Category: ATP Tour

2021 ATP World Tennis Tournament & Argentina Open preview

WITH only two past winners in the 2021 World Tennis Tournament draw, the odds are in favour of a first-time winner at the 500 Rotterdam event which will welcome a number of the top stars on Tour. With Novak Djokovic nursing a torn muscle, and Rafael Nadal and Dominic Thiem resting, Russian Daniil Medvedev will enter the tournament as top seed and favourite at the event.

Gael Monfils is a back-to-back winner, but has opted not to take part this year as he still battles coming back from injury and his own form, while Stan Wawrinka (2015) and Andy Murray (2009) are the only past winners of the event in the draw. Despite not featuring any of the Big Three – Djokovic, Nadal and Roger Federer – the next crop of talents are all attending, with Australian Open finalist Medvedev the pick to go deep given his recent form.

Stefanos Tsitsipas, Alexander Zverev and Andrey Rublev have all been handed top four seedings at the exclusive event, while Felix Auger-Aliassime is also in the top eight alongside more experienced talents in Roberto Bautista Agut, David Goffin and Wawrinka. Aside from Goffin who has struggled of late, the rest of the seeds have been in some strong form, with the top four particularly favoured to once again continue their ATP Tour success.

Outside the top eight, Alex de Minaur is a huge threat, while young guns Ugo Humbert and Jannik Sinner are back again, as are the likes of Karen Khachanov and Hubert Hurkacz. Further down the list, John Millman will hope to turn around his poor start to 2021, with Marin Cilic and Kei Nishikori past Top 10 talents who are always dangers at any level, as is Grand Slam winner Murray. In terms of local hopes, Botic Van De Zandschulp and Robin Haase have been handed wildcards, but face an incredibly uphill battle against the world’s best players.

If you had to pick a winner, Medvedev is the choice, though the stacked field with Cilic being the lowest ranked automatic entry outside of wildcards, means it is an incredibly talented draw.

 

ARGENTINA OPEN:

From the star-studded 500 tournament to a lower-ranked clay court event in Argentina, some of the top clay courters in the world will look to take full advantage of a weakened field to snare a title. Top seed Diego Schwartzman is able to remain in his home country following the Cordoba Open, and he will be joined by second seed and clay court specialist, Cristian Garin. Benoit Paire and Miomir Kecmanovic round out the top four seeds, with Paire grabbing his second win in 12 months, and the up-and-coming Kecmanovic in a similar form struggle.

Guido Pella is a threat in his home nation, with Albert Ramos-Vinolas, Laslo Djere and Pablo Andujar rounding out the top eight players and Top 60 talents at the event. The 2019 winner, Marco Cecchinato is back to try and win another title, ranked 79th in the world currently. Joao Sousa  – ranked 93rd in the world – is the lowest ranked automatic entry, though the Argentinian wildcards yet to be fully announced are always a threat.

Schwartzman and Garin are the clear and away standouts in this draw, and would make for an entertaining final.

ATP 250 wraps: Popyrin and Bublik to battle for maiden title in Singapore; upsets galore in Cordoba

TWO very different scenarios in Montpellier and Singapore were reached, with the top two players making the Open Sud de France final, as two title-less ATP Tour opponents will engage in the Singapore decider.

Whilst the other two tournaments have thrown up more than their fair share of surprises, the end result for the Open Sud de France effectively remains as you would expect by the final. Top seed Roberto Bautista Agut and second seed David Goffin both reached the final after respective semi-finals victories in different conditions.

Bautista Agut knocked off German qualifier Peter Gojowczyk in straight sets, 7-5 6-1 and heads into the final as favourite having not dropped a set all tournament and looking strong. The match lasted one hour and 15 minutes, with the Spaniard looking clinical thanks to his 84 per cent success rate off his first serve, and a 71 per cent efficiency. He broke Gojowczyk four times from 11 chances, whilst saving three of the German’s own break point opportunities throughout the game.

Goffin’s semi-final win over Belarusian Egor Gerasimov was indicative of his tournament, having a tougher challenge than his final opponent, with his second third-set win in the three matches. He won 6-4 2-6 6-4 over Gerasimov who has proven to be quite the handful for opponents over time, having knocked out Andy Murray in the Round of 32 here. In the semi-final, Goffin served one more ace (7-6), and whilst his serving was lower (62 per cent to 70 per cent efficiency) he still broke the same amount of times (three) and managed to break exactly even on the total amount of points (91 from 182) to get the job done.

OPEN SUD DE FRANCE SEMI-FINALS:

[1] Roberto Bautista Agut (ESP) defeated [Q] Peter Gojowczyk (GER) 7-5 6-1
[2] David Goffin (BEL) defeated Egor Gerasimov (BLR) 6-4 2-6 6-4

 

In Singapore, a new ATP Tour title-winner will be crowned after Australian Alexei Popyrin and Kazakhstan’s Alexander Bublik won their respective semi-finals to advance to the 2021 Singapore Tennis Open final. Popyrin defeated third seed Croatian Marin Cilic in straight sets, though they were in two tight tiebreakers, while Bublik toppled Macedonian Radu Albot in a come-from-behind victory, 2-6 6-3 6-4.

Popyrin, ranked 114th in the world was in his first ever semi-final, but he stood the test of time against the far more experienced Cilic, winning 7-5 in the first set tiebreaker and then 7-2 in the second set tiebreaker, in just under two hours. The big-serving Australian outserved the powerful Croatian with 15 aces to nine, and won 77 and 63 per cent of his first and second serve points compared to Cilic’s 69 and 53 per cent. Despite this, both players only had one break each, but Popyrin was better when it counted.

By comparison, the 23-year-old world number 46 Bublik had to fight back from a disappointing first set to post a win over Albot in 90 minutes of game play. The Kazakh put down 12 aces to two, and won 75 per cent of his first serve points. Both players broke twice, but Bublik’s came in the second and third sets respectively after the Macedonian did it twice in the first set.

Bublik and Popyrin have never played before, with the 21-year-old Australian having a career win-loss record of 18-30 compared to Bublik’s 41-43.

