Swede wild card Elias Ymer picked up his second win at the Intrum Stockholm Open – and his fifth victory of 2018 – on Monday, beating German Maximilian Marterer 4-6, 7-5, 7-5. 

Ymer broke when Marterer tried to serve it out at 5-4 in the third. And on match point, with Marterer serving at 5-6, the German served and volleyed and hit a backhand volley into the open court. But Ymer ran it down, and on the dead run, clipped a forehand down the line for the win.

The 22-year-old Swede will next meet fourth seed and two-time finalist Jack Sock of the U.S. In the only other main-draw match of the day, American Denis Kudla beat Guillermo Garcia-Lopez of Spain 6-2, 7-5. Kudla will next meet South Korea's Hyeon Chung or countryman Taylor Fritz.

Watch: Ymer Visits Ethiopia

Posted: October 15, 2018, 9:20 pm

Frenchman Adrian Mannarino battled past Russian wild card Evgeny Karlovskiy 3-6, 6-4, 7-6(4) on Monday to set a second-round showdown with top seed Marco Cecchinato of Italy at the VTB Kremlin Cup in Moscow. Mannarino withstood 15 aces and converted only one of his 12 break points against the 24-year-old Karlovskiy.

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In other action, Czech qualifier Lukas Rosol beat Italy's Matteo Berrettini 6-3, 4-6, 6-4 and will next meet third-seeded Russian Karen Khachanov. Slovenian Aljaz Bedene saved eight of 10 break points and beat Serbian Laslo Djere 5-7, 6-4, 7-6(2).

Posted: October 15, 2018, 9:01 pm

Vasek Pospisil set up a second-round showdown with fellow Canadian Milos Raonic at the European Open after a confident 6-3, 7-5 win over Argentine Leonardo Mayer Monday in Antwerp. Pospisil, 28, fired 10 aces and dropped just 10 points in 11 service games, winning an impressive 82 percent of points on his first and second serve.

Despite spotting his opponent 17 years in age, left-handed Spanish veteran Feliciano Lopez had the measure of 20-year-old #NextGenATP American Frances Tiafoe, winning 6-4, 7-6(5) after hitting 18 aces. Lopez did not concede a break point chance. He converted just one of seven opportunities on Tiafoe’s serve en route to the second round, where he awaits the winner of German Jan-Lennard Struff and French lucky loser Constant Lestienne.

American Mackenzie McDonald, who took out Raonic in the Shanghai first round last week, defeated Chilean Nicolas Jarry 6-1, 7-6(8). And in the only other main-draw match Monday, Jiri Vesely saved the lone break point he faced against #NextGenATP Spaniard Jaume Munar. The Czech next faces fourth-seeded Frenchman Richard Gasquet.

Watch Live

Did You Know?
Pospisil needs just two more match wins to reach 100 career victories.

Posted: October 15, 2018, 7:57 pm

Rolex Shanghai Masters

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Posted: October 15, 2018, 7:14 pm

Novak Djokovic just gets better and better this second half of 2018. The 31-year-old Serbian, who won his 32nd ATP World Tour Masters 1000 title on Sunday at the Rolex Shanghai Masters, brought his “Big Title” haul to 51 with the straight-sets victory against Croatian Borna Coric.

Djokovic leapfrogged Rafael Nadal, who has 50, on the all-time Big Titles list. Swiss Roger Federer still leads Djokovic by two “Big Titles” – a combination of Grand Slam, Nitto ATP Finals and Masters 1000 crowns.

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But the Serbian is gaining ground, and quickly. Djokovic has won 18 consecutive matches and 27 of his past 28, dating back to Wimbledon. In Shanghai, he didn't drop his serve once, holding all 47 times at the season's penultimate Masters 1000 event. It's the first time Djokovic has never been broken en route to a title.

This was definitely one of the best service weeks that I had in my career,” Djokovic said. “I have never played on faster courts here in Shanghai, so this year more than ever I needed a lot of success with the first serves in.”

Novak

Djokovic won his fourth Shanghai title and 32nd Masters 1000 crown, placing him within one of Nadal's all-time mark of 33. Djokovic, however, has been the most opportune of the all-time greats. He has won 51 Big Titles from 170 opportunities, a conversion rate of 3.3.

Nadal has a strike rate of 3.5 from 174 tournaments, while Federer has won a 'Big Title' every 4.2 chances (53/220).

Who would have guessed this in March when Djokovic admitted to feeling lost on the court against Japan's Taro Daniel at the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells?

