Monday, 16 September 2019

Croatia Tennis Team to Face Austria, Argentina in Sydney for First Ever ATP Cup

September 16, 2019 - The Croatia tennis team, composed of Marin Cilic and Borna Coric, will play in Group E of the ATP Cup, set to premiere in Australia next January. Croatia will face the teams of Austria and Argentina, which was determined in a draw for the competition held on Monday in Sydney.

Slobodna Dalmacija writes that as the ATP ranking of tennis players in the singles competition determines which countries will participate in the team competition, Croatia will be led by two of the best-ranked Croatian tennis players - Borna Coric and Marin Cilic.

The best Austrian tennis player is Dominic Thiem, who is ranked 5th in the ladder released on September 9, with Dennis Novak holds the 122nd position. For Argentina, the best-ranked player is Diego Schwartzman, who was 16th on September 9, and Guido Pella, who is in 22nd place.

Twenty-four countries will participate in the ATP Cup, which will be held from January 3 to 12 in Sydney, Perth, and Brisbane. The tournament finishes eight days before the Australian Open (January 20 - February 2), the first grand slam tournament season.

The countries that have qualified for the ATP Cup based on the September 9 ATP ranking include Serbia, Spain, Switzerland, Russia, Australia, Germany, Greece, Japan, Italy, France, Belgium, Croatia, Argentina, Georgia, South Africa, USA, Canada, UK, and the host country Australia. Five more countries will be determined on November 13, also based on the ATP ranking.

Twenty-seven of the top 30 ATP players agreed to participate, including Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal, Roger Federer, and Andy Murray, whose protected ranking allowed Great Britain to qualify for the competition.

The competition will begin with the group stage (six groups with four teams each) followed by the quarterfinal, then the semifinal and the final. Each pair will play two singles matches and one doubles match. The two players with the best ranking from each country participate in the competition, but if changes are needed, an additional player can jump in. 

The competition grants 750 ATP points to the winner of the singles competition, which is less than the grand slam tournament (2,000 points), Masters (1,500) and Masters 1,000, but more than other tournaments. The prize pool is $15 million, or about 13.5 million euros.

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Tuesday, 3 September 2019

US Open: Vekic into Quarters, Dodig into Mixed Doubles Semi-final

September 3, 2019 - Donna Vekic is into the quarters of the US Open, while Ivan Dodig will play in the semi-final!

HTS reports that Donna Vekic will play in the quarterfinals of the US Open! The best result of her career in a Grand Slam tournament came after the great battle against German Julia Goerges (30th in the WTA ranking) - 6:7 (5), 7:5, 6:3. 

Vekic was on the verge of defeat in the second set, losing 5:3 - and at 5: 4, Goerges (who achieved 21 aces in total) had a match point at her serve. Still, Donna pulled herself out of the abyss and won the second set, and in the third, she made the crucial step in the eighth game when she reached her fourth break of the match. 

Goerges had two returns in the next game (15:40), but Donna managed to keep the serve and reach her first victory in the fourth match against Goerges. 

This success also brings Vekic the best ranking of her career, as she is now 21st in the WTA list. Vekic’s contender for the semi-final is the 12th best tennis player in the world, Switzerland's Belinda Bencic, who surprised Japan's Naomi Osaka (7:5, 6:4) in the round of 16. Vekic and Bencic have played three times so far, and Vekic has one win in their last meeting at this year's Roland Garros.

Marin Cilic said goodbye to this year's US Open after the winner of the 2014 tournament did not find his way to success against Rafael Nadal in the round of 16. The great Spaniard lost the first set of his tournament, but celebrated 6:3, 3:6, 6:1, 6:2 for his 40th appearance in the quarterfinals of a Grand Slam tournament. It was their ninth match and the seventh victory for the Spaniard. Cilic achieved 10 aces with a first-serve percentage of 66%, used two of his three break points (Nadal six of 11) and made 40 unforced errors.

Recall, Petra Martic also failed to reach her second quarterfinal at a Grand Slam tournament (Roland Garros 2019) after she was stopped in the round of 16 by the legendary Serena Williams - 6:3, 6:4.

