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Match Preview: Tiafoe vs Nishikori at Erste Bank Open

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By Editorial Team

Frances Tiafoe is wrapping up a great 2018 season with wins over Milos Raonic, Fernando Verdasco, Pablo Busta, Kyle Edmund, Tomas Berdych and Juan Martin del Potro plus an ATP Tour 250 title win at the Delray Beach Open in late February.

With these stellar results and a top 5o ranking in the balance, Frances is set to regroup for another run in Europe this week as he now faces Kei Nishikori in the first round of the Erste Bank Open in Vienna, Austria tomorrow morning. These two have not played each other yet on tour so Frances has a huge disadvantage especially as Kei has now been able to fully recover from his wrist injury to play top 10 tennis with a semifinal appearance in the 2018 US Open and a tough quarterfinal loss to Roger Federer this month in the Rolex Shanghai Masters.

As the season comes to a close Kei is attempting to squeeze his way into the Nitto ATP Finals from his current 10th place in the race, but he will get opportunities as he will potentially have a key match against Dominic Thiem (another contender for the ATP Finals) if he is able to defeat Frances. Even with the favorable match up and big moment experience, Kei must respect Frances’ ability to pull off huge upsets as proven many times this season.

The key for Frances to pull off another top-10 win is to continue to play aggressive tennis slashing to the net in effort to end points quickly against the steady play of Kei’s powerful and deceptive ground game. Barring an off day for Kei, Frances may run out of solutions early in the match while Kei will most likely grind Frances and force him into making errors late down the stretch.

The Tiafoe Nishikori match can be viewed on Tennis Channel Plus tomorrow at 4am PST.

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Pro Tour

Muhammad Wins Hometown Event With Sanchez to Take 30th Career Pro Doubles Title

Tracey Lee

SUMMERLIN, Nev. (Nov. 11, 2018) – In the doubles final, Las Vegas’ Asia Muhammad and Maria Sanchez improved their record to 21-1 on the year as they beat fellow American’s Sophie Chang and Alexandra Mueller, 6-3, 6-4, to win the doubles title. While longtime partners Chang and Mueller end their year, Muhammad and Sanchez will look to end their year on a high note in Houston.

Asia, who reached the doubles quarterfinals of the 2016 US Open, has now won 30 career pro doubles titles, three coming on the WTA Tour and 27 now on the USTA Pro Circuit. She learned to play tennis at the Andre Agassi Boys and Girls Club in Las Vegas. Sanchez won her 21st doubles title on the USTA Pro Circuit.

Asia was the crowd favorite all week and said she enjoys coming back to play her local event each year. “We travel all over the world and see some amazing things, but to come back here and play in front of so many familiar faces is special,” she said.

Tournament director Mike Copenhaver said this was an historic year for the Red Rock Pro Open. “With it being the 10th anniversary, and part of the USTA Australian Open Wild Card Challenge, marquee night matches and our matches televised all week by Tennis Channel, it’s one that was written for the record books!”

This week Asia will be competing in Houston, Texas at the Oracle Challenger Series where top US players are competing for a main draw wildcard.

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Pro Tour

Osuigwe joins Watson, Muhammad and King in Houston Oracle Challenge

Oracle Challenge Series

By Editorial Team

On the heels of a $80k title win in Tyler, Texas, Whitney Osuigwe remains on the hunt for more upset wins in Houston this week. She was able to qualify for the main draw comfortably with a decisive win today over Réka LucaJani 6-3, 6-4 and now faces 199th ranked Naomi Broady of Great Britain in the 1st round. Whitney has made a huge leap into the top 250 after a string of great wins, but she is not slowing down as she aims to manufacture more wins with her steady play and mental toughness.

Watson and Muhammad are also aiming to have a good showing after facing major headwinds in Las Vegas last week with early round losses. The stakes are high for both players as they compete to finish the year within the top 100. Heather is right on the cusp of the top 100, but she will have to work overtime in Houston to reach her goals.

On the men’s side, Darian King will compete to get in his groove found last year (reached the round of 64 in main draw of 2017 BNP Open) to possibly qualify for an opportunity to play in next year’s 2019 BNP Open Qualifying Draw. A main draw wildcard goes to the highest finisher of the 5 tournament Challenger Series events. Darian may be out of contention for the main draw, but no fight is lacking for this talented 26 year old from Barbados. Opportunity is sure to find Darian as he continues to perfect his athletic style of play.

Match play begins tomorrow, click here to view the draws and order of play.

 

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Pro Tour

Match Preview: Tiafoe vs. Tsitsipas

ATP World Tour

By Jason Barron

Frances Tiafoe will look to play well in the year-end ATP Next Gen Finals tournament in Milan. Tiafoe is part of a field of 8 players who are all 21 years or younger. For any young player on the tour it is their goal to make the Next Gen Finals.

The tournament is played under special rules with each set played up to 4 games instead of 6 and if the set is tied at 3-3, then they play a tiebreak to decide it. It makes for quicker matches and the players really have be on their game to start because there will be less chances to make a comeback.

In Tiafoe’s first match he beat Polish player Hubert Hurkacz in 4 sets 4-1, 4-2, 2-4, 4-3 (12-10). Tiafoe started the match out with strong serving and quick ball striking. Hurkacz did make a comeback in the 3rd and 4th set, but Tiafoe was able to hold his nerve and outlast his opponent in the deciding tiebreak. Tiafoe will have his work cut out for him in his next match against the 15th ranked player and tournament favorite, the Greek wunderkind Stefanos Tsitsipas. They have played once before with Tsitsipas winning in straight sets in 2017.

Tiafoe will need to serve well and make Tsitsipas come to the net to make him uncomfortable. Tiafoe can’t get into too many long baseline exchanges because that is playing to Tsitsipas’ strengths who utilizes strong groundstrokes to win points. Tiafoe should look to put away points with clever backhands and be wary of the Tsitsipas’ serves because he can be tough to break when getting his first serves in.

Tiafoe has likely reached his own personal goal of making it to the Next Gen Finals. Next he will face his toughest test and history has shown that Tiafoe tends to struggle against taller players, standing at 6’2, while Tsitsipas is 6’4. After the Tsitsipas match, Tiafoe would play Spanish player, Jaume Munar the following day.

Tiafoe should beat the lower ranked Munar, but the real test will come against Tsitsipas, the youngest player in the ATP Top 20. The match is scheduled for Wednesday, November 7th. Stream the Next Gen Finals with Amazon Prime.

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