Monfils takes Washington title over Karlovic; Lopez wins first career clay-court title in Gstaad; Fognini takes Umag crown

July 24, 2016

Citi Open—Washington, DC, U.S.A.

No. 2 seed Gael Monfils won the biggest title of his career on Sunday in Washington, D.C., dismissing No. 13 seed Ivo Karlovic 5-7, 7-6(6), 6-4. Saving two match points in the second set tiebreaker, Monfils broke his hard-serving opponent on two occasions, while fending off 28 aces to claim the title. Winning 78 percent of first serve points, Monfils improved to 3-2 against Karlovic in lifetime meetings and took home 500 ATP World Tour points. The Frenchman also pocketed $348,200 for his efforts.

Karlovic, who was attempting to win his second straight title on Tour, fell to 16-14 in 2016.

*****
J. Safra Sarasin Swiss Open Gstaad—Gstaad, Switzerland

Top seed Feliciano Lopez won his first-ever clay-court title on the ATP World Tour on Sunday, defeating Robin Haase 6-4, 7-5 to claim the Swiss Open in Gstaad, Switzerland. Using his potent serve and volleying expertise, Lopez struck eight aces, won 86 percent of his first serve points and 63 percent of his second serve points. Needing one hour and 17 minutes to claim his fifth career title, Lopez improved his year-to-date record to 21-16 and 2-3 against Haase in lifetime meetings.

Haase, currently ranked No. 95 in the world, was aiming for his third career title.

*****

Konzum Croatia Open Umag—Umag, Croatia

No. 4 seed Fabio Fognini stormed to his fourth career title on the ATP World Tour on Sunday, defeating unheralded Slovak Andrej Martin 6-4, 6-1 in the finals of the Croatia Open in Umag.

Capturing his three previous Tour titles on clay, Fognini had also reached the finals in Umag back in 2013. Needing one hour and eight minutes to seal his victory, the Italian broke serve on three occasions and controlled the tempo of the match with his topspin forehand. Never facing his 124th ranked opponent prior to today’s final, Fognini won €82,450 for his victory as well as 250 ATP World Tour points.

For his efforts, Martin captured 150 Tour points and will see his ranking hit approximately No. 92 in the world on Monday.

Reviewing the 2016 Nike Air Zoom All Out Flyknit

July 18, 2016

by: Nima Naderi

Looking for that extra edge this Summer as you hone your on court game for the fiercest three setters? Then look no further than the all-new Nike Air Zoom All Out FlyKnit running shoe.

Providing unparalleled comfort and flexibility, the Nike Air Zoom All Out FlyKnit is the perfect running shoe for the serious tennis player. Packed with a low-profile, Air Zoom cushioning system, the extra-breathable Flyknit upper highlights the shoe’s sock-like feel, which was also introduced earlier this year with the NikeCourt Air Zoom Ultrafly.

The long-list of benefits of this shoe are highlighted by it’s 3/4 length visible Zoom Air Unit for a plush, ultimate response. The ever-popular Flywire cables allow for a dynamic lacing system for the mid foot, while the translucent waffle rubber outsole provides a durable and traction-filled experience.

Weighing in at approximately 306 grams (size 9), the Nike Air Zoom All Out Flyknit is the ideal shoe for long-distance work on the track, or even a warm up jog around the corner.

More than anything, we found this tech-savvy shoe to be as comfortable as they come. Inspired by the runner that wanted a sock-like fit, Nike has continued to evolve and improve on its Flyknit series. Easy on the eyes and packing enough swag to be worn after training, the Nike Air Zoom All Out Flyknit will quickly become your favourite all-purpose sneaker.

The Nike Air Zoom All Out Flyknit is featured in both men’s and women’s versions in a multitude of colours to suit any wardrobe. Priced at $265 CAN, the Nike Air Zoom All Out Flyknit can be purchased today at Nike.com.

From the track, court or to the patio this Summer, you’ll be happy you gave the Nike Air Zoom All Out Flyknit a spin.

For more information on Nike products, check them out on Twitter @NikeCanada.

