Tag: aslan karatsev

ATP Miami Open 1000: Korda dominates on home soil as Hurkacz upsets Shapovalov

IN a day that largely went the way of the higher ranked player in each Miami Open ATP 1000 contest, the fourth round of the tournament was decided following eight singles matches played out overnight. Unlike the day before where all bar two matches were three-setters, this day was a little different with many of the matches racing through quickly and all bar one being over in straight sets results.

The biggest upset was arguably American Sebastian Korda who took out the red-hot Aslan Karatsev, with the Russian now-17th seed no match for the home nation hero. Korda won 6-3 6-0 in a one-sided affair to advance to the last 16 to be one of only two unseeded players in that half of the draw. The other is Croatian Marin Cilic, with the veteran toppling Italian teenager Lorenzo Musetti in straight sets, 6-3 6-4.

“[It was] my third match in a row on the same court and I just got used to the conditions,” Cilic said post-match. “I felt quite good on the ball today and I returned well. I felt that I put a lot of returns back in comparison to the first two matches. It was a very good performance and definitely something motivating for the next matches.”

Polish up-and-comer Hubert Hurkacz defied his 26th seeding with a tight straight sets win over sixth seed Canadian Denis Shapovalov. Hurkacz won 6-3 7-6 to hold off the fellow youngster, winning 8-6 in a nail-biting second set tiebreaker. It was better news for Shapovalov’s compatriot Milos Raonic, who toppled 20th seed Ugo Humbert 6-4 7-5 to advance to the Round of 16. Humbert was one of two Frenchman to depart on the day, with 25th seed Adrian Mannarino bowing out to fifth seed Argentinian Diego Schwartzman 6-1 6-4.

On the Grandstand court, fourth seed Andrey Rublev defeated 29th seed Hungarian Marton Fucsovics 6-2 6-1 to continue his ripping form, defeating his opponent for the third time in the past month. Last time they played, Fucsovics famously said he would be glad if he “never had to play him again”, and unfortunately for the Hungarian, the tournament draw was not kind to him.

“I was laughing, because of [the] situation and plus Marton also told me, ‘I don’t want to see you. I don’t want to see you,'” Rublev said post-match. “[It was] just a situation that [was] fun, and I feel sorry.”

In the latest match, Stefanos Tsitsipas and Kei Nishikori engaged in the best battle of the day, as the Greek won the first set, before the former Top 5 Japanese talent took out the second set. It took a full three sets for Tsitsipas to finally shake off Nishikori, breaking him twice in the deciding set to cruise to a win in just under two hours, 6-3 3-6 6-1.

MIAMI OPEN ROUND OF 32 RESULTS:

[2] Stefanos Tsitsipas (GRE) defeated [28] Kei Nishikori (JPN) 6-3 3-6 6-1
[4] Andrey Rublev (RUS) defeated [29] Marton Fucsovics (HUN) 6-2 6-1
[5] Diego Schwartzman (ARG) defeated [25] Adrian Mannarino (GFRA) 6-1 6-4
[26] Hubert Hurkacz (POL) defeated [6] Denis Shapovalov (CAN) 6-3 7-6
[12] Milos Raonic (CAN) defeated [20] Ugo Humbert (FRA) 6-4 7-5
Sebastian Korda (USA) defeated [17] Aslan Karatsev (RUS) 6-3 6-0
[24] Lorenzo Sonego (ITA) defeated Daniel Elahi Galan (COL) 7-6 6-3
Marin Cilic (CRO) defeated Lorenzo Musetti (ITA) 6-3 6-4

 

Picture credit: ATP Tour

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: Karatsev wins maiden title; top two seeds book Acapulco final

A MAIDEN title-winner was crowned in Dubai with victory over a qualifier in the final, as the top two seeds in Acapulco made their way through to the final.

Russian wildcard Aslan Karatsev‘s remarkable start to 2021 has continued with the Australian Open semi-finalist claiming his maiden ATP Tour title with victory in the final of the Dubai Tennis Championships. The 27-year-old defeated South African qualifier Lloyd Harris in straight sets 6-3 6-2, to cap off a remarkable week which included four wins against seeds, including second seed Andrey Rublev, and Next Gen Finals past winner Jannik Sinner. Unlike those two matches, Karatsev had this win a little easier, getting up in just 75 minutes.

“I am super happy. It was a tight match. [I was] really nervous,” Karatsev said post-match. “I want to congratulate my opponent for the final [run]. He did a great week… I am happy that I won.”

Karatsev weathered Harris’ eight aces to produce three of his own, whilst saving both break points and breaking his South African opponent three times from eight chances. He controlled play off his first serve, with a whopping 83 per cent success rate off a 62 per cent clip, also winning 50 per cent of his second serve points, compared to Harris’ two of 12. With 27 winners to his name, Karatsev added his name to the history books as a first time winner, the fourth to do so in 2021 in what is really changing of the guard, and also the third Russian to win a title.

“You never know when [success] is coming,” Karatsev said. “I did a good job with my team, with my coach and it has happened now.

“I am really happy with my performance and [I am] really happy with my game. “At the beginning of the year, [I was happy] to play an Australian Open semi-final [and] to show a great level. “After the Australian Open, I kept going, practising hard… I arrived here with more belief than in Doha. “I showed a fantastic week and a good game.”

The title moves Karatsev into world number 27, a remarkable bolt up the order since entering the year at 114th. He will now head to Miami where he will test his hand at his maiden ATP 1000 tournament in a 96-player field.

DUBAI TENNIS CHAMPIONSHIPS FINAL RESULT:

[WC] Aslan Karatsev (RUS) defeated [Q] Lloyd Harris (RSA) 6-3 6-2

 

Despite a number of upsets over the course of the tournament, the two top ranked players in Acapulco reached the Abierto Mexicano final. Greek star Stefanos Tsitsipas and German Alexander Zverev both booked their spots in the decider with straight sets wins over their lower ranked opponents to advance through to tonights’ final.