Ivan Dodig and Taiwanese partner Latisha Chan continue their success in the mixed doubles competition. The Roland Garros and Wimbledon winners have now reached the US Open semi-final after defeating American Raquel Atawo and French Fabrice Martin in the quarterfinal - 7:6(3), 3:6, 10:3.

To play in their third consecutive final, Dodig and Chan will face the 1st seed, Taiwanese player Chan Hao-ching and New Zealander Michael Venus. Unfortunately, Mate Pavic and Canadian Gabriela Dabrowski (2nd seed) were stopped in the mixed doubles quarterfinal by US-British duo Bethanie Mattek-Sands and Jamie Murray - 2:6, 7:5, 10:4.

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Sunday, 1 September 2019

US Open: Marin Cilic and Donna Vekic Join Martic in Round of 16

September 1, 2019 - Another great day for Croatian tennis as Donna Vekic and Marin Cilic join Petra Martic in the round of 16 of the US Open!

After Petra Martic secured her spot in the round of 16 on Friday, where she will play against the six-time US Open winner and 23-time Grand Slam winner Serena Williams, more good news for Croatia’s representatives in the tournament followed. 

Namely, HTS reports that for the first time in her career, Donna Vekic advanced to the round of 16 of the US Open. In the third round, the Osijek native moved past Ukraine's Julia Putinetseva, the 39th best tennis player in the world, who managed only five games in the clash with the 23rd-seed - 6:4, 6:1.

In the first set, Putinetseva played at Vekic’s level and equalized at 4:4, but in the break in the 10th game, Donna secured a 1:0 lead. In the remainder of the match, the Ukrainian player had no hope, lost her serve twice, and on Donna's first strike, she scored only six points (including on two double faults by Vekic). To secure a spot in her first quarterfinal of a Grand Slam tournament, Donna will play against German Julia Goerges (30th on the WTA list), whom she has never defeated. Goerges has celebrated in all three encounters so far.

Furthermore, Marin Cilic also made it to the round of 16 of the US Open! After a real battle on the court and almost three and a half hours of play, Cilic managed to top the 14th best tennis player in the world, John Isner of the US - 7:6, 3:6, 7:6 (6), 6:4. It was Marin's ninth win in 12 games against the American giant, which was not helped by the fact that he achieved as many as 40 aces (Cilic 21). The key to Marin's success was winning the third set, where, in the tie-break, Isner had two set points at 6:4, and the first at his serve.

"After 6:4 I had some luck, John missed a few of his first serves in times when he needed them. I did my best and used the opportunities that came to my mind,” Marin said after the match, who broke his opponent early in the fourth set (for his third break) and managed to maintain that advantage until the end, during which he made as many as 16 double faults. 

Isner may be most sorry for his disastrous execution of break points in the match, as out of 14 opportunities he used only one (seven percent). Marin, on the other hand, used two of the four break points to take his opponent's serve. To qualify for the quarterfinal, Cilic will play against the great Rafael Nadal. The Spaniard has six wins in their nine encounters so far. 

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Saturday, 31 August 2019

US Open: Petra Martic into Round of 16 Against Serena Williams!

August 31, 2019 - Petra Martic is among the top 16 female players at the US Open!

Croatian tennis player Petra Martic has advanced to the 4th round of the US Open in New York. Namely, Maritc defeated last year's semi-finalist and 12th seed of the tournament, Latvian Anastasia Sevastova in the 3rd round match 6:4, 6:3 in an hour and 26 minutes of play, reports and HTS.

This was Martic and Sevastova's third encounter and the second victory for 28-year-old Croatian. Martic’s first win was in the 3rd round of the grand slam tournament Roland Garros two years ago. 

Better yet, Petra Martic will meet the six-time winner of this tournament, 38-year-old American Serena Williams, in the 4th round of the US Open on Sunday. It will be the first match between the 28-year-old and the 23-time grand slam tournament winner.

With this win, Martic has now been among the top 16 female tennis players in all four grand slams of her career. 

