Tag: daniel elahi galan

ATP 250 wraps: Aussies bow out in Singapore as upsets take place in Montpellier

IT was a mixed bag of results on day two across the various ATP 250 events, as we recap the results as of publishing in Montpellier, Singapore and Cordoba.

A couple of experienced talents joined the list of outs from the Open Sud de France in Montpellier, with eighth seed Jan-Lennard Struff and Frenchman Gilles Simon both bundled out of the tournament. Struff went down to qualifier and compatriot Peter Gojowczyk in straight sets, losing 6-3 6-4 in one hour and 18 minutes, with the 144th ranked played topping his German counterpart who sits 107 placed above him in the world. Meanwhile Austrian Dennis Novak continued his strong start to the year with a solid three-set win over Simon. Novak needed a tiebreaker to get through the first set, before dropping away in the second, and then posting a win 7-6 1-6 6-3 to advance to the Round of 16.

In other results, wildcard Benjamin Bonzi won through in straight sets in the all-French clash against Lucas Pouille, getting up 7-6 6-2. Experienced Czech Jiri Vesely was far too good for a disappointing Mikael Ymer, winning 6-1 6-1, while in the final results, Dutch qualifier Tallon Griekspoor won 6-2 6-7 6-3 over American Marcos Giron in the clear best match of the day. It lasted two hours and 10 minutes with the players evenly matched until Griekspoor – who had saved all five break point opportunities from his opponent – broke for a third time to win. .

In the late game, the most talked about match took place on Court Patrice Dominguez with Belarusian Egor Gerasimov taking on Grand Slam winner and returning from injury Brit, Andy Murray. After a nail-biting first set tiebreaker (10-8), Gerasimov ran away with the contest in the second set to win 7-6 6-1 and book his spot in the second round.

OPEN SUD DE FRANCE ROUND OF 32 RESULTS:

[Q] Peter Gojowczyk (GER) defeated [8] Jan-Lennard Struff (GER) 6-3 6-4
[WC] Benjamin Bonzi (FRA) defeated Lucas Pouille (FRA) 7-6 6-2
[Q] Tallon Griekspoor (NED) defeated Marcos Giron (USA) 6-2 6-7 6-3
Dennis Novak (AUT) defeated Gilles Simon (FRA) 7-6 1-6 6-3
Jiri Vesely (CZE) defeated Mikael Ymer (SWE) 6-1 6-1
Egor Gerasimov (BLR) defeated Andy Murray (GBR) 7-6 6-1

 

Over in Singapore, five matches were completed on day two, and it was not good news for the Australians with all three players on court unable to join day one winner, Alexei Popyrin in the Round of 16. Marc Polmans was the toughest to beat, forcing Japan’s Yasutaka Uchiyama to three sets before going down 6-4 2-6 6-4 in two hours and 18 minutes. Similarly, John-Patrick Smith also suffered a three-set loss, this time to Macedonian sixth seed Radu Albot who won 6-2 3-6 6-1.

James Duckworth was unable to really break down German Yannick Hanfmann in their match, with the latter triumphing in straight sets, 6-2 6-4 to advance to the next round of action. In the other two matches, Turkish qualifier Altug Celikbilek won against Japanese wildcard Shintaro Mochizuki. Celikbilek got up 6-0 6-4 convincingly, while American Maxime Cressy moved into the Round of 16 with a 7-6 6-2 victory over Chinese Taipei’s Jason Jung.

SINGAPORE ROUND OF 32 RESULTS:

[6] Radu Albot (MCE) defeated [Q] John-Patrick Smith (AUS) 6-2 3-6 6-1
Maxime Cressy (USA) defeated Jason Jung (TAI) 7-6 6-2
Yannick Hanfmann (GER) defeated James Duckworth (AUS) 6-2 6-4
Yasutaka Uchiyama (JPN) defeated Marc Polmans (AUS) 6-4 2-6 6-4
[Q] Altug Celikbilek (TUR) defeated [WC] Shintaro Mochizuki (JPN) 6-0 6-4

 

The two lower ranked players at the Cordoba Open won through to the second round with hard-fought three sets wins over their respective opponents. Chilean wildcards Nicolas Jarry came from a set down to survive a nail-biting tiebreaker and then win in three against rising Spaniard Jaume Munar, 5-7 7-6 6-4. The match lasted a whopping two hours and 44 minutes with Jarry serving up seven aces, and winning 75 per cent of his first serve points, albeit off a lowly 54 per cent efficiency. Jarry’s was more efficient with 74 per cent of his first serves going in, but only capitalising on 63 per cent of them, as both players were broken five times.

In the other match, Jozef Kovalik also needed three sets to get past Daniel Elahi Galan, bouncing back from a disappointing second set to win 6-2 1-6 6-3 in an hour and 43 minutes. Kovalik broke four times to three, the last being a crucial one in the final set, to book his spot in the Round of 16 with victory on the clay courts.

CORDOBA OPEN ROUND OF 32 RESULTS:

[WC] Nicolas Jarry (CHL) defeated Jaume Munar (ESP) 5-7 7-6 6-4
Jozef Kovalik (SVK) defeated Daniel Elahi Galan (COL) 6-2 1-6 6-3

Picture credit: Yong Teck Lim/Getty Images

ATP 250s wraps: Tsonga beaten on return as Popyrin claims win in Singapore

GRAND SLAM finalist Jo-Wilfried Tsonga made his long-awaited return to the ATP Tour at the Open Sud de France in Montpellier yesterday, though it did not go plan. The former Top 10 talent was easily beaten by American Sebastian Korda in the first round of the ATP 250 event.

The match lasted just 72 minutes with Korda claiming the spoils, 6-4 6-2, dominating on serve and only dropping eight points in total, saving both of his opponent’s break point opportunities. Tsonga was far from his best, but getting through the match was the key, still winning 69 per cent of his first serve points, and serving five aces throughout the match. He saved three of six break points, but ultimately could not do enough against a player who has built form over the past 12 months.

It was better news for sixth seed Ugo Humbert, whose rise up the ATP Rankings continues following his straight sets win over Slovakian Norbert Gombos. Humbert won 6-4 7-6 in 78 minutes, slamming home 18 aces and winning 88 per cent of his first serve points off an elite 79 per cent efficiency to never give his opponent a chance. In Gombos’ defence, he held up well, actually breaking Humbert once from two chances, while the Frenchman broke him from both his opportunities. Overall the class of Humbert stood out and he advanced to the Round of 16.

In the final match played on day one of the main draw event, seventh seed Lorenzo Sonego battled past young Frenchman Hugo Gaston. The Italian won 6-3 6-7 6-1, holding his nerve in the third set after dropping the second set tiebreaker 9-7, to win in two hours and 19 minutes. He served seven aces and broke six times from 12 chances, while only being broken three times himself.

In today’s action, there are plenty more Frenchman on show, with Lucas Pouille taking on compatriot and wildcard Benjamin Bonzi, while Gilles Simon faces Austrian Dennis Novak. The match of the day could be either British wildcard and Grand Slam winner Andy Murray taking on Belarusian Egor Gerasimov, or Swede Mikael Ymer locking horns with Jiri Vesely.