Tsitsipas won 6-1 6-3 over Italian teenager Lorenzo Musetti in one hour and 19 minutes, only serving the two aces, but winning 22 of 26 first serve points, then capitalising with more than half of his second serve points (52 per cent), compared to Musetti’s 56 and 41 per cent. The Greek top seed also did not face a break point, and broke four times from eight chances against the 19-year-old during the dominant win.

“Matches like this are really important and I’m happy to be playing well,” Tsitsipas said post-match. “Acapulco has been treating me really well and the fans have been giving me love and support. We’ll definitely see a lot from Lorenzo in the future, he has a wonderful one-handed backhand and creates lots of opportunities. He showed his level this week.”

In the other semi-final, Zverev was too good for a determined Dominik Koepfer, with the all-German battle lasting two hours and nine minutes before Zverev got up, 6-4 7-6, including a 7-5 second set tiebreaker. The second seed only served the three aces – the same as Koepfer, but had seven less double faults (1-8), whilst converting 71 per cent of his first serve points and 54 per cent of his second serve points. Koepfer was solid with 59 and 53 per cent respectively, but could only break Zverev twice, whilst the second seed broke his lower ranked compatriot three times during the two-hour and nine-minute match.

“He’s (Koepfer) a very tough player to play right now. He won some incredible matches,” Zverev said post-match. “Beating [Milos] Raonic on a hard court the way that he did is very tough. I think he showed that he is somebody who can play extremely well on this level. Today, honestly, I thought I played a not bad match and he gave me a tough time.”

Tsitsipas holds a 5-1 record over Zverev, and in fact has won the last five battles – including three straight-set wins over the German – when they have faced off. Zverev will be hoping to wind back to the clock to 2018 when he last defeated Tsitsipas in order to cause an upset in the final.

“I am really looking forward to the final,” Tsitsipas said. “Sascha is someone I’ve played against in the past and it’s never easy. We’re both really hungry and we’re both very competitive.”

ABIERTO MEXICANO SEMI-FINALS RESULTS:

[1] Stefanos Tsitsipas (GRE) defeated [Q] Lorenzo Musetti (ITA) 6-1 6-3
[2] Alexander Zverev (GER) defeated Dominik Koepfer (GER) 6-4 7-6

 

Picture credit: Francois Nel/Getty Images

ATP Tour wrap: Karatsev and Harris stun seeds for Dubai final as Musetti reaches Acapulco semis

STUNNING upsets in both Dubai and Acapulco have set up some huge semis and quarter finals respectively, with two of the top three ranked players in Dubai out in penultimate stage of the tournament.

Russian wildcard Aslan Karatsev‘s season just keeps getting better and better with the 27-year-old excitement machine stunning highly ranked compatriot Andrey Rublev, by ending his 23-game winning streak at ATP 500 events in Dubai overnight. Karatsev won 6-2 4-6 6-4 in the semi-final clash to move into his first ever ATP 500 final on debut in the tournament. By defeating the second seed, Karatsev won against a fourth straight seed in the tournament, showing he can match it with anyone on any given day and makes you wonder how he could have he could have only won three ATP Tour matches prior to 2021.

Prior to the Australian Open, Karatsev was ranked 114th in the world with a 3-10 ATP Tour record, but three tournaments later and he is up to 14-12 and potentially on the verge of his maiden ATP title. He reached the final in two hours and 12 minutes on court against Rublev, serving seven aces to five, and winning 78 per cent of his first serve points. He also created a whopping 16 break point opportunities – taking four of them, to Rublev’s two of our, defeating the Russian who had met every challenge set of him at ATP 500 events in the past 12 months. The Russian wildcard hit a whopping 41 winners during the match to be the first wildcard player through to the final in 24 years.

“It was a really tight match [against a] tough opponent,” Karatsev said post-match. “It was an unbelievable performance [from Andrey]. He didn’t lose a match at an ATP 500 in [one year]. Everything was decided in one or two points, I feel happy.”

Karatsev now faces South African qualifier Lloyd Harris who has had a stunning tournament himself, most recently knocking off third seed Denis Shapovalov in three epic sets, 6-7 6-4 7-6 to advance through to the final. The last tiebreaker went to 8-6 and could have gone either way, but the big-serving South African got it done in two hoursand 41 minutes. He served 12 aces to eight, and won 80 and 53 per cent of his first and second serve points compared to Shapovalov’s 75 and 47 per cent.

Much like Karatsev, Harris is also yet to claim an ATP Tour title, with the 24-year-old in his maiden final. The winner of the match will join Daniel Evans, Alexei Popyrin and Juan Manuel Cerundolo as first-time winners in 2021. A win to Karatsev would see him reach the Top 30 in a remarkable start to the year, while Harris would enter the Top 50.

DUBAI TENNIS CHAMPIONSHIPS SEMI-FINALS RESULTS:

[WC] Aslan Karatsev (RUS) defeated [2] Andrey Rublev (RUS) 6-2 4-6 6-4
[Q] Lloyd Harris (RSA) defeated [3] Denis Shapovalov (CAN) 6-7 6-4 7-6

 

Italian teenager Lorenzo Musetti has booked his spot in the Abierto Mexicano ATP 500 event after an impressive win over fifth seed Grigor Dimitrov. The 19-year-old defeated the Bulgarian 6-4 7-6, making his way into the final four in two hours and nine minutes. There was not much between the players, with Musetti breaking three times to two, but creating 14 break point opportunities to really put pressure on his more experienced opponent. In the end it just came down to crucial moments, with Dimitrov’s inconsistency on serve, and Musetti’s determination that played a role in the result.

“It’s incredible really. I didn’t expect this,” Musetti said post-match. “Today I think I played the best match in my life. Grigor is an incredible opponent, a great fighter. “Even today, I had a lot of match points and was really difficult for my coach.”

In other results, the top two seeds advanced through to the semis, with Stefanos Tsitsipas defeated seventh seed Felix Auger-Aliassime in three sets, 7-5 4-6 6-3. The Greek number one seed needed two hours and three minutes to shake off the young Canadian, winning 76 per cent of his first serve points off a 70 per cent clip, also breaking three times to two throughout the match. There was not much between the players, and in the end, it was the final set break that helped the tournament favourite secure his spot.

