Tag: Fabio Fognini

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: Thiem makes winning return

THE third day of the Madrid Open saw three seeds win as Dominic Thiem made his return to the court, while a couple of players continued impressive runs on the clay.

A close to two-month break from the competitive aspect of the game was not enough to sway Dominic Thiem from a dominant 6-1 6-3 defeat of qualifier Marcos Giron, flying out of the blocks and citing his extended break, stretching from mid-March, for the form he brought to the court to win in 57 minutes flat.

“For my game, I need 100 per cent intensity and 100 per cent energy. I’m not the guy who can serve through a match or who can play with a little bit of intensity and still win. I’m just not that type of guy,” Thiem said.

“[It was] better to come back when it’s possible again to play with that 100 per cent in every aspect of my game.”

Thiem hit five aces and won off a whopping 81 per cent of his first serve points – off an 80 per cent clip – in a virtually flawless effort. The Austrian also converted four break points and won 47 per cent of points on return in a seamless performance. He will take on unseeded Alex De Minaur in the Round of 16, following the Australian’s default victory 6-2 3-0 over South African, Lloyd Harris, who retired midway through the second set.

Thiem is also joined in the third round by sixth and eighth seeds Andrey Rublev and Matteo Berrettini, who both claimed wins over unseeded opposition. Berrettini disposed of compatriot Fabio Fognini with relative ease in a 6-3 6-4, 81-minute clash, and while Fognini was by no means wasteful with the ball, he just could not compete with Berrettini’s 85 per cent winning rate off his first serve off a 74 per cent clip. Fognini was well within his chances but failed to capitalise off his second serve at just a 37 per cent winning rate, compared to Berrettini’s 64 per cent.

Rublev did not have it quite as easy in his Madrid debut and third encounter with American Tommy Paul, dropping the first set tiebreaker 7-6(5) before working his way back into it to claim the 6-7 6-3 6-4 victory in two hours and 19 minutes. While Paul hit seven aces and impressed on serve, he was inefficient on return as Rublev won 70 per cent of his first serve points and saved five of eight break points, converting five in the process.

“It’s important to win when you’re not [playing] your [best] game and things are not going well,” Rublev said post-match. “So it’s really important to win this match to have more confidence. I’m happy that I turned it around.”

The remaining winner of the day was Alexander Bublik, as the Kazakh upset 11th seed Denis Shapovalov. He required two hours and 20 minutes to get past the Canadian, eventually claiming the 6-4 6-7 6-4 victory credit to his ability to win off Shapovalov’s 40 unforced errors, including a whopping 14 double faults for six aces. Comparatively, Bublik hit 10 aces and seven double faults – only marginally better, but making up the difference to win 66 per cent of his service points and take out the win.

MUTUA MADRID OPEN ROUND OF 32 RESULTS: 

[3] Dominic Thiem (AUT) defeated [Q] Marcos Giron (USA) 6-1 6-3
[6] Andrey Rublev (RUS) defeated Tommy Paul (USA) 6-7-6-3 6-4
[8] Matteo Berrettini (ITA) defeated Fabio Fognini (ITA) 6-3 6-4
Alexander Bublik (KAZ) defeated [11] Denis Shapovalov (CAN) 6-4 6-7 6-4
Alex De Minaur (AUS) defeated Lloyd Harris (RSA) 6-2 3-0 RET

Picture credit: Corinne Dubreuil/ATP

ATP Tour wrap: Two of three seeds fall on second day at Madrid

TWO seeds fell on the official second day of competition at the 2021 ATP Mutua Madrid Open in Spain, whilst a couple of qualifiers and a young gun wildcard also proceeded through to the second round.