Look, I think you're seeing the new Novak. I don't need to describe him. That's all I can say,” Djokovic said in Shanghai.I had to reinvent myself and find the proper formula for success. I found it and I'm just trying to hold on to it as long as I can.”

With two more Big Titles up for grabs in 2018, Djokovic might finish the season on top of the Big Titles leaderboard – and atop the ATP Rankings. The Serbian moved into No. 2 in the ATP Rankings on Monday and is currently only 215 points behind No. 1 Nadal.

If Djokovic finishes year-end No. 1 for the fifth time, he would make history: No player has climbed from as low as he was earlier this year — No. 22 on 21 May — to No. 1 in the same season. The closest was Andre Agassi, who jumped from No. 14 in May 1999 to the top spot later that season.

Current and Former Champions' Big Titles Won (Records Since 1990) 

Player

Grand Slams

Nitto ATP Finals

1000s

Total (Avg)

Roger Federer

20/74

6/15

27/131

53/220 (4.2)

Novak Djokovic 14/55 5/10 32/105 51/170 (3.3)
Rafael Nadal 17/53 0/8 33/112 50/174 (3.5)

Pete Sampras

14/52

5/11

11/83

30/146 (4.9)

Andre Agassi

8/61

1/13

17/90

26/164 (6.3)

Andy Murray

3/46

1/8

14/96

18/150 (8.3)

Boris Becker*

2/26

2/6

5/51

9/83 (9.2)

Thomas Muster

1/29

0/4

8/53

9/86 (9.6)

Gustavo Kuerten

3/33

1/3

5/67

9/103 (11.4)

Jim Courier

4/38

0/4

5/71

9/113 (12.6)

Stefan Edberg**

3/28

0/4

1/24

4/56 (14)

Marcelo Rios

0/26

0/1

5/56

5/83 (16.6)

Michael Chang

1/50

0/6

7/86

8/142 (17.8)

Marat Safin

2/41

0/3

5/87

7/131 (18.7)

Andy Roddick

1/46

0/6

5/75

6/127 (21.2)

* Becker's four other Grand Slam titles came before 1990.
** Edberg's three other Grand Slam titles came before 1990.

Posted: October 15, 2018, 6:33 pm
Novak Djokovic celebrates winning the Rolex Shanghai Masters for a record fourth time in this Moët Moment. Photo: Kevin Lee/Getty Images.
Posted: October 15, 2018, 1:51 pm
Posted: October 15, 2018, 8:58 am
Posted: October 15, 2018, 8:55 am
Posted: October 15, 2018, 8:51 am
Denis Kudla claims hot shot honours on Day 1 in Stockholm en route to victory over Guillermo Garcia-Lopez. Watch live matches at TennisTV.com
Posted: October 15, 2018, 7:56 am
ATP World Tour Uncovered presented by Peugeot goes behind the scenes at the 2018 China Open, held in Beijing.
Posted: October 15, 2018, 7:45 am
ATP World Tour Uncovered presented by Peugeot features #NextGenATP Spaniard Jaume Munar, who is making a push to qualify for the Next Gen ATP Finals in Milan from 6-10 November.
Posted: October 15, 2018, 7:40 am
ATP World Tour presented by Peugeot gets the celebratory reactions of Lukasz Kubot and Marcelo Melo after the pair triumphs at the China Open in Beijing.
Posted: October 15, 2018, 7:38 am

No. 11 Borna Coric, +10
The Croatian soared 10 spots to No. 11 in the ATP Race To London as a result of contesting his first ATP World Tour Masters 1000 final at the Rolex Shanghai Masters (l. to Djokovic). The 21-year-old beat Stan Wawrinka, Bradley Klahn, Juan Martin del Potro, Matthew Ebden and Roger Federer en route to his fifth title match. Coric also beat Roger Federer in June for the Gerry Weber Open title in Halle. Read More & Watch Shanghai Final Highlights

Three singles berths remain up for grabs at the Nitto ATP Finals, to be held at The O2 in London from 11-18 November, with just three weeks left in the regular ATP World Tour season. Marin Cilic (3,825 points), Kevin Anderson (3,720) and Dominic Thiem (3,535) hold the automatic qualification berths. Coric is 1,235 points behind eighth-placed Thiem. Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic, Federer, Del Potro and Alexander Zverev have already booked their places at the prestigious season finale. Buy Your London Tickets Today

View Latest ATP Race To London Standings

No. 9 Kei Nishikori, +1
The Japanese star rose one place to ninth position, supplanting American John Isner, after he advanced to the Shanghai quarter-finals (l. to Federer). Nishikori went 6-2 on the Asian swing, including a runner-up finish at the Rakuten Japan Open Tennis Championships 2018 (l. to Medvedev). With 3,000 points, he remains 535 points behind Thiem.

