Tag: casper ruud

ATP Tour wrap: Berrettini books Zverev clash in Madrid final

EIGHTH seed Italian Matteo Berrettini has put recent inconsistent form behind him to post a strong semi-final win over Norwegian Casper Ruud and book his spot in the 2021 Madrid Masters 1000 clash. The Italian proved too good for the world number 22, winning 6-4 6-4 in one hour and 22 minutes to secure a spot in the decider against fifth seed Alexander Zverev. Berrettini, who served five aces and only dropped three points off his first serve – and five off his second – did not even face a break point on his way to an almighty win.

“It’s a great, unbelievable feeling, especially coming from Monte-Carlo where I wasn’t feeling that good,” Berrettini said post-match. “I won in Belgrade and now I’m in the final, so I’m really looking forward to playing against Sascha. I hope I enjoy it tomorrow the way I enjoyed tonight.”

Berrettini was unbeatable on serve, and managed to grab the required break in each set to down the clay court specialist Ruud, to step up and reach his maiden ATP Masters 1000 final, becoming just the third Italian in history to do so after Fabio Fognini and Jannik Sinner – both in the past three years.

“My serve is my weapon, but today I think I returned a lot and I put pressure on him,” Berrettini said. “I was just playing more aggressive. He’s kind of like me, he likes to run around the forehand and play with spin. But I guess today I was playing better than him.

“The other time he beat me, so it’s always a great fight against him. He [reached] three semi-finals in a row [also Monte-Carlo and Munich] so he was feeling confident. I guess that’s why I’m maybe even more happy with my win today.”

The Italian hit 24 winners and kept his defensive pressure high as Ruud could only manage the seven for the match. Despite the win, Berrettini knows who good his next opponent is – Zverev – considering his last two victories at Madrid.

“I saw him, he’s playing really good,” Berrettini said. “He’s solid. “He moves well. “For his height, he’s really good. “He serves well. “I mean, he’s in the final. “He beat Rafa [Nadal] and Dominic [Thiem], probably the best players on clay.”

After toppling Nadal in the quarter finals, Zverev claimed the semi-final win over the next best clay courter in reigning US Open winner Thiem, 6-3 6-4. The German served six aces to one and won 78 per cent of his first serve points off a 66 per cent clip. He broke Thiem three times from 11 chances, and was only broken once himself in a dominant performance against the Austrian. Zverev said he was pleased to get the win against an opponent who more often than not had his measure.

“We have had some fantastic matches. We have played the biggest matches in the world. We have played Masters 1000 finals, we have played Grand Slam finals and [the rivalry] is still developing,” Zverev said post-match interview. “It is still going to go on for a few more years. Hopefully we will play a few more amazing matches.”

After defeating Thiem in the 2019 Madrid Masters 1000 final, Zverev has reached his second decider at the event, and will need to take down Italian Berrettini to claim another huge title.

“It is going to mean a lot to me [if I can win the final]. I am definitely looking forward to it,” Zverev said. “I am definitely looking forward to playing another big final and I hope I can turn it my way this time.”

MADRID MASTERS 1000 SEMI-FINALS RESULTS:

[5] Alexander Zverev (GER) defeated [3] Dominic Thiem (AUT) 6-3 6-4
[8] Matteo Berrettini (ITA) defeated Casper Ruud (NOR) 6-4 6-4

Picture credit: Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

MADRID MASTERS 1000 RESULTS:

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

Picture credit: ATP Tour

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

MADRID OPEN ROUND OF 16 RESULTS: 

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

ATP Tour wrap: 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: Struff eyes off maiden title in home nation

GERMAN Jan-Lennard Struff will eye off his maiden ATP Tour title after downing Belarusian qualifier Ilya Ivashka to reach the final of the BMW Open in Munich. The 87-minute victory came after Ivashka had disposed of his top ranked compatriot Alexander Zverev in the quarter finals, with Struff doing it a lot easier, 6-4 6-1 in 87 minutes of action.

The seventh seed’s win mean the home nation hero was finally able to break through to an ATP Tour final after previously reaching the semi-final stage of an ATP Tour tournament on seven occasions. Having been broken early and trailing 3-0, Struff looked in a bit of trouble until he won 12 of the next 13 games in a one-sided result much to the pleasure of the German crowd.

“I am happy to have reached my first final on home soil in Germany and I will try my best tomorrow,” Struff said post-match.

