Stefanos Tsitsipas will face Felix Auger-Aliassime in the final of the ABN Amro World Tennis Tournament, after they prevailed in hard-fought semi-finals on a day of drama in Rotterdam. 

Top seed Tsitsipas faced a tough test against 20-year-old Czech qualifier Jiri Lehecka, whose dream run had included a shock win over world number 12 Denis Shapovalov.

The world number four was forced to battle back after losing the opening set, eventually beating the main-draw debutant 4-6 6-4 6-2.

Tsitsipas, whose last final appearance saw him blow a two-set lead over Novak Djokovic in the 2021 French Open showpiece, has yet to claim an ATP 500 title during his career, a record which he will now look to set straight against Auger-Aliassime. 

Currently ranked ninth in the world, the 21-year-old had to overcome a stern test of his own against defending champion Andrey Rublev, who sits two places higher in the ATP rankings, to reach the ninth final of his singles career.

After losing a thrilling first set in a tie-break, Auger-Aliassime roared back to claim a 6-7 (5-7) 6-4 6-2 win over the Russian, his first victory over Rublev in three career attempts.

Auger-Aliassime is chasing his first career title, after losing in the final of this same event against Gael Monfils in 2020.

The final will be Tsitsipas and Auger-Aliassime's eighth career meeting. The Greek has won the most recent five, including their only previous meeting on a hard indoor surface, in the final of 2020's Open 13 in Marseille.

Stefanos Tsitsipas' impressive display of power hitting helped him past Alex De Minaur and into the semi-finals of the Rotterdam Open.

The Greek has yet to win an ATP 500 tournament but is now a step closer to ending that record after overcoming his Australian opponent 6-4 6-4 in a little over 90 minutes.

De Minaur's excellent movement was quelled by Tsitsipas, who hit 19 winners and won 27 of 33 first-serve points (82 per cent).

Speaking after his win, Tsitsipas said: "I took my time, I tried to understand what works for me and what doesn't, and with the right momentum, with the right intention, things kind of paid off. 

"I was able to get ahead in the score, which gave me a lot of confidence, and I think my serve was very good today, it gave me a lot of points and applied a lot of pressure to him."

Czech qualifier Jiri Lehecka is Tsitsipas' surprise semi-final opponent as the world number 137 continued a fine run by defeating Lorenzo Musetti 6-3 1-6 7-5.

 


There was a sense of deja vu in the later sessions as Andrey Rublev defeated Marton Fucsovics 6-4 6-3.

Rublev defeated the same opponent in the final of the 2021 tournament, and is now one win away from returning to the showpiece match.

Felix Auger-Aliassime is backing up a strong performance at the Australian Open, where the world number nine was beaten by Daniil Medvedev in the quarter-finals.

The Canadian came through a tough encounter against Cameron Norrie 7-5 7-6 (7-4) as he aims to go one better than his runners-up appearance in Rotterdam in 2020.

Andy Murray suffered defeat in the second round of the Rotterdam Open as he fell in straight sets to Felix Auger-Aliassime, while Andrey Rublev and Stefanos Tsitsipas progressed. 

Murray, who triumphed at this tournament in 2009, battled past Alexander Bublik in his opening match but struggled to replicate that form against Auger-Aliassime on Thursday. 

The Scot was never in control against the world number nine, who will face Murray's fellow Briton Cameron Norrie in the quarter-final, as he was downed 6-3 6-4 by the third seed. 

"From the start of the match I was ready and focused and I think that is why I was able to produce a high level from the first point," Auger-Aliassime said on court after his victory.  

"He made me bring out my best tennis and I am really happy with the way I played and that I was able to stay ahead. [To] win in straight sets is a great relief." 

Top seed Tsitsipas, who was a beaten semi-finalist in this event last year, made light work of Ilya Ivashka as he raced to a 6-4 6-1 triumph in just one hour and 11 minutes to tee up a last-eight meeting with Alex de Minaur. 

Reigning champion Rublev cruised past Soonwoo Kwon in similar fashion with a 6-3 6-3 win to secure his seventh straight victory at the ATP 500 tournament. 

Meanwhile, qualifier Jiri Lehecka recovered from a first-set scare against Botic van de Zandschulp to succeed 1-6 6-4 6-4, with Lorenzo Musetti awaiting the Czech in the next round. 

Novak Djokovic has been included on the entry list for next month's Indian Wells Open despite the tournament requiring all players are vaccinated against COVID-19.

Last month, the world number one and 20-time grand slam winner was deported from Australia on the eve of the Australian Open after his entry visa to the country was cancelled due to him not being vaccinated against coronavirus.

