N’Keal Harry’s Concussion History, Where Is Chase Winovich And Other Final Patriots-49ers Thoughts

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Some final thoughts on New England’s ugly 33-6 loss to the San Francisco 49ers as the Patriots turn their focus to Sunday’s pivotal AFC East matchup with the Buffalo Bills:

— CBS sideline reporter Tracy Wolfson mentioned during the broadcast that Patriots wide receiver N’Keal Harry, who was knocked out of the game with a head injury, “dealt with a lot of concussions” as a kid.

Those concussions caused Harry to quit football for several years before high school, as the wideout explained in a 2016 interview with Sports360AZ.

“I had a lot of concussions at a young age,” said Harry, then a freshman at Arizona State. “When I had those concussions, the doctor questioned whether I should be playing at (that) moment or whether I should ever play again. So when we were going over that, my grandma and I made a decision that I stop playing football.

“That was real tough for me at a young age. I was just starting to play the sport. I had played for a year or two, and then to have that taken away from me, it was real rough.”

Harry planned to focus on basketball at Marcos de Niza High but was convinced to join the football team as a freshman. He went on to star at the high school and college levels and was drafted by the Patriots in the first round in 2019.

Harry has dealt with several injuries since joining New England, but this was his first documented concussion as a pro.

Some important context to consider as the 22-year-old recovers.

More:
Why Patriots’ Dalton Keene Played Over Devin Asiasi In Loss To 49ers

— A few days after the Patriots’ season-opening win over the Miami Dolphins, head coach Bill Belichick said he expected second-year edge rusher Chase Winovich “to be out on the field a good part of the time in all games.”

Early in the season, Winovich was.

The long-haired Michigan product played at least 54 percent of defensive snaps in each of New England’s first four games and 66 percent or more in three of them. He was the Patriots’ most productive pass rusher by a wide margin during that span and held up well against the run, too — a notable development after he played only in passing situations as a rookie.

But something’s changed in the last two games.

Winovich played a season-low 34.4 percent of defensive snaps (22 of 64) in last week’s loss to the Denver Broncos. Against the 49ers on Sunday, he played just 13 defensive snaps (19.7 percent), nine of which came on San Francisco’s first two possessions.

This latest dip initially appeared to be the result of a penalty Winovich took on the final play of the Niners’ second possession. He hit quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo from behind during an interception runback, costing the Patriots 15 yards.

CBS cameras showed Belichick scolding Winovich once he reached the sideline. Winovich appeared to be pleading his case.

Winovich played just four defensive snaps from that point on and didn’t see the field in the second half until New England’s final defensive play.

Belichick, however, said Monday that Winovich was not benched because of his penalty.

Winovich’s early-game usage also was notable. Since joining the Patriots, he’s played almost exclusively as a stand-up outside linebacker. But on three of his four early-down snaps against San Francisco, he lined up as a hand-in-the-dirt defensive end, with rookie Anfernee Jennings playing ‘backer outside of him.

(Jennings saw a huge spike in playing time, equaling his previous season total with 53 defensive snaps. He struggled.)

The lone exception came on a second-and-3 on the Niners’ first drive. On that play, Winovich appeared to misplay a swing pass to receiver Deebo Samuel, resulting in a 23-yard gain.

Winovich, a D-end in college, also played four snaps in that role against Denver. This is a new development for the 2019 third-round pick.

He registered two QB pressures in his limited action Sunday but wound up on the ground in the backfield on each of the 49ers’ first two third-down conversions — one a Garoppolo scramble up the middle and the other a completion to George Kittle.

Winovich also took over Brandon Copeland’s role in the kicking game after the latter suffered a season-ending torn pec. Winovich ranked fourth on the team in special teams snaps as a rookie but had played just 15 over the first five games this season.

— Ball security continues to be a major problem for the Patriots. They now lead the NFL with 11 interceptions and rank second behind the dysfunctional Dallas Cowboys in total giveaways with 14.

“It has to be corrected going forward for us to have any success,” Belichick said Monday. “There’s nothing more important than that. We put a tremendous amount of emphasis on it.”

