Tag: dominic thiem

ATP Tour wrap: Bring on the final eight

EXCITING fourth round action continued at Roland Garros overnight, with headliners Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal gaining victories to become the first ever ATP players to reach 15 French Open quarter-finals.

Djokovic overcame a scare from 19-year-old Lorenzo Musetti, losing the first two sets before coming back to win 6-7 6-7 6-1 6-0 4-0 in three hours and 27 minutes. Musetti retired with injury in the fifth set due to cramps and lower back pain. The Italian won 85 points in the first two sets with 25 winners, but won just 17 points in the next three sets with only five winners. Errors crept into his game and cost him a chance at a major upset, but Musetti said he has taken plenty from his maiden Grand Slam experience.

“I came here to play my first Grand Slam in the main draw, and I made second week taking two sets against the world number one,” Musetti said. “I think I take away a lot of feelings, a lot of emotions, but [also] a lot of experience. Now I know how can I play, how far I am from the [best players] on the Tour, like Nole. So I know that if I play good I can stay at this level. I will go home, rest a bit, and work for Wimbledon.”

Nadal had a comfortable straight sets victory against another 19-year-old Italian, Jannik Sinner. The Spaniard and four-time defending champion won 7-5 6-3 6-0, eliminating Sinner from the Roland Garros for a second straight year. Sinner had a chance to serve for the first set at 5-4, but Nadal thwarted that opportunity and controlled the remainder of the contest. After the match, the 13-time French Open champion said he was happy with his response in that situation.

“From that moment [at 4-5 in the first set] to 7-5, 4-0 [in the second] I think I played a very good level of tennis,” Nadal said. “Then again, [I made a] couple of mistakes and he played well, honestly. [From] 4-3 until that moment to the end of the match, I think I played great.”

Nadal has now remarkably won his last 34 matches and 35 sets at Roland Garros. His next challenge will be Argentine Diego Schwartzman in the quarter-finals.

Schwartzman, who entered the French Open on a four-match losing streak, has not lost a set in the tournament and took care of German Jan-Lennard Struff overnight 7-6 6-4 7-5. His clash with Nadal will mark his fifth career quarter-final and his third at Roland Garros. Schwartzman is ecstatic with his current form, particularly given his poor play in the lead up to the tournament.

“I love this country, I love Paris, I think my best tennis is always here,” Schwartzman said. “It was not a good clay season, but when I came the first day here, I was feeling very well again. I’m very happy to be back, very happy to be in the quarter-finals again. I’m not very happy to maybe play Rafa in the next round, but let’s see what happens this time.”

One less match was played overnight than originally scheduled due to Swiss superstar Roger Federer’s withdrawal from the event on Monday. The 20-time Grand Slam champion released a statement on Twitter to alert fans of his decision.

“After discussions with my team, I’ve decided I will need to pull out of Roland Garros today,” Federer said. “After two knee surgeries and over a year of rehabilitation, it’s important that I listen to my body and make sure I don’t push myself too quickly on my road to recovery. I am thrilled to have gotten three matches under my belt. There is no greater feeling than being back on court.”

Federer stated in the lead up to the tournament that his goal was to win on grass rather than clay, so we should have seen a decision like this coming. Although Federer’s withdrawal is a huge disappointment for tennis fans, it should mean that the 39-year-old will be fit and raring to go at Wimbledon in just over two weeks’ time.

It also means that Italian Matteo Berrettini automatically advances to the quarter-finals and will face-off against Djokovic on Wednesday night. While the Serbian has a 24-3 record for the season so far, he knows that he will have his work cut out against the world number nine.

“[He has a] big serve, big forehand – two big weapons,” Djokovic said. “He’s in form, he finished last year very strong. He started this year strong as well, beating Dominic Thiem in Australia, playing [a] really good ATP Cup. He just has so much firepower in his game. [I will] need to be at [my] best in order to have a chance to win.”

In their one previous head-to-head meeting at the 2019 Nitto ATP Finals, Djokovic defeated Berrettini 6-2 6-1.

ROLAND GARROS ROUND OF 16 RESULTS:
[1] Novak Djokovic (SRB) defeated Lorenzo Musetti (ITA) 6-7 6-7 6-1 6-0 4-0
[3] Rafael Nadal (ESP) defeated Jannik Sinner (ITA) 7-5 6-3 6-0
[10] Diego Schwartzman (ARG) defeated Jan-Lennard Struff (GER) 7-6 6-4 7-5
[9] Matteo Berrettini (ITA) defeated [8] Roger Federer (SUI) W/O

Picture credit: Philippe Montigny/FFT

ATP Tour wrap: Thiem exits first round of Roland Garros

THE opening day of Roland Garros proceedings saw plenty of significant results, although none more so than the ousting of fourth seed Austrian Dominic Thiem. Thiem looked well on his way to booking a second round entry with a two sets to love lead, before dropping the remaining sets to be taken down in five sets. The Austrian was the only Grand Slam winner in his favourable half of the draw, ultimately making him a shoe-in for making the latter rounds, however Thiem’s poor recent form continues to plague him as Pablo Andujar took full advantage to claim a huge opening round win.

