Tag: corentin moutet

ATP Tour wrap: Eastbourne Day 1 rained out as Ruud and Khachanov claim wins at Mallorca

THE opening day at Eastbourne was rained out, seeing the event pushed back a day as Day 2 went business as usual at the Mallorca Championships in Spain.

Two of the three seeds proved successful on the second day, as Casper Ruud and Karen Khachanov both claimed wins to open their accounts in the first round. Ruud required one hour and 39 minutes to earn victory over Frenchman Gilles Simon, utilising his 80 per cent winning rate off his first serve to come away with the 6-4 7-6(4) result. Whilst Ruud was not quite as potent off his second serve, winning just seven points from 16 chances, he saved three of four break points and converted three of his five break point opportunities.

Khachanov needed three sets, and two hours and 14 minutes to claim the win over a second Frenchman, qualifier Lucas Pouille, 7-6(7) 3-6 6-4. He hit 13 aces throughout the encounter, overcoming a second set deficit to fight back to his opening set form and used his consistency to power through Pouille’s efforts. Things went differently for eighth seed Dusan Lajovic though, as the Serbian fell to qualifier Lukas Klein 6-4 7-6(2). Despite hitting seven aces for zero double faults to Klein’s four and four, Lajovic was not as effective on the return, winning just 24 points off Klein’s service games. Klein, to his credit, won 53 per cent of points overall in a solid match for the Slovakian.

A trio of Spaniards played on home soil, with just one in Feliciano Lopez earning the win. Lopez defeated qualifying compatriot Nicola Kuhn 6-1 7-6(4). Despite dominating the first set, Kuhn came out flying in the second with a point to prove, with just the tiebreaker not going the qualifier’s way. Overall, Lopez won an excellent 84 per cent of points off his first serve, and backed it up with a 64 per cent winning rate off his second in a fairly consistent showing.

The third Spaniard in Jaume Munar fell to Tennys Sandgren 7-6(3) 7-5, with that matchup taking just a tick over two hours, while the battle between Italian Stefano Travaglia and Argentinian Guido Pella went the same distance, but with reversed results 7-5 7-6(4), as the Italian claimed the tight win. Travaglia’s compatriot Salvatore Caruso was not quite so lucky, falling to Czech Jiri Vesely 7-6 6-2, whilst the remaining matchup of the day between Corentin Moutet and Lloyd Harris saw at least one Frenchman get the chocolates, beating the South African 6-4 6-2.

MALLORCA CHAMPIONSHIPS ROUND OF 32 RESULTS:

[5] Casper Ruud (NOR) defeated Gilles Simon (FRA) 6-4 7-6
[6] Karen Khachanov (RUS) defeated [Q] Lucas Pouille (FRA) 7-6 3-6 6-4
[Q] Lukas Klein (SVK) defeated [8] Dusan Lajovic (SRB) 6-4 7-6
Feliciano Lopez (ESP) defeated [Q] Nicola Kuhn (ESP) 6-1 7-6
Corentin Moutet (FRA) defeated Lloyd Harris (RSA) 6-4 6-2
Tennys Sandgren (USA) defeated Jaume Munar (ESP) 7-6 7-5
Stefano Travaglia (ITA) defeated Guido Pella (ARG) 7-5 7-6
Jiri Vesely (CZE) defeated Salvatore Caruso (ITA) 7-6 6-2

 

Picture credit: Quality Sport Images

ATP Tour wrap: Auger-Aliassime derails Fed Express as seeds slip on grass

FELIX Auger-Aliassime has taken out one of the best grass court players of all-time, defeating Roger Federer in a come-from-behind three-set win at the Noventi Open in Halle, Germany. The unseeded Canadian was one of four winners into the quarter finals at the event, coming back from a first set loss to pounce 4-6 6-3 6-2 over the fifth seed Swiss star in one hour and 45 minutes on court.

Auger-Aliassime served 13 aces to five, and dominated his first serve, only dropping six points for the entire match. Whilst Federer managed to break him and reduced his second serve success rate to 62 per cent, it was still higher than the former world number one, who had a 62 and 53 per cent off his first and second serve winning rate respectively. By comparison, Federer faced 15 break points, and whilst he saved 12 of them, was constantly under pressure from the young Canadian who posted a win over his “childhood idol”.

“It’s a great victory, it’s good for my confidence. It was already a great challenge for me to play a player like Roger, but to beat him, it’s a great thing,” Auger-Aliassime said post-match. “It makes me really happy. But at the end, it’s the quarter-finals in two days.

“If it was the final, then I’d be really happy… it’s another step in the tournament, it’s a great match, so hopefully I can keep on going like that.”

Auger-Aliassime will now face American qualifier Marcos Giron who upset home nation hero Jan-Lennard Struff in three sets. Despite knocking off the top seed Daniil Medvedev in the Round of 32, Struff was not able to capitalise against Giron who won 6-7 6-3 6-4 in impressive style. It was better news for Struff’s compatriot in wildcard Philipp Kohlschreiber who defeated Frenchman Corentin Moutet in straight sets 6-4 7-6, to face off against fourth seed Russian Andrey Rublev in the next round. Rublev defeated Australian Jordan Thompson in a straightforward 6-4 6-4 match to earn his place in the final eight at Halle.

