Tag: Alexander Bublik

ATP Tour wrap: Zverev stuns Nadal on clay for third straight win over top seed

ALEXANDER Zverev has found the winning formula to defeating Rafael Nadal, and it has now stretched to the clay courts, defeating the top seed Spaniard in straight sets to book a 2021 Madrid Masters 1000 semi-finals spot. The German fifth seed backed up his wins in the 2019 ATP Finals and 2020 Paris Masters with a third straight win in the Madrid Masters, but this victory was different. It was back on clay and in Nadal’s home nation, where the King of Clay is near-unbeatable. By the time the match ended, Zverev had won 6-4 6-4, coming back from 2-4 down in the first set to post the win in one hour and 44 minutes.

“[It is] definitely one of the biggest wins of my career so far, especially on clay against Rafa. It is the toughest thing to do in our sport,” Zverev said post-match. “Beating him in his house, in Spain, is incredible but the tournament is not over yet.”

The German served four aces, won 82 per cent of his first serve points, and broke Nadal three times to one during the match to secure his spot in the last four. Zverev won here in 2018, and holds a 13-2 record, also not dropping a set thus far in the 2021 edition. In the 2018 final, Zverev knocked off Dominic Thiem, which was the only time the German has been the third seed Austrian on clay. Thiem has an 8-2 head-to-head record against Zverev, and 4-1 on clay including the memorable come-from-behind five-set US Open final.

“I know that I can do it [against Dominic],” Zverev said. “Everyone remembers the US Open final that we played. “I remember it certainly and it is still going to be in the back of my mind when we play tomorrow. “I am looking forward to the match.”

Thiem had to get himself out of trouble after losing the first set and having to save several break points in the fifth game of the second set to remain in the contest against American John Isner, going on to post a three-set win. The Austrian broke his opponent in the penultimate game of the match to take out the deciding set and win, 3-6 6-3 6-4 to set up the huge semi-final with Zverev.

“I think we all know that he is one of the best servers in history and the altitude here in Madrid makes it even tougher to return his serve,” Thiem said post-match. “I was a little bit surprised by his return games. I think he actually attacked both of my serves, the first and the second, and it took me a while to get used to it. If you start a break down against guys like John, it is like starting a set down. I think the momentum of the whole match changed when I saved those four break points in the second [set].”

Isner served 18 aces without a double fault, and won 77 per cent of his first serve points. He managed to match Thiem on return points off his second serve, but could not convert more than one of his seven break point chances which proved costly. Thiem on the other hand managed to convert the two from four, and won a higher percentage of first serve points (79 per cent).

In the other quarter finals results, eighth seed Italian Matteo Berrettini came from a set down to storm to victory against 16th seed Chilean Cristian Garin, not dropping a game in the deciding set to win, 5-7 6-3 6-0. That victory set up a final four meeting with Norwegian Casper Ruud who knocked off Kazakhstan’s Alexander Bublik, 7-5 6-1. Zverev and Thiem are up first at 4pm local time ahead of the women’s final between Ash Barty and Aryna Sabalenka, with the Ruud-Berrettini semi-final at night.

MADRID MASTERS 1000 RESULTS:

[5] Alexander Zverev (GER) defeated [1] Rafael Nadal (ESP) 6-4 6-4
[3] Dominic Theim (AUT) defeated John Isner (USA) 3-6 6-3 6-4
[8] Matteo Berrettini (ITA) defeated [16] Cristian Garin (CHI) 5-7 6-3 6-0
Casper Ruud (NOR) defeated Alexander Bublik (KAZ) 7-5 6-1

Picture credit: ATP Tour

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: Martinez overcomes Bublik as McDonald downs Lajovic

PLENTY of interesting results were had on the second day at both the Estoril and Munich Open events, as the clay season continues on the ATP Tour.

At Estoril, qualifier Pedro Martinez upset fifth seed Alexander Bublik in a dominant straight sets outcome, easily accounting for the Kazakh 6-3 6-0 in just 51 minutes. Whilst Bublik piled on six aces to Martinez’s one, the Kazakh fifth seed was uncharacteristically error-ridden and failed to convert a single break point from four chances. Martinez heads into the second round with the comfortable win behind him, with an excellent 82 per cent winning rate off his first serve, off a 70 per cent clip.