SINGAPORE SEMI-FINALS:

Alexei Popyrin (AUS) defeated [3] Marin Cilic (CRO) 7-6 7-6
[4] Alexander Bublik (KAZ) defeated [6] Radu Albot (MCE) 2-6 6-3 6-4

 

Someone in Cordoba decided to rip up the script in the quarter finals, with all four matches going the way of the lower ranked player. Remarkably, Argentina came close to having a monopoly in the semi-finals with three of the four compatriots advancing, but even stranger was the fact that the one that did not was top seed Diego Schwartzman.

The tournament favourite suffered defeat at the hands of Albert Ramos-Vinolas in three sets, 6-1 4-6 6-3. The Spaniard needed two and a half hours to dismiss Schwartzman in front of home fans, breaking his opponent five times to two, and winning 67 per cent of his second serve points compared to Schwartzman’s 38 per cent. He will now go on to face Argentinian qualifier Facundo Bagnis who smashed Slovakian Jozef Kovalik 6-1 6-2 in just 70 minutes to advance through to the semi-finals. Bagnis was dominant on serve, saving both break points and winning all bar 12 points on his serve, whilst breaking Kovalik four times in the process.

The other semi-final will feature two Argentinians, with Federico Coria taking on Juan Manuel Cerundolo. Coria defeated the inconsistent Benoit Paire, 6-3 6-2 and knocked out the second seed in 86 minutes on court. Paire’s serving was right off with four aces to five double faults, and winning a lowly 59 and 30 per cent of his first and second serves. By comparison, the world number 95 – now the second highest ranked player remaining – won 69 and 64 per cent of his first and second serve points, and broke six times to two throughout the one-sided match. Cerundolo on the other hand had to defeat Brazilian seventh seed Thiago Monteiro in three sets, 6-2 2-6 6-3 to pave his way into the final four.

CORDOBA QUARTER FINALS:

[5] Albert Ramos-Vinolas (ESP) defeated [1] Diego Schwartzman (ARG) 6-1 4-6 6-3
Federico Coria (ARG) defeated [2] Benoit Paire (FRA) 6-3 6-2
[Q] Juan Manuel Cerundolo (ARG) defeated [7] Thiago Monteiro (BRA) 6-2 2-6 6-3
[Q] Facundo Bagnis (ARG) defeated Jozef Kovalik (SVK) 6-1 6-2

Picture credit: Yong Teck Lim/Getty Images

ATP 250 wraps: Albot upsets Mannarino in Singapore as top seeds advance in Montpellier

IT was a huge day of ATP Tour action across the globe, as we look at how the matches went down in Montpellier, Singapore and Cordoba with the quarter finals completed in two tournaments, and the Round of 16 wrapped up in the latter one.

Looking at Montpellier, the top two seeds remain on a crash course to meet in the Open Sud de France final after winning their quarter finals in style to now take on unseeded opponents in the semis. In a tournament where nothing has been as expected, number one seed Roberto Bautista Agut, and number two seed David Goffin both provided some stability with comfortable victories.

Bautista Agut won 6-3 6-3 over talented sixth seed Frenchman Ugo Humbert, while Goffin dispensed of seventh seed Italian Lorenzo Sonego, 6-4 6-4. Bautista Agut needed 75 minutes to knock off Humbert, dominating off his consistent serve, only dropping three points off his first serve, and 11 in total, while Humbert could not get his usual power off his serve going, matching the more steady Bautista Agut with three aces each. Goffin also only served the three aces, defeating Sonego in 86 minutes, breaking three times to one which was enough to salute in straight sets fashion.

In the battle of the unseeded players, Belarusian Egor Gerasimov came back from a set deficit to post a win over Alejandro Davidovich Fokina, 4-6 6-4 7-5. The match lasted two hours and 29 minutes, with Gerasimov producing 16 aces and breaking five times to four in an impressive performance against the rising Spaniard. Meanwhile German qualifier Peter Gojowczyk – who defeated highly rated compatriot Jan-Lennard Struff in the first round – continued his run with a 6-4 6-1 victory over Dennis Novak. The match lasted 83 minutes, with Gojowczyk saving both break points he faced, whilst capitalising on four of 13 against the Austrian. His serving efficiency was poor at 45 per cent, but he made the most of it when it did go in, only dropping three points off his first serve.

Gerasimov takes on Goffin in the first semi-final on Court Patrice Dominguez today, while Bautista Agut faces Gojowczyk in the other semi-final.

OPEN SUD DE FRANCE QUARTER FINALS:

[1] Roberto Bautista Agut (ESP) defeated [6] Ugo Humbert (FRA) 6-3 6-3
[2] David Goffin (BEL) defeated [7] Lorenzo Sonego (ITA) 6-4 6-4
Egor Gerasimov (BLR) defeated Alejandro Davidovich Fokina (ESP) 4-6 6-4 7-5
[Q] Peter Gojowczyk (GER) defeated Dennis Novak (AUT) 6-4 6-1

 

In Singapore, top seed Adrian Mannarino was the major casualty of an otherwise as expected day, with two other top four seeds, and the higher ranked Australian in an all-Australian battle, moving through to the semi-finals. Mannarino suffered a straight sets defeat against tricky Macedonian Radu Albot who has found form of late, getting up 6-3 6-4 in an impressive performance. Albot served five aces without a double-fault and broke three times to one throughout the 95-minute match, only dropping four points on his second serve to be able to recover well.

Following him into the final four were third seed Marin Cilic, fourth seed Alexander Bublik, and Australian Alexei Popyrin. Cilic was able to fight back from a disappointing second set to post a three-set victory over Soonwoo Kwon in the match of the day. The match lasted exactly two hours, and with 18 aces and an 80 per cent first serve success rate, the Chilean veteran proved too powerful for the Korean, breaking a fourth time in the deciding set.

Bublik took care of Japan’s Yoshihito Nishioka in straight sets, 6-3 6-2 in 73 minutes and serving 15 aces to zero. He faced nine break points and remarkably saved them all, whilst making the most of his opportunities with three breaks from six chances. Meanwhile, Popyrin defeated compatriot and wildcard Matthew Ebden, 6-4 7-6 in one hour and 25 minutes. The winner put up 14 aces to three and broke the only opportunity created in the match, whilst controlling his serve to only lose 16 points on serve at a high 76 per cent success rate.

Cilic will now face Popyrin in the first-up semi-final today, before Albot and Bublik lock horns in the match straight after for a spot in the final.

