Humbert outlasts Evans to set De Minaur clash in Antwerp final

After dropping the opening set, Humbert took a 3-0 lead in the second but Evans fought back to take it to a tiebreak. A break of serve in the opening game of the decider then gave 22-year-old Humbert the advantage and, after three hours and 14 minutes on court, he converted his third match point to move into the final. “The start of the match wasn’t easy as he didn’t give me much pace and suddenly he accelerated,” Humbert said after he reached the second ATP Tour final of his career.

Dan Evans loses to Ugo Humbert in European Open semi-final after failing to convert four match points

An eventful week for Dan Evans in Antwerp came to an unsatisfactory end as he failed to convert four match points against France’s Ugo Humbert to miss the chance to progress to what would have been his third ATP Tour final. Evans produced some typically canny tennis throughout, claiming the first set and then moving in to a 6-3 lead in the second-set tie-break. But he lost his rhythm when it mattered most, and Humbert – a flashy left-hander with a devastating forehand – took advantage. In what was almost a mirror image of Evans’s quarter-final comeback against Karen Khachanov – only without the disputed line calls – Humbert capitalised on his opponent’s frustration by breaking early in the deciding set and then held on for a 4-6, 7-6, 6-4 win. For Evans, the pain will be all the greater because his most recent defeat – against Stan Wawrinka in St Petersburg – had come after holding three match points. On that occasion, Wawrinka was serving at 0-40 at the time. Statistics show that escapes from 0-40 down are not uncommon among the leading players; indeed some manage to do it around a third of the time. On Saturday, though, three of Evans’s match points against Humbert came on his own serve. On the second of those, he committed a double-fault – a demoralising error which he had not previously made. On the first match point, Humbert had produced a brilliant backhand winner up the line. The other two ended in Evans misses.

Dan Evans survives match point to make European Open semi-final as Karen Khachanov loses his cool

British No.1 Dan Evans fought through to the semi-finals of the European Open in Antwerp after saving a match point against Karen Khachanov – Russia’s world No.17 – in a contest that featured plenty of tantrums and some post-watershed language. The bad blood was not so much between the players as it was between Khachanov and chair umpire Adel Nour, who made one of the worst over-rules ever seen in an ATP Tour match in the middle of the first set. That point was not of great significance in the big picture, as Khachanov still took the game and the set, despite Nour mistakenly ruling that a ball which bounced several inches inside the baseline had flown long. “I saw it out,” he told a furious Khachanov. But the earlier error then caused Khachanov to blow up completely in the second-set tie-break. Having failed to convert a match point at 6-5, thanks to an unreturnable Evans serve, he then felt that the officials had erred again when the score stood at 7-7. Such incidents are usually resolved by Hawk-Eye challenges, but Antwerp is not supplying the ball-tracking service this year, So Khachanov raged at Nour, saying “What are you doing here? What are you for? We can call the score.”

Coco Gauff: Andy Murray calling for diversity is inspiring and shows what a great ally he is

Andy Murray has been praised as a “great ally” of diversity in tennis after his latest Instagram post highlighted the fact that there are no BAME board members at either the Lawn Tennis Association or the All England Club. The tribute came from Coco Gauff, tennis’s biggest rising talent, who finished her season on Thursday. Having lost a close match in Ostrava to Aryna Sabalenka, the world No 12, Gauff was asked about Murray’s post. “Nothing is wrong with asking for more diversity,” Gauff said. “For him to say that is definitely inspiring, especially with him being a man and white. For someone like him to call for diversity, it shows how great an ally he is. “It’s important we do have diversity, because there are people from all over the world from different backgrounds and areas, and I think representation is important. At least for me, as a girl, seeing yourself in the media, seeing yourself being represented means a lot. I think that is important to other girls and boys. When they see [people like] themselves they might say, ‘Oh, maybe because they did it I can do it.’ ” On his Instagram page, Murray quoted the absence of BAME representation from the 12-person boards of the LTA and All England Club with the sardonic remark “Tennis in 2020”. This is not the first time this year that he has raised the issue. After the Telegraph’s boardroom survey in June, he told reporters: “I saw a survey of the board positions across all of the governing bodies across the major sports in England and I think there’s, like, three out of 139 positions that were taken up by black people. That’s something that obviously needs to change, and it’s the same in tennis as well.” Back on the court, Gauff had led 5-2 in the deciding set of what turned out to be a 1-6, 7-5, 7-6 loss to Sabalenka. She has not electrified the world of tennis quite as much in 2020 as she did last year, when she made her name by reaching the fourth round of Wimbledon at just 15 years old. But despite developing a debilitating double-fault habit, she still finished with a more-than-respectable record of 10 wins and eight losses in the main draw of tour events. “This year was definitely crazy, but I think the biggest thing is that I know what I need to improve on,” Gauff said. “In 2019, I was just getting by in matches because I was new to the scene. But now most people know how I play, so I know where the holes are in my game”

