Fils, Stricker among qualifiers for tennis’ Next Gen ATP Finals in Jeddah

Fils, Stricker among qualifiers for tennis’ Next Gen ATP Finals in Jeddah
World No. 36 Arthur Fils will take part at the Next Gen ATP Finals in Jeddah. (Supplied)
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Updated 09 November 2023
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Fils, Stricker among qualifiers for tennis’ Next Gen ATP Finals in Jeddah

Fils, Stricker among qualifiers for tennis’ Next Gen ATP Finals in Jeddah
  • Jordan’s Abdullah Shelbayh secures wild-card spot at 21-and-under event starting Nov. 28

JEDDAH: Tennis players Arthur Fils, Dominic Stricker, Luca Van Assche, and Flavio Cobolli have qualified for the Next Gen ATP Finals, to be held in Jeddah.

And Jordan’s Abdullah Shelbayh has received a wild card for the 21-and-under event, being staged at King Abdullah Sports City from Nov. 28 to Dec. 2.

Frenchman Fils, 19, has broken new ground on the Association of Tennis Professionals Tour this season after beginning the year at No. 251 in the Pepperstone ATP Rankings.

The world No. 36 captured his first tour-level title in Lyon and reached the title match in Antwerp last month. Fils also enjoyed runs to the semi-finals in Montpellier, Marseille, and Hamburg and is now set to make his debut in Jeddah.

Fils’ countryman Van Assche will also line up at the Next Gen ATP Finals after qualifying for the first time. The 19-year-old has won two ATP Challenger Tour titles this year, with his best result on the ATP Tour a quarterfinal showing at the ATP 500 in Hamburg.

Swiss left-handed player Stricker will make his second appearance at the 21-and-under event after reaching the semi-finals last year. The 21-year-old has continued his development this season, highlighted by his run to the fourth round at the US Open. Stricker cracked the top 100 for the first time after his performance in New York.

Meanwhile, Cobolli’s standout end to the year has helped him seal his spot in Jeddah.

The 21-year-old Italian won an ATP Challenger Tour title in Lisbon in August and made finals at that level in Romania and Italy in recent weeks. The world No. 100 advanced to the quarterfinals in Munich in April.

Shelbayh will be the first Jordanian player to compete at the event after receiving a wild card. The 19-year-old has earned tour-level wins in Banja Luka and Metz this season and became the first player from Jordan to win an ATP Challenger Tour title when he triumphed in Charleston in October.

Spaniard Carlos Alcaraz and Dane Holger Rune are competing at the Nitto ATP Finals this month and are therefore exempt, while American Ben Shelton and Italian Lorenzo Musetti have withdrawn due to medical and personal reasons, respectively.


Medvedev cruises into Dubai semifinals

Medvedev cruises into Dubai semifinals
Updated 29 February 2024
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Medvedev cruises into Dubai semifinals

Medvedev cruises into Dubai semifinals
  • The world number four wasted little time in wrapping up a 6-2, 6-3 win
  • The Russian is playing in just his second tournament of the season after reaching the Australian Open final

DUBAI: Daniil Medvedev raced to victory over Alejandro Davidovich Fokina on Thursday to reach the Dubai semifinals and continue his excellent start to the year.
The world number four wasted little time in wrapping up a 6-2, 6-3 win and will face either Hubert Hurkacz or Ugo Humbert in the last four.
The Russian is playing in just his second tournament of the season after reaching the Australian Open final, where he suffered an agonizing defeat by Jannik Sinner after leading by two sets.
Reigning champion Medvedev is bidding to defend an ATP title for the first time, having won 20 trophies at Tour-level events in his career but all at different tournaments.
Medvedev eased through the opening set with breaks in the sixth and eighth games.
He powered into a 4-0 lead in the second and sealed victory on his first match point, despite a brief rally from Davidovich Fokina, who has now lost all four of his meetings with Medvedev.
Alexander Bublik and Andrey Rublev will meet in the other semifinal after both were beneficiaries of retirements in their last-eight matches.
Kazakhstan’s Bublik led 6-4, 4-1 when his opponent Jiri Lehecka quit their tie with injury.
Second seed Rublev was 6-4, 4-3 ahead when American Sebastian Korda left the court in the second quarter-final.
The win ended a run of three successive quarter-final exits for world number five Rublev.


Medvedev and Hurkacz book quarterfinal spots at Dubai Tennis Championship

Medvedev and Hurkacz book quarterfinal spots at Dubai Tennis Championship
Updated 29 February 2024
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Medvedev and Hurkacz book quarterfinal spots at Dubai Tennis Championship

Medvedev and Hurkacz book quarterfinal spots at Dubai Tennis Championship
  • Reigning champion Medvedev recovers from losing opening set to beat Sonego in tight encounter on center court
  • Hurkacz and Korda through to quarterfinals in straight sets, Qatar Open finalist Mensik forced to retire

DUBAI: Reigning champion Daniil Medvedev overcame a spirited Lorenzo Sonego on Wednesday to secure a spot in the quarterfinals of the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships with a 3-6, 6-3, 6-3 victory.