No. 13 Kyle Edmund, +2
The Briton reached his second Masters 1000 quarter-final, five months on from his first at the Mutua Madrid Open (l. to Shapovalov), losing to Zverev in Shanghai. With a two-place rise to 13th in the ATP Race To London, Edmund showed the kind of form that took him to the Australian Open semi-finals (l. to Cilic) and also the Grand Prix Hassan II final (l. to Andujar) earlier this year.

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Posted: October 15, 2018, 7:23 am

It was mid-July and Bjorn Fratangelo was struggling mightily to find his confidence and form on the court.

The American was one year removed from a semi-final finish at the Dell Technologies Hall of Fame Open, his best result on the ATP World Tour. But after tearing his rectus femoris (quadriceps muscle) in May, he would miss the remainder of the clay-court season and, upon return, claimed just two match wins through the end of August.

Fratangelo was forced to dig deep - deeper than he ever had - to rediscover his game and the right mentality both on and off the court. Now, with new coach Andres Alarcon in his corner, the Pittsburgh native is back.

On Sunday, the 25-year-old claimed his third ATP Challenger Tour title, and first in more than two years, with a victory in Fairfield, California. After dropping his opening set of the tournament, Fratangelo would reel off 10 straight to capture the Northbay Healthcare Men's Pro Championship crown. It was capped by a 6-4, 6-3 win over Alex Bolt in the final.

Fratangelo has flipped a 2-12 summer stretch on its head, posting a 14-4 run since the US Open. The resurgent streak has seen him vault to No. 138 in the ATP Rankings, rising 20 spots with his victory in Fairfield.

Victory never tasted so sweet for @BjornFratangelo.

After 2.5 years, the 🇺🇸 is back in the winners' circle. The champion in Fairfield, reeling off 10 sets in a row to take the title. pic.twitter.com/FF1pHjYIFb

 

— ATP Challenger Tour (@ATPChallenger) October 14, 2018

The American spoke to Mike Cation following Sunday's final...

Bjorn, you seem pretty relaxed, but you must feel a deep satisfaction after winning your first title in 2.5 years.
This is pretty big. I'm a pretty relaxed individual on and off the court when my mind is right. But this is probably the most emotional victory I've had in my career. I don't get excited about a lot of things, but this one is pretty bittersweet with how my year has gone and how I've been able to turn it around. If a few months ago someone told me I'd be holding a $100k Challenger title, I would have laughed. But here I am and I'm pretty proud of myself.

You and I talked off the record in Binghamton and you told me how low it had gotten for you. You spoke about that in your trophy presentation today. How bad was it and what were the things you were doing that were so negative at the time? How did you change them?
There were a lot of things that contributed to the downward spiral for me. It wasn't really anything personal, but all on-court and tennis related. It started when [my coach] Brad [Stine] left me. I totally understood why he did it, but it was the way he did it that took me by surprise. It left me hanging at the beginning of the year, after what I thought was a great preseason.

I wasn't getting all the results I wanted at the start of the year, but I was still around the Top 100. And things started to look good by the start of the clay-court season. I was up a set on Nikoloz Basilashvili in Madrid qualifying. He's playing some absurd tennis right now. But in that match I tore a muscle in my quad and that set me back. I missed Roland Garros and a bulk of the season where I have my best success. 

While I was rehabbing, I started thinking about the first five years of my career and how I had thought they were going to be different. I don't know how much better it could have gone, but I thought it was going to be better. When I was finally healed, I came back to the court without much enthusiasm and energy. I was in a slump emotionally and wasn't getting out of it. I think I lost eight or so matches in a row and I started slipping into a hole. I was not the best person to be around at the time. But I had the support of my parents, coaches from the USTA and Andres who I am working with now, and [my girlfriend] Madison. It was a team effort to get me back from the dead. But I wanted to be helped and it took some time for me to get going. 

How do you change the mental side when you're on the court? I was watching you in the summer and it wasn't there. You felt like you were going to lose.
I just started working in a different way. I was still training and putting in the hard yards, but I was doing it with the mentality of getting back to where I should be or higher. Starting with my coach Andres in July, having one singular voice that was just for me and a fresh set of eyes on my game was big. That is, trusting someone new and letting that relationship grow and unfold with a super postitive person. When we started, I wasn't the easiest person to be around and he stuck by it and stayed with me.

