Tag: carlos alcaraz

ATP Tour wrap: Popyrin upsets Sinner as Nadal smashes heir apparent

AUSTRALIAN rising star Alexei Popyrin has knocked off his Italian counterpart in straight sets, defeating Next-Gen ATP Finals winner Jannik Sinner, 7-6 6-2 at the Madrid Masters 1000. In a day of huge results, Popyrin booked his spot in the Round of 16 with the upset over the 14th seed, in a match that lasted 95 minutes. After winning the first set in a tiebreaker 7-5, Popyrin stormed away with some crucial breaks in the second set to win it well.

“I think it was to stay level-headed after I got broken in the first game. “We had a tactic that I tried to implement in the first game. “I couldn’t quite get my aim. But I knew I would have chances, like most do. “I just had to capitalise on them when they came,” Popyrin said post-match. “That’s what I did, I guess… I have had a pretty good record in tie-breaks this year. “I felt confident going into the tie-break. “I just tried to stay level-headed.”

The Australian won 75 per cent of his first serve points, putting down eight aces to Sinners’ none, and breaking him four times, whilst saving three of five break point opportunities himself. He advances through to the Round of 16 at the ATP Masters 1000 event to play the toughest opponent you can on this surface – King of Clay Rafael Nadal. The number one seeds destroyed the player many believe to be his heir apparent in teenager Carlos Alcaraz.

“He has a lot of potential. He’s young and [a] good guy,” Nadal said post-match. “He already has a great level of tennis today, but I really believe that he’s going to be a fantastic player in the near future.

“I wish him all the very best. [As a] Spanish player and Spanish [tennis] fan, I really believe that we need somebody like him, and it’s great to have him here.”

The birthday boy – turning 18-years-old on the day of the loss was no match for the raging Nadal, who continued his ridiculous winning streak on clay with a 6-1 6-2 victory. Nadal won in just 78 minutes on court, only dropping five points off his first serve, and attacking Alcaraz’s serve with a massive 63 per cent success rate. In what was ultimately one-sided traffic the whole way through, the teenager got a lesson in what it takes to be the best, winning just 27 points for the match (33 per cent) and watching poetry in motion.

On facing Popyrin in the Round of 16, Nadal said he was looking forward to the challenge and had liked what he had seen from the Australian who had some big weapons he would need to be ready for in the clash.

“He has a huge serve, great forehand, young… Another tough opponent. But here we are in Masters 1000, so we can’t expect another thing,” Nadal said. “I hope to be ready to play well. That’s what I am going to need every single day if I want to have chances to keep playing. Tomorrow is another tough battle. I hope to be ready.”

In other results, fifth seed Alexander Zverev strolled past Kei Nishikori to set up a Round of 16 clash with Brit Daniel Evans, following the latter’s come-from-behind win over Australian John Millman. American John Isner upset ninth seed Roberto Bautista Agut in the Spaniard’s home country, 6-4 6-7 7-6 in a match that went down to the wire of two hours and 23 minutes. The other seed to fall was Diego Schwartzman, with the seventh seed Argentinian knocked out by Russian Aslan Karatsev 2-6 6-4 6-1, while clay court specialist Casper Ruud won through to have a crack against fourth seed Stefanos Tsitsipas who destroyed Benoit Paire. Other winners were 16th seed Cristian Garin and Argentinian qualifier Federico Delbonis.

MADRID OPEN ROUND OF 32 RESULTS:

[1] Rafael Nadal (ESP) defeated [WC] Carlos Alcaraz 6-1 6-2
[2] Daniil Medvedev (RUS) defeated Alejandro Davidovich Fokina (ESP) 4-6 6-4 6-2
[4] Stefanos Tsitsipas (GRE) defeated Benoit Paire (FRA) 6-1 6-2
[5] Alexander Zverev (GER) defeated Kei Nishikori (JPN) 6-3 6-2
Aslan Karatsev (RUS) defeated [7] Diego Schwartzman (ARG) 2-6 6-4 6-1
John Isner (USA) defeated [9] Roberto Bautista Agut (ESP) 6-4 6-7 7-6
[Q] Alexei Popyrin (AUS) defeated [14] Jannik Sinner (ITA) 7-6 6-2
[16] Cristian Garin (CHI) defeated Dominik Koepfer (GER) 6-3 6-4
Casper Ruud (NOR) defeated [LL] Yoshihito Nishioka (JPN) 6-1 6-2
Daniel Evans (GBR) defeated John Millman (AUS) 6-7 6-2 6-3
[Q] Federico Delbonis (ARG) defeated Albert Ramos-Vinolas (ESP) 7-6 6-3