Meanwhile over in London, a couple of seeds fell and some Great Britain talents moved through in their home event on the grass. The only seed to advance to the quarter finals thus far was fourth seed Alex de Minaur who knocked off compatriot John Millman in straight sets, 6-1 6-3 to book his spot in the next round. Fifth seed Aslan Karatsev and eighth seed Fabio Fognini both fell in the second round, losing to unseeded players Cameron Norrie and Marin Cilic.

“I’m very close to Johnny, so I want him to do as well as possible and would have loved for him to be on the other side of the draw and go deep,” de Minaur said post-match. “In a way, it also brings a certain level of respect towards the match and in some ways it actually helps me. “I can kind of tell myself to be more focused and try to worry about my side of the court more. “I think I handled that very well today and [I am] very happy with my performance.”

Norrie knocked off Karatsev 7-5 6-2 to advance to the quarter finals, while Cilic won in straight sets over Fognini, 6-3 7-6. The Norrie victory was one of two for the home nation to cheer about, as wildcard Jack Draper upset the tricky and unseeded Kazakh Alexander Bublik in two tiebreakers. Draper won 7-5 in the first tiebreaker and 7-0 in the second for a 7-6 7-6 overall win and ability to secure a quarter finals spot.

“A huge win for me and definitely a big step up from my first round on Monday,” Norrie said post-match following his win over Australian Open semi-finalist Karatsev. “All credit to him, he’s having a great year. “He’s won a lot this year, so it’s a huge win for me and another match on the grass. It’s all invaluable stuff.”

NOVENTI OPEN ROUND OF 16 RESULTS:

[4] Andrey Rublev (RUS) defeated Jordan Thompson (AUS) 6-4 6-4
Felix Auger-Aliassime (CAN) defeated [5] Roger Federer (SUI) 4-6 6-3 6-2
[Q] Marcos Giron (USA) defeated Jan-Lennard Struff (GER) 6-7 6-3 6-4
[WC] Philipp Kohlschreiber (GER) defeated Corentin Moutet (FRA) 6-4 7-6

CINCH CHAMPIONSHIPS ROUND OF 16 RESULTS:

[4] Alex de Minaur (AUS) defeated John Millman (AUS) 6-1 6-3
Cameron Norrie (GBR) defeated [5] Aslan Karatsev (RUS) 7-5 6-2
Marin Cilic (CRO) defeated [8] Fabio Fognini (ITA) 6-3 7-6
[WC] Jack Draper (GBR) defeated Alexander Bublik (KAZ) 7-6 7-6

Picture credit: Thomas F. Starke/Getty Images

ATP Tour wrap: Federer makes successful return to grass

THE main draws of grass court tournaments in Halle and London commenced overnight, with players ramping up their preparations for the all-important Wimbledon Championships beginning on June 28. While two of the top seeds banked victories, three other big names were victims of surprising upsets.

Roger Federer made a successful return to grass at the Noventi Open, taking care of qualifier Ilya Ivashka 7-6 7-5. The 20-time Grand Slam champion has been vocal about his desire to win in London, and he even withdrew from Roland Garros following his third round victory to assist his preparation. Federer did not lose on serve in this match and said that he enjoyed his first outing on grass since 2019.

“I missed it. I’ve done the hard courts, I’ve done the clay and now [I am] on the grass,” Federer said. “It’s been great being back here in Halle, I love playing here.”

“[I] had a tough moment early on in the first set when he had break points, so that was crucial to get out of those. “And then I played a really good tie-break, which I was happy about. “Overall I think I served very well. “Clearly, I can always be a little bit better, but I’m very happy and excited that I was able to get through the first one.”

Things did not go as smoothly for Roland Garros quarter finalist Roberto Bautista Agut, who bowed out in straight sets against American youngster Sebastian Korda 6-3 7-6. Korda had never previously competed in a tour-level match on grass, so it was important that he played with aggression and confidence against his higher-ranked opponent.

“I think the grass really suits my game,” Korda said. “I’m a big hitter, I try to come into net and be aggressive. In the biggest moments I saved a lot of break points, stayed super calm and I never really backed off. “I kept moving forward, kept going to net and kept doing my thing.”

Seventh seed David Goffin was forced to withdraw from Halle during his clash against Corentin Moutet after slipping and landing awkwardly on his ankle in the opening game of the second set. Although he toughed out the set and had a chance to serve for the match, he could not close it out and was unable to continue after Moutet levelled the match at 1-6 7-5.

At Cinch, Russian world number 24 Aslan Karatsev made his long-awaited tour-level grass court debut and overcame a slow start to get past Chilean lucky loser Alejandro Tabilo 3-6 6-4 6-2. Karatsev did not earn a break point in the opening set but became more comfortable on the surface as the match progressed.

“[It’s] completely different than the other surfaces,” Karatsev said. “It was the first match, a tough opponent, lefty. I got used to it and in the end I found the way to manage it. “The second set was a bit tricky. “I broke him, and then in the third set he started really slowly. “I got used to his serve and I returned everything that I could. “It was easier for me [from there].”

Karatsev will face local 25-year-old Cameron Norrie next, who defeated Albert Ramos-Vinolas 4-6 6-3 6-4.

