Tag: carlos alcaraz

Australian Open Men’s Round of 64 wrap: Tsitsipas survives epic thriller from brave Kokkinakis

A NEVER-say-die attitude from fifth seed Stefanos Tsitsipas and Australian favourite Thanasi Kokkinakis was on full display in yet another Rod Laver classic match yesterday at the Australian Open. The second round encounter had the Greek star overwhelming favourite against the talented local who has battled with injuries over the past few years, but clearly has the talent to be a top ATP Tour player.

In an unbelievable four-hour and 32-minute slog fest, Tsitsipas finally got up 6-7 6-4 6-1 6-7 6-4 but Kokkinakis lost no fans along the way – including Tsitsipas himself – having pushed the 2019 ATP Finals winner to the brink.

“I think he has a huge forehand, [a] very good serve,” Tsitsipas said of Kokkinakis’ game post-match. “All the potential is there. I really hope he stays injury-free, because it can be very frustrating. I have dealt with it, and I know it’s very difficult mentally to go through things like this. “I just wish him good health and that he can compete an entire year without any pain or anything bothering him.”

Kokkinakis had a well balanced game and out-served Tsitsipas with 23 aces to 17 and two less double faults (8-10), though the Greek star won 86 and 56 per cent of his first and second serve points compared to 72 and 46 per cent. The big factor was the break point conversions, with Tsitsipas breaking five times from 22 chances to the Australian’s zero from three. The fifth seed also hit 78 winners to 58, and 16 less unforced errors (46-62).

“[It was a] great match towards the very end, and I fought like a lion,” Tsitsipas said. “I fought like a real warrior out there, and it was an amazing ending with lots of emotion and great spirit.”

Tsitsipas will have to recover quickly to take on Swede Mikael Ymer tomorrow who took care of Spanish qualifier and wonderkid, Carlos Alcaraz after dropping the first set, 2-6 6-4 6-4 7-5. Ymer was one of just six unseeded players to advance through to the next round, with most at the expense of Australians. Macedonian Radu Albot knocked off wildcard Christopher O’Connell in straight sets, 6-2 7-5 7-6, while South Africa’s Lloyd Harris needed five sets to post a win over another wildcard in Alexei Popyrin, 6-2 1-6 6-3 6-7 6-3. After only dropping one game in his first match, Russian qualifier Roman Safiullin was brought back to earth, losing in four sets to Great Britain’s Cameron Norrie.

The only two other unseeded players to make it to the Round of 32 were those who knocked out a couple of seeds in United States’ Mackenzie McDonald and Spain’s Feliciano Lopez. McDonald knocked off 22nd seed Croatian Borna Coric 6-4 6-2 4-6 6-4, while Lopez toppled 31st seed Lorenzo Sonego 5-7 3-6 6-3 7-5 6-4 coming back from two sets to love down to win in three hours and 18 minutes over the Italian out on Court 7.

It was certainly an interesting day for the Italians to say the least, with 16th seed Fabio Fognini and compatriot Salvatore Caruso going toe-for-toe over five sets on John Cain Arena, and then a little more post-match. Fognini won 4-6 6-2 2-6 6-3 7-6, including 14-12 in the deciding tiebreak, where the Top 20 player was questioning Caruso’s luck throughout the match and the supervisor had to physically separate them. Nonetheless, Fognini joined fellow ATP Cup finalist, Matteo Berrettini in the next round after his younger compatriot knocked off Czech rising qualifier, Tomas Machac in four sets.

Other winners on the day were Russian duo, Andrey Rublev and Karen Khachanov who waltzed through in straight sets, as did the top two players on display in the night session, Rafael Nadal and Daniil Medvedev. Alex de Minaur was the sole Australian through to the next round in that half of the draw, joining Nick Kyrgios in the third round of the men’s competition, while Casper Ruud and FIlip Krajinovic also won though after defeating their respective opponents in four sets.

Entering the third round tomorrow, there are a number of mouthwatering clashes, as Berrettini and Khachanov do battle, as do de Minaur and Fognini. Russian pair Medvedev and Rublev seem to have an easier run to a potential quarter final now with 24th seed Ruud and 28th seed Krajinovic the sole remaining seeds in that quarter of the draw.

In today’s action, all eyes will be on the all-Canadian battle between Denis Shapovalov and Felix Auger-Aliassime, as well as the blockbuster battle between third seed and last year’s runner-up Dominic Thiem taking on Australian Nick Kyrgios. Adrian Mannarino locking horns with Alexander Zverev is an underrated battle, while 27th seed Taylor Fritz will take his shot at world number one and tournament favourite Novak Djokovic.

ROUND OF 64 RESULTS:

[2] Rafael Nadal (ESP) defeated [Q] Michael Mmoh (USA) 6-1 6-4 6-2
[4] Daniil Medvedev (RUS) defeated Roberto Carballes Baena (ESP) 6-2 7-5 6-1
[5] Stefanos Tsitsipas (GRE) defeated [WC] Thanasi Kokkinakis (AUS) 6-7 6-4 6-1 6-7 6-4
[7] Andrey Rublev (RUS) defeated Thiago Monteiro (BRA) 6-4 6-4 7-6
[9] Matteo Berrettini (ITA) defeated [Q] Tomas Machac (CZE) 6-3 6-2 4-6 6-3
[16] Fabio Fognini (ITA) defeated Salvatore Caruso (ITA) 4-6 6-2 2-6 6-3 7-6
[19] Karen Khachanov (RUS) defeated Ricardas Berankis (LTU) 6-2 6-4 6-4
[21] Alex de Minaur (AUS) defeated Pablo Cuevas (URU) 6-3 6-3 7-5
[PR] Mackenzie McDonald (USA) defeated [22] Borna Coric (CRO) 6-4 6-2 4-6 6-4
[24] Casper Ruud (NOR) defeated Tommy Paul (USA) 3-6 6-2 6-4 7-5
[28] Filip Krajinovic (SRB) defeated Pablo Andujar (ESP) 6-2 5-7 6-1 6-4
Feliciano Lopez (ESP) defeated [31] Lorenzo Sonego (ITA) 5-7 3-6 6-3 7-5 6-4
Radu Albot (MDA) defeated [WC] Christopher O’Connell (AUS) 6-2 7-5 7-6
Lloyd Harris (RSA) defeated [WC] Alexei Popyrin (AUS) 6-2 1-6 6-3 6-7 6-3
Mikael Ymer (SWE) defeated [Q] Carlos Alcaraz (ESP) 2-6 6-4 6-4 7-6
Cameron Norrie (GBR) leads [Q] Roman Safiullin (RUS) 3-6 7-5 6-3 7-6

