Tag: alex de minaur

ATP Tour wrap: Even seeds fail as odds fall the way of victory

THE Round of 16 has well and truly begun at the Madrid Open, as competitors backed up a huge second round of event yesterday with little break as the third round got underway. Whilst the King of Clay retained the mantle with another win, three top 10 seeds fell in a big day on the clay.

It appeared as though every other seed proceeded to the quarter finals in an intriguing day of action, as the odd seeds in Rafael Nadal (first seed), Dominic Thiem (third), and Alexander Zverev (fifth) reigned supreme, whilst the evens in Daniil Medvedev (second), Stefanos Tsitsipas (fourth) and Andrey Rublev (sixth) failed to proceed to the next round.

Two of the major results of the day saw Russian pair Medvedev and Rublev both bundled out, with those two encounters the only three-setters of the day. It was 16th seed Chilean Cristian Garin who claimed the scalp of Medvedev, with the equal-biggest win of his career coming in the two and a half hour, 6-4 6-7 6-1 matchup. Whilst Medvedev broke back in the second to win the tiebreaker 6(2)-7, Garin’s overall service game efficiency paid off winning 71 per cent of his service points compared to Medvedev’s 62 per cent, whilst also claiming the ascendancy on return. For Rublev, it was American John Isner who spoiled the party with a 7-6 3-6 7-6 victory in just over two hours. Realistically, Rublev just could not compete with Isner on serve, as the hard-hitter piled on 29 aces to claim easy points, and while Rublev actually led service efficiency and won more off his serve (82 per cent compared to 68 per cent), Isner rallied when it mattered to win both the first and third set tiebreakers.

“I’m very happy,” Isner said post-match. “I wasn’t the better player out there today; I did win the match. “My serve kept me in it. “There’s a reason he’s won so many matches this year.”

“It’s a nice feather in my cap right now with my ranking being a little bit lower,” Isner said. “I haven’t played much since the tour stopped last year. “I think this is my only seventh event. I haven’t had many matches. “But to beat a guy like that, maybe being a little bit undercooked, is a very special moment for me.”

“It is my favourite clay court probably,” Isner said. “It has an indoor feel even though it’s not fully indoors. It’s got a great sound to it. “The court is fast. “To me it doesn’t seem like there’s too much clay on the court so, of all the clay courts I play on, it plays closest to a hard court of any of them. “The altitude in Madrid just really helps my serve. “The ball goes through the air very fast. You put all those things together, it’s a good recipe for me to do some damage on serve.”

The third upset of the day saw Casper Ruud scored a big win over Greek Stefanos Tsitsipas, 7-6 6-4, as the Norwegian marginally claimed victory winning the same amount of points, but fortunate to retain the upper hand throughout the close contest.

“He is one of the best players this year on the Tour, one of the ones who has won the most matches. He’s won his first Masters 1000 in Monte-Carlo. Barcelona he was very close to getting the title there, as well,” Ruud said post-match. “But the conditions are a bit different here than other clay courts with the fast shots, the ball traveling faster through the air because of the altitude. You get a lot of free points with the serve that you don’t usually [get] on the clay courts. I think that also today went a bit in my advantage.

“I felt like he was doing some mistakes that he doesn’t always do. I was just trying to take care of the chances that I got.”

Nadal and Thiem disposed of a couple of Australians, downing qualifier Alexei Popyrin and top ranked Aussie Alex de Minaur respectively, and rather significantly at that. Nadal was always going to be a huge challenge for Popyrin, who was outclassed 6-3 6-3 in 79 minutes by the Spaniard, who was far more consistent. To Popyrin’s credit he hit seven more aces and won 83 per cent of his first serve points to lead Nadal, however it was the King of Clay’s ability to both save (five from six) and convert break points (four from six) that allowed him to overrun Popyrin and keep down the unforced errors. Meanwhile the matchup between Thiem and De Minaur may have started close but saw Thiem break even in the second, retaining control and forcing errant hits from the Australian.

Fifth seed Zverev joined the winners list with a dismissal of Daniel Evans, whilst eighth seed Matteo Berrettini continued his solid form on clay with a straight sets victory over Federico Delbonis and Alexander Bublik downed a third Russian in Aslan Karatsev to head into the quarter finals.

MADRID OPEN ROUND OF 16 RESULTS: 

[1] Rafael Nadal (ESP) defeated [Q] Alexei Popyrin (AUS) 6-3 6-3
[16] Cristian Garin (CHI) defeated [2] Daniil Medvedev (RUS) 6-4 6-7 6-1
[3] Dominic Thiem (AUT) defeated Alex de Minaur (AUS) 7-6 6-4
Casper Ruud (NOR) defeated [4] Stefanos Tsitsipas (GRE) 7-6 6-4
[5] Alexander Zverev (GER) defeated Daniel Evans (GBR) 6-3 7-6
John Isner (USA) defeated [6] Andrey Rublev (RUS) 7-6 3-6 7-6
[8] Matteo Berrettini (ITA) defeated [Q] Federico Delbonis (ARG) 7-6 6-4
Alexander Bublik (KAZ) defeated Aslan Karatsev (RUS) 6-4 6-3

ATP Tour wrap: Thiem makes winning return

THE third day of the Madrid Open saw three seeds win as Dominic Thiem made his return to the court, while a couple of players continued impressive runs on the clay.