However, the match didn’t start well for the 22nd best player in the world, as Sevastova won the first two games. However, when she broke Martic at 2:0, it was her only in the whole match.

Martic returned her lost serve immediately in the next game, after she saved the Latvian break point at 3:4 and equalized at 4: 4 for the second time in a duel to take away her opponents serve, which was enough for her to win the first set. 

Martic continued her excellent streak with the start of the second set, taking away to her rival in the first game.  In total, she took away the serve of her opponent on four occasions (in the third and ninth games of the first and first and ninth games of the second set). Petra achieved three aces and had a first-serve percentage of 68 percent. Martic also used four of 11 break points, while Sevastova only one of four. 

Donna Vekic will play in the 3rd round against Putintseva at 6:20 pm Croatia time, while Marin Cilic will play at 7:30 pm against John Isner. 

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Friday, 30 August 2019

US Open: Marin Čilić, Petra Martić, Donna Vekić Move into 3rd Round

August 230, 2019 - Marin Čilić, Petra Martić, and Donna Vekić have advanced to the 3rd round of the US Open.

HTS reports that Petra Martić’ secured another win at this year's US Open and was the first Croatian to go through on Thursday after her success against Romanian qualifier Ana Bogdan (152nd in the WTA list) - 6:2, 6:4.

Petra won the first set fairly quickly after an initial lead of 4:0. In the second set, she led with 4:2, after which she lost her serve and allowed Bogdan to level at 4:4, though this was the only time in the match. However, for the fourth time in the match, Petra reached a break which turned into a victory and her first time in the 3rd round of the last Grand Slam tournament of the season. Petra will play against the 11th best tennis player in the world, Latvian Anastasia Sevastova, to reach the round of 16. This will be their third encounter, with each player having one win so far.

Donna Vekić achieved her second victory at this year's US Open on Thursday after defeating 34-year-old Estonian Kaia Kanepi (82nd in the WTA list) - 7:5, 6:3.

Vekić had some difficulty in the first set, in which she lost her first strike on two occasions. Kanepi led 3:1, and Donna saved a set point at 4:5 at her serve to take the set after three wins in a row for 1:0. The second set was far easier for Donna, who used two breaks (in the third and ninth game) to confirm her second time in the 3rd round of the US Open. Recall, Donna made it for the first time in 2017.

With this win, Donna jumped to 22nd place in the WTA ranking (one ahead of Petra Martić), which equals the best ranking of her career. To enter the round of 16, Donna must play against Ukrainian Julia Putinetseva, the 39th best tennis player in the world.

Marin Čilić passed into the 3rd round of the US Open, though he didn’t get there without a fight. The former winner of this tournament completed the task against German tennis player Cedric-Marcel Stebe (256th in the ATP ranking) in the second round - 4:6, 6:3, 5:7, 6:3.

Čilić entered the match slower and lost his serve right away in the first game. He quickly came back with a break, but Stebe once again used Marin's mistakes and took away his serve in the ninth game to win the first set.

Marin continued to play and easily won the second set, but in the third, the Croatian faced new problems. Namely, Stebe led 4:1 after he broke Čilić in the fourth game, though Marin won six of the next seven games and still found a way to win the third set. The fourth set saw the result equal at 3:3, though Marin secured the win after two consecutive breaks. Marin’s victory saw 48 winners, but 52 simple errors (Stebe 33). Marin will now play against 14th-seeded American John Isner, against whom he has eight wins in 11 games played.

Recall, Borna Ćorić pulled out of the tournament due to a back injury and never played his 2nd round match. 

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Wednesday, 28 August 2019

US Open: Marin Čilić, Borna Ćorić, Petra Martić, Donna Vekić into 2nd Round

August 28, 2019 - Marin Čilić, Borna Ćorić, Petra Martić, and Donna Vekić will play in the 2nd round of the US Open. 

