19.04.2021 - 07:00 Uhr
Jenson Brooksby is as fearless a competitor as they come. A self-described 'physical player' armed with a boisterous backhand and a dialed-in demeamor, the 20-year-old California native is making an instant splash on the ATP Challenger Tour.Brooksby is putting the rest of the tour on notice after a near-perfect start to his 2021 campaign. The American's stunning run continued this week with a dominant performance in Orlando, Florida. He streaked to his second Challenger title without dropping a set, culminating in a 6-3, 6-3 victory over Denis Kudla.If you aren't familiar with Brooksby, here's your introduction to the hottest player on the circuit. After missing 14 months with a toe injury, including all of 2020, the surging #NextGenATP star has been a relentless force in the opening months of 2021. His 14-2 record gives him the highest win percentage on the ATP Challenger Tour (87.5), among players with at least 15 matches played. And his two titles has him sitting tied for the tour lead with Sebastian Baez and Zizou Bergs. 2021 ATP Challenger Win Percentage Leaders (min. 15 matches) Player Win-Loss Record Win Percentage Jenson Brooksby 14-2 87.5 Jaume Munar 13-2 86.7 Kacper Zuk 18-5 78.3 Liam Broady 14-4 77.8 After lifting his first Challenger trophy on the hard courts of Potchefstroom, South Africa, in February, Brooksby reached another final in Cleveland, USA, before earning his first career victory in ATP Tour qualifying. He would upset Henri Laaksonen at the ATP Masters 1000 event in Miami, before arriving in Orlando with plenty of confidence and momentum. Brooksby, a native of Sacramento, California, is up to a career-high No. 194 in the FedEx ATP Rankings with his title on Sunday. Having opened the season outside the Top 300, and with just three match wins on the Challenger circuit, it's been a remarkable rise for the 20-year-old.There's no stopping Jenson Brooksby!The 20-year-old  is the champion in Orlando, claiming his second #ATPChallenger title in dominant fashion. Did not drop a set all week. pic.twitter.com/D5dPzh7kNh— ATP Challenger Tour (@ATPChallenger) April 18, 2021Brooksby's story is a fascinating one. A former U.S. junior champion, the American sent shockwaves throughout the tennis world with an upset of former World No. 4 Tomas Berdych at the 2019 US Open. At the age of 18 and with no experience on the professional stage, he would earn the biggest win of his young career. Having enrolled to play collegiately at Baylor University later that year, the American's toe injury would derail his college tennis ambitions. He would not step on a match court for more than a year, before eventually opting to turn pro to open his 2021 campaign. Now, in just his fourth month as a professional, he already has one eye on the Next Gen ATP Finals, surging to sixth in the ATP Race To Milan. Brooksby with coach Nick Bezzubchenko in OrlandoBrooksby spoke to broadcaster Mike Cation following his victory in Orlando...Congrats Jenson. The courts this week were very quick. How did you make it so your style was so effective, that you didn't even lose a set?I knew coming into the week that it would be a little faster than the courts I usually train at, at home. But I got here a couple days early this time, just to get used to playing here. Nothing in my game really changed much. It's just all about getting used to the courts and the speed.For people who are new to the Jenson Brooksby game, what is it that you do well and how does that translate when you're moving up to the higher level?I think that I have an all-around game. I like hitting my backhand, but my forehand is getting there too. I just fight for every point and move my opponent around as much as possible. I don't want to give it all away. [laughs]You don't have the biggest serve yet, but that will evolve in time. That said, in these faster conditions, how did you make sure that the first forehand and backhand was so effective and generated a lot of depth? I've been working on that a lot in practise lately. Just being more physical in the first few shots of the point, because in the past I wasn't doing that. It's just about doing it in practise and getting the confidence to swing through those shots in the matches. It looks like it was working this week.Your coach Nick said that you've been much more focused this week. Is that an issue for you, at times?Yeah, against Christian Harrison yesterday I started out strong and it slipped a little as the first set went on. For me, it's all about staying focused on the strategy and being aggressive in the match. When I lose focus, I have to let out a little anger with a shout. Something like that. It just helps me get back in the zone to refocus.Against another player with such a good backhand in Kudla, what were the patterns you looked for?I knew going in that he's a very good player. But I was feeling confident and staying physical to the forehand. I tried to move him around and keep the ball low. He likes to attack as well, but I think I did a good job of stopping him today. He wasn't in rhythm and I think I caused that.This year has been impressive. Two titles from three finals for you. How do you set realistic expectations so you're not rushing the process and instead trying to focus match-to-match and tournament-to-tournament?The mindset I have and the mindset of my team is not looking at the ranking. We don't read into any of that stuff. It's just about taking it day-by-day and doing what's in my control to get better. The results will take care of themselves. I'm happy with the year so far and I'm happy to make such big progress, especially after a tough 2020 for me. I'm focusing on the right things consistently and I know I'll keep getting better.That said, the next step is Roland Garros qualifying. I know you haven't played on clay much. What's that going to be like for you?Luckily, I've had some experience with changes in conditions this year. I went from Spain to South Africa and played two days later. Then, I went from Cleveland indoors to slower conditions in Miami. I know I haven't played on clay in a while, but we'll drive to Tallahassee tonight and get a couple hits tomorrow. Even if I'm not playing my best, I'm not going to worry about that. I'll get used to the courts again.How do you celebrate, especially when you have another tournament to focus on?You have to celebrate. The big thing for me is to enjoy the process. Training is always going to be hard work, and then there's the matches and all the traveling, but I've enjoyed it a lot this year. It's finding the balance of putting in the hard work and enjoying what I do. Off-court things as well. Maybe get a nice steak tonight?Yeah, I'm sure we'll get a good dinner tonight. I've got a match in a couple days, but we'll enjoy it for sure.I first became aware of you in Stockton in 2016, when you played qualies. You had some early Challenger wild cards as a junior, and those were opportunities that many kids don't get. What did that mean to you?At the time, it was a great opportunity. And my game was there. I was competing with those guys. But obviously my focus wasn't near what it is now. The physical side too. I grew late. At 16 and 17 years old, it gave me the confidence to know that my game was there. It showed me that I just needed to keep training hard. I still haven't played a lot of Challenger matches in general, but it was a good experience to have that.