Picture credit: Peter Staples/ATP Tour

Australian Open Men’s Round of 64 wrap: Kyrgios and Fritz come back from brink, as Fucsovics holds on in thrillers

THREE epic five-set matches were the talking point of the Round of 64 action at Melbourne Park yesterday, featuring two unseeded players toppling higher ranked opponents, and another winning against a compatriot, to book their place in the third round of the Grand Slam. Australian Nick Kyrgios and American Taylor Fritz both advanced through to the Round of 32, coming from two sets to one down in order to win, while Marton Fucsovics survived a mighty scare to hold on in a nail-biting tiebreak.

The longest match of the day went to Fritz and fellow American Reilly Opelka, with the match lasting a whopping four hours and seven minutes. Opelka won the first set 6-4, which followed three consecutive tiebreak sets – with Opelka being two sets to one up before Fritz levelled in the fourth – and Fritz eventually ran away with it in the fifth to post a 4-6 7-6 6-7 7-6 6-2 victory. Opelka served a casual 43 aces on his way to 91 winners, whilst his opponent had 18 and 54 respectively. However despite both serving seven double faults, Fritz only had an additional 26 unforced errors compared to the wild Opelka (79).

At night, Kyrgios also had to come from two sets to one down against the talented Ugo Humbert, posting a remarkable five-set win over the 29th seed. Kyrgios won 5-7 6-4 3-6 7-6 6-4 having been a break down late in the fourth set, but forced a tiebreaker which he won 7-2. Both big servers, Kyrgios marginally shaded Humbert with 30 aces to 27, as well as an 80 per cent first serve success rate, ahead of 78 per cent for his French opponent. Humbert was superb off the return, hitting 11 return winners to five (and seven more overall), as well as four less unforced errors. In the end it was Kyrgios’ ability to stand up when it counted for him to move through to the next round.

In a different style of match, Fucsovics had to hold on against a fierce and determined Stan Wawrinka in five sets, causing the upset of the day during the 7-5 6-1 4-6 2-6 7-6 victory. He won the first two sets and looked good, until the Swiss star clicked into gear, roaring back into the match. It was fitting that a massive 20-point tiebreaker would split the two, with Wawrinka two points away from victory at one stage, leading 8-4 in that super tiebreak. He won just one of the next eight points – though did have two match points against the Hungarian, before Fucsovics could finally collapse in jubilation. Fucsovics hit 34 winners to Wawrinka’s 49, but also had many less unforced errors (46-73) in the win.

The three five-set matches were complemented by a number of unseeded players pushing their seeded opponents in matches. Frances Tiafoe took a set off tournament favourite and world number one Novak Djokovic before going down 6-4 6-7 7-6 6-3, while Corentin Moutet, Jiri Vesely and Alexander Bublik did the same against Milos Raonic, Pablo Carreno Busta and Dusan Lajovic respectively. Unseeded Spaniard Pedro Martinez needed four sets to dispose of Finn Emil Ruusuvuori – who defeated Gael Monfils in the first round – coming back from a disappointing first set to win 1-6 6-3 6-2 7-6.

Most of the other seeded wins were one-sided as Dominic Thiem and Diego Schwartzman cruised through without too many headaches. Three Australians departed in straight sets at the hands of seeds, as Denis Shapovalov knocked off Bernard Tomic, Grigor Dimitrov took out Alex Bolt, and Felix Auger-Aliassime claimed a win over James Duckworth. In other matches, 32nd seed Adrian Mannarino continued his good form with a convincing 6-1 6-2 6-4 victory over Serbian Miomir Kecmanovic, whilst the most one-sided result of the entire day was Russian qualifier Aslan’s Karatsev‘s 93-minute rout of Belarusian Egor Gerasimov, dropping just one game on his way to a 6-0 6-1 6-0 win.

The Round of 32 matches that the day two results have set up include blockbusters such as third seed Thiem up against Kyrgios, Carreno Busta taking on Dimitrov and an all-Canadian battle between Shapovalov and Auger-Aliassime. Completing the Round of 64 matches today, Australians Thanasi Kokkinakis and Alex de Minaur are in action against fifth seed Stefanos Tsitsipas and Uruguayan Pablo Cuevas respectively, while rising stars Carlos Alcaraz and Mikael Ymer face off, and Casper Ruud takes on Tommy Paul.