I regret U.S. Open and Roland Garros failures, says Djokovic

SHOWS: BELGRADE, SERBIA (OCTOBER 22, 2020) (REUTERS – ACCESS ALL) 1. NOVAK DJOKOVIC APPROACHING MEDIA TO SPEAK 2. SHADOW OF DJOKOVIC ON THE GROUND 3. (SOUNDBITE) (Serbian) NOVAK DJOKOVIC, SAYING: “Well, there is certainly a small regret because I didn’t take one of these two grand slams in US Open or Roland Garros. I think I was exceptionally fit in both grand slams. Of course, in Paris I made it up to the finals, and then I simply had a much better rival that day, I was not at my level, and that’s it. The finals is, of course, a great result. On the other hand, in the US Open happened the situation that was simply a little bit unlucky for me, and because of which I was disqualified. But I won the other tournaments where I participated – Cincinnati, Rome… Let me say – if I don’t count that disqualification in New York – I lost one match this year, to Nadal in Paris. I think that I am playing maybe even the tennis of my life this season.” 4. DJOKOVIC STANDING, TALKING 5. (SOUNDBITE) (Serbian) NOVAK DJOKOVIC, SAYING: “My goal is to be the historically longest number one, and I am working on it and it is indeed my highest priority. I don’t think I am in a difficult situation or that there is too much pressure or burden (imposed) upon me, or that the conversation regarding the Association hampers me too much. I simply know how to find a balance and of course that sometimes I get shaken in all that, I get tired mentally and maybe physically, etc. But that’s all life, I mean, nobody is perfect, and you somehow learn throughout life, and every day you acquire some new knowledge and insights into yourself, and then you try to use that in the best possible way so as to be the best version of yourself both professionally and in in private life. So that – Association of Players is something that I feel deep inside as, simply, a vocation, as some kind of a responsibility and obligation to – as a player at the peak of the career, as a tennis player who is at the position where he is and who is (inside) tennis – help the ones who do not have that voice, who do not have that power.” 6. NOVAK DJOKOVIC STANDING, TALKING TO MEDIA 7. (SOUNDBITE) (English) NOVAK DJOKOVIC, SAYING: “Well, first of all, I decided to skip the Paris Masters because I felt I played a lot lately and I wanted to play Vienna Tournament because of the new ranking, temporary ranking system which basically allows me not to drop points that I earned last year, and I have the opportunity to earn points in Vienna, and the points that I won by winning the tournament in Paris last year is protected. So, I felt that at this point, you know, I’m focusing on that kind of goal of trying to build more points difference between me and the second player on the rankings and trying to achieve that historic number one goal, which I’ve been talking about and being open about it, so I’m going to play Vienna and then finish with London Masters in O2 Arena.” 8. MEDIA TAKING PICTURES, DJOKOVIC TALKING 9. (SOUNDBITE) (English) NOVAK DJOKOVIC, SAYING: “Australian Open is of course for me the biggest priority and I will try to aim to go there, you know, I am intending to go to Australia, but obviously we’ll have to wait and see.” 10. VARIOUS OF ENTRANCE TO ‘NOVAK’ TENNIS CENTRE STORY: Novak Djokovic has played some of the best tennis of his life in 2020 but he regrets the failure to win either the U.S. Open or the French Open in his bid to become the world’s most trophy-laden player, the world number one said on Thursday (October 22). Having won the Australian Open in January, Djokovic was disqualified at the U.S. Open after inadvertently hitting a line judge in the neck with a petulant swipe of the ball during his fourth-round clash with Pablo Carreno Busta. He was then blown away by Carreno Busta’s Spanish compatriot and world number two Rafael Nadal in straight sets at Roland Garros. Djokovic has 17 grand slam titles while Nadal and Federer are on 20 each after the Spaniard clinched a record 13th French Open title. “There is a lingering regret that I didn’t win either the U.S. Open or the Roland Garros this year,” a bearded Djokovic told reporters in drenching sun at his tennis academy in downtown Belgrade by the Danube river. “I was in outstanding form at both events but having reached the French Open final, I was beaten by a player who was much better on the day. “I was below par and that’s it. As far as the U.S. Open is concerned, I got myself into an unfortunate situation and was disqualified, but I won several other big tournaments. “The U.S. Open disqualification notwithstanding, I have only lost one match all season and I’ve played some of the best tennis of my life.” Djokovic dismissed suggestions he was under intense presure to overhaul Nadal and Federer in their three-way race to become the greatest male player of all time. “Pressure has been a part of my life for a long time and I’ve learned how to deal with it,” he said. “It comes with the territory if you are a top-level athlete and it can also galvanise you. You take physical and mental knocks along the way but it’s all part of the learning curve. “If I retired now I’d be happy with everything I have achieved but I still enjoy competing and every tournament I enter gives me so much motivation and joy.” Djokovic, who will enter the Oct. 26 – Nov. 1 tournament in Vienna and the season ending ATP Finals in London, said he had decided to pull out of the Nov. 2-8 Paris Masters after consultations with his team. “I feel I have played a lot lately. The new temporary ranking system allows me not to drop points I earned in Paris last year while I have an opportunity to earn points in Vienna. “I am trying to build on the points difference between myself and the second-ranked player. Both my team and I felt that adding Paris to Vienna and the season-ending event in London would have been too much.” Production: Branko Filipovic, Marko Djurica