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Kudla, Denis

14.06.2021 - 02:16 Uhr

This week, the ATP Challenger Tour returned to grass for the first time in two years, as the lawns of Nottingham welcomed players back to the prestigious Viking Open.Frances Tiafoe wasted little time in finding his form on the surface, streaking to his first grass-court title in dominant fashion. The Maryland native ousted close friend Denis Kudla 6-1, 6-3 in just 70 minutes on Sunday, marking the culmination of a week that saw him lose just one set and save 21 of 25 break points faced.The title match marked the first time that two Americans faced off for a grass-court crown on the Challenger circuit. Kudla, who had defeated Tiafoe in their two previous encounters, battled a determined countryman in Sunday's championship."I was waiting for this for a very long time," said Tiafoe during the trophy ceremony. "Denis battled hard all week. I know grass is one of his favourite surfaces, so I hope he wins next week but I'm happy to get this one. I needed it bad. And it's my first title with [coach Wayne Ferreira], so hopefully we'll get some ATPs next."Lastly, I have to say to Denis that I wouldn't be the guy I am without you bro. I've been trying to chase you since I was a kid. It feels good to beat you today but I've always looked up to you and I'm happy for our practices together and our friendship. In all my success in the future, I want to say thank you."Photo: Nathan Stirk/Getty ImagesTiafoe is no stranger to success on grass, having advanced to the quarter-finals at the 2018 cinch Championships at Queen's Club. He would go on to reach the third round at Wimbledon just weeks later. The 23-year-old's victory was also his sixth on the ATP Challenger Tour and first since he prevailed on the clay of Parma in 2020. Tiafoe is making a habit of lifting trophies in recent years, having won seven of his last eight finals on the ATP Tour and Challenger circuit combined. He is projected to rise to No. 65 in the FedEx ATP Rankings on Monday.Kudla, meanwhile, was bidding for his second grass-court crown (Ilkley 2015). The American enjoyed an impressive week himself, stopping #NextGenATP star Tomas Machac in the first round, before defeating home hopes Liam Broady and Daniel Evans and saving a match point against Poland's Kamil Majchrzak in the semi-finals. Evans was the top seed and defending champion at the Challenger 125 event.Both finalists will look to continue their strong form on the turf next week, with Tiafoe traveling to London to compete at Queen's Club and Kudla staying in Nottingham for the second of back-to-back Challengers there. Tiafoe opens against Aljaz Bedene, while Kudla is set to face fourth seed Kevin Anderson.

