Tag: Gael Monfils

ATP Tour wrap: Murray makes successful return as Medvedev struggles on grass

THE second day at both the Halle Noventi Open in Germany and Cinch Championships in London produced some big results, with the top seed at the first event defeated in straight sets, while a former world number one returned to the winners list at Cinch.

It was Jan-Lennard Struff who claimed a huge win at Halle, overcoming Daniil Medvedev on the grass for one of the biggest wins of his career. Despite being 2-5 down in the first, Struff fired up to force a first set tiebreak, claiming the first before dominating the second to register the 7-6(6) 6-3 victory.

“He served for the [first] set at 6-5 and twice went for an ace on a second serve and I put returns in at 30/30 and 30/40. I then played a very good tie-break and at 5-1 up in the second set,” Struff explained.

“This is the biggest win — [FedEx ATP] Rankings wise — of my career and to do it here on home soil is very special… I live only an hour from here.”

“It is better to play him on grass rather than hard courts. I have a good game for grass and I like to come in. The wins at Roland Garros definitely gave me a confidence boost.”

Medvedev’s compatriot and fellow seed Andrey Rublev was more fortunate, downing another Russian Karen Khachanov in straight sets, 6-3 7-6. While Rublev ranked higher and has recent form to back him up, Khachanov is a former semi-finalist at Halle and would not go down without a fight.

“I was waiting for this match to feel this tension,” Rublev said. “I needed to feel the pressure and I am happy with my performance today in my first match on grass.”

Meanwhile, Struff was not the only German to reign supreme on home soil, joined by third seed Alexander Zverev and wildcard Philipp Kohlschreiber in the second round. Zverev was forced to overcome a second set resurgence from compatriot Dominik Koepfer while Kohlschreiber claimed a comparatively straightforward win over Austrian Jurij Rodionov. The remaining German in this half of the draw, lucky loser Yannick Hanfmann, fell in straight sets to qualifier Arthur Rinderknech.

Eighth seed Gael Monfils was knocked out by the hard-hitting Lloyd Harris, 6-4 6-4, with the South African winning 29 of his 33 first serve points on his way to victory, hitting six aces in the process. A couple more qualifiers joined the winners list with both Nikoloz Basilashvili and Lukas Lacko surviving three-setters to claim victory, as the former overcame another Frenchman Gilles Simon, while the latter battled through a tight opening set tiebreaker deficit to lead the remainder of his clash with Argentinian Guido Pella. The remaining winners on Day 2 at Halle were Felix Auger-AliassimeUgo Humbert and Kei Nishikori.

At the Queen’s Club in London, Andy Murray claimed his first win on grass since 2018 with a 6-3 6-2 sweep of out-of-form Frenchman Benoit Paire. The wildcard Brit required just 64 minutes to take out victory, firing 20 winners and 13 unforced errors throughout.

“I love it. I love playing tennis,” Murray said post-match. “Obviously competing is why you put in all the hard work. In the last few years I didn’t get to do that as much as I would have liked, so it’s great that I’m out here and able to compete again.”

“The body is old, but I did quite well today in terms of my movement and stuff,” Murray said. “It’s my first match on grass in three years and I’ve only played two or three practice sets in the buildup to this. I didn’t know exactly how I was going to play or how I was going to feel, but I think for a first match it was good.”

It was a good day to be a seed at the Cinch Championships, with all five of the day’s seeds proceeding including almost identical tight results to top see Matteo Berrettini and second seed Canadian Denis Shapovalov. Berrettini was well and truly challenged by compatriot Stefano Travaglia, with the two Italians battling hard throughout seeing a 7-6(5) 7-6(4) result.

“It’s always a fight [against Stefano]. We know each other pretty well,” Berrettini said. “We’ve played twice on the ATP Tour, but we’ve played so many more times in Futures, so I’ve known this guy for a long time. He’s always a great opponent, so well done to him. But I’m happy for my win.

“It really helps me to have so many [Italian] guys [in the Top 100] because you find new energy, and our quality is really high. We practise with each other all the time… It’s really helpful.”

Shapovalov was similarly challenged by qualifying Australian Aleksandar Vukic, needing every one of his 20 aces to overcome the qualifier 7-6(6) 7-6(6). Shapovalov may not have lost serve throughout and won 90 per cent of his first serve points to claim victory, but the Canadian explained the clash was anything but easy, with Vukic trailing on a similarly impressive 85 per cent first serve winning rate.

“Definitely not an easy, breezy match,” Shapovalov said post-match. “I think we both just served amazing today. I feel obviously very lucky to win this match today. It could have gone either way, so I’m very, very proud of myself.”

“Any time of the grass-court season, it’s super tough to get a rhythm, so it’s very important to serve big.”

Fourth seed Australian Alex de Minaur returned to the winners list with a come-from-behind victory over Serbian Laslo Djere, while sixth seed Brit Daniel Evans got the goods over the third Australian competitor of the day in Alexei Popyrin, 6-4 6-4. Italian Fabio Fognini was the remaining seed who reigned supreme, tested by Yen Hsun Lu before coming away with the straight sets win, 6-4 7-6.