OPEN SUD DE FRANCE ROUND OF 32 RESULTS:

[6] Ugo Humbert (FRA) defeated Norbert Gombos (SVK) 6-4 7-6
[7] Lorenzo Sonego (ITA) defeated [WC] Hugo Gaston (FRA) 6-3 6-7 6-1
Sebastian Korda (USA) defeated Jo-Wilfried Tsonga (FRA) 6-4 6-2

Five first round matches were completed in Singapore, with a mixed bag for the two seeds on court. Fifth seed Japanese counter puncher Yoshihito Nishioka defeated improving American Michael Mmoh 6-2 3-6 6-3, while seventh seed South African Lloyd Harris went down in three sets to Bulgarian wildcard Adrian Andreev.

Nishioka needed almost two hours to defeat Mmoh, surviving 11 aces to bring up 10 break point opportunities, albeit only taking three. It was two more than Mmoh who broke once in the second set, but could not do it again in the match. Meanwhile Andreev took two hours and 19 minutes to knock off the fast-serving Harris, not needing to serve and ace and even holding off 12 of 15 break point chances for the South African to win 1-6 6-3 6-4. The Bulgarian bounced back from a disappointing first set to post the impressive win over the developing Harris.

Andreev now takes on Australian Alexei Popyrin who knocked off American qualifier, Christopher Eubanks in two tiebreakers, 7-6 7-6, both of which were 7-5 tiebreakers. The match lasted one hour and 46 minutes, with Popyrin powering home 15 aces and saving 10 of 11 break points in a remarkable feat. He won 72 per cent of his first serve points, and also only broke Eubanks once, holding firm in the crucial tiebreakers to claim a narrow straight sets win.

In other Singapore results, United States’ Maxime Cressy became his nation’s sole winner on the day, downing Chinese Taipei’s Jason Jung in straight sets 7-6 6-2, while Japan’s Taro Daniel joined compatriot Nishioka in the second round after a tight three-set win over India’s Ramkumar Ramanathan, 6-3 6-7 6-3.

In today’s action, three Australians are out on court, with Marc Polmans up first against Japan’s Yasutaka Uchiyama. Following that match, qualifier John-Patrick Smith has to find a way to upstage sixth seed Macedonian Radu Albot, before James Duckworth takes to the court at night against German, Yannick Hanfmann.

SINGAPORE ROUND OF 32 RESULTS:

[5] Yoshihito Nishioka (JPN) defeated Michael Mmoh (USA) 6-2 3-6 6-3
[WC] Adrian Andreev (BUL) defeated [7] Lloyd Harris (RSA) 1-6 6-3 6-4
Maxime Cressy (USA) defeated Jason Jung (TAI) 7-6 6-2
Taro Daniel (JPN) defeated Ramkumar Ramanathan (IND) 6-3 6-7 6-3
Alexei Popyrin (AUS) defeated [Q] Christopher Eubanks (USA) 7-6 7-6

At the time of publishing, none of the day one matches had been completed in Cordoba, with the Argentinian tournament finishing off the third round of qualifying earlier in the day. The night session featured two Round of 32 matches which will be covered in tomorrow’s wrap, with Colombian Daniel Elahi Galan facing Slovakian Jozef Kovalik, followed by Spaniard Jaume Munar taking on Chilean wildcard Nicolas Jarry.

Picture credit: ATP Tour

2021 Great Ocean Road Open ATP preview: Goffin top seed in 250 event

BELGIAN David Goffin will head into the 2021 Great Ocean Road Open as the standout favourite and only Top 15 player in the ATP 250 event. The second ATP Tour event of the year – running in conjunction with the Murray River Open – will provide competitors with a lead-in event to the Australian Open.

Goffin is the top seed ranked 14th in the world, with Karen Khachanov (20th) and Hubert Hurkacz (29th) the other Top 30 players in the draw. Teenage star Jannik Sinner rounds out the top four seeds at 36th in the world while all eight seeds are inside the Top 50. With the ATP Cup also taking place and Belgium the highest nation (by the criteria thanks to Goffin) not taking place, the talented, consistent player will be hard to beat here.

Now 30-years-old, Goffin has not won a title since 2017, so the event is a huge opportunity coming in as the top seed. He looked good in Antalya, where he won through to the semi-finals before a hard-fought loss to Australian Alex de Minaur in the penultimate round. Khachanov is in a similar but different boat to Goffin in the sense that his nation made the ATP Cup, but with two players ranked about the 20th ranked Russian, he missed out and will instead be another contender in this event.

Khachanov had a forgettable end to 2020 after reaching the Round of 16 at Roland Garros. Only having one Top 100 win – and three wins in his last eight matches – the Russian will be keen to turn it around to start 2021. Twelve months ago he had a great run at the ATP Cup where he won four of five singles matches on the way to Russia reaching the semi-finals.

Rising star Hurkacz is coming off a title at Delray Beach in 2021 and therefore the only title winner thus far in 2021. His form is strong, not dropping a set, but the highest ranked player he faced was 115th ranked Daniel Elahi Galan, whereas this tournament will be a step up again. Nonetheless with match practice under his belt he has to be considered.

Sinner will settle in as the fourth likely chance at the tournament, but his form is good enough from last year to suggest he could go all the way. He won the final tournament of the year in Sofia – his maiden title – by defeating the likes of Alex de Minaur, Adrian Mannarino and Vasek Pospisil on the way to the trophy. He also claimed wins over Goffin and Alexander Zverev at Roland Garros to reach the final eight, and knocked off sixth ranked Stefanos Tsitsipas in Rome a fortnight earlier. The Italian young gun is good value as a potential winner here with only a few players ranked ahead of him on paper.

A few others to watch at the tournament include seventh seed Miomir Kecmanovic and eighth seed Alexander Bublik, while ninth seed Tennys Sandgren returns to Australia since his quarter finals run at Melbourne Park 12 months ago. Local hope Jordan Thompson is the 11th seed in the draw, while the lowest seed in 63rd ranked Feliciano Lopez (16th seed). Some unseeded value includes South African Kevin Anderson and Frenchman Pierre-Hugues Herbert, as well as South Korean Soonwoo Kwon. Lower down the order, teenage Spanish talent Carlos Alcarez will test himself at Tour level, while Yen-Hsun Lu ranked way down in 1008th has been given a protected ranking of 71st.

Goffin deserves favouritism at this event, but Sinner is the one to watch. The top four are clearly the standouts at the tournament with the depth dropping off, though there are some troubling players for those talents such as Bublik or Anderson who could cause headaches.

Picture credit: Liubomir Asenov

ATP Antalya & Delray Beach wraps: Top talents advance largely unchallenged

SEVEN of the eight seeds at the Antalya Open moved through to the second round, with only two of them needing to fight it out in three sets. The only losing seed to conclude the Round of 32 in Turkey was Miomir Kecmanovic, who, after winning the first set 6-1, fell away in a disappointing display to Italian Stefano Travaglia, 1-6 6-4 6-0.

