06.02.2020 - 22:37 Uhr
Roberto Marcora arrived at the Tata Open Maharashtra without a tour-level win in his career. The 30-year-old Italian not only qualified in Pune without losing a set, but he defeated Lukas Rosol, who once conquered Rafael Nadal at Wimbledon, and then ousted top seed Benoit Paire to reach his first ATP Tour quarter-final.“It’s wonderful, but at the bottom of my heart I always knew that I have the tennis to play against everyone. Maybe not Roger or Rafa or Djokovic, but if I play my best tennis, I’m not scared to play against Paire or against a Top 20 player, because it’s just tennis,” Marcora told ATPTour.com. “We are all guys, tennis players. Everyone has problems or weakest points. We are humans, so these kinds of matches give me a lot of belief because of course you always dream to win matches like this. But then after you win matches like this, you realise that you can do it another time and another time again.” Ironically, the only Top 100 player Marcora had beaten before this tournament was Paire, whom he defeated in an ATP Challenger Tour event last April when the Frenchman was World No. 69. Paire is now World No. 19.“It was a totally different situation. It was a Challenger,” Marcora said. “But I like to play against him because I like to play against his backhand. But today it was a different situation in front of the crowd in a stadium like this.”[ATP APP]Marcora on Tuesday became the oldest player to earn his first ATP Tour victory since 34-year-old Jan Mertl did so in Gstaad in 2016. The World No. 174 is already projected to crack his career-high FedEx ATP Ranking of No. 171 next Monday, but his run isn’t over yet. Marcora will face sixth seed James Duckworth for a spot in the semi-finals.“This is amazing for the moment. Two days ago my first victory in an ATP main draw, today first victory against Top 20, also Top 50,” Marcora said. “Everything is new for me, so at the beginning I was a little bit nervous. But I think I played my best tennis and if I’m able to play my best tennis I can play against everyone. I’m very happy.”The Italian turned professional when he was 20, which is later than most. Marcora first cracked the Top 500 at 24.“Tennis for me is not really work. I became a professional very late at the age of 20 after school and one year of university. So I always liked to play tennis and at 20 I said to myself, ‘Why not play professional?’” Marcora said. “I took a lot of time because I started with Futures and then Challengers and then surgery in 2016 with my shoulder, was out for one year, then I came back. I don’t want to become No. 1 in the world or Top 10, of course, but I want to enjoy the moment. I like to play tennis, travel the world and discover what is my limit. That’s why I’m playing.“I’m 30, but I feel better now than when I was 20.”[ATP HERITAGE]The same year he turned professional, Marcora also began studying law. The Italian has taken 12 of what he says are 22 exams he needs to pass to earn a three-year degree to become a ‘consulenza’, or a consultant. “The last exam I did was two years ago. It’s a bit tough when you’re travelling around the world to do exams. My goal one day is to finish and get the degree,” Marcora said. “If you do the quick degree, three years, you cannot become a lawyer. You can become a consulenza, but you are not a lawyer. Only if you study five years you can be a lawyer. Who knows [what will happen]? At the moment, I am a tennis player, so when I stop playing I will reopen the book and I will [do] the 10 exams I have to do.” For now, the future looks bright on the tennis court for Marcora, who is hitting his stride. He hopes that will continue in Pune.“I am not changing my goals after this victory [against Paire]. Of course it’s just part of the process. I wanted to play more tournaments like this because every guy who starts to play tournaments like this dreams to play tournaments like this and not Challengers or Futures,” Marcora said. “Now that I tasted a little bit, I started to taste it at 30, it’s never too late. Now that I’ve tasted these kinds of emotions, I just want to stay in these kinds of situations as much as I can.”