SINGAPORE QUARTER FINALS:

[6] Radu Albot (MCE) defeated [1] Adrian Mannarino (FRA) 6-3 6-4
[3] Marin Cilic (CRO) defeated [8] Soonwoo Kwon (KOR) 6-2 2-6 7-5
[4] Alexander Bublik (KAZ) [5] Yoshihito Nishioka (JPN) 6-3 6-2
Alexei Popyrin (AUS) defeated [WC] Matthew Ebden (AUS) 6-4 7-6

 

The time difference in Cordoba, Argentina means that the Round of 16 was completed overnight, with the quarter finals set to take place today. Aside from a shock loss to third seed Serbian Miomir Kecmanovic, the results went as planned, with three top eight seeds all knocking out their unseeded opponents. It also meant the home nation has four representatives in the quarter finals, with the potential to be an all-Argentinian final four if they can somehow get up.

Argentinian qualifier Juan Manuel Cerundolo caused the one big upset of the day, toppling Kecmanovic in a come-from-behind win. After dropping the first set in a tiebreaker, Cerundolo held firm in the second set, and ran away with it in the third to secure a 6-7 7-5 6-2 victory. The match lasted two hours and 19 minutes, with Cerundolo breaking six times to three, and winning 64 per cent of both his first and second serve points, while Kecmanovic only managed 44 per cent success off his second serve and his inconsistent form of late continued.

The other three-setter was fifth seed Albert Ramos-Vinolas who survived a scare from another Argentinian qualifier in Tomas Martin Etcheverry, 2-6 7-6 7-5. The match went for a whopping two hours and 49 minutes before Ramos-Vinolas could finally shake off his lower ranked opponent, needing to break a third time during the win. Both players served five aces, but it was Etcheverry who won more overall points, being better on serve and return, but Ramos-Vinolas just found a way to win.

The other two results were fairly straightforward with top seed Diego Schwartzman winning 6-2 6-2 over Italian clay courter Marco Cecchinato, while seventh seed Brazilian Thiago Monteiro accounted for unseeded Spaniard Roberto Carballes Baena, 6-3 6-4. Looking to the quarter finals today, Monteiro takes on Cerundolo and Schwartzman faces Ramos-Vinolas, while in the other ones, Federico Coria matches up against second seed Benoit Paire, while Argentinian qualifier Facundo Bagnis meets Slovakian Jozef Kovalik.

CORDOBA ROUND OF 16:

[1] Diego Schwartzman (ARG) defeated Marco Cecchinato (ITA) 6-2 6-2
[5] Albert Ramos-Vinolas (ESP) defeated [Q] Tomas Martin Etcheverry (ARG) 2-6 7-6 7-5
[7] Thiago Monteiro (BRA) defeated Roberto Carballes Baena (ESP) 6-3 6-4
[Q] Juan Manuel Cerundolo (ARG) defeated [3] Miomir Kecmanovic (SRB) 6-7 7-5 6-2

Picture credit: ATP Tour

ATP 250 wraps: Ebden upsets Millman in Singapore, as seeds tumble in Montpellier

IT was another big day across the three ATP 250 events, with Round of 16 matches completed in two of them, while Cordoba’s time difference meant the rest of its second round clashes will be completed over the next eight hours.

Two top four upsets in the Round of 16 have flung the door wide open in the quarter finals stage of the Open Sud de France, with just four of the eight seeds remaining in Montpellier. Those four seeds all play each other, guaranteeing two unseeded players will reach the semi-finals.

Austrian Dennis Novak upset third seed Serbian Dusan Lajovic in straight sets, 7-6 7-5, while Spaniard Alejandro Davidovich Fokina was even more clinical during a 7-5 6-2 victory over fourth seed Pole Hubert Hurkacz. With those seeds out, they set up quarter finals clashes with Peter Gojowczyk and Egor Gerasimov respectively.

Gojowczyk knocked off Jiri Vesely in the tightest match of the day, needing three sets to put away the tricky Czech, as the German qualifier came back from a tiebreak down to win 6-7 7-6 6-3. Meanwhile Gerasimov won against Slovenian Aljaz Bedene – who took out Jannik Sinner in Round 1 – in a tight two sets as well, 6-4 7-6.

Order was restored with Roberto Bautista Agut stepped on court as he destroyed French qualifier Gregoire Barrere 6-0 6-3 in a dominant performance. Now Bautista Agut will face the last remaining Frenchman in Montpellier, sixth seed Ugo Humbert in the quarter finals. At the other end of the draw, second seed David Goffin will take on Italian seventh seed Lorenzo Sonego.

OPEN SUD DE FRANCE ROUND OF 16 RESULTS:

[1] Roberto Bautista Agut (ESP) defeated [Q] Gregoire Barrere (FRA) 6-0 6-3
Dennis Novak (AUT) defeated [3] Dusan Lajovic (SRB) 7-6 7-5
Alejandro Davidovich Fokina (ESP) defeated [4] Hubert Hurkacz (POL) 7-5 6-2
Egor Gerasimov (BLR) defeated Aljaz Bedene (SLO) 6-4 7-6
[Q] Peter Gojowczyk (GER) defeated Jiri Vesely (CZE) 6-7 7-6 6-3

 

The biggest upset in Singapore was the ousting of second seed and tournament favourite, John Millman who went down to compatriot and wildcard Matthew Ebden. It marked Millman’s second consecutive loss after a shock defeat in the opening round of the Australian Open to Corentin Moutet. Ebden proved far too good on the day, cruising through in a 6-4 6-1 victory to set up a quarter finals clash with compatriot Alexei Popyrin.

Millman was the only seed to lose on the day, with now tournament favourite, Adrian Mannarino booking his place in the quarter finals. The top seed won 6-3 7-5 over Mexico’s Roberto Marcora to make it into the final eight, whilst other seeds, Radu Albot and Soonwoo Kwon also secured wins. Albot defeated Yannick Hanfmann in a come-from-behind thriller, defeating the German 6-7 7-6 6-3 which included saving multiple match points. Meanwhile Kwon took out Japan’s Yasutaka Uchiyama to reach the quarter finals with a 6-3 6-4 triumph.

Popyrin and Ebden’s quarter final will be the only unseeded quarter final with the six other seeds all reaching the last eight of the Singapore tournament. Mannarino will now take on Albot for a spot in the semis, while Kwon and third seed Marin Cilic go head-to-head, as does fourth seed Alexander Bublik and fifth seed Yoshihito Nishioka.