It was a relatively good day for the Italians, with all five involved either being a seed or facing a seed, as top three talents Matteo Berrettini and Fabio Fognini had no troubles advancing in straight sets. Berrettini knocked off Turkish wildcard Ergi Kirkin 6-0 6-4, while Fognini fought off a determined Michael Vrbensky to win against the Czech qualifier, 6-4 7-6. Meanwhile the news was not as good for compatriots, Andrea Arnaboldi and Salvatore Caruso. Arnaboldi took sixth seed Georgian Nikoloz Basilashvili to three sets but lost 4-6 7-5 6-1, while Caruso went down to Kazakh eighth seed Alexander Bublik, 6-3 6-3.

Second seed David Goffin had the toughest time of all the seeds, having to fight back from a set down and five match points in the second set to post a 3-6 7-5 6-0 win over Frenchman, Pierre-Hugues Herbert. Fellow seeds, Alex de Minaur and Jan-Lennard Struff did not have the same problem trouncing respective opponents, Malek Jaziri and Pavel Kotov in straight sets.

Looking at the unseeded matches, Bulgaria had a couple of winners with qualifying duo, Adrian Andreev and Dimitar Kuzmanov both advancing through. Andreev knocked off Turkish representative Marsel Ilhan, while Kuzmanov down Serbia’s Laslo Djere who was forced to retire midway through the second set. Also forced to retire during the match was German qualifier, Matthias Bachinger who went down to Spaniard Nicola Kuhn.

It was much better news for the French, who had all three unseeded representatives in Jeremy Chardy, Hugo Grenier and Tristan Lamasine advancing with wins, the latter particularly impressive by knocking over Belarusian Egor Gerasimov, 7-6 6-2. Other Round of 32 winners in Turkey were home nation hero Altug Celikbilek and Finland young gun Emil Ruusuvuori.

ANTALYA OPEN ROUND OF 32 RESULTS:

[1] Matteo Berrettini (ITA) defeated [WC] Ergi Kirkin (TUR) 6-0 6-4
[2] David Goffin (BEL) defeated Pierre-Hugues Herbert (FRA) 3-6 7-5 6-0
[3] Fabio Fognini (ITA) defeated [Q] Michael Vrbensky (CZE) 6-4 7-6
[4] Alex de Minaur (AUS) defeated Malek Jaziri (TUN) 6-2 6-1
[5] Jan-Lennard Struff (GER) defeated [Q] Pavel Kotov (RUS) 6-4 6-3
[6] Nikoloz Basilashvili (GEO) defeated Andrea Arnaboldi (ITA) 4-6 7-5 6-1
Stefano Travaglia (ITA) defeated [7] Miomir Kecmanovic (SRB) 1-6 6-4 6-0
[8] Alexander Bublik (KAZ) defeated Salvatore Caruso (ITA) 6-3 6-3
[Q] Adrian Andreev (BUL) defeated [WC] Marsel Ilhan (TUR) 6-4 6-3
[WC] Altug Celikbilek (TUR) defeated Kacper Zuk (POL) 7-6 7-5
Jeremy Chardy (FRA) defeated Radu Albot (MOL) 6-3 6-4
Hugo Grenier (FRA) defeated [Q] Alex Molvan (SVK) 7-5 6-4
Nicola Kuhn (ESP) defeated [Q] Matthias Bachinger (GER) 3-6 6-3 4-1 RET
[Q] Dimitar Kuzmanov (BUL) defeated Laslo Djere (SRB) 6-1 3-2 RET
Tristan Lamasine (FRA) defeated Egor Gerasimov (BLR) 7-6 6-2
Emil Ruusuvuori (FIN) defeated Jiri Vesely (CZE) 6-3 7-6

There was no shortage of successful United States winners at Delray Beach with all three seeds going through, as well as three additional rising talents. Fifth seed Tommy Paul knocked off South Korea’s Ji Sung Nam 6-1 6-4, sixth seed Sam Querrey toppled compatriot Mackenzie McDonald 6-3 6-4, and eighth seed Frances Tiafoe rolled past another compatriot in qualifier Donald Young, 6-3 6-4.

Qualifier Christian Harrison, and other Americans Bjorn Fratangelo and Sebastian Korda all won through to the Round of 16. Korda had an impressive win over South Korea’s Soonwoo Kwon 6-4 6-4 to book his spot in the next stage. The news was not as good for three other United States’ representatives, going down in their respective matches. Wildcards Ryan Harrison, JC Aragone and Noah Rubin lost to Gianluca Mager, Cameron Norrie and Roberto Quiroz.

With United States players on court in all bar three games, there was plenty to enjoy for the home nation fans on the stream. In the three non-United States games, Croatian veteran Ivo Karlovic knocked off Spanish seventh seed Pablo Andujar in three sets 6-3 5-7 6-4. In the other results, Thiago Monteiro won the all-Brazilian clash over Thomaz Bellucci 6-3 7-5, and Colombian Daniel Elahi Galan defeated Slovakian Andrej Martin 6-4 6-4.

DELRAY BEACH ROUND OF 32 RESULTS:

[5] Tommy Paul (USA) defeated Ji Sung Nam (KOR) 6-1 6-4
[6] Sam Querrey (USA) defeated Mackenzie McDonald (USA) 6-3 6-4
Ivo Karlovic (CRO) defeated [7] Pablo Andujar (ESP) 6-3 5-7 6-4
[8] Frances Tiafoe (USA) defeated [Q] Donald Young (USA) 6-3 6-4
Bjorn Fratangelo (USA) defeated [Q] Kevin King (USA) 6-2 6-2
Daniel Elahi Galan (COL) defeated Andrej Martin (SVK) 6-4 6-4
[Q] Christian Harrison (USA) defeated Tomas Martin Etcheverry (ARG) 6-4 6-2
Sebastian Korda (USA) defeated Soonwoo Kwon (KOR) 6-4 6-4
Gianluca Mager (ITA) defeated [WC] Ryan Harrison (USA) 3-6 6-1 6-4
Thiago Monteiro (BRA) defeated Thomaz Bellucci (BRA) 6-3 7-5
Cameron Norrie (GBR) defeated [WC] JC Aragone (USA) 6-2 6-1
[Q] Roberto Quiroz (COL) defeated [WC] Noah Rubin (USA) 7-6 6-3

2021 ATP Antalya and Delray Beach previews: Top 30 talents hit the hard courts in New Year

AFTER a long 2020, the 2021 ATP Tour is underway, with the main draw matches to take place today in Antalya, Turkey and Delray Beach, United States. Both hard court events are ATP 250 ones to give players a taste of the action before heading Down Under for an extended period in Australia where multiple tournaments take place in Melbourne.

