Maxime Cressy wins first ATP title on Newport’s grass courts

maxime cressy
Shaun Botterill/Getty Images
3 Comments

NEWPORT, R.I. — Fourth-seeded American Maxime Cressy rallied to win his first career ATP Tour title, beating No. 3 seed Alexander Bublik of Kazakhstani 2-6, 6-3, 7-6 (3) in the Hall of Fame Open.

After knocking out four-time Newport champ John Isner in the semifinals a day earlier, the 25-year-old Cressy overcame a rough start that saw him only get 42% of his first serves in during the opening set. It was his third career ATP final.

The tourney – the only played on grass courts in North America – is held in conjunction with induction ceremonies into the International Tennis Hall of Fame. Australian great Lleyton Hewitt, 41, part of the class of 2021, was enshrined on a side court Saturday evening.

Hewitt was unable attend last year’s ceremony due to travel restrictions because of the COVID-19 pandemic. There were no inductees elected for 2022, the first time in the Hall’s history. It has been around since 1955.

“It’s an incredible feeling winning my first title,” said Cressy, who injured his left knee and had to take an injury timeout before the final point of the third set.

The 6-foot-6 Cressy raced toward the sideline, trying to make a return when he stumbled to the ground and rolled over. He got up flexing his knee, walking near his chair for a bit before a trainer was called out.

During the delay, as Cressy was behind the chair umpire, Bublik, standing at a baseline, yelled: “Stop or continue. Make a decision.”

There were some boos from the crowd that cheered louder and louder as Cressy made his comeback; at one point breaking into a chant of “Let’s go Cressy!”

“He assured me it was not a joint problem or anything like. He said I could still play, and I trusted it,” Cressy said of the visit. “I went along with it and didn’t think about it at all in the tiebreak.”

Bublik, 25, was looking for his second ATP title after capturing Montpellier this year. He was a 2019 runner-up in Newport.

Hall CEO Todd Martin said to Bublik over a microphone during the post-match, on-court ceremony: “Come back. The third time is going to absolutely be a charm.”

Bublik, seated in his chair, shook his head “no.” He fell to 1-5 in ATP finals.

Trailing 3-0 in the second set under bright sunshine with temperatures in the high 70s, Cressy held serve before breaking twice in the next three games.

In the tiebreak, there were three breaks on the first three points. Cressy then had an ace to go up 6-3.

On the final point, Bublik, who entered the week ranked 42nd in the world, double faulted, sending his final serve long. Cressy raised both arms in celebration.

“Well, there’s not much to say,” Bublik told the crowd. “I’m very upset with the outcome and want to congratulate Max on his first title.”

Cressy came to Newport ranked 41st.

Fernando Verdasco accepts 2-month doping ban

Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports
0 Comments

LONDON – Former top-10 player Fernando Verdasco accepted a voluntary provisional doping suspension of two months after testing positive for a medication for ADHD, the International Tennis Integrity Agency announced.

Verdasco, who turned 39 this month, said he was taking methylphenidate as medication prescribed by his doctor to treat ADHD but forgot to renew his therapeutic use exemption for the drug. The integrity agency said Verdasco has now been granted an exemption by the World Anti-Doping Agency moving forward.

He tested positive at an ATP Challenger tournament in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, in February.

The integrity agency said in a news release that it “accepts that the player did not intend to cheat, that his violation was inadvertent and unintentional, and that he bears no significant fault or negligence for it,” and so what could have been a two-year suspension was reduced to two months.

Verdasco will be eligible to compete on Jan. 8.

The Spaniard is a four-time Grand Slam quarterfinalist, reaching that stage most recently in 2013 at Wimbledon, where he blew a two-set lead in a five-set loss to eventual champion Andy Murray.

Verdasco reached a career-best ranking of No. 7 in April 2009 and currently is No. 125.

Auger-Aliassime, Shapovalov give Canada 1st Davis Cup title

Peter van den Berg-USA TODAY Sports
1 Comment

MALAGA, Spain — Felix Auger-Aliassime fell to his back behind the baseline, then waited for teammates to race off Canada’s bench and pile on top of him.

A few minutes later, the Canadians finally could lift the Davis Cup.

“I think of us all here, we’ve dreamt of this moment,” Auger-Aliassime said.

Canada won the title for the first time, beating Australia behind victories from Denis Shapovalov and Auger-Aliassime.

Auger-Aliassime secured the winning point when he downed Alex de Minaur 6-3, 6-4 after Shapovalov opened the day by rolling past Thanasi Kokkinakis 6-2, 6-4.

Seven years after leading Canada to the top of junior tennis, Auger-Aliassime, Shapovalov and their teammates finally got to lift the biggest team trophy in their sport.

“We wanted to grow up and be part of the team and try to help the country win the first title,” Shapovalov said, “so everything is just so surreal right now.”

Shapovalov had dropped both his singles matches this week and needed treatment on his back during a three-set loss in the semifinals to Lorenzo Sonego of Italy that lasted 3 hours, 15 minutes. But the left-hander moved quickly around the court, setting up angles to put away winners while racing to a 4-0 lead in the first set.

Auger-Aliassime then finished off his superb second half of the season by completing a perfect week in Spain. He twice had kept the Canadians alive after Shapovalov dropped the opening singles match, and he replaced his weary teammate to join Vasek Pospisil for the decisive doubles point.

This time, Auger-Aliassime made sure the doubles match wouldn’t even be necessary. After his teammates poured onto the court to celebrate with him, they got up and danced around in a circle.

Canada had reached the final only once, falling to host Spain in Madrid in 2019, when Rafael Nadal beat Shapovalov for the clinching point after Auger-Aliassime had lost in the opening match.

But with Auger-Aliassime having since surged up the rankings to his current spot at No. 6, the Canadians are a much more formidable team now. They won the ATP Cup in January and finally added the Davis Cup crown to the junior Davis Cup title Auger-Aliassime and Shapovalov led them to in 2015.

Australia was trying for its 29th title and first since current captain Lleyton Hewitt was part of the title-winning team in 2003.

But it was finally time for the Canadians, who were given a wild card into the field when Russia was suspended because of its invasion of Ukraine.

“Look, I think we were very close today,” de Minaur said. “Just wait until the next time we get the same matchup. Hopefully we can get the win and prove that we can do it.”

But Canada will be tough to beat as long as Auger-Aliassime and Shapovalov play.

Shapovalov is just 23 and Auger-Aliassime 22, but both already have been Grand Slam semifinalists and Auger-Aliassime ended 2022 as one of the hottest players on the ATP Tour. He won all of his four titles this year, including three straight weeks in October.

He also beat Carlos Alcaraz in the previous Davis Cup stage in September, just after the Spaniard had won the U.S. Open to rise to No. 1 in the rankings. That victory helped send the Canadians into the quarterfinals, which they started this week by edging Germany.

“They’re not kids anymore, that’s for sure. Not after today – well not after the last couple of years,” said Pospisil, the team veteran at 32. “They’ve been crushing it.”