Meanwhile, sixth seed Marin Cilic was challenged by upcoming Spanish talent Carlos Alcaraz, winning the first set before dropping the second as Alcaraz created a huge turnaround in momentum. But it was not enough, as Cilic returned to his first set form in the third to eventually claim the 6-3 1-6 6-4 victory.

“I’m extremely happy to be here in Portugal, in Estoril for the first time,” Cilic said post-match. “It was a very difficult match. Carlos is a great young talent… Definitely he’s got an unbelievable future ahead of him.”

Cilic hit six aces to Alcaraz’s one, and whilst he also more than doubled Alcaraz’s three double faults, he was still more effective on serve, winning 60 per cent of his first serve points off a 64 per cent clip. Cilic was only marginally better on return, and won just one more point throughout the contest in the narrow win, which stretched out to two hours and 14 minutes in length.

“I was extremely happy to win after dropping the second set. He played really well,” Cilic said. “I was a break up in the third set and he broke back. In the end it was just a couple points that made the difference in the match.”

Three Frenchmen proceeded to the second round, with only Corentin Moutet realistically challenged for his spot in the second round by American Marcos Giron, forced to overcome a second set tiebreaker to come away with the 6-4 6-7(7) 6-4 victory. Richard Gasquet claimed a 6-3 7-5 victory over Argentinian Juan Ignacio Londero, whilst Pierre-Hugues Herbert downed compatriot Gilles Simon 7-5 6-3 to head into the second round. Seventh seed Albert Ramos-Vinolas disposed of compatriot Fernando Verdasco in straight sets, as Marco Cecchinato and Cameron Norrie were the remaining winners of the day.

At Munich, American qualifier Mackenzie McDonald provided the win of the day after disposing of sixth seed Dusan Lajovic 6-4 6-4, requiring just under 90 minutes to claim victory. McDonald boasted a 79 per cent winning rate off his first serve off a 66 per cent clip throughout and also saved two break points on his way to the win. The other two seeds of the day waged better battles to head into the second round, as both Georgian Nikoloz Basilashvili and German Jan-Lennard Struff reigned supreme, both claiming straight sets wins.

Two more German competitors won on home soil and will join Struff in the second round, with Yannick Hanfmann and Dominik Koepfer overcoming deficits to win in three sets. Meanwhile, Uruguayan Pablo Cuevas and Colombian Daniel Elahi Galan round out the remaining winners of the day, both disposing of Americans in Tennys Sandgren and Marcos Giron in straight sets.

MILLENNIUM ESTORIL OPEN ROUND OF 32 RESULTS:

[Q] Pedro Martinez (ESP) defeated [5] Alexander Bublik (KAZ) 6-3 6-0
[6] Marin Cilic (CRO) defeated [Q] Carlos Alcaraz (ESP) 6-3 1-6 6-4
[7] Albert Ramos-Vinolas (ESP) defeated Fernando Verdasco (ESP) 6-3 6-3
Marco Cecchinato (ITA) defeated Lloyd Harris (RSA) 6-3 6-4
Richard Gasquet (FRA) defeated Juan Ignacio Londero (ARG) 6-3 7-5
Pierre-Hugues Herbert (FRA) defeated Gilles Simon (FRA) 7-5 6-3
Corentin Moutet (FRA) defeated Marcos Giron (USA) 6-4 6-7 6-4
Cameron Norrie (GBR) defeated [WC] Joao Sousa (POR)

BMW OPEN ROUND OF 32 RESULTS:

[5] Nikoloz Basilashvili (GEO) defeated Thiago Monteiro (BRA) 6-2 6-3
[Q] Mackenzie McDonald (USA) defeated [6] Dusan Lajovic (RB) 6-4 6-4
[7] Jan-Lennard Struff (GER) defeated [LL] Andrej Martin (SVK) 6-4 6-3
Pablo Cuevas (URU) defeated Tennys Sandgren (USA) 7-6 0-6 6-1
[Q] Daniel Elahi Galan (COL) defeated Sebastien Korda (USA) 6-1 7-6
[WC] Yannick Hanfmann (GER) defeated [SE] Taro Daniel (JPN) 6-2 3-6 7-6
Dominik Koepfer (GER) defeated [WC] Philipp Kohlschreiber (GER) 4-6 6-4 6-3

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: Norrie continues red-hot form in Barcelona

GREAT Britain’s Cameron Norrie has continued his ripping form of late, taking another big scalp in 12th seed Karen Khachanov at the Barcelona Open. Clashing in the Round of 32, Norrie advanced in a tough three-set contest, winning 6-4 3-6 6-3 to advance through to the third round and be the only confirmed unseeded player in the Round of 16 at this stage. With the remaining 11 matches still to go, there are plenty of chances for more unseeded players to join him, but Norrie has the extra day’s rest to prepare for the next match.

