Tennis news round-up: Croatia claims Hopman Cup glory, Rublev demolishes Ruud and lucky loser becomes champion
Wimbledon may be over, but there has still been plenty of tennis to indulge in with the return of the Hopman Cup and clay court events across Europe providing some new names to the roll of honour.
Join us, at Tennishead, as we talk you through five of the biggest stories from the past week:
1. Hopman Cup returns to Croatia
The Hopman Cup made its return to the tennis calendar over the weekend after a four year hiatus, as six nations battled it out on the clay in Nice.
Switzerland had won the last two editions of the Hopman Cup, but were fronted by a much less experienced pair in Leandro Riedi and Celine Naef, who have a combined age of 39.
The Croatian childhood friends of Borna Coric and Donna Vekic prevented the Swiss from completing the treble, with two straight sets victories in singles.
— Hopman Cup (@hopmancup) July 23, 2023
It is the second time that Croatia have won the Hopman Cup, with Goran Ivanisevic and Iva Majoli claiming the first back in 1996.
2. Andrey Rublev defeats the king of the clay 250 events
Casper Ruud has won 10 career titles and nine of those have come at ATP 250 events on clay, with his other on the hard courts of San Diego back in 2021.
However, he could not win a 10th in Gstaad yesterday after being convincingly beaten in the final by Andrey Rublev, 7-6(3) 6-0.
Rublev has now won 14 ATP titles, with both of them in 2023 coming on the dirt of Monte Carlo and Bastad, respectively.
The 25-year-old spoke after the match, “It is always great to win a title. At the end of the day, we have to lose almost every week, so this is one of two titles this year. It is a special feeling and the final was played in tough conditions, but I was lucky to have them.”
3. From lucky loser to champion
When No.246 ranked Maria Timofeeva lost her second qualifying match in Budapest to No.377 ranked Anna Siskova, no-one could have predicted what would have prevailed throughout the week.
Following the withdrawal of Tereza Martincova, Timofeeva was granted a lucky loser spot and went onto win her first ever WTA main draw match against Daria Saville.
After picking up victories over Diana Shnaider, Kaja Juvan and Nadia Podoroska, the 19-year-old Russian found herself in the final against Kateryna Baindl, with both players looking to win their first WTA title.
Timofeeva beat the Ukranian, 6-3 3-6 6-0, to become only the fourth woman to win a WTA title as a lucky loser, alongside Kay McDaniel (Atlanta 1980), Olga Danilovic (Moscow 2018) and Coco Gauff (Linz 2019).
Lucky Loser ➡️ Maiden Title
— wta (@WTA) July 23, 2023
She has been rewarded with a new career-high ranking of No.129 and a special exempt place at the WTA event in Hamburg this week.
4. Qinwen Zheng wins her maiden WTA title
Qinwen Zheng has often been hyped up as a star for the future and the 20-year-old has reached as high as No.19 in the WTA rankings, but she was still yet to win a title.
The closest she had come was last year in Tokyo, when she was beaten in the final by the hard-hitting Russian Liudmila Samsonova.
Zheng had not played many WTA 250’s in the last year, but decided to enter the clay event in Palermo and that decision appears to have paid off.
The Chinese No.1 beat former Roland Garros finalist Sara Errani, 6-0 6-0, in the first round and used that momentum to help her to the final where she played home favourite Jasmine Paolini.
Zheng edged the first set, before Paolini fought back to convincingly win the second, but the No.24 used her powerful groundstrokes to send her to victory.
— wta (@WTA) July 23, 2023
5. 18-year-old makes a wave in Newport
Alex Michelsen came into the grass court event in Newport off the back of a Challenger title in Chicago, and after beating four-time event champion John Isner in the semi-final, Michelsen was into the final.
The 18-year-old described his feelings after reaching his first ATP final, “I think I’m going to need a month [to process this]. It’s going to need a little bit for sure. It doesn’t feel like I’m in the final, but that’s probably a good thing. That’s why I’m playing so loose.”
He could not go all the way and was beaten in straight sets by 35-year-old Adrian Mannarino in the final, but it has still been an unforgettable week for Michelsen who now finds himself at a career-high of No.140.
Read >> World’s best tennis magazine