Klizan wins Hamburg title; Karlovic outlasts Muller for Newport crown; Ramos-Vinolas captures maiden title in Bastad

July 17, 2016

GERMAN TENNIS CHAMPIONSHIPS 2016—HAMBURG, GERMANY

No. 7 seed Martin Klizan won his second ATP World Tour 500 level event of the season on Sunday, defeating No. 3 seed Pablo Cuevas 6-1, 6-4. Using his forehand to great effect, Klizan won 84 percent of his first serve points and broke serve on four occasions. Needing less than one hour to seal his title, Klizan notched the fifth title of his career and second this season. Winning in Rotterdam earlier this year, Klizan improved to 13-8 in 2016.

Cuevas, who was aiming to win his third title of 2016, fell to 28-13 on the season.

*****

HALL OF FAME TENNIS CHAMPIONSHIPS—NEWPORT, RI, U.S.A.

No. 2 seed Ivo Karlovic outlasted Gilles Muller at the Hall of Fame Tennis Championships on Sunday, winning his seventh career title 6-7(2), 7-6(5), 7-6(12) over Gilles Muller. Needing two hours and 56 minutes to win the match, Karlovic slammed 27 aces, won 89 percent of his first serve points, and improved to 1-1 in career meetings against Muller.

The 37-year-old Croatian also won his 13th match of the season and took home $91,630 for his efforts.

Muller, who was in search of his first career singles title, fell to 0-5 in final matches.

*****

SKISTAR SWEDISH OPEN—BASTAD, SWEDEN

Third seeded Spaniard Albert Ramos-Vinolas won his maiden ATP World Tour title on Sunday in Bastad, Sweden, defeating Fernando Verdasco 6-3, 6-4. In a match that lasted one hour and 26 minutes, Ramos-Vinolas hit two ace, won 67 percent of his second serve points and broke the serve of his countryman on five occasions. Improving his head-to-head with Verdasco to 2-3 lifetime, Ramos-Vinolas improved his season record to 24-19.

Verdasco, who was aiming to eighth title of his career, fell to 7-14 in championship matches.

Andy Murray wins second Wimbledon title over Raonic

July 10, 2016

Wimbledon 2016—London, England

No. 2 seed Andy Murray completed a dominating fortnight on Sunday at Wimbledon, defeating No. 6 seed Milos Raonic 6-4, 7-6(3), 7-6(2) to win his second career title. Needing two hours and 47 minutes to complete his victory, Murray struck seven aces, won 87 percent of his first serve points and 56 percent of his second serve points. With only one break of serve by either player throughout the encounter, it was Murray who used his return of serve and backhand cross-court to keep his Canadian opponent on the defensive. Raonic, who had been averaging much harder second serves throughout the fortnight, averaged only 107 MPH throughout the final match.

Looking to win his first-ever Major title, Raonic never found his footing under the pressure-filled moment. Murray, who was 2-10 in Major finals coming into the match, hit 39 winners to 12 unforced errors in a spectacular performance. Losing in both the finals of the Australian Open and French Open earlier this year to Novak Djokovic, Murray won £2,000,000 for his victory, and 2000 ATP World Tour points for his triumph on Sunday.

Murray will next see action at the Davis Cup quarterfinals in Serbia, before heading to the Rogers Cup in Toronto. Raonic will next compete at his hometown event at the Rogers Cup.

Serena Williams captures 22nd career Major title at Wimbledon over Kerber

July 9, 2016

Wimbledon 2016—London, England

Top seed Serena Williams poured in a memorable effort on Saturday at the All England Club in London, England, defeating No. 4 seed Angelique Kerber 7-5, 6-3 to take the Championship. Needing one hour and 21 minutes to claim her seventh Wimbledon title, Williams struck 13 aces, won 88 percent of her first serve points and broke her German opponent on two of six occasions. Avenging her loss to Kerber at the Australian Open earlier this year, Williams tied Steffi Graf’s Open era record for 22 Grand Slam victories.

The American great will next set her sights on an Olympic Gold medal in Rio, which will be followed by the US Open in New York to close out the summer.

Kerber, who acquitted herself very well throughout the fortnight, fell to 1-1 in Major finals during her career.

