Monday, March 02, 2020

Weekend Tennis Roundup

Novak Djokovic continued his unbeaten start to the 2020 ATP Tour season on Saturday, beating Stefanos Tsitsipas 6-3, 6-4 to claim his fifth title in Dubai. (The only thing the young Greek had working for him was his ass in those short Adidas shorts.) One day after saving three consecutive match points to beat Gael Monfils -- to whom he had never lost -- in a dramatic semifinal, Djokovic raised his level and converted each of his three break points to win his 21st straight match.

Djokovic seems to have shed his "I only care about the majors" attitude that seemed to hang over much of 2019 -- although I'm not sure why he crapped out during the Masters Finals in London when winning it would have tied him with Pete Sampras for most year-end number ones. 

Perhaps he's finally figuring out a better work-life balance.

Meanwhile, another GOAT contender easily dismissed of a rising American star in Acapulco. World No. 2 Rafael Nadal captured his first title of 2020, easily defeating unseeded Taylor Fritz in straight sets, 6-3, 6-2, in the final of the ATP Mexico Open on Saturday. The 33-year-old Nadal, playing in his first tournament since losing in the quarterfinals at the Australian Open last month, didn’t drop a set all week and improved to 19-2 all-time at this event. 

If people are thinking 2020 is the year NextGen removes the stranglehold Djokovic and Nadal have on the game, I'd say they have another think coming. 

Brazilian teenager Thiago Seyboth Wild -- who hitherto was best known for wearing a square-cut bathing suit to the beach -- became the youngest player to win on Latin America's Golden Swing since Rafael Nadal in 2005 when he outlasted Norwegian second seed Casper Ruud 7-5, 4-6, 6-3 at the Chile Open on Sunday. 

The 182nd-ranked Seyboth Wild, who had started the week with just two tour-level wins to his name, became the youngest Brazilian to win an ATP title. He is expected to shoot up to a career-high 113th in the world when the new rankings are released today. Nadal, then 18, prevailed at Acapulco in 2005.

Aryna Sabalenka of Belarus won her sixth title with a 6-3, 6-3 victory over Petra Kvitova in the Qatar Open final on Saturday, in what could only be called the Battle of the Sweethearts. (They have the two best smiles on tour!) The 21-year-old Sabalenka is a quintessential WTA mystery: Four of her six titles have been the equivalent of the men's Masters level, yet she's only made it to the second week of a major once. Will this finally be the year she capitalizes on her enormous talent?

Britain's Heather Watson has won the Mexican Open by beating Canada's Leylah Fernandez 6-4 6-7 (8-10) 6-1. Watson, 27, claimed victory with her 10th championship point, having withstood a second-set fightback from the 17-year-old, to win her fourth career title and the first since 2016. Victory for the world number 69 will see her re-enter the Top 50 of the WTA singles rankings today.

No. 2 seeds Lukasz Kubot and Marcelo Melo claimed their first title of the season in Acapulco after saving two match points to beat the top seeds and win a thriller final. Kubot and Melo recovered from a set down in the final against Juan Sebastian Cabal and Robert Farah as they edged out the top-ranked doubles team in the world 7-6 (6) 6-7 (4) 11-9 in just over two and a half hours of play.

It was Farah's first event since mysteriously getting cleared of doping charges.

In their fourth event as a pairing, John Peers and Michael Venus lifted their first team trophy in Dubai on Saturday. Peers and Venus needed just 59 minutes to overcome fourth seeds Raven Klaasen and Oliver Marach 6-3, 6-2 saving both break points they faced in the championship match. 

Dreamy Roberto Carballes Baena and Alejandro Davidovich Fokina played together for the first time this week at the Chile Dove Men+Care Open in Santiago. But it certainly didn’t seem that way. as the Spanish duo defeated second seeds (and fellow dreamboats) Marcelo Arevalo and Jonny O’Mara 7-6(3), 6-1 on Saturday to lift the trophy. The Spaniards only dropped one set en route to the title. 

Around the net ...

Speaking of O'Mara, it's the cutie's 25th birthday!

Stan came up short against Grigor Dimitrov ...

but didn't seem too broken up about it.

Vasek Pospsil was on a tear in the big leagues, then lost in his first match as No. 1 seed at the Challenger event in Calgary. 

He was a winner in this cowboy hat, though! 

Marcos Giron looked like a million bucks reaching the round of 16 in Acapulco. 

Where do I sign up to play with Tommy Robredo's pickle and balls?

Do we know what Filip Krajinovic wished for on his birthday?

Happy 28th!

Tommy Paul was on a tear south of the border, knocking off Alexander Zverev en route to the quarterfinals before falling to John Isner in three sets.


Pretty boy alert.

Going deep earned him a night on the town ...

And now he's mysteriously in the L.A. area, getting my hopes up by staying in West Hollywood ...

checking out fellow hunk Cameron Norrie on a jet ski.

... and manspreading with Reillly Opelka in Beverly Hills.

All six feet three inches of Quentin Halys battling his way in Challenger Land ...

You know YOU'RE HOT when you can look this good with a surgical mask on!

Dominic Thiem clearly had his mind on other things when he was knocked out by journeyman Gianluca Mager early in Chile.

(With wire services)

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