The German will now face fellow unseeded talent Nikoloz Basilashvili who has been there and done it before, collecting four ATP Tour titles, the most recent of which occurred in Doha earlier this year. Much like Struff the Georgian also came from a slight deficit – albeit only the opening game in this case – to string together the next nine matches to win the first set 6-1 and lead 3-0 against second seed Casper Ruud. Basilashvili eventually won the second set 6-2 with three of the last four games, to upset the highly ranked Norwegian and roll into the decider.

“I am feeling good and I am feeling fresh,” Basilashvili said post-match. “I am looking forward to the final. “I feel confident here and the court suits me, so it will be an interesting match tomorrow as we played recently in Italy.”

The interesting factor will be Basilashvili’s extra workload during the day after the Georgian defeated Slovenian lucky loser Norbert Gombos 6-4 6-4, and Ruud had taken down Australian eighth seed John Millman in the other quarter final 6-3 6-4, before having to head out on court for the semi-final last night.

Meanwhile in the other ATP 250 event, unseeded Brit Cameron Norrie booked his unlikely spot in the Estoril Open final in Portugal. Norrie overcame sixth seed Marin Cilic to make his way into the decider following two tight sets 7-6 7-5, and will take on seventh seed Albert Ramos-Vinolas in today’s final after the Spaniard took care of compatriot, eighth seed Alejandro Davidovich Fokina in the other semi-final, 6-1 6-4.

“I was really tough. I started a little bit slow and managed to ease my way into the match. [I] played really good when break point down and went after it,” Norrie said post-match. “[Marin] was serving great and it was really tricky to get his first serve back… I am fortunate to get through and I am just happy to be in my second final.”

Norrie is having some sort of season, having claimed 18 ATP Tour victories this season, ranked equal third overall with Italian Jannik Sinner, behind Greek star Stefanos Tsitsipas, and red-hot Russian Andrey Rublev (26). Going into outright third might be a challenge in this match though, as the Brit looks to overcome a 2-0 head-to-head advantage that Ramos-Vinolas has in their clashes thus far.

BMW OPEN SEMI-FINALS RESULTS:

Nikoloz Basilashvili (GEO) defeated [2] Casper Ruud (NOR) 6-1 6-2
Jan-Lennard Struff (GER) defeated [Q] Ilya Ivashka (BLR) 6-4 6-1

BMW OPEN QUARTER FINALS RESULTS:

[2] Casper Ruud (NOR) defeated [8] John Millman (AUS) 6-3 6-4
Nikoloz Basilashvili (GEO) defeated [LL] Norbert Gombos (SLO) 6-4 6-4

ESTORIL OPEN SEMI-FINALS RESULTS:

Cameron Norrie (GBR) defeated [6] Marin Cilic (CRO) 7-6 7-5
[7] Albert Ramos-Vinolas (ESP) defeated [8] Alejandro Davidovich Fokina (ESP) 6-1 6-4

Picture credit: ATP Tour

ATP Tour wrap: Qualifier stuns Zverev as Munich hosts thrillers

TOP seed and tournament favourite Alexander Zverev is out of the 2021 BMW Open in Munich, Germany after going down in a nail-biter to Belarusian qualifier Ilya Ivashka. With just two matches on court to start the quarter finals, the German fans through they might come away with back-to-back wins after seventh seed Jan-Lennard Struff held on against a determined Filip Krajinovic in three sets, but it was not to be.

In the first game, Struff needed all three sets to dismiss Krajinovic, with the seventh seed German winning 6-4 4-6 7-6 over the fourth seed Serbian. The deciding set tiebreaker went to 7-3, and was part of a whopping three-flat hours before the fast-serving Struff could advance. In those three hours, Struff put down 15 aces to Krajinovic’s six, whilst winning 77 per cent of his first serve points. By comparison the Serbian only won 58 per cent, but managed to save 11 of 16 break points, while Struff also defended well, saving eight of 13.

After Struff got up, the confidence of the home fans was sky-high to set up an all-German semi-final with Zverev out on court against Ivashka. After being pushed all the way in the first set, the number one seed prevailed 7-5 in the tiebreaker to take an early lead, and when the German served for the match at 5-4, many fans were expecting to head home shortly after. Ivashka had other ideas however, breaking the serve and winning the next three games – and nine of the last 12 0 to sail to victory, 6-7 7-5 6-3.