This is going to be the first time in a few years where you're not around No. 110 in the year-end ATP Rankings. I imagine that allows you to play more freely, but what is that mindset as you enter these last few indoor weeks in Charlottesville, Knoxville and Champaign?
It is a little bit different and I haven't really thought about that. But now that you mention it, each year I was trying to finish Top 100 and reach the Australian Open main draw, it wasn't necessarily an extra pressure I put on myself. And I think that's how I first and foremost crackd and just broke this year. Three years of being between No. 105-115 made me think what do I need to do? 

I thought I was doing everything I can each day to maximize myself and you finish each year the same. I thought I was improving, but on paper it's the same thing. When I cracked, I thought I didn't know what else to do and that I was losing my mind. Everything just started to spiral.

I'm sure at this moment, you're thinking about all those people who were there to support you in July.
For sure. Everyone from Andres to Madison to my mom and dad to Troy Hahn, to Nico Todero, and Peter Lucassen and my trainer Brent Salazar. It was really a team effort to pick me up and get me back to where I am. I wasn't an easy fix and it took some time. These moments are the ones that I'll look back on when things go south again. I'm sure they will, because it's a long career. But I'll have a little more clarity in my head in those moments.

ATP Challenger Tour 

Posted: October 15, 2018, 6:32 am
Watch as John Millman of Australia tours Stockholm by bike ahead of his opening match at the Intrum Stockholm Open.
Posted: October 15, 2018, 5:06 am

If Ugo Humbert is to qualify for the Next Gen ATP Finals, he will have done so in dramatic fashion. His surge to the Top 10 of the ATP Race To Milan is already the most impressive climb in the brief two-year history of the tournament. 

On Sunday, Humbert moved to within striking distance of the seven qualification spots, rising to ninth with the title at the ATP Challenger Tour event in Ortisei, Italy. The 20-year-old was a blur on the blazing fast hard courts of Ortisei, downing top seed Pierre-Hugues Herbert 6-4, 6-2 in the final.

Just three months ago, Humbert was sitting in 30th position in his quest to qualify for Milan. 30th! He was so far from being in contention that even he admitted that there was "little chance" of punching his ticket to the 21 & under season finale. But, after securing his maiden title in Segovia, qualifying for his first Grand Slam at the US Open, winning his first ATP World Tour match in Metz and adding a second crown this week in Ortisei, Humbert has catapulted up the standings. 

Ugo's Stunning Stretch

Week Tournament Result
8 October Ortisei CH Won Title
24 September Orleans CH
2R
17 September Moselle Open (Metz) First ATP World Tour match win
3 September Cassis CH Runner-up
27 August US Open First Grand Slam match win
30 July  Segovia CH  Won Title 
23 July  Granby CH  Runner-up
16 July  Gatineau CH  Runner-up

In fact, the Frenchman has been the top performer on the Challenger circuit in that three month span, registering a 23-4 record. Incredibly, he has reached the final in five of six events entered.

And did we mention that Humbert will make his Top 100 debut on Monday? From No. 477 in the ATP Rankings one year ago, the Metz native is up to a career-high No. 99. He is the youngest Frenchman in the Top 100 since Richard Gasquet in 2006. 

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Humbert

In other action, 18-year-old Felix Auger-Aliassime and 22-year-old Christian Garin both edged towards Top 100 debuts of their own, notching respective crowns in Tashkent, Uzbekistan and Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic.

Felix Flies To Tashkent Title

Auger-Aliassime became just the sixth player to lift at least four trophies while aged 18 & under. It was his first hard-court Challenger crown, having previously prevailed on the clay of Lyon and Sevilla. While the Canadian moves up to No. 109 in the ATP Rankings, Garin rises to No. 103 with his title at the Santo Domingo Open. It was his second straight triumph on the circuit, having also prevailed a week ago in Campinas, Brazil.

A True Test of Survival: Santo Domingo 2018

Meanwhile, Bjorn Fratangelo claimed his first title in two and a half years, rediscovering his top form after suffering a torn rectus femoris (quadriceps muscle). He triumphed in Fairfield, California, reeling off 10 sets in a row to lift his third Challenger trophy.

And the week also included Roberto Carballes Baena's victory on the clay of Barcelona. The inaugural tournament at the prestigious Sanchez-Casal Academy featured an all-Spanish final, with the Granada native defeating Pedro Martinez from a set down. He became the eighth player to win on both the ATP World Tour and ATP Challenger Tour this year, having captured his maiden tour-level title in Quito in February.