British wildcard Jack Draper produced the biggest upset of the day, overcoming third seed Jannik Sinner 7-6 7-6. The world number 309 struck 11 aces and came back from 0-4 down in the opening set to earn the most impressive victory of his young career. After the match, Sinner admitted that Draper was the better player in this contest.

“He understood my game,” Sinner said. “It was a little bit of a rollercoaster and he played the important points better than me. “Today, I was not serving well and I think he deserved to win. “He has more experience than me on the grass and I wish him good luck.”

 

NOVENTI OPEN ROUND OF 32 RESULTS:

(5) Roger Federer (SUI) defeated (Q) Ilya Ivashka (BLR) 7-6 7-5
Sebastian Korda (USA) defeated (6) Roberto Bautista Agut (ESP) 6-3 7-6
Corentin Moutet (FRA) defeated (7) David Goffin (BEL) 1-6 7-5 0-0 (retired)
(Q) Marcos Giron (USA) defeated Vasek Pospisil (CAN) 7-6 7-6
Jordan Thompson (AUS) defeated (WC) Daniel Altmaier (GER) 6-2 7-6

CINCH CHAMPIONSHIPS ROUND OF 32 RESULTS:

(WC) Jack Draper (GBR) defeated (3) Jannik Sinner (ITA) 7-6 7-6
(5) Aslan Karatsev (RUS) defeated Alejandro Tabilo (CHI) 3-6 6-4 6-2
(Q) Victor Troicki (SRB) defeated (7) Lorenzo Sonego (ITA) 6-4 6-4
Feliciano Lopez (ESP) defeated (Q) Illya Marchenko (UKR) 6-1 7-6
Adrian Mannarino (FRA) defeated (WC) Liam Broady (GBR) 6-4 6-4
John Millman (AUS) defeated Reilly Opelka (USA) 7-6 5-7 7-6
Cameron Norrie (GBR) defeated Albert Ramos-Vinolas (ESP) 4-6 6-3 6-4

Picture credit: ATP Tour

ATP Tour wrap: Geneva and Lyon events begin

TWO ATP 250 events have begun this week, with tournaments in Geneva and Lyon shaping up with their respective Round of 32. Four matches played out at both events on the opening day, with six of the seven French competitors falling across the two tournaments on a huge first day in both Switzerland and France.

At Geneva, Dominik Koepfer and Arthur Cazaux were the two big winners of the day disposing of French seeded duo, Benoit Paire and Adrian Mannarino. Koepfer may have lost the first set but that did not stop him from testing out-of-form seventh seed Paire, with a better service efficiency paying off despite hitting six double faults for three aces. While Paire won 82 per cent of his first serve points (60/73), Koepfer’s 66/98 off a 67 per cent clip paid off as he backed it up with a marginally better 51 per cent win rate off his second serve in the 6-7(8) 7-6(5) 6-4 contest. Koepfer saved a whopping 17 break points of Paire’s 19 chances, showcasing his strong defensive game to remain on top of the contest.

Meanwhile, teen French wildcard Cazaux took the court for his first ATP Tour-level match and claimed his first win in one fell swoop, with a 6-3 6-7 6-3 sweep of compatriot Mannarino. He required just under two and a half hours to defeat the eighth seed, hitting 10 aces and showing immense control to come back from the 6-7(5) second set to take out the victory.

“It’s something very great. It’s a big win for me today. It’s the biggest win of my life,” Cazaux said. “I’m so grateful and I hope to continue in this tournament.”

Overall, Cazaux won 72 per cent of his service points off a 60 per cent clip, and whilst his return could do with some improving, it was at a greater efficiency than his experienced opposition who failed to adjust to the 18-year-old’s exciting style of play, which included a ‘tweener’ during the second set.

“When I hit the shot, I didn’t think about nothing. I had my back to the net and I just hit the shot. I didn’t ask any questions in my head,” Cazaux said. “It was a big shot. I’m so happy I hit this shot.”

The remaining two matches saw straight sets victories go to Spaniard Pablo Andujar and American Tennys Sandgren, with the former downing Australian Jordan Thompson in less than 90 minutes, while the latter required an hour and 47 minutes to take down Italian Salvatore Caruso.

At Lyon, none of the home nation’s talent headed through to the second round in a disastrous and rainy day of action, as three of the four winners only required two sets to proceed. The quickest win of the day went to Aljaz Bedene, as the Slovenian downed former top 10 veteran, Gilles Simon. Bedene won 84 per cent of his service points in a classy 6-2 6-3 win, whilst also winning 48 per cent on return and converting four break points in a one-sided one hour and 16 minute contest.

Pierre-Hugues Herbert had a strong start against American Sebastian Korda but fell away in the second, registering nine double faults throughout as Korda cleaned up on serve, winning 78 per cent of his first serve points to claim the 7-6(5) 6-4 victory. Cameron Norrie registered a similarly solid win 7-5 6-3 in just over 90 minutes, utilising Corentin Moutet‘s shaky second serve to his advantage to win 49 per cent of his return points to go with a serviceable 60 per cent service game winning rate.