“This match was really tough for me and I was [close to losing] in the second set,” Ivashka said post-match. “I managed well and I tried stay in and fight until the last moment to see if he would give [me] chances and it happened.”

It was Ivashka first-ever Top 10 win, and his break in the seventh game of the second set helped him hold on and record a memorable come-from-behind victory, as both players serve five aces, but Zverev produced 10 more double faults. Ivashka saved six of nine break point opportunities, while breaking Zverev at a 50 per cent rate (five of 10).

“I just came to play match after match,” Ivashka said. “I knew that I had played well [in the] previous weeks… but I was not expecting [this run].”

Tomorrow is a hectic day with the two quarter finals – between second seed Casper Ruud and eighth seed John Millman, and fifth seed Nikoloz Basilashvili and lucky loser Norbert Gombos – taking place, as well as both semi-finals between the winners of those games, and the Struff-Ivashka clash.

Meanwhile in Estoril, unseeded Brit Cameron Norrie stunned second seed Cristian Garin in a come-from-behind victory on clay, saluting 3-6 7-5 6-3 in a nail-bitter to advance through to the semi-finals. Norrie broke three times to two in the two-hour and 28-minute clash, winning 59 per cent of his second serves to Garin’s 43 per cent to be the difference in an otherwise relatively even match. Norrie will now face sixth seed Marin Cilic who had an easy day out by winning a tiebreaker in the first set before South African Kevin Anderson retired. In the other quarter finals, seventh seed Albert Ramos-Vinolas and eighth seed Alejandro Davidovich Fokina both won through to set up an all-Spanish semi-final following wins over respective Frenchmen, Corentin Moutet and third seed Ugo Humbert.

BMW OPEN QUARTER FINALS RESULTS:

[Q] Ilya Ivashka (BLR) defeated [1] Alexander Zverev (GER) 6-7 7-5 6-3
[7] Jan-Lennard Struff (GER) defeated [4] Filip Krajinovic (SRB) 6-4 4-6 7-6

ESTORIL OPEN QUARTER FINALS RESULTS:

Cameron Norrie (GBR) defeated [2] Cristian Garin (CHI) 3-6 7-5 6-3
[8] Alejandro Davidovich Fokina (ESP) defeated [3] Ugo Humbert (GRA) 6-4 6-4
[6] Marin Cilic (CRO) defeated Kevin Anderson (RSA) 7-6 0-0 RET
[7] Albert Ramos-Vinolas (ESP) defeated Corentin Moutet (FRA) 6-4 6-3

Picture credit: Christof Stache/AFP via Getty Images

ATP Tour wrap: Seeds all advance in Munich and Estoril

IT was a largely predictable day in the ATP 250 events across Europe as all six seeds out on court in Munich and Estoril advanced through to the quarter finals after the Round of 16 matches got underway. The only Top 10 talent in action was top seed Alexander Zverev, with the BMW Open favourites dominating 6-2 6-4 against Lithuania’s Ricardas Berankis to book his spot in the final eight. The match lasted one hour and 27 minutes before the German advanced, putting up six aces and winning 73 per cent of his first serve points.

“I haven’t played much tennis the past few weeks, so I know I’ll need to improve for the next match,” Zverev said post-match. “I’ve had success in the past and I feel good here. I’ve played well in the practice and hopefully I can do better on the match court.”

Zverev will be difficult to beat at home on the clay, though second seed Casper Ruud would be in with a shot, cruising through his first match in the tournament by taking care of Uruguay’s Pablo Cuevas, 6-3 6-2. Ruud was tough to beat on serve, only dropping nine points – including only two on his second serve – whilst not facing a break point and breaking the Uruguayan three times.

In other results, John Millman knocked off Guido Pella following the Argentinian’s retirement early in the second set. Despite being a set up, Pella dropped the first two games of the second set and was forced to retire in the 75th minute of the match. Meanwhile, Belarusian qualifier Ilya Ivashka knocked off fellow qualifier, United States’ Mackenzie McDonald in three sets, 6-7 6-1 6-2, cruising home to book his spot in the next round against Zverev.

Over in Portugal, it was a good day for the seeds there too, albeit with a few more complications. With the exception of eighth seed Alejandro Davidovich Fokina‘s whitewash of Frenchman Jeremy Chardy 6-1 6-2, the other two seeds needed three sets to overcome their opponents. Third seed Ugo Humbert got up in a tight struggle over Italian Marco Cecchinato 6-4 3-6 6-3, while sixth seed Marin Cilic dropped the first set in a tiebreaker to home nation qualifier, Nuno Borges before coming back to win, 6-7 6-4 6-4. In the other match, South African Kevin Anderson took care of Spanish lucky loser Roberto Carballes Baena in straight sets, 6-3 7-6.