Steve Johnson wins first career title in Nottingham

June 25, 2016

AEGON OPEN NOTTINGHAM—NOTTINGHAM, GREAT BRITAIN

No. 6 seed Steve Johnson captured his maiden ATP World Tour title in Nottingham, England on Saturday, defeating No. 2 seed Pablo Cuevas 7-6(5), 7-5. In a match that featured strong serving throughout, it was Johnson who took his chances early in the first set tiebreaker to gain the advantage. Looking to complete his victory in straight sets, Johnson broke the serve of his opponent twice in the second set before prevailing on his second match point. Needing one hour and 33 minutes to claim his victory, Johnson picked up 250 ATP World Tour points and will increase his ranking to No. 27 in the world when Monday’s computer is updated.

Both Johnson and Cuevas will next see action at Wimbledon, which begins on Monday.

Murray wins fifth Queen’s Club over Raonic; Mayer upsets Zverev to capture Halle title

June 19, 2016

AEGON CHAMPIONSHIPS—LONDON, GREAT BRITAIN

Andy Murray notched his fifth title at the Aegon Championships on Sunday in London, England, defeating Milos Raonic 6-7(5), 6-4, 6-3. Trailing by a set and 3-0, Murray reeled off four straight games and never looked back. Improving to 6-3 against Raonic in lifetime meetings, Murray has won five matches in a row against his Canadian opponent. The Brit, who recently turned 29, has now made four straight finals on Tour, dating back to the Madrid Open.

Both Murray and Raonic will next see action at Wimbledon, which begins on June 27th.

*****

GERRY WEBER OPEN—HALLE, GERMANY

Unheralded German Florian Mayer captured the biggest title of his career on Sunday in Halle, Germany, upending countryman Alexander Zverev 6-2, 5-7, 6-3. Needing five match points to seal his victory, Mayer used his unorthodox game-style to off-set his powerful opponent. Being injured for the better part of two years, Mayer won 386,925 euors for his efforts and 500 ATP World Tour points. Currently ranked No. 192 in the world, Mayer is set to re-enter the top 100 at approximately No. 78 when the rankings are updated on Monday.

Zverev, who was looking for his maiden Tour level title, will hit No. 28 in the world on Monday, which is a career high for the 19-year-old.

Djokovic wins first career French Open title over Murray to complete Grand Slam collection

June 5, 2016

French Open 2016—Paris, France

Top seed Novak Djokovic completed his Grand Slam collection on Sunday in Paris, defeating No. 2 seed Andy Murray 3-6, 6-1, 6-2, 6-4. In a match that saw Murray beginning in strong form, it was Djokovic who stormed back to take the second and third sets in comfortable fashion. Leading 5-2 in the fourth set, Murray began to lift his game and saved two Championship points in the 10th game of the set.

Earning his 12th Major title, Djokovic won 59 percent of his second serve points, broke Murray’s serve on seven occasions and hit 41 winners to 37 unforced errors. Murray, who was attempting to win his first French Open crown, fell to 2-10 in Major finals. The Brit last won a Grand Slam at Wimbledon in 2013.

Breaking the 100 million dollar mark in on court earnings earlier this week, Djokovic will now head into Wimbledon, the Rio Olympic Games and US Open as the heavy favourite to complete a historic year on Tour.

Djokovic is also the reigning champion at all four Grand Slams and joins Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, Andre Agassi, Rod Laver, Don Budge and Roy Emerson in the elite group.

Garbine Muguruza defeats Serena Williams for French Open title

June 4, 2016

French Open 2016—Paris, France

No. 4 seed Garbine Muguruza won her maiden Grand Slam title at the French Open on Saturday, defeating top seed and defending champion Serena Williams 7-5, 6-4. In a match that featured hard-hitting tennis at its finest, Muguruza broke serve on four occasions and hit 23 winners to 22 unforced errors. Defeating Williams at the 2014 French Open, Muguruza cemented her place as a force in women’s tennis by claiming the title on her fifth match point.

Muguruza and Williams also faced off in the Wimbledon final last year. A match that Williams won.

Reviewing the Babolat #ProjectOne7

June 1, 2016

by: Nima Naderi

Being a Babolat sponsored pro for over 12 years, and a predominate user of the Pure Aero Series during that time, I was initially intrigued by the hype surrounding the all-new #ProjectOne7 racket that Austrian Dominic Thiem started sporting at Monte Carlo earlier this year. Was this racket really an upgrade from the Strike Series, or was it a completely different frame with a whole new range of specs?