SINGAPORE ROUND OF 16 RESULTS:

[1] Adrian Mannarino (FRA) defeated Roberto Marcora (MEX) 6-3 7-5
[WC] Matthew Ebden (AUS) defeated [2] John Millman (AUS) 6-4 6-1
[6] Radu Albot (MCE) defeated Yannick Hanfmann (GER) 6-7 7-6 6-3
[8] Soonwoo Kwon (KOR) defeated Yasutaka Uchiyama (JPN) 6-3 6-4

 

Frenchman Benoit Paire grabbed his first win of 2021, and only second in the last 12 months when he took care of Chilean wildcard Nicolas Jarry in straight sets at Cordoba. Paire won 6-2 6-4 to get the monkey off the back after being 1-9 since the restart of the Tour in August. Jarry was not the only Chilean to be sent packing from the event, with qualifier Marcel Tomas Barrios Vera going down. He lost out to Jozef Kovalik, with the Slovakian coming from behind to win in three sets, 4-6 6-2 6-3 and book his spot in the quarter finals.

In the other two matches played yesterday, four Argentinians stepped on court with one higher ranked and one lower ranked player winning against their respective opponents. Qualifier Facundo Bagnis took full advantage against eighth seed Federico Delbonis, knocking him out of the tournament with a 6-4 7-5 win. Meanwhile Federico Coria had to come back from a disappointing first set to post a 1-6 6-2 6-4 victory over wildcard Francisco Cerundolo.

The four remaining Round of 16 matches – including three with Argentinians – will take place today.

CORDOBA ROUND OF 16 RESULTS:

[2] Benoit Paire (FRA) defeated [WC] Nicolas Jarry (CHI) 6-2 6-4
Jozef Kovalik (SVK) defeated [Q] Marcelo Tomas Barrios Vera (CHI) 4-6 6-2 6-3
Federico Coria [ARG] defeated [WC] Francisco Cerundolo (ARG) 1-6 6-2 6-4
[Q] Facundo Bagnis (ARG) defeated [8] Federico Delbonis (ARG) 6-4 7-5

Picture credit: J.B. Autissier – Panoramic

ATP 250 wraps: Humbert saves match points as Popyrin win ensures all-Australian quarter final

THERE were some huge results across the ATP Tour’s three tournaments played in France, Argentina and Singapore, as we wrap up the day’s action below.

Ugo Humbert overcame multiple match points to put away Dutch qualifier Tallon Griekspoor in a thrilling match of the day in the Open Sud de France at Monypellier. In three nail-biting tiebreakers, Humbert lost the first one 7-4, then backed up with 7-5 and 7-5 in the final two tiebreakers, but it was Humbert’s fighting spirit looking down and out midway through the second set that shone through. The Frenchman was 7-6 5-2 down and had to fight off three match points in the ninth game to fight off the 160th ranked Griekspoor.

In a match that lasted two hours and 50 minutes, Humbert served one more ace (10-9) and two less double faults (2-4) as well as a superior 83 to 74 per cent first serve points success rate. In the end just seven points separated the players, with Humbert converting one of two break points in that second set, and saving eight of nine in a terrific defensive effort throughout the match.

“It was tough today. [Griekspoor] played at a great level,” Humbert said post-match. “I tried to stay combative. It was tough. [We played] three tie-breaks and I am super happy to win this match.”

Also having a fight on his hands, second seed Belgian David Goffin survived a thriller against French wildcard Benjamin Bonzi. Goffin has not been in the greatest form of late, but showed equal fighting spirit to come from a set down to win in three. The Belgian crucially broke the Frenchman in the eleventh game of the deciding set to successfully serve for the match, 4-6 6-4 7-5 after saving a break point in the final game.

Seventh seed Lorenzo Sonego made his way into the quarter finals with a straight sets win over American Sebastian Korda. The Italian had an easier time of it than his fellow seeds, getting up 6-3 6-2 to book his spot in the final eight.

Meanwhile in other results, the remaining three Round of 32 matches were completed with a couple of upsets. Slovenian Aljaz Bedene upset Italian young gun Jannik Sinner in a come-from-behind win 6-7 7-6 7-6, and French qualifier Gregoire Barrere set Georgian Top 40 talent Nikoloz Basilashvili packing in straight sets, 6-4 6-4. In the other first round match, Spaniard Alejandro Davidovich Fokina had to navigate three sets to knock off compatriot and qualifier, Berabe Zapata Miralles 7-6 5-7 6-2.

OPEN SUD DE FRANCE ROUND OF 16:

[6] Ugo Humbert (FRA) defeated [Q] Tallon Griekspoor (NED) 6-7 7-6 7-6
[7] Lorenzo Sonego (ITA) defeated Sebastian Korda (USA) 6-3 6-2
[2] David Goffin (BEL) defeated [WC] Benjamin Bonzi (FRA) 4-6 6-4 7-5

OPEN SUD DE FRANCE ROUND OF 32:

Aljaz Bedene (SLO) defeated [5] Jannik Sinner (ITA) 3-6 6-2 7-6
Alejandro Davidovich Fokina (ESP) defeated [Q] Berabe Zapata Miralles (ESP) 7-6 5-7 6-2
[Q] Gregoire Barrere (FRA) defeated Nikoloz Basilashvili (GEO) 6-4 6-4

 

The first four players are through to the quarter finals in Singapore, with three seeds joining Australian Alexei Popyrin in the final eight. Thanks to Popyrin winning, it has guaranteed an Australian will make the semi-finals, with the other two remaining Aussies – second seed John Millman and wildcard Matthew Ebden – facing off later today to take on Popyrin in the quarter finals.

Popyrin fought hard to overcome Bulgarian wildcard Adrian Andreev, 6-1 5-7 6-3 to book his spot in the quarter finals. Also making their way into the last eight were a trio of seeds, with the third, fourth and fifth seeds all winning. Third seed Marin Cilic accounted for Japan’s Taro Daniel 7-5 6-4, while fourth seed Alexander Bublik and fifth seed Yoshihito Nishioka brushed aside Turkish qualifier Altug Celikbilek and American Maxime Cressy in straight sets respectively.

