Tag: cedrik-marcel stebe

ATP Tour wrap: Matches underway at Munich and Estoril

PROCEEDINGS are underway at the ATP Tour 250 events in Munich, Germany and Estoril, Portugal, as the Round of 32 begins.

At Estoril, a number of Spaniards took the court with just the one reigning supreme in eighth seed Alejandro Davidovich Fokina – the only seed of the day – in a hard-fought day on the clay. Davidovich Fokina took on compatriot Pablo Andujar and claimed a 6-3 4-6 6-1 victory in just under two and a half hours. Whilst it was not a particularly effective service encounter from either Spaniard, the higher ranked of the two came away with the chocolates.

South African Kevin Anderson hard-hitter piled on a whopping 20 aces on his way to victory over American Frances Tiafoe, reigning supreme for a come-from-behind 4-6 7-6 7-6 victory. Anderson only hit three double faults throughout the contest but failed to really command control in the tight encounter, though to his credit did not relinquish easy points to Tiafoe, saving a match point to claim victory in two hours and 47 minutes.

“It was obviously a very, very close match,” Anderson said post-match. “I think there were a lot of positives, a lot of really high quality tennis, especially from midway through the second until the end of the match, I was really happy with the way I played. I think even if I had lost that match, obviously it’s always tough losing, but I definitely felt I took a step in the right direction today.

“Getting the win is a big added bonus, it gives me another opportunity to come out in a couple days’ time.”

Frenchman Jeremy Chardy defeated the third Spaniard in qualifier Jaume Munar in a come-from-behind victory, 3-6 6-3 6-4. Where Munar had the upper hand early, Chardy bit back in the second to command proceedings and cleaned up his act, not wasting as many service game on his way to the opening round victory.In the remaining game, Portugal qualifer Nuno Borges downed Australian Jordan Thompson in the only straight setter of the day, 7-6 6-3.

At Munich, five matches played out with both hometown hopefuls falling on home soil, as an all-Australian head-to-head saw the only seed of the day claim victory in the opening round.

On a day packed with multiple countrymen taking the court, it was the two Argentinians that both took out victories, although one came much easier than the other as Guido Pella walked away with a 6-0 2-0 trouncing of Belarusian Egor Gerasimov who was forced to retire mid-match, whilst Pella’s compatriot Federico Coria claimed a 6-3 3-6 6-2 victory over German Cedrik-Marcel Stebe. Gerasimov’s compatriot in Ilya Ivashka claimed the quickest and easiest win of the day by far, obliterating Emil Ruusuvuori 6-1 6-2 and forcing errors from the Finnish competitor to complete victory in 67 minutes.

Eighth seed John Millman overcame compatriot Alexei Popyrin but did not have it easy, requiring almost three hours to consolidate a 7-6 3-6 7-5 victory. A marginally better winning rate on both his first and second serve paid off, as Millman outlasted Popyrinto claim the win. Meanwhile, Lithuanian lucky loser Ricardas Berankis was the remaining winner of the day, defeating the second German in wildcard Maximillian Marterer, 7-6 6-3 to head to the second round.


[8] Alejandro Davidovich Fokina (ESP) defeated Pablo Andujar (ESP) 6-3 4-6 6-1
Kevin Anderson (RSA) defeated Frances Tiafoe (USA) 4-6 7-6 7-6
Jeremy Chardy (FRA) defeated [Q] Jaume Munar (ESP) 3-6 6-3 6-4
[Q] Nuno Borges (POR) defeated Jordan Thompson (AUS) 7-6 6-3


[8] John Millman (AUS) defeated Alexei Popyrin (AUS) 7-6 3-6 7-5
Federico Coria (ARG) defeated [Q] Cedrik-Marcel Stebe (GER) 6-3 3-6 6-2
[LL] Ricardas Berankis (LTU) defeated [WC] Maximillian Marterer (GER) 7-6 6-3
[Q] Ilya Ivashka (BLR) defeated Emil Ruusuvuori (FIN) 6-1 6-2
Guido Pella (ARG) defeated Egor Gerasimov (BLR) 6-0 2-0 RET

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.


[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.


[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

Delray Beach/Marseille wrap: Goffin out at Marseille as Medvedev survives against Sinner

THE third seed in the Open 13 Provence is out, while others progressed through to the quarter finals. At Delray Beach, the favourites advanced, but not without a couple of tough battles.