ROUND OF 64 RESULTS:

[1] Novak Djokovic (SRB) defeated Frances Tiafoe (USA) 6-3 6-7 7-6 6-3
[3] Dominic Thiem (AUT) defeated Dominik Koepfer (GER) 6-4 6-0 6-2
[6] Alexander Zverev (GER) defeated [Q] Maxime Creesy (USA) 7-5 6-4 6-3
[8] Diego Schwartzman (ARG) defeated [LL] Alexandre Muller (FRA) 6-2 6-0 6-3
[11] Denis Shapovalov (CAN) defeated [Q] Bernard Tomic (AUS) 6-1 6-3 6-2
[14] Milos Raonic (CAN) defeated Corentin Moutet (FRA) 6-7 6-1 6-1 6-4
[15] Pablo Carreno Busta (ESP) defeated Jiri Vesely (CZE) 6-3 7-6 2-6 6-4
Marton Fucsovics (HUN) defeated [17] Stan Wawrinka (SUI) 7-5 6-1 4-6 2-6 7-6
[18] Grigor Dimitrov (BUL) defaeted [WC] Alex Bolt (AUS) 7-6 6-1 6-2
[20] Felix Auger-Aliassime (CAN) defeated James Duckworth (AUS) 6-4 6-1 6-2
[23] Dusan Lajovic (SRB) defeated Alexander Bublik (KAZ) 6-4 7-6 4-6 6-3
[27] Taylor Fritz (USA) defeated Reilly Opelka (USA) 4-6 7-6 6-7 7-6 6-2
Nick Kyrgios (AUS) defeated [29] Ugo Humbert (FRA) 5-7 6-4 3-6 7-6 6-4
[32] Adrian Mannarino (FRA) defeated Miomir Kecmanovic (SRB) 6-1 6-2 6-4
[Q] Aslan Karatsev (RUS) defeated Egor Gerasimov (BLR) 6-0 6-1 6-0
Pedro Martinez (ESP) defeated Emil Ruusuvuori (FIN) 1-6 6-3 6-2 7-6

Picture credit: Getty Images

Australian Open Men’s Round of 128 wrap: Aussie upsets rule day two

IT was a memorable day for the home nation at the Australian Open, as four more Aussies moved through to the second round of the Grand Slam yesterday. Two of those results were major upsets, with none bigger than wildcard Alexei Popyrin‘s come-from-behind five set win over 13th seed David Goffin. The Australian won 3-6 6-4 6-7 7-6 6-3 in three hours and 43 minutes, hitting 50 winners to 42, and capitalising off his second serve to put the Belgian away.

The result marked Goffin’s second first round exit to start 2021, after going down to Spanish young gun Carlos Alcaraz in the lead-up tournament. Speaking of Alcaraz, he booked his passage into the second round with a comprehensive 6-1 6-4 6-4 victory over fellow qualifier, Dutchman Botic Van de Zandschulp. Remarkably there were three all-qualifier battles out on court today, with rising Czech talent Tomas Machac overcoming Spaniard Mario Viella Martinez when leading two sets to one and 3-0 in the fourth before Martinez retired hurt. American Michael Mmoh was the other qualifier to oust a fellow qualifier, defeating Viktor Troicki in a 7-6 6-7 3-6 7-6 7-5 in a whopping four hours and six minutes.

For all of Mmoh’s great work, he gets the reward of playing Rafael Nadal in the second round, with the King of Clay shrugging off the talented Laslo Djere in straight sets, 6-3 6-4 6-1. Roman Safiullin was the fourth qualifier to make it through to the next round, toppling Ilya Ivashka of Belarus, 6-4 6-3 6-4 to set up a date with Cameron Norrie in the Round of 64. The Brit talent upset his top ranked compatriot Daniel Evans, with the 30th seed coming off his maiden ATP Tour title just two days earlier.

Back on the Australians, 21st seed Alex de Minaur took out 2020 Australian Open quarter finalist, Tennys Sandgren in three sets, 7-5 6-1 6-1 to move through to the Round of 64. Joining him were compatriots Thanasi Kokkinakis who made his successful return via a straight sets win over Soonwoo Kwon, and Christopher O’Connell who stunned German talent Jan-Lennard Struff by saving six break points and only conceding 23 unforced errors in the 7-6 7-6 6-1 victory. The other big upset of the day was Moldovan Radu Albot stunning 12th seed Roberto Bautista Agut in four sets. Bautista Agut expressed his displeasure in being locked away in quarantine for two weeks, but due to his first round performance can now sightsee for another fortnight, having gone down to Albot 6-7 6-0 6-4 7-6.

Looking at the top seeds, all bar Goffin made it through, with only Karen Khachanov dropping a set – to Australian wildcard Aleksandar Vukic – and Casper Ruud winning via a Jordan Thompson retirement whilst two sets to love up. Daniil Medvedev, Stefanos Tsitsipas, Andrey Rublev, Matteo Berrettini, Fabio Fognini, Borna Coric and Lorenzo Sonego breezed through to the second round without dropping a set, while Filip Krajinovic (28th seed) had to go to four sets to win against Dutchman Robin Haase. Aside from Goffin and Evans, the third seed to bow out at the first hurdle was 26th Polish seed, Hubert Hurkacz who went down to Swede Mikael Ymer in five sets after leading two sets to one, 3-6 6-3 3-6 7-5 6-3.

Of the unseeded battles, There were a number of Americans who made it through in Tommy Paul and Mackenzie McDonald joining Mmoh in the next round, while Spanish trio Feliciano Lopez, Pablo Andujar and Roberto Carballes Baena all made it into the Round of 64. Elsewhere, Uruguay’s Pablo Cuevas set up a second round date with di Minaur, while South Africa’s Lloyd Harris, Italian Salvatore Caruso, Brazillian Thiago Monteiro and Lithuanian Ricardas Berankis all won their respective singles matches.

Looking to day three, it will be a mini-ATP Cup style battle between Canada and Australia when Denis Shapovalov and Felix Auger-Aliassime take on Bernard Tomic and James Duckworth respectively with the winners of those clashes to face off. Nick Kyrgios will have a stern test against 29th seed Ugo Humbert, while Alex Bolt also takes on a seed in 18th seed Bulgarian Grigor Dimitrov. A couple of exciting matches to watch out for include 32nd seed Adrian Mannarino up against Serbian Miomir Kecmanovic, while another Serbian Dusan Lajovic takes on Alexander Bublik. Top seed Novak Djokovic will look to fend off the Americans as he takes on Frances Tiafoe in the second round before facing the winner of 27th seed Taylor Fritz, and his compatriot Reilly Opelka.