The world No. 4 looked shaky during the opening exchanges, winning just 53 percent (10/19) of points behind his first delivery as Sonego took full advantage and deservedly won the first set. Medvedev, to his credit, recovered quickly and served with far more aggression in the second and third sets, firing off both wings and hitting pinpoint serves.

The decisive moment came during a tense fifth game in the final set as the No. 1 seed broke Sonego’s serve with a running forehand winner and safely saw out the match thereafter. Medvedev will face Alejandro Davidovich Fokina after Qatar Open finalist Jakub Mensik was forced to retire through injury early in the second set of their clash.

Hubert Hurkacz will join Medvedev in the last eight after a battling 7-6, 6-4 victory over Australian Christopher O’Connell. The world No. 8 will make his fourth quarterfinal appearance in Dubai when he takes to the court to face Ugo Humbert, the French No. 1, on Thursday evening.

One man who will not be competing in the quarterfinals is Karan Khachanov after the No. 4 seed was sent crashing out of the tournament following Jiri Lehecka’s stunning comeback victory (6-7, 7-6, 6-4).

Lehecka, the world’s No. 36, fell to his knees in elation after securing a spot in the last eight at the expense of in-form Khachanov, who had come into the match on the back of five straight wins. The 27-year-old won his sixth career title in Doha last week and looked on course to continue that momentum after clinching the first set against Lehecka.

Lehecka had other ideas, though, saving five points during a tense second set, coming back from 0-3 in the tiebreak that later followed, and from 2-4 in the third set to secure a second top-20 win of the season — after a mammoth three-hour clash on court one.

Meanwhile. Sebastian Korda continues to enjoy his maiden Dubai tournament, needing just 43 minutes to breeze past Botic van de Zandschulp and set up a quarterfinal meeting against 2022 winner Andrey Rublev.

Korda dropped just one game in an emphatic straight sets victory (6-1, 6-0) over the Dutch No. 2.


No fairy-tale ending for Andy Murray in Dubai, as Ugo Humbert advances to quarter-finals

No fairy-tale ending for Andy Murray in Dubai, as Ugo Humbert advances to quarter-finals
Updated 28 February 2024
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No fairy-tale ending for Andy Murray in Dubai, as Ugo Humbert advances to quarter-finals

No fairy-tale ending for Andy Murray in Dubai, as Ugo Humbert advances to quarter-finals
  • The 2017 Dubai Tennis Championships winner receives standing ovation as he bows out with a 6-2, 6-4 defeat in what is likely to be his final appearance at event
  • No. 2 seed Andrey Rublev defeats qualifier Arthur Cazaux 6-4, 6-4, and Alexander Bublik enjoys a hard-fought 7-6 (10-8), 7-6 (7-2) victory over Tallon Griekspoor

DUBAI: Andy Murray’s hopes of fairy-tale ending to what seems likely to be his last appearance at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships were dashed by in-form Frenchman Ugo Humbert, who defeated the 36-year-old Scot 6-2, 6-4 on center court at Dubai Tennis Stadium on Wednesday night.

The three-time Grand Slam champion, winner of this tournament in 2017, cut a frustrated figure against the No. 5 seed, who is 11 years his junior.

Clearly desperate to give his enthusiastic and vocal Dubai fans something to cheer, Murray, who beat Fernando Verdasco in the final here seven years ago, could be seen continually talking to himself as he struggled with his own game and the energy of his opponent.

He won the opening game on serve but then Humbert, who needed three sets to see off veteran wildcard Gael Monfils in his opening match, broke serve twice in succession. He simply had too much for Murray to cope with and took the opening set 6-2.

The second set followed a similar path, with Murray holding serve in the opening game, only for Humbert to break twice in a row as he calmly wrapped up the set 6-4 to claim a spot in the quarter-finals.

Murray received a standing ovation as he left the court in Dubai for what is probably the final time, the fans acknowledging his service not only to the sport in general but to the evolution of this particular tournament.

After the game, the 2012 Olympic gold medalist admitted he is in the twilight of his illustrious career.

“Yeah, I mean, I’m likely not going to play past this summer,” he said. “I get asked about it after every single match that I play, every single tournament that I play.

“I’m not going to talk more about that between now and whenever the time comes for me to stop. But yeah, I don’t plan on playing much past this summer.”

Humbert, who has an ATP title to his name already this year, thanks to victory in Marseille this month, was a picture of relaxation as he celebrated his victory and looked forward to the quarter-finals.

“Consistency has been the key for me this year,” the 25-year-old said. “I’m really happy that I’m playing well. It’s really nice to play in a venue like this in front of a great crowd. I was really calm today and knew what I needed to do.”