A close to two-month break from the competitive aspect of the game was not enough to sway Dominic Thiem from a dominant 6-1 6-3 defeat of qualifier Marcos Giron, flying out of the blocks and citing his extended break, stretching from mid-March, for the form he brought to the court to win in 57 minutes flat.

“For my game, I need 100 per cent intensity and 100 per cent energy. I’m not the guy who can serve through a match or who can play with a little bit of intensity and still win. I’m just not that type of guy,” Thiem said.

“[It was] better to come back when it’s possible again to play with that 100 per cent in every aspect of my game.”

Thiem hit five aces and won off a whopping 81 per cent of his first serve points – off an 80 per cent clip – in a virtually flawless effort. The Austrian also converted four break points and won 47 per cent of points on return in a seamless performance. He will take on unseeded Alex De Minaur in the Round of 16, following the Australian’s default victory 6-2 3-0 over South African, Lloyd Harris, who retired midway through the second set.

Thiem is also joined in the third round by sixth and eighth seeds Andrey Rublev and Matteo Berrettini, who both claimed wins over unseeded opposition. Berrettini disposed of compatriot Fabio Fognini with relative ease in a 6-3 6-4, 81-minute clash, and while Fognini was by no means wasteful with the ball, he just could not compete with Berrettini’s 85 per cent winning rate off his first serve off a 74 per cent clip. Fognini was well within his chances but failed to capitalise off his second serve at just a 37 per cent winning rate, compared to Berrettini’s 64 per cent.

Rublev did not have it quite as easy in his Madrid debut and third encounter with American Tommy Paul, dropping the first set tiebreaker 7-6(5) before working his way back into it to claim the 6-7 6-3 6-4 victory in two hours and 19 minutes. While Paul hit seven aces and impressed on serve, he was inefficient on return as Rublev won 70 per cent of his first serve points and saved five of eight break points, converting five in the process.

“It’s important to win when you’re not [playing] your [best] game and things are not going well,” Rublev said post-match. “So it’s really important to win this match to have more confidence. I’m happy that I turned it around.”

The remaining winner of the day was Alexander Bublik, as the Kazakh upset 11th seed Denis Shapovalov. He required two hours and 20 minutes to get past the Canadian, eventually claiming the 6-4 6-7 6-4 victory credit to his ability to win off Shapovalov’s 40 unforced errors, including a whopping 14 double faults for six aces. Comparatively, Bublik hit 10 aces and seven double faults – only marginally better, but making up the difference to win 66 per cent of his service points and take out the win.

MUTUA MADRID OPEN ROUND OF 32 RESULTS: 

[3] Dominic Thiem (AUT) defeated [Q] Marcos Giron (USA) 6-1 6-3
[6] Andrey Rublev (RUS) defeated Tommy Paul (USA) 6-7-6-3 6-4
[8] Matteo Berrettini (ITA) defeated Fabio Fognini (ITA) 6-3 6-4
Alexander Bublik (KAZ) defeated [11] Denis Shapovalov (CAN) 6-4 6-7 6-4
Alex De Minaur (AUS) defeated Lloyd Harris (RSA) 6-2 3-0 RET

Picture credit: Corinne Dubreuil/ATP

ATP Tour wrap: Basilashvili and Ramos-Vinolas grab titles ahead of Madrid

NIKOLOZ Basilashvili and Albert Ramos-Vinolas have added titles to their trophy cabinets with respective ATP Tour finals wins in the BMW Open and Estoril Open overnight. Georgian Basilashvili defeated seventh seed Jan-Lennard Struff to claim his fifth ATP Tour title, knocking off the German in his maiden final, whilst seven seed Spaniard Ramos Vinolas grabbed his third title with a come-from-behind win over unseeded Brit Cameron Norrie.

Basilashvili won 6-4 7-6 in one hour and 26 minutes, weathering a storm of 13 aces to put down six himself, whilst breaking Struff the one from two chances and saving the only break point he faced. It was truly a match of the power servers, and the Georgian was able to capitalise more, only dropping 16 points on serve in total, which was five less than his German opponent, as both players were ultra-impressive, but the Georgian won in the clutch moments, including a 7-5 second set tiebreak.

“It wasn’t easy and I was super-tight at the end,” Basilashvili said post-match. “It was very difficult. It’s never easy playing Jan, he’s a very big fighter and serves really well. I am super happy. It seems like German conditions suit me. This is my fifth [ATP Tour] title and it will give me confidence for the upcoming tournaments.”

In Portugal, Ramos-Vinolas found himself a set down against an in-form Norrie who wanted to move to outright third on the table of 2021 ATP Tour wins this year. Unfortunately for the Brit – who was subsequently searching for his maiden ATP Tour title like Struff – the Spaniard had other ideas, coming back to win the second set, then holding out in a third set tiebreaker 7-3, to win 4-6 6-3 7-6 in two hours and 44 minutes. Ramos-Vinolas served eight aces to Norrie’s six, and won 66 and 59 per cent of his first and second serve points compared to the Brit’s 62 and 49 per cent, though both players broke an identical four times from 11 chances.

“It means a lot [to win the title]. I won three tournaments in my career, so this is one of the best three weeks in my career. I am really happy,” Ramos-Vinolas said post-match. “It was a really difficult match against Cameron. I think he played a really good tournament. I am happy for me, but he is a really good friend of mine and I am sorry for him, because I think he deserved to win the tournament as [much as] me.”