First impressions:

Apart from the cool paint-job that gave it the limited edition vibe that everyone enjoys, the #ProjectOne7 felt relatively light at first try and slightly towards handle heavy. Using the latest version of the Pure Aero Tour—which is far and away a heavier and stiffer racket than the #ProjectOne7—I was surprised at how smooth and consistent the racket was on ground-strokes and volleys.

Not one to prefer lighter stock rackets, I was impressed at how user friendly the #ProjectOne7 was from the first hit forward. The #ProjectOne7 did not provide the same pop and spin that I’ve received from the Pure Aero Tour, but where it out performs the Pure Aero Tour is in the crisp and consistent sweet spot that it provided. I literally felt as though I didn’t mishit a ball for the entire two hour hitting session.

Now, there is always a “honeymoon” period when a new racket is placed into a player’s hand, but after using the #ProjectOne7 for upwards of 8 hours, I can conclude that my initial feelings toward the frame stayed consistent.

Ground-strokes:

Being a player that hits a lot spin on his forehand and a pretty flat backhand, I usually tend to choose rackets based on how they respond to my forehand as the racket speed and spin generated make a big difference toward that stroke. The Pure Aero Tour provided great balance throughout my forehand swing, and about as much plow-through on the groundies that were needed. Subsequently, the #ProjectOne7—even though it is a lighter frame—still provided great stability on the forehand as well as excellent response to backhands hit cross-court or down-the-line. Again, as this is a prototype racket, specs were not available and thus it’s hard to gauge exactly how the racket compared from a numbers standpoint to the Pure Aero Tour.

Using RPM Team string at 45LBS for both the Pure Aero Tour and #ProjectOne7, I really had no trouble adjusting back and forth as I continued to make comparisons. Thanks again to the good people at Merchant of Tennis for the stringing up my frames.

Volleys:

Being an all-court player, I can say that without a shadow of doubt that the #ProjectOne7 responds better to net play than the Pure Aero Tour. The heftiness and stiffness of the Pure Aero Tour allow it to sometimes make deep volleys go long and drop volleys not skid as much as a player would like. But there was no such issue with the #ProjectOne7. Hitting volleys crisp and clean throughout the duration of the drills, I found the #ProjectOne7 to provide great depth on most volleys and pin-point touch on drop shots. All in all, volleys were an absolute delight to hit with this frame.

Serves:

Prior to changing to the Pure Aero Tour earlier this year from the Aero Pro Drive, I constantly applied lead tape to all my frames at 3 and 9 o’clock as well as underneath the grip. With the change to the Pure Aero Tour, I had no need to apply lead-tape as the weight and balance were spot on. I have yet to apply any lead-tape to the #ProjectOne7 as I wanted to keep the specs as pure as possible and use the frame as it was given. Heavier rackets in general help me toward gaining greater racket head speed and spin on my serve, but because the #ProjectOne7 had such a great sweet spot and allowed for more flexibility than that Pure Aero Tour, I did see more spin generated on my serve, especially on slice serves out wide on the deuce side and down the tee on the ad side. Overall, the #ProjectOne7 doesn’t have the same pace potential as a thicker beamed racket, but the spin potential is definitely the same or greater.

Returns:

Being one of my favorite shots in the game, I really judge a racket by how it helps me to return. I absolutely love teeing off and unloading a forehand return on the deuce side or a backhand return wide on the ad. The Pure Aero Tour added even more spin and velocity to my returns throughout the course of this year and although I can’t say that the #ProjectOne7 allowed for more pop on returning first or second serves, what I can say is that it aided in a higher percentage of returns with more than adequate depth and speed.

Overall Analysis:

Being with Babolat for more than a decade has seen my enjoy and test drive almost every generation of the Pure Drive, Pure Aero and now #ProjectOne7 series of rackets. It’s clear that Babolat has aimed to improve on the playability of the Strike and there’s no doubt that they have done so. The combination of flexibility, firmness and precision of the #ProjectOne7 is truly a testament to the R&D that Babolat have put into this new prototype frame. Here’s hoping that the final specs do not change drastically as this specific model will cater to many different player styles.

*****

Nima Naderi is the Editor in Chief of TennisConnected.com. He is also an award winning coach with the PTR and has over 19 years of coaching experience.

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