Tag: Filip Krajinovic

ATP Tour wrap: Garin fights back from two sets down and two match points in epic day of Roland Garros action

A WHOPPING 11 of the 16 Round of 64 Roland Garros ATP matches required at least four sets, in an epic day of action in Paris. Six matches went the full five sets, with an additional five going to four and only the five straight sets results. Of those straight sets results, three of the five involved at least one tiebreaker, and the most one-sided result still involved the loser winning between two and four games a set. Throw in a couple of big upsets and the day was perfect for spectators to expect the unexpected.

Cristian Garin was just about ready to pack his bags and depart from Paris when he was two sets to love down and faced two match points in the third set tiebreaker against American qualifier Mackenzie McDonald. The American set up match points at 6-5 and 7-6, before Garin came back to win the last three points of the set and secure the tiebreaker, then posted a 6-3 in the in fourth to level the match. The players went toe-for-toe in the fifth set, with the players going beyond the regulation games for Garin to need to break in the 14th game and secure the five set win, 4-6 4-6 7-6 6-3 8-6. The clay court specialist hit 71 winners to 56, and won 69 to 55 per cent net points, as well as only three more unforced errors (59-53), In what was truly an epic, 354 points were played in four hours and 14 minutes on court.

The biggest upset of the day went to Swiss talent Henri Laaksonen, with the qualifier upstanding the usually consistent 11th seed Spaniard Roberto Bautista Agut. Laaksonen started strong to win the first set, and whilst Bautista strongly won the second to look like he was going to build all the momentum, Laaksonen found another gear to win in two hours and 21 minutes, 6-3 2-6 6-3 6-2. The Swiss player hit a massive 53 winners to 17, and whilst he also had 18 more unforced errors (43-25), won 42 per cent of his receiving points to Bautista Agut’s 35 per cent, and won 57 per cent of his second serve points – and 74 per cent of his first serve points – to be incredibly hard to move on serve.

The other big upset of sorts was Japan’s Kei Nishikori who fought back from a two sets to one deficit to post an epic win over 23rd seed Russian Karen Khachanov. The 2014 US Open finalist and former Top 5 player showed he still has the potential to match it with the world’s best, winning 4-6 6-2 2-6 6-4 6-4 in three hours and 59 minutes. Nishikori hit 57 winners to 43 and still had three less unforced errors (56-59), with the Japanese talent breaking five times from 19 chances, one more than Khachanov’s four from 12 in a proving break to end the match. Nishikori said he was thrilled with taking down a quality talent in Khachanov.

“Yeah, that part I’m really happy with,” he said post-match. “Comparing the end of the last year with this tournament, I’m playing much better this year and fighting for two four-hour match. I don’t think I could do that last year. “My level was pretty high. “Even though I’m not having great result, I think the Europe season was good for me: Madrid and Rome. I only lost to top-10 players. “You can say I’m not beating Top 10 players right now, but I think things are getting much better for me. “I think I’m on the way to Top 10 again. “Yeah, I’m really enjoying this moment.”

In terms of comebacks, Laslo Djere had to come from the clouds to fend off Serbian compatriot Miomir Kecmanovic, winning 4-6 4-6 6-3 6-2 6-3 after being two sets down in three hours and 31 minutes. Djere powered on after dropping the first two sets, and whilst he hit 12 more unforced errors (56-44), hit a whopping 65 winners to 31 in the impressive performance. The other five-set results were Spaniard Alejandro Davidovich Fokina‘s win over Dutch qualifider Botic Van de Zandschulp, 6-4 6-4 5-7 2-6 6-4 to steady in the fifth to avoid a complete disaster, as well as American Steve Johnson‘s three-hour and 49-minute 6-4 6-7 7-6 3-6 6-3 victory over Brazilian Thiago Monteiro to advance to the third round. Argentinian Federico Delbonis also won in an epic against Spaniard Pablo Andujar, 4-6 6-1 3-6 6-3 6-3.