Djokovic believed he was still eligible to enter the country and compete after testing positive for coronavirus in December and making a full recovery.

The Serbian was subsequently sent home as he lost the legal battle that dominated much of the sports news agenda during the early weeks of 2022.

Djokovic is set to make his return to the court at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships later this month, with vaccination not a requirement.

But it is at Indian Wells, where the five-time champion has been announced as a competitor, prompting curiosity about whether more legal battles await or if Djokovic has since been jabbed.

An Indian Wells statement read: "With health and safety as the tournament's top priority, the BNP Paribas Open will require valid proof of full vaccination to enter the Indian Wells Tennis Garden for the tournament.

"For the second consecutive year, the BNP Paribas Open has partnered with CLEAR, the secure identity company, to facilitate the implementation of the venue's mandatory vaccination policy ahead of the 2022 tournament.

"The guidelines for the players are governed by the protocols established by their respective governing bodies, the WTA and ATP, as well as any restrictions established by the United States of America in regard to the vaccination status of international travellers entering the country."

Images of Djokovic do not appear any of the tournament's build-up social media posts nor the website's promotional announcement, while his entry-list inclusion is little more than a footnote – but, crucially, it does include him.

The statement continued: "A power-packed line-up of ATP top-10 players will join [Rafael] Nadal in looking to put together a breakthrough performance in Tennis paradise.

"2021 US Open champion and 2022 Australian Open finalist Daniil Medvedev (world no. 2), 2021 ATP Finals winner Alexander Zverev (world no. 3), and 2021 French Open finalist Stefanos Tsitsipas (world no. 4) will each be in search of their maiden title in the desert.

"Reigning BNP Paribas Open champion Cameron Norrie (world no. 13) will look to replicate his extraordinary 2021 title run, in which he won his first Masters 1000 crown.

"World no. 1 and five-time Indian Wells champion Novak Djokovic is also on the tournament entry list."

Andy Murray set up a second-round clash with Felix Auger-Aliassime at the Rotterdam Open, but fourth seed Hubert Hurkacz was stunned by Lorenzo Musetti. 

Former world number one Murray secured an impressive 7-6 (8-6) 6-4 victory over Alexander Bublik, who entered the tournament on the back of the biggest win of his career over Alexander Zverev in the Montpellier final last week. 

Murray stopped the Kazakh serving out the opening set with a crucial break and appeared in fine form as he closed out the win. 

"There were some tough moments in the first set for both of us. I just managed to come through at the end of it. Some great returns off some big second serves from him at the end and I did a good job," said Murray. 

"It’s not easy playing against someone like that, huge serves, a lot of drop shots and you’ve got to keep your focus and I did that well." 

Up next for Murray is Australian Open quarter-finalist and third seed Auger-Aliassime, who came from a set down to beat qualifier Egor Gerasimov 3-6 6-2 6-2. 

"[Auger-Aliassime] started the year pretty well and is one of the best young players just now," said Murray. "I'll need to be on my game if I want to beat him, but it's a great test for me and we'll see what happens out there." 

Musetti advanced to the quarter-finals after a 6-3 5-7 6-4 triumph over Hurkacz, dropping just one point on his first serve in the decisive set. 

Cameron Norrie defeated Karen Khachanov 6-4 7-6 (7-5) to reach the last eight, while Alex De Minaur was also a 7-6 (8-6) 1-6 6-4 victor against Mackenzie McDonald in the second round.

Defending Rotterdam Open champion Andrey Rublev and world number four Stefanos Tsitsipas won through their opening tests, but Denis Shapovalov will not be in round two.

Rublev beat Henri Laaksonen 6-4 6-4 on Tuesday, while top seed Tsitsipas went the distance before edging out Alejandro Davidovich Fokina 7-5 6-7 (1-7) 6-4 after two hours and 39 minutes on the court.

Reflecting on his win, Tsitsipas was full of praise for his opponent, saying: "It was a great battle; he gave me some of the best tennis I have seen him play.

"He was very fired up today and making the best out of every single shot. He was hitting huge winners from behind the baseline. He's one of the best young players who I have played."

However, world number 12 Shapovalov had no such luck, as he slumped to a surprise defeat to Czech qualifier Jiri Lehecka.

The world number 137 saw off the Canadian 6-4 6-4, showing impressive resolve to hold serve at 4-2 in the first set after initially going 0-40 down.

Shapovalov converted just one of 11 break points offered up by Lehecka as he failed to build on an impressive run to the Australian Open quarter-finals last month.

Aslan Karatsev, who won a title in Sydney in January, was another seed to drop out, after his 2-6 7-6 (7-2) 7-6 (7-0) defeat to home favourite Tallon Griekspoor.

