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Some achievements taste even sweeter when you have to wait for them. Just ask Alex de Minaur.
The 19-year-old Aussie claimed his maiden ATP Challenger Tour title on Sunday on the lawns of Nottingham, overcoming a stern test from home hope Daniel Evans 7-6(4), 7-5. De Minaur enters the winners' circle for the first time after falling in all four of his previous finals.
The teenager is thriving on the grass, posting a 9-1 record with a runner-up finish in Surbiton and victory in Nottingham. And De Minaur was not discouraged after succumbing to Jeremy Chardy a week ago in the Surbiton championship, proceeding to drop just one set en route to the title at the Nature Valley Open in Nottingham.
With his sights now set on even more Challenger silverware, the Aussie could draw inspiration from fellow #NextGenATP star Frances Tiafoe, who dropped his first five final appearances on the ATP Challenger Tour before reeling off four consecutive wins.2018 #NextGenATP First-Time Winner Spotlight: Molleker | Polmans | Hurkacz | Rodionov
Now firmly in the Top 100 of the ATP Rankings at a career-high No. 78, De Minaur is also in the hunt to qualify for the Next Gen ATP Finals in November. He is up one spot to fifth place following his triumph on Sunday.
De Minaur spoke to ATPWorldTour.com following his victory in Nottingham... Alex, congrats on winning the title. How does it feel to get your first Challenger trophy?
It feels great. It's something that's been a long time brewing. I've made a few finals that haven't gone my way, but I'm happy that I've finally done it.The crowd was in Dan's corner, but you stayed mentally strong. How did you outlast him today?
I knew that it was going to be the case coming in, but I was just trying to be mentally stable and focus on the positives throughout the whole match. I think that's what really got me the win today.It was another impressive week for you. What went right for you on the court?
I've been playing some great tennis and feeling confident on the court. The body is feeling great and I'm moving well. In the end, what made the difference is being mentally tough. I had that when I needed it and that's all I can ask for in myself.What lessons did you take from your four previous final losses that helped you today?
I just try to see the positives throughout the whole match. It's a goal of mine before the match started. Obviously there were stages when I started to get a bit nervous, but I calmed myself down and stayed relaxed and took it point by point. 
You go from cracking the Top 100 last week to now lifting your first trophy. Does June feel like a dream month?
It feels amazing. And there's no surface I'd rather do it on. I love the grass and I love this time of year. I couldn't be prouder of myself.You've reached back-to-back finals on grass. What is it about the surface that complements your game?
I've always loved it, even before I ever hit on the surface. I made my mind up that I was going to love the grass. Something about the low bouncing that suits my game. I like to stay flat on the ball and I really enjoy it.It's been a great year for you so far. Talk about your experiences competing on the ATP Challenger Tour.
It's something that you go through, to make it to the top. You have to be mentally tough. Each match the other guy wants to beat you. There are no easy matches. You have to be focused throughout and can't let any dip in concentration. I think my attitude and the way I've handled those situations over these two weeks have been great.
Where do you go from here? What's next?
I have a week off, which is very important for my body to recover.What are your goals for the rest of the year going forward?
At the start of the year, my goal was to finish the year in the Top 100. I've managed to do that, so I now hope to get into the Top 50. I'm going to try to get as high as I can. But at the end of the day, it's all about personal growth and trying to get better each day.

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Much of the attention at this week’s Fever-Tree Championships will go to former World No. 1 and five-time champion Andy Murray, who is competing in his first tournament since last year’s Wimbledon Championships, as he has dealt with a hip injury. But if there’s anyone in the field who understands his position, it’s Novak Djokovic, who missed six months after Wimbledon last year due to a right elbow injury.
“I’ve faced myself this major injury that got me off the court for six-plus months, surgery and so forth. You feel the consequences of that more mentally than physically,” Djokovic said. “I never knew that it was going to take so much time for me really to get back into that state of mind where I’m comfortable, where I’m confident, where I’m confident with my game, with the changes I made. But it is what it is, and it’s a new experience and I’m open for that and obviously I have to embrace it.”