Ramos-Vinolas moved to 16 wins on clay courts on the 2021 ATP Tour, nine clear of his nearest rivals which will hold him in good stead ahead of the Madrid Open which got underway with the first few matches. Eleventh seed Denis Shapovalov moved through with a convincing 6-1 6-3 victory over Serbian Dusan Lajovic, with Kazakhstan’s Alexander Bublik and United States’ Tommy Paul also claiming straight sets victories over Hungarian Marton Fucsovics and Spaniard Pedro Martinez respectively. In the closest match of the day, Australian Alex de Minaur came from behind to defeat Spanish wildcard Jaume Munar, 4-6 7-5 6-1 to moved through to the Round of 32.

BMW OPEN FINAL RESULT:

Nikoloz Basilashvili (GEO) defeated [7] Jan-Lennard Struff (GER) 6-4 7-6

ESTORIL OPEN FINAL RESULT:

[7] Albert Ramos-Vinolas (ESP) defeated Cameron Norrie (GBR) 4-6 6-3 7-6

MADRID OPEN ROUND OF 64 RESULTS:

[11] Denis Shapovalov (CAN) defeated Dusan Lajovic (SRB) 6-1 6-3
Alex de Minaur (AUS) defeated [WC] Jaume Munar (ESP) 4-6 7-5 6-1
Alexander Bublik (KAZ) defeated Marton Fucsovics (HUN) 7-6 6-3
Tommy Paul (USA) defeated [WC] Pedro Martinez (ESP) 6-4 7-5

Picture credit: ATP Tour

ATP Tour wrap: Nadal escapes against Nishikori as seeds advance in Barcelona

ONLY one unseeded players – Cameron Norrie – remains in the 2021 Barcelona Open ATP 500 event, after the Round of 16 yielded largely predictable results. Three of the top eight seeds were ousted in the third round, by five of the top six booked their place in the quarter finals.

Top seed Rafael Nadal again needed three sets, this time against Japan’s Kei Nishikori, with the 11-time winner trouncing his opponent 6-0 in the opening set, before the two-time Barcelona winner hit back. Nishikori won the second set 6-2, before the number one seed once again got on top to win in three sets, 6-0 2-6 6-2. The world number three had to grind out the win with Nishikori playing his usual-defensive gamestyle that wears down opponents. Nadal has no issues digging deep though, and in the end, just the three winners to Nishikori cost him, and edged Nadal to a 12-2 record in their head-to-head.

“I think I played much better than yesterday; that’s a very important thing for me,” Nadal said post-match. “The level of positive energy [was] higher, so [I’m] very satisfied.”

Nadal will now face the unseeded Norrie who managed to also dominate eighth seed David Goffin early, winning the first set 6-0. Goffin hit back to lead 5-3 in the second, before the Belgian was forced to retire with a right leg injury. In the sole head-to-head clash between the pair, Nadal defeated Norrie a couple of months back in the fourth round of the Australian Open.

Meanwhile 10th seed Felix Auger-Aliassime ousted compatriot Denis Shapovalov in a massive straight sets win. Auger-Aliassime won 6-2 6-3 to book his spot in the quarter finals, in just 89 minutes. The Canadian up-and-comer was phenomenal in his approach, having also knocked Shapovalov out of this year’s Australian Open, dominated on serve.

“I was happy with my level today,” Auger-Aliassime said post-match. “It’s never easy to play against him and it’s great to have won in straight sets. The next match won’t be easy, a tough challenge.”

The Canadian will now face second seed Stefanos Tsitsipas, who fought past 14th seed Australian Alex de Minaur, 7-5 6-3. The Greek needed one hours and 24 minutes to post the win, breaking three times to one, and winning 76 per cent of his first serve points off a 70 per cent clip, with five aces. He won 69 per cent of his service points, and 35 per cent of his return points in an impressive display.

“I was playing close to the lines so that was definitely difficult,” Tsitsipas said. “He’s a good competitor; he always puts out his best game. I think running and getting an extra ball back is actually his biggest strength so that’s what makes him very difficult to play against.”

Tsitsipas said he was looking forward to playing the 10th seed Canadian, who was in good form and ever-improving, a challenge the Greek star was ready for coming into the Barcelona Open quarter finals.

“I’ve never played him (Auger-Aliassime) on clay,” Tsitsipas said. “He’s someone that has done very well in recent years and [he’s] playing at the top of his form right now. I’m looking forward to the next battle, to the next difficulty that’s set, and can’t wait to compete against Felix.”

In other results, third seed Andrey Rublev posted a three-set hard-fought win over Albert Ramos-Vinolas 6-4 6-7 6-4, and fourth seed Diego Schwartzman cruised through with a 6-4 6-3 triumph over France’s Corentin Moutet. Sixth seed Pablo Carreno Busta ended the run of his Spanish compatriot and qualifier Bernabe Zapata Miralles 6-3 6-4, with 11th seed Jannik Sinner also making his way into the quarter finals with a 7-6 6-2 victory over Spains’s Roberto Bautista Agut.