ROUND OF 128 RESULTS:

[2] Rafael Nadal (ESP) defeated Laslo Djere (SRB) 6-3 6-4 6-1
[4] Daniil Medvedev (RUS) defeated Vasek Pospisil (CAN) 6-2 6-2 6-4
[5] Stefanos Tsitsipas (GRE) defeated Gilles Simon (FRA) 6-1 6-2 6-1
[7] Andrey Rublev (RUS) defeated Yannick Hanfmann (GER) 6-3 6-3 6-4
[9] Matteo Berrettini (ITA) defeated Kevin Anderson (RSA) 7-6 7-5 6-3
Radu Albot (MOL) defeated [12] Roberto Bautista Agut (ESP) 6-7 6-0 6-4 7-6
[WC] Alexei Popyrin (AUS) defeated [13] David Goffin (BEL) 3-6 6-4 6-7 7-6 6-3
[16] Fabio Fognini (ITA) defeated Pierre-Hugues Herbert (FRA) 6-4 6-2 6-3
[19] Karen Khachanov (RUS) defeated [WC] Aleksandar Vukic (AUS) 6-3 6-7 7-6 6-4
[21] Alex de Minaur (AUS) defeated Tennys Sandgren (USA) 7-5 6-1 6-1
[22] Borna Coric (CRO) defeated Guido Pella (ARG) 6-3 7-6 7-5
[24] Casper Ruud (NOR) defeated Jordan Thompson (AUS) 6-3 6-3 2-1 RET
Mikael Ymer (SWE) defeated [26] Hubert Hurkacz (POL) 3-6 6-3 3-6 7-5 6-3
[28] Filip Krajinovic (SRB) defeated Robin Haase (NED) 7-6 6-3 4-6 6-2
Cameron Norrie (GBR) defeated [30] Daniel Evans (GBR) 6-4 4-6 6-4 7-5
[31] Lorenzo Sonego (ITA) defeated Sam Querrey (USA) 7-5 6-4 6-4
[Q] Carlos Alcaraz (ESP) defeated [Q] Botic Van de Zandschulp (NED) 6-1 6-4 6-4
Pablo Andujar (ESP) defeated [Q] Quentin Halys (FRA) 6-4 7-5 7-5
Ricardas Berankis (LTU) defaeted [WC] Sumit Nagal (IND) 6-2 7-5 6-3
Roberto Carballes Baena (ESP) defeated Attila Balazs (HUN) 7-5 3-6 6-2 6-3
Salvatore Caruso (ITA) defeated [Q] Henri Laaksonen (SUI) 6-2 6-4 6-3
Pablo Cuevas (URU) defeated Andreas Seppi (ITA) 6-4 4-6 6-2 6-2
Lloyd Harris (RSA) defeated [LL] Mikael Torpegaard (DEN) 4-6 6-3 6-2 6-2
[WC] Thanasi Kokkinakis (AUS) defeated Soonwoo Kwon (KOR) 6-4 6-1 6-1
Feliciano Lopez (ESP) defeated [WC] Li Tu (AUS) 6-7 6-4 7-6 6-4
[Q] Tomas Machac (CZE) defeated [Q] Mario Vilella Martinez (ESP) 6-7 7-5 6-0 3-0 RET
[PR] Mackenzie McDonald (USA) defeated Marco Cecchinato (ITA) 3-6 6-3 6-2 6-2
[Q] Michael Mmoh (USA) defeated [Q] Viktor Troicki (SRB) 7-6 6-7 3-6 7-6 7-5
Thiago Monteiro (BRA) defeated Andrej Martin (SVK) 7-6 6-1 6-2
[WC] Christopher O’Connell (AUS) defeated Jan-Lennard Struff (GER) 7-6 7-6 6-1
Tommy Paul (USA) defeated Nikoloz Basilashvili (GEO) 6-4 7-6 6-4
[Q] Roman Safiullin (RUS) defeated Ilya Ivashka (BLR) 6-4 6-3 6-4

Picture credit: Brandon Malone/AFP

ATP 250 wraps: Two top five seeds knocked out of contention

THERE was plenty of excitement had at both the Great Ocean Road Open and Murray River Open as a number of big names plied their trade and showcased their flashy style while a couple of surprise losses also headlined the Round of 32 action. With plenty of experienced heads on court, there was a slight glimpse to the future with some fresh faces making a name for themselves thanks to some big scalps.

It was another action packed day at the Great Ocean Road Open as a plethora of seeded players progressed through to the next round with the likes of Karen Khachanov, Hubert Hurkacz and Jannik Sinner getting the job done in two sets against their respective opponents. Australian, Max Purcell put Khachanov through his paces pushing him to a tiebreaker in the first but simply could not maintain that intensity throughout going down 7-6 6-3. It was a similar tale for fellow Australian, Aleksandar Vukic whose journey ended against Sinner with the Italian flexing his muscles and motoring past Vukic to claim a 6-2 6-4 victory. However the talking point of the day came through a major upset with number one seed, David Goffin bundled out in straight sets by up and coming Spanish youngster Carlos Alcaraz  6-3 6-3. Alcaraz is quickly making a name for himself with the youngster proving that the hype surrounding him on the ITF circuit is more than warranted with his impressive demolition performance against Goffin.

Australian Christopher O’Connell fell agonisingly short of victory against eight seed Alexander Bublik with the two partaking in a  gruelling two hour battle. Although Bublik walked away with the chocolates 7-6 6-7 6-4 he was well and truly pushed to his limits with the first and second sets going to tiebreakers. Speaking of three setters Americans Tennys Sandgren and Sam Querrey were bundled out in their respective matches as their Italian opponents capitalised on their opportunities. Salvatore Caruso took care of Sandgren 6-4 6-7 6-4 while Stefano Travaglia edged ahead thanks to some strong form in the backend of the match 6-7 6-3 6-4.