It was qualifier Argentinian Federico Delbonis that overcame 10th seed Pablo Carreno Busta on home soil, dropping the first set to the Spaniard before biting back in the second and retaining control from there on out. The two hour encounter saw Delbonis marginally lead for efficiency on his first and second serve winning rates despite Carreno Busta being cleaner on serve, resulting in the 3-6 6-4 6-3 finish. Meanwhile, South African Lloyd Harris out-hit Grigor Dimitrov, piling on 12 aces to three in the two and a half hour, 6-3 3-6 7-6 contest. The two players could not be split throughout, with the third set tiebreaker showcasing just how tight the matchup was, as both players completed the match winning the same amount of points throughout (104).

The only seed to win on the day was 16th seed Cristian Garin, who ousted a second Spaniard in Fernando Verdasco, while qualifiers Carlos Taberner and Pablo Andujar also fell on home soil, taken down by Italian Fabio Fognini and American Marcos Giron, respectively.

It was not all bad news for Spaniards though, as young gun Carlos Alcaraz proceeds to the second round after disposing of Frenchman Adrian Mannarino in straight sets, 6-4 6-0, to set up a clash with compatriot and clay champion Rafael Nadal in the Round of 32.

“I started the match a little bit nervous,” Alcaraz said. “I tried to play aggressive to get the nerves out and tried to enjoy playing here, in front of a big crowd in Madrid.”

“For me, [to] play against Rafa is a dream come true,” Alcaraz said. “Since I was a kid, I wished to play a match against Rafa and now I will be able to here [on] the Centre Court of La Caja Magica in Madrid. It is a really special match against Rafa.”

Still only 17-years-old – until next week – Alcaraz pulled off 19 forehand winners against Mannarino, and won an impressive 81 per cent of his first serve points to claim victory.

The remaining four matches saw two more French competitors fall to join Mannarino on the sideline, as Dubai champion Aslan Karatsev pulled off a 7-5 6-4 victory over Ugo Humbert while Daniel Evans overcame a fighting Jeremy Chardy in a two hour and 46-minute classic, 7-6 6-7 6-2, piling on 13 aces for one double fault in the process, compared to Chardy’s four for six. The remaining two matches went the way of John Isner and Dominik Koepfer, with plenty of intriguing matchups coming in the coming days.

MUTUA MADRID OPEN ROUND OF 64 RESULTS:

[Q] Federico Delbonis (ARG) defeated [10] Pablo Carreno Busta (ESP) 3-6 6-4 6-3
Lloyd Harris (RSA) defeated [13] Grigor Dimitrov (HUN) 6-3 3-6 7-6
[16] Cristian Garin (CHI) defeated [WC] Fernando Verdasco (ESP) 6-1 6-4
Daniel Evans (GBR) defeated Jeremy Chardy (FRA) 7-6 6-7 6-2
Fabio Fognini (ITA) defeated [Q] Carlos Taberner (ESP) 7-6 2-6 6-3
John Isner (USA) defeated Miomir Kecmanovic (SRB) 6-4 7-6
Aslan Karatsev (RUS) defeated Ugo Humbert (FRA) 7-5 6-4
Dominik Koepfer (GER) defeated Reilly Opelka (USA) 6-4 6-4
[WC] Carlos Alcaraz (ESP) defeated Adrian Mannarino (FRA) 6-4 6-0
[Q] Marcos Giron (USA) defeated [Q] Pablo Andujar (ESP) 6-7 7-6 7-5

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

BARCELONA OPEN ROUND OF 32 RESULTS:

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

SERBIA OPEN ROUND OF 16 RESULTS:

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

Picture credit: Josep Lago/AFP via Getty Images

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

MONTE CARLO MASTERS QUARTER FINALS RESULTS:

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

ATP Tour wrap: Evans stuns Djoker in Monte Carlos madness

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

MONTE CARLO MASTERS ROUND OF 16 RESULTS:

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

Picture credit: ATP Tour

ATP Tour wrap: Beltings galore as top seeds return at Monte Carlo Masters

TOP seeds and clay court specialists made their way through to the third round of the 2021 Monte Carlo Masters event, with a massively one-sided day of results. As the 14 remaining matches in the second round were completed, just one of those – Frenchman’s Lucas Pouille‘s victory over Australian Alexei Popyrin – went went to three sets. Pouille won 7-5 2-6 6-3 in by far the closest match of the day, in an overall event that was highly one-sided.