In Serbia, the remaining four Round of 16 matches were completed, with third seed Aslan Karatsev the sole successful seed on the day. He had to fight off a match point against Slovenia’s Aljaz Bedene before winning 6-3 4-6 7-6, while the news was not as positive for fourth seed Dusan Lajovic, with the Serbian going down in three sets to Argentinian Federico Delbonis, 6-3 2-6 6-4. In other results, a couple of Australians fell with seventh seed John Millman losing out to Japanese lucky loser Tarro Daniel in three sets 3-6 6-2 6-3, while Alexei Popyrin fell at the hands of Italian qualifier, Gianluca Mager.

BARCELONA OPEN ROUND OF 16 RESULTS:

[1] Rafael Nadal (ESP) defeated Kei Nishikori (JPN) 6-0 2-6 6-2
[2] Stefanos Tsitsipas (GRE) defeated [14] Alex de Minaur (AUS) 7-5 6-3
[3] Andrey Rublev (RUS) defeated Albert Ramos-Vinolas (ESP) 6-4 6-7 6-4
[4] Diego Schwartzman (ARG) defeated Corentin Moutet (FRA) 6-4 6-3
[11] Jannik Sinner (ITA) defeated [5] Roberto Bautista Agut (ESP) 7-6 6-2
[6] Pablo Carreno Busta (ESP) defeated [Q] Bernabe Zapata Miralles (ESP) 6-3 6-4
[10] Felix Auger-Aliassime (CAN) defeated [7] Denis Shapovalov (CAN) 6-2 6-3
Cameron Norrie (GBR) defeated [8] David Goffin (BEL) 6-0 3-5 RET

SERBIA OPEN ROUND OF 16 RESULTS:

[3] Aslan Karatsev (RUS) defeated Aljaz Bedene (SLO) 6-3 4-6 7-6
Federico Delbonis (ARG) defeated [4] Dusan Lajovic (SRB) 6-3 2-6 6-4
[LL] Taro Daniel (JPN) defeated [7] John Millman (AUS) 3-6 6-2 6-3
[Q] Gianluca Mager (ITA) defeated Alexei Popyrin (AUS) 7-5 6-2

Picture credit: ATP Tour

ATP Tour wrap: Nadal stirred but not shaken by Ivashka in Barcelona

ELEVEN-time Barcelona champion Rafael Nadal had to overcome a bump in the road in the beginning of his quest to a dozen titles at the event, needing three sets to overcome Belarusian qualifier Ilya Ivashka. Nadal dropped the first set 6-3, but soon found his groove to take out the match in two hours and 20 minutes. 3-6 6-2 6-4.

Playing on the Centre Court funnily enough named after himself in Pista Rafa Nadal, the world number three praised the underdog’s efforts early to match it with him and he had to lift his game accordingly to overcome the 111th ranked Belarusian.

“He played well. He played at a very high level, and I didn’t, especially at the beginning,” Nadal said post-match. “And then I think I changed a little bit the way I played. I was more aggressive later, and the match changed a lot. I’m happy I [fought] hard today to be in the third round. That’s what I needed after the loss at Monte-Carlo.”

Yet to lose a match on clay against a qualifier from 38 attempts, Nadal found a way to win, breaking three times to two – both of the latter came in the first set – whilst winning 80 per cent of his first serve points. Ivashka did well to take his chances, but in the end the Nadal consistency was too much, as the Spaniard won 39 per cent of his return points to Ivashka’s 31 per cent.

“I’m sure that I’m going to have the chance to play better, and I’m going to fight for it,” Nadal said. “I have the confidence that I’m not very far [from playing well], even if the last two matches [here and in Monte-Carlo] haven’t been perfect. But here I am, and I am with the right energy to try hard. It’s a process… I’m confident that by working every day I’m going to find [right] the solutions.”

Nadal will now face former Top 5 player Kei Nishikori, who fought through his second straight three-set match to overcome 13th seed and clay court specialist Christian Garin 7-6 4-6 6-1, reversing the pair’s head-to-head from last year at Hamburg where the Chilean won easily. In other results, top seeds Stefanos Tsitsipas, Andrey Rublev and Diego Schwartzman all advanced, though the latter was given a scare by American Frances Tiafoe, needing three sets to win, 3-6 7-5 6-1.

It was good news for the Spanish contingent, with sixth seed Pablo Carreno Busta, qualifier Bernabe Zapata Miralles and unseeded Albert Ramos-Vinolas all booking their spots through to the next round. Australian 14th seed Alex de Minaur broke his poor form on clay with a straight sets win over Alexander Bublik, while Corentin Moutet and Felix Auger-Aliassime both won through to the Round of 16.

It was a good day for Serbian fans at the Serbian Open, as three of the four winners hailed from the nation. Top seed Novak Djokovic breezed through past Soonwoo Kwon 6-1 6-3, with fifth seed Filip Krajinovic also smacking his opponent, compatriot and wildcard Nikola Milojevic, 6-1 6-1. Eighth seed Miomir Kecmanovic had a tougher time against French qualifier Arthur Rinderknecht before making his way into the quarter finals, while Italian second seed Matteo Berrettini won 6-4 6-3 over compatriot Marco Cecchinato.