In recent weeks, Norrie has claimed some big scalps in Italian Fabio Fognini and Bulgarian Grigor Dimitrov, and now has his third Top 20 win in as many weeks, advancing through to the next stage of the tournament. The Brit was the lowest ranked winner on the day, with four other seeds all booking their spots with straight sets wins. Roberto Bautista Agut was the top ranked player out on court, with the fifth seed defeating compatriot Pablo Andujar 6-4 6-0, joining seventh seed Denis Shapovalov, eighth seed David Goffin and 11th seed Jannik Sinner in the Round of 16.

The remaining Round of 64 matches were also completed in Barcelona, though it was not all good news for Spanish fans. Despite Albert Ramos-Vinolas securing a come-from-behind win over Danish qualifier Holger Vitus Nodskov Rune 6-7 7-1 7-6, three of his compatriots all fell. Young gun wildcard Carlos Alcaraz went down to Frances Tiafoe in straight sets, veteran Feliciano Lopez lost out to another rising young gun in Italian Lorenzo Musetti, while Alejandro Davidovich Fokina exited despite a strong first set, losing to Kazakhstan’s Alexander Bublik, 2-6 7-5 6-2. In the other two matches, Australia’s Jordan Thompson defeated France’s Richard Gasquet 7-6 3-6 7-6, and Gasquet’s compatriot Corentin Moutet won against German Dominik Koepfer, 7-5 6-2.

Meanwhile over in Serbia, the two home nation seeds had a mixed day out on court against qualifiers. Eighth seed Miomir Kecmanovic needed two tiebreakers to separate himself from Argentinian Facundo Bagnis, while ninth seed Laslo Djere went down to Italian Gianluca Mager, 6-4 6-3. French qualifier Arthur Rindeknecht made his way through to the season round against Argentina’s Juan Ignacio Londero, as Japan’s Taro Daniel won the battle of the lucky losers with Portugal’s Joao Sousa. Other winners included Australian Alexei Popyrin, Slovenia’s Aljaz Bedene, South Korea’s Soonwoo Kwon and Argentina’s Federico Delbonis.

BARCELONA OPEN ROUND OF 32 RESULTS:

[5] Roberto Bautista Agut (ESP) defeated Pablo Andujar (ESP) 6-4 6-0
[7] Denis Shapovalov (CAN) defeated Jeremy Chardy (FRA) 6-3 7-5
[8] David Goffin (BEL) defeated Pierre-Hugues Herbert (FRA) 6-2 6-4
[11] Jannik Sinner (ITA) defeated Egor Gerasimov (BLR) 6-3 6-2
Cameron Norrie (GBR) defeated [12] Karen Khachanov (RUS) 6-4 3-6 6-3

BARCELONA OPEN ROUND OF 64 RESULTS:

Albert Ramos-Vinolas (ESP) defeated [Q] Holger Vitus Nodskov Rune (DEN) 6-7 6-1 7-6
[WC] Lorenzo Musetti (ITA) defeated Feliciano Lopez (ESP) 6-4 6-3
Frances Tiafoe (USA) defeated [WC] Carlos Alcaraz (ESP) 6-4 7-6
Jordan Thompson (AUS) defeated Richard Gasquet (FRA) 7-6 4-6 7-6
Alexander Bublik (KAZ) defeated Alejandro Davidovich Fokina (ESP) 2-6 7-5 6-2
Corentin Moutet (FRA) defeated Dominik Koepfer (GER) 7-5 6-2

SERBIA OPEN ROUND OF 32 RESULTS:

[8] Miomir Kecmanovic (SRB) defeated [Q] Facundo Bagnis (ARG) 7-6 7-6
[Q] Gianluca Mager (ITA) defeated [9] Laslo Djere (SRB) 6-4 6-3
Federico Delbonis (ARG) defeated Ricardas Berankis (LTU) 6-4 3-6 6-1
Aljaz Bedene (SLO) defeated Sebastian Korda (USA) 7-5 1-6 7-6
Soonwoo Kwon (KOR) defeated [LL] Roberto Carballes Baena (ESP) 6-3 7-5
[LL] Taro Daniel (JPN) defeated [LL] Joao Sousa (POR) 7-5 6-3
Alexei Popyrin (AUS) defeated [Q] Francisco Cerundolo (ARG) 4-6 7-6 7-6
[Q] Arthur Rinderknech (FRA) defeated Juan Ignacio Londero (ARG) 6-1 7-5