For second seed Alexander Zverev, it was much easier, walking through to the semi-finals after eighth seed Norwegian Casper Ruud pulled out. Zverev will be joined by compatriot Dominik Koepfer in the final four, after the latter defeated Great Britain’s Cameron Norrie in straight sets, 7-5 6-4 to advance through. The Germans will now face off to see which one is the last one standing, while Tsitsipas and Musetti will challenge each other in the second semi-final of the day.

ABIERTO MEXICANO QUARTER FINALS RESULTS:

[1] Stefanos Tsitsipas (GRE) defeated [7] Felix Auger-Aliassime (CAN) 7-5 4-6 6-3
[2] Alexander Zverev (GER) defeated [8] Casper Ruud (NOR) W/O
[Q] Lorenzo Musetti (ITA) defeated [5] Grigor Dimitrov (BUL) 6-4 7-6
Dominik Koepfer (GER) defeated Cameron Norrie (GBR) 7-5 6-4

 

Picture credit: ATP Tour

ATP Tour wrap: Qualifiers continue runs in Dubai and Acapulco

THE two ATP 500 events in Dubai and Acapulco provided some surprising upsets, as well as some come-from-behind wins as we recap the day’s action.

The top two remaining seeds continued their straight-sets run into the semi-finals, joining the two surprise packets in the semi-finals of the 2021 ATP Dubai Tennis Championships. Second seed Andrey Rublev and third seed Denis Shapovalov continued their dominant form to reach the final four, while Russian wildcard Aslan Karatsev and South African qualifier Lloyd Harris continued their respective runs into the semis.

The top ranked Rublev has been near unbeatable at ATP 500 level of late, and his consecutive run – which includes three titles – extended to 23. He defeated Hungarian Marton Fucsovics in straight sets 7-5 6-2, repeating the effort from their head-to-head at the most recent ATP 500 event in Rotterdam. The second seed will now lock horns with compatriot Karatsev who paved his way through to the semis with a come-from-behind win over young gun Jannik Sinner.

“I have really great connection with Marton and we are good friends on Tour. I have a huge respect for him. All the matches that we’ve played each other were drama matches,” Rublev said post-match. “We just smiled because we always have tough matches against each other. It’s not easy to play each other. “It’s always long rallies, it’s always tough points and in the end we just smiled.”

Karatsev dropped the first set to the Italian 16th seed in a tiebreaker 7-5, but found his groove in the final two sets to win 6-7 6-3 6-2 in the longest match of the day at two hours and 29 minutes. Sinner served up 10 aces against the Australian Open semi-finalist, but Karatsev was more consistent upon return, breaking five times to two and winning 79 and 50 per cent of his first and second serve points.

“It was tough at the beginning as he is a really talented guy,” Karatsev said post-match. “In the tie-break I was a little unlucky. I felt more comfortable in the second set and knew how to play against him.”

Meanwhile third seed Shapovalov was able to get past Frenchman Jeremy Chardy in another quarter final, defeating his opponent 7-5 6-4. The Canadian has also not dropped a set in Dubai and was able to book a date with Harris in the semi-finals following the big-serving South African’s victory over Kei Nishikori. It is Harris’ second win over a Grand Slam champion, having defeated Dominic Thiem in the Round of 32. This time he had to fight all the way in three sets, defeating the Japanese veteran, 6-1 3-6 6-3.

“It was a tough match as Jeremy was serving and playing well,” Shapovalov said post-match. “I am really happy that I was able to convert the break points. It helps to play three straight sets matches and I feel fresh and ready to go.”

Karatsev has shuffled up four places in the ATP Tour world rankings, going above both Nishikori and Fucsovics into number 38 in the world, while Harris is now also at a career-high of 64th following a 17-spot rise. Rublev is slowly closing the gap on the Top 7, while Shapovalov has leapfrogged Roberto Bautista Agut who fell in the Round of 16 at Acapulco.

DUBAI TENNIS CHAMPIONSHIPS QUARTER FINALS RESULTS:

[2] Andrey Rublev (RUS) defeated Marton Fucsovics (HUN) 7-5 6-2
[3] Denis Shapovalov (CAN) defeated Jeremy Chardy (FRA) 7-5 6-4
[WC] Aslan Karatsev (RUS) defeated [16] Jannik Sinner (ITA) 6-7 6-3 6-2
[Q] Lloyd Harris (RSA) defeated Kei Nishikori (JPN) 6-1 3-6 6-3

 

Five of the seven seeds in the Abierto Mexicano ATP 500 event made their way through to the last eight in what was largely a one-sided day of action. Six of the eight matches were done in just two sets, with no more than 19 games played in each of those. The two three-set matches featured the remaining qualifiers with the results going both ways.

Italian teenager Lorenzo Musetti booked his spot in the quarter finals with a come-from-behind win over United States’ Frances Tiafoe 2-6 6-3 7-6, including a dominant 7-1 final set tiebreaker. He joined eighth seed Casper Ruud in there who had a similarly tough time shaking off Dutch qualifier Tallon Griekspoor in three sets, 4-6 6-3 7-6. Ruud won the deciding tiebreaker 7-3 in a match that lasted two hours and 23 minutes, which was 21 minutes less than the Musetti-Tiafoe clash.

All the other results were straightforward, though not always as you would expect, with German Dominik Koepfer and Brit Cameron Norrie being two other unseeded players to reach the Acapulco quarter finals. Koepfer upset fourth seed Canadian Milos Raonic 6-4 6-2, while Norrie took down Italian sixth seed Fabio Fognini, 6-4 6-3. It was better news for another Canadian in seventh seed Felix Auger-Aliassime who defeated United States’ wildcard Sebastian Korda 6-3 6-4.

Korda joined John Isner on the list of outs, following the big-serving American’s demise at the hands of top seed Stefanos Tsitsipas. The Greek talent won 6-3 6-2 to breeze through to the last eight, as did second seed Alexander Zverev and fifth seed Grigor Dimitov. The pair proved too strong for Serbian duo Laslo Djere and Miomir Kecmanovic respectively, defeating them both in straight sets respectively.