That turnover total already has surpassed New England’s full-season marks from 2010, 2014, 2016 and 2017. The 2019 Patriots committed 15 turnovers. These Pats are on pace for 37, which would be their most since 1994.

The 11 picks equal or surpass the Patriots’ totals from each of the last eight seasons.

The Patriots also have 11 INTs though six games. They haven't thrown more than that in any *full season* since 2011:2019: 92018: 112017: 82016: 2 (!)2015: 72014: 92013: 112012: 92011: 12On pace for 29, which would be their most since 1981. https://t.co/ZZPCFCgf0Y— Zack Cox (@ZackCoxNESN) October 27, 2020

Seven of those INTs have come in the last three games. Five have come in the last two.

Cam Newton — who was benched Sunday — has seven interceptions on the year. Jarrett Stidham has three. Brian Hoyer has one. All three QBs rank in the bottom five in the NFL in interception rate.

(Tom Brady, by the way, ranks in the top 10 in that metric. He never threw more than 14 interceptions in any of his 20 seasons in New England.)

New England also lost fumbles against the Miami Dolphins, Kansas City Chiefs and Broncos. Gunner Olszewski and Jakob Johnson put the ball on the ground twice in a three-play span Sunday, but both recovered.

The Patriots have turned the ball over at least once in every game this season.

“We need to start changing the number of times that the opponents are able to touch the ball,” Belichick said. “We need to cut that to zero.”

— The Patriots finally committed their first offensive holding penalty of the season. Left guard Joe Thuney was the culprit, and his infraction wiped out perhaps Newton’s best throw of the day — a 23-yard snipe to Jakobi Meyers in the final minute of the first half.

Newton hit Meyers for 20 yards on the ensuing snap but overthrew the second-year wideout on a deep ball one play later, resulting in the second of his three interceptions.

New England entered Sunday as the lone team in the NFL without an offensive holding penalty. They’ve been flagged a league-low 19 times this season. Every other team has more than 30.

— Hustle play of the game goes to Olszewski, who got blown up by linebacker Azeez Al-Shaair on Patriots kickoff but popped right to his feet to make the tackle.

Olszewski’s disregard for his own well-being on special teams works against him at times (see: his aforementioned fumble, which came on a kick return) but it makes the undersized cornerback convert a ton of fun to watch. His teammates surely appreciate it, too.

More Patriots:
Why Bill Belichick Is Sticking With Cam Newton As Patriots’ Starting QB

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Revolution Preview: Chance To Clinch Playoff Spot In New York

On Wednesday the New England Revolution take on the New York Red Bulls at Red Bull Arena down in Harrison, New Jersey. New England enters the match with a 7-5-8 record while New York comes in at 7-8-5. Both Eastern Conference sides are vying for a 2020 MLS Cup playoff spot with the Revs currently sitting in 6th place and New York in 7th. A Revolution win in this match would secure them a playoff berth which would make it consecutive playoff seasons for New England.

There are other playoff scenarios for the Revolution but going into Red Bull Arena and taking care of business has to be the focal point. New England is 6-2-3 away from Gillette Stadium in 2020 and has been one of the best road teams in all of MLS.

Revs v Red Bulls has become one of MLS’s classic rivalries over the years with it being dubbed the I-95 Derby. New England has bested New York more often than not with an overall record of 31-27-17 but are just 8-21-9 as the road team in the all-time series. In the last five meetings with the Red Bulls, the Revolution own a 2-1-2 record with New England scoring 4 goals to New York’s 5.

Revolution Came Away With A Point Last Time Against New York

The last time these two teams met up resulted in a 1-1 draw on 8/29/20 at Gillette Stadium. Unlike other opponents the Revs have faced in 2020 the Red Bulls aren’t one they have seen a whole lot. In a typical season these two teams face off twice and despite 2020 being anything but typical the two matches against New York are in-fact typical. In that August match the Red Bulls took a 1-0 lead in the 35th minute with Omir Fernandez making the Revs pay for sloppy defense. It didn’t take long for the Revs to rally though with Gustavo Bou scoring in the 41st minute to make it 1-1. New England was on the front foot late in the match to try and find the match-winner but like much of their losses/draws in 2020 it was too little too late.