ATP Tour wrap: Popyrin’s stunning turnaround confirms second round spot

AUSTRALIAN young gun Alexei Popyrin has produced a stunning comeback after dropping the first set to love, to book a second round spot in the 2021 Monte Carlo Masters 1000 event. Popyrin fell 6-0 down against Spaniard Pablo Andujar, then somehow managed to pick himself off the canvas to post a 0-6 6-2 7-6 victory in one hour and 58 minutes.

Popyrin served seven aces for five double faults, a far better ratio than his opponent, though Andujar was much more efficient with his serve, producing a 65 per cent efficiency to the Australian’s 47 per cent. Popyrin also won 71 per cent of his first serve points compared to Andujar’s 66 per cent. Neither player was particularly dominant on their second serve, with Popyrin taking 56 per cent of the points off Andujar, while the Spaniard won 48 per cent of Popyrin’s second serve. In the end just four points separated the players as Popyrin won 91 to 87 in the match.

The Australian – who had to come through qualifying – moved to a 12-4 record this season, and won his 14th tiebreaker from 17 chances, a remarkable amount of tiebreakers in just 15 matches – greater than one per match. His maiden title in Singapore has seen him get on the board on the ATP Tour, but he also has four Top 50 victories to his name, and will now take on French wildcard Lucas Pouille in the second round. Popyrin has an open draw into the the quarter finals if he is good enough, following Alejandro Davidovich Fokina‘s upset of Matteo Berrettini.

Davidovich Fokina defeated the eighth seed Italian 7-5 6-3 in their clash, to book a spot in the third round and await the winner of Popyrin and Pouille. The pair met at the Australian Open third round last year, with the Frenchman winning an absolute classic in five sets, 7-6 6-3 6-7 4-6 6-3 after the Australian came from two sets down to force a fifth set, including holding his nerve in the third set to win the tiebreaker 12-10.

Davidovich Fokina was pleased with his upset of Berrettini to advance and have a rest before his next match, and noted he was aware that the Italian rising talent was returning from injury.

“I’m very happy with this win. I’m very excited to defeat a Top 10 player,” Davidovich Fokina said post-match. “Last year I faced a couple of Top 10 players and I came close, but I couldn’t close them out. “But here I am improving every day, I’m playing better and better. “I also knew that Matteo was coming back from an injury and he wouldn’t have a lot of rhythm. I was able to take advantage of that today.”

The other Round of 32 match saw fourth seed Stefanos Tsitsipas advance with a straight sets win over the dangerous Aslan Karatsev, 6-3 6-4. The Greek star will now await the winner of 16th seed clay court specialist Cristian Garin and Australian John Millman. In other results, the seeds all advanced with Spanish duo Roberto Bautista Agut and Pablo Carreno Busta, Pole Hubert Hurkacz, Bulgarian Grigor Dimitrov and Italian Fabio Fognini all joining Garin – who knocked off Canadian young gun Felix Auger-Aliassime – in the second round.

Norwegian Casper Ruud set up a tantalising clash with fellow clay courter Diego Schwartzman, as Argentinian qualifier Federico Delbonis advanced past Adrian Mannarino to have the tough job of matching Rafael Nadal on the clay. Italian teenager Jannik Sinner got past Albert Ramos-Vinolas 6-3 6-4 and now faces top seed Novak Djokovic in the Serbian’s first match since his Australian Open triumph. It was not a great day for the Serbians overall, with Miomir Kecmanovic, Dusan Lajovic and Laslo Djere all knocked out in the first round, and Filip Krajinovic advancing thanks to a retirement from Georgian Nikoloz Basilashvili. Other winners were Great Britain’s Daniel Evans, France’s Jeremy Chardy, Russia’s Karen Khachanov and a trio of Italians in Lorenzo Sonego, and qualifiers Marco Cecchinato and Salvatore Caruso.