Looking at Antalya, Matteo Berrettini is the top seed, with the Italian headlining the event there prior to the ATP Cup in February. His compatriot Fabio Fognini is also there, as are the other key Italian players, Salvatore Caruso, Stefano Travaglia and Andrea Arnaboldi. While Jannik Sinner is the key exclusion from the group, it is fair to say there is an Italian presence in Turkey.

David Goffin is seeded second at the event and has drawn a rough quarter of the draw, facing Frenchman Pierre-Hugues Herbert up first in 2021. A potential quarter final matchup with Miomir Kecmanovic is a danger game, though the rising Serbian has his own issues to deal with, taking on Travaglia in Round 1, before a second round encounter with either Finn Emil Ruusuvuori or Czech Jiri Vesely.

In the sam half of the draw is Australian Alex de Minaur who faces Tunisian Malek Jaziri in the first round. The 249th ranked Jaziri may well be the toughest challenge for the talented all-courter, with an easy quarter of the draw, including a couple of Turkish wildcards in Marsel Ilhan and Altug Celikbilek in there. Nikoloz Basilashvili is destined for a final eight meeting with de Minaur, the only other danger man in that section.

Fognini is third seed at the event, and could face fifth seed German, Jan-Lennard Struff in the quarter finals. The Italian takes on a qualifier first up, but will play the winner of Jeremy Chardy and Radu Albot which is an entertaining matchup in itself. In the same half, Laslo Djere looks set to face Berrettini in the second round, while eighth seed Alexander Bublik taking on Caruso, and then the winner locking horns with likely Egor Gerasimov makes it an entertaining section.

There is a lot on the line at Antalya because a fair few of the top players have had inconsistencies in the back half of the year, and de Minaur may well be the favourite heading into the event, though you can never discount the likes of Fognini and Berrettini, though Goffin has the talent to take it out as well.

Heading to Delray Beach, the 250 event is a 28-player draw, with Chilean Cristian Garin, American John Isner, Frenchman Adrian Mannarino and Pole Hubert Hurkacz the four seeds to automatically gain entry into the Round of 16. With a host of United States representatives, the home nation will be confident it can yield a winner at the event.

In bottom quarter, the eight players involved are three Americans, two Brazilians and two South Koreans along with second seed Isner’s bye. The only two Brazilians in the draw – Thomaz Bellucci and Thiago Monteiro – will go head-to-head, whilst fifth seed Tommy Paul will likely face Soonwoo Kwon in the second round for the likely crack at Isner in the quarter finals.

Eighth seed Frances Tiafoe has a relatively easy run to the quarter finals, taking on a qualifier in the first round, then either another qualifier or Bjorn Fratangelo in the second round. Mannarino or Great Britain’s Cameron Norrie awaits in the final eight, which the young American will be keen to win to likely face either Paul or Isner in the semis.

The top-end quality of the draw slims out given Tiafoe and Pablo Andujar (seventh) are seeds, with Andujar taking on Croatian veteran Ivo Karlovic in the opening round. While Karlovic is well past his prime, his power serving is hard to stop on hard courts, with the winner having a good run to the last eight. Hurkacz is in the quarter, with either Slovakian Andrej Martin, or Colombian Daniel Elahi Galan awaiting in the second round.

Garin is the top seed and while hard courts are not his go as such, he should get through to the quarter finals without a worry. There he will more than likely face an American with sixth seed Sam Querrey and Mackenzie McDonald doing battle in Round 1, while wildcard Ryan Harrison takes on the sole Italian in the draw, Gianluca Mager.

The fact the event is on hard court and not clay means Garin is more of an underdog than a favourite. Hurkacz is a really good should if the polite Pole can play at his best, with a relatively soft draw all the way to the final given Garin is no certainty on the surface. The bottom half is more competitive, and you would expect Mannarino to be too consistent for a fair few, but on the surface, Isner would be the favourite, though Paul is quickly catching up, and the penny may drop for Tiafoe in 2021.

Picture: Getty Images

Carballes Baena topples Shapovalov in five to clinch third round spot

ROBERTO Carballes Baena has won an epic battle over top 10 player and ninth seed, Denis Shapovalov to book his spot in the third round at Roland Garros. The Spanish world number 101 backed up his shellacking of Steve Johnson in the first round – dropping just two games – to overcome Shapovalov in a five-hour titanic struggle.

Carballes Baena hit the trifecta of firsts for his efforts, reaching the third round of a Grand Slam, defeating a top 10 player and winning a five-set match for the first time in his ATP Tour career. A clay court specialist having played more than 70 per cent of his matches on the surface, defeated Shapovalov 7-5 6-7 6-3 3-6 8-6.

“It is a dream for me to win a match like this,” Carballes Baena said post-match. “I tried to be very solid and focused on my game. Shapovalov served very well, but I played a very good match. It was the first time I beat a Top 10 player, reached the third round of a Grand Slam, and the first time I won a fifth set.”

It did not look good for Carballes Baena in the deciding set, a break down trailing at 3-5 and Shapovalov served for the match at 5-4 and then again at 6-5 after the Canadian broke his lower ranked opponent in the eleventh match, Never giving up, Carballes Baena kept fighting and won the last three games of the match to salute and book his spot in the Round of 32.

The Spaniard now takes on 18th seed Grigor Dimitrov in the Round of 32 after the Bulgarian defeated Slovakian Andrej Martin, 6-4 7-6 6-1 in their clash. The winner of that battle will take on either Stefanos Tsitsipas or Aljaz Bedene in the Round of 16, after the Greek fifth seed trounced Pablo Cuevas, 6-1 6-4 6-2, while Bedene won through in four sets over Serbian qualifier Nikola Milojevic.

Most of the matches went as planned on day four, with just two more seeds dropping, the biggest upset of which was German qualifier Daniel Altmaier taking down his compatriot, Jan-Lennard Struff. The world number 186 showed plenty of talent in defeating the 30th seed, winning in a surprising three sets, 6-3 7-6 6-3 to now move on and have a tough challenge in Matteo Berrettini. The seventh seed Italian took four sets to shake off South African Lloyd Harris, winning 6-4 4-6 6-2 6-3 to make his way into the third round of the French Open.

It marked a record four Italians who reached the third round following the three victories on day three from the nation. Speaking of clay court nations, it will be an all-seeded, all-Spanish battle in the third round when 10th seed Roberto Bautista Agut takes on his compatriot, 17th seed Pablo Carreno Busta. Bautista Agut brushed aside Hungarian Attila Balazs in the second round, while Carreno Busta did it just as easy against Argentinian Guido Pella. They both only dropped six games in their respective matches and head into the Round of 32 match having not dropped a set yet.

In the only other all-seeded match in the third round, 15th seed Russian Karen Khachanov will lock horns with 20th seed Cristian Garin in what is set to be an entertaining contest. Khachanov had some good practice at tiebreakers in the second round, playing three of them and winning two on his way to a 6-1 6-7 7-6 7-6 victory against Czech Jiri Vesely, while Garin also dropped a set against Australian Marc Polmans, before winning 6-7 6-2 7-6 6-4.