The remaining matchup saw Yoshihito Nishioka claim victory in Lyon’s only three-setter for the day, overcoming Ugo Humbert 3-6 6-3 6-4 after a shaky start. While Humbert was solid on serve, winning 70 per cent of his first serve points (37/53) off a 64 per cent clip (53/83), Nishioka pipped him at the post winning 43 points of a possible 66, despite a lower percentage efficiency on both to claim the ascendancy and ultimately the victory. The Japanese 25-year-old saved 12 break points from Humbert’s 15 chances and converted four of nine, eventually winning 51 per cent of the overall points (95 to Humbert’s 92) in a tough, yet even, clash.

GONET GENEVA OPEN ROUND OF 32 RESULTS: 

Dominik Koepfer (GER) defeated [7] Benoit Paire (FRA) 6-7 7-6 6-4
[WC] Arthur Cazaux (FRA) defeated [8] Adrian Mannarino (FRA) 6-3 6-7 6-3
Pablo Andujar (ESP) defeated Jordan Thompson (AUS) 6-0 6-4
Tennys Sandgren (USA) defeated Salvatore Caruso (ITA) 6-3 6-4

OPEN PARC AUVERGNE-RHONE-ALPES LYON ROUND OF 32 RESULTS:

Aljaz Bedene (SLO) defeated Gilles Simon (FRA) 6-2 6-3
Cameron Norrie (GBR) defeated Corentin Moutet (FRA) 7-5 6-3
Sebastian Korda (USA) defeated Pierre-Hugues Herbert (FRA) 7-6 6-4
Yoshihito Nishioka (JPN) defeated Ugo Humbert (FRA) 3-6 6-3 6-4

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: Shapovalov bundled out among walkovers aplenty

THE Round of 16 has rolled on at the two ATP 250 events this week, with a couple of interesting results across both the BMW Open in Munich, Germany, and the Estoril Open in Portugal. A walkover was had at both tournaments in an intriguing quirk heading into the quarter-finals, as a top seed heads into the third round by default at both events.

At Munich, all three seeds prevailed on a trying day on clay, with the day’s top seed in Filip Krajinovic easing through to the third round following a walkover from German Yannick Hanfmann, while it was an entirely different story for Jan-Lennard Struff who overcame compatriot Dominik Koepfer in a massive 7-6(3) 6-7(0) 6-2 encounter.

Struff required two hours and 39 minutes to account for Koepfer, recovering from 2-4 down in the first to steal the first and requiring plenty of dash and dare to claim the final four games of the match to come away with victory, after a 0-7 deficit saw him drop the second set tiebreaker.

“I am very, very happy that I turned around the first set,” Struff said on court. “I played a not good second-set tie-break. Before [that] the set was okay, but I couldn’t lock into his service games that much… I am very happy that I broke him in the third set and I am very happy to be through. Dominik is a good guy and a very good player.”

The remaining winners of the day were fifth seed Georgian Nikoloz Basilashvili and lucky loser Norbert Gombos, who both claimed wins in straight sets, disposing of Colombian qualifier Daniel Elahi Galan and Argentinian Federico Coria, respectively.

At Estoril, top seed Canadian Denis Shapovalov was ousted by Frenchman Corentin Moutet, with only a second set grab from Shapovalov putting a blemish in Moutet’s solid 6-4 2-6 6-4 victory. With this outing Shapovalov’s first as a top seed, Moutet was aware of the gravity of the encounter.

“It was who will play less worst today,” Moutet said post-match. “I think he didn’t play his best level. “I’m really happy to win, of course, because he’s such a great player. “It was a very close match. “Today I’m lucky that I won at the end. “A few points decided the winner.”

The left-handed Frenchman required two hours and six minutes to dispose of Shapovalov, who was error-ridden on serve and failed to consistently capitalise on his opportunities. Comparatively, Moutet won 66 per cent of his first serve points and 50 per cent of his second set points, all off a 67 per cent clip. He also saved nine of 13 break points and converted on four.

Second seed Cristian Garin was not required to take the court as Moutet’s compatriots Richard Gasquet and Pierre-Hugues Herbert were not quite so lucky. While the former withdrew prior to the match with a left adductor injury, Herbert was take out in straight sets by seventh seed Spaniard Albert Ramos-Vinolas, as Cameron Norrie was tested by qualifier Pedro Martinez after dropping the first set, before running home with a huge three hour, 4-6 7-6(1) 7-5 victory.

BMW OPEN ROUND OF 16 RESULTS:

[4] Filip Krajinovic (SRB) defeated [WC] Yannick Hanfmann (GER) W/O
[5] Nikoloz Basilashvili (GEO) defeated [Q] Daniel Elahi Galan (COL) 6-4 6-2
[7] Jan-Lennard Struff (GER) defeated Dominik Koepfer (GER) 7-6 6-7 6-2
[LL] Norbert Gombos (SVK) defeated Federico Coria (ARG) 6-4 6-1

ESTORIL OPEN ROUND OF 16 RESULTS:

Corentin Moutet (FRA) defeated [1] Denis Shapovalov (CAN) 6-4 2-6 6-4
[2] Cristian Garin (CHI) defeated Richard Gasquet (FRA) W/O
[7] Albert Ramos-Vinolas (ESP) defeated Pierre-Hugues Herbert (FRA) 6-2 7-6
Cameron Norrie (GBR) defeated [Q] Pedro Martinez (ESP) 4-6 7-6 7-5

Picture credit: Alex Caparros/Getty Images

ATP Tour wrap: Martinez overcomes Bublik as McDonald downs Lajovic

PLENTY of interesting results were had on the second day at both the Estoril and Munich Open events, as the clay season continues on the ATP Tour.