The Revolution have stumbled a bit of late with a 2-2-1 record in their last five matches but both of their losses came at home and against the top two teams in the Eastern Conference. New England hasn’t lost a home match since September 12th when they were at the Philadelphia Union. That might not seem that long ago but due to the rapid pace of games that was five road matches ago meaning the Revs come into this match with New York on a four-match road unbeaten run. As for the Red Bulls they are coming in off the heels of a 2-2 at the Chicago Fire and having recorded a draw in their last three matches and unbeaten in their last four.

Unlike the last time these teams met the Revs are expected to have midfielder Carles Gil available. Gil played 27 minutes against Nashville SC on Friday night in his first appearance since July 17th.

The New England Revolution take on the New York Red Bulls at 7:00 p.m. ET on NBC Sports Boston and 98.5 The Sports Hub.
The post Revolution Preview: Chance To Clinch Playoff Spot In New York appeared first on Trifecta Sports.

Tom Brady Claims He Did Not Push For Buccaneers To Sign Antonio Brown

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Tom Brady and Antonio Brown’s time together on the New England Patriots was brief, but the duo got pretty tight during the short span.

And when the six-time Super Bowl champion quarterback went to the Buccaneers in free agency, it was reported that Brady wanted Brown to join him in Tampa Bay.

That has become a reality, with the team signing the receiver to a one-year deal, essentially giving him one last shot to turn things around and resume his NFL career.

Coach Bruce Arians originally wasn’t keen on bringing Brown in, so reports claiming Brady was a “driving force” in the move made sense. But Sunday after the Buccaneers Week 7 win over the Raiders, Arians claimed that wasn’t the case.

And now, Brady too is denying that he pushed his coach and general manager to sign the free agent.

“Well, I’m the quarterback of the team, and that’s my role and responsibility,” Brady told Westwood One’s Jim Gray, via the Boston Globe, insisting he isn’t taking any practice reps as a general manager.

More:
NFL Rumors: How Some Inside Bucs Organization Feel About Antonio Brown Signing

“I’m trying to do that the best way I possibly can. I do appreciate the relationship I have with (Arians) and (GM) Jason Licht. I think they know me, they know what my style is, and I have a tremendous amount of trust in them, and they’re putting the team first. They’ve gone out and done a great job getting players that help us do our job better.”

Brown certainly will make Tampa Bay better if he’s remained in playing shape, but that’s not the biggest concern with the receiver, who was released following allegations of rape and sexual assault, among a lot of other drama.

Brady is hoping his teammate will redeem himself, and his happy to see Brown getting a second chance on an NFL roster. Or is it his third or fourth chance, considering how things ended for Brown in Pittsburgh and Oakland?

“I’m just happy that he’s got another opportunity to play in the NFL. It’s a great league,” Brady said. “I love playing football, I know he does too. He’s joining a group of (receivers) who are extremely hard-working, extremely selfless.

“I think the receiver position is really a position of strength on our offense, and how Antonio fits into that is going to be up to him and the role that he can create for himself which is … which we all know of what he’s capable of when he’s playing.”

Will Brown finally get it together? We’ll have to wait and see.

More NFL:
Bruce Arians Will ‘Have A Problem’ With Antonio Brown If This Happens

The post Tom Brady Claims He Did Not Push For Buccaneers To Sign Antonio Brown appeared first on NESN.com.

Why Stephen A. Smith Believes It’s Definitely ‘Panic Time’ For Patriots

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The Patriots find themselves in unfamiliar territory.

After a pitiful showing Sunday against the San Francisco 49ers in Week 7, New England dropped its third-straight game for the first time since 2002, scoring 12 points or fewer in all three of those contests.

Cam Newton ultimately was benched after interceptions were littered throughout his performance, and the showing had everyone from retired Patriots players, former AFC East coaches and talking heads of sports media speculating on what the heck is going on at Gillette Stadium.

Of course, Stephen A. Smith was among them, and in Monday’s episode of “First Take” on ESPN, he added his two cents.