The Serbian, another former No. 1 in the ATP Rankings, lost three matches in a row earlier this year — in the Round of 16 at the Australian Open and in his Indian Wells and Miami openers — for the first time since 2007. But he has recently found his stride, advancing to the semi-finals at the ATP World Tour Masters 1000 event in Rome and the quarter-finals at Roland Garros. And part of that success has not come from physical improvement on the court, but his approach.
“It’s frustrating at times to know that maybe I’m not able to execute what I was doing so well for so many years before,” Djokovic said. “But those are the circumstances that are present and hopefully will change, as everything in life is evolving, changing. And I’m working on it daily to be able to get closer to that perfect game scenario that I would like to have.”
So what if Murray struggles like Djokovic did early in his comeback? How will he be able to overcome those hurdles, both physical and mental?
“That’s something you’ll never know how to strategise until you actually experience it. So of course you can have, always, the positive affirmation, the preparation mentally to say to yourself, ‘Well I’m going to go out there and enjoy the moment. I’m not going to think of what has happened and what will happen.’ We all go through that, whether you’re an athlete or whoever you are,” Djokovic said. “You always try to make the most out of the present moment. Especially in these kind of circumstances, I think that’s going to be the biggest challenge for him. That’s life. That’s what makes us stronger.”  
But it is tough for Djokovic to completely put himself in Murray’s shoes, as the Scot was out for a longer stretch. His hip injury also affects his movement, whereas Djokovic’s elbow more directly impacted his stroke technique.
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“He has been absent for longer than I have. Honestly, I don’t know how difficult it feels for him to deal with that. I don’t know how painful it is still or not for him to move around. But I think the biggest challenge will always be mental. At least in my situation, that was the case,” Djokovic said. “[The challenge is] how to just get it out of your head and just understand that it’s behind you. You’re fine now, you’re healthy, and [understand] that you can focus on your game rather than thinking 50 per cent of the time while you’re on the court whether something could happen or, ‘Does it hurt me? Does it not hurt me? Am I imagining things? Is it real? Is it not real?’ And then 50 per cent of the time you’re thinking about your tactics and what you have to execute. If you don’t have mental clarity on the court, especially on grass where everything happens very quickly, it’s very difficult to play.”
But one thing going for Murray is that he has historically had success on grass courts. The 31-year-old ranks second among active players with an 84.8 per cent win-rate on the surface according to the FedEx ATP Performance Zone. He has won eight tour-level grass-court titles, including two championships at Wimbledon.
“He’s very comfortable on grass. I don’t want to put my words in his mouth, but seeing his results, he always felt great on the grass. He always played very well, and it’s at home. He needs that support,” Djokovic said. “Having a couple weeks at home and playing, I’m sure that these are the events where he will give his 100 per cent to try to get on the court and be in condition to play, probably more than anywhere else.”
But more than anything else, Djokovic is happy to see his longtime friend and rival back on the court. And while the Serbian said he has not had a chance to catch up with Murray just yet, seeing him on the practice court was a positive for the entire sport.
“Tennis misses him. He’s a great champion and a great guy,” Djokovic said. “I really hope to see him back playing on that level that he had played the last couple years.”

The last time we saw Andy Murray on a tennis court was nearly one year ago at the All England Club. The World No. 1 at the time, Murray was battling Sam Querrey in the quarter-finals, with his quest for a third Wimbledon crown very much alive.
But the Scot, who had been struggling with persistent hip pain during the fortnight, was seen limping throughout his encounter with Querrey and would eventually fall in four sets. Despite remaining optimistic that he would return towards the end of the 2017 season, his body would not cooperate. Surgery was the only option. 
As Murray admits, it was a difficult and arduous process, both physically and mentally. But, 11 months later, he believes that now is the time to return. Murray will make his long-awaited comeback at home at the Fever Tree Championships in London.
"It has been hard," Murray told the assembled press at The Queen's Club on Sunday. "I came back quicker from my back surgery [in 2013]. I was playing four months later. But my back didn't feel perfect for a good nine months after I came back. I spoke a lot about that at the time. 
"It took me quite a lot of time until I felt good again, and it's the same here. I'm not pain free but I don't expect that either. I've had an issue with my hip for about eight years now. I've been seeing a hip specialist in Australia for a long time. It's not perfect, but I'd like to get back to the level where I'm able to compete again. That's what I'm hoping I'm getting to."