“It is very special to win here in Roland-Garros, in Court Philippe-Chatrier. Such an emotional win for me, being two sets to love down against an amazing player,” Andujar said.

“In every step I took since I came back after my injury, I really tried to enjoy everything, I really tried to give everything.

“I remember 2015 was a great year for me (third round at Roland Garros).” Maybe I have less legs and I play better tennis. “But I think that’s the most important part of it, it’s the one I’m enjoying the most.”

Andujar claimed the 4-6 5-7 6-3 6-4 6-4 victory in just under four and a half minutes, hitting 46 winners for 47 unforced errors throughout the marathon encounter. While Thiem hit 20 more winners, he also piled on 14 more unforced errors. Thiem was frustrated by his performance, stating that despite practicing well for the past few months, that form is not showing on court.

“All the shots are missing power. They are not accurate enough. I’m not moving well enough, so everything in my game has some per cents missing,” Thiem said post-match.

“I don’t really know why, because since I stepped back on court it’s already been two months, and I was really practising well, super intense as well.”

While Thiem was the highest seed to fall on the opening day, he was by no means the only one, with 16th seed Grigor Dimitrov forced to retire midway through his clash with American Marcos Giron, while 19th seed Pole Hubert Hurkacz and 25th seed Brit Daniel Evans also fell, with the former downed in five by qualifier Botic Van de Zandschulp and the latter succumbing to Serbian Miomir Kecmanovic.

It was a successful day for the remaining seven seeds, as top 15 talents Stefanos TsitsipasAlexander ZverevRoberto Bautista Agut and Pablo Carreno Busta all reigned supreme, joined by the likes of Cristian GarinKaren Khachanov and Fabio Fognini in the second round.

A fourth Spaniard in Alejandro Davidovich Fokina made his way to the second round, as did a smattering of qualifiers in Henri LaaksonenMackenzie McDonald and Roman Safiullin, and wildcard Frenchman Enzo Couacaud. The remaining winners of the day included former top five talent Kei Nishikori and Argentinian Guido Pella, while both Laslo Djere and Marton Fucsovics took care of Frenchman to head into the second round.

ROLAND GARROS ROUND OF 128 RESULTS:

Pablo Andujar (ESP) defeated [4] Dominic Thiem (AUT) 4-6 5-7 6-3 6-4 6-4
[5] Stefanos Tsitsipas (GRE) defeated Jeremy Chardy (FRA) 7-6 6-3 6-1
[6] Alexander Zverev (GER) defeated [Q] Oscar Otte (GER) 3-6 3-6 6-2 6-3 6-0
[11] Roberto Bautista Agut (ESP) defeated [Q] Mario Vilella Martinez (ESP) 6-4 6-4 6-2
[12] Pablo Carreno Busta (ESP) defeated Norbert Gombos (SVK) 6-3 6-4 6-3
Marcos Giron (USA) defeated [16] Grigor Dimitrov (BUL) 2-6 4-6 7-5 3-0 RET
[Q] Botic Van de Zandschulp (NED) defeated [19] Hubert Hurkacz (POL) 6-7 6-7 6-2 6-2 6-4
[22] Cristian Garin (CHI) defeated Juan Ignacio Londero (ARG) 3-6 6-4 7-6 6-2
[23] Karen Khachanov (RUS) defeated Jiri Vesely (CZE) 6-1 6-2 6-3
Miomir Kecmanovic (SRB) defeated [25] Daniel Evans (GBR) 1-6 6-3 6-3 6-4
[27] Fabio Fognini (ITA) defeated [WC] Gregoire Barrere (FRA) 6-4 6-1 6-4
[WC] Enzo Couacaud (FRA) defeated Egor Gerasimov (BLR) 7-6 6-4 6-3
Alejandro Davidovich Fokina (ESP) defeated Mikhail Kukushkin (KAZ) 6-4 6-4 6-3
Laslo Djere (SRB) defeated Corentin Moutet (FRA) 6-3 6-7 7-6 7-5
Marton Fucsovics (HUN) defeated Gilles Simon (FRA) 6-4 6-1 7-6
[Q] Henri Laaksonen (SUI) defeated Yannick Hanfmann (GER) 6-1 6-3 4-6 6-2
[Q] Mackenzie McDonald (USA) defeated Emil Ruusuvuori (FIN) 4-6 6-3 7-6 6-3
Kei Nishikori (JPN) defeated [Q] Alessandro Giannessi (ITA) 6-4 6-7 6-3 4-6 6-4
Guido Pella (ARG) defeated [Q] Daniel Elahi Galan (COL) 6-3 7-6 7-5
[Q] Roman Safiullin (RUS) defeated [Q] Carlos Taberner (ESP) 7-6 1-6 6-0 6-2