In more simple results, second seed Daniil Medvedev, 12th seed Pablo Carreno Busta and 32nd seed Reilly Opelka advanced through to the third round after dropping a set but posting four-set wins. It was much easier going for fifth seed Stefanos Tsitsipas, sixth seed Alexander Zverev – who was pushed all the way in the first round – 15th seed Casper Ruud, 27th seed Fabio Fognini and 31st seed John Isner who claimed Round of 64 wins in straight sets. Of the other unseeded remaining clash, American Marcos Giron knocked off Argentinian Guido Pella 7-6 6-1 6-7 6-4.

ROLAND GARROS ROUND OF 64 RESULTS:

[2] Daniil Medvedev (RUS) defeated Tommy Paul (USA) 3-6 6-1 6-4 6-3
[5] Stefanos Tsitsipas (GRE) defeated Pedro Martinez (ESP) 6-3 6-4 6-3
[6] Alexander Zverev (GER) defeated [Q] Roman Safiullin (RUS) 7-6 6-3 7-6
[Q] Henri Laaksonen (SUI) defeated [11] Roberto Bautista Agut (ESP) 6-3 2-6 6-3 6-2
[12] Pablo Carreno Busta (ESP) defeated [WC] Enzo Coacaud (FRA) 2-6 6-3 6-4 6-4
[15] Casper Ruud (NOR) defeated [PR] Kamil Majchrzak (POL) 6-3 6-2 6-4
[22] Cristian Garin (CHI) defeated [Q] Mackenzie McDonald (USA) 4-6 4-6 7-6 6-3 8-6
Kei Nishikori (JPN) defeated [23] Karen Khachanov (RUS) 4-6 6-2 2-6 6-4 6-4
[27] Fabio Fognini (ITA) defeated Marton Fucsovics (HUN) 7-6 6-1 6-2
[31] John Isner (USA) defeated Filip Krajinovic (SRB) 7-6 6-1 6-2
[32] Reilly Opelka (USA) defeated Jaume Munar (ESP) 6-3 6-2 3-6 7-5
Alejandro Davidovich Fokina (ESP) defeated [Q] Botic Van de Zandschulp (NED) 6-4 6-4 5-7 2-6 6-4
Federico Delbonis (ARG) defeated Pablo Andujar (ESP) 4-6 6-1 3-6 6-3 6-2
Laslo Djere (SRB) defeated Miomir Kecmanovic (SRB) 4-6 4-6 6-3 6-2 6-3
Marcos Giron (USA) defeated Guido Pella (ARG) 7-6 6-1 6-7 6-4
Steve Johnson (USA) defeated Thiago Monteiro (BRA) 6-3 6-7 7-6 3-6 6-3

Picture credit: ATP Tour via Twitter

ATP Tour wrap: French fall as Sinnik survives thriller to advance at Roland Garros

IT was a forgettable day for the French fans in Paris, as all six French representatives were bundled out of the 2021 Roland Garros ATP draw in the first round on day two. In a day that was largely favourable to seeds – with eight of the 10 seeds in action grabbing wins – there were still some thrilling contests, none more so than Italian young gun Jannik Sinner‘s five-set win over France’s Pierre Hugues-Herbert.

Sinner fell two sets to one down after winning the first one easily, before bouncing back to win in five sets, 6-1 4-6 6-7 7-5 6-4 to advance through to the Round of 64. The match lasted three hours and 32 minutes, as both players showed their talents at the net, with 24 per cent of the total points won there. Sinner won 61 per cent of his approach shots, whilst Herbert won 58 per cent, in a real epic battle. The Italian hit 15 less winners than his opponent (43-58), but had a whopping 26 less unforced errors (36-62) in a more conservative, but consistent performance. Herbert’s ability to control his serve (13 aces to five) was what kept him in it, but in the end, it was the mistakes that cost him and set Sinner into the next round.

