How Less Counting Is Turning Into More Winning For Bublik

Alexander Bublik advanced to his first ATP Tour semi-final on Friday, recovering from a slow start to defeat home favourite Tennys Sandgren at the Hall of Fame Open 0-6, 6-3, 6-0. But one thing you won’t find him doing in Newport, Rhode Island, is checking out how high he’ll climb in the ATP Rankings because of his efforts, and how high he can soar if he continues his career-best run.

“This was my problem when I was a kid. I was counting the points. Even if I didn’t win the match, before the match I started counting points, how much I’d earn,” Bublik told “This was my problem. I deleted all the apps, the live scoring, rankings. Especially when there’s a deadline week and I needed to make something and I’d be like ‘Yes, I need to do it,’ I’d choke 0 and 1.”

In September 2017, the Kazakh broke into the Top 100 for the first time, spending four weeks there. But early in 2018, at the BNP Paribas Open, Bublik broke his ankle during qualifying, halting his momentum and forcing him to miss nearly two months of competition.

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Bublik dropped to as low as World No. 253 last November. But ever since, the 22-year-old has been on the ascent. And even though he won’t be looking into it, the six-time ATP Challenger Tour champion is projected to crack the Top 75 for the first time on Monday regardless of what happens the rest of the week.

“I entered two years ago for the first time, then I fell down. I have the level to play the guys here,” Bublik said. “This year I entered in April and I’ve stayed, so I hope to stay here a while. Maybe for all my career, hopefully.”

Bublik’s first big splash came in 2016, when as a 19-year-old he qualified in Moscow and advanced to the quarter-finals. He then accomplished the same feat at the same event the following year.

“When I was a kid I got in mental troubles a lot because I was thinking, ‘I’ve got to win this match. I want to win this tournament’,” Bublik said. “Then last year when I broke my ankle is when I realised it’s fine... I’ve got to work hard to make it here, to make more and more, so that’s why I’m working hard every day trying to succeed.”

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Paes Still Going Strong After 28 Years On Tour

Leander Paes made his Hall of Fame Open debut in 1995. Everyone in the singles and doubles draws that year has long since retired, but nearly 30 years after turning pro, the Indian is still creating memorable moments.

Paes and Kiwi Marcus Daniell saved three match points on Friday to reach the doubles semi-finals in Newport over Robert Lindstedt and Matthew Ebden. At age 46, he’s the oldest ATP Tour semi-finalist since John McEnroe (age 47) at 2006 San Jose. But Paes prefers not to talk about age. With his volleys and reflexes around the net as youthful as ever, it's easy to understand why.

“These are the nights that I live for,” said Paes. “The hard work, playing when you have a fever, being in the gym when you don’t want really want to be there… Most people see us travelling to lovely places and being on show courts, but the hard yards are what allow me to still compete at this level. The experience is still there, the legs are still there, the knowledge and strokes are there. It’s about finding the right doubles partners and I’ll have success.

“Being a student of life and the game, I used to try to learn from the older players. Now, I try to learn from the younger ones!”


Twenty-one years after winning his lone ATP Tour singles title in Newport, Paes’ passion for the game burns just as brightly. He’ll pump himself up after great shots and even throw in a chest bump or two with his partner. Paes is aware that he’s closer to end of his career than the beginning, but his remaining years on the ATP Tour are far from a mere nostalgia moment.

He’s already reached four ATP doubles semi-finals this season and continues to break records. Two months ago at Roland Garros (w/Paire), he became the oldest man in the Open Era to win a match at the second Grand Slam of the year.

Paes’ tireless commitment to improving has even sparked significant changes to his training in recent years.

"I have to work three times as hard now as I did 10 or 15 years ago. That's just age, but I love the work,” he explained. “When I was younger, I’d waste a lot of energy practising for five or six hours a day. My training is very specific now, focusing on improving specific areas of my game, focusin

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Stan Smith Reveals Key To Federer's Late-Career Success

Swiss superstar Roger Federer turns 38 in less than three weeks. But he is still the No. 3 player in the ATP Rankings, and his 38 wins in 2019 lead the ATP Tour. The eight-time Wimbledon champion was within one point of claiming his 21st Grand Slam title at The Championships, falling just short against World No. 1 Novak Djokovic.