The last of the Round of 32 matches were also completed yesterday, with eighth seed Soonwoo Kwon surviving a thriller against United States qualifier, Thai-Son Kwiatkowski 4-6 6-3 6-4 to move into the second round. In the other results, Ebden defeated Indian Yuli Bhambri in straight sets 6-3 7-6, while Italian Roberto Marcora earned a date with top seed Adrian Mannarino later today after taking care of Latvian Ernests Gulbis, 7-5 6-4.

SINGAPORE OPEN ROUND OF 16:

[3] Marin Cilic (CRO) defeated Taro Daniel (JPN) 7-5 6-4
[4] Alexander Bublik (KAZ) defeated [Q] Altug Celikbilek (TUR) 6-2 6-2
[5] Yoshihito Nishioka (JPN) defeated Maxime Cressy (USA) 6-4 6-2
Alexei Popyrin (AUS) defeated [WC] Adrian Andreev (BUL) 6-1 5-7 6-3

SINGAPORE OPEN ROUND OF 32:

[8] Soonwoo Kwon (KOR) defeated [Q] Thai-Son Kwiatkowski (USA) 4-6 6-3 6-4
Roberto Marcora (ITA) defeated Ernests Gulbis (LAT) 7-5 6-4
[WC] Matthew Ebden (AUS) defeated [PR] Yuli Bhambri (IND) 6-3 7-6

 

There were plenty of fans who went home happy from the Cordoba Open, with six of the nine winners on the opening day coming from Argentina. The three other winners did not knock off an Argentinian either, so the maximum amount of talent from the host nation advanced through to the Round of 16, which allowed a minimum of two Argentinians to reach the quarter finals after setting up all-Argentinian Round of 16 matches.

Federico Coria caused the upset of the day, bundling out sixth seed German Dominik Koepfer in straight sets, 6-1 6-4. He advanced through to the next round to face compatriot and wildcard, Francisco Cerundolo. The 135th ranked Cerundolo upstaged Italian Gianluca Mager, coming back from a set down to win, 6-7 6-1 6-4.

Facundo Bagnis will get plenty of experience against his fellow Argentinians, having defeated wildcard Nicolas Kicker in straight sets in the first round, and will face eighth seed Federico Delbonis in the Round of 16. The qualifier defeated Kicker 6-1 6-4 to set up the Delbonis meeting, with the seed knocking off Portugal’s Pedro Sousa for the Round of 16 spot.

Another qualifier to advance through to the Round of 16 was Juan Manuel Cerundolo who toppled Brazilian young gun Thiago Seyboth Wild. Winning in two eight sets 7-5 7-6, Cerundolo will now have the tough task of taking on third seed Serbian Miomir Kecmanovic who had a bye in the opening round. Meanwhile Tomas Martin Etcheverry booked his Round of 16 spot with an upset win over Slovenia’s Andrej Martin, 6-3 7-6 and will take on Albert Ramos-Vinolas in the next match.

Other winners on the day was Thiago Monteiro who won through thanks to a straight sets victory over compatriot and lucky loser, Brazilian Joao Menezes, 6-3 6-3. Italian Marco Cecchinato advanced through to take on top seed Diego Schwartzman with a 6-2 4-6 6-1 win over Bolivian Hugo Dellien, while Robert Carballes Baena was too strong for Joao Sousa, winning 6-3 6-1 and the Spaniard will now take on Monteiro in the next round.

CORDOBA OPEN ROUND OF 32:

Federico Coria (ARG) defeated [6] Dominik Koepfer (GER) 6-1 6-4
[7] Thiago Monteiro (BRA) defeated [LL] Joao Menezes (BRA) 6-3 6-3
[8] Federico Delbonis (ARG) defeated Pedro Sousa (POR) 6-4 6-4
Marco Cecchinato (ITA) defeated Hugo Dellien (BOL) 6-2 4-6 6-1
Roberto Carballes Baena (ESP) defeated Joao Sousa (POR) 6-3 6-1
[Q] Facundo Bagnis (ARG) defeated [WC] Nicolas Kicker (ARG) 6-1 6-4
[Q] Tomas Martin Etcheverry (ARG) defeated Andrej Martin (SLO) 6-3 7-6
[WC] Francisco Cerundolo (ARG) defeated Gianluca Mager (ITA) 6-7 6-1 6-4
[Q] Juan Manuel Cerundolo (ARG) defeated Thiago Seyboth Wild (BRA) 7-5 7-6

Picture credit: ATP Tour

ATP 250 wraps: Aussies bow out in Singapore as upsets take place in Montpellier

IT was a mixed bag of results on day two across the various ATP 250 events, as we recap the results as of publishing in Montpellier, Singapore and Cordoba.

A couple of experienced talents joined the list of outs from the Open Sud de France in Montpellier, with eighth seed Jan-Lennard Struff and Frenchman Gilles Simon both bundled out of the tournament. Struff went down to qualifier and compatriot Peter Gojowczyk in straight sets, losing 6-3 6-4 in one hour and 18 minutes, with the 144th ranked played topping his German counterpart who sits 107 placed above him in the world. Meanwhile Austrian Dennis Novak continued his strong start to the year with a solid three-set win over Simon. Novak needed a tiebreaker to get through the first set, before dropping away in the second, and then posting a win 7-6 1-6 6-3 to advance to the Round of 16.

In other results, wildcard Benjamin Bonzi won through in straight sets in the all-French clash against Lucas Pouille, getting up 7-6 6-2. Experienced Czech Jiri Vesely was far too good for a disappointing Mikael Ymer, winning 6-1 6-1, while in the final results, Dutch qualifier Tallon Griekspoor won 6-2 6-7 6-3 over American Marcos Giron in the clear best match of the day. It lasted two hours and 10 minutes with the players evenly matched until Griekspoor – who had saved all five break point opportunities from his opponent – broke for a third time to win. .

In the late game, the most talked about match took place on Court Patrice Dominguez with Belarusian Egor Gerasimov taking on Grand Slam winner and returning from injury Brit, Andy Murray. After a nail-biting first set tiebreaker (10-8), Gerasimov ran away with the contest in the second set to win 7-6 6-1 and book his spot in the second round.