In the bottom half of the draw, No. 2 seed and last year’s beaten finalist, Andrey Rublev, was the first player to book a quarter-final berth, dashing the hopes of French qualifier Arthur Cazaux.

Cazaux, who was making his debut in Dubai this week, produced some fine tennis to get through the qualifiers and then defeat Italy’s Lorenzo Musetti in the round of 32. But Rublev took control of their last-16 clash on center court from the opening game, breaking his opponent’s serve and holding firm to take the first set 6-4.

The second set went with serve until Rublev, a winner in Hong Kong in January, broke Cazaux in the seventh game and held his subsequent serves to seal a 6-4, 6-4 victory.

Alexander Bublik booked his place in the quarter-finals with a 7-6 (10-8), 7-6 (7-2) victory over Tallon Griekspoor of the Netherlands. Bublik, who survived a scare in his opening match when he came back from a set down against qualifier Tomas Machac, was once again pushed hard by Griekspoor, but dug deep to secure victory.


Saudi Arabia’s PIF, ATP announce multi-year strategic partnership to accelerate tennis growth

Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund on Wednesday announced a “multi-year strategic partnership” with the ATP. (PIF)
Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund on Wednesday announced a “multi-year strategic partnership” with the ATP. (PIF)
Updated 28 February 2024
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Saudi Arabia’s PIF, ATP announce multi-year strategic partnership to accelerate tennis growth

Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund on Wednesday announced a “multi-year strategic partnership” with the ATP. (PIF)
  • PIF’s Head of Corporate Brand Mohamed AlSayyad: “Through our collaboration with ATP, PIF will be a catalyst for growth of the global tennis landscape”
  • Massimo Calvelli, ATP CEO: “It’s a shared commitment to propel the future of the sport”

RIYADH/LONDON: Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund and the Association of Tennis Professionals have signed a multi-year strategic partnership that marks a significant shared commitment to developing global tennis for players, fans, tournament organizers and stakeholders at all levels.
The agreement means the PIF becomes the official name partner of the ATP Rankings, celebrating players’ journeys and progress and championing excellence.
PIF’s Head of Corporate Brand Mohamed AlSayyad said: “Through our collaboration with ATP, PIF will be a catalyst for growth of the global tennis landscape, developing talent, fostering inclusivity and driving sustainable innovation.”
He added the partnership aligned with PIF’s broader vision of enhancing quality of life and driving transformation in sport, both within the Kingdom and across the world.
ATP CEO Massimo Calvelli added: “It’s a shared commitment to propel the future of the sport. With PIF’s dedication to the next generation — fostering innovation and creating opportunities for all — the stage is set for a transformative period of progress.”
PIF will partner with ATP Tour events in Indian Wells, Miami, Madrid, Beijing and the Nitto ATP Finals in Milan, as well as the Next Gen ATP Finals to be hosted in Jeddah until 2027.
The two bodies will also collaborate to elevate the long-term future of tennis. PIF will actively contribute to ATP’s OneVision Strategic Plan which focuses on driving unity, enhancing fan experiences and leveraging scalable growth opportunities across the sport.


Second-seeded Holger Rune eases past American Michael Mmoh at Mexican Open

Second-seeded Holger Rune eases past American Michael Mmoh at Mexican Open
Updated 28 February 2024
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Second-seeded Holger Rune eases past American Michael Mmoh at Mexican Open

Second-seeded Holger Rune eases past American Michael Mmoh at Mexican Open
  • The 20-year-old Rune, from Denmark, reached the semifinals in Acapulco last year
  • Fifth-seeded Stefanos Tsitsipas defeated Roman Safiullin 6-3, 6-4 and moved on to the second round where he will face Flavio Cobolli

ACAPULCO, Mexico: Second-seeded Holger Rune eased past American Michael Mmoh 6-2, 6-3 on Tuesday and advanced to the second round of the Mexican Open.

Rune, ranked seventh in the ATP, needed 92 minutes to dispatch Mmoh, who made his way into the main draw through the qualification tournament.

The 20-year-old Rune, from Denmark, reached the semifinals in Acapulco last year. He advanced to face the winner of the late match between Aleksandar Kovasevic and Jordan Thompson.

Earlier, fifth-seeded Stefanos Tsitsipas defeated Roman Safiullin 6-3, 6-4 and moved on to the second round where he will face Flavio Cobolli.

The 25-year-old Greek reached the semifinals last week in Los Cabos, Mexico, and is trying to win his first career 500 tournament.

Also Tuesday, Frances Tiafoe, seeded eighth, rallied to beat Max Purcell 4-6, 6-3, 6-0. He moved on to face Dominik Koepfer, who took care of Terence Atmane 6-4, 4— 6, 6-0.

Tiafoe is the highest-ranked American player in contention in the tournament after fourth-seeded Taylor Fritz and seventh-seeded Tommy Paul were knocked out on Monday.