Becker pleads not guilty over failing to return trophies to settle debts: report

Becker, 52, pleaded not guilty to all the charges brought by the Insolvency Service when he made a 45-minute appearance at Southwark Crown Court in London, the report said. Six-times Grand Slam winner Becker is also accused of concealing the 1989 Wimbledon trophy and his Australian Open trophies from 1991 and 1996. Earlier on Thursday, Becker said in an Instagram post “What defines us is how well we rise after falling.”

NHL MVP Draisaitl swops pucks for tennis balls

SHOWS: COLOGNE, GERMANY (OCTOBER 19, 2020) (UCOM – ACCESS ALL) 1. NHL MVP LEON DRAISAITL 2. DRAISAITL CHATTING WITH ALEXANDER ZVEREV 3. DRAISAITL (LEFT), ZVEREV (MIDDLE) AND FELIX AUGER-ALIASSIME (RIGHT) IN CONVERSATION 4. ICE HOCKEY STICKS NEXT TO TENNIS RACQUET 5. PUCKS IN FRONT OF GOAL 6. VARIOUS OF DRAISAITL, ZVEREV AND AUGER-ALIASSIME IN CONVERSATION 7. VARIOUS OF DRAISAITL SHOOTING AT GOAL 8. AUGER-ALIASSIME SHOOTING AT GOAL 9. ZVEREV SHOOTING AT GOAL 10. ZVEREV SHOOTING AT GOAL WITH TENNIS BALLS 11. DRAISAITL SHOOTING AT GOAL WITH TENNIS BALLS 12. ZVEREV AND DRAISAITL DOING KEEPIE-UPPIES WITH HOCKEY STICKS AND TENNIS BALLS 13. DRAISAITL ATTEMPTING TO HIT THREE BALLS INTO A BOX 14. DRAISAITL HITTING A FOREHAND 15. AUGER-ALIASSIME 16. VARIOUS OF RALLYING 17. DRAISAITL CELEBRATING AFTER WINNING POINT 18. (SOUNDBITE) (Engish) REIGNING NHL MVP, LEON DRAISAITL, SAYING: “Yeah, absolutely. It’s a blast. It’s always fun, you know, getting to meet other top athletes in the world and specially guys that are my age that, you know, you can kind of grow up with and yeah. It was a lot of fun.” 19. ZVEREV, DRAISAITL AND AUGER-ALIASSIME POSING FOR PHOTOS STORY: Reigning NHL MVP Leon Draisaitl swopped his hockey stick and pucks for a racquet and tennis balls ahead of the ATP bett1HULKS Championship tournament in Cologne. The Edmonton Oilers forward, who became the first German-born player to be named the NHL’s Most Valuable Player, was joined by tennis players Alexander Zverev and Felix Auger-Aliassime in completing various ice hockey and tennis activities. (Production: Stefan Haskins)

Andy Murray forced to pull out of Cologne ATP tournament with ongoing hip flexor problem

This disrupted tennis season is not getting any better for Andy Murray, who has withdrawn from this week’s ATP event in Cologne because of tendinitis in his left psoas – a body part more often referred to as the hip flexor. The latest in a series of frustrating setbacks, Murray’s new injury afflicts the opposite side to the hip he underwent surgery on at the start of last year. But the evidence of the past 18 months underlines the challenge of playing elite tennis with a metal implant, especially when – as Murray explained last week – “it changes the way your pelvis moves”. Murray