GREAT OCEAN ROAD OPEN RESULTS

Carlos Alcaraz (ESP) defeated David Goffin (BEL) 6-3 6-3
[2] Karen Khachanov (RUS) defeated Max Purcell (AUS) 7-6 6-3
[3] Hubert Hurkacz (POL) defeated Mikael Torpegaard (DEN) 6-4 6-3
[4] Jannik Sinner (ITA) defeated Aleksandar Vukic (AUS) 6-2 6-4
Mario Vilella Martinez (ESP) defeated [5] Nikoloz Basilashvili (GEO) 7-5 6-3
[6] Reilly Opelka (USA) defeated Sergiy Stakhovsky (UKR) 7-6 6-4
[7] Miomir Kecmanovic (CRO) defeated Soonwoo Kwon (KOR) 6-3 6-4
[8] Alexander Bublik (KAZ) defeated Christopher O’Connell (AUS) 7-6 6-7 6-4
Salvatore Caruso (ITA) defeated [9] Tennys Sandgren (USA) 6-4 6-7 6-4
Stefano Travaglia (ITA) defeated [10] Sam Querrey (USA) 6-7 6-3 6-4
[11] Jordan Thompson (AUS) defeated Pierre-Hughes Herbert (FRA) 6-4 3-6 6-3
[13] Aljaz Bedene (SLO) defeated Dane Sweeny (AUS) 6-0 6-4
Kevin Anderson (RSA) defeated Cedrik-Marcel Stebe (GER) 6-4 6-2
Pablo Cuevas (URU) defeated Robin Haase (NED) 7-5 6-3
Thiago Monteiro (BRA) defeated [ALT] Matthew Ebden (AUS) 6-7 6-4 6-3
Botic Van de Zandschulp (NED) defeated [PR] Kamil Majchrzak (POL) 6-4 3-6 6-4

Despite being forced to three sets, Swiss talent Stan Wawrinka managed to progress through to the next round of the Murray River Open. Up against Mikhail Kukushkin, the number one seed dug deep and really put the foot down in the final set to claim victory in their two hour long match 4-6 6-3 6-1. Keeping that theme rolling of top seeds progressing was Grigor Dimitrov who made light work of Australian Andrew Harris 6-3 6-3 while up and coming Canadian youngster Felix Auger-Aliassime managed to claim another win by comfortably defeating Japan’s Yuichi Sugita. Croatian and fourth seed Borna Coric lived to see another day pushing past Emil Ruusuvuori in two sets despite the overall match lasting an hour and forty minutes 7-5 6-4. It was a good day for Jiri Vesley with the Czech causing an upset win against fifth seed Casper Ruud to stop his campaign in his tracks 5-7 7-6 6-3.

It was an all Australian affair as Nick Kyrgios and Harry Bourchier went head to head with the thirteenth seed showcasing his power and dominance against his lesser experienced opponent. Pushed to a tiebreak in the third Kyrgios managed to fight off a spirited Bourchier and walk away with the win 6-2 7-6. Both Alex Bolt and Alexei Popyrin moved through to the next stage getting over the top of their American counterparts although Bolt had his work cut out for him surviving a challenging three setter against Mackenzie McDonald 6-4 6-7 7-5.

 

Murray River Open results

[1] Stan Wawrinka (SUI) defeated Mikhail Kukushkin (KAZ) 4-6 6-3 6-1
[2] Grigor Dimitrov (BUL) defeated [WC] Andrew Harris (AUS) 6-3 6-3
[3] Felix Auger-Aliassime (CAN) defeated Yuicji Sugita (JAP) 6-3 6-1
[4] Borna Coric (CRO) defeated Emil Ruusuvuori (FIN) 7-5 6-4
Jiri Vesley (CZE) defeated [5] Casper Ruud (NOR) 7-5 6-4
[6] Taylor Fritz (USA) defeated Federico Coria (ARG) 6-2 6-1
James Duckworth (AUS) defeated [7] Ugo Humbert (FRA) 7-6 6-4
[8] Daniel Evans (GBR) defeated Pedro Sousa (POR) 6-3 7-5
Marcos Giron (USA) defeated [10] Adrian Mannarino (FRA) 6-3 6-4
Corentin Moutet (FRA) defeated [12] Albert Ramos-Vinolas (ESP) 6-4 6-4
[13] Nick Kyrgios (AUS) defeated [ALT] Harry Bourchier (AUS) 6-2 6-7
Alexei Popyrin (AUS) defeated [15] Tommy Paul (USA) 6-4 6-3
Egor Gerasimov (BLR) defeated [16] Marton Fucsovics (HUN) 6-3 1-6 6-3
Ricardas Berankis (LTU) defeated [WC] Jason Kubler (AUS) 7-6 7-5
Alex Bolt (AUS) defeated Mackenzie McDonald (USA) 6-4 6-7 7-5
Jeremy Chardy (FRA) defeated Gilles Simon (FRA) 6-3 6-4

ATP 250 wraps: Aussies succeed on home soil as Kyrgios returns

ANOTHER huge day was had at both the Great Ocean Road Open and Murray River Open, with the ATP 250 tournaments showcasing plenty of formidable names heading into the Australian Open next week.

It was a massive day at the Great Ocean Road Open, with a couple of intriguing results coming out of the Round of 64 draw. Three Australians made their mark on home soil with Jordan ThompsonMatthew Ebden and wildcard Dane Sweeny all coming away with victory, with the latter two completing wins in straight sets, while 11th seed Thompson was forced to three sets by Italian Gianluca Mager, and three other Australians failed to come away with the ‘W’. Only a small spat from ninth seed Tennys Sandgren soured the United States’ day, with 10th seed Sam Querrey joining him on the winners list, and while compatriot Maxime Cressy may not have gotten the chocolates this time, his excellent effort pushing Pierre-Hugue Herbert to the bitter end was commendable, taking the Frenchman to a 6-7 7-6 7-6 outcome in two hours and 39 minutes. It was the American’s error rate which was the catch, matching his 23 aces with the same number of double faults.