Picture credit: ATP Tour

ATP Tour wrap: Two of three seeds fall on second day at Madrid

TWO seeds fell on the official second day of competition at the 2021 ATP Mutua Madrid Open in Spain, whilst a couple of qualifiers and a young gun wildcard also proceeded through to the second round.

It was qualifier Argentinian Federico Delbonis that overcame 10th seed Pablo Carreno Busta on home soil, dropping the first set to the Spaniard before biting back in the second and retaining control from there on out. The two hour encounter saw Delbonis marginally lead for efficiency on his first and second serve winning rates despite Carreno Busta being cleaner on serve, resulting in the 3-6 6-4 6-3 finish. Meanwhile, South African Lloyd Harris out-hit Grigor Dimitrov, piling on 12 aces to three in the two and a half hour, 6-3 3-6 7-6 contest. The two players could not be split throughout, with the third set tiebreaker showcasing just how tight the matchup was, as both players completed the match winning the same amount of points throughout (104).

The only seed to win on the day was 16th seed Cristian Garin, who ousted a second Spaniard in Fernando Verdasco, while qualifiers Carlos Taberner and Pablo Andujar also fell on home soil, taken down by Italian Fabio Fognini and American Marcos Giron, respectively.

It was not all bad news for Spaniards though, as young gun Carlos Alcaraz proceeds to the second round after disposing of Frenchman Adrian Mannarino in straight sets, 6-4 6-0, to set up a clash with compatriot and clay champion Rafael Nadal in the Round of 32.

“I started the match a little bit nervous,” Alcaraz said. “I tried to play aggressive to get the nerves out and tried to enjoy playing here, in front of a big crowd in Madrid.”

“For me, [to] play against Rafa is a dream come true,” Alcaraz said. “Since I was a kid, I wished to play a match against Rafa and now I will be able to here [on] the Centre Court of La Caja Magica in Madrid. It is a really special match against Rafa.”

Still only 17-years-old – until next week – Alcaraz pulled off 19 forehand winners against Mannarino, and won an impressive 81 per cent of his first serve points to claim victory.

The remaining four matches saw two more French competitors fall to join Mannarino on the sideline, as Dubai champion Aslan Karatsev pulled off a 7-5 6-4 victory over Ugo Humbert while Daniel Evans overcame a fighting Jeremy Chardy in a two hour and 46-minute classic, 7-6 6-7 6-2, piling on 13 aces for one double fault in the process, compared to Chardy’s four for six. The remaining two matches went the way of John Isner and Dominik Koepfer, with plenty of intriguing matchups coming in the coming days.

MUTUA MADRID OPEN ROUND OF 64 RESULTS:

[Q] Federico Delbonis (ARG) defeated [10] Pablo Carreno Busta (ESP) 3-6 6-4 6-3
Lloyd Harris (RSA) defeated [13] Grigor Dimitrov (HUN) 6-3 3-6 7-6
[16] Cristian Garin (CHI) defeated [WC] Fernando Verdasco (ESP) 6-1 6-4
Daniel Evans (GBR) defeated Jeremy Chardy (FRA) 7-6 6-7 6-2
Fabio Fognini (ITA) defeated [Q] Carlos Taberner (ESP) 7-6 2-6 6-3
John Isner (USA) defeated Miomir Kecmanovic (SRB) 6-4 7-6
Aslan Karatsev (RUS) defeated Ugo Humbert (FRA) 7-5 6-4
Dominik Koepfer (GER) defeated Reilly Opelka (USA) 6-4 6-4
[WC] Carlos Alcaraz (ESP) defeated Adrian Mannarino (FRA) 6-4 6-0
[Q] Marcos Giron (USA) defeated [Q] Pablo Andujar (ESP) 6-7 7-6 7-5