The winner of that third round clash will likely face Novak Djokovic who again wasted no time on court in destroying his latest opponent, Lithuanian Ricardas Berankis. Djokovic took just 83 minutes – beating his first round time – to win 6-1 6-2 6-2 in an embarrassingly one-sided match. Next up is an opponent who lost in qualifying but got a reprieve as a lucky loser, Colombia’s Daniel Elahi Galan. The Colombian earned the right to face Djokovic after blitzing American Tennys Sandgren 6-2 6-2 6-3 in the Round of 64.

Meanwhile 13th seed Andrey Rublev will take on South African Kevin Anderson in the third round after Rublev won in four sets against Spaniard Alejandro Davidovich Fokina. The Russian defeated his opponent 7-5 6-1 3-6 6-1 to move through to the next round to take on the big-serving South African who upset 22nd seed Serbian Dusan Lajovic, 6-2 6-4 4-6 3-6 6-3, holding on in three hours and nine minutes. Lajovic was the second consecutive Serbian that Anderson had ousted in Paris after defeating Laslo Djere in the first round.

The other two winners on day four were unseeded pair, Thiago Monteiro and Marton Fucsovics. They guarantee at least one unseeded player will reach the fourth round of the French Open following Monteiro’s straight sets win over American Marcos Giron, while Fucsovics had a memorable win over Albert Ramos-Vinolas, 7-6 6-3 7-5 to book his spot in the Round of 32.

Picture: Getty Images

Medvedev headlines massive exits in Roland Garros first round

IT might only be the second day, but it was carnage at Roland Garros with four top 20 seeds bombing out, including two top eight seeds in a huge day of upsets. The biggest of the lot was fourth seed Daniil Medvedev, who faltered in his first match for the second consecutive tournament, losing to Hungarian Marton Fucsovics after going down to Frenchman Ugo Humbert at Hamburg.

Fuscovics won in four sets, 6-4 7-6 2-6 6-1 which was his second massive Round 1 win at a Grand Slam this year following his upset over Denis Shapovalov at the Australian Open in January. Medvedev hit 51 unforced errors and only 27 winners to Fucsovics’ 49 and 36 during the three-hour and 17-minute four-set match, as the Hungarian bounced back from a disappointing third set to post a huge career win.

Unfortunately for the fourth seed Russian, the Round of 128 loss paints an eerily similar story, having not won a match at Roland Garros in four starts. Fucsovics now takes on Albert Ramos-Vinolas in the second round after he defeated Adrian Mannarino in straight sets.

Medvedev was far from the only high-ranked casualty of the day, as eighth seed Gael Monfils fell victim to the in-form Alexander Bublik. The Kazakh won in four sets, 6-4 7-5 3-6 6-3 to move through to the second round, joining compatriot Mikhail Kukushkin in the Round of 64. Kukushkin had an equally impressive victory, downing 14th seed Fabio Fognini in four sets, running away with it in the end after clinching a third set tiebreaker, 7-5 3-6 7-6 6-0.

Other upsets on the day were Japan’s Yoshihito Nishioka taking out Canadian young gun Felix Auger-Aliassime in straight sets, 7-5 6-3 6-3, whilst Serbian qualifier Nikola Milojevic won against his higher ranked compatriot Filip Krajinovic, 6-4 3-6 6-3 6-1. American Tennys Sandgren was the other player to knock out a seed on day two, defeating 29th seed Hubert Hurkacz in a massive 7-5 2-6 4-6 7-6 11-9 effort.

Successful seeds on the day included last year’s finalists Rafael Nadal and Dominic Thiem who breezed through, as well as Karen Khachanov, Pablo Carreno Busta and Casper Ruud who all favour the clay courts of Paris. If you thought the four-hour 31-minute epic between Sandgren and Hurkacz was long, spare a thought for Italian qualifier Lorenzo Giustino and Frenchman Corentin Moutet who competed in the second longest Roland Garros match ever.

Without the fifth set tiebreaker in play, Giustino and Moutet played 34 games in the final set, in a six-hour and five-minute contest that resulted in the former going through to the next round. Out on Court 14, neither player would give an inch and it was hard to believe the match could have gone even loner considering Moutet won the first set 6-0, before succumbing, 0-6 7-6 7-6 2-6 18-16.

The Frenchman hit 88 winers and 88 unforced errors and was unlucky not to win given the Italian hit a whopping 96 unforced errors to just 57 winners. In the end though, his ninth break of the contest proved crucial. In a tougher blow, Moutet won 25 more points than his opponent (242-217) but it would not be enough.

They might not have succeeded in Hamburg, but Germans Jan-Lennard Struff and Daniel Altmaier will face off in the second round after winning their respective first round matches. Struff defeated Frances Tiafoe, while Altmaier upset Spanish veteran Feliciano Lopez. In other results, Alijaz Bedene, Lorenzo Sonego, Tommy Paul, Guido Pella, Pedro Martinez, Jiri Vesely, Daniel Elahi Galan, Mackenzie McDonald, Jack Sock and Hugo Gaston all advanced through to the Round of 64.

Picture: Getty Images

2020 ATP Houston Open fantasy tennis: Murray topples Garin in massive first round match

IN a wild first day of ATP Tour action at Houston, three of the four seeds out on court have already been bundled out. The 250k fantasy tennis tournament saw the bottom half of the first round completed with second seed and tournament favourite, Cristian Garin bowing out to one of the other contenders in Brit, Andy Murray.

It was a horror first round draw for Garin who copped the Grand Slam winner on return, and despite winning the first set never quite looked completely comfortable. The Brit got on top in the second set with a crucial break and ended up winning the set 6-4, then after some see-sawing moments, took out the clay court specialist in about two and a half hours, 4-6 6-4 7-5.

It was not the only shock exit of day one though, with fourth seed Taylor Fritz, and seventh seed, John Isner bowing out. Fritz lost to Italian, Lorenzo Sonego 6-3 6-4 as he booked a safe passage through to the second round, while Isner lost at the hands of fellow American, Sam Querrey. In a tight contest that saw Isner win the first set, it was Querrey who stepped up in the second set, and ran away with the contest in the third to win, 4-6 6-4 6-1 in just over two hours.

After an impressive run here last year, Serbian wildcard, Janko Tipsarevic was sent packing by fifth seed, Jan-Lennard Struff. The German proved too good for the out of form and returning Serb, winning 7-5 6-2. Also through to the next round were a couple of unseeded players in Alijaz Bedene and Jeremy Chardy. Bedene knocked out United States’ Steve Johnson to continue a disappointing day for the home nation, while Chardy accounted for Colombian qualifier, Daniel Elahi Galan.

The remaining two winners were South African wildcard, Kevin Anderson who defeated Spaniard, Roberto Carballes Baena in a come-from-behind 4-6 7-5 6-1 victory, while Spanish qualifier Marcel Granollers knocked off Frenchman Lucas Pouille in three sets, 7-6 5-7 6-3.

In tomorrow’s day two action, clay court specialist, Laslo Djere takes on number one seed, Karen Khachanov, while a host of potential title contenders in seeds, Dusan Lajovic, Nikoloz Basilashvili and Casper Ruud all take to centre stage throughout the day.