Steve Johnson has survived a gallant fight from American wildcard and former top 10 player, Jack Sock. The 27-year-old Sock, who was once ranked eighth in the world just over two years ago, is on the comeback trail from injury and is making his way up the rankings again. Earning a wildcard at the Delray Beach event, he pushed the top 100 compatriot across two hours and four minutes, with Johnson eventually prevailing, 6-4 5-7 6-1. The match-hardened Johnson was a bit cleaner across the board with a 70 per cent success rate off his first serve (compared to 67 per cent) and a 53 per cent success rate off his second serve (43 per cent). He also broke four times from five chances, while Sock could only break twice from six. The win moved Johnson up to 73rd in the world and into a quarter final at the hardcourt event.

Johnson now faces second seed, Milos Raonic in the final eight after the Canadian downed German, Cedrik-Marcel Stebe 7-5 6-3. In other results, sixth seed Frenchman, Ugo Humbert made his way through to the quarters with a straight sets win over Serbian Miomir Kecmanovic, while Frances Tiafoe had a tough battle with compatriot Tommy Paul in the all-American match, to win 7-5 7-6.


[2] M. Raonic (CAN) defeated C. Stebe (GER) 7-5 6-3.
[6] U. Humbert (FRA) defeated M. Kecmanovic (SRB) 6-4 7-6
F. Tiafoe (USA) defeated T. Paul (USA) 7-5 7-6
S. Johnson (USA) defeated [WC] J. Sock (USA) 6-4 5-7 6-1


World number four and number one seed, Daniil Medvedev has overcome a first set deficit to defeat Italian rising star, Jannik Sinner in three sets. The talented hard-hitting Russian dropped the first set 6-1, but once he got going powered on to victory leaving the 18-year-old in his wake. Medvedev served seven aces and won 79 and 67 per cent of his first and second serve points respectively, while breaking four times from seven chances. Sinner only had two chances but made the most of both, breaking his highly rated opponent twice in the first set to skip out to an early lead. While many might have sensed an upset was in the works, the Russian managed to get back on track and storm to victory in an hour and 20 minutes – extremely quick for a three-set match.

Medvedev now faces Frenchman, Gilles Simon in the quarter finals after Simon downed Slovenia’s Aljaz Bedene 7-6 6-4. In other results, fourth seed Denis Shapovalov won his first match since prior to the Australian Open with a 6-4 4-6 6-2 triumph over Marin Cilic. Fellow Canadian, Felix Auger-Aliassime also made it through to the quarter finals – making it three Canadians in total in the last eight with Vasek Pospisil– after defeating Pierre-Hugues Herbert 6-0 6-7 7-6 in an absolute thriller that went until the teenager won 11-9 in the deciding tiebreak. Auger-Aliassime will now play Belarusian qualifier, Egor Gerasimov who stunned third seed Belgian, David Goffin in straight sets, 6-4 7-6.


[1] D. Medvedev (RUS) defeated J. Sinner (ITA) 1-6 6-1 6-2
[Q] E. Gerasimov (BLR) defeated [3] D. Goffin (BEL) 6-4 7-6
[4] D. Shapovalov (CAN) defeated M. Cilic (CRO) 6-4 4-6 6-2
[7] F. Auger-Aliassime (CAN) defeated P. Herbert (FRA) 6-0 6-7 7-6
G. Simon (FRA) defeated A. Bedene (SLO) 7-6 6-4

Delray Beach/Marseille wrap: French teen pushes former top 10 player on home soil

THE second day of main draw matches in Marseille and Delray Beach got underway with a mix of surprising and statement-making results.


A number of tight three setters and two retirements marked a busy day at Delray Beach with the Round of 32 complete. Among the tight contests was British qualifier, Cameron Norrie downing third seed American, Taylor Fritz 6-4 6-7 6-4 in two hours and 12 minutes. The 24-year-old Brit won the first set in a tight one, before dropping the second in a tiebreaker, 7-4 before bouncing back to break again and win 6-4 6-7 6-4. Ranked 60th in the world, Norrie is far from an easy-beat and he showed it in the match, winning 78 per cent of his first serve points and more importantly, 59 per cent of his second serve points. He broke Fritz three times to the American’s once, and survived a barrage of aces from the third seed 22-year-old, as Fritz piled on 13 to six, and won 84 per cent of his first serve points. While his serving was strong, his return was not great, with a low return rating of just 86, winning just 28 per cent of points on Norrie’s serve.