BMW OPEN ROUND OF 16 RESULTS:

[1] Alexander Zverev (GER) defeated [LL] Ricardas Berankis (LTU) 6-2 6-4
[2] Casper Ruud (NOR) defeated Pablo Cuevas (URU) 6-3 6-2
[8] John Millman (AUS) defeated Guido Pella (ARG) 4-6 2-0
[Q] Ilya Ivashka (BLR) defeated [Q] Mackenzie McDonald (USA) 6-7 6-1 6-2

ESTORIL OPEN ROUND OF 16 RESULTS:

[3] Ugo Humbert (FRA) defeated Marco Cecchinato (ITA) 6-4 3-6 6-3
[6] Marin Cilic (CRO) defeated [Q] Nuno Borges (POR) 6-7 6-4 6-4
[8] Alejandro Davidovich Fokina (ESP) defeated Jeremy Chardy (FRA) 6-1 6-2
Kevin Anderson (RSA) [LL] Roberto Carballes Baena (ESP) 6-3 7-6

Picture credit: ATP Tour

ATP Tour wrap: Tsitsipas and Rublev to face off in Monte Carlo decider

STEFANOS Tsitsipas and Andrey Rublev will face off in the 2021 Monte Carlo Masters final, defeating a couple of tournament giant-killers in Daniel Evans and Casper Ruud to secure their sports. The fourth seed Tsitsipas was relatively fresh after only playing a set before a retirement in the quarter final, while Rublev knocked off tournament favourite Rafael Nadal in a three-set thriller.

In the semis, Tsitsipas dismissed Evans – who he himself knocked Novak Djokovic in a stunning upset earlier in the tournament – 6-2 6-1 in a one-sided result. The match lasted 69 minutes before the Greek fourth seed was able to advance through to the decider. He only dropped 11 points on serve and saved the only break point chance from Evans, while the Brit managed just 23 of 54 on serve, and struggled throughout the match.

“I am indeed pleased with the performance,” Tsitsipas said post-match. “I found ways to play at my best. “It was really difficult to maintain my level of consistency and I am really happy I managed to deal with all the different moments during the match. “I had a lot of opportunities to hit the forehand, and think how I wanted to construct the point.”

Tsitsipas is yet to drop a set in Monte Carlo, and was far too good for Evans whom he beat for the fourth time. He has a 3-3 record against Rublev and will be looking to bounce back against the Russian after losing to him at the World Tennis Tournament in Rotterdam last month.

“I’m feeling good. I’m feeling energised. I still have plenty of gas and energy left in me,” Tsitsipas said. “I was able to have all of my matches done in two sets, so that is a big plus. “I am happy to be able to play that way, just take it match by match, approach each individual match with the same intensity and energy… I’m really focused for tomorrow.”

The other semi-final was a lot close, as Rublev forced his way to a 6-4 7-5 victory over Ruud. The match lasted an hour and 20 minutes, as Rublev’s consistency off his first serve points – winning 76 per cent success – helped him grab the win. Both players struggled to hold serve when opening the door for their opponent with a total of eight break point opportunities all converted, but five went in the favour of the Russian.

“Casper is a really amazing player, especially on clay,” Rublev said post-match. “Since the beginning he put a really high intensity [on the court] and was really tough. I knew that I needed to raise my level if I wanted to fight against him, because if I [did] not raise the level I [would] lose for sure.

“He started [by going] up with the break and I felt like I needed to raise my level, raise my speed [and] hit harder. Otherwise, I had no chance. I started to do it and then I started to play better and he started to miss a bit more. I think that was the key.”

Rublev said he was looking forward to taking on Tsitsipas for the second time, and both players will be eyeing off their maiden ATP Masters 1000 title. The Russian has had great success at ATP 500 events with four titles, whilst Tsitsipas is yet to win a title past an ATP 250 or the ATP Finals which he won in 2019.

“It is an amazing feeling. It is my first [ATP Masters 1000] final, so I am really happy,” Rublev said post-match. “We will see what is going to happen [in the final]. I will try to do my best.”