ROUND OF 32 RESULTS:

Andy Murray (GBR) defeated [2] Cristian Garin (CHI) 4-6 6-4 7-5
Lorenzo Sonego (ITA) defeated [4] Taylor Fritz (USA) 6-3 6-4
[5] Jan-Lennard Struff (GER) defeated [WC] Janko Tipsarevic (SRB) 7-5 6-2
Sam Querrey (USA) defeated [7] John Isner (USA) 4-6 6-4 6-1
[Q] Marcel Granollers (ESP) defeated Lucas Pouille (FRA) 7-6 5-7 6-3
[WC] Kevin Anderson (RSA) defeated Roberto Carballes Baena (ESP) 4-6 7-5 6-1
Alijaz Bedene (SLO) defeated Steve Johnson (USA) 6-4 6-1
Jeremy Chardy (FRA) defeated [Q] Daniel Elahi Galan (COL) 6-3 6-3

Davis Cup Qualifiers review: Home court proves strong advantage

OF the 12 teams to qualify for the Davis Cup Finals in November, 10 of those moving through qualifying were the home nation in their respective ties over the weekend. So strong was the home court advantage or home nation support, was that the number two and three seeds were bundled out, with only the eleventh seed Japan getting ousted at home. Aside from Ecuador’s upset win over Japan, ninth seed Czech Republic was the only other team to win in a foreign nation, defeating Slovakia to book a spot in the final 16.

[1] Croatia 3 defeated India 1

The number one seeds advanced through without too much trouble, as Marin Cilic won both his singles matches in very different circumstances. He downed Ramkumar Ramanathan 7-6 7-6 – both 10-8 in the tiebreakers on Day 1, before smashing Sumit Nagal on Day 3 with a 6-0 6-1 rout. Borna Gojo also won his singles, having to come from a set down against Prajnesh Gunneswaran 3-6 6-4 6-2. India had a reason to celebrate in the doubles however, with Rohan Bopanna and Leander Paes – both well into their 40s – winding back the clock to defeat Mate Pavic and Franko Skugor 6-3 6-7 7-5 to ensure India had a win on the board in the tie.

Hungary 3 defeated [2] Belgium 2

Hungary fought back from a 2-1 deficit to defeat second seeds Belgium in front of a home crowd and book its spot in the Davis Cup Finals. Without David Goffin, Belgium got off to a solid start with Ruben Bemelmans defeating Attila Balazs 5-7 7-6 6-4, before Marton Fucsovics levelled the scores for Hungary with a 6-2 5-7 6-4 victory over Kimmer Coppejans. The visitors again took the lead after a doubles win courtesy of Sander Gille and Jordan Vliegen, who downed Balazs and Fucsovics 3-6 6-1 6-4. The pair managed to pick up the slack again on the third day and carry the nation to victory with Balazs defeating Coopejans in straight sets, then Fucsovics coming from a set down to win against Bemelmans, 6-7 6-4 6-2 and send his nation to the Finals.

Colombia 3 defeated [3] Argentina 1

Daniel Elahi Galan is the toast of Colombia after guiding his nation to the Davis Cup Finals with two singles victories against Argentina. Playing against the higher ranked Leonardo Mayer and Juan Ignacio Londero, Galan was able to control play and win both comfortably in straight sets. With the number one doubles combination in the world in Juan-Sebastian Cabal and Robert Farah ensuring that they took out the doubles tie, it handed the South Americans a spot in the next round. Londero was the sole success story for the visitors, coming from a set down to knock over Santiago Giraldo 6-7 6-3 6-2 in the second rubber of the tie.

[4] USA 4 defeated Uzbekistan 0

It was expected and it lived up to fruition – a United States whitewash over Uzbekistan to quickly move through to the next round. Not taking any chances, the home side put up Reilly Opelka and Taylor Fritz on the opening day who waltzed past Denis Istomin and Sanjar Fayziev in straight sets respectively, before the Bryan brothers did the same thing to the Uzbekistan pair in the doubles. With the tie wrapped up, the United States handed Tommy Paul a Davis Cup debut and he trounced Istomin 6-3 6-0 for a 4-0 win.

[5] Australia 3 defeated Brazil 1

Missing both of their top preferences for the singles in Alex de Minaur and Nick Kyrgios, Australia still moved through to the Davis Cup Finals, but not without a sterling challenge from a much lower ranked Brazilian outfit. Jordan Thompson won in straight sets over Thiago Monteiro in what was expected to be a danger game for the Australians, but instead it was the remainder of the matches that pushed the green and gold to the limit. John Millman led the team in the absence of de Minaur and Kyrgios, triumphing in both singles matches from a set down, defeating up-and-coming talent Thiago Seyboth Wild 4-6 7-6 6-2 and then Monteiro 6-7 7-6 7-6 to ensure the home team moved through. Brazil did claim a win in the doubles however, with Marcelo Demoliner and Felipe Meligeni Rodrigues Alves winning 5-7 7-5 7-6 against John Peers and debutant, James Duckworth.

[6] Italy 4 defeated South Korea 0

Another predicted whitewash occurred with Italy trouncing South Korea behind closed doors without dropping a set. With the exception of Gianluca Mager‘s 6-3 7-5 win over Ji Sung Nam, the South Koreans did not win more than four games in a match with Fabio Fognini smashing Duckhee Lee 6-0 6-3, Stefano Travaglia winning over Yunseong Chung 6-0 6-1, and the pair of Fognini and Simone Bolelli defeating Nam and Min-Kyu Song 6-3 6-1 in the doubles.

[7] Germany 4 defeated Belarus 1

In one of the more feel-good Davis Cup ties of the weekend, the spectators got their money’s worth with the full five matches being played and Germany getting up 4-1. Jan-Lennard Struff got the home nation off to the perfect start with a 6-4 6-4 triumph over Ilya Ivashka, before Egor Gerasimov took advantage of an underdone Philipp Kohlschreiber 4-6 7-5 7-6 in a come-from-behind win to level the tie at 1-1. Germany’s doubles team of Kevin Krawietz and Andreas Mies won 6-4 7-6 over Ivashka and Andrei Vasilevski, before Struff continued his form with an impressive 6-3 6-2 victory over Gerasimov to win his nation the tie. Whilst many other ties packed it in after the result was decided, Germany and Belarus opted to blood debutants in Dominik Koepfer and Daniil Ostapenkov for the fifth and final rubber, with the former ending up playing a match to remember in a 6-0 6-2 smashing to make it a 4-1 result.

[8] Kazakhstan 3 defeated Netherlands 1

Despite dropping the first match of the tie, Kazakhstan came back to post a 3-1 victory over Netherlands and live up to its eighth seed billing. Robin Haase got the visitors excited early with a 6-4 6-7 6-3 win over Mikhail Kukushkin, but Alexander Bublik came to town with a 7-6 7-6 narrow win over Tallon Griekspoor. The Kazakhstan duo of Andrey Golubev and Aleksandr Nedovyesov won 6-3 6-3 over Haase and partner Jean-Julien Rojer, before Bublik again got the better of an overloaded Haas, 7-6 6-1 to help Kazakhstan move through to the 16-team Davis Cup Finals.