“Oh it’s panic time,” Smith said. “It’s definitely panic time, I don’t think there’s any question about that when you consider what we’re witnessing going on in the AFC, combined with what the Buffalo Bills are playing combined with he way the New England Patriots look. I feel sorry for the Patriots. I’m worried about Cam. I feel bad for the Patriots because about nine different defensive players don’t want to show up because of COVID-19. And then you’ve got a situation where you have to stop practices and shut down facilities on at least two or three occasions for crying out loud. I’m looking at all of those things, with a new quarterback, and I’m like damn. Regardless of how great Bill Belichick is, that is a lot to overcome when practices are interrupted and you can’t do what you normally do.”

Smith pointed out Newton’s downfall is his ability as a passer in the league, save for his MVP season, despite his athleticism and running abilities. Not to mention, Smith added, that the Patriots historically lack talent at the receiving position.

“I’m looking at that, I’m looking at the injuries, I’m looking at the guys that didn’t show up because of COVID-19, I’m looking at the fact that you’re behind the eight ball in the AFC East because Buffalo is ascending,” Smith said. “And on top of that you look at the rest of the AFC: Balitmore, Pittsburgh, Cleveland, of course Kansas City, the Chargers can’t be slept on, etc.

“The way it’s looking right now they might not even make the playoffs.”

Ouch.

Check out the full segment below:

More NFL:
Bench Cam Newton? Why NFL Analyst Thinks Patriots QB Change Would Be ‘Overreaction’

The post Why Stephen A. Smith Believes It’s Definitely ‘Panic Time’ For Patriots appeared first on NESN.com.

Social Media Hilariously Explodes With Memes After D.K. Metcalf Chase Down

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The internet remains undefeated.

After Russell Wilson threw an interception on the goal line against the Arizona Cardinals on Sunday night, D.K. Metcalf made one of the most difficult hustle plays you’ll see on a football field.

The Seattle Seahawks wide receiver turned on the jets and chased down the Cardinals’ safety Budda Baker just before he was able to hit the end zone and prevent a touchdown.

For more on the impressive play and the multitude of memes it has led to, check out the “Always Checking” video above, presented by People’s United Bank.

More Football:
NFL Insider Michael Lombardi Talks NFL Offensive Rookie Of Year Race

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NFL Insider Michael Lombardi Talks NFL Offensive Rookie Of Year Race

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The NFL’s Offensive Rookie of the Year race is heating up.

It seemed like the trophy inevitably was going to end up in Joe Burrow’s trophy room, but Justin Herbert may have something to say about it.

Herbert took over the Los Angeles Chargers’ starting quarterback position after the Chargers’ medical staff accidentally punctured Tyrod Taylor’s lung and hasn’t looked back.

The 22-year-old has tossed for 1,542 yards and 12 touchdowns across his first five games, while also adding 121 yards and two touchdowns on the ground.

For more on the rookie duel, check out what NFL insider Michael Lombardi had to say in the video above from “NESN After Hours,” presented by People’s United Bank.

More NFL:
Bench Cam Newton? Why NFL Analyst Thinks Patriots QB Change Would Be ‘Overreaction’

The post NFL Insider Michael Lombardi Talks NFL Offensive Rookie Of Year Race appeared first on NESN.com.

Max Kellerman Finally Admitted His Cliff Take About Tom Brady Was Wrong

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It only took four years and consistent reminders from people on the internet, but the day finally has come.

Pigs now fly, Hell froze over and Max Kellerman has admitted his notorious take about Tom Brady falling “off a cliff” was dead wrong.

Back in 2016, the ESPN personality made the famous comments following a lopsided New England Patriots loss to the Kansas City Chiefs. If you remember, Kellerman also said Brady soon would be a “bum in short order.”

Of course, Brady since has won two Super Bowls, including one the season Kellerman made his hot take.

“That was the cliff — right around that age, 40 years old, certainly 41, 42, it was over,” Kellerman on Monday explained on “First Take.”

“I just looked at the actuary tables, basically, right? And said no one’s ever done it. If Tom Brady does it, he will be defying the odds. The fact that he has, he’s defied the odds.”