Picture credit: Getty Images

2021 Roland Garros preview: Nadal eyes off 14th title as Barty returns to Paris

TO the delight of tennis fans all across the globe, the main draw of the much-anticipated Roland Garros is set to commence on Monday. This comes one week later than initially scheduled, as the French Tennis Federation postponed the tournament in the hope that COVID-19 restrictions would ease and more fans would be allowed to attend the event. The tournament will run from May 30 to June 13.

Up until June 8, French Open officials will allow 5,388 fans through the gates, with a maximum of 1,000 spectators on each court (excluding night sessions). From June 9, Roland Garros will make use of the European Union’s COVID-19 health pass and increase its capacity to 13,146 fans. Each stadium will allow either 65 per cent capacity or 5,000 fans, whichever comes first.

This upgrade will fall during the quarter-final stage of the tournament in both the men’s and women’s draws, a huge boost for the local fans and economy. To compare this with last year’s Roland Garros, the 2020 tournament was pushed back four months to September and crowds were limited to 1,000 patrons each day.

Both 2020 champions Rafael Nadal and Iga Swiatek will be competing in this year’s event, along with a host of big names in the tennis world. Let’s take a look at who is absent, the contenders to watch and some outside chances to keep an eye on.

THE ABSENTEES:

The most notable absentee is world number three Simona Halep, who will miss the tournament with a left calf tear. Halep, who was the 2018 French Open winner, would be one of the favourites to win this year’s title if she were able to compete.

On the men’s side, Canadian world number 14 Denis Shapovalov withdrew from the tournament with a shoulder injury that reportedly bothered him through the Geneva Open. Stan Wawrinka, the 2015 Roland Garros champion, has also pulled out with a foot injury.

Big names Nick Kyrgios and Andy Murray have chosen not to participate so they can focus on the upcoming grass court season. Wimbledon is set to commence just two weeks after the Roland Garros final.

THE LEADING CONTENDERS:

The year’s tournament is headlined once again by Nadal, who is in pursuit of a historic 21st Grand Slam title. His remarkable record at arguably the toughest Grand Slam is well-documented – 13 French Open titles, 100 wins out of 102 matches and four championship trophies without conceding a set during the tournament. One of those flawless championships where he never lost a set came in 2020, proving that Nadal is not showing signs of slowing down on his favourite surface. If the ‘King of Clay’ ends his career with the most men’s Grand Slam titles, it will be difficult for historians not to consider him the greatest men’s tennis player of all time.

His major challengers remain the two rivals challenging him for that ‘GOAT’ crown– Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer. Both players sit in Nadal’s half of the draw and, remarkably, we could be treated to a Federer v Djokovic quarter-final showdown if both champions play their part. If Nadal progresses to the semi-final, the winner of Federer v Djokovic would face him in the final four.

Djokovic is arguably a much tougher threat than Federer in this tournament, as the Serbian remains world number one and has won 16 of his 19 matches in 2021. Meanwhile, Federer has no expectations of winning and seems to have conceded defeat already. “I know I will not win the French Open, and whoever thought I would or could win it is wrong,” Federer said. “Roland Garros is not the goal, the goal is the grass.”

Two-time Roland Garros finalist Dominic Thiem is the other main contender to consider in the men’s tournament. Despite having a poor start to the season, the Austrian world number four has proven in recent years that he is capable of beating anyone when he plays his best tennis. With no Nadal or Djokovic in his half of the draw, this could be his time.

On the women’s side, defending champion Swiatek is considered the favourite given her strong start to the season. The 19-year-old has already won two titles this year – in Adelaide and Rome – and made an impressive run to the Round of 16 at the Australian Open before being knocked off by Halep. With Halep’s absence comes a huge opportunity for Swiatek to go back-to-back.

Australian Ash Barty is her main challenger, and these two women could be forced to face off in a semi-final. After missing last year’s tournament due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the world number one and 2019 French Open champion is back with the aim of regaining her crown. Her form has been the most consistent of just about any player in 2021, claiming three titles so far along with runner-up honours in Madrid. Barty’s game is reliable and well-suited to clay, so expect her to make a deep run in Paris.

Aryna Sabalenka and Naomi Osaka deserve consideration as contenders too, but for very different reasons. Sabalenka has been brilliant on clay so far this season, having defeated Barty in the Madrid final and losing to her in the Stuttgart final. The 23-year-old has never made past the fourth round of a slam, but she appears ready to fulfil her potential and could make a serious impact over the next two weeks.

