefully now, I’ve been working pretty hard since the start of the year.”

Tursunov acknowledged it had been a tough match.

“I was really very impressed with his returning.

“At times he definitely played made some shots I wasn’t expecting him to, and there were also a few shots that also a few opportunities I didn’t capitalize on.”

When asked about whether Evans could achieve that potential if he worked harder, the Russian acknowledged that sometimes Davis Cup brings out the best in people.

“I think the first step for him is to realize what he’s doing wrong.
“That also comes a little bit with experience.”

Time (or maybe Sunday) will tell whether Evans can build on this experience.

Ros Satar is a British Journalist- an IT journalist by day, and a sports journalist in all the gaps in between.  Follow her on twitter at @rfsatar.