Perhaps the biggest choke of the day went to American Frances Tiafoe, who was two sets to love up and in control against compatriot Steve Johnson. The more experienced kept toiling away though, and won the next three sets easily, dominating the fourth and fifth sets to win in three hours and 11 minutes, 6-7 3-6 6-4 6-2 6-1. Johnson hit 49 winners to 46 and 41 unforced errors to 47, marginally ahead in each statistical category, though breaking nine times to five was the difference in the latter stages of the match. Also needing five sets to win was American Tommy Paul, who survived an almighty fightback from Australian wildcard Christopher O’Connell to win 6-2 6-4 4-6 4-6 10-8 in three hours and 33 minutes. Paul hit six more winners (47-41) and had 10 less unforced errors (40-50), whilst winning an impressive 76 per cent of both his first serve points, and net points won to hold off the determined Australian and book himself a Round of 64 spot.

In terms of upsets, just two seeds fell on day two of the competition, with 13th seed David Goffin and 26th seed Lorenzo Sonego both exiting the Grand Slam. Sonego’s compatriot, Italian Lorenzo Musetti continued his great rise over the past 12 months to obliterate Goffin in the first set, before holding out in two more tight sets to win 6-0 7-5 7-6. The match lasted two hours and 18 minutes, with the sloppy Goffin hitting a whopping 48 unforced errors to Musetti’s 27, and while Goffin was more clinical at the net (79 to 64 per cent success), and hit more winners (37-23), Musetti posted a 71 per cent serving efficiency and first serve winning rate. Big serving South African Lloyd Harris might not have had his usual numbers off the aces (6-5), but still did enough to take care of Sonego in straight sets, 7-5 6-4 6-4 in an identical time to the other upset, two hours and 18 minutes. Harris did hit 40 winners to 31, and he won 75 and 69 per cent off his first and second serve respectively – losing just 24 points – to Sonego’s 66 and 58 per cent, to advance through to the next stage.

The other eight seeds in action all advanced, with eighth seed Roger Federer making his return to the Grand Slam circuit, posting a straight sets win over Uzbekistan qualifier Denis Istomin. The 6-2 6-4 6-3 victory in one hour and 33 minutes was the quickest of the ATP Tour matches, giving the Swiss Maestro an eye-catching start to the clay tournament. Federer was absolutely exquisite as he hit 48 winners to 18, and won 79 per cent of his points at the net compared to Istomin’s 43 per cent. He produced eight aces and only dropped 13 points on serve for the entire match, breaking five times from 13 chances and never conceding a break point opportunity in a clinical victory. Fellow top 10 seed Daniil Medvedev also advanced in straight sets, putting away a tough first round opponent in Alexander Bublik, 6-3 6-3 7-5. Fellow seeds, Casper Ruud and Nikoloz Basilashvili needed four sets to overcome their opponents Benoit Paire and Dusan Lajovic, whilst American trio seeded 30th, 31st and 32nd in Taylor Fritz, John Isner and Reilly Opelka, all advanced through to the Round of 64 with straight sets wins.

Unfortunately for France, it was not a great day, with Australian Open finalist Jo-Wilfried Tsonga bundled out in four sets against Japan’s Yoshihito Nishioka. The Japanese talent won 6-4 6-2 3-6 7-6 to advance through to the Round of 64 in two hours and 52 minutes, winning the fourth set tiebreaker 7-5 in a match which almost went to five sets. Tsonga was far from disgraced upon his return, producing 19 aces to two, and hitting 61 winners to 21, but his power was still finding its consistency, whacking 73 unforced errors to 21 which proved costly. The longest match of the day was Jaume Munar‘s four-set come-from-behind victory over Jordan Thompson in four hours and 23 minutes. The Spaniard dropped the first set tiebreaker to the Australian 8-6, before a quicker second set followed, and then the clay court talent won 7-5 in the third set tiebreaker, and with an additional break secured in the win in an epic contest, 6-7 6-1 7-6 6-4. Thompson hit 55 winners to Munar’s 35, but the Spaniard had 28 less unforced errors (50-78), and was more efficient with his serve (75 to 54 per cent), also breaking five times from 23 chances to Thompson’s two from 10.