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As dramatic as Murray's ascent to No. 1 was at the conclusion of the 2016 season, he admits that the chronic ailment and subsequent surgery was a humbling experience. The Dunblane native, who rocketed past Novak Djokovic to take the Nitto ATP Finals title and secure the year-end No. 1 mantle on the final day of the season, was at the pinnacle of the ATP World Tour.
But despite his impressive accomplishments, Murray says that his failure to swiftly recover from the injury had him greatly worried. It was a trying time for the right-hander. Patience was truly a virtue.
"I was very concerned," Murray added. "Even now, when you've not played for such a long time, you're naturally going to have doubts. You don't know how you're going to feel until you start competing and playing again. Whether I started now or three weeks ago or in five weeks time, those doubts are will be the same. 
"Going through rehab is difficult. Sometimes it can go smoothly, but I obviously had the surgery and it can be a bit trickier. There were periods during the rehab when I felt ok and you try to increase the amount of load you're trying to be doing. 
"The body doesn't respond as well and it's about finding the sweet spot with what you're capable of doing in each period. Everybody responds differently and it's about going through each stage and trying to be guided by your body and the people around you. Hopefully you make the right decisions.
"But I decided I needed to slow things down. It's not like a re-injured my hip. I was not responding as well when I went back on the court. It's your body telling you to slow down a bit. It's what you have to be guided by. You listen to what the doctors say and try to progress under their recommendations. That's when you have to be smart and hopefully slow down and get back in the gym and do the rehab."
If Murray is looking for a straightforward match as he returns to competitive action, he won't find it at The Queen's Club. His opening task comes in the form of the electric Nick Kyrgios, who is on a roll after reaching the semi-finals at the MercedesCup in Stuttgart this week.
Murray owns a 5-0 advantage in their FedEx ATP Head2Head series, with their most recent meeting coming on the grass of Wimbledon in 2016. But while he might own a perfect record against the Aussie, he knows it will be a completely different match when the pair step on court on Tuesday.
"It's obviously a very difficult match, because when his mind is on it, he's one of the best grass-court players in the world. The way he serves and how he can play every shot, you'd think there won't be loads of long rallies. But for your body, there's a lot of quick points so there are positives and negatives there."
Having claimed a record five titles, the Fever Tree Championships is a strong choice for Murray to make his comeback debut. Unseeded and down to No. 157 in the ATP Rankings, a tall order awaits the Scot with in-form countryman Kyle Edmund, fourth seed David Goffin and Sunday's Stuttgart finalist Milos Raonic also in his quarter of the draw. 
But as Murray admits, he is only focused on what he can control in the moment. There is no looking ahead and no expectations as he kicks off his comeback.
"I've missed playing, I've missed competing. I haven't fallen out of shape and ballooned in weight and gone off the rails. I've tried to do the right thing and listen to my team and everyone around me, to try to get on the court and start competing. I have absolutely zero expections and just take time. I would love to get back to the top of the game again, but I just want to start playing again and feel good.
"I haven't played a match for 11 months. I don't know how I'm going to feel when I do start competing and play a bunch of matches in the space of a few days. I'm going to have to be smart with scheduling initially and make sure I'm not overplaying. I made quite a few big changes in terms of the amount of time I'm spending on the court training and the way I'm doing it. Just to take a load off the body. I've put a lot of stress on it over the years. And when I'm competing, it's another stage in the rehab. There's not guarantees how you'll feel after a match. I'll get a better idea after Tuesday."

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The best players on the ATP World Tour will lace up their grass-court sneakers this week at one of two ATP World Tour 500-level events. Seven of the Top 10 players in the ATP Rankings will be in action, as will several superstars on the comeback trail.
World No. 5 Marin Cilic is the top seed at the Fever-Tree Championships, held at The Queen’s Club in London, with Andy Murray making his return after missing 11 months. The past five men to lift the trophy are in the field, as are Novak Djokovic and Stan Wawrinka.