OPEN SUD DE FRANCE ROUND OF 32 RESULTS:

[Q] Peter Gojowczyk (GER) defeated [8] Jan-Lennard Struff (GER) 6-3 6-4
[WC] Benjamin Bonzi (FRA) defeated Lucas Pouille (FRA) 7-6 6-2
[Q] Tallon Griekspoor (NED) defeated Marcos Giron (USA) 6-2 6-7 6-3
Dennis Novak (AUT) defeated Gilles Simon (FRA) 7-6 1-6 6-3
Jiri Vesely (CZE) defeated Mikael Ymer (SWE) 6-1 6-1
Egor Gerasimov (BLR) defeated Andy Murray (GBR) 7-6 6-1

 

Over in Singapore, five matches were completed on day two, and it was not good news for the Australians with all three players on court unable to join day one winner, Alexei Popyrin in the Round of 16. Marc Polmans was the toughest to beat, forcing Japan’s Yasutaka Uchiyama to three sets before going down 6-4 2-6 6-4 in two hours and 18 minutes. Similarly, John-Patrick Smith also suffered a three-set loss, this time to Macedonian sixth seed Radu Albot who won 6-2 3-6 6-1.

James Duckworth was unable to really break down German Yannick Hanfmann in their match, with the latter triumphing in straight sets, 6-2 6-4 to advance to the next round of action. In the other two matches, Turkish qualifier Altug Celikbilek won against Japanese wildcard Shintaro Mochizuki. Celikbilek got up 6-0 6-4 convincingly, while American Maxime Cressy moved into the Round of 16 with a 7-6 6-2 victory over Chinese Taipei’s Jason Jung.

SINGAPORE ROUND OF 32 RESULTS:

[6] Radu Albot (MCE) defeated [Q] John-Patrick Smith (AUS) 6-2 3-6 6-1
Maxime Cressy (USA) defeated Jason Jung (TAI) 7-6 6-2
Yannick Hanfmann (GER) defeated James Duckworth (AUS) 6-2 6-4
Yasutaka Uchiyama (JPN) defeated Marc Polmans (AUS) 6-4 2-6 6-4
[Q] Altug Celikbilek (TUR) defeated [WC] Shintaro Mochizuki (JPN) 6-0 6-4

 

The two lower ranked players at the Cordoba Open won through to the second round with hard-fought three sets wins over their respective opponents. Chilean wildcards Nicolas Jarry came from a set down to survive a nail-biting tiebreaker and then win in three against rising Spaniard Jaume Munar, 5-7 7-6 6-4. The match lasted a whopping two hours and 44 minutes with Jarry serving up seven aces, and winning 75 per cent of his first serve points, albeit off a lowly 54 per cent efficiency. Jarry’s was more efficient with 74 per cent of his first serves going in, but only capitalising on 63 per cent of them, as both players were broken five times.

In the other match, Jozef Kovalik also needed three sets to get past Daniel Elahi Galan, bouncing back from a disappointing second set to win 6-2 1-6 6-3 in an hour and 43 minutes. Kovalik broke four times to three, the last being a crucial one in the final set, to book his spot in the Round of 16 with victory on the clay courts.

CORDOBA OPEN ROUND OF 32 RESULTS:

[WC] Nicolas Jarry (CHL) defeated Jaume Munar (ESP) 5-7 7-6 6-4
Jozef Kovalik (SVK) defeated Daniel Elahi Galan (COL) 6-2 1-6 6-3

Picture credit: Yong Teck Lim/Getty Images

ATP 250s wraps: Tsonga beaten on return as Popyrin claims win in Singapore

GRAND SLAM finalist Jo-Wilfried Tsonga made his long-awaited return to the ATP Tour at the Open Sud de France in Montpellier yesterday, though it did not go plan. The former Top 10 talent was easily beaten by American Sebastian Korda in the first round of the ATP 250 event.

The match lasted just 72 minutes with Korda claiming the spoils, 6-4 6-2, dominating on serve and only dropping eight points in total, saving both of his opponent’s break point opportunities. Tsonga was far from his best, but getting through the match was the key, still winning 69 per cent of his first serve points, and serving five aces throughout the match. He saved three of six break points, but ultimately could not do enough against a player who has built form over the past 12 months.

It was better news for sixth seed Ugo Humbert, whose rise up the ATP Rankings continues following his straight sets win over Slovakian Norbert Gombos. Humbert won 6-4 7-6 in 78 minutes, slamming home 18 aces and winning 88 per cent of his first serve points off an elite 79 per cent efficiency to never give his opponent a chance. In Gombos’ defence, he held up well, actually breaking Humbert once from two chances, while the Frenchman broke him from both his opportunities. Overall the class of Humbert stood out and he advanced to the Round of 16.

In the final match played on day one of the main draw event, seventh seed Lorenzo Sonego battled past young Frenchman Hugo Gaston. The Italian won 6-3 6-7 6-1, holding his nerve in the third set after dropping the second set tiebreaker 9-7, to win in two hours and 19 minutes. He served seven aces and broke six times from 12 chances, while only being broken three times himself.

In today’s action, there are plenty more Frenchman on show, with Lucas Pouille taking on compatriot and wildcard Benjamin Bonzi, while Gilles Simon faces Austrian Dennis Novak. The match of the day could be either British wildcard and Grand Slam winner Andy Murray taking on Belarusian Egor Gerasimov, or Swede Mikael Ymer locking horns with Jiri Vesely.

OPEN SUD DE FRANCE ROUND OF 32 RESULTS:

[6] Ugo Humbert (FRA) defeated Norbert Gombos (SVK) 6-4 7-6
[7] Lorenzo Sonego (ITA) defeated [WC] Hugo Gaston (FRA) 6-3 6-7 6-1
Sebastian Korda (USA) defeated Jo-Wilfried Tsonga (FRA) 6-4 6-2

Five first round matches were completed in Singapore, with a mixed bag for the two seeds on court. Fifth seed Japanese counter puncher Yoshihito Nishioka defeated improving American Michael Mmoh 6-2 3-6 6-3, while seventh seed South African Lloyd Harris went down in three sets to Bulgarian wildcard Adrian Andreev.