BARCELONA OPEN ROUND OF 32 RESULTS:

[1] Rafael Nadal (ESP) defeated [Q] Ilya Ivashka (BLR) 3-6 6-2 6-4
[2] Stefanos Tsitsipas (GRE) defeated [WC] Jaume Munar (ESP) 6-0 6-2
[3] Andrey Rublev (RUS) defeated [LL] Federico Gaio (ITA) 6-4 6-3
[4] Diego Schwartzman (ARG) defeated Frances Tiafoe (USA) 3-6 7-5 6-1
[6] Pablo Carreno Busta (ESP) defeated Jordan Thompson (AUS) 6-4 6-0
[Q] Bernabe Zapata Miralles (ESP) defeated [9] Fabio Fognini (ITA) 6-0 4-4 RET
[10] Felix Auger-Aliassime (CAN) defeated [WC] Lorenzo Musetti (ITA)
Kei Nishikori (JPN) defeated [13] Cristian Garin (CHI) 7-6 4-6 6-1
[14] Alex de Minaur (AUS) defeated Alexander Bublik (KAZ) 7-6 6-2
Corentin Moutet (FRA) defeated [16] Daniel Evans (GBR) 6-4 5-7 6-3
Albert Ramos-Vinolas (ESP) defeated [17] Adrian Mannarino (FRA) 6-4 6-4

SERBIA OPEN ROUND OF 16 RESULTS:

[1] Novak Djokovic (SRB) defeated Soonwoo Kwon (KOR) 6-1 6-3
[2] Matteo Berrettini (ITA) defeated Marco Cecchinato (ITA) 6-4 6-3
[5] Filip Krajinovic (SRB) defeated [WC] Nikola Milojevic (SRB) 6-1 6-1
[8] Miomir Kemanovic (SRB) defeated [Q] Arthur Rinderknech (FRA) 6-3 3-6 6-3

Picture credit: Josep Lago/AFP via Getty Images

ATP Tour wrap: Rainy day grinds Monte Carlo Masters Day 2 to a halt

DAY 2 at the Monte Carlo Masters was interrupted by intermittent rainfall, limiting proceedings and eventually grinding the day to a halt with only four matches completed and five in the process when the cancellation was announced.

Russian Aslan Karatsev outclassed Italian wildcard Lorenzo Musetti in a huge clash which ended up playing over the course of around five hours thanks to rain delays. Whilst his now second round opposition in Stefanos Tsitsipas expected to take on Musetti in the Round of 32, Karatsev proved him wrong with the 6-3 6-4 sweep of Musetti, hitting 23 winners to win in just under 90 minutes all up. He won 78 per cent of first serve points off a 63 per cent clip and saved all four break points in the victory, setting up an intriguing clash with Tsitsipas next round.

“It was a really tough match [for] my first match of the season on clay [with] tough weather conditions,” Karatsev said. “We started in the morning [and] I started pretty well, I broke him and then the court was getting heavy, the ball was heavy. It is tough to play against him. [He is] really fit, [he] runs a lot and gives everything back, so you have to build the point by yourself and close the point by yourself.”

Meanwhile, a couple of Australians took the court with John Millman heading to the second round after downing Frenchman Ugo Humbert, whilst higher ranked Alex de Minaur fell to Spaniard Alejandro Davidovich Fokina. Davidovich Fokina saved six of eight break points in the 6-4 7-6 encounter with de Minaur, and was much more consistent across both his first and second serves at a higher efficiency to claim the victory. Millman’s 76 per cent winning rate off his first serve paid off against Humbert, whilst he also converted four of seven break points to come away with the 6-3 6-3 victory. In the remaining match, Tommy Paul came out with a default 4-1 victory when lucky loser Pedro Martinez retired midway through the first set, on court for less than 30 minutes.

MONTE CARLO MASTERS ROUND OF 64 RESULTS:

Aslan Karastev (RUS) defeated [W] Lorenzo Musetti (ITA) 6-3 6-4
Alejandro Davidovich Fokina (ESP) defeated Alex de Minaur (AUS) 6-4 7-6
John Millman (AUS) defeated Ugo Humbert (FRA) 6-3 6-3
Tommy Paul (USA) defeated [LL] Pedro Martinez 4-1

ATP Miami Open 1000: Tsitsipas and Nishikori set for third round blockbuster

WORLD number five Stefanos Tsitsipas and former world number four Kei Nishikori have collected important wins at the Miami Open this morning to set up a blockbuster third round clash between the pair for Tuesday. Tsitsipas breezed past Damir Dzumhur 6-1 6-4 and became just the third ATP player to claim 15 victories in the 2021 season so far. Meanwhile, Nishikori had it much tougher against Aljaz Bedene, winning 7-6 5-7 6-4 in two hours and 50 minutes. The Japanese star won 73 per cent of points on first serve and won 67 per cent of points on Bedene’s second serve. Bedene has had a tough fortnight against Nishikori, as he was also defeated by the 2014 US Open finalist at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships last week.

Tsitsipas was happy with his performance, particularly given that he had lost three of his four previous clashes against Dzumhur. “It was a great match, especially against a guy that I probably don’t have a good record playing against in the past,” Tsitsipas said post-match. “I started the match very strong, breaking him twice and taking a big lead in the score, and I think the things worked out by themselves after that.”

Tsitsipas will attempt to defeat Nishikori for the first time in the third round, as Nishikori was victorious in their one previous matchup (in 2018) 6-3 6-3. With this in mind, Tsitsipas knows that he has his work cut out for him. “[Kei is] a player that has played very well in the past, and even now he can raise his level really high,” Tsitsipas said. “I’ll try and be ready for the battle… It’s important for me to have matches against strong opponents like him. I am very pumped for the match and I’m going to try and put my best performance out there. I’m going to try and take it game by game… It’s a strong third round, I won’t hide it. It’s important for me to be ready for that match and be physically prepared.”