The only other straight sets match that at least looked like the eventual loser might take a set, was 14th seed Bulgarian Grigor Dimitrov‘s hard fought win over Frenchman Jeremy Chardy, 7-6 6-4. The remaining head-to-heads did not get beyond 10 games in a set, with the King of Clay, Rafael Nadal returning to wipe the court with Argentinian qualifier Federico Delbonis, whilst top seed Novak Djokovic reminded everyone what he was capable of, dismissing Italian young gun Jannik Sinner in straight sets 6-4 6-2, on his return from injury since claiming his ninth Australian Open title.

“It was solid match,” Nadal said post-match. “Of course, a very positive result. He’s a good player on clay… Nothing unbelievable, but nothing wrong. “Just a solid match, a positive start. “I think I did what I had to do today.”

Other top six seeds that advanced were fifth seed Alexander Zverev and sixth seed Andrey Rublev, who knocked out a couple more Italians in Lorenzo Sonego and Salvatore Caruso. It was a forgettable round for the European nation, as Belgian David Goffin defeated Italian qualifier Marco Cecchinato 6-4 6-0, with the quartet joining Matteo Berrettini – who lost to Alejandro Davidovich Fokina the day before – as omissions from the tournament. There was one more upset in the top eight seeds though, with clay court specialist Casper Ruud getting up over seventh seed Diego Schwartzman. The Norwegian won 6-3 6-3 to advance through to the third round.

The only other seed to fall on the day was 13th seed Hubert Hurkacz, who despite good form of late, went down to Brit Daniel Evans rather comfortably, 6-4 6-1. The sole Italian to win on the day and through to the Round of 16 was Fabio Fognini, with the 15th seed winning 6-3 6-3 against Australian Jordan Thompson. The Aussie was one of three Australians to fall in the second round, leaving none alive in the tournament, as John Millman suffered a 6-1 6-4 defeat at the hands of clay courter and 16th seed Cristian Garin, whilst qualifier Popyrin lost in that three-set match to Pouille.

In other results, Spanish seeded duo Roberto Bautista Agut and Pablo Carreno Busta joined Nadal in the next round with straight sets wins over American Tommy Paul and Russian Karen Khachanov, whilst Serbian Filip Krajinovic cruised through with a dominant 6-0 6-3 triumph over Argentinian lucky loser Juan Ignacio Londero. To recap yesterday’s Round of 32 results, Davidovich Fokina and Greece’s Stefanos Tsitsipas both won to round out the final 16 players in the Monte Carlo Masters third round.

MONTE CARLO MASTERS ROUND OF 32 RESULTS:

[1] Novak Djokovic (SRB) defeated Jannik Sinner (ITA) 6-4 6-2
[3] Rafael Nadal (ESP) defeated [Q] Federico Delbonis (ARG) 6-1 6-2
[5] Alexander Zverev (GER) defeated Lorenzo Sonego (ITA) 6-3 6-3
[6] Andrey Rublev (RUS) defeated [Q] Salvatore Caruso (ITA) 6-3 6-2
Casper Ruud (NOR) defeated [7] Diego Schwartzman (ARG) 6-3 6-3
[9] Roberto Bautista Agut (ESP) defeated Tommy Paul (USA) 6-3 6-4
[11] David Goffin (BEL) defeated [Q] Marco Cecchinato (ITA) 6-4 6-0
[12] Pablo Carreno Busta (ESP) defeated Karen Khachanov (RUS) 6-2 6-3
Daniel Evans (GBR) defeated [13] Hubert Hurkacz (POL) 6-4 6-1
[14] Grigor Dimitrov (BUL) defeated Jeremy Chardy (FRA) 7-6 6-4
[15] Fabio Fognini (ITA) defeated Jordan Thompson (AUS) 6-3 6-3
[16] Cristian Garin (CHI) defeated John Millman (AUS) 6-1 6-4
Filip Krajinovic (SRB) defeated [LL] Juan Ignacio Londero (ARG) 6-0 6-3
[WC] Lucas Pouille (FRA) defeated [Q] Alexei Popyrin (AUS) 75- 2-6 6-3