Fellow Spaniards Pedro Martinez – who defeated most recent title winner Sebastian Korda in straight sets – and Carlo Alcaraz also advanced through to the second round, with Great Britain’s Cameron Norrie, Croatia’s Marin Cilic, Germany’s Dominik Koepfer, Brazil’s Thiago Monteiro, Serbia’s Filip Krajinovic and Italy’s Gianluca Mager all sending wildcards, qualifiers or lucky losers home in the first round. Other winners were Poland’s Kamil Majchrzak and Argentina’s Federico Delbonis who both made their way into the second round at Roland Garros.

ROLAND GARROS ROUND OF 128 RESULTS:

[2] Daniil Medvedev (RUS) defeated Alexander Bublik (KAZ) 6-3 6-3 7-5
[8] Roger Federer (SUI) defeated [Q] Denis Istomin (UZB) 6-2 6-4 6-3
Lorenzo Musetti (ITA) defeated [13] David Goffin (BEL) 6-0 7-5 7-6
[15] Casper Ruud (NOR) defeated Benoit Paire (FRA) 5-7 6-2 6-1 7-6
[18] Jannik Sinner (ITA) defeated Pierre Hugues-Herbert (FRA) 6-1 4-6 6-7 7-5 6-4
Lloyd Harris (RSA) defeated [26] Lorenzo Sonego (ITA) 7-5 6-4 6-4
[28] Nikoloz Basilashvili (GEO) defeated Dusan Lajovic (SRB) 6-4 6-3 0-6 6-2
[30] Taylor Fritz (USA) defeated Joao Sousa (POR) 6-4 6-2 6-4
[31] John Isner (USA) defeated Sam Querrey (USA) 7-6 6-3 6-4
[32] Reilly Opelka (USA) defeated Andrej Martin (SLO) 6-3 6-2 6-4
Yoshihito Nishioka (JPN) defeated Jo-Wilfried Tsonga (FRA) 6-4 6-2 3-6 7-6
Marin Cilic (CRO) defeated [WC] Arthur Rinderknech (FRA) 7-6 6-1 6-2
Cameron Norrie (GBR) defeated [Q] Bjorn Fratangelo (USA) 7-5 7-5 6-2
Dominik Koepfer (GER) defeated [WC] Mathias Bourgue (FRA) 6-3 6-3 6-4
Steve Johnson (USA) defeated Frances Tiafoe (USA) 6-7 3-6 6-4 6-2 6-1
[PR] Kamil Majchrzak (POL) defeated [WC] Arthur Cazaux (FRA) 6-4 2-6 6-4 6-4
Thiago Monteiro (BRA) defeated [LL] Francisco Cerundolo (ARG) 6-3 6-4 6-3
Pedro Martinez (ESP) defeated Sebastian Korda (USA) 6-4 6-2 6-2
Filip Krajinovic (SRB) defeated [Q] Maximilian Marterer (GER) 6-4 6-1 7-6
Tommy Paul (USA) defeated [WC] Christopher O’Connell (AUS) 6-2 6-4 4-6 4-6 10-8
Gianluca Mager (ITA) defeated [LL] Peter Gojowczyk (GER) 6-2 3-6 6-4 7-5
Jaume Munar (ESP) defeated Jordan Thompson (AUS) 6-7 6-1 7-6 6-4
[Q] Carlos Alcaraz (ESP) defeated [Q] Bernabe Zapata Miralles (ESP) 6-3 2-6 6-1 7-6
Federico Delbonis (ARG) defeated Radu Albot (MOL) 6-1 2-6 6-0 6-1

Picture credit: Nicolas Gouhier/FFT

ATP Tour wrap: Internazionali BNL d’Italia begins

THE 2021 Internazionali BNL d’Italia Masters 1000 event in Rome has begun, with four matches playing out on the opening day of the tournament and both of the day’s seeds heading to the second round.

