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.

Thiem defends Nice title; Wawrinka wins Geneva Open

May 21, 2016

OPEN DE NICE COTE D’AZUR—NICE, FRANCE

Top seed Dominic Thiem won a match up of youngsters on the ATP World Tour on Saturday, defeating good friend Alexander Zverev 6-4, 3-6, 6-0 in Nice, France. Needing one hour and 39 minutes to defend his title, Thiem struck five aces and broke the serve of his opponent on six occasions. Winning his third title of the season, Thiem will now head to Roland Garros, where he is seeded No. 13.

Zverev, who was playing in his maiden Tour final, will face Pierre-Hugues Herbert in his opening match at the French Open. The year’s second Grand Slam gets underway on Sunday in Paris.

*****

BANQUE ERIC STURDZA GENEVA OPEN—GENEVA, SWITZERLAND

Top seed Stan Wawrinka completed his Roland Garros preparation in style on Saturday by defeating Marin Cilic 6-4, 7-6(11) to win the title in Geneva. In a match that featured great shot-making from the back of the court, it was Wawrinka who saved three set points in the second set before prevailing. Notching his 14th career title, Wawrinka will now head to Paris to defend his title. The Swiss star defeated Novak Djokovic to claim the Championship last year.

Murray captures Rome Masters over Djokovic

May 15, 2016

INTERNAZIONALI BNL D’ITALIA—ROME, ITALY

No. 2 seed Andy Murray stunned top seed and defending champion Novak Djokovic 6-3, 6-3 on Sunday to capture his first-ever title in Roma, Italy.

In a match that lasted one hour and 35 minutes, Murray broke serve on three occasions and never lost his own delivery. Winning his 10th match against the Serb in 34 career meetings, Murray hit five aces and won 82 percent of his first serve points. Reaching the final of the Madrid Open last week in a losing effort to Djokovic, Murray had also reached the semifinals of the Monte Carlo Rolex Masters earlier this Spring. The Brit will now head to Roland Garros as the No. 2 seed and the favourite behind Djokovic.

Djokovic, who was aiming to win his 30th career Masters 1000 title and break the 100 million dollar mark in prize money, will now shift his attention to the French Open and completing his Grand Slam collection.

Almagro collects Estoril title; Schwartzman wins maiden title in Istanbul; Kohlschreiber captures third career Munich crown

May 1, 2016

MILLENNIUM ESTORIL OPEN—ESTORIL, PORTUGAL

Spaniard Nicolas Almagro won the 13th title of his career on Sunday in Estoril, Portugal, dispatching countryman Pablo Carreno Busta 6-7(6), 7-6(5), 6-3. Needing two hours and 47 minutes to come away with the victory, Almagro scorched 12 aces and broke the serve of his opponent on five occasions. Currently ranked No. 71 in the world, Almagro won 82,450 euros and 250 ATP World Tour points for his victory.

Carreno Busta, who was playing in his second final in 2016, is currently ranked No. 50 in the world.

*****

TEB BNP Paribas Istanbul Open—Istanbul, Turkey

Diego Schwartzman won his maiden career in Istanbul, Turkey on Sunday, overcoming a set and a break deficit to defeat No. 2 seed Grigor Dimitrov 6-7(5), 7-6(4), 6-0.

After injuring his leg toward the end of the second set, Dimitrov imploded and allowed his diminutive opponent to get back into the match. Not winning a game in the final set, Dimitrov broke two rackets after trailing 5-0 to before being defaulted. The Bulgarian fell to 0-2 in finals in 2016 and has not won a Tour title since Queen’s Club in 2014.

*****

BMW Open by FWU AG—Munich, Germany

No. 4 seed Philipp Kohlschreiber won his third title in Munich, Germany in epic fashion on Sunday, dismissing No. 3 seed Dominic Thiem 7-6(7), 4-6, 7-6(4). In a match that featured nine total breaks of serve, it was Kohlschreiber who used his guile toward the tail-end of the match to prevail. Winning his seventh career title, Kohlschreiber improved to 2-0 against Thiem in lifetime meetings.

Thiem, who has had an excellent year-to-date, fell to 29-8 on the year.

Both Thiem and Kohlschreiber will next see action at the Mutua Madrid Open next week.

Nadal wins ninth Barcelona title over Nishikori

April 24, 2016

BARCELONA OPEN BANCSABADELL—BARCELONA, SPAIN

Top seed Rafael Nadal won his ninth career Barcelona Open title in Spain on Sunday, defeating No. 2 seed Kei Nishikori 6-4, 7-5. In a match that lasted two hours and five minutes, it was Nadal that won 60 percent of his first serve points, while hitting one ace and breaking serve on five occasions. Improving to 9-1 against Nishikori in lifetime meetings, Nadal backed up his victory in Monte Carlo last week and now stands at No. 2 in the Race to London. The Spaniard also took home his 49th career clay-court title and 500 ATP World Tour points. The Spaniard will next see action at the Madrid Masters in Spain.

Nishikori, who was the two-time defending champion at the event, was vying for his 12th title as a professional.

Nadal wins ninth Monte Carlo title over Monfils

April 17, 2016

Monte Carlo Rolex Masters—Monaco

No. 5 seed Rafael Nadal captured his ninth title at the Monte Carlo Rolex Masters on Sunday, defeating No. 13 seed Gael Monfils 7-5, 5-7, 6-0. In a match that featured great shot-making from both players, it was Nadal that took the first set after a double fault from his opponent. Not to be outdone, Monfils continued to show the great promise that he’s proven throughout the year by clawing his way back during the second set to force a decider.

With everything to play for in the final set, Nadal displayed his true class by winning six straight games to capture the title. Taking home his 68th career crown, Nadal also tied Novak Djokovic with 28 career Masters 1000 titles. The Spaniard is next set to appear at the Barcelona Open in Spain, which gets underway on Monday.

Monaco wins second Houston crown; Delbonis wins Marrakech title

April 10, 2016

FAYEZ SAROFIM & CO US MEN’S CLAY COURT CHAMPIONSHIP—HOUSTON, TX, U.S.A.

Argentine Juan Monaco won his second career title in Houston, Texas on Sunday, defeating defending champion Jack Sock 3-6, 6-3, 7-5. In a match that featured medical time-outs by both players, it was Monaco who gave up a 4-1 lead in the third set, only to break the American at 6-5 before serving out the title. Winning his first title in three years, Monaco won 67 percent of his first serve points, broke serve on five occasions and hit two aces over his American opponent.

Sock, who suffered from cramps during the third set, fell to 10-7 on the season.

*****

GRAND PRIX HASSAN II—MARRAKECH, MOROCCO

Argentine Federico Delbonis captured the second title of his career on Sunday in Marrakech, Morocco, dismissing Croatian upstart Borna Coric 6-2, 6-4. Capitalizing on his potent, left-handed baseline game, Delbonis won 80 percent of his first serve points, broke serve on three occasions and hit four aces during the championship match.

Coric, who was looking for his maiden ATP World Tour title, fell to 0-2 in Tour 2016 finals after losing to Stan Wawrinka in Chennai to begin the season.

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