At Estoril, qualifier Pedro Martinez upset fifth seed Alexander Bublik in a dominant straight sets outcome, easily accounting for the Kazakh 6-3 6-0 in just 51 minutes. Whilst Bublik piled on six aces to Martinez’s one, the Kazakh fifth seed was uncharacteristically error-ridden and failed to convert a single break point from four chances. Martinez heads into the second round with the comfortable win behind him, with an excellent 82 per cent winning rate off his first serve, off a 70 per cent clip.

Meanwhile, sixth seed Marin Cilic was challenged by upcoming Spanish talent Carlos Alcaraz, winning the first set before dropping the second as Alcaraz created a huge turnaround in momentum. But it was not enough, as Cilic returned to his first set form in the third to eventually claim the 6-3 1-6 6-4 victory.

“I’m extremely happy to be here in Portugal, in Estoril for the first time,” Cilic said post-match. “It was a very difficult match. Carlos is a great young talent… Definitely he’s got an unbelievable future ahead of him.”

Cilic hit six aces to Alcaraz’s one, and whilst he also more than doubled Alcaraz’s three double faults, he was still more effective on serve, winning 60 per cent of his first serve points off a 64 per cent clip. Cilic was only marginally better on return, and won just one more point throughout the contest in the narrow win, which stretched out to two hours and 14 minutes in length.

“I was extremely happy to win after dropping the second set. He played really well,” Cilic said. “I was a break up in the third set and he broke back. In the end it was just a couple points that made the difference in the match.”

Three Frenchmen proceeded to the second round, with only Corentin Moutet realistically challenged for his spot in the second round by American Marcos Giron, forced to overcome a second set tiebreaker to come away with the 6-4 6-7(7) 6-4 victory. Richard Gasquet claimed a 6-3 7-5 victory over Argentinian Juan Ignacio Londero, whilst Pierre-Hugues Herbert downed compatriot Gilles Simon 7-5 6-3 to head into the second round. Seventh seed Albert Ramos-Vinolas disposed of compatriot Fernando Verdasco in straight sets, as Marco Cecchinato and Cameron Norrie were the remaining winners of the day.

At Munich, American qualifier Mackenzie McDonald provided the win of the day after disposing of sixth seed Dusan Lajovic 6-4 6-4, requiring just under 90 minutes to claim victory. McDonald boasted a 79 per cent winning rate off his first serve off a 66 per cent clip throughout and also saved two break points on his way to the win. The other two seeds of the day waged better battles to head into the second round, as both Georgian Nikoloz Basilashvili and German Jan-Lennard Struff reigned supreme, both claiming straight sets wins.

Two more German competitors won on home soil and will join Struff in the second round, with Yannick Hanfmann and Dominik Koepfer overcoming deficits to win in three sets. Meanwhile, Uruguayan Pablo Cuevas and Colombian Daniel Elahi Galan round out the remaining winners of the day, both disposing of Americans in Tennys Sandgren and Marcos Giron in straight sets.

MILLENNIUM ESTORIL OPEN ROUND OF 32 RESULTS:

[Q] Pedro Martinez (ESP) defeated [5] Alexander Bublik (KAZ) 6-3 6-0
[6] Marin Cilic (CRO) defeated [Q] Carlos Alcaraz (ESP) 6-3 1-6 6-4
[7] Albert Ramos-Vinolas (ESP) defeated Fernando Verdasco (ESP) 6-3 6-3
Marco Cecchinato (ITA) defeated Lloyd Harris (RSA) 6-3 6-4
Richard Gasquet (FRA) defeated Juan Ignacio Londero (ARG) 6-3 7-5
Pierre-Hugues Herbert (FRA) defeated Gilles Simon (FRA) 7-5 6-3
Corentin Moutet (FRA) defeated Marcos Giron (USA) 6-4 6-7 6-4
Cameron Norrie (GBR) defeated [WC] Joao Sousa (POR)

BMW OPEN ROUND OF 32 RESULTS:

[5] Nikoloz Basilashvili (GEO) defeated Thiago Monteiro (BRA) 6-2 6-3
[Q] Mackenzie McDonald (USA) defeated [6] Dusan Lajovic (RB) 6-4 6-4
[7] Jan-Lennard Struff (GER) defeated [LL] Andrej Martin (SVK) 6-4 6-3
Pablo Cuevas (URU) defeated Tennys Sandgren (USA) 7-6 0-6 6-1
[Q] Daniel Elahi Galan (COL) defeated Sebastien Korda (USA) 6-1 7-6
[WC] Yannick Hanfmann (GER) defeated [SE] Taro Daniel (JPN) 6-2 3-6 7-6
Dominik Koepfer (GER) defeated [WC] Philipp Kohlschreiber (GER) 4-6 6-4 6-3

ATP Tour wrap: Nadal escapes against Nishikori as seeds advance in Barcelona

ONLY one unseeded players – Cameron Norrie – remains in the 2021 Barcelona Open ATP 500 event, after the Round of 16 yielded largely predictable results. Three of the top eight seeds were ousted in the third round, by five of the top six booked their place in the quarter finals.