ATP Tour wrap: Popyrin’s stunning turnaround confirms second round spot

AUSTRALIAN young gun Alexei Popyrin has produced a stunning comeback after dropping the first set to love, to book a second round spot in the 2021 Monte Carlo Masters 1000 event. Popyrin fell 6-0 down against Spaniard Pablo Andujar, then somehow managed to pick himself off the canvas to post a 0-6 6-2 7-6 victory in one hour and 58 minutes.

Popyrin served seven aces for five double faults, a far better ratio than his opponent, though Andujar was much more efficient with his serve, producing a 65 per cent efficiency to the Australian’s 47 per cent. Popyrin also won 71 per cent of his first serve points compared to Andujar’s 66 per cent. Neither player was particularly dominant on their second serve, with Popyrin taking 56 per cent of the points off Andujar, while the Spaniard won 48 per cent of Popyrin’s second serve. In the end just four points separated the players as Popyrin won 91 to 87 in the match.

The Australian – who had to come through qualifying – moved to a 12-4 record this season, and won his 14th tiebreaker from 17 chances, a remarkable amount of tiebreakers in just 15 matches – greater than one per match. His maiden title in Singapore has seen him get on the board on the ATP Tour, but he also has four Top 50 victories to his name, and will now take on French wildcard Lucas Pouille in the second round. Popyrin has an open draw into the the quarter finals if he is good enough, following Alejandro Davidovich Fokina‘s upset of Matteo Berrettini.

Davidovich Fokina defeated the eighth seed Italian 7-5 6-3 in their clash, to book a spot in the third round and await the winner of Popyrin and Pouille. The pair met at the Australian Open third round last year, with the Frenchman winning an absolute classic in five sets, 7-6 6-3 6-7 4-6 6-3 after the Australian came from two sets down to force a fifth set, including holding his nerve in the third set to win the tiebreaker 12-10.

Davidovich Fokina was pleased with his upset of Berrettini to advance and have a rest before his next match, and noted he was aware that the Italian rising talent was returning from injury.

“I’m very happy with this win. I’m very excited to defeat a Top 10 player,” Davidovich Fokina said post-match. “Last year I faced a couple of Top 10 players and I came close, but I couldn’t close them out. “But here I am improving every day, I’m playing better and better. “I also knew that Matteo was coming back from an injury and he wouldn’t have a lot of rhythm. I was able to take advantage of that today.”

The other Round of 32 match saw fourth seed Stefanos Tsitsipas advance with a straight sets win over the dangerous Aslan Karatsev, 6-3 6-4. The Greek star will now await the winner of 16th seed clay court specialist Cristian Garin and Australian John Millman. In other results, the seeds all advanced with Spanish duo Roberto Bautista Agut and Pablo Carreno Busta, Pole Hubert Hurkacz, Bulgarian Grigor Dimitrov and Italian Fabio Fognini all joining Garin – who knocked off Canadian young gun Felix Auger-Aliassime – in the second round.

Norwegian Casper Ruud set up a tantalising clash with fellow clay courter Diego Schwartzman, as Argentinian qualifier Federico Delbonis advanced past Adrian Mannarino to have the tough job of matching Rafael Nadal on the clay. Italian teenager Jannik Sinner got past Albert Ramos-Vinolas 6-3 6-4 and now faces top seed Novak Djokovic in the Serbian’s first match since his Australian Open triumph. It was not a great day for the Serbians overall, with Miomir Kecmanovic, Dusan Lajovic and Laslo Djere all knocked out in the first round, and Filip Krajinovic advancing thanks to a retirement from Georgian Nikoloz Basilashvili. Other winners were Great Britain’s Daniel Evans, France’s Jeremy Chardy, Russia’s Karen Khachanov and a trio of Italians in Lorenzo Sonego, and qualifiers Marco Cecchinato and Salvatore Caruso.