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: 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: Munar eyes off maiden title as Sonego upsets Fritz

JAUME Munar is eyeing off a maiden title in Marbella after accounting for teenage young gun Carlos Alcaraz and booking his spot in the Andalucia Open final. The world number 95 had a tough time against the teenager, but managed to hold off his opponent 7-6 6-4, winning the first set tiebreaker 7-4, and breaking four times to three overall to be the difference.

The match lasted one hour and 55 minutes, as the 23-year-old won 71 and 50 per cent of his first and second serve points, and broke four times from 11 chances. Alcaraz was strong defensively to save the other seven break point opportunities, but could only muster up five chances off Munar’s serve, and broke jus three times, with no aces and four double faults for the match.

Now Munar will take on top seed Pablo Carreno Busta who has far more experience himself, booking his spot in the final with a 6-1 3-6 7-6 victory over fourth seed Albert Ramos-Vinolas. Carreno Busta looked to be cruising early with an easy opening set, but Ramos-Vinolas was not going to go away easily, forcing out a third set, and then a tiebreaker, of which went 7-5 until the top seed was declared the winner.

The 29-year-old has won four career ATP Tour titles, and has brought up his 200th career ATP Tour win with the semi-final victory. At 15th in the world, the Spaniard will be hoping to edge closer to his career-high 10th he achieved in September, 2017.

Meanwhile in Cagliari, third seed Lorenzo Sonego will take on unseeded Serbian Laslo Djere following a couple of upsets in the Sardegna Open semi-finals. Sonego took out tournament favourite Taylor Fritz in three sets, winning 6-4 5-7 6-1, while Djere defeated fourth seed Nikoloz Basilashvili 6-2 6-0 in much easier fashion.

The Italian needed two hours and 39 minutes to defeat the American, winning 70 per cent of his first serve points off a 60 per cent efficiency, and whilst his second serve percentage – 30 per cent – was low he scrambled well to break eight times to five, creating 18 break point opportunities in the match. He has just won the won career title, but will achieve a career-high ranking having already surpassed his 32nd spot last year after the third seed entered the Sardegna Open at 34th in the world.

Djere on the other hand has won two career ATP Tour titles, and whilst he is ranked 57th in the world, has a career-high of 27th from June, 2019. The 25-year-old is still a developing talent, and will almost achieve a 50 per cent win-loss record on the ATP Tour if he can triumph in the final. His semi-final effort of just 52 minutes over the disappointing Georgian was nothing short of a rout, winning all bar nine points on serve, facing no break point opportunities and breaking in five of Basilashvili’s seven games.

The Monte Carlo Masters qualifying also got underway overnight, with top seed Dominik Koepfer, and the in-form Alexei Popyrin both making it through. Fellow German Yannick Hanfmann upset third seed Jiri Vesely, whilst the biggest upset was Australian wildcard Bernard Tomic, easily accounting for fourth seed Pierre-Hugues Herbert in straight sets, 6-3 6-0 in his best win in a long time.

ANDALUCIA OPEN SEMI-FINALS RESULTS:

[1] Pablo Carreno Busta (ESP) defeated [4] Albert Ramos-Vinolas (ESP) 6-1 3-6 7-6
Jaume Munar (ESP) defeated [WC] Carlos Alcaraz (ESP) 7-6 6-4

SARDEGNA OPEN SEMI-FINALS RESULTS:

[3] Lorenzo Sonego (ITA) defeated [2] Taylor Fritz (USA) 6-4 5-7 6-1
Laslo Djere (SRB) defeated [4] Nikoloz Basilashvili (GEO) 6-2 6-0

ATP Tour wrap: Spanish conquer opponents in Marbella

IN a throw back to their WTA Russian counterparts last month, Spain has completely dominated the quarter finals at the Andalucia Open to ensure a homegrown winner in Marbella. All four Spaniards in action won through to the semi-finals at the ATP 250 event, meaning there will be two all-Spanish finals to determine who makes it through to the last match of the tournament. While it was not quite as impressive as the all-eight quarter finalists at St. Petersburg, the home fans will certainly be happy over the coming days.