In other results, fourth seed American, Reilly Opelka had to fight back from a set down to defeat Latvian qualifier, Ernests Gulbis 6-7 6-4 7-6 in three tight sets, as did sixth seed Frenchman, Ugo Humbert. The 21-year-old world number 44 defeated American lucky loser, Stefan Kozlov 6-7 6-3 6-1. In a much easier match, second seed Milos Raonic bounced back from a disappointing Round of 16 loss to Soonwoo Kwon at New York to smash Uzbekistani qualifier, Denis Istomin 6-2 6-2. Not needing to play out full matches, Serbian Miomir Kecmanovic and American qualifier, Noah Rubin both were ahead when their opponents – Jordan Thompson and Jason Jung respectively – retired. On Court 4, Cedrik-Marcel Stebe fought off a more determined Bernard Tomic 6-2 3-6 6-2, while Steve Johnson triumphed on home soil with a 7-6 6-4 win over Switzerland’s Henri Laaksonen. In the later matches, wildcard Jack Sock stunned eighth seed Romanian and reigning title holder, Radu Albot, while rising United States talent, Tommy Paul downed Colombian lucky loser, Daniel Elahi Galan in straight sets.


[2] M. Raonic (CAN) defeated [LL] D. Istomin (UZB) 6-2 6-2
[Q] C. Norrie (GBR) defeated [3] T. Fritz (USA) 6-4 6-7 6-4
[4] R. Opelka (USA) defeated [Q] E. Gulbis (LAT) 6-7 6-4 7-6
[6] U. Humbert (FRA) defeated [LL] S. Kozlov (USA) 6-7 6-3 6-1
[WC] J. Sock (USA) defeated [8] R. Albot (ROU) 3-6 6-3 7-6
T. Paul (USA) defeated [LL] D. Galan (COL) 6-2 6-4
M. Kecmanovic (SRB) defeated J. Thompson (AUS) 6-2 RET
C. Stebe (GER) defeated [LL] B. Tomic (AUS) 6-2 3-6 6-2
S. Johnson (USA) defeated H. Laaksonen (SUI) 7-6 6-4
[Q] N. Rubin (USA) defeated J. Jung (TAI) 6-4 4-3 RET


He might have lost, but rising French teenager Harold Mayot showed he is not too far off being a settled contributor on the ATP Tour, going down 6-4 7-6 to experienced compatriot Gilles Simon, on debut. Handed a wildcard, the French world number 509 took out the Australian Open Junior title, coming in as the number one seed at that tournament. He was handed a rough ATP Tour debut in his home country, but did not let anyone down with an admirable performance against a quality player. He pushed Simon for almost two hours and only went down 7-3 in the second set tiebreaker as it was just the more experienced Frenchman’s serving that was the difference. Simon produced nine aces and only dropped five points off his first serve, but Mayot still managed to break the 35-year-old once. Simon broke the teenager twice from six attempts, but was more effective upon return, winning 40 per cent of the points. Overall Simon was a bit too experienced for Mayot, after all Simon was a former top 10 player a decade ago. While he might be coming to the end of his career, his opponent’s is only getting started.

Along with Mayot, another French wildcard bowed out on home soil, as 24-year-old Antoine Hoang suffered defeat at the hands of rising Polish star, Hubert Hurkacz. The number eight seed won 6-4 6-1 fairly convincingly and moved through to the next round where he takes on red-hot Canadian Vasek Pospisil. The 29-year-old continued his rise back into the top 100 with a win over lucky loser, Emil Ruusuvuori 7-6 6-3 with Pospisil’s protected ranking not likely to be needed for much longer. In other results, Next Gen Finals winner Jannik Sinner built on his top 10 victory over David Goffin at Rotterdam to take down Slovakian qualifier, Norbert Gombos who is no slouch, having knocked off top 30 player, Pablo Carreno Busta in Montpellier last week. Elsewhere, Marin Cilic moved through in three sets against Belarusian qualifier, Ilya Ivashka 3-6 7-6 6-4 to set up a Round of 16 matchup with the out-of-sorts Denis Shapovalov, while Slovenian Alijaz Bedene caused the upset of the day against fifth seed Russian Karen Khachanov breaking the top 30 player in the final game of the match to win 4-6 6-4 7-5