In other results, Australians Alex de Minaur, Thanasi Kokkinakis and Jordan Thompson bowed out in their respective matches, and tenth seed Fabio Fognini was shocked by American Sebastian Korda 1-6 6-4 6-2. Former US Open champion Marin Cilic was a big winner, as he saved 11 break points in his 3-6 7-5 7-6 defeat of 13th seed Cristian Garin. Consistent performers Andrey Rublev, Diego Schwartzman and Milos Raonic all cruised through their matches in straight sets.

ATP MIAMI OPEN 1000 ROUND OF 64 RESULTS:

[2] Stefanos Tsitsipas (GRE) defeated Damir Dzumhur (BIH) 6-1 6-4
[4] Andrey Rublev (RUS) defeated Tennys Sandgren (USA) 6-1 6-2
[5] Diego Schwartzman (ARG) defeated Yasutaka Uchiyama (JPN) 6-3 6-3
[6] Denis Shapovalov (CAN) defeated Ilya Ivashka (BLR) 6-7 6-4 6-4
Sebastian Korda (USA) defeated [10] Fabio Fognini (ITA) 1-6 6-4 6-2
[12] Milos Raonic (CAN) defeated Jordan Thompson (AUS) 6-2 6-1
Marin Cilic (CRO) defeated [13] Cristian Garin (CHI) 3-6 7-5 7-6
Daniel Elahi Galan (COL) defeated [15] Alex de Minaur (AUS) 4-6 6-3 6-4
[17] Aslan Karatsev (RUS) defeated Mikhail Kukushkin (KAS) 6-4 6-3
[20] Ugo Humbert (FRA) defeated Joao Sousa (POR) 6-1 6-4
Lorenzo Musetti (ITA) defeated [23] Benoit Paire (FRA) 6-3 6-3
[24] Lorenzo Sonego (ITA) defeated [Q] Bjorn Fratangelo (USA) 6-4 7-6
[25] Adrian Mannarino (FRA) defeated Miomir Kecmanovic (SRB) 6-3 6-4
[26] Hubert Hurkacz (POL) defeated Denis Kudla (USA) 7-6 6-4
[28] Kei Nishikori (JPN) defeated Aljaz Bedene (SLO) 7-6 5-7 6-4
[29] Marton Fucsovics defeated Thanasi Kokkinakis (AUS) 7-6 6-7 6-4

Picture credit: Mike Lawrence/ATP Tour

ATP Tour wrap: Horror day for Aussies in Dubai

IT was a day to forget for Australian representatives in the 2021 Dubai Tennis Championships, as all four of the nation’s competitors bowed out of the ATP 500 event. Top hope Alex de Minaur lost to Frenchman Jeremy Chardy in the only Round of 32 match of the day, while John Millman, Christopher O’Connell and Jordan Thompson also departed, losing to a trio of qualifiers in a disappointing result for the nation.

Chardy proved too good for de Minaur in a surprise come-from-behind win over the ninth seed, posting a 2-6 6-3 6-4 victory in an hour and 44 minutes. The Australian had two more aces (7-5) and one less double fault (2-3), but Chardy won the same amount of break points (two) as de Minaur, and both came at crucial moments in the second and third sets respectively. The players were so even across the board, Chardy only won four more points than the Australian for the entirety of the match (81-77).

Fellow Frenchman Richard Gasquet achieved some personal history at the event, moving up to sixth on the most career match wins from active players with his 550th triumph at the event. If Gasquet can make a quarter final, then the 34-year-old will surpass Spaniard Fernando Verdasco in fifth on that table, behind the ‘Big Four’ of Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray. Gasquet achieved the feat courtesy of a straightforward 6-4 6-2 triumph over Italian Marco Cecchinato.

“I am feeling great here,” Gasquet said post-match. “I know this court well. “I played well [here] last year. “It is a fast court. “I like to play on it. “It is important to serve well and it was a great match. “I started well, feeling confident and winning the first set and then I played better in the second set.”

Meanwhile the forgettable day from the Australian representatives saw Millman up first losing to Spanish qualifier Bernabe Zapata Miralles. The Spaniard won 6-4 6-4 against Millman to advance, while fellow qualifiers, Lloyd Harris and Emil Ruusuvuori toppled Christopher O’Connell and Jordan Thompson. In an all-qualifier battle, Harris got the chocolate over O’Connell courtesy of a come-from-behind 6-7 6-4 6-1 victory, with the South African getting better as the match went on. Young Finn, Ruusuvuori continued his good form of the last 12 months to win 6-3 7-6 against Thompson.

The news was not as positive for a couple of other qualifiers with Kazakhstan’s Mikhail Kukushkin and India’s Yuki Bhambri both bowing out in the first round. Germany’s Jan-Lennard Struff won against Kukushkin, powering his way to a 6-3 6-2 victory on the back of 16 aces, while Slovenian Aljaz Bedene took care of Bhambri in a more challenging match than he would have liked, coming from a set down to win 3-6 6-1 6-4.

In other results, Spaniard Alejandro Davidovich Fokina defeated Macedonian lucky loser Radu Albot in straight sets 6-4 6-4, while in the latest game, Marton Fucsovics defeated Vasek Pospisil 2-6 7-5 6-4 in a three-set thriller to round out the day.