The results set up some blockbuster quarter finals, with Tsitsipas and Auger-Aliassime being the pick of the bunch. The other all-seeded quarter final between Ruud and Zverev is highly anticipated, whilst Musetti takes on Dimitrov, and Norrie faces Koepfer.

ABIERTO MEXICANO ROUND OF 16 RESULTS:

[1] Stefanos Tsitsipas (GRE) defeated John Isner (USA) 6-3 6-2
[2] Alexander Zverev (GER) defeated Laslo Djere (SRB) 6-4 6-3
Dominik Koepfer (GER) defeated [4] Milos Raonic (CAN) 6-4 6-2
[5] Grigor Dimitrov (BUL) defeated Miomir Kecmanovic (SRB) 6-4 6-2
Cameron Norrie (GBR) defeated [6] Fabio Fognini (ITA) 6-4 6-3
[7] Felix Auger-Aliassime (CAN) defeated [WC] Sebastian Korda (USA) 6-3 6-4
[8] Casper Ruud (NOR) defeated [Q] Tallon Griekspoor (NED) 4-6 6-3 7-6
[Q] Lorenzo Musetti (ITA) defeated Frances Tiafoe (USA) 2-6 6-3 7-6

ATP Tour wrap: Seeds begin to fall in Dubai, as Musetti upsets Schwartzman in Acapulco

IT was a horror day for the seeds in Dubai’s ATP 500 event, but not so bad for the ones at Acapulco, though one diminutive Argentinian Top 10 talent fell to an Italian qualifier.

Unseeded players at the Dubai Tennis Championships began to get their revenge on the seed’s who dominated the previous day’s play, with every possible unseeded player making their way through to the quarter finals at the ATP 500 event. The only unseeded player to lose out was Slovenia’s Aljaz Bedene, who went down to fellow unseeded talent Kei Nishikori who won in straight sets, 6-4 6-4 to advance to the final eight in the tournament.

The big wins were qualifier Lloyd Harris and wildcard Aslan Karatsev who advanced through to the quarter finals thanks to hard-fought victories in their respective matches. The South African Harris defeated 14th seed Serbian Filip Krajinovic in two tight sets 7-6 6-4, overcoming the first set tiebreaker 7-5 before holding up well under pressure in the second set to secure the win. Australian Open semi-finalist Karatsev won through with a come-from-behind three-set win over 17th seed Lorenzo Sonego, 3-6 6-3 6-4.

Other unseeded players to advance through were Frenchman Jeremy Chardy and Hungarian Marton Fucsovics. Chardy toppled Russian eighth seed Karen Khachanov 6-7 6-4 6-4 in an epic battle throughout two hours and 36 minutes, while Fucsovics defeated 11th seed Serbian Dusan Lajovic to advance to the next round of the tournament. Khachanov was the second highest ranked player to bow out in the Round of 16, as fourth seed Roberto Bautista Agut went down to Italian teenager Jannik Sinner, 6-4 3-6 7-5 in another epic contest that lasted two hours and 24 minutes and saw Sinner serve 16 aces throughout the match.

“Roberto is an incredible player, very solid,” Sinner said post-match. “It was very tough, not going for too much or striking the ball too slow. I am looking for these kind of tough matches in order to improve. I am happy to have won and can play one more match here tomorrow. I tried to control my emotions as much as possible, which helped me a lot.”

It was a lot more straight forward for the other two seeds who advanced, with second seed Andrey Rublev and third seed Denis Shapovalov having no issues moving through to the quarter finals. Rublev defeated 15th seed American Taylor Fritz 6-3 6-1 to book his place in the final eight, while Shapovalov took out 13th seed Pole Hubert Hurkacz 6-4 6-3.

The quarter final take place today with Shapovalov and Chardy up first, followed by Karatsev and Sinner in the other afternoon match. At night, Harris and Nishikori lock horns, followed by Fucsovics and Rublev in the late game. Chardy and Sinner will also have to double-up during the day with doubles quarter finals as well later in the afternoon.

DUBAI TENNIS CHAMPIONSHIPS ROUND OF 16 RESULTS:

[2] Andrey Rublev (RUS) defeated [15] Taylor Fritz (USA) 6-3 6-1
[3] Denis Shapovalov (CAN) defeated [13] Hubert Hurkacz (POL) 6-4 6-3
[16] Jannik Sinner (ITA) defeated [4] Roberto Bautista Agut (ESP) 6-4 3-6 7-5
Jeremy Chardy (FRA) defeated [8] Karen Khachanov (RUS) 6-7 6-4 6-4
Marton Fucsovics (HUN) defeated [11] Dusan Lajovic (SRB) 6-1 4-6 6-4
[Q] Lloyd Harris (RSA) defeated [14] Filip Krajinovic (SRB) 7-6 6-4
[WC] Aslan Karatsev (RUS) defeated [17] Lorenzo Sonego (ITA) 3-6 6-3 6-4
Kei Nishikori (JPN) defeated Aljaz Bedene (SLO) 6-4 6-4

 

In Acapulco, the Round of 32 was completed with 10 clashes played out on day two of the main draw matches, in the smaller ATP 500 event. The story of the day was Italian teenager Lorenzo Musetti – who only turned 19 earlier this month – taking down top seed Diego Schwartzman to set himself up for a Top 100 spot at the end of the tournament.

The qualifier won 6-3 2-6 6-4 in two hours and 23 minutes, serving six aces to zero, and winning 66 per cent of his first serve points. Schwartzman was more consistent off his second serve – winning 64 per cent of the points, but Musetti capitalised at the right times, breaking in the final set to claim the win and move through to the Round of 16.

“There is a lot of work, a lot of sacrifice and I think some tears left in my eyes,” Musetti said post-match. “I’m really proud of myself, but now I’m going to work harder and focus on the next days.”