Eleventh seed Pablo Carreno Busta has already gone one better than his disappointing Madrid Open first round loss last week, outclassing Laslo Djere in a 4-6 6-3 6-1 contest. He still required two hours and 12 minutes to get the win on the board, but overall was far cleaner on serve winning 85 per cent of points off a 64 per cent clip. Whilst his second serve (12 points of 27 at 44 per cent) was not quite as effective, Carreno Busta did not have to rely on it as much as Djere, who won 16 of 37 at 43 per cent and just seven points off Carreno Busta’s first serve.

Comparatively, 12th seed David Goffin took a break before competing in Rome, and it paid off as he completed a classy 6-4 6-1 sweep of Italian wildcard Salvatore Caruso in 82 minutes. Despite a solid start from the homegrown hopeful, Goffin was more consistent converting seven break points and saving three of Caruso’s six chances on his way to winning 58 per cent of the total points to claim victory.

Canadian young gun Felix Auger-Aliassime put in a huge effort to overcome similarly unseeded Serbian Filip Krajinovic, taking out the first set and looking to goods to win the second, too, leading 5-4 before Krajinovic broke back to extend the match to three sets. Auger-Aliassime stepped up once more though in the third, winning the first two games of the final set to eventually claim the 6-3 6-7(5) 6-4 victory. The Canadian 20-year-old hit seven double faults for 12 aces throughout the two hour and 45-minute encounter, winning 72 per cent of his first serve points but allowed Krajinovic to convert nine of 15 break points.

“I’m really happy,” said Auger-Aliassime. “[It was] a tough match. I’m happy I was able to win today. You’ve got to believe and be resilient at times. I wanted to win badly, so I dug deep and I found a way.”

The remaining match of the day was also the quickest, as American Reilly Opelka downed Frenchman Richard Gasquet in just under 66 minutes, hitting 18 aces to two on his way to the 6-1 7-5 victory.

INTERNAZIONALI BNL D’ITALIA ROUND OF 64 RESULTS:

[11] Pablo Carreno Busta (ESP) defeated Laslo Djere (SRB) 4-6 6-3 6-1
[12] David Goffin (BEL) defeated [W] Salvatore Caruso (ITA) 6-4 6-1
Felix Auger-Aliassime (CAN) defeated Filip Krajinovic (SRB) 6-3 6-7 6-4
Reilly Opelka (USA) defeated Richard Gasquet (FRA) 6-1 7-5

Picture credit: Corinne Dubreuil/ATP Tour

ATP Tour wrap: Qualifier stuns Zverev as Munich hosts thrillers

TOP seed and tournament favourite Alexander Zverev is out of the 2021 BMW Open in Munich, Germany after going down in a nail-biter to Belarusian qualifier Ilya Ivashka. With just two matches on court to start the quarter finals, the German fans through they might come away with back-to-back wins after seventh seed Jan-Lennard Struff held on against a determined Filip Krajinovic in three sets, but it was not to be.

In the first game, Struff needed all three sets to dismiss Krajinovic, with the seventh seed German winning 6-4 4-6 7-6 over the fourth seed Serbian. The deciding set tiebreaker went to 7-3, and was part of a whopping three-flat hours before the fast-serving Struff could advance. In those three hours, Struff put down 15 aces to Krajinovic’s six, whilst winning 77 per cent of his first serve points. By comparison the Serbian only won 58 per cent, but managed to save 11 of 16 break points, while Struff also defended well, saving eight of 13.

After Struff got up, the confidence of the home fans was sky-high to set up an all-German semi-final with Zverev out on court against Ivashka. After being pushed all the way in the first set, the number one seed prevailed 7-5 in the tiebreaker to take an early lead, and when the German served for the match at 5-4, many fans were expecting to head home shortly after. Ivashka had other ideas however, breaking the serve and winning the next three games – and nine of the last 12 0 to sail to victory, 6-7 7-5 6-3.

“This match was really tough for me and I was [close to losing] in the second set,” Ivashka said post-match. “I managed well and I tried stay in and fight until the last moment to see if he would give [me] chances and it happened.”

It was Ivashka first-ever Top 10 win, and his break in the seventh game of the second set helped him hold on and record a memorable come-from-behind victory, as both players serve five aces, but Zverev produced 10 more double faults. Ivashka saved six of nine break point opportunities, while breaking Zverev at a 50 per cent rate (five of 10).