The top two ranked players remaining in Pablo Carreno Busta and Albert Ramos-Vinolas make it through, the former with the easiest win of the day, booking a 6-4 6-0 victory over seventh seed Soonwoo Kwon. Ramos-Vinolas had a tougher day with a three-set win over Slovenian Norbert Gombos, 6-7 7-5 6-4. Both players will now horns in the semi-finals, where the 29-year-old Carreno Busta has a 2-1 head-to-head record over the 33-year-old Ramos-Vinolas. All those three matches came in 2016-17, with Carreno Busta winning their first two encounters in three sets on clay, before Ramos-Vinolas won the most recent clay on hard court.

The other two semi-finalists are Jaume Munar and Carlos Alcaraz who continued their form after impressive Round of 16 wins over higher ranked opponents, with another couple of upsets. Munar needed three sets to come from behind against Belarusian Ilya Ivashka 6-4 6-4 6-4, while Alcaraz stunned clay court specialist and third seed Casper Ruud, 6-2 6-4. They will now go head-to-head for the first time to guarantee the final will be a young up-and-coming Spaniard taking on a veteran Spaniard.

Over in Sardegna, Lorenzo Sonego will fly the Italian flag after a come-from-behind victory over German Yannick Hanfmann. The third seed won 3-6 7-6 6-3 in a thrilling contest to book his spot in the semi-finals, and will now take on second seed American Taylor Fritz. The top ranked played remaining and tournament favourite, Fritz took care of Slovenian Aljaz Bedene in the only straight sets win of the day, 6-3 6-4.

In the other quarter finals, the other Italian in teenager Lorenzo Musetti was knocked out, suffering defeat at the hands of Serbian Laslo Djere. The 6-4 4-6 6-2 victory was a hard-fought one against a rising talent, with Djere now set to face fourth seed Nikoloz Basilashvili in the semi-finals. The Georgian knocked out fifth seed Jan-Lennard Struff in a bad day for the Germans, getting up 7-5 4-6 6-3 in another tight contest in Cagliari.

For many of the players there will be a quick turnaround with the ATP Masters Monte Carlo 1000 taking place tomorrow for qualifiying, as the likes of Ramos-Vinolas, Fritz, Carreno Busta, Sonego, Basilashvili and Djere are all in the 64-player main draw.

ANDALUCIA OPEN QUARTER FINALS RESULTS:

[1] Pablo Carreno Busta (ESP) defeafed [7] Soonwoo Kwon (KOR) 6-4 6-0
[4] Albert Ramos Vinolas (ESP) defeated Norbert Gombos (SLO) 6-7 7-5 6-4
Jaume Munar (ESP) defeated Ilya Ivashka (BLR) 6-7 6-4 6-4
[WC] Carlos Alcaraz (ESP) defeated [3] Casper Ruud (NOR) 6-2 6-4

SARDEGNA OPEN QUARTER FINALS RESULTS:

[2] Taylor Fritz (USA) defeated Aljaz Bedene (SLO) 6-3 6-4
[3] Lorenzo Sonego (ITA) defeated Yannick Hanfmann (GER) 3-6 7-6 6-3
[4] Nikoloz Basilashvili (GEO) defeated [5] Jan-Lennard Struff (GER) 7-5 4-6 6-3
Laslo Djere (SRB) defeated Lorenzo Musetti (ITA) 6-4 4-6 6-2

Picture credit: ATP Tour

ATP Tour wrap: Future of Spanish tennis on display in Marbella

THERE was a changing of the guard in Marbella for the Andalucia Open, with two of the brightest young Spaniards toppling experienced opponents in terrific wins to book their spots in the quarter finals of the ATP 250 event. While 23-year-old Jaume Munar has been threatening to make his move up the ATP Rankings for some time, it is 17-year-old Carlos Alcaraz who is starting to find his groove on the senior Tour after a dominant Challenger ITF circuit last year.