Griekspoor has enjoyed some big wins in this tournament in the past, having defeated Stan Wawrinka and Karen Khachanov in 2018 and 2019 respectively.

Khachanov, too, was in action on Tuesday; unlike his Russian compatriot Karatsev, Khachanov took his place in round two with a 6-7 (4-7) 6-1 7-6 (7-6) defeat of Alexei Popyrin.

Lorenzo Musetti and Dutchman Botic van de Zandschulp also progressed.

Hubert Hurkacz bounced back from a disappointing Australian Open campaign with a straight-sets win over Jo-Wilfried Tsonga at the ABN AMRO World Tennis Tournament in Rotterdam.

Fourth seed Hurkacz, who was beaten in the second round in Melbourne by Adrian Mannarino, saw off wildcard Tsonga 6-4 7-6 (9-7) in one hour and 32 minutes.

"Jo is an amazing player and competitor," Hurkacz said of the former world number five.

"He brought a really high level and it was a really tough match for me and he is definitely on the way back.

"Jo has achieved so much in his career and playing against him you can see why with his shots and his serve. I appreciated playing him and I am happy with the win today."

World number 11 Hurkacz will face either Lorenzo Musetti or Mikael Ymer in the second round.

Sixth seed Cameron Norrie overcame Ugo Humbert 6-2 6-4, while eighth seed Nikoloz Basilashvili was dumped out by American Mackenzie McDonald 6-3 6-2.

McDonald will face Alex de Minaur in the next round after the Australian swatted aside David Goffin 6-0 6-3.

"I think I played really well," De Minaur said. "I played exactly how I wanted to. My coach and I set up a plan about how we wanted to play this match and I managed to execute it.

"It is a very good feeling. Mentally I thought I was very solid and positive and that is one of the main aspects I am trying to focus on this year."

 

Novak Djokovic looks set to return to tennis at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships in February.

The 20-time grand slam winner was deported from Australia on the eve of the Australian Open after his entry visa to the country was cancelled.

Djokovic, who told officials he was not vaccinated against COVID-19, believed he was still eligible to enter the country and compete after testing positive for coronavirus last month and making a full recovery.

Dubai does not have the same conditions for entry as Australia, and Djokovic will be free to compete at the tournament he has won five times previously provided that he can produce a negative PCR test result on arrival.

His place in the field was confirmed by tournament organisers on Thursday, with Djokovic joined by defending champion Aslan Karatsev and last year's beaten semi-finalists Andrey Rublev and Denis Shapovalov. The tournament runs from February 21 to 26.

After strong Australian Open campaigns, Felix Auger-Aliassime, Jannik Sinner and Gael Monfils have also entered the Dubai event, which will be staged for a 30th time.

Djokovic won a hat-trick of Dubai titles from 2009 to 2011, adding further triumphs in 2013 and 2020. Only Roger Federer, with eight titles, has had more success at the tournament.

Serbian superstar Djokovic is not entered for the ATP 500 events in Rotterdam or Rio de Janeiro that precede the Dubai tournament.

Unlike in Australia, the 34-year-old can likely expect the red-carpet treatment in Dubai, where Colm McLoughlin, CEO of tournament sponsors Dubai Duty Free, said: "We are delighted to see Novak back in Dubai for the 12th time when he will be seeking his sixth title and we wish him the best of luck."

Alexander Zverev captured his fifth title of the season at the Vienna Open after defeating Frances Tiafoe 7-5 6-4 in Sunday's final.

The Olympic champion claimed more silverware in Vienna, having also triumphed in Madrid, Cincinnati and Acapulco in 2021.

The world number four, who claimed his 300th tour-level career win against Alex de Minaur earlier in the week, is now 25-2 since exiting the fourth round at Wimbledon in July.

Tiafoe was appearing in his first ATP 500 final having defeated Stefanos Tsitsipas, Diego Schwartzman and Jannik Sinner along the way.

The world number 49 stuck with Zverev during a tight opening set, in which breaks were exchanged early on.

However, the German broke again in game 12 to draw first blood, and went on to hit eight aces during the second set.

Tiafoe produced an inspired turnaround from 5-2 down in the second set of his semi-final victory over Sinner.

But there was to be no fairytale finish for the American, who was seeking a second ATP title and first since the 2018 Delray Beach Open.

Zverev subsequently held his nerve to move level with Casper Ruud on five titles for the season, the most on the ATP Tour this year.

Frances Tiafoe will face Alexander Zverev in the Vienna Open final after storming back from the brink of defeat to beat Jannik Sinner.