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Duckworth, James

31.03.2021 - 19:14 Uhr

Whether he’s hitting an underarm serve, a tweener or contesting a thrilling rally, Alexander Bublik is always eye-catching and entertaining. And while the Kazakhstani’s gun-ho unpredictability is part of Bublik's on-court persona, since the resumption of the ATP Tour in August last year, the Kazakhstani has added an element of consistency to his armoury.Two ATP Tour final appearances this year and a place in his first ATP Masters 1000 quarter-final, at this week’s Miami Open presented by Itau, are credit to his application since the enforced, five-month suspension due to the global COVID-19 pandemic last season.“I wouldn’t say I’ve done much different, because tennis is completely a mental game,” Bublik told ATPTour.com in Miami. “But for all the time I’ve spent off the court in the past 12 months, I’ve used it as a positive experience. I’ve always been a hard worker in the off-season since I was a kid, because I don’t like just being home and doing nothing. I enjoyed the lockdown, because I knew there weren’t tournaments ahead of me, but the minute I knew — and know — there is something to work towards, I focus and I work hard.“If I win some matches and get on a run, I realise the importance of that and refine my game. I grow in confidence, but I like the ‘go big or go home’ style of play. I can run for three hours if needed, whether I want it or not, but I like the 50/50 chance and the adrenaline rush of serving an ace, or winning a match, or the fear of serving at full power on a second serve. That’s what keeps me going and what I play for. If I hit an ace, it’s a great feeling.”[WATCH LIVE 1]Having stopped counting how many FedEx ATP Rankings points he’d win or lose, prior to stepping onto court, 23-year-old Bublik is reaping the dividends of hard work, but also the experience of 71-year-old Boris Sobkin, the former coach of Mikhail Youzhny, and Artem Suprunov, his senior by four years.“Boris has mentored me and brought a lot to my game,” said Bublik, who is close to breaking into the Top 40 for the first time. “He gives me more stability, not in the technical parts of the game, but how to go about winning matches. Boris keeps an eye on Artem and I, helping us a lot with his experience. Artem helps me with the mental side, he listens to Boris, and I think we’re doing pretty well.”Three months into the 2021 ATP Tour season and the right-hander has already compiled more match wins (15) than he did last year (14), including runner-up finishes at the Antalya Open (l. to De Minaur) in January and the Singapore Tennis Open (l. to Popyrin) in February. Over the past seven days in Miami, his sixth Masters 1000 tournament appearance, Bublik has struck 37 aces in three victories, over Laslo Djere, James Duckworth and Taylor Fritz, and won on average 74 per cent of his first-service points.Bublik’s decision to break away from his father, Stanislav, and stand on his own two feet in the middle of 2019, provided a big boost to his growth. “If I reflect on what he told me until I was 18 or 19 years old, I only began to understand after we split up,” said Bublik. “He loved, nurtured and did everything he could to help me become the player I am. I am happy that I had a good journey with my father, and it was the right time to end too. I’ve grown up and used life experiences in a positive way. Maybe in the future my father can help me out, but not right now.”Laidback, but engaging, Bublik has started to prove that he is ambitious. But once he gets to lift his first ATP Tour trophy, even he isn’t sure how he’ll react.“When I will win my first title, I am not sure if you’ll see a very happy Alex Bublik,” said Bublik, smiling. “I try to treat victory and defeat just the same. If you’re super happy about a win or anything, then it will have repercussions later. It will only be a matter of time, but it’s just another milestone.“What last year's lockdown taught me is that there is more to life than tennis. I enjoyed my trips to the grocery store or visiting friends, but it also gave me time to think. The sport is more than entertaining fans and hard work, you’ve got to be disciplined to be consistent. I continue to work on all areas of game and trust that I’m on the right path.”

23.02.2021 - 14:30 Uhr

Radu Albot produced his best tennis in crucial moments on Tuesday to defeat John-Patrick Smith 6-2, 3-6, 6-1 at the Singapore Tennis Open.The Moldovan saved nine of the 11 break points he faced and converted five of his six break opportunities to overcome the Aussie qualifier in 89 minutes. Albot has won three of his past four matches, following his run to the Australian Open third round earlier this month.The sixth seed will continue his bid for a second ATP Tour trophy against Yannick Hanfmann in the second round. The German saved all three break points he faced to beat James Duckworth 6-2, 6-4.[WATCH LIVE 3]In the opening match of the day on Centre Court, Yasutaka Uchiyama fired nine aces en route to a 6-4, 2-6, 6-4 win against Marc Polmans. The 28-year-old Japanese will battle eighth seed Soonwoo Kwon or American qualifier Thai-Son Kwiatkowski for a place in the quarter-finals.“I am happy to win the match as this is my first win of the season,” said Uchiyama. “I think I need to recover well for the next round… I have to be ready 100 per cent for the next match.”Altug Celikbilek also advanced on Tuesday, following his 6-0, 6-4 victory against junior World No. 2 Shintaro Mochizuki of Japan. The Turkish qualifier will meet fourth seed Alexander Bublik in the second round.

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