ATP Challenger Tour 

Posted: October 15, 2018, 12:03 am

Medical tests have revealed that World No. 4 Juan Martin del Potro suffered a fracture of his right patella bone at the Rolex Shanghai Masters.

"It's a very difficult moment," said Del Potro, who is wearing a split on his right leg. "I feel very sad. It's a hard blow that leaves me without strength. It's very difficult for me to think about recovery again, I did not expect this to happen."

The 30-year-old was coming off back-to-back final appearances at the US Open and China Open, when he suffered the injury at the ATP World Tour Masters 1000 stop in Shanghai. After defeating Richard Gasquet, he would retire from his Round of 16 encounter against Borna Coric after dropping the opening set. 

Del Potro, who is in the midst of arguably his greatest campaign on the ATP World Tour, is up to third in the ATP Race To London and has already secured his return to The O2 for the Nitto ATP Finals. The extent of the injury is unknown and his doctors will evaluate the recovery process in the coming days.

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Posted: October 14, 2018, 6:30 pm

Is consistency overrated?

Novak Djokovic defeated Borna Coric 6-3, 6-4 in the final of the Rolex Shanghai Masters on Sunday by dominating shorter rallies and playing even with Coric in the longer ones.

Long rallies are more memorable, more emotional, and more dramatic. That's why they receive so much attention and applause, and why they globally dominate the practice court. But consider this: there were 20 eye-popping rallies that reached double digits in the final, with Djokovic and Coric winning 10 each. Long rallies were a push in this match - as they normally are.

Long rallies are not the secret sauce of Djokovic 2.0. Striking first and eliminating early mistakes in the rally most certainly are. "Old school" consistency focuses on hitting 20 balls in a row in the court, and repeating it four times. "New school" consistency is all about hitting four balls in a row in the court and repeating it 20 times.

A new take on old folklore.

There were 20 rallies in the match that reached double digits, but there were 30 rallies in the match that totaled just one shot in the court. The serve went in, and either by an ace or a missed return, the ball never came back. That happened more than anything else in the match. The top five rally lengths in the match totaled 65% (81/124) of all points, with Djokovic winning a commanding 59 per cent (48/81) of them.

Shanghai Final: Top 5 Rally Lengths & Point Winner
1. 1 Shot In = 30 points (Djokovic 17/Coric 13)
2. 3 Shots In = 19 points (Djokovic 9/Coric 10)
3. 5 Shots In = 13 points (Djokovic 9/Coric 4)
4. 4 Shots In = 10 points (Djokovic 6/Coric 4)
5. 2 Shots In = 9 points (Djokovic 7/Coric 2)
TOTAL: 81 points — Djokovic, 59% (48)/Coric, 41% (33)

Djokovic won 20 more points than Coric for the match (72 to 52), and crafted 15 of them in rally lengths from one to five shots. That's a layer of our sport that matters more than we ever realised.

Djokovic held serve 47 straight times throughout the tournament to remain unbroken from Monday to Sunday. It's a scary thought that the world's best returner can also go a week without his serve being broken. Djokovic won an astounding 91 per cent (29/32) of first-serve points in the final, which was in stark contrast to the first-serve battles Coric endured, winning just 61 per cent (34/56) of his first-serve points.

Average Rally Length: Points Won On First Serve
• Djokovic = 3.8 shots
• Coric = 5.2 shots

Average Rally Length: Points Lost On First Serve
• Djokovic = 3.3 shots
• Coric = 6.2 shots

Overall, the champion played just three points that went to double digits when he started the rally with a first serve, while Coric had to battle through 10 of them.

Djokovic was also able to play shorter points behind his second serve as well, winning a commanding 70 per cent (14/20), with an average rally length of 5.2 shots. Coric won 56 per cent (9/16) of his second-serve points, but his rally length was much higher at 7.1 shots.

Djokovic won 72 points in the final, with 76 per cent (55) of them coming from a Coric error, and 17 coming off his own racquet as a winner. We play a sport of errors much more than winners, even at the elite level of our sport.

Our eyes would have us believe the recent rise of Djokovic (27-1 since the beginning of Wimbledon) is mainly due to dominance in the long rallies. It's not. He is back to being the apex predator hunting his hidden advantage in the 0-4 shot rally length. He forces mayhem in his opponents’ strokes and mind much more with serves and returns than by extending the rally.

Editor’s Note: Brain Game author Craig O’Shannessy is on the coaching team of Novak Djokovic.

Posted: October 14, 2018, 6:23 pm
Take a look back at the history of the Rolex Shanghai Masters as the tournament completes its 10th edition.
Posted: October 14, 2018, 5:44 pm