Dzumhur finds slumpbuster in Rotterdam

Stefanos Tsitsipas seems to be the horse for Damir Dzumhur’s course.

The best player in the history of Bosnia, whose ranking is down to No. 56 after reaching his career high of No. 23 last July, had yet to win a match this season.

Worse, he had lost in the first round of six of his last seven events, going back to Tokyo last fall.

But on Wednesday, he upset No. 3 seed Stefanos Tsitsipas 6-4, 1-6, 7-5 to advance in Rotterdam.

Dzumhur’s last win came in Paris in October against – you guessed it – Tsitsipas, against whom he’s now 3-1.

Gaël Monfils teases again in Sofia

French flash Gaël Monfils is having one of those weeks.

They’ve been too few and far between in recent years. But the 32-year-old was impressive against No. 2 seed Stefanos Tsitsipas in the Sofia quarterfinals Friday.

Monfils defeated Viktor Troicki and Mikhail Kukushkin in the first two rounds.

He lost in four sets to an in-form Taylor Fritz in Australia, in his 2019 debut.

Can he keep it up against the tricky No. 3 seed, Daniil Medvedev?

Tune in.

Monfils is playing Sofia for the first time; he had played the competing Montpellier event in his homeland six times previously.

Kooyong only pre-event for del Potro

As the 2019 season gets under way, fan favorite Juan Martin del Potro’s health will be on watch.

Feels as though we’ve done this dance before.

Out since suffering a kneecap fracture in Shanghai in October, the 30-year-old Argentine hasn’t entered any of the Australian Open tuneup events.

Instead, his only “match play” will come at the Kooyong exhibition event the week before the main event.

Del Potro has played it before, in 2010 and 2013. 

It’s not the first time he’s passed on playing an official warmup. So we can’t draw any firm conclusions about his prospects. 

Mourier gives up chair after 20 years

French chair umpire Cédric Mourier has been working at the top levels of tennis since 1991.

But last week was his swan song. He wrapped it up in the chair for the Paris Masters final Sunday.

One of seven full-time ATP umpires, Mourier is moving into a referee/supervisor role after more than 4,000 matches, 500 ATP events and some 100 finals.

“I’m not talking about it to avoid all additional pressure,” Mourier told Le Progrès. “I’ve made mistakes, I’m human being like everyone else. But I wouldn’t have been in the chair for 20 years if I’d done my job poorly.”

Encouraging win for Jack Sock

American Jack Sock, faced with a ranking that could plummet way out of the top 100 this week, posted an encouraging victory Wednesday.

The defending champion in Paris, after a first-round bye, defeated Richard Gasquet 6-3, 6-3.

It was only Sock’s eighth victory of the season. He has yet to post back-to-back wins in 2018.

Sock’s draw opened up with No. 1 seed Rafael Nadal withdrawing, and lucky loser Malek Jaziri beating Fernando Verdasco. 

If he beats Jaziri, Sock will be right on the edge of at least making the Australian Open main draw without having to go through qualifying.

Fognini-Dimitrov draw a crowd

It’s always a bonus when popular singles players get on the doubles court.

So the smallest court at the Paris Masters was packed as Grigor Dimitrov and Fabio Fognini teamed up in a losing cause against Jean-Julien Rojer and Horia Tecau Monday.

It was Dimitrov’s first collaboration with Fognini.

And the Bulgarian had a special guest as he prepares to defend 1590 points (nearly half his points total) from Paris and his win at the ATP Tour Finals a year ago: Andre Agassi.

Agassi is a guest coach in a crucial week, as Dimitrov didn’t qualify for London.

Wawrinka ends season with back injury

Stan Wawrinka was scheduled to face Adrian Mannarino in the first round of his home-country tournament in Basel.

Unfortunately, the 33-year-old’s comeback season from two knee surgeries was cut short.

Wawrinka withdrew with a back injury, a day after practicing with countryman Roger Federer before a highly appreciative crowd.

He said he hurt his back during that practice, and had to stop after 20 minutes Monday. Wawrinka said it wasn’t serious, but that it was a better move to end the season now and focus on preparation for 2019.

Some lucky fans got a 2-for-1 pic.

Pink Roger scrapes by Medvedev

It feels like it took quite a few years with Nike before Roger Federer could be persuaded to wear .. pink.

Once he did, it popped up in the rotation occasionally.

But barely three months after Federer walked out on Centre Court at Wimbledon wearing the whites of his new clothing sponsor, Uniqlo they’ve got him in the pink – so to speak.

It very nearly was not his lucky color. Federer eked out a 6-4, 4-6, 6-4 win against an in-form Daniil Medvedev in his Shanghai opener Wednesday night.

Success on second serve was a sub-par 36 per cent.

Ready, play – where are my *$%& shoes?

Classic moment in Cincinnati Tuesday when Nick Kyrgios, who wears his basketball high tops constantly – realized his big tennis bag was missing something major.

His tennis shoes.

Kyrgios wandered around in his socks until a team member went back to the locker room to fetch them. 

Everyone had a good laugh.

Kyrgios, whose knee was extra-taped, saved a match point before defeating Denis Kudla 11-9 in the third-set tiebreak to advance to the second round.

He dropped 39 aces on Kudla, who had 20 of his own as three extended sets were completed in under two hours.

Frances Tiafoe’s Canadian Courtship

There was an extra cheering section for American Frances Tiafoe at the Rogers Cup in Toronto last week.

The 20-year-old, who jumped into the top 40 for the first time Monday, has Toronto native Ayan Broomfield as his longtime girlfriend.

When asked in press, Tiafoe told a fully self-deprecating tale of how he made this happen, after being introduced by fellow player Victoria Duval.

Broomfield, who turns 21 Monday, had a good junior career and turned it into a scholarship with Clemson University, before transferring to UCLA for the 2017-18 season.

Broomfield seemed to take it well.