Danill Medvedev wins Open 13 for 10th title on eve of move to No. 2

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MARSEILLE, France — Top-seeded Daniil Medvedev was pushed to three sets by doubles specialist Pierre-Hugues Herbert in the Open 13 final on Sunday, winning 6-4, 6-7 (4), 6-4 for his 10th career title on the eve of his move up to second in the rankings.

Medvedev will overtake Rafael Nadal on Monday and push the 20-time Grand Slam champion down to No. 3.

“It is always better when you step up the rankings when you do something great,” Medvedev said. “It is great for the self-esteem that, just before becoming No. 2, I win a tournament.”

Victory also made his childhood dream come true.

“I am really happy about the number 10. It gets me to two digits, something which I dreamt of when I was a kid,” said Medvedev. “It is already a great number, but I am going to try to work more and get some more. I really like to play on hard courts, I feel like that is where my game suits me the best. I feel like I know the solutions I have to find.”

Given that six of his 10 titles have been on indoor hard courts, he was heavy favorite here. Furthermore, the two-time Grand Slam runner-up faced a player with all four majors in doubles, but without any titles in singles and ranked 93rd.

But the serve-and-volley specialist Herbert did made it awkward for the imposing Russian at times by upsetting his rhythm, breaking his serve once and forcing him to save four break points.

“Pierre-Hugues can play unbelievable tennis. I know what he is capable of,” Medvedev said. “Especially when I lost in the Roland Garros first round. Today was a tricky, tough match and I am really happy that I managed to be on top.”

Medvedev edged the Frenchman in aces 13-10 and first-serve points won – 83% compared to 72% – while converting three of his six break points.

The Australian Open runner-up improved to 14-2 this year and has won 23 of his last 25 matches.

Boosted by his wins over second-seeded Stefanos Tsitsipas and former No.4-ranked Kei Nishikori this week, Herbert’s confidence showed as he tried to shorten the points by rushing to the net.

But ultimately he fell short, dropping to 0-4 in singles finals compared to 19-7 in doubles.

“It has been an incredible week. I played five really high-level matches. This is what I am proud of,” Herbert said. “I lost to someone who was just better (over) the full match. I managed to hold on and have a chance, but he was too good.”

When he climbs to No. 2 on Monday, Medvedev will be the first player outside the Big Four of Roger Federer, Nadal, Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray to do so since Nadal in July 2005.

Now he just needs to win a major.

Frances Tiafoe lifts Team World to 1st Laver Cup win

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LONDON — The last to arrive, befitting his reputation in the locker room, Frances Tiafoe strutted into the post-match news conference after clinching Team World’s Laver Cup victory over Roger Federer’s star-studded Team Europe and shouted, “Champs are here!”

Then the 24-year-old from Maryland joined his teammates at the table where the silver trophy was resting Sunday night, put down a bottle of water, pulled a Budweiser out of his red jacket and smiled that wide smile of his.

Performing with the same infectious showmanship and crunch-time success he displayed en route to his first Grand Slam semifinal at the U.S. Open earlier this month, Tiafoe staved off four match points and came back to beat Stefanos Tsitsipas 1-6, 7-6 (11), 10-8, giving Team World its first triumph in five editions of an event founded by Federer’s management company.

“I don’t like losing,” said Federer, a 20-time major champion whose final match before retirement was a loss alongside Rafael Nadal in doubles against Tiafoe and Jack Sock on Friday night. “It’s not fun. It just leaves not the best taste.”

When Tsitsipas put a forehand into the net to end Sunday’s contest – and the three-day competition – Tiafoe dropped his racket and fell to his back on the court, where teammates piled atop him. After getting on his feet, Tiafoe cupped a hand to his ear, asking spectators for more noise, then pointed to his chest and yelled, “I’m him! I’m him!”

“When it becomes a circus out here, and I’m just using the crowd and acting like a little kid and having a bunch of reactions … I end up playing really well and I start building momentum off it,” Tiafoe said. “I’m able to play and function in that better than my opponents, it seems.”

Using the nickname other players gave Tiafoe to reflect the way he embraces big moments, Team World captain John McEnroe said: “Frances is `Prime Time.’ He loves this stuff.”

McEnroe had been 0-4 while leading his squad against his former playing rival, Team Europe captain Bjorn Borg; both indicated they would be back for the 2023 Laver Cup in Vancouver, but that might be their last go-round.

This one served as a celebration of Federer and the 41-year-old Swiss star’s career.

Tiafoe responded with a quip when asked whether he might owe Federer some form of “I’m sorry” for beating him in his finale or for defeating his team, which also included Nadal, Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray for a total of 66 major singles titles. That, incidentally, is 66 more than Team World, a collection of 20-somethings (Sock turned 30 on Saturday).

“”I’m not going to apologize to him. He’s got a lot to apologize for after the last 24 years – after beating everybody on the tour,” said Tiafoe, who went 0-3 against Federer in singles head-to-head. “I will say thank you for having me in this amazing event, what he’s done for the game. He’s a class act. Happy to know him, happy to call him a friend, happy to call him a colleague, and best wishes in his second act. But I will not apologize.”

Team Europe entered Sunday at O2 Arena with an 8-4 lead; the first team to 13 points would win.

Each match on Day 3 was worth three points, and Team World went ahead thanks to a pair of victories by Felix Auger-Aliassime, a 22-year-old from Canada. He beat Djokovic 6-3, 7-6 (3), after partnering with Sock to edge Murray and Matteo Berrettini 2-6, 6-3, 10-8 in doubles.

Tiafoe then made it 13-8, but it wasn’t easy.

He went a tournament-record 8-0 in tiebreakers at Flushing Meadows this month and was just as resilient Sunday.

“It’s been a long time that Frances has been playing the big guys close and losing a lot of close battles. It’s great to see lately he’s been winning,” said Taylor Fritz, an American who is the same age as Tiafoe and has known him for years. “It’s about time that he steps up and the matches go the other way. Today was a joke.”

That’s because Tiafoe was a single point from losing to Tsitsipas four times in their second-set tiebreaker, but somehow got through that. Then, at 4-all in the concluding match tiebreaker – first to 10, win by two – Tiafoe sprinted from behind the baseline to near the net and barely got to a drop shot by Tsitsipas, somehow lunging to flick an angled winner.

While most of the 16,365 fans went wild, Tiafoe went around the net and stood still, hands on his hips, relishing the atmosphere.

“We put him in the slot that he was in today for a reason,” said Team World’s Tommy Paul, another 24-year-old American, “and he stepped up for us, big time.”

Sonego beats Bublik at Moselle Open to win 1st title of 2022

Winston-Salem Open - Day 5
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METZ, France – Lorenzo Sonego clinched his first title of the season by beating Alexander Bublik 7-6 (3), 6-2 in the Moselle Open final.

The 27-year-old Italian did not drop a set all tournament as he won the third title of his career and first on hard courts.

The unseeded Sonego recovered from 0-40 down in the fifth game of the match and secured victory when the seventh-seeded Bublik sent a backhand return long.

He then danced on court as he celebrated a perfect tournament where he also beat defending champion Hubert Hurkacz in the semifinals.

Sonego’s win will move him up 21 places in the ATP rankings and into 44th place.