Slovakia 1 defeated by [9] Czech Republic 3

Jiri Vesely has steered Czech Republic to a solid 3-1 win over Slovakia to ensure it moved onto the Davis Cup Finals. The top ranked player in the tie defeated Jozef Kovalik 6-3 7-5, then took down Andrej Martin in three sets, 4-6 7-5 7-5. Lukas Rosol won his singles clash in the second rubber with a 6-4 6-4 triumph over Martin, while the home team scored a win with Filip Polasek and Igor Zelenay winning in straight sets over Czech pair, Jonas Forejtek and Zdenek Kolar 6-4 6-4.

[10] Austria 3 defeated Uruguay 1

Despite his best efforts, Pablo Cuevas was unable to carry his Uruguayan nation to victory over Austria, suffering a 3-1 loss. Cuevas won a tough singles tie against Jurji Rodionov 6-7 6-3 7-6 on the opening day, but went down with Ariel Behar in the doubles against Oliver Marach and Jurgen Melzer in three sets, then suffered defeat against a well rested Dennis Novak despite winning the first set, losing 2-6 6-3 6-4. Cuevas’ brother Martin also played on the opening day and lost his singles tie to Novak, 6-2 6-4. With only three players actually ranked on the ATP Tour, Uruguay has been amazing to get as far as it has to-date, but Cuevas can only do so much.

[11] Japan 0 defeated by Ecuador 3

Unlike the Germany-Belarus clash, Japan and Ecuador both wanted to done-and-run it in front of an approximate crowd of zero people. With the threat of the coronavirus prevalent, Japanese officials were very wary and closed off the Davis Cup tie to the public. Despite heading in as favourites, top Japanese player Kei Nishikori did not take the court, and the Ecuadorians went on to down with a 3-0 domination of their opponents. Emilio Gomez defeated Go Soeda 7-5 7-6, Roberto Quiroz just got past Yasutaka Uchiyama 7-6 2-6 7-6 in a 10-8 deciding tiebreaker, before Diego Hidalgo and Gonzalo Escobar won against Uchiyama and Ben McLachlan 7-6 6-3 to wrap up the tie. Needless to say given the already high anxiousness around the tie, Japan pulled the pin with the result done and dusted.

[12] Sweden 3 defeated Chile 1

In the final tie, Chile was without top player Cristian Garin and it showed with Mikael Ymer getting the better of lower ranked Chilean opponents at home to guide his nation to a 3-1 victory. Ymer downed Marcelo Tomas Barrios Vera 6-2 6-3 on the opening day, then backed it up with a 3-6 7-5 6-3 come-from-behind win over Alejandro Tabilo in the fourth rubber. Experienced doubles combination Markus Eriksson and Robert Lindstedt were too strong for Barrios Vera and Tabilo in the doubles, with Tabilo getting Chile’s only win of the tie the day before against Elias Ymer 6-4 6-3.

2020 Davis Cup Qualifiers preview: Finals spots up for grabs in huge weekend of action

THE Davis Cup qualifiers take place over the weekend, with 12 matches across the globe. Each of the winning sides will book a place in November’s new format Davis Cup Finals, joining 2019 semi-finalists Canada, Great Britain, Russia and Spain, and the two wildcards in France and Serbia.

[1] Croatia vs. India

Croatia: Marin Cilic, Borna Gojo, Nino Serdarusic, Ivan Dodig, Mate Pavic
India: Sumit Nagal, Prajnesh Gunneswaran, Ramkumar Ramanathan, Rohan Bopanna, Leander Paes

The first seeds host the 22nd ranked India at home on clay and given they head in without their top player in Borna Coric, it is not as straight forward as it should be for the number two ranked nation in the world. Cilic should easily account for both Nagal and Gunneswaran, but with 276th ranked Gojo the number two singles player for Croatia, it could come down to the doubles. That might be the match of the entire tie, with Dodig and Pavic both ranked inside the top 20 for doubles, while Bopanna and Paes are world-class doubles players even if they are getting on in age at 41 and 46 years of age.

Tip: Croatia 3-2

Hungary vs. [2] Belgium

Hungary: Marton Fucsovics, Attila Balazs, Zsombor Piros, Fabian Marozsan, Peter Nagy
Belgium: Kimmer Coppejans, Ruben Bemelmans, Arthur De Greef, Jordan Vliegen, Sander Gille

World number four, Belgium travel to Hungary to take on the 24th ranked Hungary in what is genuinely a danger tie for Belgium. Without star and top 20 player David Goffin, the number two seeds are in for a real challenge to overcome a Hungarian duo of Fucsovics and Balazs who are in some nice form as it stands. Both have had a number of upset wins already this year, with Fucsovics most notably taking down Denis Shapovalov in the first round of the Australian Open. The Hungarians could well clean sweep in the singles, though Coopejans is not one to be underestimated and could win both his matches. He needs to, because if he loses then Hungary should progress, though the doubles pairing of Vliegen and Gille should easily win the doubles, giving them some hope on the deciding day.

Tip: Hungary 3-2

Colombia vs. [3] Argentina

Colombia: Daniel Elahi Galan, Santiago Giraldo, Alejandro Gonzalez, Juan-Sebastian Cabal, Robert Farah
Argentina: Guido Pella, Juan Ignacio Londero, Leonardo Mayer, Horacio Zeballos, Maximo Gonzalez

The clay courts of Bogota do not hold an advantage for either side, with the Colombians and Argentinians both very capable on the surface. In saying that, Argentina should realistically breeze through the tie with only the doubles being the huge question mark. Pella has nominated to play which was the important aspect, given Diego Schwartzman‘s injury forcing his withdrawal. One would expect Galan and Giraldo to play the singles ties, but unless Pella or even Londero are having bad days, then Argentina should win it comfortably. Pella and Londero are both inconsistent though, so Galan playing the way he is capable of could help Colombia to a singles win, but the 19th ranked side is unlikely to make too much of an impact outside of their top ranked doubles combination of Cabal and Farah.

Tip: Argentina 4-1

[4] USA vs. Uzbekistan

USA: Taylor Fritz, Reilly Opelka, Tommy Paul, Bob Bryan, Mike Bryan
Uzbekistan: Denis Istomin, Khumoyun Sultanov, Sanjar Fayziev, Olimjon Nabiev

While the United States will be without their top ranked player in John Isner, realistically they could have their seventh and eighth best players and still get the job done here. The depth of the United States is far too strong for Uzbekistan who will be relying on Istomin to carry the side, probably through both singles and a doubles with a couple of youngsters named in the side. The home nation’s second and third best players in Fritz and Opelka should win all their singles, and with the Bryan brothers also likely to take out the doubles without too much problem. Expect Paul to make his debut with the tie wrapped up by the third day.