MONTE CARLO MASTERS SEMI-FINALS RESULTS:

[4] Stefanos Tsitsipas (GRE) defeated Daniel Evans (GBR) 6-2 6-1
[6] Andrey Rublev (RUS) defeated Casper Ruud (NOR) 6-3 7-5

Picture credit: Alexander Hassenstein/Getty Images

ATP Tour wrap: Three upsets and a retirement shake up Monte Carlo Masters

A STUNNING three-set upset of Clay Court King Rafael Nadal has Russian up-and-comer Andrey Rublev in a near-unbeatable way, moving through to the semi-finals of the 2021 Monte Carlo Masters ATP 1000 event. Rublev was one of three lower ranked players to win their respective matchups, leaving just him and fourth seed Stefanos Tsitsipas as the only seeds in the final four.

Having never beaten Nadal before and the Spanish star having lifted the trophy in Monte Carlo a casual 11 times, Rublev was by far the underdog despite his rapid rise in the past 12 months. He left nothing out on the court though to inflict only Nadal’s sixth win at the event. He raced out to a 6-2 3-1 lead as if Nadal was a newcomer and Rublev even admitted “it did not feel real”.

“All the situation was strange,” Rublev said post-match. “I mean, [it] was not real that I was winning 6-2, 3-1, having breakpoints for [a] second break. It was not real. Probably inside I understood that something is going to change. It cannot be like this all the match. If it’s like this all the match, then I don’t know, probably Rafa had his worst day of his life.”

Once Nadal hit back to win five of the next six games and take the second set, the momentum was with the third seed and many expected him to go on with it. Instead, Rublev broke him twice for a whopping 5-1 lead in the third, eventually taking the set in eight games to win, 6-2 4-6 6-2 in two hours and 32 minutes.

“I would say this week I am controlling my emotions [really well]. At the end that’s the key,” Rublev said. “If after the second set I would say something or if I would show emotions, for sure the third set will be over, [it] will be 6-2 for him. “So I’m happy that I could handle it.”

Rublev won 12 more points than Nadal (99-87), serving two aces to one, but only one double fault to seven. He won more first serve points (65 per cent to 56 per cent), and converted seven of 15 break points to the Spaniard’s four of 12. Rublev will now go on to face Norwegian Casper Ruud in the semi-finals after Ruud upstaged 15th seed Italian Fabio Fognini.

That was more favourable to the winner with Ruud getting up 6-4 6-3 in 97 minutes of match play. He was consistent off both his first (62 per cent) and second (64 per cent) serves, with Fognini struggling with a 57 and 53 per cent success rate despite a higher clip (67 per cent to 64 per cent). The clay court world number 27 is eyeing off a Top 20 spot with a good run here and the 22-year-old can finally come of age at the event with just one title to his name to-date.

In the other results, Daniel Evans toppled 11th seed David Goffin in a come-from-behind win to mark his fourth victory of the tournament, officially doubling his career wins on clay having entered the 2021 event at just four. He won 5-7 6-3 6-4 and backed up his shock upset of Novak Djokovic in the previous round with the terrific win over Goffin. The Brit will now go on to face Tsitsipas, who only played out the one set prior to his opponent, Spaniard Alejandro Davidovich Fokina retiring.

MONTE CARLO MASTERS QUARTER FINALS RESULTS:

[6] Andrey Rublev (RUS) defeated [3] Rafael Nadal (ESP) 6-2 4-6 6-2
[4] Stefanos Tsitsipas (GRE) defeated Alejandro Davidovich Fokina (ESP) 7-5 0-0 RET
Daniel Evans (GBR) defeated [11] David Goffin (BEL) 5-7 6-3 6-4
Casper Ruud (NOR) defeated [15] Fabio Fognini (ITA) 6-4 6-3

ATP Tour wrap: Evans stuns Djoker in Monte Carlos madness

DANIEL Evans has pulled off the greatest win of his ATP Tour career, downing world number one Novak Djokovic at the 2021 Monte Carlo Masters overnight. The Brit, who struggles on the clay normally, somehow knocked off the world’s best player in straight sets, 6-4 7-5. It was not easy, but then no one expected it to be, with Djokovic a past winner in Monte Carlo back in 2013 and 2015.

All the omens were pointing to a Djokovic win, with the Serbian not only a two-time past winner at the event, but unbeaten in 2021 with a 10-0 record heading into the third round match. Evans raced out of the block to win a double-break against Djokovic to stun onlookers, only for the Serbian to hit back and put it back on serve. Another break was all it took for the world number three, who closed out the first set, 6-4.