HTS reports that Petra Martić was the first to advance to the 2nd round of the US Open, the last Grand Slam tournament of the season in New York. Still, it was no easy match for the 28-year-old. Slovenian Tamara Zidanšek, the 66th best tennis player in the world, took the match to the third set against the 22nd seed of the tournament, though Petra was untouchable for the final 6:4, 4:6. 6:1. 

However, Croatia’s best female tennis player could have settled the duel in two sets, as she had an advantage of 5:2, but Zidanšek equalized after a powerful series. Petra totaled five aces and a first-serve percentage of 58%. She also used five of 13 break points. In the second round, she will play against Romanian qualifier Ana Bogdan, 152nd in the WTA ranking. 

Borna Ćorić successfully opened this year's appearance at the US Open. The 22-year-old Zagreb native moved past Russian qualifier Evgeny Donskoy (122nd in the ATP ranking) - 7:6 (7), 6:3, 6:0. Donskoy did not reach a break point throughout the match, but was dangerous in the first set where he had a 4:1 advantage in a tie-break, and at 7:6, a set point. After he won the first set, Borna went on to win the match. Donskoy held on to 3:3 in the second set, and was out of the game until the end. Borna (using four of seven break points) managed two aces and a first-serve percentage of 60%. He also achieved 31 straight points with 28 unforced errors (Donskoy 33). His next rival will be Bulgaria's Grigor Dimitrov, currently the 78th best tennis player in the world. 

We saw an excellent performance by Marin Čilić at the start of this year's US Open, which saw the 22nd seed and former winner of the tournament (2014) overcome Slovakian Martin Klizan (83rd in the ATP ranking) - 6:3, 6:2, 7:6 (6).

However, Čilić did not enter the match best, and the Slovakian led in the first set 3:1. After that, Marin played better and solved the first and second sets with an impressive series of nine games won. In the third set, both players firmly held their first strike, so the decision fell to a tie-break where Klizan had four set points at 6:2, but Marin ended the match with six consecutive points, scoring 17 aces, a first-serve percentage of 59%, and used four of nine break points. In the second round, Čillić will play against German Cedrik-Marcel Stebe. 

Donna Vekić was the last of Croatia’s representative to qualify for the 2nd round on Tuesday after she topped Dutch qualifier Richel Hogenkamp, the 207th player in the WTA raking - 7:6 (4), 6:3. Far more excitement was seen in the first set, in which Hogenkamp led 3:1, and at 6:5 she had the serve to be up 1:0. However, Donna managed to stop Hogenkamp and secured the win in the second set after 2:2 with two new breaks. She hit four aces (with a first-serve percentage of 48%) and used five of 10 break points. She had 36 winners, but made as many as 30 unforced errors. Donna’s 2nd round contender will be 34-year-old Estonian Kaia Kanepi, currently the 82nd best player in the world. 

Ivo Karlović ended his performance at this year's US Open in the first round. After 69 minutes of play, Karlović lost to American Frances Tiafoe2:6, 3:6, 2:1. 

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Tuesday, 13 August 2019

Cincinnati Masters: Awful Start for Croatian Players as Čilić, Karlović, Martić Out

August 13, 2019 - Marin Čilić, Ivo Karlović, and Petra Martić are out in the first round of the Cincinnati Masters. 

Croatian tennis players did not have the best start to the Cincinnati Masters on Monday, known as the oldest tennis tournament in the United States played in its original city, announces HTS.

Namely, Marin Čilić had a swift goodbye to the Masters 1000 Series tournament in Cincinnati. The 2016 winner of the competition and 14th seed was knocked out in the first round by Moldovan Radu Albot (39th on the ATP list) - 6:4, 7:6 (6).

It was an unconvincing and underwhelming performance by Čilić who managed 41 unforced errors during the match (Albot only had 21) and did not use any of the six break points. He lost the first set after the break in the third game, and in the second set, he missed six set points - two at the 5:4 lead, two at 6:5 (15:40), and two in the tie-break leading 6:4. Čilić managed a double fault on his only set point on his serve (6: 5 in the tie-break). 

It was their second encounter and the first victory for the Moldovan player. Marin did not defend points from last year's semifinal, and with this defeat, he has dropped out of the top 20 in the ATP list and is currently ranked 22nd.