Sinner was on the cusp of another final after his triumph in Antwerp last weekend when he led 5-2 in the second set, but qualifier Tiafoe roared back to win 3-6 7-5 6-2 on Saturday.

Italian Sinner had moved into the last qualifying position for the ATP Finals by beating Casper Ruud to reach the semi-finals in the Austrian capital and appeared destined to extending his winning run.

The 49-ranked Tiafoe had other ideas, winning five games in a row to force a deciding set.

Tiafoe maintained his momentum, breaking twice in the final set to complete an astonishing comeback and leave seventh seed Sinner shellshocked.

Second seed Zverev earlier marched into his fifth tour-level championship match of the season with a 6-3 6-3 defeat of Spanish teenager Carlos Alcaraz.

Zverev, who this week secured a 50th tour-level win of the season and a 300th of his career, needed only 68 minutes to knock Alcaraz out.

The German said: "I finally found my rhythm from the baseline because I was really struggling.

"I didn't feel the ball well and I spent some time on the court after the match yesterday and warmed up for an hour and a half before the match today and I finally got it."

Marin Cilic and Taylor Fritz will do battle in the St Petersburg Open final following contrasting wins over Botic Van de Zandschulp and Jan-Lennard Struff respectively.

Cilic did not face a break point in a 6-3 6-3 victory over Dutchman van de Zandschulp, while fought back to defeat Jan-Lennard Struff 5-7 6-1 6-3.

Top seed Andrey Rublev crashed out of the St Petersburg Open after a straight-sets defeat by Dutch qualifier Botic van de Zandschulp in the quarter-finals.

A recent US Open quarter-finalist, world number 69 Van de Zandschlup claimed the first top-10 win of his career on Friday.

The 26-year-old also advanced to the semi-finals of an ATP event for the first time.

There, he will face 2011 champion Marin Cilic, who was a 6-4 3-6 6-3 winner over third seed Roberto Bautista Agut.

Denis Shapovalov was another big-name casualty in Russia, the second seed going down 4-6 3-6 against world number 53 Jan-Lennard Struff.

Although, there were better fortunes for fifth seed Taylor Fritz. The Indian Wells semi-finalist is yet to drop a set this week after prevailing 6-4 6-2 against John Millman.

Elsewhere, Matteo Berrettini was the victim of another upset at the Erste Bank Open in Vienna.

The Wimbledon champion went down 1-6 7-6 (7-2) 6-7 (5-7) following a two-hour 40-minute battle with Carlos Alcaraz.

Reaching his first ATP 500 semi-final, the Spanish teenager claimed another big scalp having defeated Stefanos Tsitsipas at Flushing Meadows last month.

However, second seed Alexander Zverev remained on course for a fifth title of the season, as he claimed his 300th tour-level win.

The Australian Open finalist beat Felix Auger-Aliassime 6-4 3-6 6-3, avenging his fourth-round defeat by the Canadian at Wimbledon in July.

Alexander Zverev and Jannik Sinner moved into the quarter-finals of the Vienna Open on Thursday. 

Italian Sinner beat home hopeful Dennis Novak 6-4 6-2 to set up a tantalising showdown with Casper Ruud. 

Should he win that match, Sinner will move ahead of Hubert Hurkacz in the race to qualify for this year's ATP Finals, while victory for Ruud will strengthen the Norwegian's standing. 

"It's going to be tricky," said Sinner. "He's in a better position than I am for the race. I think right now it's tough to say and tough to do because in the end you try always not to think about that, but in the end you think about that because you believe." 

Zverev was given a sterner test, eventually overcoming Alex de Minaur 6-2 3-6 6-2 in one hour and 42 minutes. The Olympic gold medallist will now face Felix Auger-Aliassime, who fought back from a set down to defeat Cameron Norrie. 

Frances Tiafoe came from a set down to upset top seed Stefanos Tsitsipas 3-6 6-3 6-4 and earn a quarter-final meeting with Diego Schwartzman after the Argentine overcame Gael Monfils 7-6 (7-5) 4-6 6-2. 

In St Petersburg, home favourite and sixth seed Karen Khachanov lost a gruelling three-set encounter to Marin Cilic. 

The Croatian, who won the title in Russia in his last appearance in 2011, was 4-1 down in the deciding set but took all five of the final games to triumph after two and a half hours on court. 

"Everybody is playing good. The tournament is great. It's the end of the season, so everybody wants to finish on a great level," said Cilic, who next faces Roberto Bautista Agut. "For me, it was great to play this kind of a match today." 

Another Russian, Aslan Karatsev, fell to John Millman 6-3 6-2. Taylor Fritz and Botic van de Zandschulp also progressed in straight sets. 