MONTE CARLO MASTERS ROUND OF 32 RESULTS:

[4] Stefanos Tsitsipas (GRE) defeated Aslan Karatsev (RUS) 6-3 6-4
Alejandro Davidovich Fokina (ESP) defeated [8] Matteo Berrettini (ITA) 7-5 6-3

MONTE CARLO MASTERS ROUND OF 64 RESULTS:

[9] Roberto Bautista Agut (ESP) defeated Taylor Fritz (USA) 6-2 7-5
[12] Pablo Carreno Busta (ESP) defeated [Q] Stefano Travaglia (ITA) 7-5 7-6
[13] Hubert Hurkacz (POL) defeated [Q] Thomas Fabbiano (ITA) 6-3 3-6 6-3
[14] Grigor Dimitrov (BUL) defeated Jan-Lennard Struff (GER) 6-3 6-4
[15] Fabio Fognini (ITA) defeated Miomir Kecmanovic (SRB) 6-2 7-5
[16] Cristian Garin (CHI) defeated Felix Auger-Aliassime (CAN) 7-6 6-1
Jannik Sinner (ITA) defeated Albert Ramos-Vinolas (ESP) 6-3 6-4
Daniel Evans (GBR) defeated Dusan Lajovic (SRB) 6-3 6-7 6-2
[WC] Lucas Pouille (FRA) defeated Guido Pella (ARG) 6-3 6-4
Karen Khachanov (RUS) defeated Laslo Djere (SRB) 6-4 6-1
[Q] Marco Cecchinato (ITA) defeated [Q] Dominik Koepfer (GER) 6-4 6-3
[Q] Salvatore Caruso (ITA) defeated [WC] Lucas Catarina (POL) 6-7 7-6 6-3
Casper Ruud (NOR) defeated [WC] Holger Vitus Nodskov Rune (DEN) 6-2 6-1
Lorenzo Sonego (ITA) defeated Marton Fucsovics (HUN) 6-3 6-4
[Q] Federico Delbonis (ARG) defeated Adrian Mannarino (FRA) 7-5 6-1
Jeremy Chardy (FRA) defeated Alexander Bublik (KAZ) 6-4 0-6 7-5
[Q] Alexei Popyrin (AUS) defeated Pablo Andujar (ESP) 0-6 6-2 7-6
Filip Krajinovic (SRB) defeated Nikoloz Basilashvili (GEO) 6-1 2-0

ATP Tour wrap: Future of Spanish tennis on display in Marbella

THERE was a changing of the guard in Marbella for the Andalucia Open, with two of the brightest young Spaniards toppling experienced opponents in terrific wins to book their spots in the quarter finals of the ATP 250 event. While 23-year-old Jaume Munar has been threatening to make his move up the ATP Rankings for some time, it is 17-year-old Carlos Alcaraz who is starting to find his groove on the senior Tour after a dominant Challenger ITF circuit last year.

Touted as one of the next big things in Spanish tennis, Alcaraz only has the nine main draw ATP Tour matches to-date, with a 4-5 record and a career-high 127th in the world. He will surpass that effort by the end of the tournament, and will eye off a spot in the Top 100 in the coming weeks. Heading into the clay court season, Alcaraz has only played two previous matches on the surface at ATP Tour level, winning one of them, but has exclusively played on clay through the Challenger Tour, and predominantly on the ITF Tour.

The teenager has a winning record of 28-11 on the Challenger Tour, with all those wins coming on clay, which included three titles and a 73.7 per cent winning record on the surface. He also has nerves of steel, winning 14 of 17 tiebreakers at 82.4 per cent. On the ITF Tour, he has won three titles – two on clay with a 19-4 record and one on hard court with a 8-1 record – and also successfully won six of eight matches in tiebreaks.