Top seed Rafael Nadal again needed three sets, this time against Japan’s Kei Nishikori, with the 11-time winner trouncing his opponent 6-0 in the opening set, before the two-time Barcelona winner hit back. Nishikori won the second set 6-2, before the number one seed once again got on top to win in three sets, 6-0 2-6 6-2. The world number three had to grind out the win with Nishikori playing his usual-defensive gamestyle that wears down opponents. Nadal has no issues digging deep though, and in the end, just the three winners to Nishikori cost him, and edged Nadal to a 12-2 record in their head-to-head.

“I think I played much better than yesterday; that’s a very important thing for me,” Nadal said post-match. “The level of positive energy [was] higher, so [I’m] very satisfied.”

Nadal will now face the unseeded Norrie who managed to also dominate eighth seed David Goffin early, winning the first set 6-0. Goffin hit back to lead 5-3 in the second, before the Belgian was forced to retire with a right leg injury. In the sole head-to-head clash between the pair, Nadal defeated Norrie a couple of months back in the fourth round of the Australian Open.

Meanwhile 10th seed Felix Auger-Aliassime ousted compatriot Denis Shapovalov in a massive straight sets win. Auger-Aliassime won 6-2 6-3 to book his spot in the quarter finals, in just 89 minutes. The Canadian up-and-comer was phenomenal in his approach, having also knocked Shapovalov out of this year’s Australian Open, dominated on serve.

“I was happy with my level today,” Auger-Aliassime said post-match. “It’s never easy to play against him and it’s great to have won in straight sets. The next match won’t be easy, a tough challenge.”

The Canadian will now face second seed Stefanos Tsitsipas, who fought past 14th seed Australian Alex de Minaur, 7-5 6-3. The Greek needed one hours and 24 minutes to post the win, breaking three times to one, and winning 76 per cent of his first serve points off a 70 per cent clip, with five aces. He won 69 per cent of his service points, and 35 per cent of his return points in an impressive display.

“I was playing close to the lines so that was definitely difficult,” Tsitsipas said. “He’s a good competitor; he always puts out his best game. I think running and getting an extra ball back is actually his biggest strength so that’s what makes him very difficult to play against.”

Tsitsipas said he was looking forward to playing the 10th seed Canadian, who was in good form and ever-improving, a challenge the Greek star was ready for coming into the Barcelona Open quarter finals.

“I’ve never played him (Auger-Aliassime) on clay,” Tsitsipas said. “He’s someone that has done very well in recent years and [he’s] playing at the top of his form right now. I’m looking forward to the next battle, to the next difficulty that’s set, and can’t wait to compete against Felix.”

In other results, third seed Andrey Rublev posted a three-set hard-fought win over Albert Ramos-Vinolas 6-4 6-7 6-4, and fourth seed Diego Schwartzman cruised through with a 6-4 6-3 triumph over France’s Corentin Moutet. Sixth seed Pablo Carreno Busta ended the run of his Spanish compatriot and qualifier Bernabe Zapata Miralles 6-3 6-4, with 11th seed Jannik Sinner also making his way into the quarter finals with a 7-6 6-2 victory over Spains’s Roberto Bautista Agut.

In Serbia, the remaining four Round of 16 matches were completed, with third seed Aslan Karatsev the sole successful seed on the day. He had to fight off a match point against Slovenia’s Aljaz Bedene before winning 6-3 4-6 7-6, while the news was not as positive for fourth seed Dusan Lajovic, with the Serbian going down in three sets to Argentinian Federico Delbonis, 6-3 2-6 6-4. In other results, a couple of Australians fell with seventh seed John Millman losing out to Japanese lucky loser Tarro Daniel in three sets 3-6 6-2 6-3, while Alexei Popyrin fell at the hands of Italian qualifier, Gianluca Mager.

BARCELONA OPEN ROUND OF 16 RESULTS:

[1] Rafael Nadal (ESP) defeated Kei Nishikori (JPN) 6-0 2-6 6-2
[2] Stefanos Tsitsipas (GRE) defeated [14] Alex de Minaur (AUS) 7-5 6-3
[3] Andrey Rublev (RUS) defeated Albert Ramos-Vinolas (ESP) 6-4 6-7 6-4
[4] Diego Schwartzman (ARG) defeated Corentin Moutet (FRA) 6-4 6-3
[11] Jannik Sinner (ITA) defeated [5] Roberto Bautista Agut (ESP) 7-6 6-2
[6] Pablo Carreno Busta (ESP) defeated [Q] Bernabe Zapata Miralles (ESP) 6-3 6-4
[10] Felix Auger-Aliassime (CAN) defeated [7] Denis Shapovalov (CAN) 6-2 6-3
Cameron Norrie (GBR) defeated [8] David Goffin (BEL) 6-0 3-5 RET

SERBIA OPEN ROUND OF 16 RESULTS:

[3] Aslan Karatsev (RUS) defeated Aljaz Bedene (SLO) 6-3 4-6 7-6
Federico Delbonis (ARG) defeated [4] Dusan Lajovic (SRB) 6-3 2-6 6-4
[LL] Taro Daniel (JPN) defeated [7] John Millman (AUS) 3-6 6-2 6-3
[Q] Gianluca Mager (ITA) defeated Alexei Popyrin (AUS) 7-5 6-2

Picture credit: ATP Tour

ATP Tour wrap: Nadal stirred but not shaken by Ivashka in Barcelona

ELEVEN-time Barcelona champion Rafael Nadal had to overcome a bump in the road in the beginning of his quest to a dozen titles at the event, needing three sets to overcome Belarusian qualifier Ilya Ivashka. Nadal dropped the first set 6-3, but soon found his groove to take out the match in two hours and 20 minutes. 3-6 6-2 6-4.

Playing on the Centre Court funnily enough named after himself in Pista Rafa Nadal, the world number three praised the underdog’s efforts early to match it with him and he had to lift his game accordingly to overcome the 111th ranked Belarusian.

“He played well. He played at a very high level, and I didn’t, especially at the beginning,” Nadal said post-match. “And then I think I changed a little bit the way I played. I was more aggressive later, and the match changed a lot. I’m happy I [fought] hard today to be in the third round. That’s what I needed after the loss at Monte-Carlo.”

Yet to lose a match on clay against a qualifier from 38 attempts, Nadal found a way to win, breaking three times to two – both of the latter came in the first set – whilst winning 80 per cent of his first serve points. Ivashka did well to take his chances, but in the end the Nadal consistency was too much, as the Spaniard won 39 per cent of his return points to Ivashka’s 31 per cent.

“I’m sure that I’m going to have the chance to play better, and I’m going to fight for it,” Nadal said. “I have the confidence that I’m not very far [from playing well], even if the last two matches [here and in Monte-Carlo] haven’t been perfect. But here I am, and I am with the right energy to try hard. It’s a process… I’m confident that by working every day I’m going to find [right] the solutions.”

Nadal will now face former Top 5 player Kei Nishikori, who fought through his second straight three-set match to overcome 13th seed and clay court specialist Christian Garin 7-6 4-6 6-1, reversing the pair’s head-to-head from last year at Hamburg where the Chilean won easily. In other results, top seeds Stefanos Tsitsipas, Andrey Rublev and Diego Schwartzman all advanced, though the latter was given a scare by American Frances Tiafoe, needing three sets to win, 3-6 7-5 6-1.

It was good news for the Spanish contingent, with sixth seed Pablo Carreno Busta, qualifier Bernabe Zapata Miralles and unseeded Albert Ramos-Vinolas all booking their spots through to the next round. Australian 14th seed Alex de Minaur broke his poor form on clay with a straight sets win over Alexander Bublik, while Corentin Moutet and Felix Auger-Aliassime both won through to the Round of 16.

It was a good day for Serbian fans at the Serbian Open, as three of the four winners hailed from the nation. Top seed Novak Djokovic breezed through past Soonwoo Kwon 6-1 6-3, with fifth seed Filip Krajinovic also smacking his opponent, compatriot and wildcard Nikola Milojevic, 6-1 6-1. Eighth seed Miomir Kecmanovic had a tougher time against French qualifier Arthur Rinderknecht before making his way into the quarter finals, while Italian second seed Matteo Berrettini won 6-4 6-3 over compatriot Marco Cecchinato.

BARCELONA OPEN ROUND OF 32 RESULTS:

[1] Rafael Nadal (ESP) defeated [Q] Ilya Ivashka (BLR) 3-6 6-2 6-4
[2] Stefanos Tsitsipas (GRE) defeated [WC] Jaume Munar (ESP) 6-0 6-2
[3] Andrey Rublev (RUS) defeated [LL] Federico Gaio (ITA) 6-4 6-3
[4] Diego Schwartzman (ARG) defeated Frances Tiafoe (USA) 3-6 7-5 6-1
[6] Pablo Carreno Busta (ESP) defeated Jordan Thompson (AUS) 6-4 6-0
[Q] Bernabe Zapata Miralles (ESP) defeated [9] Fabio Fognini (ITA) 6-0 4-4 RET
[10] Felix Auger-Aliassime (CAN) defeated [WC] Lorenzo Musetti (ITA)
Kei Nishikori (JPN) defeated [13] Cristian Garin (CHI) 7-6 4-6 6-1
[14] Alex de Minaur (AUS) defeated Alexander Bublik (KAZ) 7-6 6-2
Corentin Moutet (FRA) defeated [16] Daniel Evans (GBR) 6-4 5-7 6-3
Albert Ramos-Vinolas (ESP) defeated [17] Adrian Mannarino (FRA) 6-4 6-4

SERBIA OPEN ROUND OF 16 RESULTS:

[1] Novak Djokovic (SRB) defeated Soonwoo Kwon (KOR) 6-1 6-3
[2] Matteo Berrettini (ITA) defeated Marco Cecchinato (ITA) 6-4 6-3
[5] Filip Krajinovic (SRB) defeated [WC] Nikola Milojevic (SRB) 6-1 6-1
[8] Miomir Kemanovic (SRB) defeated [Q] Arthur Rinderknech (FRA) 6-3 3-6 6-3

Picture credit: Josep Lago/AFP via Getty Images

ATP Tour wrap: Norrie continues red-hot form in Barcelona

GREAT Britain’s Cameron Norrie has continued his ripping form of late, taking another big scalp in 12th seed Karen Khachanov at the Barcelona Open. Clashing in the Round of 32, Norrie advanced in a tough three-set contest, winning 6-4 3-6 6-3 to advance through to the third round and be the only confirmed unseeded player in the Round of 16 at this stage. With the remaining 11 matches still to go, there are plenty of chances for more unseeded players to join him, but Norrie has the extra day’s rest to prepare for the next match.