Touted as one of the next big things in Spanish tennis, Alcaraz only has the nine main draw ATP Tour matches to-date, with a 4-5 record and a career-high 127th in the world. He will surpass that effort by the end of the tournament, and will eye off a spot in the Top 100 in the coming weeks. Heading into the clay court season, Alcaraz has only played two previous matches on the surface at ATP Tour level, winning one of them, but has exclusively played on clay through the Challenger Tour, and predominantly on the ITF Tour.

The teenager has a winning record of 28-11 on the Challenger Tour, with all those wins coming on clay, which included three titles and a 73.7 per cent winning record on the surface. He also has nerves of steel, winning 14 of 17 tiebreakers at 82.4 per cent. On the ITF Tour, he has won three titles – two on clay with a 19-4 record and one on hard court with a 8-1 record – and also successfully won six of eight matches in tiebreaks.

In short, Alcaraz should be put into the Davis Cup side, and he showed it by overcoming veteran compatriot Feliciano Lopez in a come-from-behind win, 4-6 6-2 6-4. It stands as the second best win of 2021, after he toppled David Goffin in straight sets back in Melbourne in January, 6-3 6-3. Twelve months ago, Alcaraz also accounted for compatriot Albert Ramos-Vinolas in three tight sets, showing he can knock off higher ranked talents between him and representing his country.

For Munar, he is inside the Top 100 at 95th, but still some way off his career high of 52nd back in May, 2019 where he looked to be primed to crack the Top 50. He has a 33-51 record on the ATP Tour, but a 1-8 record against the Top 10 players. His Round of 16 win over Fabio Fognini will help with that confidence, but the issue is his matchplay on surfaces other than clay.

The 23-year-old has won eight of 23 matches on either hard or grass – yet to win an ATP Tour match on grass – with a 25-28 record on clay. He has graduated the Challenger Tour with five titles on clay and one on hard, though runs at just under 50 per cent on the latter surface. On the ITF Tour, he has won six titles, all on clay, meaning 11 of his 12 overall titles are on the red dirt surface.

Now Munar will come up against Belarusian Ilya Ivashka in the last eight, whilst Alcaraz will face clay specialist and third seed Casper Ruud in another quarter final. Ruud took care of Italian Gianluca Mager in straight sets, while Ivashka dominated fifth seed Spaniard Alejandro Davidovich Fokina in their Round of 16 match. The other quarter finals are top seed Pablo Carreno Busta up against seventh seed Soonwoo Kwon, and fourth seed Ramos-Vinolas taking on Slovakian Norbert Gombos.

Over in Italy, it was a similar story for the up-and-coming Italians, with teenage star Lorenzo Musetti taking care of top seed Daniel Evans in an absolute thriller. Musetti won 6-1 1-6 7-6, cruising early before the Brit hit back, and it led to an unbelievable final set tiebreaker that went 18 points until Musetti claimed it, 10-8. Third seed Lorenzo Sonego also made his way through to the quarter finals with a 6-4 6-1 win over Gilles Simon, while Yannick Hanfmann spoiled the party for another Italian in Marco Cecchinato, and Serbian Laslo Djere took care of sixth seed Australian John Millman.

Musetti will now take on Djere, and Hanfmann battle Sonego, whilst second seed Taylor Fritz locks horns with Slovenian Aljaz Bedene, and the fourth and fifth seeds in Nikoloz Basilashvili and Jan-Lennard Struff will do battle in the other quarter finals.

