Coric Beats Munar To Start Halle Title Defence

Borna Coric made a good start to his NOVENTI OPEN title defence on Tuesday, defeating 2018 Next Gen ATP Finals qualifier Jaume Munar 7-6(2), 6-3 to reach the second round.

One year ago, Coric made a stunning run at this ATP 500 tournament, defeating then-World No. 3 Alexander Zverev in the first round and nine-time champion Roger Federer in the final. The 22-year-old is trying to win an ATP Tour title for the third consecutive year.

The turning point of the match came when Coric faced two consecutive break points at 3-4 in the second set. If Munar had converted those chances, he would have served for a one-set lead. But Coric carved a forehand drop shot and then hit a big kicking first serve out wide to get back to deuce, and he never looked back from there.

Those were the only break points Munar earned in the match. On the other hand, Coric took full advantage of the only break point he earned, breaking for 3-1 in the second set with a big backhand down the line that forced an error. The World No. 14 triumphed after one hour and 25 minutes when Munar couldn’t put a forehand return in play.

Coric will play Portuguese No. 1 Joao Sousa, who beat Hubert Hurkacz on Monday, in the second round. It will be their first FedEx ATP Head2Head meeting.

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Guido Pella had a tremendous clay-court season, tying for the ATP Tour-lead on the surface with 21 wins. But David Goffin wasted no time beating him on the Halle grass, as the Belgian ousted the eighth seed 6-1, 6-1 in just 50 minutes. The 2017 Nitto ATP Finals runner-up will next face Moldovan Radu Albot, who advanced on Monday.

Qualifier Sergiy Stakhovsky battled past #NextGenATP German Rudolf Molleker 3-6, 7-6(6), 6-2 in two hours and 19 minutes after saving one match point in the second-set tie-break. Stakhovsky will try to reach his first tour-level quarter-final since Marseille when he plays Frenchman Pierre-Hugues Herbert.

Did You Know?
Entering Halle last year, Coric had just two wins in nine tour-level matches on grass. The Croat now holds a 10-9 record on the surface.

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First-Time Winner Spotlight: Adrian Mannarino

Adrian Mannarino entered Sunday's Libema Open final having lost his first six ATP Tour championship matches. But the lefty would not be denied, defeating Aussie Jordan Thompson 7-6(7), 6-3 to earn his first crown. The 30-year-old had previously reached two grass-court finals, both in Antalya. But he finally broke through in 's-Hertogenbosch against Thompson, a first-time ATP Tour finalist. caught up with Mannarino after his win...

How does it feel to be holding your first ATP Tour trophy?
That feels pretty good. This is something I’ve been waiting for for a long time now. I’ve been losing many finals before achieving this first title, so it feels pretty good.

Was this a goal that you’ve had as a junior and did you think it would take this long, at age 30, to do it?
Actually I didn’t have a real goal when I was a junior. My ambition was to be one of the Top 100 players. With time I saw that my ATP Ranking was getting better. I was not far from getting a title. Ever since I got my first final in Auckland in 2015 I really wanted a title badly. It took time, but I finally made it and it’s something that I’ll have forever.

Did you go into your seventh final with a different mindset after losing your previous six?
Not really. I wouldn’t say that I’ve been handling my stress better than the other times. I don’t think the quality of the match was the best. But there is always a first time and actually I don’t really care about the way I played. I’m just happy that I finally made it and I feel that if I have to play another final in the future it is going to be way easier after winning a title already.

Adrian Mannarino defeats Jordan Thompson in two hours and one minute to win the Libema Open title on Sunday.

What do you think you did well during the week to put together five wins in a row for the first time?
I’ve been pretty consistent during the whole week. I’ve been playing with some really good players and I was not expecting to beat these kind of players, especially on grass. But I was feeling good on the court, I was enjoying my game and just battling all the time and I finally got through match after match. I don’t really know the

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Read & Watch: Mahut Comes To Ballgirl's Aid At The Queen's Club

Qualifier Nicolas Mahut defeated American Frances Tiafoe 6-3, 7-6(5) on Monday to reach the second round of the Fever-Tree Championships. But one of the most memorable moments of the match came at 5-5 in the second set.

Mahut was deep behind the baseline playing defence against the 2018 Next Gen ATP Finals qualifier when he could not get to a ball in the backhand corner. However, the 37-year-old could not stop his momentum on the grass and eventually slipped and fell into a ballgirl. 

The Frenchman showed little concern about himself, immediately standing up to make sure that the ballgirl was alright. The World No. 191 went on to close out the match in the tie-break, hitting nine aces and winning 52 per cent of his second-serve return points in his one-hour, 22-minute triumph.