first reported this tendinitis issue a couple of days ahead of last month’s French Open, saying that he had been carrying it since the US Open a month before that. On Sunday, in a video posted on his Facebook page, he added: “I’ve been trying to deal with it in training and the matches. Unfortunately after my match here this week it’s flared up again. After playing some points today, I decided that it was not going to be good enough to play.” It seems ironic that Tuesday is the first anniversary of what could potentially be the last flourish of Murray’s storied career: his 46th ATP title in Antwerp. All that week, Murray was in the lightest and brightest of moods. “I need to now start talking more about my future,” he said, after beating Stan Wawrinka in the final, “and I am certainly a lot more optimistic now.” Had Murray had any idea how 2020 would turn out, he might have struck a more cautious note. The malaise really began at the very end of 2019, when he experienced soreness in the right hip caused by bone deposits forming around the unfamiliar metal implants. Murray was unable to recover fitness before the suspension of elite tennis in early March. And although he made a promising start in New York on the resumption in mid-August, beating Frances Tiafoe and world No7 Alexander Zverev back to back, he has lost four of five matches since – all of them, uncharacteristically, in straight sets. The left hip has been an issue since Murray flew home from the US Open, where he crept through a first-round meeting with Japan’s Yoshihito Nishioka in five sets before being crushed in the second round by rising Canadian star Felix Auger-Aliassime. He was already suffering from tendinitis then, but was unable to get it checked out for a few days after arriving in Surrey because of Covid-19 protocols and the slow return of a swab test. Murray’s season is not necessarily over. While his management said that he would probably have to abandon plans to play in Vienna in a week’s time, he has not yet given up on the Paris Masters – the final event of the regular calendar – which begins in a fortnight. Having said that, however, there must be a case for putting specific tennis training away for the next couple of months while Murray concentrates on dealing with this latest niggle. With the benefit of hindsight, we can probably now say that his below-par performances against Stan Wawrinka at the French Open and Fernando Verdasco last week were both influenced by the fact that he wasn’t fully fit. This reading of events does at least have one encouraging corollary. If Murray can somehow shrug off the series of ailments that have afflicted him in 2020, it is possible that we might see him recapture his level from Antwerp last year. The all-conquering form of 2016 is probably too much to hope for.