ANDALUCIA OPEN ROUND OF 16 RESULTS:

Jaume Munar (ESP) defeated [2] Fabio Fognini (ITA) 6-2 6-1
[3] Casper Ruud (NOR) defeated Gianluca Mager (ITA) 6-3 6-2
Ilya Ivashka (BLR) defeated [5] Alejandro Davidovich Fokina (ESP) 6-1 6-3
[WC] Carlos Alcaraz (ESP) defeated [6] Feliciano Lopez (ESP) 4-6 6-2 6-4

SARDEGNA OPEN ROUND OF 16 RESULTS:

Lorenzo Mussetti (ITA) defeated [1] Daniel Evans (GBR) 6-1 1-6 7-6
[3] Lorenzo Sonego (ITA) defeated Gilles Simon (FRA) 6-4 6-1
Laslo Djere (SRB) defeated [6] John Millman (AUS) 6-3 6-3
Yannick Hanfmann (GER) defeated Marco Cecchinato (ITA) 7-5 6-1

Picture credit: ATP Tour

ATP Tour wrap: Round of 32 complete at Sardegna and Marbella

COMPETITION continued in Sardegna and Marbella today with the Round of 32 at both ATP 250 events still going strong and homegrown talent proving influential on Day 2 of proceedings.

At Sardegna, three set encounters told the story with fifth and sixth seeds Jan-Lennard Struff and John Millman amongst a group of six players who required a third set to clinch victory. Struff overcame a shocking 1-6 start to Joao Sousa to remain in the hunt for the second round, collecting the 1-6 6-1 7-5 victory in just over two hours. Gilles Simon was another who came from a set down to win in three, defeating home talent Stefano Travaglia 1-6 6-3 6-4, as did qualifier Jozef Kovalik, who was one of two Slovakian competitors to win on the day, joined by Andrej Martin in the second round.

It was a first set tiebreaker that was the difference between a win and a loss for Australian sixth see Millman, who overcame Federico Coria 7-6(5) 3-6 6-3 in a mammoth three hour and 13 minute encounter, whilst Italian Marco Cecchinato was the remaining three set winner with a victory over compatriot Thomas Fabbiano 6-4 4-6 6-3. Lorenzo Musetti joined Ceecchinato in the second round after a confidence-boosting 6-0 6-1 obliteration of Dennis Novak in just 52 minutes, with the remaining win of the day going to British qualifier Liam Broady, who defeated Swiss qualifier Marc-Andrea Huesler 6-1 6-3.

SARDEGNA OPEN ROUND OF 32 RESULTS: 

[5] Jan-Lennard Struff (GER) defeated Joao Sousa (POR) 1-6 6-1 7-5
[6] John Millman (AUS) defeated Federico Coria (ARG) 7-6 3-6 6-3
[Q] Liam Broady (GBR) defeated [Q] Marc-Andrea Huesler (SUI) 6-1 6-3
Marco Cecchinato (ITA) defeated [WC] Thomas Fabbiano (ITA) 6-4 4-6 6-3
[Q] Jozef Kovalik (SVK) defeated [Q] Sumit Nagal (IND) 3-6 6-1 6-3
Andrej Martin (SVK) defeated Jiri Vesely (CZE) 6-4 2-6 6-1
Lorenzo Musetti (ITA) defeated Dennis Novak (AUT) 6-0 6-1
Gilles Simon (FRA) defeated Stefano Travaglia (ITA) 1-6 6-3 6-4

At Marbella, results went the opposite way with majority straight sets victories across the day, and just one three setter to speak of, which intriguingly was still a mostly one-sided battle as Alejandro Davidovich Fokina reigned supreme in a 6-7 6-2 6-2 encounter with Damir Dzumhur. The two hour flat matchup was marginally the longest of the day, with the Spaniard one of five to head into the second round. He is joined by Feliciano LopezJaume Munar, wildcard Carlos Alcaraz and qualifier Mario Vilella Martinez, after all four claimed solid wins.

The other three winners of the day hailed from Argentina, Belarus and Italy, with Argentinian Facundo Bagnis overcoming compatriot Francisco Cerundolo and Ilya Ivashka getting the job done in an identical 6-3 7-6(2) final result over another Spaniard in Pedro Martinez, while Gianluca Mager defeated Kazakh Mikhail Kukushkin.