Well, at age 43, Brady became the NFL’s all-time leader in passing touchdowns following his five touchdown performance with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in Week 7 of the 2020 season.

In other words, he’s still got it.

“The fact that no one had done it until Tom Brady seemed to suggest that he also wouldn’t do it. The fact that he’s done it adds to his legacy as the greatest of all time — which, by the way, I’ve thought he was the greatest of all time for over 10 years. Like five years before I made the prediction. But I can’t deny the way he’s playing. It’s not just that he has weapons. He looks really good using them.”

That wasn’t enough for co-host Ryan Clark, who then pressed to hear the actual words come out of Kellerman’s mouth.

“I was wrong,” Kellerman finally admitted. “Tom Brady never fell off a cliff.”

Check out the full segment below:

The post Max Kellerman Finally Admitted His Cliff Take About Tom Brady Was Wrong appeared first on NESN.com.

Nathan Eovaldi Had Epic Relief Performance In 18-Inning Red Sox Game Two Years Ago Today

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There were no World Series games on Monday evening, but the day marked a memorable anniversary for Major League Baseball.

Especially for Boston Red Sox fans.

Because on Sept. 26, 2018, Nathan Eovaldi threw six epic innings of relief in Game 3 of the World Series against the Los Angeles Dodgers in what ended up being an 18-inning game.

Boston ultimately dropped the game after Eovaldi gave up a single earned run. But who cares, because he also had five strikeouts in the phenomenal outing and the Red Sox won it all.

Relish in the nostalgia:

October 26, 2018 Nathan Eovaldi (6.0 IP – 1 ER – 5 K) saves the Red Sox pitching staff by pitching 6 gutsy innings of relief in Game 3 of the World Series in a game that lasted 18 inningsI don’t even remember who won the game but I remember who won the Series pic.twitter.com/R1U9YjXqvI— Boston Sports Info (@bostonsportsinf) October 26, 2020

Happy birthday, Nathan Eovaldi.His 97 pitches in relief in Game 3 of the #WorldSeries set an @MLB record. pic.twitter.com/QQvPcc9viS— MLB Stats (@MLBStats) February 13, 2019

Good times?

More MLB:
Red Sox Open Space On 40-Man Roster With Series Of Moves

The post Nathan Eovaldi Had Epic Relief Performance In 18-Inning Red Sox Game Two Years Ago Today appeared first on NESN.com.

NBA Rumors: Celtics’ Gordon Hayward Is ‘Doing the Al Horford Plan’

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One of the biggest questions surrounding the Boston Celtics this offseason is whether or not Gordon Hayward will return.

The 30-year-old forward has a $34.2 million player option for next season, but despite the money in play and the lack of cap space had by the rest of the league, it isn’t a sure thing. Especially considering the recent trade rumors he’s been involved in.

But could Hayward and his representation be following the lead of how Al Horford handled his own free agency when he tested the market and surprisingly turned down the Celtics?

Some NBA insiders think it’s plausible.

“I think what (Hayward’s) agent Mark Bartelstein is doing right now is canvassing the league. He’s doing the Al Horford plan,” ESPN front office insider and former NBA general manager Bobby Marks said on the “Lowe Post” podcast with ESPN’s Zach Lowe, via MassLive’s John Karalis.

Lowe added: “We don’t know that there’s a Gordon Hayward chase. We don’t know that any of this is happening. I’m just saying that there’s a little bit of buzz … Something is mildly afoot here.”

Of course, getting a sense for the market would be beneficial to Hayward’s camp from a negotiation standpoint if he wanted to opt-out but resign with the Celtics on a different deal.

And in case he is convinced Boston actually did want to trade him, getting a feel for what teams are willing to pay makes sense so that Hayward could opt-out and at least decide where he gets to play next season.

We’ll see how it all plays out once the NBA officially sets its free agency window. But first, the league and its players union must come to terms on a new salary cap.