On the other hand, fellow 23-year-old Osaka has already lived up to her potential in many ways, winning four Grand Slam titles over the past four years. However, all of these have taken place on hard courts, and her struggles on clay are well-documented. Osaka has never made it past the Round of 32 at Roland Garros, so it will take a major turnaround for her to contend for the championship this year. 

THE ROUGHIES:

World number two Daniil Medvedev‘s record on clay makes for rough reading, as he has fallen in the first round of Roland Garros in each of the past four years. Given Medvedev is one of the most talented players on the circuit, this record is quite difficult for him or any expert to explain. The Russian has added clay court specialist Igor Andeev to his coaching staff in an attempt to reverse these fortunes. If Medvedev gets some comfortable wins under his belt early in the tournament, then he quickly becomes a contender to watch.

Elsewhere, Stefanos Tsisitpas and Alexander Zverev are in strong form, having won recent clay court titles in Monte Carlo and Madrid respectively. They have been drawn in the same half and could meet in a semi-final, especially if Thiem and Medvedev continue their respective struggles. Norwegian 22-year-old Casper Ruud is in impressive form having made the semi-finals in Monte Carlo and Madrid, but he has drawn a difficult first-round matchup in France’s Benoit Paire. Speaking of the draw, it could open right up for Grigor Dimitrov (in Medvedev’s quarter) after he made his debut fourth-round appearance at Roland Garros last year.

If you’re looking for a dark horse to follow on the women’s side, look no further than Garbiñe Muguruza. The 2016 French Open champion has a brilliant record at the slam, making it through to (at least) the Round of 16 in six of the past seven years. The 27-year-old has the ability to beat anyone at her best and could easily make a huge impact at this year’s event. She does have a tough draw however and would likely be forced to face Swiatek in the fourth round.

It would be remiss to rule out Serena Williams, who remains just one championship away from Margaret Court’s record of 24 Grand Slam titles. Three of Williams’ titles have come at the French Open, but her form on clay in the lead up to this year’s event has been subpar. In contrast, American 17-year-old Coco Gauff‘s form in the lead up has been outstanding, winning a title in Parma and making the semi-finals in Rome. This tournament presents a huge opportunity for Gauff, who has a lethal backhand and appears to have fixed her double faulting issues. 

American Jennifer Brady will look to continue her dominant start to the season after making the 2021 Australian Open final, while experienced stars Petra Kvitova and Victoria Azarenka are capable of doing some damage in the bottom half of the draw.

FIVE ROUND 1 MATCHES TO WATCH:

[2] Daniil Medvedev (RUS) v Alexander Bublik (KAZ)

[4] Sofia Kenin (USA) v Jelana Ostapenko (LAT)

[13] Jennifer Brady (USA) v Anastasija Sevastova (LAT)

[15] Casper Ruud (NOR) v Benoit Paire (FRA)

[15] Victoria Azarenka (BLR) v Svetlana Kuznetsova (RUS)

PREDICTIONS:

Men’s champion: Rafael Nadal

Women’s champion: Ash Barty

 

Picture credit: Getty Images

ATP Tour wrap: Ruud claims second Geneva title as Norrie does double to face Tsitsipas in Lyon

CASPER Ruud has claimed his second ATP Tour title with the Geneva Open overnight, defeating fellow up-and-comer Denis Shapovalov in a tight two-set contest. The Norwegian third seed has always been stronger on clay, and he showed it against the second seed Canadian, grinding out a first set tiebreak win, before recording the only break of the match in the second set.

Ruud won 7-6 6-4 in one hour and 41 minutes to dismiss Shapovalov, not even facing a break point credit to his consistent serving. It was a a theme of the tournament for the Norwegian, and he came to play in the final. Whilst his efficiency was still down (55 per cent), he still served four aces, and most importantly only dropped 12 points on serve in 11 service games. He won 79 and 81 per cent of his first and second serve points, while Shapovalov struggled off his second serve (58 per cent), serving eight aces, but five double faults. The Canadian did save four of five break points, but could not pressure Ruud enough to create a chance for himself.

“It feels great that I’ve been playing well lately and reaching the later stages in my past tournaments,” Ruud said post-match. “It is a big confidence-booster ahead of Roland Garros… It was a close match today and it could have gone either way.”

Ruud’s consistency throughout the Geneva Open saw him drop just the one set all tournament, and the Norwegian stood up to back up his 2020 maiden title win in Buenos Aires with a second title in Geneva.

“It feels as good to win today as it did in Buenos Aires [in 2020],” Ruud said. “I was more mature this week, knowing that I won a title before. It’s something else to do it the second time, but it’s the same great winning taste and winning feeling.”