Nishioka needed almost two hours to defeat Mmoh, surviving 11 aces to bring up 10 break point opportunities, albeit only taking three. It was two more than Mmoh who broke once in the second set, but could not do it again in the match. Meanwhile Andreev took two hours and 19 minutes to knock off the fast-serving Harris, not needing to serve and ace and even holding off 12 of 15 break point chances for the South African to win 1-6 6-3 6-4. The Bulgarian bounced back from a disappointing first set to post the impressive win over the developing Harris.

Andreev now takes on Australian Alexei Popyrin who knocked off American qualifier, Christopher Eubanks in two tiebreakers, 7-6 7-6, both of which were 7-5 tiebreakers. The match lasted one hour and 46 minutes, with Popyrin powering home 15 aces and saving 10 of 11 break points in a remarkable feat. He won 72 per cent of his first serve points, and also only broke Eubanks once, holding firm in the crucial tiebreakers to claim a narrow straight sets win.

In other Singapore results, United States’ Maxime Cressy became his nation’s sole winner on the day, downing Chinese Taipei’s Jason Jung in straight sets 7-6 6-2, while Japan’s Taro Daniel joined compatriot Nishioka in the second round after a tight three-set win over India’s Ramkumar Ramanathan, 6-3 6-7 6-3.

In today’s action, three Australians are out on court, with Marc Polmans up first against Japan’s Yasutaka Uchiyama. Following that match, qualifier John-Patrick Smith has to find a way to upstage sixth seed Macedonian Radu Albot, before James Duckworth takes to the court at night against German, Yannick Hanfmann.

SINGAPORE ROUND OF 32 RESULTS:

[5] Yoshihito Nishioka (JPN) defeated Michael Mmoh (USA) 6-2 3-6 6-3
[WC] Adrian Andreev (BUL) defeated [7] Lloyd Harris (RSA) 1-6 6-3 6-4
Maxime Cressy (USA) defeated Jason Jung (TAI) 7-6 6-2
Taro Daniel (JPN) defeated Ramkumar Ramanathan (IND) 6-3 6-7 6-3
Alexei Popyrin (AUS) defeated [Q] Christopher Eubanks (USA) 7-6 7-6

At the time of publishing, none of the day one matches had been completed in Cordoba, with the Argentinian tournament finishing off the third round of qualifying earlier in the day. The night session featured two Round of 32 matches which will be covered in tomorrow’s wrap, with Colombian Daniel Elahi Galan facing Slovakian Jozef Kovalik, followed by Spaniard Jaume Munar taking on Chilean wildcard Nicolas Jarry.

Picture credit: ATP Tour

Djokovic claims remarkable ninth Australian Open title

WORLD number one Novak Djokovic has edged ever closer to joining Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal on 20 Grand Slam titles after taking home his ninth Australian Open Grand Slam in straight sets last night. Taking on the in-form Daniil Medvedev, Djokovic fought past a tougher first set, to dismiss the reigning ATP Finals winner in straight sets, 7-5 6-2 6-2 and claim his 18th ATP Tour major.

“I think it was a very successful tournament and I’d like to praise [tournament director] Craig Tiley for a tremendous effort,” Djokovic said. “It was challenging on many different levels and Tennis Australia should be very proud for making it possible.”

Fans heading down to Rod Laver Arena predicted the night to be a nail-biter considering the form of Medvedev, and the muscle tear that has been plaguing Djokovic throughout the tournament that almost saw him bow out to Taylor Fritz in the fourth round. But instead it was the Serbian who raced away to a strong start going 3-0 up with an early break, forcing his opponent on the back foot. Medvedev fought back to secure a break himself, but with Djokovic up 6-5 in the first, he saw his chance. He lifted his aggression in the twelfth game and set up three set points, of which he made good on the third one to win the opening set 7-5.

The Serbian was far from clinical though, only serving the two aces and hitting 12 winners for seven unforced errors, compared to 12 and nine for Medvedev. His work at the net was already causing headaches for the Russian with all of his seven net charges being successful. The game became more about which player would yield first as Djokovic was not hitting his high volume of winners credit to Medvedev’s work rate across the court, but the Russian was also not able to really able to hold his own serve either, broken three times to one in the second set. Despite only winning seven less points than his opponent (20-27), Medvedev could not capitalise off the Serbian’s serve, and struggled on his own second serve.

The third set was even stranger with neither player serving an ace, but Djokovic well and truly in control of the match with consistent serving. He actually hit three less winners (4-7) but had eight less unforced errors (5-13) which was the story of the match. The world number one also broke twice from his two chances, and was more clinical at the net (83 to 67 per cent success), as he won seven more points than Medvedev for the set again (28-21). In the end, the match lasted just one hour and 53 minutes with the world number one taking home a remarkable ninth crown.

“I would like to thank this court, I would like to thank Rod Laver Arena, I love you each year more and more – the love affair keeps going,” Djokovic said.

“It has been definitely emotionally the most challenging Grand Slam that I ever had with everything that was happening, injury, off-the-court stuff, quarantines. It has been, least to say, a roller-coaster ride in the last four weeks,” he revealed.  “It was very challenging for me to keep my mind serene and keep my focus directed into what matters the most. I have put a lot of energy and time, along with my team, to be here sitting with a trophy. “So I’ll take a lot of positives out of this month here in Australia.”

While the disappointment for Medvedev was real – the Russian is still yet to win his maiden Grand Slam – he did receive some good news, with the fact he will become the world number three today, rising above US Open winner and last year’s Australian Open runner-up, Dominic Thiem.

“Congratulations to Novak and your team,” Medvedev said post-match. “Nine Grand Slams in Australia and 18 in total is an amazing thing and it is probably not your last one.”

AUSTRALIAN OPEN MEN’S FINAL RESULT:

[1] Novak Djokovic (SRB) defeated [4] Daniil Medvedev (RUS) 7-5 6-2 6-2

Picture credit: ATP Tour

2021 ATP 250 previews: Montpellier, Cordoba and Singapore

THREE ATP Tour 250 events will take off immediately after the Australian Open this weekend, with a number of mid-tier talents gaining some extra match practice following disappointing exits from the Australian Open. The top ranked player across the three tournaments is Diego Schwartzman (ninth) at Cordoba, while Roberto Bautista Agut (13th) is top seed in Montpellier, and Frenchman Adrian Mannarino (36th) leads a lower-ranked field in Singapore.