All the other seeds in action advanced through to the next round unscathed, meaning seven of the eight seeds will be there in the Round of 16. Top seed Stefanos Tsitsipas brushed aside Frenchman Benoit Paire 6-3 6-1, whilst fifth seed Bulgarian Grigor Dimitrov spent the least time on court in a 6-4 3-0 win over Adrian Mannarino, as the Frenchman had to retire. Meanwhile other seeds Milos Raonic, Fabio Fognini and Casper Ruud all advanced through to the second round with straight set victories.

In the battle of the unseeded players, Serbia’s Miomir Kecmanovic and Great Britain’s Cameron Norrie both advanced in straight sets, defeating Feliciano Lopez and Stefan Kozlov respectively. In the all-American battle, Frances Tiafoe had some tense moments against up-and-coming qualifier and compatriot Brandon Nakashima, before posting a 6-4 6-7 7-6 victory – with both tiebreakers being 7-5 to respective players – in the longest match of the day with players spending two hours and 47 minutes on court. In the other result, Dutch qualifier Tallon Griekspoor moved through to the Round of 16 with a 7-6 4-6 6-3 victory over United States’ lucky loser Denis Kudla.

There are some ripping contests in today’s action with Musetti now facing off against Tiafoe for a spot in the quarter finals, while Fognini will take on Norrie. On centre court, top seed Tsitsipas will have a blockbuster match against John Isner, while earlier in the evening, American wildcard Sebastian Korda will face seventh seed Canadian Felix Auger-Aliassime, and Serbian Laslo Djere will lock horns with German second seed Alexander Zverev.

ABIERTO MEXICANO ROUND OF 32 RESULTS:

[1] Stefanos Tsitsipas (GRE) defeated Benoit Paire (FRA) 6-3 6-1
[Q] Lorenzo Musetti (ITA) defeated [3] Diego Schwartzman (ARG) 6-3 2-6 6-4
[4] Milos Raonic (CAN) defeated Tommy Paul (USA) 7-6 6-4
[5] Grigor Dimitrov (BUL) defeated Adrian Mannarino (FRA) 6-4 3-0 RET
[6] Fabio Fognini (ITA) defeated Stefano Travaglia (ITA) 7-5 6-2
[8] Casper Ruud (NOR) defeated [SE] Daniel Elahi Galan (COL) 6-4 6-1
Miomir Kecmanovic (SRB) defeated Feliciano Lopez (ESP) 6-4 6-4
Frances Tiafoe (USA) defeated [Q] Brandon Nakashima (USA) 6-4 6-7 7-6
Cameron Norrie (GBR) defeated [Q] Stefan Kozlov (USA) 6-3 6-3
[Q] Tallon Griekspoor (NED) defeated [LL] Denis Kudla (USA) 7-6 4-6 6-3

 

Picture credit: ATP Tour

ATP Tour wrap: Harris stuns Thiem in Dubai

THERE was plenty to unpack in the ATP Tour over the past 24 hours with some massive upsets in Dubai, and the Abierto Mexicano kicked off in Acapulco.

In Dubai, Lloyd Harris has caused the upset of the day with a straight sets win over top seed Dominic Thiem. The US Open reigning champion automatically booked his spot in the Round of 32 due to his seeding, but lasted just 72 minutes on court as the South African server won 6-3 6-4. Harris broke twice without facing a break point, and only lost one point on his first serve to be near-impenetrable off his racket. Thiem still won 81 per cent of his first serve points, but only served at 51 per cent efficiency in a disappointing performance from the Austrian.

“I’m super, super happy with that win. [He is] by far the highest-ranked player I have beaten,” Harris said post-match. “I look up to Domi a lot so, for me, it is a special feeling. “I am really happy. “Just the fact that I am playing good tennis, match in, match out now is giving me a lot of confidence.”

Thiem was not the only seed to bow out, with fifth seed Belgian David Goffin and sixth seed Spaniard Pablo Carreno Busta also losing. Goffin went down to Kei Nishikori, with the Japanese Grand Slam winner continuing to build since returning from injury, posting a tight 6-3 7-6 victory over the seed. Meanwhile, Rotterdam finalist Marton Fucsovics posted a come-from-behind win over Carreno Busta, dropping the first set in a tiebreaker before winning 6-7 6-3 6-2.

Lower down the seeded order, 12th seed Brit Daniel Evans lost at the hands of reborn Australian Open semi-finalist Aslan Karatsev, with the Russian wildcard winning in three sets, 6-4 4-6 6-4 to move through to the Round of 16. The only other unseeded player to make his way through to the third round was Slovenian Aljaz Bedene who took care of Italian lucky loser Lorenzo Giustino in straight sets.

It was a lot easier going for top talents, Andrey Rublev and Denis Shapovalov who accounted for Finnish qualifier Emil Ruusuvuori and German Jan-Lennard Stuff in straight sets. The second and third seeds were joined by fourth seed Roberto Bautista Agut in the third round, who won after Australian Matthew Ebden retired at 4-1 down in the first set. Also through to the next round was Russian eighth seed Karen Khachanov, who defeated the last remaining Australian in wildcard Alexei Popyrin, 6-4 3-6 7-6.

Dusan Lajovic, Hubert Hurkacz, Taylor Fritz, Jannik Sinner and Lorenzo Sonego were the other seeds through to the Round of 16, setting up some tantalising matches for the next day’s play. Harris will face Krajinovic, Fritz waill face Rublev, Sinner will take on Bautista Agut and Shapovalov will face Hurkacz in the games to watch, while the other four matches see Bedene facing Nishikori, Sonego locking horns with Karatsev, Fucsovics taking on Lajovic, and Frenchman Jeremy Chardy up against Khachanov.