Meanwhile after rain had delayed proceedings earlier in the tournament, the Open Parc Auvergne-Rhone-Alpes Lyon (Lyon Open) finalists were decided, with second seed Stefanos Tsitsipas to face unseeded Brit Cameron Norrie tonight. The Greek claimed a come-from-behind win over Italian teenager Lorenzo Musetti, 4-6 6-3 6-0 to book a spot in the final, while Norrie was on double duty, defeating French lucky loser Arthur Rinderknech in three sets, before destroying eighth seed Russian Karen Khachanov in the late semi-final overnight.

Norrie had a battle on his hands against Rinderknecht, needing one hour and 43 minutes to dismiss the world number 125 6-3 3-6 6-3, before pounding Khachanov in just 65 minutes enroute to a 6-1 6-1 smashing which included five breaks from seven service games.

“Everything was working well: serving well, returning well, anticipating the ball well,” Norrie said post-match. “I came forward when I needed to and was aggressive with good depth. It was nice to come through like that.”

Norrie will head into the final confident having smashed top seed Dominic Thiem 6-3 6-3 earlier in the week to best prepare himself for the clash with Tsitsipas. He enjoyed the back-to-back matches overnight to keep the momentum going.

“You just come out and you’re feeling the ball good and you’re playing well, I think I used that to my advantage,” Norrie said. “I played pretty flawless and pretty clean tennis against Karen. I returned exceptionally well, especially after facing Arthur’s serve.”

GONET GENEVA OPEN FINAL RESULT:

[3] Casper Ruud (NOR) defeated [2] Denis Shapovalov (CAN) 7-6 6-4

OPEN PARC AUVERGNE-RHONE-ALPES LYON SEMI-FINALS RESULTS:

[2] Stefanos Tsitsipas (GRE) defeated Lorenzo Musetti (ITA) 4-6 6-3 6-0
Cameron Norrie (GBR) defeated [8] Karen Khachanov (RUS) 6-1 6-1

OPEN PARC AUVERGNE-RHONE-ALPES LYON QUARTER FINALS RESULTS:

Cameron Norrie (GBR) defeated [LL] Arthur Rinderknech (FRA) 6-33 3-6 6-3

 

Picture credit: Fabrice Coffrini/AFP via Getty Images

ATP Tour wrap: Norrie claims Thiem scalp as Shapovalov and Cuevas go two from two for the day

IT was another huge day on clay in both Switzerland and France as both the Geneva Open and Lyon Open played out the Round of 16, whilst Geneva also saw the quarter finals completed.

It took an impressive effort, but two from three of the Round of 16 victors at Geneva made their way through two matches in the one day to head into the semi finals. Denis Shapovalov continued his solid form, first outclassing qualifier Marco Cecchinato in a 6-7 7-5 6-1 matchup, before backing it up with a 6-4 6-4 win over fellow Round of 16 winner in Laslo Djere. Djere was also tested in his Round of 16 matchup and could not compare against a tough Shapovalov effort following an Italian three setter of his own against sixth seed Fabio Fognini, only able to claim the ‘W’ over one seed for the day.

“I definitely think I played amazing today,” Shapovalov said. “Obviously a very tough day playing two matches, but super happy to get the win and super excited to be in the semi-finals.”

Shapovalov will take on qualifier Pablo Cuevas in the semis, after the Uruguayan also won both of his matches on the day, first ending teen wildcard Arthur Cazaux‘s run with a 6-2 6-4 victory and then downing fourth seed Grigor Dimitrov 7-6 6-3.

“We’ve only played once before on hard courts and he beat me there,” Shapovalov said about Cuevas. “He’s an amazing clay-court player, so it will definitely be a tough battle ahead of me.”

The other semi-final will comprise of third seed Norwegian Casper Ruud and Spaniard Pablo Cuevas, after both players came from behind to claim three set victories over Dominik Koepfer and Dominic Stephan Stricker, respectively.

“It was a tough match. Dominik played very well in the first set, I think. He answered me with great backhands when I tried to play heavy down to his backhand corner,” Ruud said. “I think I was able to find a way today and I was happy with the way I was playing in the second and third sets.”

At Lyon, it was a different story entirely with just the Round of 16 playing and a whopping four seeds falling at the hurdle. The biggest of the lot saw Cameron Norrie claim his maiden top five victory over Dominic Thiem, with the returning Austrian unable to compete with the firing Brit in a shaky 6-3 6-2 clash.

“I’m so pleased to win today, it’s the biggest win of my career and my highest-ranked win,” Norrie said post-match. “It’s such a beautiful day in Lyon… I couldn’t be happier to get the win today and to get another match on the clay before Roland Garros.”

Norrie won a whopping 91 per cent of points off his first serve off a 73 per cent clip, showcasing just what he is capable of in the 65 minute victory.