25.05.2021 - 22:37 Uhr

Spanish teen Carlos Alcaraz moved one step closer to the main draw of Roland Garros with a 6-3, 6-3 win Tuesday over Lukas Lacko in the first round of qualifying. The seventh seed will take on Italy's Andrea Pellegrino in the second round. Alcaraz, an 18-year-old ranked No. 94 in the FedEx ATP Rankings, won his fourth ATP Challenger in Oeiras last week. The title propelled him inside the Top 100 for the first time. He made his Grand Slam debut at this year's Australian Open, where he qualified and won his first round. American Jenson Brooksby lost just one game in a 6-1, 6-0 win over Cedrik-Marcel Stebe and takes on Switzerland's Marc-Andrea Huesler next. Brooksby has accumulated a 19-2 record on the ATP Challenger Tour this year with three titles. The 20-year-old made waves at the US Open in 2019 when he qualified and upset Tomas Berdych in the first round. The highest seed to fall on the second day of qualifying action was third seed Dennis Novak. The Austrian was beaten by Spain's Mario Vilella Martinez, 1-6, 6-2, 6-2. Martinez has qualified for a Grand Slam main draw twice, but never in Paris. Elsewhere, Mackenzie McDonald ended Thanasi Kokkinakis' bid 6-4, 6-4, Denis Kudla dismissed Mikael Torpegaard 6-1, 6-2 and Denis Istomin defeated Damir Dzumhur 2-6, 6-2, 6-1.

03.04.2021 - 06:07 Uhr

In a battle between two first-time ATP Masters 1000 finalists, 26th seed Hubert Hurkacz knows that he will have to put friendship and camaraderie aside for a shot at the Miami Open presented by Itau title.After enjoying an under-the-radar run in Miami, Hurkacz burst into the spotlight on Friday with a stunner over fourth seed Andrey Rublev in straight sets. It was the first time the 24-year-old Pole has won back-to-back matches against Top 10 players in the same tournament, after defeating second seed Stefanos Tsitsipas in the quarter-final. “I think now I'm in the moment,” Hurkacz said in his post-match press conference. “I'm just trying, and obviously super happy to be where I am now, but now we try to prepare as best as we can with [coach Craig Boynton] for that final match on Sunday.”He will meet a familiar face in that championship match – but it’s one that Hurkacz will be more used to seeing on his side of the net, as the Pole is set to take on 19-year-old Jannik Sinner for the first time.Good friends, frequent practice partners and occasionally a doubles team, Hurkacz and Sinner have already shared the court at two tournaments since the start of the year, racking up a 3-2 record on the season.[WATCH LIVE 1]“We played doubles together last week in Dubai,” Hurkacz said, grinning in an on-court interview. “Now we’re playing in the final of a Masters 1000 event, so it’s going to be a fun match.”The #NextGenATP Italian has called Hurkacz one of his best friends on court, and the Pole had some kind words of his own for the fast-rising teen ahead of their battle.“Jannik is a great person. I think like [he’s] super, super calm and super chill, and also he's a good person,” Hurkacz said. “We joke around. We are good friends, so I wish him well.”Hurkacz is looking for his third ATP Tour title and the biggest of his career in Miami. The Pole began the season on a tear, triumphing at the Delray Beach presented by VITACOST.com. But he hit a ‘skid’ in the weeks that followed, and had struggled to return to his best tennis heading into the first Masters 1000 event of the year.Even after a milestone fortnight in South Florida – where he’s racked up a nine-match winning streak, including his run in Delray Beach – the most important moment for Hurkacz came early in the tournament. After a tough battle in the opening round, the Pole sealed more than just a confidence-boosting win over Denis Shapovalov in the second: it was the first time he closed out back-to-back victories in four tournaments.Jeszcze jeden krok w @MiamiOpen do zrobienia Dzięki za wsparcie***Just one more step to take in #MiamiOpen2021 Thx for all your support #MiamiOpen #jazda #Hubi pic.twitter.com/DUOmzjQ616— Hubert Hurkacz (@HubertHurkacz) April 3, 2021“In the first round I beat Denis Kudla, but [it was] obviously… [a] close match [that] I won in the tie-breaker the first set,” he reflected. “But after that, Denis Shapovalov – [he] beat me the week before in Dubai.“I think every single match was very tough. [I am] super pumped I was able to come through all of those matches.”

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