CORDOBA:

Schwartzman is the standout candidate on the clay tournament and honestly he should put this one in the bank without too much trouble. His nearest rival is 29th ranked Frenchman Benoit Paire, who has opted for Spain rather than his home nation at Montpellier. Paire is in a career slump since reaching the Auckland final 13 months ago, and will struggle up against a ton of clay court regulars.

Miomir Kecmanovic and Guido Pella round out the top five, with 46th ranked Albert Ramos-Vinolas the other Top 50 player in the draw. This tournament looms as one where, if Schwartzman pulls out or has a shocker, could be spread across any number of players. Thiago Monteiro is one who has been in good form, the likes of Marco Cecchinato and Juan Ignacio Londero can never be discounted on clay, and even rising Spaniard Jaume Munar is a chance.

The number one alternative at the time of publishing was Thiago Seyboth Wild who has all the talent if he can harness it, and genuinely could grab a Top 100 spot with a good run here. Spanish talents and South Americans make up the majority of the draw, with only half a dozen automatic entries from Europe, and none from the United States or Asia/Oceania.

MONTPELLIER:

Bautista Agut was aggravated at the Australian Open organisation, and now he returns to France in a reverse-Paire rather than going to his home nation in Spain. He and 15th ranked David Goffin – who both suffered disappointing shock losses at the Grand Slam – will be the clear standouts in a tournament that has the highest quality of the three by a fair way. Goffin should be the favourite still, but there are plenty in the running.

Aside from having two Top 20 players, as well as an additional two Top 30 players in Dusan Lajovic and Hubert Hurkacz, there is an abundance of youth, and returning experience that has signed up for the Montpellier event. Jannik Sinner and Ugo Humbert who are arguably the two most exciting Next Gen talents in the world are seeded, as are Lorenzo Sonego – most famously known for his upset of Novak Djokovic last year – and German Jan-Lennard Struff who ran into form at the ATP Cup.

The likes of Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Andy Murray have been named amongst the candidates to play, like fans have teleported back to the mid 2000s. Both will be returning from injury if they take to the court, amongst a host of Frenchman entered. Richard Gasquet, Gilles Simon and Lucas Pouille are all in, with Nikoloz Basilashvili and Jiri Vesely also amongst the automatic entries.

SINGAPORE:

The weakest of the three draws by a fair margin, the lowest automatic entry comes in at 187th in the world. To be fair, it is former Top 10 player Ernests Gulbis, but the Latvian is far from his glory days of a decade ago. He still has the most titles of anyone in the draw however, with some real solid competitors, though a lack of top-end talent has to be said.

Singapore could mark a rematch between Frenchman Mannarino and Australian John Millman from last year, which saw the Australian win his first ever ATP Tour title at the Astana Open. They are the standouts for the Asian event, with Marin Cilic and Alexander Bublik rounding out the four seeds. The eighth highest ranked player is Soonwoo Kwon (97th), with fair talents Yoshihito Nishioka, Radu Albot and Lloyd Harris the other seeds.

The unseeded players have some potential, with Michael Mmoh showing good form at Melbourne Park, and Alexei Popyrin and James Duckworth always dangerous. Japanese duo Yasutaka Uchiyama and Taro Daniel join Nishioka at the event, though Mannarino and Millman are clearly the standouts to take home the ATP 250 event trophy.

Picture credit: Getty Images

Australian Open Men’s Semi-Final wrap: Medvedev books spot to face Djokovic in final

FOURTH seed Russian Daniil Medvedev will lock horns with world number one Novak Djokovic in a massive Australian Open final after earning his spot in the decider last night. The Russian won through in straight sets over fifth seed Stefanos Tsitsipas, 6-4 6-2 7-5 in two hours and nine minutes in an impressive performance.

Medvedev’s serving was on point, dominating Tsitsipas with 17 aces to three, at a high volume of 68 per cent efficiency. That was all he needed as he won 88 per cent of his first serve points – dropping just seven – as well as almost half of his second serve points. On the other hand, while Tsitsipas served at a 69 per cent efficiency, he won just 61 per cent of his first serve points.

The fourth seed was ruthless across the court, hitting 46 winners to 19 across the match, and only 21 unforced errors to 30 in a message to Djokovic to show he is ready to win a Grand Slam title. He broke five times from nine chances compared to his Greek opponents’ one from three, as well as winning 42 per cent of his receiving points compared to the fifth seed’s 23 per cent. One positive for Tsitsipas was his net dominance, claiming 24 of the 31 approach shots, while Medvedev won 54 per cent.

“It was definitely not easy, because we saw the match with Rafa (Nadal) was kind of the same score after two sets. [In] the third set, Rafa was dominating but didn’t manage to win the match, so I got a little bit scared and tight,” Medvedev said post-match. “It is the semi-final of a Slam… It was not easy, but I am happy I managed to switch my game on, especially in some tight moments on my serve and I am really happy to be in the final.”

The near-clinical second set was a highlight for the Russian, smashing 14 winners to only four unforced errors, while Tsitsipas claimed six and 11 respectively. Medvedev produced a whopping 84 per cent efficiency, and only dropped three points on serve, while his opponent won just 14 of 30 and was broken twice. The third set was closer as Tsitsipas tightened up with only one more unforced error to winner (eight to seven), but Medvedev stepped it up to slam home 18 winners to eight unforced errors and break a crucial second time in the final game of the match off a couple of forced errors to book his place in the final.

Medvedev’s victory meant the Russian has won 20 consecutive matches, including the clean sweep at the ATP Finals last year in a remarkable effort. The most in-form player on the ATP Tour will play the greatest Australian Open player in Djokovic when the pair meets tomorrow night.

”I don’t have an answer [to explain my run]. I was just working hard all my life and I am really happy at this moment,” Medvedev said. “It is going to stay with me… It is a great achievement.”

”I like that I don’t have a lot of pressure, because he (Djokovic) never lost in the eight times that he was here in the final. “It is he who has all the pressure, getting to Roger (Federer) and Rafa in the Grand Slam [leaderboard]. I just hope that I am going to get out there and show my best tennis. As we have seen, I can beat some big names if I play good so that is the main part. He has more experience, but he has more things to lose than me.”

SEMI-FINAL RESULT:

[4] Daniil Medvedev (RUS) defeated [5] Stefanos Tsitsipas (GRE) 6-4 6-2 7-5

Picture credit: Quinn Rooney/Getty Images