ANYTECH365 ANDALUCIA OPEN ROUND OF 32 RESULTS:

[5] Alejandro Davidovich Fokina (ESP) defeated Damir Dzumhur (BIH) 6-7 6-2 6-2
[6] Feliciano Lopez (ESP) defeated Taro Daniel (JPN) 6-4 6-4
[WC] Carlos Alcaraz (ESP) defeated [Q] Nikola Milojevic (SRB) 7-6 6-3
Facundo Bagnis (ARG) defeated Francisco Cerundolo (ARG) 6-3 7-6
Ilya Ivashka (BLR) defeated Pedro Martinez (ESP) 6-3 7-6
Gianluca Mager (ITA) defeated Mikhail Kukushkin (KAZ) 7-5 6-3
Jaume Munar (ESP) defeated [Q] Henri Laaksonen (SUI) 6-4 6-1
[Q] Mario Vilella Martinez (ESP) defeated [Q] Bernabe Zapata Miralles (ESP) 6-2 6-3

ATP Miami Open 1000: Popyrin and Duckworth book second round spots

THE first matches of the Miami Open 1000 took place overnight, with the winners advancing through to the second round of the major tournament. Whilst no seeds are in action in the Round of 128, there were still plenty of talented up-and-comers out on the hard courts.

Rising Australian Alexei Popyrin continued his good form coming off a maiden title a few weeks back to post a straight sets win over Spaniard Feliciano Lopez, 6-4 7-6. He made it to the second round with fellow Aussie James Duckworth, with a 6-2 4-6 6-4 win against German qualifier Mischa Zverev. France also had a couple of representatives through to the next round with wildcard Hugo Gaston, and Pierre-Hugues Herbert both advancing through to the Round of 64.

“It was a very difficult match,” Popyrin said post-match. “Feli is a very tough player. He has an unbelievable serve, so when I had my chances to break I was putting all of my focus on the break points. There was no rhythm in the match, so not many rallies, but I am happy with the way I was mentally. There were a couple of shaky moments here and there, but I hung in to win.”

The news was a mixed bag for the American hopefuls, with three winners and three losers on day one of the main draw, and one to come at the time of publishing. Marcos Giron knocked off compatriot Tommy Paul in straight sets 7-6 6-4 in the all-United States battle, whilst qualifiers Mackenzie McDonald and Ernesto Escobedo both advanced, against Italian qualifier Paolo Lorenzi and Canadian veteran Vasek Pospisil respectively. Meanwhile German Yannick Hanfmann got the better of Steve Johnson, whilst Chinese Taipei’s Yen-Hsun Lu defeated Sam Querrey, both in straight sets.

In other results, Cameron Norrie had to fight off a determined Yoshihito Nishioka in three sets, 6-1 3-6 7-5, while Serbian Laslo Djere also needed the full three sets to defeat Czech Jiri Vesely, 6-3 5-7 6-1. Other winners on day one of the main draw were Swede Mikael Ymer, Lithuanian Ricardas Berankis, South African Lloyd Harris and Emil Ruusuvuori.

At the time of publishing, Frances Tiafoe and Stefano Travaglia were still on court deciding their first round match.

MIAMI OPEN 1000 ROUND OF 128 RESULTS:

[PR] Yen-Hsun Lu (TAI) defeated Sam Querrey (USA) 6-3 6-4
Yannick Hanfmann (GER) defeated Steve Johnson (USA) 7-5 6-2
Alexei Popyrin (AUS) defeated Feliciano Lopez (ESP) 6-4 7-6
Marcos Giron (USA) defeated Tommy Paul (USA) 7-6 6-4
Cameron Norrie (GBR) defeated Yoshihito Nishioka (JPB) 6-1 3-6 7-5
[WC] Hugo Gaston (FRA) defeated Dominik Koepfer (GER) 6-1 6-4
Pierre-Hugues Herbert (FRA) defeated Pedro Sousa (POR) 6-1 6-3
Mikael Ymer (SWE) defeated [Q] Alejandro Tabilo (CHI) 6-3 6-1
[Q] Ernesto Escobedo (USA) defeated [Q] Paolo Lorenzi (ITA) 6-3 6-2
James Duckworth (AUS) defeated [Q] Mischa Zverev (GER) 6-2 4-6 6-4
[Q] Mackenzie McDonald (USA) defeated Vasek Pospisil (CAN) 6-3 4-6 6-3
Ricardas Berankis (LTU) defeated [LL] Federico Gaio (ITA) 7-6 6-2
Lloyd Harris (RSA) defeated [Q] Emilio Nava (USA) 6-4 7-6
Laslo Djere (SRB) defeated Jiri Vesely (CZE) 6-3 5-7 6-1
Emil Ruusuvuori (FIN) defeated [WC] Carlos Alcaraz (ESP) 6-4 2-6 7-5