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Zverev Fights Through In Halle

Down a break at 5-2 in the second set, Alexander Zverev could have cast his eyes to the seemingly inevitable third set against Robin Haase on Monday at the NOVENTI OPEN.

But the German kept his focus on what was in front of him, and didn't even need to bother with a third set. The two-time Halle finalist (2016, 2017) beat Haase 6-4, 7-5 to make the second round at the ATP 500 event.

Zverev dug himself out of trouble to serve for the match at 6-5 in the second set, but needed more heroics to stave off the Dutch veteran. The second-seeded Zverev saved two break points while serving at 6-5, including one during a 41-shot rally that Haase ended when he sprayed a backhand wide.

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Zverev fell to countryman Florian Mayer in the 2016 final and Roger Federer in 2017. Federer, a nine-time champion, is again the top seed at the grass-court event.

The 22-year-old Zverev will next face American Steve Johnson, who ended a three-match losing streak by beating Germany's Philipp Kohlschreiber 6-3, 6-3. Johnson hit 13 aces, won 85 per cent of his first-serve points (29/34) and never faced a break point.

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Kyrgios On Murray Practising: 'I Couldn't Believe What I Was Seeing'

One year ago, Nick Kyrgios played Andy Murray at the Fever-Tree Championships. This year, the Aussie is cheering for his friend, as the former World No. 1 is making his return from hip surgery on the doubles court alongside Feliciano Lopez.

“It's great to see him back. I think results don't matter. Just to see him back healthy and seeing him happy on court is all that matters,” Kyrgios said. “He's actually the first person I saw yesterday on the court doing doubles drills, and I couldn't believe what I was seeing.”

Murray last competed at the Australian Open before undergoing right hip resurfacing surgery on 28 January. The Scot did not know if he’d ever be able to return, but he is back on The Queen’s Club grass, where he has captured five singles titles.

“[It’s] unbelievable. He's a warrior. I hit with him a couple times in London, obviously when I took a spell from the French,” said Kyrgios, who was forced to withdraw from Roland Garros due to a stomach bug. “He's still hitting the ball unbelievable. I think he's good enough to do damage in any doubles [match made up] of any players, especially this week with Feliciano. I'd almost pay to watch that match. They're going to be tough to beat. He's a legend.”

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Kyrgios, currently No. 39 in the ATP Rankings, is trying to get back on track himself having lost four of his past five matches. At last week’s MercedesCup, the Aussie fell in the first round to eventual champion Matteo Berrettini.

“It's been good [preparation]. Obviously didn't get too many matches last week in Stuttgart, but I lost to the eventual winner,” Kyrgios said. “Played a bit of dubs last week and got here and had a hit. Have been feeling good. This is probably my favourite time of the year. Obviously the Aussie summer is pretty good, but just being in London when the weather is like this is pretty hard to beat. Just playing on grass every day, it's a lot of fun.”

Kyrgios made the semi-finals at The Queen’s Club last year, and he has long enjoyed success on grass, beating Rafael Nadal en route to the Wimbledon quarter-finals in 2014 when he was just 19.

“I definitely feel like I can do damage. I have had a lot of good wins on grass,” Kyrgios said. “Obviously made a quarter-

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Khachanov Rolls In Halle Return

Karen Khachanov won his first match as a Top 10 player on Monday at the NOVENTI OPEN in Halle. The 2017 semi-finalist dismissed Serbian lucky loser Miomir Kecmanovic 7-6(5), 6-4 to reach the second round at the ATP 500 event in Germany.

Khachanov, who broke into the Top 10 last Monday after making his first Grand Slam quarter-final at Roland Garros, lost his opener last week at the MercedesCup in Stuttgart to eventual champion Matteo Berrettini. The 6'6” right-hander is the first Russian to be ranked inside the Top 10 since Mikhail Youzhny during the week of 7 February 2011.

Khachanov, who improved to 15-14 on the year, will next face German Jan-Lennard Struff or Serbian Laslo Djere.

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Pierre-Hugues Herbert won an all-French battle against Gael Monfils 7-6(6), 6-4. The 28-year-old Herbert won won 53 per cent of his second-serve return points and will next meet German wild card Rudolf Molleker or Ukraine qualifier Sergiy Stakhovsky.

In other first-round action, Delray Beach Open by champion Radu Albot prevailed past Aussie Matthew Ebden 5-7, 6-1, 6-4, and Portuguese qualifier Joao Sousa ousted Poland's Hubert Hurkacz 7-6(3), 6-1.

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