In Halle, Roger Federer seeks his 10th trophy against tough competition. The nine-time champion and, as of Monday, the World No. 1, will be tested by three-time ATP World Tour Masters 1000 titlist Alexander Zverev, Roland Garros finalist Dominic Thiem and others at the Gerry Weber Open.View Draws: London | Halle10 THINGS TO WATCH AT LONDON/QUEEN’S CLUB1) Murray’s Return: Murray is set to play talented Australian Nick Kyrgios in the first round in what will be his first match since last year’s Wimbledon quarter-finals on 12 July 2017. The former World No. 1 underwent right hip surgery in January and fell outside the Top 100 of the ATP Rankings last week for the first time since 2005. Murray is 30-6 and boasts a record five titles at the Fever-Tree Championships. READ FEATURE2) Comeback Trail: Like Murray, Djokovic ended his 2017 season in the Wimbledon quarter-finals. Back from a right elbow injury, Djokovic has shown good form of late, reaching the semi-finals in Rome and the quarter-finals at Roland Garros. He is a wild card entry at the Fever-Tree Championships.
3) Great On Grass: Cilic, the 2012 champion, is the No. 1 seed this week. Last summer, Cilic advanced to his third final at the Fever-Tree Championships and his second of three Grand Slam finals at Wimbledon.
4) London Calling: Like Cilic, 2014 Queen’s Club champion Grigor Dimitrov is seeking his first title of the season. He’s in the right place. Besides winning the Fever-Tree Championships four years ago, Dimitrov captured the Wimbledon boys’ singles title in 2008 and the Nitto ATP Finals trophy last year at The O2.
5) Potential Challengers: Defending champion Feliciano Lopez and 2010 champion Sam Querrey are also seeking their second title at the Fever-Tree Championships. Lopez saved a match point against both Cilic and Tomas Berdych to win the 2017 trophy.6) Home Favourites: Kyle Edmund plays in England for the first time since becoming the No. 1 Brit on 5 March. He is joined by countrymen Jay Clarke, Daniel Evans and Cameron Norrie. Clarke, 19, will make his ATP World Tour main draw debut, while Evans will play his first tour-level match since 2017 Roland Garros.7) Next is Now: #NextGenATP players Denis Shapovalov and Frances Tiafoe are also in action. Shapovalov has achieved a career-high ATP Ranking 11 times this season, peaking last week at No. 23. Tiafoe followed his first ATP World Tour title in Delray Beach with his second final in Estoril.8) Dangerous Floaters: Murray, Djokovic and former World No. 3s Milos Raonic and Wawrinka are among the unseeded players in the draw. Wawrinka seeks to extend his streak of consecutive years winning a tour-level title to six, while Raonic has shown good form, reaching the final in Stuttgart.READ DRAW PREVIEW9) From Paris with Love: Pierre-Hugues Herbert and Nicolas Mahut are fresh off their triumph at Roland Garros, where they beat The Queen’s Club top seeds Oliver Marach and Mate Pavic. Herbert and Mahut, the No. 3 seeds in London, beat Marah and Pavic for their 12th team title, two of which came at the Fever-Tree Championships.10) Singles Stars Playing Doubles: Djokovic and Wawrinka always attract attention for their singles play. But the Serbian and Swiss are teaming for the third time after reaching the semi-finals in Beijing five years ago and the Round of 16 in Toronto in 2014. Former No. 1 player in the ATP Rankings, Lleyton Hewitt, is playing with Kyrgios. Dimitrov is partnering Ryan Harrison.10 THINGS TO WATCH IN HALLE
1) Who’s No. 1?: Federer guaranteed that he will climb to World No. 1 on Monday when he made the final in Stuttgart. But if he hopes to maintain the top spot heading into Wimbledon, the Swiss must triumph in Halle, where he is the defending champion. Otherwise, Rafael Nadal will become No. 1 on 25 June.2) Grass Great: Federer holds a 168-24 record on grass, which is the surface’s best winning percentage in the Open Era (.875). The Swiss has won more titles at Halle (9) than any other event in his career. Nadal is the only player in the Open Era to reach double-digit titles at a single event with 11 championships each at Monte-Carlo, Barcelona and Roland Garros.3) Sensational Sascha: Zverev returns to Halle following his first Grand Slam quarter-final at Roland Garros. Earlier this year, the 21-year-old German became the first player since Marin Cilic in 2014 to reach three finals in as many weeks. Zverev won his second Munich title on 6 May and third ATP World Tour Masters 1000 title at Madrid on 13 May before finishing runner-up to Nadal in Rome on 20 May.