In recent weeks, Norrie has claimed some big scalps in Italian Fabio Fognini and Bulgarian Grigor Dimitrov, and now has his third Top 20 win in as many weeks, advancing through to the next stage of the tournament. The Brit was the lowest ranked winner on the day, with four other seeds all booking their spots with straight sets wins. Roberto Bautista Agut was the top ranked player out on court, with the fifth seed defeating compatriot Pablo Andujar 6-4 6-0, joining seventh seed Denis Shapovalov, eighth seed David Goffin and 11th seed Jannik Sinner in the Round of 16.

The remaining Round of 64 matches were also completed in Barcelona, though it was not all good news for Spanish fans. Despite Albert Ramos-Vinolas securing a come-from-behind win over Danish qualifier Holger Vitus Nodskov Rune 6-7 7-1 7-6, three of his compatriots all fell. Young gun wildcard Carlos Alcaraz went down to Frances Tiafoe in straight sets, veteran Feliciano Lopez lost out to another rising young gun in Italian Lorenzo Musetti, while Alejandro Davidovich Fokina exited despite a strong first set, losing to Kazakhstan’s Alexander Bublik, 2-6 7-5 6-2. In the other two matches, Australia’s Jordan Thompson defeated France’s Richard Gasquet 7-6 3-6 7-6, and Gasquet’s compatriot Corentin Moutet won against German Dominik Koepfer, 7-5 6-2.

Meanwhile over in Serbia, the two home nation seeds had a mixed day out on court against qualifiers. Eighth seed Miomir Kecmanovic needed two tiebreakers to separate himself from Argentinian Facundo Bagnis, while ninth seed Laslo Djere went down to Italian Gianluca Mager, 6-4 6-3. French qualifier Arthur Rindeknecht made his way through to the season round against Argentina’s Juan Ignacio Londero, as Japan’s Taro Daniel won the battle of the lucky losers with Portugal’s Joao Sousa. Other winners included Australian Alexei Popyrin, Slovenia’s Aljaz Bedene, South Korea’s Soonwoo Kwon and Argentina’s Federico Delbonis.

BARCELONA OPEN ROUND OF 32 RESULTS:

[5] Roberto Bautista Agut (ESP) defeated Pablo Andujar (ESP) 6-4 6-0
[7] Denis Shapovalov (CAN) defeated Jeremy Chardy (FRA) 6-3 7-5
[8] David Goffin (BEL) defeated Pierre-Hugues Herbert (FRA) 6-2 6-4
[11] Jannik Sinner (ITA) defeated Egor Gerasimov (BLR) 6-3 6-2
Cameron Norrie (GBR) defeated [12] Karen Khachanov (RUS) 6-4 3-6 6-3

BARCELONA OPEN ROUND OF 64 RESULTS:

Albert Ramos-Vinolas (ESP) defeated [Q] Holger Vitus Nodskov Rune (DEN) 6-7 6-1 7-6
[WC] Lorenzo Musetti (ITA) defeated Feliciano Lopez (ESP) 6-4 6-3
Frances Tiafoe (USA) defeated [WC] Carlos Alcaraz (ESP) 6-4 7-6
Jordan Thompson (AUS) defeated Richard Gasquet (FRA) 7-6 4-6 7-6
Alexander Bublik (KAZ) defeated Alejandro Davidovich Fokina (ESP) 2-6 7-5 6-2
Corentin Moutet (FRA) defeated Dominik Koepfer (GER) 7-5 6-2

SERBIA OPEN ROUND OF 32 RESULTS:

[8] Miomir Kecmanovic (SRB) defeated [Q] Facundo Bagnis (ARG) 7-6 7-6
[Q] Gianluca Mager (ITA) defeated [9] Laslo Djere (SRB) 6-4 6-3
Federico Delbonis (ARG) defeated Ricardas Berankis (LTU) 6-4 3-6 6-1
Aljaz Bedene (SLO) defeated Sebastian Korda (USA) 7-5 1-6 7-6
Soonwoo Kwon (KOR) defeated [LL] Roberto Carballes Baena (ESP) 6-3 7-5
[LL] Taro Daniel (JPN) defeated [LL] Joao Sousa (POR) 7-5 6-3
Alexei Popyrin (AUS) defeated [Q] Francisco Cerundolo (ARG) 4-6 7-6 7-6
[Q] Arthur Rinderknech (FRA) defeated Juan Ignacio Londero (ARG) 6-1 7-5