Djokovic put the foot down early in the second set to break and head to the second change of ends at 3-0 up, before Evans fought back to save a set point at 4-5 and then break twice upon winning the final four games of the match. The contest lasted two hours and nine minutes, but perhaps the most remarkable aspect was the fact it was Evans’ seventh win on clay, ever (his third this tournament). He is not a clay player and while Djokovic also prefers hard court, he has proven to be adaptable on any surface. But it was Evans who never gave in to claim a remarkable victory.

“It hasn’t sunk in yet,” Evans said post-match. “I couldn’t quite believe the last ball went over the net. “It nearly didn’t. “I was pleased, regardless, with how I was playing coming into the match. “I felt good. “You can never be confident coming into such a big match like that against Novak. “It is clearly a big win and I am delighted that I got through, especially being a break down and [having had] little difficulties in the first set. It was really pleasing and I am delighted.

“The biggest thing is, you have got to believe you can win. “I can walk on saying it, but you have really got to believe it. “Of course, I doubted myself in the match. “Serving it out is not easy. “You have got all sorts [of things] running through your head. “I am just happy with how it went and it will be one to savour for maybe after the tournament, to tell the kids and grandkids that you beat the World No. 1. It is a nice one.”

Evans will now go on to face 11th seed David Goffin, whom he beat in the ATP Cup earlier this year, the only meeting between the pair. Evans’ win was arguably the only major upset of the day, with Goffin causing a minor upset over fifth seed German Alexander Zverev, winning in two tight sets 6-4 7-6, including an epic 9-7 second set tiebreaker. Twelfth seed Pablo Carreno Busta was the only other seed to fall to an unseeded player, going down to clay court specialist Casper Ruud in the match of the day. Both players threw everything at each other during the two-hour and 52-minute clash between Ruud emerged victorious with a 7-6 5-7 7-5 win.

At the other end of the scale, Rafael Nadal brushed aside Grigor Dimitrov like the 14th seed Bulgarian was a rookie on debut, absolutely destroying him 6-1 6-1 in 56 minutes. He only dropped eight points on serve, broke five times from nine chances, and never looked like losing the incredibly one-sided contest on the surface he has dominated for the best part of two decades. The ever-honest Nadal said it was Dimitrov’s errors – which he knew were uncharacteristic of the Bulgarian – that were the deciding factor in the result.

“[I am] sorry for him. He played a bad match. That is the truth,” Nadal said post match. “He made a lot of mistakes. I was there. I was doing the right thing, but it is true that today was more his fault than my good tennis.”

The third seed will now take on sixth seed Alexander Rublev who knocked off ninth seed Roberto Bautista Agut in an epic three-set contest, 7-6 5-7 6-3. The other results were in straight sets, as fourth seed Stefanos Tsitsipas accounted for Christian Garin, 15th seed Fabio Fognini defeated Filip Krajinovic, and the lowest ranked winner Alejandro Davidovich Fokina proved too strong for French wildcard Lucas Pouille.

Nadal and Rublev are the final match of the day on Court Rainier III tonight, with Ruud and Fognini the match before. Kicking off the day is the Tsitsipas and Davidovich Fokina clash, whilst Evans and Goffin lock horns in the following match.

MONTE CARLO MASTERS ROUND OF 16 RESULTS:

Daniel Evans (GBR) defeated [1] Novak Djokovic (SRB) 6-4 7-5
[3] Rafael Nadal (ESP) defeated [14] Grigor Dimitrov (BUL) 6-1 6-1
[4] Stefanos Tsitsipas (GRE) defeated [16] Cristian Garin (CHI) 6-3 6-4
[11] David Goffin (BEL) defeated [5] Alexander Zverev (GER) 6-4 7-6
[6] Andrey Rublev (RUS) defeated [9] Roberto Bautista Agut (ESP) 7-6 5-6 6-3
Casper Ruud (NOR) defeated [12] Pablo Carreno Busta (ESP) 7-6 5-7 7-5
[15] Fabio Fognini (ITA) defeated Filip Krajinovic (SRB) 6-2 7-6
Alejandro Davidovich Fokina (ESP) defeated [WC] Lucas Pouille (FRA) 6-2 7-6

Picture credit: ATP Tour