“I just came to play match after match,” Ivashka said. “I knew that I had played well [in the] previous weeks… but I was not expecting [this run].”

Tomorrow is a hectic day with the two quarter finals – between second seed Casper Ruud and eighth seed John Millman, and fifth seed Nikoloz Basilashvili and lucky loser Norbert Gombos – taking place, as well as both semi-finals between the winners of those games, and the Struff-Ivashka clash.

Meanwhile in Estoril, unseeded Brit Cameron Norrie stunned second seed Cristian Garin in a come-from-behind victory on clay, saluting 3-6 7-5 6-3 in a nail-bitter to advance through to the semi-finals. Norrie broke three times to two in the two-hour and 28-minute clash, winning 59 per cent of his second serves to Garin’s 43 per cent to be the difference in an otherwise relatively even match. Norrie will now face sixth seed Marin Cilic who had an easy day out by winning a tiebreaker in the first set before South African Kevin Anderson retired. In the other quarter finals, seventh seed Albert Ramos-Vinolas and eighth seed Alejandro Davidovich Fokina both won through to set up an all-Spanish semi-final following wins over respective Frenchmen, Corentin Moutet and third seed Ugo Humbert.

BMW OPEN QUARTER FINALS RESULTS:

[Q] Ilya Ivashka (BLR) defeated [1] Alexander Zverev (GER) 6-7 7-5 6-3
[7] Jan-Lennard Struff (GER) defeated [4] Filip Krajinovic (SRB) 6-4 4-6 7-6

ESTORIL OPEN QUARTER FINALS RESULTS:

Cameron Norrie (GBR) defeated [2] Cristian Garin (CHI) 3-6 7-5 6-3
[8] Alejandro Davidovich Fokina (ESP) defeated [3] Ugo Humbert (GRA) 6-4 6-4
[6] Marin Cilic (CRO) defeated Kevin Anderson (RSA) 7-6 0-0 RET
[7] Albert Ramos-Vinolas (ESP) defeated Corentin Moutet (FRA) 6-4 6-3

Picture credit: Christof Stache/AFP via Getty Images

ATP Tour wrap: Shapovalov bundled out among walkovers aplenty

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

BMW OPEN ROUND OF 16 RESULTS:

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

ESTORIL OPEN ROUND OF 16 RESULTS:

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

Picture credit: Alex Caparros/Getty Images

ATP Tour wrap: Sinner topples Rublev to set up exciting semis

ITALIAN young gun Jannik Sinner has booked his spot in the 2021 Barcelona Open ATP 500 event after defeating the red-hot Andrey Rublev in straight sets. Rublev has been huge at ATP 500 events over the past 18 months, claiming four titles at the level, but it was Sinner who stepped up to knock off the third seed Russian 6-2 7-6 and make his way into the semi-finals.

It was far from his own way, with Sinner needing one hour and 36 minutes to claim victory, including going deep in the second set tiebreaker to salute 8-6 in a nail-biter. Sinner won 63 and 61 per cent of his first and second serves respectively off a 59 per cent clip. Rublev managed the 66 per cent off his first serve, but only 44 per cent off his second, broken three times to one during the match.

“I am trying to get better every week,” Sinner said post-match. “He has played many, many matches already this year and I tried to play my tennis. It was difficult to finish it off. I had three break points at 5-5 [in the second set], which I could not convert, but I’m pleased to win in the end. I am getting more experience in every tournament I play.”

Sinner becomes the youngest Barcelona semi-finalist since 2005 as an 18-year-old Rafael Nadal went on to win the first of his 11 titles. Next up is Stefanos Tsitsipas after the second seed claimed a 6-3 6-3 triumph over Canadian 10th seed Felix Auger-Aliassime to make it eight unbeaten matches – and 14 consecutive sets – on Tour.