4) Dominant Thiem: Zverev’s 34 wins this season are second only to Thiem’s 35. The Austrian ended Zverev’s Roland Garros run en route to his first Grand Slam final. Thiem is 13-11 on grass, although he won the 2016 Stuttgart title after saving two match points against Federer in the semi-finals.
5) Pouille's Push: Lucas Pouille arrives in Halle after reaching the MercedesCup semi-finals. Pouille captured the Montpellier title and reached two other finals during a four-week stretch earlier in the season.6) German Champions: Philipp Kohlschreiber and Florian Mayer hope to win home titles in Halle for the second time. Kohlschreiber lifted the trophy in 2011, while Mayer edged Zverev for the 2016 championship. Zverev defeated Federer one day earlier in the semi-finals.
7) Kei Climbing: Former World No. 4 Kei Nishikori returns to Halle for the sixth straight year. Nishikori showed that he is returning to form as he continues his comeback from a wrist injury when he reached the final in Monte-Carlo.8) Greek's Wins: It took Stefanos Tsitsipas nine tries before he earned the first ATP World Tour win of his career last October at Shanghai. The 19-year-old Greek is already up to 18 wins this season, highlighted by a 6-3, 6-2 victory over Thiem en route to his first final at Barcelona in April. He will play Pouille in the first round.9) Grass Stalwarts: Lukasz Kubot and Marcelo Melo are the defending champions at the Gerry Weber Open. One year ago, the pair went 14-0 on grass, also triumphing in ‘s-Hertogenbosch and at Wimbledon.
[ALSO LIKE]10) Rising German: One week ago, 17-year-old German Rudolf Molleker earned his first tour-level win in Stuttgart. In May, Molleker became the third player born in the 2000s to earn a trophy on the ATP Challenger Tour, triumphing in Heilbronn, Germany.

Richard Gasquet clinched his 15th tour-level title, beating countryman Jeremy Chardy 6-3, 7-6(5) on Sunday at the Libema Open.
The 31-year-old, competing in his second final of the season after a runner-up finish at the Open Sud de France, secured his first tournament victory since the 2016 European Open in 90 minutes. Gasquet, now 15-15 in championship matches on the ATP World Tour, saved two set points at 5-4 (40/15) in the second set before snapping Chardy's nine-match winning streak.
Chardy was bidding to win back-to-back titles after lifting the Surbiton Trophy on the ATP Challenger Tour last week. Gasquet has now won three of his 15 tour-level titles on grass, ending a 12-year wait after winning his opening crowns on the surface in Nottingham (2005-2006).
The second seed now leads Chardy 5-1 in their FedEx ATP Head2Head series, with a 2-1 record this season after splitting encounters at ATP World Tour Masters 1000-level in Miami and Monte Carlo.
After trading breaks in the sixth and seventh games of the opening set, Gasquet made the crucial move at 4-3. The Open Sud de France finalist hit back-to-back forehand winners to open the game, before clinching the break, after great court coverage, with a flicked backhand passing shot.
Chardy appeared to be taking the match to a third set, when he secured the first break of the second set to lead 5-3. But the second seed held his nerve, saving two consecutive set points, with aggression on his backhand side, before levelling the set and forcing a tie-break.
Both players struggled to hold serve under the pressure of a tie-break, with seven mini-breaks in the first nine points handing Gasquet two service points to seal the win at 5/4. A confident ace down the T earned Gasquet two points for the title, and although Chardy gave himself a lifeline with a forehand winner, he could not handle a low, sharp-angled forehand from Gasquet on the second championship point.
The 15-time tour-level titlist is projected to rise to No. 25 in the ATP Rankings on Monday, his highest position since 11 June last year. He will receive 250 ATP Ranking points and collect €109,310 for lifting the trophy. Chardy gains 150 points and receives €57,570.Did You Know?
Richard Gasquet is the fourth Frenchman to win the Libema Open. The World No. 30 joins countrymen Arnaud Boetsch (1993), Michael Llodra (2004) and three-time champion Nicolas Mahut (2013, 2015-2016).