DUBAI TENNIS CHAMPIONSHIPS ROUND OF 32 RESULTS:

[Q] Lloyd Harris (RSA) defeated [1] Dominic Thiem (AUT) 6-3 6-4
[2] Andrey Rublev (RUS) defeated [Q] Emil Ruusuvuori (FIN) 6-4 6-4
[3] Denis Shapovalov (CAN) defeated Jan-Lennard Struff (GER) 6-1 6-3
[4] Roberto Bautista Agut (ESP) defeated [SE] Matthew Ebden (AUS) 4-1 RET
Kei Nishikori (JPN) defeated [5] David Goffin (BEL) 6-3 7-6
Marton Fucsovics (HUN) defeated [6] Pablo Carreno Busta (ESP) 6-7 6-3 6-2
[8] Karen Khachanov (RUS) defeated [WC] Alexei Popyrin (AUS) 6-4 3-6 7-6
[11] Dusan Lajovic (CRO) defeated [WC] Malek Jaziri (TUN) 7-5 6-2
[WC] Aslan Karatsev (RUS) defeated [12] Daniel Evans (GBR) 6-4 4-6 6-4
[13] Hubert Hurkacz (POL) defeated Richard Gasquet (FRA) 6-3 6-4
[14] FIlip Krajinovic (SRB) defeated Alejandro Davidovich Fokina (ESP) 7-5 6-4
[15] Taylor Fritz (USA) defeated Nikoloz Basilashvili (GEO) 4-6 6-3 7-6
[16] Jannik Sinner (ITA) defeated Alexander Bublik (KAZ) 2-6 7-6 6-4
[17] Lorenzo Sonego (ITA) defeated [Q] Bernabe Zapata Miralles (ESP) 6-2 6-2
Aljaz Bedene (SLO) defeated [LL] Lorenzo Giustino (ITA) 6-4 6-3

 

It was a mixed bag for Americans in Mexico, with four United States, one Canadian and one Mexican out on court in a day of straight sets action. Whilst there were some anticipated Round of 32 matches to open the Abierto Mexicano, no match really lived up to too much bar seventh seed Felix Auger-Aliassime‘s victory over Tennys Sandgren. The young gun won 6-3 7-6 to advance through to the second round, the closest of the six encounters on the day.

United States’ Sebastian Korda also had a tight first set before impressively shaking off Croatian Marin Cilic 7-5 6-2, joining compatriot John Isner in the second round. The big serving American took care of Italian Salvatore Caruso in straight sets, 6-4 6-3. The news was not as positive for Steve Johnson, who bowed out 6-2 6-3 to Serbian Laslo Djere, while German duo Alexander Zverev and Dominik Koepfer both advanced through to the Round of 16.

The second seed Zverev won 6-3 6-1 against Spanish teenage talent Carlos Alcaraz, while Koepfer booked his spot in the second round with a 6-4 6-2 victory over local wildcard, Gerardo Lopez Villasenor. A massive day of action will see the other six seeds in action, with number one seed Stefanos Tsitsipas facing Frenchman Benoit Paire, third seed Diego Schwartzman up against Italian young gun qualifier Lorenzo Musetti, Adrian Mannarino trying to take down fifth seed Grigor Dimitrov, and Tommy Paul up against fourth seed Milos Raonic.

ABIERTO MEXICANO ROUND OF 32 RESULTS:

[2] Alexander Zverev (GER) defeated [WC] Carlos Alcaraz (ESP) 6-3 6-1
[7] Felix Auger-Aliassime (CAN) defeated Tennys Sandgren (USA) 6-3 7-6
[WC] Sebastian Korda (USA) defeated Marin Cilic CRO) 7-5 6-2
Laslo Djere (SR) defeated Steve Johnson (USA) 6-2 6-3
John Isner (USA) defeated Salvatore Caruso (ITA) 6-4 6-3
Dominik Koepfer (GER) defeated [WC] Gerardo Lopez Villasenor (MEX) 6-4 6-2

 

Picture credit: ATP Tour

ATP Tour wrap: Roger returns to a win as top five seeds advance in Doha

THREE tournaments across the globe saw Round of 16 matches completed in Doha, Marseille and Santiago, including the return of a legend as we wrap up the day’s work on the ATP Tour.

Roger Federer was the man everyone was watching in Doha, as the Swiss Grand Slam winner made his successful return from injury to post a solid victory over Great Britain’s Daniel Evans. It was far from complete, only just surviving a first set tiebreaker and then dropping the second set, but Federer came away with the three set win. 7-6 3-6 7-5 in two hours and 24 minutes. He served up 13 aces and won 79 per cent of his first serve points, and showed enough to suggest he will be building in the coming weeks.

“It feels good to be back,” Federer said post-match. “I am happy to be standing here regardless of if I won or lost, but obviously winning feels better. It was a good match. Dan played a good match too. He has been a wonderful training partner as well. Over the past two weeks, we played over 20 sets and it went on [tonight].”

Federer joined fellow top five seeds through to the quarter finals in Dominic Thiem, Andrey Rublev, Denis Shapovalov and Roberto Bautista Agut who all advanced into the final eight. Thiem had the biggest fight of the lot, coming back from a set down to shake off Russian wildcard and Australian Open semi-finalist Aslan Karatsev, 6-7 6-3 6-2. Shapovalov got the better of Canadian compatriot Vasek Pospisil again 7-5 6-4, while Bautista Agut defeated Kazakhstan’s Alexander Bublik 6-4 6-3, and Rublev waltzed through to the quarter finals following opponent Richard Gasquet‘s withdrawal pre-match.

In the other results, Taylor Fritz put in the biggest upset of the day, defeating sixth seed Belgian David Goffin 6-1 5-7 7-6. The other two unseeded players to advance through were Nikoloz Basilashvili and Marton Fucsovics. Basilashvili toppled Tunisian wildcard Malek Jaziri in straight sets 6-2 6-2, while Fucsovics had to work a bit harder to shake off South African qualifier Lloyd Harris in three, 4-6 7-6 6-2.

Fritz takes on Shapovalov up first tomorrow, with Rublev and Fucsovics completing the day session at Doha. Federer and Basilashvili open the night session, with the completion of the evening being Thiem and Bautista Agut in a blockbuster head-to-head.