“I’m moving well and I’ve played a lot of matches [on clay],” Norrie said. “I’m feeling good on my feet and hitting my forehand well and serving well. I’m looking forward to the next match, it’s going to be a tricky one as both those guys are great players.”

“It was a huge disappointment just now. Just also a big, I would stay, step backwards after promising tournaments in Madrid and Rome. I don’t really know why,” Thiem said. “I was preparing well here, practising well and just didn’t find any rhythm, any strokes. Don’t really know what happened.

“It’s not good for the confidence. To be honest, the way I played today, I was expecting that more to come in Madrid because I hadn’t played for so long,” Thiem said. “But now I was back in the match rhythm and actually hoping for good tennis. I don’t know what to say or what to think. That’s why I need to analyse it and just need to work hard for Roland Garros and [I am] hoping for the best there.”

Thiem is joined on the sidelines by third, fifth and sixth seeds in Diego SchwartzmanGael Monfils and Jannik Sinner, with the former and latter downed by hometown hopefuls in Richard Gasquet and Arthur Rinderknech on home soil, while Monfils was downed by Japanese left-hander Yoshihito Nishioka. The only winning seed for the day was Stefanos Tsitsipas, with the second seed Greek overcoming American Tommy Paul with ease in 75 minutes, 6-1 6-4, becoming the first player to rack up 30 wins for the season thus far in the process.

“I [took] control of the match from early on, and after that I didn’t let go,” Tsitsipas said post-match. “I had a few opportunities in the second set to go up a double break and I missed a shot that I felt like I shouldn’t have missed. But [overall] I was playing good tennis today. I was able to move him around the court and find angles, press with my forehand. It wasn’t my best day on serve, but I found solutions when things proved difficult.”

GONET GENEVA OPEN ROUND OF 16 RESULTS:

[2] Denis Shapovalov (CAN) defeated [Q] Marco Cecchinato (ITA) 6-7 7-5 6-1
Laslo Djere (SRB) defeated [6] Fabio Fognini (ITA) 6-3 6-7 6-1
[Q] Pablo Cuevas (URU) defeated [WC] Arthur Cazaux (FRA) 6-2 6-4

GONET GENEVA OPEN QUARTER FINALS RESULTS:

[2] Denis Shapovalov (CAN) defeated Laslo Djere (SRB) 6-4 6-4
[3] Casper Ruud (NOR) defeated Dominik Koepfer (GER) 2-6 6-1 6-4
[Q] Pablo Cuevas (URU) defeated [4] Grigor Dimitrov (BUL) 7-6 6-3
Pablo Andujar (ESP) defeated [WC] Dominic Stephan Stricker (SUI) 4-6 6-4 6-4

OPEN PARC AUVERGNE-RHONE-ALPES LYON ROUND OF 16 RESULTS:

Cameron Norrie (GBR) defeated [1] Dominic Thiem (AUT) 6-3 6-2
[2] Stefanos Tsitsipas (GRE) defeated Tommy Paul (USA) 6-1 6-4
Richard Gasquet (FRA) defeated [3] Diego Schwartzman (ARG) 6-3 7-5
Yoshihito Nishioka (JPN) defeated [5] Gael Monfils (FRA) 4-6 6-3 7-6
[LL] Arthur Rinderknech (FRA) defeated [6] Jannik Sinner (ITA) 6-7 6-2 7-5

Picture credit: Getty Images

ATP Tour wrap: Thiem falls as Rafa is challenged during Round of 16

ROME saw another seemingly predictable day as the Internazionali BNL d’Italia continues to roll on, with plenty of top talent taking to the clay for the Round of 16. Whilst three seeds fell, two went down to higher ranked opposition in tough clashes as Dominic Thiem was the biggest name to drop to an unseeded opposition.

Thiem’s three hour and 24-minute clash with Lorenzo Sonego had everything, as the fourth seed Austrian dropped the first set before recovering to take momentum at the perfect moment during the second. But whatever extra gear Thiem had found, Sonego brought in the third to eventually claim the 6-4 6-7(5) 7-6(5) victory.

“It’s amazing, an unbelievably emotional moment for me because I’m in Rome, in my Italy with fans for two sets,” Sonego said in his on-court interview. “I’m so happy for this victory, for this match. Thiem is with Nadal the best player on clay.”

While Thiem served for the match during the third set, the Italian built on the home crowd support throughout the first two – prior to a 22-minute delay to usher out the crowd due to a COVID-issued curfew – to snatch the victory, winning 51 per cent of points and hitting nine aces in the process.

“It’s not easy to play two sets with fans and one more set with no fans,” Sonego said. “But I had my team and they supported me always. I’m happy.”

Top two seeds Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal proceeded through to the next round, although the king of clay had a sloppy start and shaky third set that almost saw Canadian 13th seed Denis Shapovalov take out an upset.