Tip: United States 5-0

[5] Australia vs. Brazil

Australia: John Millman, Jordan Thompson, James Duckworth, Alex Bolt, John Peers
Brazil: Thiago Monteiro, Joao Menezes, Thiago Seyboth Wild, Felipe Meligeni Rodrigues Alves, Marvelo Demoliner

A wounded Australian outfit hosts Brazil in Adelaide with its top two players out with injury. Both Nick Kyrgios and Alex de Minaur are unavailable which means Millman and Thompson will lead the attack, while Duckworth and Bolt could make their debuts. Even the lowest ranked Aussie – Bolt is ranked higher than the second seeded Brazilian in Menezes, so the green and gold should still get home with a win. Monteiro could cause some problems, but Australia will realistically come away with a comfortable win, particularly on home soil.

Tip: Australia 4-1

[6] Italy vs. South Korea

Italy: Fabio Fognini, Lorenzo Sonego, Gianluca Mager, Stefano Travaglia, Simone Bolelli
South Korea: Duckhee Lee, Ji Sung Nam, Yunseong Chung, Min-Kyu Song, Hong Chung

The Italians have gone with a relatively strong outfit against the third lowest ranked Davis Cup nation in South Korea (29th). Playing at home, the sixth seeded and 11th ranked nation will only be missing Matteo Berrettini and young gun, Jannik Sinner from the best possible outfit, with Fognini – despite being out of form – and Sonego likely to take out Lee and Nam if they are the chosen singles players. South Korea could win the doubles with Nam and Song both inside the top 120 in that format. One in-form South Korean is Soonwoo Kwon who has not nominated for the tie, while the second ranked compatriot in Hyeon Chung is also unavailable leading the remainder of the team outside the top 200 in the ATP Tour. The most one-sided contest of the lot.

Tip: Italy 5-0

[7] Germany vs. Belarus

Germany: Jan-Lennard Struff, Philipp Kohlschreiber, Dominik Koepfer, Kevin Krawietz, Andreas Mies
Belarus: Egor Gerasimov, Ilya Ivashka, Alexander Zgirovsky, Martin Borisiouk, Andrei Vasilevski

Germany might be without its top player in Alexander Zverev, but the seventh seed nation should not have too many problems winning at home against Belarus. The tie is taking place in Dusseldorf on hardcourt, with Struff and Kohlschreiber more than likely to hold their own against Gerasimov and Ivashka. Gerasimov has shown a capability to cause headaches for the opposition, but Struff should win both singles and Kohlschreiber – if over his injury – at least one. The doubles pairing of the 12th ranked Krawietz and 13th ranked Mies should also be too much for any Belarusian pairing.

Tip: Germany 4-1

[8] Kazakhstan vs. Netherlands

Kazakhstan: Alexander Bublik, Mikhail Kukushkin, Dmitry Popko, Aleksandr Nedovyesov, Andrey Golubev
Netherlands: Robin Haase, Botic Van De Zandschulp, Tallon Griekspoor, Wesley Koolhof, Jean-Julien Rojer

Two sides that head into the Davis Cup qualifiers with their full strength sides are Kazakhstan and Netherlands, with up-and-coming talents Bublik and Popko some players of the future. Bublik and Kukushkin will likely share the first day duties and if they can knock over the tie, then Popko might get the call-up. Netherlands will not be an easy team to necessarily knock over, with the doubles pairing of Koolhof and Rojer impressive, while Haase and Griekspoor are no pushovers either. In saying that, Kazakhstan should still have the upper hand.

Tip: Kazakhstan 3-2

Slovakia vs. [9] Czech Republic

Slovakia: Andrej Martin, Norbert Gombos, Jozef Kovalik, Filip Polasek
Czech Republic: Jiri Vesely, Lukas Rosol, Zdenek Kolar, Vit Kopriva, Jonas Forejtek

Slovakia enters the Davis Cup qualifiers as the second lowest ranked nation at 31st overall, while Czech Republic sits at 15th and are the ninth seed in these qualifiers. Neither of these sides has a top 50 ranked player which makes it a much more even tie than the rankings may suggest. Vesely will lead the way for the Czechs, while Rosol is always a dangerous player on his day. Martin, Gombos and Kovalik are all capable of playing in those top two singles players, while the seventh ranked doubles player in Polasek will need to work hard with whoever teams up with him. This will likely be one of the tightest contests of the weekend.

Tip: Czech Republic 3-2

[10] Austria vs. Uruguay

Austria: Dennis Novak, Sebastian Ofner, Jurij Rodionov, Jurgen Melzer, Oliver Marach
Uruguay: Pablo Cuevas, Martin Cuevas, Franco Roncadelli, Ariel Behar, Francisco Llanes

The lowest ranked nation at the Davis Cup qualifiers, Uruguay actually have the best player in the tie. Pablo Cuevas will likely win both his singles against Novak and Ofner, which means the 36th ranked nation just has to find another win somehow. The reason Uruguay is ranked so low is because three of the members are unranked in singles, with only the Cuevas brothers earning ATP Tour points. It will be an uphill battle in the other ties, with the Cuevas’s to have a heavy workload over the weekend. Melzer and Marach are a couple of experienced doubles players and will hand the 10th seeds the edge in the tie.

Tip: Austria 3-2

[11] Japan vs. Ecuador

Japan: Kei Nishikori, Yoshihito Nishioka, Yasutaka Uchiyama, Go Soeda, Ben McLachlan
Ecuador: Emilio Gomez, Roberto Quiroz, Diego Hidalgo, Gonzalo Escobar, Antonio Cayetano March

In a selfless approach to his tennis, former top five player, Nishikori will compete for Japan in a must-win clash against the lowly ranked Ecuador. They could well win all the matches in a sweep, especially if Nishikori takes the court. The Japanese star has been battling an elbow injury, and with the coronavirus forcing this match behind closed doors, there is plenty working against the Asian nation. However Japan should take care of business against Ecuador with Gomez the highest ranked singles player at 149th, with Nishikori and the in-form Nishioka to win all the singles, and New Zealand-born McLachlan to lead the doubles side.

Tip: Japan 5-0

[12] Sweden vs. Chile

Sweden: Mikael Ymer, Elias Ymer, Markus Eriksson, Carl Soderlund, Robert Lindstedt
Chile: Cristian Garin, Alejandro Tabilo, Marcelo Tomas Barrios Vera, Bastian Malla

The closest match in terms of Davis Cup rankings is that between the 18th ranked Sweden and the 21st ranked Chile. Playing in Stockholm will give the teams – who both have developing youngsters – a chance to shine on the hard courts with Sweden having the home court advantage. Mikael Ymer is always a threat, ranked 72nd in the world at just 21-years-old, while his brother – two years his senior will take up the second ranked spot in the singles. Garin has found some form over the past month and will be hard to beat for the visitors, winning a title albeit on clay, though his second ranked teammate, Tabilo will need to be at his best to topple the Ymers. It will be close, but Chile should get it overall.

Tip: Chile 3-2