After Toronto, Petra Martić finished her performance in the first round of the WTA portion of the tournament in Cincinnati. Croatia’s best female tennis player lost to the ninth-best tennis player in the world, Belarusian Aryna Sabalenka - 6:1, 6:4.

Petra couldn’t catch the right rhythm throughout the match - the first set was settled after the Belarusian led 5:0, though it was a much more equal encounter for the remainder of the match. Martić had a break point to lead 3:2, but in the next game, she lost her first strike, which decided the match. In the 10th game, Petra had three break points (0:40) to return to the match, but Sabalenka managed to keep her serve (saving all seven break points in the match) and the winner was decided in two sets.

After brilliantly completing two qualifying rounds, Ivo Karlović was not able to continue his run in Cincinnati on Monday. Karlović struggled to find the right solution for the ever-better German Jan-Lennard Struff (36th on the ATP list), who dominated Ivo in two sets - 7:5, 7:6 (4).

The only break in the match occurred in the 12th game of the first set, with both players holding their first strikes for the remainder of the game. The game was ultimately decided in a tie-break where Ivo led 4:3, but by the end of the match, he had not even won a point. The Zagreb native achieved 16 aces, had a first-serve percentage of 62 percent,  and did not have a break point during the match.

However, not all hope is lost. The first-round duel of Borna Ćorić and American Reilly Opelka was interrupted by rain at 6:4, 3:6, 4:3. The American player is serving in the eighth game of the third set, and Ćorić has a 0:15 lead. The winner of the match will play against Alex de Minaur of Australia who defeated Italian Marco Cecchinato (5) 6:7, 6:1, 6:2.

The remaining Croatian female representative, Donna Vekić, will play her first-round match at 5 pm Croatian time on Tuesday against Czech Katerina Siniakova.

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Thursday, 8 August 2019

Canadian Open: Marin Čilić Last Croatian Standing, Moves into Round of 16

August 8, 2019 - Croatian tennis player Marin Čilić topped John Millman in the Canadian Open round of 32, thus equalizing his best result at the tournament in 2011.

Marin Čilić (16th on the ATP ranking) advanced to the 3rd round of the ATP Masters 1000 Tournament in Montreal after he celebrated 6:3, 6:6 against Australian John Millman (65th on the ATP ranking) after 75 minutes of play, reports

It was the second match between the 30-year-old Croatian tennis player and his Australian opponent and the second victory for Čilić, who did not let the 20-minute rain break disturb his game when he led 6:3, 4:2.

After losing his serve in the third game, Čilić immediately returned in the next game and dominated the court. Another break in the eighth game brought him the first set, and he gained the advantage in the second set right at the start and was close to securing the 3rd round until the match was interrupted by rain.

After a 20-minute break, Millman held his serve, but with losing one point in the tenth game, Čilić served for the win. 

Marin’s first serve percentage was 67%, leaving Millman with only one opportunity to break, which the Australian also realized. When Čilić put the first serve in, he won 81% of the points, had a second serve percentage of 50%, and took advantage of four break opportunities. The match ended with seven aces and no double faults.

This is only Čilić’s fourth appearance at the Canadian Open when Montreal is the host, and with the victory over Millman, he equalized his best result from 2011, when he lost to Novak Djokovic in the 3rd round. 

To qualify for the quarterfinal, Čilić will play against the 2nd-seeded Austrian Dominic Thiem. Rain was announced in Montreal on Wednesday, which could significantly disrupt Thursday’s program. 

Borna Ćorić was not as lucky in the Canadian Open, losing to Adrian Mannarino in the round of 32 on Wednesday. Donna Vekić also lost in the round of 32 in the WTA Rogers Cup in Toronto to Svetlana Kuznetsova.

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Wednesday, 7 August 2019

Canadian Open: Marin Čilić and Borna Ćorić Move to 2nd Round

August 7, 2019 - Marin Čilić and Borna Ćorić are into the 2nd round of the Canadian Open!