In short, Alcaraz should be put into the Davis Cup side, and he showed it by overcoming veteran compatriot Feliciano Lopez in a come-from-behind win, 4-6 6-2 6-4. It stands as the second best win of 2021, after he toppled David Goffin in straight sets back in Melbourne in January, 6-3 6-3. Twelve months ago, Alcaraz also accounted for compatriot Albert Ramos-Vinolas in three tight sets, showing he can knock off higher ranked talents between him and representing his country.

For Munar, he is inside the Top 100 at 95th, but still some way off his career high of 52nd back in May, 2019 where he looked to be primed to crack the Top 50. He has a 33-51 record on the ATP Tour, but a 1-8 record against the Top 10 players. His Round of 16 win over Fabio Fognini will help with that confidence, but the issue is his matchplay on surfaces other than clay.

The 23-year-old has won eight of 23 matches on either hard or grass – yet to win an ATP Tour match on grass – with a 25-28 record on clay. He has graduated the Challenger Tour with five titles on clay and one on hard, though runs at just under 50 per cent on the latter surface. On the ITF Tour, he has won six titles, all on clay, meaning 11 of his 12 overall titles are on the red dirt surface.

Now Munar will come up against Belarusian Ilya Ivashka in the last eight, whilst Alcaraz will face clay specialist and third seed Casper Ruud in another quarter final. Ruud took care of Italian Gianluca Mager in straight sets, while Ivashka dominated fifth seed Spaniard Alejandro Davidovich Fokina in their Round of 16 match. The other quarter finals are top seed Pablo Carreno Busta up against seventh seed Soonwoo Kwon, and fourth seed Ramos-Vinolas taking on Slovakian Norbert Gombos.

Over in Italy, it was a similar story for the up-and-coming Italians, with teenage star Lorenzo Musetti taking care of top seed Daniel Evans in an absolute thriller. Musetti won 6-1 1-6 7-6, cruising early before the Brit hit back, and it led to an unbelievable final set tiebreaker that went 18 points until Musetti claimed it, 10-8. Third seed Lorenzo Sonego also made his way through to the quarter finals with a 6-4 6-1 win over Gilles Simon, while Yannick Hanfmann spoiled the party for another Italian in Marco Cecchinato, and Serbian Laslo Djere took care of sixth seed Australian John Millman.

Musetti will now take on Djere, and Hanfmann battle Sonego, whilst second seed Taylor Fritz locks horns with Slovenian Aljaz Bedene, and the fourth and fifth seeds in Nikoloz Basilashvili and Jan-Lennard Struff will do battle in the other quarter finals.

ANDALUCIA OPEN ROUND OF 16 RESULTS:

Jaume Munar (ESP) defeated [2] Fabio Fognini (ITA) 6-2 6-1
[3] Casper Ruud (NOR) defeated Gianluca Mager (ITA) 6-3 6-2
Ilya Ivashka (BLR) defeated [5] Alejandro Davidovich Fokina (ESP) 6-1 6-3
[WC] Carlos Alcaraz (ESP) defeated [6] Feliciano Lopez (ESP) 4-6 6-2 6-4

SARDEGNA OPEN ROUND OF 16 RESULTS:

Lorenzo Mussetti (ITA) defeated [1] Daniel Evans (GBR) 6-1 1-6 7-6
[3] Lorenzo Sonego (ITA) defeated Gilles Simon (FRA) 6-4 6-1
Laslo Djere (SRB) defeated [6] John Millman (AUS) 6-3 6-3
Yannick Hanfmann (GER) defeated Marco Cecchinato (ITA) 7-5 6-1