More Celtics:
Jayson Tatum’s NBA 2k21 Rating Shows Celtics Forward Earned ‘Respect’

The post NBA Rumors: Celtics’ Gordon Hayward Is ‘Doing the Al Horford Plan’ appeared first on NESN.com.

Challenger Tour Weekly Recap: Huesler Still the Man to Beat, Ivashka Triumphant in Istanbul

For the first time since the season resumed in August, ATP Challenger Tour tennis was played on a surface other than clay, with an indoor carpet event held in Ismaning in Bavaria and an outdoor hard-court tournament organised in Istanbul. But what didn’t change was the entertaining tennis. Here’s a recap of what you might have missed:
Challenger Tour Weekly Recap
Ismaning
Marc-Andrea Huesler has enjoyed quite the run of results since the restart. He began this year ranked 277th in the world, having never been inside the top 250, but clearly used the lengthy break in the season to his advantage. First, the 24-year-old battled his way to the final at the ATP Kitzbuhel Open, beating four top 100 players, including world #12 Fabio Fognini, en route, before falling just short against Serbia’s Miomir Kecmanovic.
Undeterred by that disappointment, Huesler rallied to win the Sibiu Challenger, beating Argentina’s Tomas Martin Etcheverry in the final in straight sets. Thereafter, Huesler took nearly a month out of the game before returning to action on the carpet in Ismaning, which looked to be a strange choice at first glance for a player who has found most success on the clay. But it did not take long for the logic behind Huesler’s choice to reveal itself.
In the first round, he found himself up against the perennial crowd favourite Dustin Brown. The skilful German has struggled with injuries of late, but played one of his best matches in recent months to take Huesler all the way to a deciding set tiebreak. Huesler, however, hung tough to claim a hard-fought 7-6 4-6 7-6 win and he backed that up by beating Brayden Schnur, although the Canadian also took him the distance before succumbing to a 5-7 6-3 3-6 loss.
Huesler then claimed superb wins over the in-form Sebastian Korda, who reached the fourth round at the French Open earlier this month, and the Frenchman Antoine Hoang to reach the final. There he faced Botic van de Zandschulp, who, unlike Huesler, is generally at his best under a roof, having scored 30 wins indoors in 2019. He demonstrated just how effective he can be indoors by demolishing Juan Pablo Varillas in 42 minutes and Ramkumar Ramanathan, who kept him on court for only six minutes more than the Peruvian.
Van de Zandschulp then looked to have all but sealed his place in the semifinals when he led Tobias Kamke 6-3 3-6 5-3 40-15 only for the German to battle back into contention. Kamke even forced a match point of his own up 6-5 in the deciding tiebreak. But the Dutchman was not to be denied, eventually winning the tiebreak 11-9 to reach the semifinals, where he beat India’s Prajnesh Gunneswaran 7-6 6-1.
In the final, both men looked to dominate with their serves and big forehands, but it was Huesler who made the better start, creating a break point in both of van de Zandschulp’s first two service games. However, he was unable to convert and, ultimately, was punished for that. Van de Zandschulp began to make inroads against the left-handed Huesler’s serve, even forcing two break points in the 12th game of the set.
Huesler saved them, but when van de Zandschulp took a 6-3 lead in the resulting tiebreak, there was to be no escape for the young Swiss. Indeed, his challenge looked to be almost over when van de Zandschulp broke Huesler again to start the second set. But van de Zandschulp was unable to capitalise, landing a weak second serve right into Huesler’s strike zone and the Swiss took advantage to break back with a backhand return winner.
Neither man came close to breaking again as the second set went to a tiebreak, but this time it was Huesler who came out on top. He then pressed his advantage by breaking the Dutchman’s serve in the third game of the decider. Van de Zandschulp managed to battle his way back into contention, but Huesler continued to put pressure on his opponent’s serve and that paid off decisively as he broke for a 6-5 lead before serving out the match to 30 to claim his third ATP Challenger Tour title.