“[It] is an important victory for me [to] be able to win matches like today, three hours and 27 [minutes], in the Barcelona final three hours and 38 [minutes], long matches,” said Nadal. “To be able to win these kinds of matches against young players gives me confidence with my body. It’s true that I have to do things better for tomorrow. But the main thing today for me is [to] recover physically.”

Shapovalov led 4-0 in the first and 3-0 in the second, before Nadal was able to switch up a gear to eventually claim the 3-6 6-4 7-6 victory.

“[This] has been a positive victory for me,” Nadal said. “I [fought] until the end a lot to be in quarter-finals. Tomorrow is a chance to play a quarter-final match. I hope to be ready to compete well.”

“These matches, you have nothing to lose… I also think I have what it takes to beat these guys,” Shapovalov later reflected. “It’s not a surprise to me. It’s just a tough loss. Of course, it’s not the first time Rafa’s done this. I’m not the first person to lose with match points. For sure, he does well with the pressure in those moments.

“Just something I have to take back and just make a couple changes. But I’m definitely happy with where my game’s at, relatively speaking, against the greatest player on this surface.”

Djokovic had it much easier over qualifier Alejandro Davidovich Fokina, sweeping the Spaniard in 70 minutes. Davidovich Fokina’s compatriot in Roberto Bautista Agut also struggled against higher ranked opposition, as the 10th seed fell 6-4 6-4 to seventh seed Russian Andrey Rublev.

In other games, fifth and sixth seeds Stefanos Tsitsipas and Alexander Zverev both continued their winning run in Rome, with the former defeating ninth seed Matteo Berrettini in front of his home crowd, and the latter tested by returning former champion Kei Nishikori before reigning supreme. The final two to round out the quarter finals are Argentinian Federico Delbonis – the only remaining qualifier left in the draw – and unseeded American, Reilly Opelka.

INTERNAZIONALI BNL D’ITALIA ROUND OF 16 RESULTS:

[1] Novak Djokovic (SRB) defeated [Q] Alejandro Davidovich Fokina (ESP) 6-2 6-1
[2] Rafael Nadal (ESP) defeated [13] Denis Shapovalov (CAN) 3-6 6-4 7-6
Lorenzo Sonego (ITA) defeated [4] Dominic Thiem (AUT) 6-4 6-7 7-6
[5] Stefanos Tsitsipas (GRE) defeated [9] Matteo Berrettini (ITA) 7-6 6-2
[6] Alexander Zverev (GER) defeated Kei Nishikori (JPN) 4-6 6-3 6-4
[7] Andrey Rublev (RUS) defeated [10] Roberto Bautista Agut (ESP) 6-4 6-4
[Q] Federico Delbonis (ARG) defeated Felix Auger-Aliassime (CAN) 7-6 6-1
Reilly Opelka (USA) defeated Aslan Karatsev (RUS) 7-6 6-4

Picture credit: Corinne Dubreuil/ATP Tour

ATP Tour wrap: Predictable day at Rome despite Medvedev fall

IT was a mostly predictable day of Round of 32 results at the Internazionali BNL d’Italia in Rome, as all bar two seeds proceeded to the third round following convincing wins. Just two were taken to three sets in a fairly comprehensive day on the clay.

Eight of the 10 seeds proceeded, as just Daniil Medvedev (third seed) and David Goffin (12th) fell to unseeded opposition. Medvedev was well and truly outclassed by his compatriot Aslan Karatsev, starting slow and unable to ever really command control of the 6-2 6-4 encounter.

“I’m super happy,” Karatsev said. “It was a really tough match. Against Medvedev you never know, he’s a big server. It’s tough to return, but I managed it well.”

Where it is usually Medvedev who hits big, it was Karatsev that claimed a 90 per cent winning rate off his first serve, converting three break points in the process to claim the one hour and 17 minute victory. For Goffin, it was an even worse result coming up against in-form qualifier Federico Delbonis, who swept the Belgian away with a 67 minute, 6-2 6-1 win. Like Karatsev, Delbonis was impressive on serve winning 82 per cent of his first serve points and rendered Goffin error-ridden to claim the match.

The two three setters of the day both saw the higher ranked of the draw reign supreme, however not by much as both Dominic Thiem and Andrey Rublev were tested in their respective encounters. For Thiem, it took a big momentum swing at 1-3 to steal back the second and claim a bagel in the third to command victory, eventually disposing of hungry Hungarian Marton Fucsovics, 3-6 7-6 6-0.

“It was such a close match, especially in the second set,” said Thiem. “I knew he’d be a super-tough opponent, particularly coming from different conditions in Madrid. I was fighting all the match and stayed in there. At the end, I got the reward for fighting. I had difficulties with my timing and my serve. I have to hurt my opponent more with my shots. I still won a great match and I will try to improve for tomorrow.”