For International Tennis Hall of Fame President Stan Smith, one thing in Federer’s game today stands out, even after lifting 102 tour-level titles.

“One of the keys I think for him is his balance. He stays in good balance when he hits the ball and so it prevents him from being injured and it also makes him consistent and also enables him to recover much better after he hits a wide shot, for instance,” Smith said. “He’s in such good balance, he doesn’t have to take an extra couple of steps to recover his balance. He hits the ball on balance even when he’s moving hard to get back into the point. That’s one of the reasons he’s been so effective.”

The Swiss is not the only one, though. Smith points to the other members of the Big Three — World No. 1 Novak Djokovic and No. 2 Rafael Nadal — as strong movers, which has helped them maintain their spots atop the sport despite being the three oldest players in the Top 10.

“Djokovic is like a rubber man. He’s got unbelievable flexibility. I think part of it is genetics and part of it is he works at it. He works at his flexibility. Jimmy Connors had tremendous flexibility in the upper body, kind of contorting,” Smith said. “Even Rafa is able to get in some very tough positions and be able to recover back into the court. Flexibility is quite important. Some of it is genetic and some of it is really, really working on it and that also helps prevent injury as well as gives players more power. They’re able to be flexible like that.”

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Before Smith returned to Newport, Rhode Island for Saturday’s International Tennis Hall of Fame induction ceremony, he was at Wimbledon, where he was delighted with the level of play at The Championships, specifically pointing to the blockbuster semi-final in which Federer defeated Nadal and the championship match.

“It was great tennis. The Federer and Nadal match was unbelievable tennis, really high quality tennis all the way through. Nadal could play

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Lajovic Prevails In Umag Marathon

Fourth-seeded Serbian Dusan Lajovic moved closer to his first ATP Tour title on Friday at the Plava Laguna Croatia Open Umag, advancing to the semi-finals over Slovenian Aljaz Bedene 5-7, 6-3, 6-3.

Lajovic squandered a 5-3 lead in the opening set, but regrouped to break Bedene four more times and prevailed in two hours and 33 minutes. The 29-year-old achieved his maiden ATP Tour final this April at the Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters (l. to Fognini) and recorded his career-high ATP Ranking of No. 23 that same month.

Next up for the fourth seed is Italian qualifier Salvatore Caruso or Argentine Facundo Bagnis. Lajovic has never played Caruso, but leads his FedEx ATP Head2Head rivalry with Bagnis 2-1.

Fellow Serbian and third seed Laslo Djere continued his excellent year on clay by battling past eighth-seeded Argentine Leonardo Mayer 6-4, 6-7(6), 6-3. A determined Djere saved six points in the second set before Mayer finally evened the score with a backhand winner on his seventh opportunity. But the Serbian remained calm and scored the lone break of the deciding set to advance in two hours and 40 minutes.

Djere improved to 2-0 in his FedEx ATP Head2Head series with Mayer and is still on track for his second ATP Tour title of the season. He won his maiden crown this February in Rio de Janeiro (d. Auger-Aliassime).

He’ll now play Hungarian Attila Balazs for a place in the final. The 30-year-old qualifier continued his dream week by outlasting Italian Stefano Travaglia 3-6, 7-6(2), 6-3 for his first ATP Tour semi-final in seven years. Balazs, currently No. 207 in the ATP Rankings, reached two ATP Challenger Tour finals last month in Prostejov and Bratislava.

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#NextGenATP Humbert Continues Grass-Court Success In Newport

#NextGenATP Frenchman Ugo Humbert kept up his outstanding grass-court form on Friday at the Hall of Fame Open in Newport, advancing to the semi-finals over Belarusian Ilya Ivashka 7-5, 3-6, 6-2.