MONTE CARLO MASTERS ROUND OF 32 RESULTS:

[4] Stefanos Tsitsipas (GRE) defeated Aslan Karatsev (RUS) 6-3 6-4
Alejandro Davidovich Fokina (ESP) defeated [8] Matteo Berrettini (ITA) 7-5 6-3

MONTE CARLO MASTERS ROUND OF 64 RESULTS:

[9] Roberto Bautista Agut (ESP) defeated Taylor Fritz (USA) 6-2 7-5
[12] Pablo Carreno Busta (ESP) defeated [Q] Stefano Travaglia (ITA) 7-5 7-6
[13] Hubert Hurkacz (POL) defeated [Q] Thomas Fabbiano (ITA) 6-3 3-6 6-3
[14] Grigor Dimitrov (BUL) defeated Jan-Lennard Struff (GER) 6-3 6-4
[15] Fabio Fognini (ITA) defeated Miomir Kecmanovic (SRB) 6-2 7-5
[16] Cristian Garin (CHI) defeated Felix Auger-Aliassime (CAN) 7-6 6-1
Jannik Sinner (ITA) defeated Albert Ramos-Vinolas (ESP) 6-3 6-4
Daniel Evans (GBR) defeated Dusan Lajovic (SRB) 6-3 6-7 6-2
[WC] Lucas Pouille (FRA) defeated Guido Pella (ARG) 6-3 6-4
Karen Khachanov (RUS) defeated Laslo Djere (SRB) 6-4 6-1
[Q] Marco Cecchinato (ITA) defeated [Q] Dominik Koepfer (GER) 6-4 6-3
[Q] Salvatore Caruso (ITA) defeated [WC] Lucas Catarina (POL) 6-7 7-6 6-3
Casper Ruud (NOR) defeated [WC] Holger Vitus Nodskov Rune (DEN) 6-2 6-1
Lorenzo Sonego (ITA) defeated Marton Fucsovics (HUN) 6-3 6-4
[Q] Federico Delbonis (ARG) defeated Adrian Mannarino (FRA) 7-5 6-1
Jeremy Chardy (FRA) defeated Alexander Bublik (KAZ) 6-4 0-6 7-5
[Q] Alexei Popyrin (AUS) defeated Pablo Andujar (ESP) 0-6 6-2 7-6
Filip Krajinovic (SRB) defeated Nikoloz Basilashvili (GEO) 6-1 2-0

ATP Miami Open 1000: Bautista Agut to face Sinner in semis

ROBERTO Bautista Agut is set for a rematch with teenage Italian Jannik Sinner after toppling the number one player in Miami to book a semi-final spot. The seventh seed Spaniard won 6-4 6-2 over Daniil Medvedev in the Miami Open 1000 ATP Masters quarter finals.

“I want to give Daniil all the credit, I know he is one of the best players in the world,” Bautista Agut said post-match. “He’s been winning a lot of matches, he’s No. 2 in the world, so I’m very happy and proud about how I played today. I think I showed a great level on the court.”

Bautista Agut lost to Sinner in three sets back in Dubai a fortnight and will be keen to turn it around when he faces him in the penultimate round of action in a couple of days.

“It was a very tough match in Dubai, and it was a very tight score,” Bautista Agut said. “He’s playing great, he’s very solid and he has very good strokes. I think I’ll have to play another good match like tonight.

“Jannik is playing great… I have to say he will be one of the best players in the world. I want to enjoy another good match and be happy about playing in the semi-finals.”

In the earlier match 21st seed Sinner fought off 32nd seed Alexander Bublik in straight sets 7-6 6-4. The 31st ranked 19-year-old is in some terrific form, reaching his first ever Masters 1000 semi-final after winning his maiden quarter final against his more experienced opponent. He needed an hour and 41 minutes to take out the win, triumphing 7-5 in the first set before closing it out with an important break in the second set.

“We had a tough battle two weeks ago in Dubai. [It was] tough here today as well,” Sinner said post-match. “It was strange today. He was changing the game… I never had this kind of match, to be honest… I just tried to stay there, stick into the match and I am happy about my performance today.”

Sinner served up two aces to Bublik’s seven whilst saving seven of nine break points. He won a high 59 per cent of his second serve points, to go with his 63 per cent of his first serve points off a 64 per cent clip. Bublik also served at a 63 per cent success rate from his first serve points, but only managed the 47 per cent off his second serve and was broken three times.

“It is [difficult to keep your concentration against Bublik] because, at the point when you think you are playing good, he is doing something to take out your rhythm,” Sinner said. “It is strange because he has incredible hands and I think he is one of the most talented guys on Tour. He can do whatever he wants with the ball. A match against him can change very quickly.”