The only seed to fall was 14th seed and world number 59 Spaniard Pablo Andujar, who was swept aside by Pablo Cuevas 6-4 6-2, and is joined by compatriot Pedro Martinez on the sidelines after he was down by Mikael Torpegaard. Meanwhile, Spanish 17-year-old and excitement machine Carlos Alcaraz heads into the second round by default after his Hungarian opposition Attila Balasz retired, giving the youngster a chance to really prove himself on the ATP Tour after excelling on the ITF circuit. A second Spaniard joined the winners list, with 188th ranked Mario Vilella Martinez defeating German Jannick Hanfmann, who sits just outside the top 100 at 101 on the world rankings.

In other games, a duo of Dutch winners in Robin Haase and Botic Van De Zandschulp got the job done, while Thiago Monteiro, Sergiy Stakhovsky and Cedrik-Marcel Stebe also put first round wins on the board.

GREAT OCEAN ROAD OPEN ROUND OF 64 RESULTS:

[9] Tennys Sandgren (USA) defeated [WC] John-Patrick Smith (AUS) 6-3 5-7 6-4
[10] Sam Querrey (USA) defeated Henri Laaksonen (SUI) 4-6 7-6 6-0
[11] Jordan Thompson (AUS) defeated Gianluca Mager (ITA) 4-6 6-4 6-3
Pablo Cuevas (URU) defeated [14] Pablo Andujar (ESP) 6-4 6-2
Carlos Alcaraz (ESP) defeated Attila Balazs (HUN) 2-2 RET
Matthew Ebden (AUS) defeated Federico Delbonis (ARG) 6-3 7-6
Robin Haase (NED) defeated Kimmer Coppejans (BEL) 6-4 6-3
Pierre-Hugues Herbert (FRA) defeated Maxime Cressy (USA) 6-7 7-6 7-5
Thiago Monteiro (BRA) defeated Thomas Fancutt (AUS) 6-4 6-4
Sergiy Stakhovsky (UKR) defeated Roman Safiullin (RUS) 6-7 6-4 6-3
Cedrik-Marcel Stebe (GER) defeated Hugo Dellien (BOL) 6-4 6-4
[WC] Dane Sweeny (AUS) defeated Ji Sung Nam (KOR) 7-6 7-5
Mikael Torpegaard (DEN) defeated Pedro Martinez (ESP) 6-4 7-5
Mario Vilella Martinez (ESP) defeated Jannick Hanfmann (GER) 7-6 6-4
Botic Van De Zandschulp (NED) defeated Tristan Schoolkate (AUS) 6-4 7-5

Just the one seed participated on day two at the Murray River Open, with Australian Nick Kyrgios the lone competitor and coming out with a solid win after overcoming a slow start against Frenchman Alexandre Muller, 3-6 6-4 7-6. The Australian took the court for the first time since last Australian summer, having sat out of thee remainder of 2020 due to COVID-19, and while it took the talent some time to get into the swing of things, his 22 aces more than proved he is ready for the challenge and return to the court. Kyrgios was not the only Australia who was successful on home soil though, joined by all three other Australians in this half of the draw as James DuckworthAlexei Popyrin and wildcard Andrew Harris all collected wins. Popyrin’s outing against Croatian Borna Gojo was perhaps one of the matches of the day, with all three sets taken to a tiebreaker in the 6-7 7-6 7-6 encounter, coming down to a battle of the service game as the two combined for 10 double faults and 36 aces in a two and a half hour battle.

Other tough battles came between the likes of Mikhail Kukushkin and Juan Ignacio Londero, with a 4-6 7-5 6-2 result the way of the former, while Japan’s Yuichi Sugita fought past a tight opening set against pressurised Frenchman Quentin Halys to come away with a 3-6 7-6 7-5 victory in two hours and 13 minutes. In other matches, American Marcos Giron downed compatriot Michael Mmoh in straight sets, as did Finnish competitor Emil Ruusuvuori against Serbian Viktor Troicki, while Gilles Simon and Jiri Vesely also got first round wins on the board.

MURRAY RIVER OPEN ROUND OF 64 RESULTS:

[13] Nick Kyrgios (AUS) defeated Alexandre Muller (FRA) 3-6 6-4 7-6
James Duckworth (AUS) defeated Tomas Machac (CZE) 6-3 6-4
Marcos Giron (USA) defeated Michael Mmoh (USA) 6-1 7-5
[WC] Andrew Harris (AUS) defeated Taro Daniel (JPN) 5-7 6-4 7-5
Mikahul Kukushkin (KAZ) defeated Juan Ignacio Londero (ARG) 4-6 7-5 6-2
Alexei Popyrin (AUS) defeated Borna Gojo (CRO) 6-7 7-6 7-6
Emil Ruusuvuori (FIN) defeated Viktor Troicki (SRB) 6-3 6-4
Gilles Simon (FRA) defeated Elias Ymer (SWE) 6-4 6-4
Yuichi Sugita (JPN) defeated Quentin Halys (FRA) 3-6 7-6 7-5
Jiri Vesely (CZE) defeated Frederico Ferreira Silva (POR) 6-4 6-4

Picture credit: AFP

Young guns to watch on the ITF Tour

THE International Tennis Federation (ITF) is well and truly stacked with developing talent, and Draft Central is beginning to delve into the young guns coming up through the ranks emphasising those who have burst onto the scene and showcased some exciting qualities in their junior years. While many of these players are beginning to feed into the ATP and WTA Tours, there are some great youngsters who are yet to break into the fold and will look to build on their 2020 form heading into the new year. All rankings are as of November 30, 2020,

Junior boys

Carlos Alcaraz (ESP)

Age: 17
ATP Tour ranking: 141

An exciting youngster looking to really break onto the ATP Tour scene is Alcaraz, with the developing Spaniard proving he is more than capable of producing excellent wins. With five titles to his name in 2020, including three clay court Challengers to go with his two M15 hard court titles, there is no doubt Alcaraz has the star power to continue propelling himself up the rankings and hitting some real strides.