QATAR OPEN ROUND OF 16 RESULTS:

[1] Dominic Thiem (AUT) defeated [WC] Aslan Karatsev (RUS) 6-7 6-3 6-2
[2] Roger Federer (SUI) defeated Daniel Evans (GBR) 7-6 3-6 7-5
[3] Andrey Rublev (RUS) defeated Richard Gasquet (FRA) W/O
[4] Denis Shapovalov (CAN) defeated Vasek Pospisil (CAN) 7-5 6-4
[5] Roberto Bautista Agut (ESP) defeated Alexander Bublik (KAZ) 6-4 6-3
Taylor Fritz (USA) defeated [6] David Goffin (BEL) 6-1 5-7 7-6
Nikoloz Basilashvili (GEO) defeated [WV] Malek Jaziri (TUN) 6-2 6-2
Marton Fucsovics (HUN) defeated [Q] Lloyd Harris (RSA) 4-6 7-6 6-2

 

Six matches were completed in Marseille overnight, as the first four quarter finalists were decided, and the Round of 32 remaining two matches done and dusted. In those first round contests, Belarusian Egor Gerasimov destroyed German Yannick Hanfmann 6-2 6-0, while Great Britain’s Cameron Norrie advanced through in a tough one over French qualifier Constant Lestienne, 6-4 6-7 6-3.

The four Open 13 Provence Round of 16 matches saw all three seeds on court book their spots in the quarter finals, and it was further bad news for the home nation. While fourth seed Ugo Humbert made his way through to the final eight, it was at the expense of compatriot Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, while wildcard Hugo Gaston also fell, going down to fifth seed Jannik Sinner in straight sets. Continuing the theme of straight sets results, third seed Karen Khachanov knocked off American Mackenzie McDonald 7-6 6-4, while Australian qualifier Matthew Ebden stunned Finnish young gun Emil Ruusuvuori, 6-2 6-2.

The remaining four Round of 16 matches take place today, with Norrie challenging Frenchman Pierre-Hugues Herbert, and Gerasimov stepping up against top seed Daniil Medvedev. In the other games, two more home nation heroes enter the court, as qualifier Arthur Rinderknech will test himself against seventh seed Spaniard Alejandro Davidovich Fokina, while Lucas Pouille has an even stiffer test, up against second seed Greek Stefanos Tsitsipas.

OPEN 13 PROVENCE ROUND OF 16 RESULTS:

[3] Karen Khachanov (RUS) defeated [PR] Mackenzie McDonald (USA) 7-6 6-4
[4] Ugo Humbert (FRA) defeated Jo-Wilfried Tsonga (FRA) 6-3 6-4
[5] Jannik Sinner (ITA) defeated [WC] Hugo Gaston (FRA) 6-4 6-1
[Q] Matthew Ebden (AUS) defeated Emil Ruusuvuori (FIN) 6-2 6-2

ROUND OF 32 RESULTS:

Cameron Norrie (GBR) defeated [Q] Constant Lestienne (FRA) 6-4 6-7 6-3
Egor Gerasimov (BLR) defeated Yannick Hanfmann (GER) 6-2 6-0

 

At the time of publishing, three Round of 16 matches were completed, with two of the three seeds in action making it through to the quarter finals. Fourth seed Serbian Laslo Djere took out Portugal’s Pedro Sousa in a three set battle 5-7 7-5 6-3, while eighth seed Argentinian Federico Delbonis easily accounted for Slovenian Andrej Martin 6-0 6-3.

Fellow Argentinian Facundo Bagnis provided the upset of the day against fifth seed Frances Tiafoe, defeating the American through two tiebreakers, which were 7-3 7-2 for a final result of 7-6 7-6. The final match of the day was between second seed Frenchman Benoit Paire and Danish qualifier Holger Vitus Nodskov Rune for a spot in the quarter finals.

In tomorrow’s matches, the remaining four Round of 16 games take place. Top seed Cristian Garin takes on compatriot, Chilean wildcard Alejandro Tabilo. In other fixtures, third seed Pablo Andujar faces Colombian Daniel Elahi Galan, fellow Spaniard Roberto Carballes Baena locks horns with Argentinian wildcard and Cordoba Open winner Juan Manuel Cerundolo, while another Argentinian in seventh seed Federico Coria goes head to head with Austrian qualifier Juan Pablo Varillas.

CHILE OPEN ROUND OF 16 RESULTS:

[2] Benoit Paire (FRA) vs. [Q] Holger Vitus Nodskov Rune (DEN)
[4] Laslo Djere (SRB) defeated Pedro Sousa (POR) 5-7 7-5 6-3
Facundo Bagnis (ARG) defeated [5] Frances Tiafoe (USA) 7-6 7-6
[8] Federico Delbonis (ARG) defeated Andrej Martin (SLO) 6-0 6-3

 

Picture credit: Mohamed Farag/Getty Images

ATP Tour wrap: Tight encounters galore as a trio of ATP 250 tournaments begin

A TRIO of ATP 250 tournaments have begun this week, with Qatar and Marseille hosting hardcourt competitions, whilst the clay season has begun in Chile. The opening day at each tournament has not provided too much to be shocked about, although a couple of early seeds falling has certainly set the tone.

At Qatar, just the one seed competed on Day 1 as Roberto Bautista Agut took on Reilly Opelka, coming away with the 4-6 6-3 6-4 victory in just over two hours. Meanwhile, Nikoloz Basilashvili overcame a shocking start against Australian John Millman to dispose of the higher ranked player – by one ranking place – 2-6 6-4 6-2 in one hour and 52 minutes. The remaining four matches of the day played out in straight sets, though just one played out to the same degree as the former two as Taylor Fritz overcame a tough Lorenzo Sonego for a 7-6 6-4 victory in one hour and 57 minutes. Meanwhile, wildcard Aslan Karatsev came away with the quickest victory of the day in 65 minutes over Qatar wildcard Mubarak Shannan Zayid 6-4 6-0, as Richard Gasquet and Alexander Bublik also joined the Day 1 winners circle.