DUBAI TENNIS CHAMPIONSHIPS ROUND OF 32 RESULTS:

Jeremy Chardy (FRA) defeated [9] Alex de Minaur (AUS) 2-6 6-3 6-4

DUBAI TENNIS CHAMPIONSHIPS ROUND OF 64 RESULTS:

[Q] Bernabe Zapata Miralles (ESP) defeated John Millman AUS) 6-4 6-4
Richard Gasquet (FRA) defeated Marco Cecchinato (ITA) 6-4 6-2
Vasek Pospisil (CAN) Marton Fucsovics (HUN)
Alejandro Davidovich Fokina (ESP) defeated [LL] Radu Albot (MCE) 6-4 6-4
[Q] Lloyd Harris (RSA) defeated [Q] Christopher O’Connell (AUS) 6-7 6-4 6-1
[Q] Emil Ruusuvuori (FIN) defeated Jordan Thompson (AUS) 6-3 7-6
Jan-Lennard Struff (GER) defaeted [Q] Mikhail Kukushkin (KAZ) 6-3 6-2
Aljaz Bedene (SLO) defeated [Q] Yuki Bhambri (IND) 3-6 6-1 6-4

 

Picture credit: ATP Tour

ATP Tour wrap: Mixed day for Russia in Rotterdam

IT was a mixed day at Rotterdam for Russians at the World Tennis Tournament, whilst the Argentina Open had more predictable results.

It was a mixed day of emotions for Russia at the World Tennis Tournament in Rotterdam, with the second and third ranked Russians winning through to the quarter finals, though top seed Daniil Medvedev fell in the opening round. The world number three went down to Serbian Dusan Lajovic who toppled the Australian Open finalist, 7-6 6-4 in a stunning upset.

It was much better news for fourth seed Andrey Rublev, and Top 25 player Karen Khachanov who both won in straight sets to book their spots in the quarter finals. Rublev held off a determined Andy Murray, defeating the Grand Slam winner and British wildcard, 7-5 6-3. Khachanov toppled Murray’s compatriot, qualifier Cameron Norrie a lot easier, winning 6-2 6-2 to advance to the final eight.

The only other Round of 16 match that took place was Japan’s Kei Nishikori winding back the clock to defeat Australian Alex de Minaur. Nishikori looks over his injury-riddled past, and is building form in the first couple of months of 2021.

Of the four Round of 32 matches, Medvedev was not the only big scalp to fall on the third day of the tournament, as third seed Alexander Zverev met the same fate. The German went down to Kazakhstan’s Alexander Bublik in straight sets 7-5 6-3, leaving Rublev, Stefanos Tsitsipas and sixth seed David Goffin as the only remaining seeds left in the ATP 500 event. Goffin won well in a 6-4 6-0 crushing of German Jan-Lennard Struff, while in the other first round match completed, American Tommy Paul knocked off Italian Lorenzo Sonego, 6-4 7-6.

The remaining Round of 16 matches take place tomorrow, with Bublik taking on Paul, Goffin locking horns with French qualifier Jeremy Chardy, Tsitsipas facing Poland’s Hubert Hurkacz, Lajovic meeting Croatian Borna Coric, and Hungarian qualifier Marton Fucsovics up against Spaniard Alejandro Davidovich Fokina.

WORLD TENNIS TOURNAMENT ROUND OF 16 RESULTS:

[4] Andrey Rublev (RUS) defeated [WC] Andy Murray (GBR) 7-5 6-2
Karen Khachanov (RUS) defeated [Q] Cameron Norrie (GBR) 6-2 6-2
Kei Nishikori (JPN) defeated Alex de Minaur (AUS) 6-3 2-6 7-5

WORLD TENNIS TOURNAMENT ROUND OF 32 RESULTS:

Dusan Lajovic (SRB) defeated [1] Daniil Medvedev (RUS) 7-6 6-4
Alexander Bublik (KAZ) defeated [3] Alexander Zverev (GER) 7-5 6-3
[6] David Goffin (BEL) defeated Jan-Lennard Struff (GER) 6-4 6-0
Tommy Paul (USA) defeated Lorenzo Sonego (ITA) 6-4 7-6

 

The first half of the Round of 16 matches in Buenos Aires were completed overnight, with the seeds all advancing against their respective opponents. While second seed Cristian Garin was about to step out on court against Indian qualifier Sumit Nagal in the final match of the day, it is expect the clay court specialist will take care of business there.

In the three other seeded matches, fourth seed Miomir Kecmanovic, fifth seed Albert Ramos-Vinolas and seventh seed Laslo Djere all advanced through to the quarter finals. Kecmanovic toppled Brazilian Thiago Monteiro in three sets 5-7 6-3 6-4, Ramos-Vinolas won in straight sets over German Dominik Koepfer 7-5 6-4, and Djere got up with a tight 7-6 6-3 victory over home nation representative Federico Delbonis.

Tomorrow’s action features top seed Argentinian Diego Schwartzman up against Slovakian qualifier Lukas Klein, as another Argentinian Francisco Cerundolo tries his luck against second seed Benoit Paire. Other seeds in action are sixth seed Pablo Andujar up against Italian Gianluca Mager, and eighth seed Frances Tiafoe taking on Spanish qualifier Jaume Munar.