Lorenzo Musetti (ITA)

Age: 18
ATP Tour ranking: 128

The young Italian is the second ranked youngster on the ATP Tour at the moment, and it shows in his consistency and drive to continue going one better. While still developing his craft and looking to continue his strong efforts against top 100 players, Musetti has showcased plenty of potential on Tour since debuting in 2019, and will look to keep his strong run going in 2021.

Brandon Nakashima (USA)

Age: 19
ATP Tour ranking:
166

American youngster Nakashima is a talent worth keeping an eye on, with the ability to be the next big thing credit to his high work rate and powerful swing. Like Musetti, Nakashima’s ability to shock top 100 players has been a key to developing his skill, flourishing on wildcard entries and using his athleticism to fly out of the blocks. Currently at his peak ranking and steadily developing, look to see Nakashima continue well into 2021.

Harold Mayot (FRA)

Age: 18
ITF Tour ranking:
1
ATP Tour ranking: 
426

ITF world number one Mayot is an exciting developing talent, with the 2020 Junior Australian Open title under his belt and a proven winning ability. With plenty of tenacity and determination, Mayot still has a way to go before truly impacting on the ATP Tour scene, but there is no doubt he will get there once he further develops against strong, more experienced bodies.

Holger Vitus Nodskov Rune (DEN)

Age: 17
ITF Tour ranking: 2
ATP Tour ranking: 511

A consistent performer on the ITF Tour, Rune is one to watch in the future. While he did not win a Challenger tournament, as was his 2020 goal, three M15 titles on the senior ITF Tour is certainly nothing to sniff about. More than that, and it proves the 17-year-old is more than capable of competing against those bigger bodies in the future, especially on his preferred surface of clay.

Dominic Stephan Stricker (SUI)

Age: 18
ITF Tour ranking: 3

While Stricker is yet to really break onto the ATP Tour scene, the youngster has proven he is ready to step up to the next level and with a current ranking of third on the ITF rankings, there is no doubt he has the capacity to do so when he gets an opportunity – and an uninterrupted season. A Junior Roland Garros title in 2020 and the likes of Roger Federer to look up to certainly will aid in his progression heading into 2021.

Junior girls

Coco Gauff (USA)

Age: 16
WTA Tour ranking: 48

One of the most high profile young guns in the world at the moment, Gauff is the gift that keeps on giving with her rate of development and potential given how far she has come in such a short time. Still just 16-years-old, Gauff’s  ability to leave it all on the court and command victory as an underdog – including two straight sets victories over Venus Williams – have seen her rocket into media attention.

Daria Lopatetska (UKR)

Age: 17
WTA Tour ranking: 355

Another exciting youngster breaking onto the scene is Lopatetska, with the versatile Ukrainian able to put out excellent efforts across a range of surfaces and, even with an interrupted season following on from major knee surgery in 2019, has showcased plenty of grit and determination to get back out there. With a heap of potential and Elina Svitolina on her side, it is only a matter of time before Lopatetska is back on the cards.

Katrina Scott (USA)

Age: 16
WTA Tour ranking: 447

Scott may still be only 16-years-old, but her exciting potential has seen her rocket into contention on the WTA Tour alongside Gauff, following her compatriot’s footsteps onto the senior rankings well before expected. A competitive youngster who has showed no signs of stopping since her debut at the 2020 US Open as a wildcard, expect Scott to continue developing and keep the USA superpower going as she heads up the rankings.

Polina Kudermetova (RUS)

Age: 17
ITF Tour ranking: 6
WTA Tour ranking: 775

The younger sister of Veronika Kudermetova, there is no doubt 17-year-old Polina knows what it takes really break onto the WTA Tour stage. While she has not really made it there yet – in part because of the COVID-19 pandemic and limited court time – the Russian youngster is a proven winner throughout the years and, with an ability to fight every second, will look to continue developing with more time in 2021.

Elsa Jacquemot (FRA)

Age: 17
ITF Tour ranking: 1
WTA Tour ranking: 535

The 2020 Junior Roland Garros winner and current world number one on the junior ITF Tour, Jacquemot is one to watch in the future. With two titles to her name in 2020 and a whopping 89 per cent win rate – 12 straight on clay – the French 17-year-old may not have broken onto the WTA Tour just yet but certainly has the proven winning ability to be a huge threat on Tour.

Victoria Jimenez Kasintseva (AND)

Age: 15
ITF Tour ranking: 2

The youngest player on this list is 15-year-old Andorran Jimenez Kasintseva, and while she is still developing her court craft there is no denying she is a star of the future, holding the Junior Australian Open title in 2020 and only leaving top spot on the ITF rankings when Jacquemot took out the Roland Garros title. With an overall win rate of 88 per cent and just three losses on tour, expect big things from the young gun.

ATP Teenage Stars – Carlos Alcaraz

A YOUNG Spaniard with plenty of potential, there is no doubt 17-year-old Carlos Alcaraz is on the way up in the world with a serious talent and flair on the court. Factor in that he is in the unprecedented position of following in Rafael Nadal’s footsteps and breaking onto the ATP Tour scene in the latter stages of the great’s career, and Alcaraz could well be the next clay court star on the professional circuit.

Still young and very raw, Alvarez is a player who has benefited off the unprecedented COVID-19 break in 2020, with a focus on ATP Challenger tournaments to boost his Tour standings, and currently sits 140th in the world – the youngest on Tour alongside fellow talents Lorenzo Musetti (18-years-old) and Jannik Sinner (19-years-old) within the top 300 – which is a huge testament to his development. 