QATAR OPEN ROUND OF 32 RESULTS:

[5] Roberto Bautista Agut (ESP) defeated Reilly Opelka (USA) 4-6 6-3 6-4
Nikoloz Basilashvili (GEO) defeated John Millman (AUS) 2-6 6-4 6-2
Alexander Bublik (KAZ) defeated [Q] Ramkumar Ramanathan (IND) 6-4 6-2
Taylor Fritz (USA) defeated Lorenzo Sonego (ITA) 7-6 6-4
Richard Gasquet (FRA) defeated [Q] Blaz Rola (SLO) 6-4 6-4
[WC] Aslan Karatsev (RUS) defeated [WC] Mubarak Shannan Zayid (QAT) 6-4 6-0

At the Open 13 Provence in Marseille, just three matches played out with one completed early, as Emil Ruusuvuori heads into the Round of 16 off the back of an early retirement from his opposition in eighth seed Yoshihito Nishioka, with the match done and dusted at 6-2 4-2. French wildcard Hugo Gaston completed an impressive victory over Top 100 Austrian Dennis Novak  with a 3-6 6-4 6-1 comeback, however it was the remaining match of the day that sparked interest as a 7-6(3) 6-7(5) 7-5 encounter between fifth seed Italian Jannik Sinner and Frenchman Gregoire Barrere went close to three hours in length. Whilst Baire won off his first serve at a better efficiency than Sinner (53 from 69 at 77 per cent), he had less opportunities which marginally allowed Sinner to reign supreme with 56 serve points won and a much better effectiveness on his second serve. Sinner also saved 10 break points, keeping on top of the contest, which went to two tiebreakers before completion.

OPEN 13 PROVENCE ROUND OF 32 RESULTS:

[5] Jannik Sinner (ITA) defeated Gregoire Barrere (FRA) 7-6 6-7 7-5
Emil Ruusuvuori (FIN) defeated [8] Yoshihito Nishioka (JPN) 6-2 4-2 (RET)
[WC] Hugo Gaston (FRA) defeated Dennis Novak (AUT) 3-6 6-4 6-1

At the lone clay court tournament of the week, one seed fell amongst some intriguing results in Santiago. A straight sets sweep from Roberto Carballes Baena over sixth seed Italian Salvatore Caruso was the significant result of the day, with the 6-4 7-6 result played out in one hour and 55 minutes, although an excellent scalp from Argentinian Facundo Bagnis over Italian Marco Cecchinato also kept things interesting. The 6-7 6-2 6-3 encounter was the longest over the day, marginally pipping the result of the matchup between Daniel Elahi Galan and Daniel Altmaier at the post by seven minutes. Elahi Galan was cleaner in victory than his German opposition, with an excellent first serve winning rate of 87 per cent paying off, with six aces for two double faults compared to Altmaier’s 14 for seven. Meanwhile, Pedro Sousa downed Argentinian Leonardo Mayer in 80 minutes, with the remaining match of the day between Frances Tiafoe and Nicolas Jarry yet to complete the first set, with a 6-6 tiebreaker setting up a huge encounter.

CHILE OPEN ROUND OF 32 RESULTS:

Roberto Carballes Baena (ESP) defeated [6] Salvatore Caruso (ITA) 6-4 7-6
Facundo Bagnis (ARG) defeated Marco Cecchinato (ITA) 6-7 6-2 6-3
Daniel Elahi Galan (COL) defeated Daniel Altmaier (GER) 7-6 3-6 7-5
Pedro Sousa (POR) defeated Leonardo Mayer (ARG) 6-2 6-4
Frances Tiafoe (USA) v. [WC] Nicolas Jarry (CHI)

Australian Open Men’s semi-final wrap: Djokovic ends Karatsev’s run to book ninth Aus Open final

NOVAK Djokovic will look to extend his stranglehold on the first Grand Slam of the year, having made his ninth Australian Open final after a relatively straightforward win over Russian qualifier Aslan Karatsev. The 114th ranked Karatsev was the talk of the town the last two weeks, rolling past Top 30 players to reach a well deserved semi-final. Unfortunately it was the end of the road for the underdog as he met the world’s best player, and the top Australian Open player in history.

Djokovic won 6-3 6-4 6-2 in one hour and 53 minutes on Rod Laver Arena, booking his spot in the final to await the winner of either Daniil Medvedev or Stefanos Tsitsipas who play today. In his semi-final, Djokovic hit a whopping 17 aces to six, and finished with a serving efficiency of 68 per cent. He won 71 and 62 per cent of his first and second serve points in a dominant display. Karatsev was far from disgraced on serve, but was not as efficient, putting in just 52 per cent of his first serves, and then winning 65 per cent of them. His world class opponent took advantage off his second serve by winning 66 per cent of points on return.

In terms of winners, Karatsev actually hit more in-court with 18 to 13, but it was the consistency of Djokovic to his just 14 unforced errors, while the Russian conceded 30. Both players created numerous break points despite Djokovic’s dominance on serve, but again the world number one made the most of his chances, taking six of seven opportunities, while Karatsev finished off just two of his five chances. Overall, the Serbian star was just too good and booked a ninth Australian Open final, of which he has an 8-0 record.

“This is the best I’ve felt in the entire tournament, I had no pain, my best match by far,” Djokovic said post-match. “I’m thrilled to feel this way for sure. Recovery is the priority right now. I’m feeling the ball well, I’m playing well, I’ve had enough match play. Right now it’s about gathering all the necessary energy for the most important match of the Australian Open.”

The world number one now has an extra day to recover compared to his opponent, as he waits to find out which of Medvedev or Tsitsipas will reach the final. Djokovic said he knows whoever makes it through will be a worthy opponent.

“Stefanos did incredibly well to somehow to turn it around,” Djokovic said of the fifth seed’s five-set comeback against Rafael Nadal. “That was probably the best match of the tournament so far, such a high level.

“Speaking of high level, Medvedev is the guy, playing the highest level of anyone in the last three or four months. “It’s going to be really interesting, always high intensity between them. “I’m going to take the popcorn and enjoy it.”

SEMI-FINAL RESULT:

[1] Novak Djokovic (SRB) defeated [Q] Aslan Karatsev (RUS) 6-3 6-4 6-2

Picture credit: ATP Tour