In the end, it was just seven points that separated the players, as Sinner won 88 total points compared to the Kazakh’s 81. Now the Italian will eye off two more wins to collect the third title of his career and second this season, with a 13-4 record in 2021 thus far. Prior to knowing his opponent for the semi-final, Sinner said he knew regardless of who it is, it was going to be a tough match.

“I am very happy [to be] playing one more match here in Miami,” Sinner said. “I think both [players] are very, very difficult players to play against. With Medvedev [in ATP] Head2Head, I am 0-2 [and] with Roberto I won a very tough one in Dubai two weeks ago. It is going to be a very interesting match and I think they will show a very high level this evening.”

MIAMI OPEN QUARTER FINALS RESULTS:

[1] Daniil Medvedev (RUS) [7] Roberto Bautista Agut (ESP)
[21] Jannik Sinner (ITA) defeated [32] Alexander Bublik (KAZ) 7-6 6-4

 

Picture credit: Michael Reaves/Getty Images

ATP Miami Open 1000: Korda continues run with Schwartzman upset

SEBASTIAN Korda will have the hopes of a nation on his shoulders after being the sole United States representative through to the 2021 Miami Open ATP 1000 quarter finals from a brutal day of Round of 16 action. Korda had a fantastic win over fifth seed Diego Schwartzman, 6-3 4-6 7-5 in two hours and 35 minutes to book his spot in the final eight.

He served eight aces to one, and capitalised with 73 per cent of his first serve points to Schwartzman’s 57 per cent, and served at a higher clip (62 to 56 per cent). The American broke four times from 11 chances, whilst his opponent won three games off Korda’s serve from eight opportunities.

Korda was the sole American left standing in the final eight, following losses to three of his compatriots. Top ranked United States competitor, John Isner lost out to seventh seed Roberto Bautista Agut in three sets, going down 6-3 4-6 7-6. He joined Frances Tiafoe and Taylor Fritz on the sidelines after Round of 16 losses. Top seed Daniil Medvedev won through against Tiafoe in straight sets 6-4 6-3, while Alexander Bublik triumphed in a come-from-behind victory over 22nd seed Fritz, 6-7 6-3 6-4.

“It was definitely a tough match,” Medvedev said of reaching his maiden Miami Open quarter final. “[There were] a lot of great points, some of them he won, some of them I won… The serve helped me a lot today, especially in the second set.”

It was a great day for up-and-coming ATP Tour players, with Jannik Sinner and Hubert Hurkacz both winning their respective matches. Italian teenager Sinner won through to his maiden ATP Masters 1000 quarter final following a 6-3 6-2 win over Finland’s Emil Ruusuvuori, while Hurkacz toppled 12th seed Milos Raonic in a come-from-behind upset win 4-6 6-3 7-6.

Sinner will now take on Bublik in a tantalising semi-final, which the Kazakh 32nd seed said he was ready for despite the Italian’s obvious talent.

“[Sinner] is so young,” Bublik said. “He is an unbelievable athlete and he runs forever… He is an unbelievable player and sharing a quarter-final with him is a pleasure for me. I hope to have a great match.”

In the two matches yet to be completed, two top four seeds were out on court, with second seed Stefanos Tsitsipas taking on Italian Lorenzo Sonego, while fourth seed Andrey Rublev was engaged in a battle with unseeded Croatian Marin Cilic.

MIAMI OPEN ROUND OF 16 RESULTS:

[1] Daniil Medvedev (RUS) defeated Frances Tiafoe (USA) 6-4 6-3
[2] Stefanos Tsitsipas (GRE) [24] Lorenzo Sonego (ITA)
[4] Andrey Rublev (RUS) Marin Cilic (CRO)
Sebastian Korda (USA) defeated [5] Diego Schwartzman (ARG) 6-3 4-6 7-5
[7] Roberto Bautista Agut (ESP) defeated [18] John Isner (USA) 6-3 4-6 7-6
[26] Hubert Hurkacz (POL) defeated [12] Milos Raonic (CAN) 4-6 6-3 7-6
[21] Jannik Sinner (ITA) defeated Emil Ruusuvuori (FIN) 6-3 6-2
[32] Alexander Bublik (KAZ) defeated [22] Taylor Fritz (USA) 6-7 6-3 6-4

 

Picture credit: Geoff Burke / USA Today Sports