Rublev’s matchup went far differently, with opposition Jan-Lennard Struff only marginally taking out the first set before Rublev arrested back control once more.

Remaining seeds in Rafael NadalStefanos TsitsipasAlexander ZverevMatteo BerrettiniRoberto Bautista Agut and Denis Shapovalov all continued their winning ways, as unseeded duo Alejandro Davidovich Fokina and Lorenzo Sonego joined the winners list and head to the Round of 16.

INTERNAZIONALI BNL D’ITALIA ROUND OF 32 RESULTS:

[2] Rafael Nadal (ESP) defeated Jannik Sinner (ITA) 7-5 6-4
Aslan Karatsev (RUS) defeated [3] Daniil Medvedev (RUS) 6-2 6-4
[4] Dominic Thiem (AUT) defeated Marton Fucsovics (HUN) 3-6 7-6 6-0
[5] Stefanos Tsitsipas (GRE) defeated Marin Cilic (CRO) 7-5 6-2
[6] Alexander Zverev (GER) defeated [Q] Hugo Dellien (BOL) 6-2 6-2
[7] Andrey Rublev (RUS) defeated Jan-Lennard Struff (GER) 6-7 6-1 6-4
[9] Matteo Berrettini (ITA) defeated John Millman (AUS) 6-4 6-2
[10] Roberto Bautista Agut (ESP) defeated Cristian Garin (CHI) 7-6 6-3
[Q] Federico Delbonis (ARG) defeated [12] David Goffin (BEL) 6-2 6-1
[13] Denis Shapovalov (CAN) defeated [WC] Stefano Travaglia (ITA) 7-6 6-3
[Q] Alejandro Davidovich Fokina (ESP) defeated [Q] Cameron Norrie (GBR) 6-2 6-3
Lorenzo Sonego (ITA) defeated [WC] Gianluca Mager (ITA) 6-4 6-4

Picture credit: Corinne Dubreuil/ATP Tour

Zverev wins second Madrid trophy in style

ALEXANDER Zverev has come from behind to down opponent Matteo Berrettini in the 2021 Mutua Madrid Open final yesterday, claiming his fourth ATP Masters 1000 trophy. The German fifth seed dropped the opening set in a tiebreaker after holding a set point, came out with vigour after that to win 6-7 6-4 6-3.

It was the Italian eighth seed’s first ever ATP Masters 1000 final, and whilst he started strongly and held his nerve in the opening tiebreaker, he could not halt the rampaging Zverev, who knocked off the two best clay courters in the world, in Rafael Nadal and Dominic Thiem back-to-back at the tournament. It was also Zverev’s third straight Top 10 win, and became the first time Zverev has won consecutive matches at three straight tournaments.

“It is great [to win this title], especially after losing my last three finals I played at Masters 1000 events,” Zverev said post-match. “This is definitely special and I just want to enjoy this one.”

It also marked the second Madrid title he has won after taking out the trophy in 2018, defeating Thiem in the final. He has a 15-2 record at the tournament, having competed in four events, and is his most successful ATP Masters tournaments. Despite Berrettini’s best efforts on serve – producing seven aces to Zverev’s five – and claiming the first set 10-8 in the tiebreaker after facing a set point, it would not be enough as Zverev broke the eighth seed four times to one throughout the contest.

“[Matteo’s] game style showed it all,” Zverev said. “I didn’t play anybody this week that can serve 235[km/h] on clay and serve 230km/h kick serves. It definitely was a different match and I am extremely happy right now.”

Berrettini won 72 per cent of his first serve points off a 67 per cent clip, but was eventually eclipsed by the German, who won 76 per cent at 69 per cent efficiency. Overall the points were fairly even, with Zverev winning 52 per cent of them, but won 37 per cent of his return points to Berrettini’s 31 per cent.

Both players will head to Rome to compete in another ATP Masters 1000 event, where the sixth seeded Zverev will face the winner of either Frenchman Adrian Mannarino, or Bolivian qualifier Hugo Dellien in the Round of 32. Berrettini is seeded ninth at the event, meaning he has to take on Georgian Nikoloz Basilashvili in the Round of 64, before a second round clash with the winner of Australia’s John Millman or Serbian Dusan Lajovic.

MADRID MASTERS FINAL RESULT:

[5] Alexander Zverev (GER) defeated [8] Matteo Berrettini (ITA) 6-7 6-4 6-3

 

Picture credit: ATP Tour

ATP Tour wrap: Berrettini books Zverev clash in Madrid final

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

MADRID MASTERS 1000 SEMI-FINALS RESULTS:

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

Picture credit: Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

MADRID MASTERS 1000 RESULTS:

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

Picture credit: ATP Tour