“I think my hard efforts paid off,” Tsitsipas said post-match. “I wouldn’t say it was the best start, but I managed to win my serve from 0/40 down [in the second game]. That got me into the match and that helped me to break him at the end. I didn’t panic, but I knew what I was doing. It feels good to be able to play the way I am. I really hope the winning streak continues.”

The other semi-final will be an all-Spanish affair with top seed Rafael Nadal and sixth seed Pablo Carreno Busta making it through in very different circumstances. After struggling through back-to-back three-set wins, Nadal breezed past Great Britain’s Cameron Norrie 6-1 6-4, while Carreno Busta needed the three sets to shake off fourth seed Diego Schwartzman in the match of the day. Carreno Busta won 6-4 3-6 7-5.

Meanwhile over in Serbia, Novak Djokovic did not hold back against friend Miomir Kemanovic, dismissing the eighth seed Serbian in straight sets. The world number one claimed a 6-1 6-3 quarter finals victory to book his spot in the semis, in what was a largely predictable day of action. Second seed Matteo Berrettini defeated fifth seed Serbian Filip Krajinovic in straight sets 6-4 6-4, while third seed Aslan Karatsev knocked off Italian qualifier Gianluca Mager, 6-3 6-4. The biggest upset and run of the tournament is lucky loser Taro Daniel who came from behind to knock off Argentinian Federico Delbonis and book his spot in the final four with a 4-6 6-1 7-5 win.

BARCELONA OPEN QUARTER FINALS RESULTS:

[1] Rafael Nadal (ESP) defeated Cameron Norrie (GBR) 6-1 6-4
[2] Stefanos Tsitsipas (GER) defeated [10] Felix Auger-Aliassime (CAN) 6-3 6-3
[11] Jannik Sinner (ITA) defeated [3] Andrey Rublev (RUS) 6-2 7-6
[6] Pablo Carreno Busta (ESP) defeated [4] Diego Schwartzman (ARG) 6-4 3-6 7-5

SERBIA OPEN QUARTER FINALS:

[1] Novak Djokovic (SRB) defeated [8] Miomir Kecmanovic (SRB) 6-1 6-3
[2] Matteo Berrettini (ITA) defeated [5] Filip Krajinovic (SRB) 6-4 6-4
[3] Aslan Karatsev (RUS) defeated [Q] Gianluca Mager (ITA) 6-3 6-4
[LL] Taro Daniel (JPN) defeated Federico Delbonis (ARG) 4-6 6-1 7-5

Picture credit: ATP Tour

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

BARCELONA OPEN ROUND OF 32 RESULTS:

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

SERBIA OPEN ROUND OF 16 RESULTS:

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

Picture credit: Josep Lago/AFP via Getty Images

ATP Tour wrap: Mixed bag for Serbians, while Nishikori survives Barcelona scare

KEI Nishikori is no stranger to adversity. The Japanese 2014 US Open runner-up has had his fair share of injuries over the past couple of years, seeing the former Top 5 talent to slip outside the Top 30. Heading into the Barcelona, the unseeded world number 39 had won six of 13 games in 2021, hardly a form line that is indicative of what he is capable of. Whilst his best may well be behind him, Nishikori showed he can dig deep, coming back from a set and a break down to win in three over Argentinian Guido Pella in the first round of the Barcelona Open.

Nishikori dropped the first set 6-4 and was 2-4 and 5-6 down in the second set, agonisingly close to an early exit from the tournament he won back-to-back in 2014-15. He battled hard to take the second set in a tiebreaker against Pella 7-4, then raced away with a 6-2 victory in the third to move through to the second round. Nishikori said he was disappointed with his opening two sets, and was lucky to get away with the win, aware of how close he came to losing the match.

“He had the match today at 6-5, serving [for the match],” Nishikori said post-match. “He was much better in the first and second [sets] and 3-0 up in the tie-break. I don’t know how I fought through. [In the] third set, I was playing much better.

“I was making so many unforced errors in the first and second [sets]. Maybe he got a little bit tired and I was playing strong in the third set. I want to take that to the next round… The way I fought today and the way I played in the third set was good.”