As a result of his efforts, the Swiss finds himself at a career-high world #154, having jumped over 200 places in the rankings in less than three months since the season resumed. Van de Zandschulp, meanwhile, has also reached a career-high ranking of 157th in the world. Both men will next be in action in Hamburg where Huesler faces eighth seed Oscar Otte, whilst van de Zandschulp, who is the defending champion in Hamburg, will open his campaign against Benjamin Bonzi.
Istanbul
Martin Klizan made his first final since the 2018 ATP St Petersburg Open at the Istanbul Challenger. Remarkably, the Slovakian had failed to even reach a semifinal in the intervening 24 months, with Klizan, who has been ranked as high as 24th in the world, seeing his ranking collapse in the second half of 2019. Even the decision to drop down to Challenger-level did not help the 31-year-old, who has won six titles, including two at 500-level, on the ATP Tour.
He arrived in Turkey’s second city with an indifferent 5-7 record on the ATP Challenger Tour in 2020. But after coming through testing encounters against Ilya Marchenko and Roberto Marcora in straight sets, Klizan looked to have found his touch. That served him in good stead when he found himself down 4-6 2-6 to Mackenzie Macdonald in the quarterfinals, with Klizan rallying to win in three and reach his first semifinal in two years.
There, he got the better of Croatia’s Borna Gojo 6-4 7-5 to set up a meeting with Ilya Ivashka in the final. The Belarusian, seeded seventh in Istanbul, had been struggling since the restart, although he did impress in reaching the second round at the tour-level St Petersburg Open as a qualifier. That appeared to have given him some confidence and he stormed into the semifinals in Istanbul, annihilating his first three opponents, including the in-form Dmitry Popko, who he beat 6-4 6-0.
His semifinal opponent was Benjamin Bonzi and the talented Frenchman provided Ivashka with his first test of the week. Bonzi deservedly took the first 6-3 and forced a break point early in the second. But that was to prove as good as it got for Bonzi, with Ivashka seizing control of the match thereafter to record a 3-6 6-2 6-2 win and book his place in his second Challenger Tour final of the season (Canberra, lost to Hubert Hurkacz).
He made a poor start to the final, finding himself in a 0-40 hole in the second game of the match. But Klizan failed to capitalise. The Slovakian only got one of his next three returns back into play, and that was a floated slice that Ivashka put away at the net with ease. Ivashka then took control of the opening set, winning seven games on the bounce thanks to consistent depth and counter-punching, which frustrated Klizan’s attempts to impose himself with his powerful forehand and signature drop shots
The Slovakian eventually stopped the rot in the second set, even breaking for a 2-1 lead, but it proved to be a false dawn. Ivashka broke straight back and, although Klizan briefly maintained a rearguard action, the writing was on the wall. Serving to stay in the match down 4-5, Klizan was broken as Ivashka claimed his third ATP Challenger Tour title.
That solidified his place in the top 120, whilst Klizan’s efforts saw him return to the top 150 at world #148. Ivashka will not be playing this week after he had to withdraw from the qualifying at Nur-Sultan due to his run to the title in Istanbul, but Klizan will return to action in Hamburg, where he faces third seed J.J. Wolf in the first round.
Challenger Tour magic:
Tweener lob from Johannes Haerteis:

Tweener alert!
Johannes Haerteis with an unreal lob in Ismaning.
cc @DreddyTennis pic.twitter.com/LB75sRnipE
— ATP Challenger Tour (@ATPChallenger) October 21, 2020

One thing is certain when Dustin Brown takes the court – magic will happen:

Dustin gonna Dustin. https://t.co/JYS7Xo5rDi pic.twitter.com/Z01UxRPHC6
— Damian Kust (@LWOSdamiankust) October 21, 2020

Events held next week:

Tennis Challenger Hamburg (Challenger 80)
Marbella Tennis Open (Challenger 80)

Hugo Gaston, one of the biggest surprises of the 2020 French Open, played the qualifying in Hamburg as his first tournament after his potentially career-defining loss. Gaston defeated his compatriot Hugo Grenier in the first round but failed to beat Matthias Bachinger. However, Gaston was handed a reprieve as a lucky loser and will play Sumit Nagal in the first round.
Top 100 players in action:

Federico Coria, Pedro Martinez, Gianluca Mager, Roberto Carballes Baena (all Marbella)

Main photo:
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