Picture credit: ATP Tour

ATP Miami Open 1000: Tsitsipas and Nishikori set for third round blockbuster

WORLD number five Stefanos Tsitsipas and former world number four Kei Nishikori have collected important wins at the Miami Open this morning to set up a blockbuster third round clash between the pair for Tuesday. Tsitsipas breezed past Damir Dzumhur 6-1 6-4 and became just the third ATP player to claim 15 victories in the 2021 season so far. Meanwhile, Nishikori had it much tougher against Aljaz Bedene, winning 7-6 5-7 6-4 in two hours and 50 minutes. The Japanese star won 73 per cent of points on first serve and won 67 per cent of points on Bedene’s second serve. Bedene has had a tough fortnight against Nishikori, as he was also defeated by the 2014 US Open finalist at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships last week.

Tsitsipas was happy with his performance, particularly given that he had lost three of his four previous clashes against Dzumhur. “It was a great match, especially against a guy that I probably don’t have a good record playing against in the past,” Tsitsipas said post-match. “I started the match very strong, breaking him twice and taking a big lead in the score, and I think the things worked out by themselves after that.”

Tsitsipas will attempt to defeat Nishikori for the first time in the third round, as Nishikori was victorious in their one previous matchup (in 2018) 6-3 6-3. With this in mind, Tsitsipas knows that he has his work cut out for him. “[Kei is] a player that has played very well in the past, and even now he can raise his level really high,” Tsitsipas said. “I’ll try and be ready for the battle… It’s important for me to have matches against strong opponents like him. I am very pumped for the match and I’m going to try and put my best performance out there. I’m going to try and take it game by game… It’s a strong third round, I won’t hide it. It’s important for me to be ready for that match and be physically prepared.”

In other results, Australians Alex de Minaur, Thanasi Kokkinakis and Jordan Thompson bowed out in their respective matches, and tenth seed Fabio Fognini was shocked by American Sebastian Korda 1-6 6-4 6-2. Former US Open champion Marin Cilic was a big winner, as he saved 11 break points in his 3-6 7-5 7-6 defeat of 13th seed Cristian Garin. Consistent performers Andrey Rublev, Diego Schwartzman and Milos Raonic all cruised through their matches in straight sets.

ATP MIAMI OPEN 1000 ROUND OF 64 RESULTS:

[2] Stefanos Tsitsipas (GRE) defeated Damir Dzumhur (BIH) 6-1 6-4
[4] Andrey Rublev (RUS) defeated Tennys Sandgren (USA) 6-1 6-2
[5] Diego Schwartzman (ARG) defeated Yasutaka Uchiyama (JPN) 6-3 6-3
[6] Denis Shapovalov (CAN) defeated Ilya Ivashka (BLR) 6-7 6-4 6-4
Sebastian Korda (USA) defeated [10] Fabio Fognini (ITA) 1-6 6-4 6-2
[12] Milos Raonic (CAN) defeated Jordan Thompson (AUS) 6-2 6-1
Marin Cilic (CRO) defeated [13] Cristian Garin (CHI) 3-6 7-5 7-6
Daniel Elahi Galan (COL) defeated [15] Alex de Minaur (AUS) 4-6 6-3 6-4
[17] Aslan Karatsev (RUS) defeated Mikhail Kukushkin (KAS) 6-4 6-3
[20] Ugo Humbert (FRA) defeated Joao Sousa (POR) 6-1 6-4
Lorenzo Musetti (ITA) defeated [23] Benoit Paire (FRA) 6-3 6-3
[24] Lorenzo Sonego (ITA) defeated [Q] Bjorn Fratangelo (USA) 6-4 7-6
[25] Adrian Mannarino (FRA) defeated Miomir Kecmanovic (SRB) 6-3 6-4
[26] Hubert Hurkacz (POL) defeated Denis Kudla (USA) 7-6 6-4
[28] Kei Nishikori (JPN) defeated Aljaz Bedene (SLO) 7-6 5-7 6-4
[29] Marton Fucsovics defeated Thanasi Kokkinakis (AUS) 7-6 6-7 6-4

Picture credit: Mike Lawrence/ATP Tour