Jannik Sinner continued his push for an ATP Finals spot with a straight-sets defeat of Reilly Opelka in the first round of the Vienna Open, while Carlos Alcaraz exacted revenge on Andy Murray.

Sinner won his fourth title of what has been an outstanding season for the Italian in Antwerp last weekend and is only 110 points adrift of Hubert Hurkacz in the battle for the final place in the season-ending event in Turin.

Murray did the 20-year-old a favour by knocking Hurkacz out of the ATP 500 tournament in the Austrian capital on Monday and seventh seed Sinner eased to a 6-4 6-2 win over American Opelka two days later.

Sinner, who will overtake Pole Hurkacz if he reaches the semi-finals this week, won 93 per cent of points behind his first serve and did not face a break point in a resounding win and will play Dennis Novak in the second round.

Murray beat Alcaraz at Indian Wells this month, but the 18-year-old rising star from Spain turned the tables on the three-time grand slam champion with a 6-3 6-4 second-round win in Vienna.

Former world number one Murray struggled with his serve and was broken five times as he made an early exit.

Third seed Matteo Berrettini beat Nikoloz Basilashvili 6-7 (5-7) 6-2 6-3 to reach the third round, while Diego Schwartzman, Gael Monfils and Lorenzo Sonego moved into the second round.

In the St Petersburg Open, defending champion Andrey Rublev beat Ilya Ivashka 6-4 6-4 to reach the quarter-finals along with Denis Shapovalov, a 2-6 6-3 6-0 winner against Pablo Andujar.

Jan-Lennard Struff also moved into the last eight, with Karen Khachanov and Marin Cilic securing first-round wins.

Stefanos Tsitsipas survived a minor scare in the first round of the Vienna Open before ultimately going on to beat Grigor Dimitrov in straight sets.

It was neck-and-neck for much of the first set, with neither player losing serve, but Dimitrov appeared to have the upper hand when he got to 6-3 in the tiebreak.

Tsitsipas recovered emphatically, however, the top seed reeling off five successive points to win the set and he went on to book his spot in the second round thanks to a 7-6 (8-6) 6-4 victory. He will face Frances Tiafoe next.

"Grigor is a tough competitor and the level of tennis was really high today. We both competed at our highest [level]," Tsitsipas said afterwards.

"That was great tennis that was being played during the entire match and I got really close to my [best] offence and showed incredible attitude [in] the last game, which was the one that was the most crucial of the match."

Alexander Zverev, seeded second, was also made to work in his first-round clash with Filip Krajinovic.

While he blew the Serbian away in the first set, he found himself 5-2 down in the second as Krajinovic looked set to level the match, but Zverev scrapped his way back and then served to love to win 6-2 7-5. Alex de Minaur awaits the German.

Casper Ruud and Felix Auger-Aliassime, seeded fourth and sixth respectively, were two other high-ranking players who also secured progression, boosting their ATP Finals qualification hopes.

Ruud was pushed hard by Lloyd Harris but eventually outfought the South African in his 7-5 7-6 (7-2) win, while Auger-Alisassime made fairly light work of Ricardas Berankis 6-3 6-2.

Indian Wells champion Cameron Norrie, who is also in with a shot of reaching the ATP Finals, beat Marton Fucsovics 7-6 (7-4) 6-1 to set up a meeting with Auger-Aliassime – the British number one is 11th in the FedEx ATP Race to Turin rankings, one above his next opponent.

At the St Petersburg Open, fifth-seed Taylor Fritz was the highest-ranked player in action and he needed a little over an hour to beat Emil Ruusuvuori 6-1 6-4.

Pablo Andujar defeated Federico Delbonis to set up a meeting with second seed Denis Shapovalov, while Ilya Ivashka beat Laslo Djere for the right to tussle with tournament favourite Andrey Rublev next.

Pablo Carreno Busta beat Filip Krajinovic in the final of the Hamburg European Open to lift his first ATP 500 trophy.

Spanish second seed Carreno Busta wrapped up a convincing 6-2 6-4 win over Krajinovic of Serbia in one hour and 23 minutes.

Krajinovic, who beat Stefanos Tsitsipas in the quarter-finals, had no answer to Carreno Busta's serve as he won 81 per cent (21/26) of his first-service points.

Carreno Busta broke Krajinovic's serve twice in the first set before he served out. 

Krajinovic showed more fight in the second set, but he was unable to create a break chance, and when he offered one to Carreno Busta his opponent seized it.

The victory gave world number 13 Carreno Busta, who did not drop a set in the tournament, his 17th win on clay this season.

 

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