ARGENTINA OPEN ROUND OF 16 RESULTS:

[2] Cristian Garin (CHI) vs. [Q] Sumit Nagal (IND)
[4] Miomir Kecmanovic (SRB) defeated Thiago Monteiro (BRA) 5-7 6-3 6-4
[5] Albert Ramos-Vinolas (ESP) defeated Dominik Koepfer (GER) 7-5 6-4
[7] Laslo Djere (SRB) defeated Federico Delbonis (ARG) 7-6 6-3

Picture credit: ATP Tour

ATP Tour wraps: Seeds prevail in tight contests on Day 2 at Rotterdam, Buenos Aires

DAY 2 at both the Rotterdam and Buenos Aires ATP tournaments saw plenty of tight encounters, as seeds reigned supreme for the most part but were certainly challenged as they did so.

At Rotterdam, second seed Stefanos Tsitsipas was made to work for his victory over world number 76 Egor Gerasimov, as the Belarusian used everything in his arsenal in the 7-6 7-5 encounter. Taken to just under two hours on court, Tsitsipas marginally controlled his return games (31 per cent to 27 per cent) which led to the win and saved ix of eight break points to command victory. Fourth seed Russian Andrey Rublev came away relatively unscathed in comparison, defeating qualifier Marcos Giron 7-6 6-3, whilst the remaining seed in Stan Wawrinka was not quite as fortunate, disposed of in straight sets by Rublev’s compatriot Karen Khachanov 6-4 7-5.

A couple of compatriots faced off with only one of each nation surviving amongst all-French and all-Australian battles. The results flipped across the two as Jeremy Chardy upset Ugo Humbert in the lone three-setter of the day, whilst Alex de Minaur kept up his great form with a 6-1 6-4 win over John Millman in one hour and 18 minutes, with this the only match of the day that did not feature a seventh game or tiebreaker set. In the remaining matches, another Frenchman fell as Hubert Hukacz disposed of Adrian Mannarino, whilst Borna Coric defeated homegrown wildcard Botic Van de Zandschulp 6-4 7-6.

ROTTERDAM OPEN ROUND OF 32 RESULTS:

[2] Stefanos Tsitsipas (GRE) defeated Egor Gerasimov (BLR) 7-6 7-5
[4] Andrey Rublev (RUS) defeated [Q] Marcos Giron (USA) 7-6 6-3
Karen Khachanov (RUS) defeated [8] Stan Wawrinka (SUI) 6-4 7-5
[Q] Jeremy Chardy (FRA) defeated Ugo Humbert (FRA) 4-6 7-6 7-6
Alex de Minaur (AUS) defeated John Millman (AUS) 6-1 6-4
Hubert Hurkacz (POL) defeated Adrian Mannarino (FRA) 6-3 7-6
Borna Coric (CRO) defeated [WC] Botic Van de Zandschulp (NED) 6-4 7-6

In Buenos Aires, the two seeds were successful although one got a lot more of a wake up call than he probably would have liked, as fifth seed Spaniard Albert Ramos-Vinolas was tested by Danish 17-year-old Holger Vitus Nodskov Rune in the lone three-set encounter of the day. Whilst Rune was eventually disposed of in just under two hours, the wildcard certainly made himself known during his ATP Tour main draw debut, taking out the first set before falling 2-6 6-4 6-3 to the experienced Spaniard. American Frances Tiafoe also reigned supreme, with the eighth seed downing Argentinian Facundo Bagnis in 68 minutes 6-1 6-3, marginally the quickest win of the day, just pipping qualifier Sumit Nagal at the post following the Indian’s 70-minute 6-2 6-0 sweep of Joao Sousa.

With a number of Argentinians competing on home soil, not everyone could go through to the Round of 16 as qualifiers reigned supreme against their experienced foes. Francisco Cerundolo battled hard to overcome compatriot Federico Coria, 6-4 7-5, whilst wildcard Facundo Diaz Acosta could not hold up under pressure from qualifying Spaniard Jaume Munar, going down in the 7-6 6-3 encounter. The remaining matches saw Lukas Klein down Andrey Martin in straight sets, whilst a tight all-Italian battle between Gianluca Mager and Salvatore Caruso saw the former come away with five aces and bragging rights.

One match remains to complete in Argentina, as compatriots Federico Delbonis and 19-year-old Juan Manuel Cerundolo go head-to-head to close out the Round of 32, with Delbonis leading 3-2 in the first set at time of publish.

ARGENTINA OPEN ROUND OF 32 RESULTS:

[5] Albert Ramos-Vinolas (ESP) defeated [WC] Holger Vitus Nodskov Rune (DEN) 2-6 6-4 6-3
[8] Frances Tiafoe (USA) defeated Facundo Bagnis (ARG) 6-1 6-3
[Q] Francisco Cerundolo (ARG) defeated Federico Coria (ARG) 6-4 7-5
[Q] Lukas Klein (SVK) defeated Andrej Martin (SVK) 6-4 6-3
Gianluca Mager (ITA) defeated Salvatore Caruso (ITA) 7-6 6-4
[Q] Jaume Munar (ESP) defeated [WC] Facundo Diaz Acosta (ARG) 7-6 6-3
[Q] Sumit Nagal (IND) defeated Joao Sousa (POR) 6-2 6-0
Federico Delbonis (ARG) v. Juan Manuel Cerundolo (ARG)

Picture credit: ANP