Alcaraz has won three Challenger tournaments in 2020, making his tally five for the year – a feat that even in an uninterrupted season is an impressive effort – and given the youngster started his year ranked only just within the top 500, there is plenty of talent there. 

Looking at the stats, and the Spaniard is clearly another from the same brand of clay court compatriots already showcasing their wares on Tour, with a 1-1 win rate on the ATP Tour in 2020 given his focus on Challengers, but a whopping 39-7 win rate on the ITF Circuit this season. A 100 per cent success rate across 10 hard court matches is a solid enough record, and then with the addition of his 29 clay court victories for seven losses there is no doubt Alcaraz is an impressive upcoming talent.

Alcaraz has plenty of drive and ambition, telling EFE in early November that he aspires to not only reach the top 100 to enter the 2021 Roland Garros but also complete the year in the ATP top 50. 

“I would like to enter the final table at Roland Garros, for which I would have to be a top 100, and finish the year in the top 50. I see myself capable of doing great things,” Alcaraz said. “(2020) has been a great year, which has made me see that I am closer to the goals than I thought.”

The young gun is by no means cocky though, aware that he has improvements to make and willing to put in the hard yards to be the best he can be, with an eventual goal of breaking into the Davis Cup team, but faced with plenty of competition from his compatriots given his nation’s consistent and continual success on the ATP Tour. 

“Right now I would say that the serve is what I have to polish the most and I must work thoroughly,” Alcaraz said. “I hope to be there (Davis Cup) one day and it would be a dream come true, although Spain, luckily, has many players in the top 100 and it is not easy to get on that list.”

“The best have been the results I have been able to obtain and the great work done, also in quarantine, and the worst have been not being able to play for five months in a row. After what I have done I really want to start 2021.”

Is Jannik Sinner the next top 20 star?

HEADING into last year’s Next Gen ATP Finals, Jannik Sinner was ranked the lowest and considered the biggest underdog in a group that included Frances Tiafoe, Mikael Ymer and Ugo Humbert. Defeating the first two and narrowly losing to the third, Sinner progressed through to the semi-finals where he took down Miomir Kecmanovic before stunning top 20 Australian, Alex de Minaur in straight sets to win the title.

He had the home crowd support with the Next Gen ATP Finals played in Milan, but red haired Italian showed just how much potential he had and it was his breaking out tournament. The next week to end the year he dropped right back to Challenger level, easily taking out an event at Ortisei to close out a year which saw him play 21 matches at ATP Tour level, winning 11 of them.

It was a remarkable and underrated year from the 18-year-old who started at an M15 event in Tunisia where he lost in the second round, and then was bundled out in the first round in the same place a week later. His first Challenger event at Bergamo saw him stun the field and storm to victory ranked 546th in the world. It boosted him up to 324th, and he won an M25 at Trento a week later. Backing it up with a third consecutive title at Santa Margherita in his home nation, he stepped up again to the Challenger Tour, only to be knocked out by Carlos Alcaraz.

His debut on the ATP Tour this year saw him compete at Budapest where he won by retirement against Lukas Rosol and made it through to the second round before being bundled out by Laslo Djere. He reached the final of a Challenger event in the Czech Republic after that, then earned a wildcard at the ATP Masters in Rome. He showed he would not be making up the numbers ranked 263rd in the world, stunning American Steve Johnson despite dropping the first set, then recovering to win in three, 1-6 6-1 7-5. He would bow out to Stefanos Tsitsipas in straight sets next match, but was far from disgraced.

An unlucky and strange occurrence at Lyon a week later saw him defeat Tristan Lamasine in qualifying to make the main draw, only for Lamasine to earn a lucky loser place against him, and then turn the tables. But now Sinner was starting to make main draws of ATP Tour events and slowly climb up the rankings. Unfortunately he lost in the first round of qualifying at Wimbledon to Alex Bolt, but made a second round in Umag the next week. A few weeks later, he turned the tables on Bolt by toppling him in the final at Lexington to take home another Challenger title and he shot up into 135th in the world. Now he was in range of automatically qualifying for some 250 events.

He had to fight his way through qualifying at the US Open, winning three consecutive matches against opponents outside the top 200, only to cop Stan Wawrinka in the first round at Flushing Meadows. He won a set of the Swiss star, but could not consistently beat him, going down in four sets. He would face him again in Antwerp in October, and again go down, but not before breaking through with an eye-opening win over Gael Monfils. Toppling the world number 13 suddenly had eyes on the teenager who had only recently turned 18. A week later Monfils got him back with victory in Vienna, but over the two weeks, Sinner accounted for Tiafoe again, and the challenging Philipp Kohlschreiber.

The next tournament was his successful Next Gen ATP Finals, which brings it to the start of 2020. Shooting up inside the top 100 to finish the year at 78th in the world, many expected him to be in the top 50 once the Australian summer was over. Instead, Sinner lost to 121st ranked Emil Ruusuvuori in a Challenger event in Bendigo which had some people scratching their heads. He was then bundled out by world number 24 Benoit Paire a week later in Auckland, and only reached the second round at Melbourne Park thanks to a straight sets win over 215th ranked Australian, Max Purcell.

The last few tournaments were indicative of Sinner’s inconsistency, stunning David Goffin in Rotterdam – which made it his highest scalp to date by beating the world number 10 – and pushed Pablo Carreno Busta all the way in the quarter finals. The Italian even took a set off Daniil Medvedev the next week in Marseille, but somehow dropped a match to 114th ranked Denis Kudla at Indian Wells 125K event.

Sinner has all the talent to progress up the rankings, and he showed in his limited time on tour has is capable of doing it. He has had some bumps along the way as you would expect, but if he can rekindle the form he had at the end of last year, then he could be someone that takes the next step and progresses into the top 50, and then hopefully top 20.