Marin Čilić took the first step on Tuesday at the ATP Masters 1000 Series tournament in Montreal, Canada, advancing to the 2nd round after defeating US qualifier Bradley Klahn (92nd on the ATP ranking) - 6:3, 7:6 (7), announced HTS.

The Croatian tennis player was more convincing in the first half of the match, where he took the service of his American opponent twice. In the rest of the match, both players held their first strike until a tie-break where Marin led 5:3, saved the set point at 5:6, and eventually used the second match point. 

Čilić achieved two aces (Klahn had 19!) and realized an exceptionally high 68 percent of his first serve. He also used two of four break points (Klahn had no opportunity to break). In the second round, Čilić will play Australian John Millman.

Borna Ćorić joins Marin Čilić in the 2nd round of the Canadian Open. Croatia’s current best male tennis player beat last week's Washington Open semifinalist, German Peter Gojowczyk (85th on the ATP ranking) in a tennis thriller - 2:6, 6:1. 7:6 (2).

The Zagreb native easily lost the first set, only to return in great style in the second. In the decisive set, both players held their first strike firmly, with the most excitement seen in game 12 when at 5:6, Borna saved two match points (15:40). He ultimately won thanks to a tie-break. 

Borna achieved 16 aces (and realized 67 percent of his first serve) and used two of his four break points in the match. In the second round, Borna awaits French player Adrian Mannarino (69th on the ATP ranking), who celebrated in all three of their previous encounters. 

Donna Vekić also managed a big win in the 1st round of the WTA Tournament in Toronto, topping the 17th best tennis player in the world, Madison Keys, 3:6, 7:6(5), 7:6 (5) after two and a half hours of play. 

It looked as if the American was on her way to winning it all. Keys won the first set and after a break in the ninth game of the second set, at 5: 4, she served for a spot in the 2nd round. Keys had three match points in a row (40-0) before Donna miraculously broke her, later achieved a tie-break and equalized Keys in sets. 

In the decisive set at 6:5, Donna served for the win, though it wasn’t until a new tie-break that she secured her spot in the next round. Donna’s next rival is the Russian veteran, 34-year-old Svetlana Kuznetsova (198th on the WTA ranking). They have played on three occasions so far, and the Russian has two wins.

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Saturday, 3 August 2019

WTA San Jose: Donna Vekić Advances to Semi-final!

August 3, 2019 - Donna Vekić has advanced to her fifth semi-final of the year on the WTA Tour!

Croatian tennis player Donna Vekić has made it to the semi-final of the WTA Tournament in San Jose (Silicon Valley Classic) by winning in two sets (7-5 and 6-0) against American Kristie Ahn in the quarter-final. Vekić won after an hour and 27 minutes of play, reports

However, Vekić weakly opened her first match against the American player. She lost her opening first strike already in the second game, and after half an hour of play, she was behind 3-5. But for the rest of the hour, the Croatian player only put winning games up on the scoreboard.

Vekić saved one set point and then won nine games in a row for her fifth semi-final of the year. Thus far, Vekić has celebrated twice and lost twice in WTA semi-finals.

Vekić will play against Belarusian Arina Sabalenka in the semi-final on Sunday. This will be their fourth encounter, and Vekić has celebrated in all three of the meetings thus far. 

On the other side of the coast in Washington D.C., Croatian tennis player Marin Čilić failed to reach the semi-final of the Washington Open. Marin lost to Russian Danil Medvedev 6-4, 7-6 (7) in the quarter-final after an hour and 35 minutes of play, reports

This was the first match between the 30-year-old Čilć and Medvedev, who is seven years younger than the Croatian player and is currently ranked 10th in the ATP rankings.

Čilić played a great match against Medvedev, but in crucial moments he still failed to play his best and remained without the victory. 

Throughout the match, Medvedev served superbly, and Čilić failed to secure a single break point, while the Russian had only two chances in the fifth game of the first set and used the second for the only break in the match.

In the tie-break of the second set, both players scored points on their first strike at 8-7 for Medvedev, though Čilić ultimately sent the ball out to lose the match.

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