Frances Tiafoe (USA) vs Stefano Travaglia (ITA)

Picture credit: ATP Tour

2021 ATP/WTA 1000 Miami Open preview: Federer and Nadal withdraw as Barty returns

THE 2021 Miami Open is set to begin this week, played from Monday, March 22 through to Sunday, April 4, with the 1000 event expected to showcase some high calibre encounters across both the ATP and WTA Tours. Whilst the men’s list is missing a couple of notable names within the top 20, the women’s draw will boast just about all of the big names in the biz as the season rolls on despite COVID-19 restrictions still impacting proceedings. Both the men’s and women’s reigning Australian Open champions are set to compete, highlighting the strength of the respective events.

On the ATP Tour, the clear omissions from the draw include Rafael NadalDominic Thiem and Roger Federer, with the trio’s absence making for a huge hole in the draw and a real opportunity for the developing players coming through the ranks to make their mark. Looking down the list, it’s safe to say Novak Djokovic and Daniil Medvedev are the clear frontrunners in as first and second seeds with one title apiece to start the year, whilst Stefanos Tsitsipas and Alexander Zverev are well within their chances here given the glaring absences. 2021 title-winners Andrey Rublev (Rotterdam title, 13-2 in 2021), Diego Schwartzman (Buenos Aires, 8-3) and David Goffin (Montpellier, 9-5) also register high in the draw, with the likes of Matteo Berrettini, Denis ShapovalovGael Monfils and Roberto Bautista Agut rounding out the top 11 or so players, pending shuffling from this week’s results. Factor in the explosiveness of the likes of Nick Kyrgios, who is still yet to confirm attendance, and the wealth of Spanish talent currently residing within and around the top 50, and there is so much that could go against the grain here.

Given it is an ATP 1000 event, there is no shortage of talent as players flock to Miami. Even heading down the list to lower ranked players, there are plenty of quality names across the board with in-form and young talent looking to add valuable points to their rankings. Two-time Miami champion Andy Murray is the big name wildcard at the event, joined by teen Carlos Alcaraz, Michael Mmoh, Hugo Gaston and Jack Draper in the main draw.

Heading to the women’s draw, and whilst there is more consistent top talent in the draw, that does not make it any easier to predict with the relatively even WTA Tour boasting a number of players who consistently step up at this level. Australian world number one and reigning 2019 Miami champion Ash Barty is reportedly set to compete after spending an unprecedented year way from the international circuit in 2020, joined by the ever formidable Naomi OsakaSimona HalepSofia Kenin and Elina Svitolina to round out the top five seeds. Also featuring are eight-time champion Serena Williams, who can never be overlooked in an event of this calibre, and a number of developing talents with French Open champion Iga Swiatek (2020) and 2019 US Open winner Bianca Andreescu both set to take the court here. Jennifer BradyKarolina Pliskova and Madison Keys are another few who cannot be dismissed, as are the ever exciting teens Coco Gauff and Amanda Anisimova.

Factor in the evenness and unpredictability of the women’s draw, with realistically any number of the top 20 – or upwards of that – capable of beating anyone on their day, and Miami will have a real battle on its hands. The women’s main draw wildcards include Anna Kalinskaya, Ana Konjuh, Storm Sanders, Katrina Scott, Mayar Sherif, Xiyu Wang and Xinyu Wang, with qualifiers for both the women’s and men’s events set to play out over March 22-23.