Nishikori will need to improve drastically to defeat 13th seed Cristian Garin, with the Chilean on his preferred clay surface. Nishikori had a forgettable meeting with Garin last year, albeit when he was still returning from injury, losing 6-0 6-3 in a disappointing head-to-head at Hamburg. Now on clay, Garin will be even more difficult to knock off, with the Chilean undoubtedly the favourite, but Nishikori could frustrate him.

While Nishikori survived, another former Top 5 talent Jo-Wilfried Tsonga was not so lucky, knocked out by Egor Gerasimov in straight sets, 7-5 6-1. He joined fellow Frenchmen Gilles Simon and Benoit Paire in exiting the tournament, with the latter arguably in the worst form of anyone on Tour and not looking like that will change anytime soon. Pierre-Hugues Herbert and Jeremy Chardy flew the flag for the French, booking their spots in the next round, while all three Spaniards out on court made it through, with Jaume Munar, Pablo Andujar and Bernabe Zapata Miralles securing their Round of 32 spots. Italian lucky loser Federico Gaio, Belarusian qualifier Ilya Ivashka and Brit Cameron Norrie were the other three winners on day one of the main draw matches at Barcelona.

In Serbia, four players from the home nation were out on court on day one, with mixed results. Fifth seed Filip Krajinovic looked in control in his match, leading a set up and at 5-5 in the second, but then dropped five of the next six games to trail 1-3 in the third set. Krajinovic found a way to steady, winning five consecutive games to end the match and secure the 7-5 5-7 6-3 win over Italian Stefano Travaglia.

It was the opposite result for the other Serbia-Italy clash, as Marco Cecchinato found his clay form that made him dangerous a couple of years back, defeating Viktor Troicki in straight sets, 6-1 6-4 to book a date with Italian second seed Matteo Berrettini in the second round. Australian seventh seed John Millman also spoiled the party for Serbian wildcard Danilo Petrovic in two tight sets 7-5 6-4, while fellow wildcard Nikola Milojevic knocked off Federico Coria 6-4 6-0. Regardless of how results play out at the tournament, it is almost a forgone conclusion that Serbia will lift the trophy, with world number one Novak Djokovic a raging favourite at the event, with Berrettini his closest rival and then Aslan Karatsev – who was not even inside the Top 100 at the start of the year – seeded third.

BARCELONA OPEN ROUND OF 64 RESULTS:

[WC] Jaume Munar (ESP) defeated Thiago Monteiro (BRA) 6-3 7-5
Pablo Andujar (ESP) defeated Gilles Simon (FRA) 6-1 3-6 6-3
Jeremy Chardy (FRA) defeated Nikoloz Basilshvili (GEO) 6-4 3-6 6-3
[LL] Federico Gaio (ITA) defeated Benoit Paire (FRA) 7-5 6-3
Egor Gerasimov (BLR) defeated Jo-Wilfried Tsonga (FRA) 7-5 6-1
Pierre-Hugues Herbert (FRA) defeated [Q] Sumit Nagal (IND) 7-5 6-0
[Q] Ilya Ivashka (BLR) defeated [Q] Tallon Griekspoor (NED) 6-3 6-1
Kei Nishikori (JPN) defeated Guido Pella (ARG) 4-6 7-6 6-2
Cameron Norrie (GBR) defeated Salvatore Caruso (ITA) 6-1 6-2
[Q] Bernabe Zapata Miralles (ESP) defeated [Q] Andrey Kuznetsov (RUS) 6-7 7-5 6-1

SERBIA OPEN ROUND OF 32 RESULTS:

[5] Filip Krajinovic (SRB) defeated Stefano Travaglia (ITA) 7-5 5-7 6-3
[7] John Millman (AUS) defeated [WC] Danilo Petrovic (SRB) 7-5 6-4
Marco Cecchinato (ITA) defeated [WC] Viktor Troicki (SRB) 6-1 6-4
[WC] Nikola Milojevic (SRB) defeated Federico Coria (ARG) 6-4 6-0

Picture credit: Alex Caparros/Getty Images

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