Humbert, seeded fourth, raced through the final four games of the match to prevail in two hours and 26 minutes. The 20-year-old defeated fellow #NextGenATP player Felix Auger-Aliassime to reach the fourth round earlier this month at Wimbledon, marking his best result at a Grand Slam. Humbert, who recorded his maiden ATP Tour semi-final this February on home soil in Marseille, cracked the Top 50 of the ATP Rankings this week.

Next up for the Frenchman is top-seeded American John Isner, who hammered 24 aces to defeat Australian Matthew Edben 4-6, 6-3, 6-4. The match was a repeat of their 2017 final, which Isner also prevailed in. The American now leads their FedEx ATP Head2Head rivalry 5-1 and has won all three of their grass-court matches. Isner is seeking his fourth title in Newport (2011-2012, 2017).

“I’ve played almost four hours in two matches, but I need time on court. That’s why I came here,” said Isner. “I know what I have to do tomorrow. Ugo serves very well and he’s playing with a lot of confidence, so it’s just going to come down to a few points here and there.”

Marcel Granollers continued his Newport success with a convincing 6-3, 6-0 win in his rain-delayed match with German Mischa Zverev. The Spaniard took the first set before showers halted play on Thursday, but he returned with a vengeance and dropped just eight points in the second set. Granollers is through to his first ATP Tour semi-final since this event last year.

He’ll now play seventh seed Alexander Bublik of Kazakhstan, who scored his first ATP Tour semi-final by surviving a wild 0-6, 6-3, 6-0 battle with American Tennys Sandgren. After losing 10 of the last 12 points in the opening set, Bublik dropped only five points in the final set.

The 22-year-old Bublik has primarily competed on the ATP Challenger Tour and picked up four Challenger titles in the past year. He’s guaranteed to surpass his career-high ATP Ranking of No. 82 on Monday.

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Djokovic, Del Potro & Nishikori Highlight Best Social Media Posts Of The Week

From Novak Djokovic's celebrations, Juan Martin del Potro continuing his recovery from knee surgery and Kei Nishikori praising the rising stars of the game, the world's top players have been busy on and off the court. looks at the best player social media posts from the past week.

Days after clinching his fifth Wimbledon title, World No. 1 Djokovic enjoyed a low-key party to celebrate the birthday of one of his brothers, Djordje Djokovic.

Happy Birthday to my little brother Djordje. Last night we celebrated. Very proud of you. Love you 😍

— Novak Djokovic (@DjokerNole) July 18, 2019

Del Potro underwent surgery last month to repair a fractured right kneecap, but shared some positive news on his recovery.

Una nueva etapa en la recuperación. Chau muletas 👋🏻🚶‍♂

A new stage in my recovery. Goodbye crutches!

— Juan M. del Potro (@delpotrojuan) July 13, 2019

Nishikori was delighted at the success of 16-year-old Japanese junior Shintaro Mochizuki, who won the boys' singles title at Wimbledon. Both players train at the IMG Academy in Florida and have shared the court for hitting sessions.

Huge congrats to @ShintaroMOCHIZU! Such an amazing tournament 💪👍🇯🇵🇯🇵🇯🇵🇯🇵🇯🇵🇯🇵🇯🇵. Amazing to see the continued success of Mr. Morita’s vision!

— Kei Nishikori (@keinishikori) July 14, 2019

Stefanos Tsitsipas enjoyed a night out in Greece with WTA player Maria Sakkari and professional pole vaulter Emmanuel Karalis.

3 🥭 lovers ❤️
W/ @StefTsitsipas @mariasakkari

— Emmanuel Karalis (@FlyManoloFly) July 16, 2019

Karen Khachanov showed impeccable fashion sense in the latest issue of GQ China.

GQ China 🇨🇳 July issue!!✌🏻🎾
📸Simon Lipman (LGA Management)@GQMagazine

— Karen Khachanov (@karenkhachanov) July 16, 2019

Daniil Medvedev had good reason to smile after cracking the Top 10 of the ATP Rankings this week.

Top 10 @ATP_Tour!!! 🙏&#

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