A. Bedene (SLO) defeated [5] K. Khachanov (RUS) 4-6 6-4 7-5
[8] H. Hurkacz (POL) defeated [WC] A. Hoang (FRA) 6-4 6-1
J. Sinner (ITA) defeated [Q] N. Gombos (SVK) 6-4 7-6
M. Cilic (CRO) defeated [Q] I. Ivashka (BLR) 3-6 7-6 6-4
G. Simon (FRA) defeated [WC] H. Mayot (FRA) 6-4 7-6

ATP Tour daily wrap: Cordoba/Montpellier/Pune – Carreno Busta, Karlovic and Verdasco out in respective opening rounds

WITH the Australian Open now in the rear view mirror, the ATP Tour split across three continents, with tournaments in Argentina, France and India. We recap how the first matches from the respective Round of 32s went down.


Both home nation representatives have fallen, while last year’s runner-up also went down in a day where four singles matches were completed. Qualifier, Viktor Troicki moved through to the Round of 16 following a 6-2 6-7 6-1 victory of India’s Sumit Nagal. Seventh seed Italian, Salvatore Caruso also booked a spot in the next round with a 3-6 6-4 7-5 victory over Indian wildcard Ramkumar Ramanathan, while Japanese fifth seed, Yuichi Sugita downed Italian Thomas Fabbiano comfortably, 6-3 6-0.

The surprise of the day was a straight sets win to German, Cedrik-Marcel Stebe who handled big-serving veteran, Ivo Karlovic in straight sets. While Karlovic celebrated his 40th birthday last year, the Croatian made the Tata Open final 12 months ago and was considered one of the outside contenders for the title. Stebe had other ideas however, winning 6-3 6-4 in just over an hour as Karlovic only marginally shaded Stebe in the ace department (6-5), but the German’s first serve points percentage of 83 per cent was important. Stunningly, Stebe broke Karlovic eight times – from only eight opportunities – while the Croatian could only manage it twice from four chances. Stebe now moves on to face Lithuania’s Ricardas Berankis, the second seed in the tournament.


Three singles matches were completed in the opening round at the Open Sud de France as qualifying was completed on Day 2. Canadian, Vasek Pospisil defeated Slovenian, Alijaz Bedene in straight sets, 6-3 6-4, while Frenchman, Gregoire Barrere moved through to the last 16 with a straight sets win over Portugals’ Joao Sousa, 6-2 7-6

The biggest upset occurred with top 30 Spaniard, Pablo Carreno Busta knocked out of the tournament in three sets by Slovakian, Norbert Gombos. The 104th ranked Gombos triumphed after being a set down, 3-6 6-4 6-3 to move through to the Round of 16. The match took an hour and 43 minutes, serving nine aces and winning 72 per cent of his first serve points. Carreno Busta won 75 per cent of his first serve points, but managed just 29 per cent on his second serve. Despite breaking three times, Gombos broke four times and won 42 per cent of his receiving points in one of his best performances to-date.


Down on the clay courts of Cordoba, seventh seed Fernando Verdasco was the biggest casualty of the first day, losing to compatriot, Spanish qualifier Carlos Taberner. The qualifier won 4-6 6-1 6-4 to knock out the experienced veteran, winning 75 per cent of his first serve points and breaking five times to his opponents’ three. While he did serve six double faults to only four aces, he was consistent for longer, particularly after settling in the second set.

In other results, Uruguay’s Pablo Cuevas moved through to the Round of 16 with the sixth seed getting up over Argentinian, Federico Delbonis 7-5 6-2. Meanwhile Hungary’s Attila Balazs defeated Italian, Lorenzo Sonego 6-2 7-6 and Italian Gianluca Mager sent Argentinian qualifier, Juan Pablo Ficovich packing, 6-2 3-6 6-2.

2020 Tata Open preview: Can Karlovic go one better?

FOR those players wishing to remain on hard court after the Australian Open, then the Tata Open in Pune, India is the way to go. It has a long and expansive history, with Stan Wawrinka a four-time winner, and the likes of Carlos Moya, Pat Rafter and Mikhail Youzhny also past winners of the 250 event. Last year Kevin Anderson became the first non-European winner since Milos Raonic in 2012.


Benoit Paire (France)

The number one seed will be hoping to put a disappointing loss at Auckland behind him behind, as he heads into the Tata Open as the number one seed. In that run at the ASB Classic, he knocked over the likes of Italian young gun Jannik Sinner, Australian John Millman – who pushed Roger Federer the next week – and 34th ranked Polish youngster Hubert Hurkacz before going down to fellow young gun and countryman, Ugo Humbert. Paire bowed out at Melbourne Park in the second round to Croatian Marin Cilic, who came from two sets to one down to post a five-set win. In the first round he beat Cedrik-Marcel Stebe of Germany who will also be competing in India. Now 30-years-old, Paire has won three titles in his career, but reinvigorated himself last year with two of those, but all have come on clay. Last year he lost in the quarter finals, going down to countryman, Gilles Simon. He will be difficult to beat on form here and is deserving favourite. It is interesting that he has chosen to play in India over his home country of France where five top 20 players will compete.


Philipp Kohlschreiber (Germany)

An injury cloud might be hanging over the German after he was forced to retire against Greece’s Stefanos Tsitsipas in the second round of the Australian Open. He is such a tough competitor that he takes sets off the best players on tour and is one opponent that even the elite players do not want to come up against. Kohlschreiber did not compete in Pune last year, but has made a nomination for the 2020 event, with the now 36-year-old in the twilight of his career. He has won eight titles, but only one was on hard court all the way back in 2008. Won an ITF tournament in Bendigo in the lead-up to the Australian Open, but the only victory over a top 100 player in that run was United States’ Steve Johnson. If the German is fit and firing, he can cause some serious headaches, it will just be his match fitness against quality opposition that will be the question mark heading into Pune.

Ricardas Berankis (Lithuania)

The number two seed at Pune comes in off a shaky preparation with a straight sets loss to world number 279, Cem Ilkel at Doha, and then a second round exit at Melbourne Park following a loss to American, Sam Querrey. The 29-year-old is ranked 72nd in the world and dropped back three spots in the ATP Rankings following the loss at Melbourne Park. The Lithuanian will need to be at his best to crack through for his maiden title in the tournament, but has a fairly friendly field to do so. If he can avoid running into the top handful of players early, he can build into the tournament and get some form up and going before the pointy end of the tournament. Berankis prefers the hard courts and while he is not a huge server – standing at just 175cm – he is a consistent counter puncher who will never say die.

Ivo Karlovic (Croatia)

The likely fifth seed in the draw is now a remarkable 40-years-old, but seems to still have the serving prowess that knocked world number one Lleyton Hewitt out of the Australian Open in Round 1 all those years ago. The Croatian 211cm man mountain defeated the in-form but injury prone Vasek Pospisil in the first round of the Australian Open before falling to top 10 player, Gael Monfils in Round 2. His serving ability makes him so difficult to break, or even return his shots when on fire, but age does catch up with players and there is little doubt the big serving Croatian will eventually call time on his serviceable career. If he can take a title here in a field that lacks a really dominant player it will be good for his confidence for 2020, and he did make the final last year before going down to Anderson in three sets – all tiebreakers of course.


James Duckworth (Australia)

The Australian talent has been a consistent top 100 player for some time, but just lacks the extra edge to crack into the top 50. His best shotplay can surprise a lot of top 30 players, but ultimately the consistency across the board is not enough to match it with those up the top of the rankings. He has had some good runs at Melbourne Park before, but bowed out in the first round of the Open despite being two sets to one up against Alijaz Bedene. He defeated Federico Delbonis in the first round of the Adelaide International in straight sets, but fell to top 25 player, Felix Auger-Aliassime in the Round of 16. If everything comes together, Duckworth can go deep in the tournament, but will likely struggle against better counter punchers such as Kohlschreiber.


Peter Gojowczyk (Germany)

The 105th ranked German moved up 15 places following a Round 1 win at Melbourne Park after getting through the qualifiers. He beat Blaz Kavcic along the way, then toppled fellow qualifier, Chris Eubanks in the opening round before falling to 27th seed, Pablo Carreno Busta – but not before taking a set off the Spaniard. Playing in Bendigo for the lead-up to the Slam, Gojowczyk came from behind to defeat Colombian, Daniel Elahi Galan, before losing to countryman, Kohlschreiber in the second round. He has a title to his name unlike a number of others here – winning at Metz in 2017 and making two other finals in 2018. The 30-year-old is not likely to cause too many waves on the ATP Tour, but like Kohlschreiber, is still someone who is difficult to play, and unlike his fellow German, has a big serve to boot and a 74 per cent winning record on his first serve points across his career.