The last three winners of the day required three sets apiece to claim victory, with Frances Tiafoe coming from a set down to defeat Aljaz Bedene, while Marin Cilic and Alexander Bublik overcame second set slumps to head into the second round.

HALLE NOVENTI OPEN ROUND OF 32 RESULTS:

Jan-Lennard Struff (GER) defeated [1] Daniil Medvedev (RUS) 7-6 6-3
[3] Alexander Zverev (GER) defeated Dominik Koepfer (GER) 6-4 3-6 6-3
[4] Andrey Rublev (RUS) defeated Karen Khachanov (RUS) 6-3 7-6
Lloyd Harris (RSA) defeated [8] Gael Monfils (FRA) 6-4 6-4
Felix Auger-Aliassime (CAN) defeated Hubert Hurkacz (POL) 6-3 7-5
[Q] Nikoloz Basilashvili (GEO) defeated Gilles Simon (FRA) 6-1 3-6 6-4
Ugo Humbert (FRA) defeated Sam Querrey (USA) 4-6 7-6 7-6
[WC] Philipp Kohlschreiber (GER) defeated Jurij Rodionov (AUT) 6-4 6-3
[Q] Lukas Lacko (SVK) defeated Guido Pella (ARG) 6-7 7-5 6-1
Kei Nishikori (JPN) defeated Ricardas Berankis (LTU) 6-3 2-6 6-2
[Q] Arthur Rinderknech (FRA) defeated [LL] Yannick Hanfmann (GER) 7-5 6-3

CINCH CHAMPIONSHIPS ROUND OF 32 RESULTS:

[1] Matteo Berrettini (ITA) defeated Stefano Travaglia (ITA) 7-6 7-6
[2] Denis Shapovalov (CAN) defeated [Q] Aleksandar Vukic (AUS) 7-6 7-6
[4] Alex de Minaur (AUS) defeated Laslo Djere (SRB) 3-6 6-3 6-4
[6] Daniel Evans (GBR) defeated Alexei Popyrin (AUS) 6-4 6-4
[8] Fabio Fognini (ITA) defeated Yen Hsun Lu (TPE) 6-4 7-6
Marin Cilic (CRO) defeated [Q] Sebastian Ofner (AUT) 6-2 6-7 7-6
Alexander Bublik (KAZ) defeated Jeremy Chardy (FRA) 6-4 3-6 6-3
[WC] Andy Murray (GBR) defeated Benoit Paire (FRA) 6-3 6-2
Frances Tiafoe (USA) defeated Aljaz Bedene (SLO) 4-6 6-3 6-4

ATP Tour wrap: Rafa downs Gasquet for 17th time as Alcaraz impresses

IT was a fairly convincing day of action on Day 5 of the Roland Garros, with all men’s matches completed by the end of the fourth set although a smattering of lower seeds succumbed to hungry opponents in the Round of 64. Meanwhile, a teen talent made it through the second round with hopes to continue his great form on clay.

It was no worries for the three top 10 seeds of the day, with Novak DjokovicRafael Nadal and Roger Federer all making it through to the second round relatively unscathed, with only Federer dropping a set on his way to the Round of 32. Djokovic hit 31 winners against Uruguayan Pablo Cuevas in their first encounter to reign supreme, while Nadal claimed a 35th birthday win in his 6-0 7-5 6-2 disposal of Richard Gasquet – a whopping 17th time beating the Frenchman.

“Of course it’s better to win 16 in a row than lose 16 in a row,” Nadal said. “When you go to the match and you have been winning all the last 16 times, of course the confidence is a little bit higher than when you have a tougher head-to-head.

“Being honest, I respect (and) I know how good is Richard. “I know he’s coming back after a tough period of time. “I think he played smart, playing aggressive. “I don’t know. “I just went on court with highest respect, with the highest focus possible, and that’s what I try to do every day against everyone.”

“I’m playing well, feeling great. I’m ready to go deep in this tournament,” Djokovic said. “Hopefully that’s going to be the case. “But I’ll take it match by match, and so far the two matches that I have played have been played in a high quality.

“I’m pleased with the performance today, particularly against a very good player, a specialist on clay, someone I have never faced before. [He] has got a lot of spin,” Djokovic said. “[He hits] just a very difficult ball to handle in these kind of conditions when it’s a bit warmer… These balls during the day are bouncing really high.”

“I still do believe there’s no way I’m going to go really, really super deep here or go past the Novak section,” Federer said.

“The first round I didn’t surprise myself per se, but now in the second round, I did,” Federer said. “Now can I keep it up and how will the body react? We’ll see. The mind is getting stronger, I can feel it. I have more clarity, I have more confidence growing in me.”

“I feel like I surprised myself a little bit,” Federer told Tennis Channel. “I didn’t expect myself to play that well or to have the energy left at the end like this and being able to keep on serving so consistently at the end was great.”

Meanwhile, ninth, 10th and 18th seeds Matteo BerrettiniDiego Schwartzman and teen Jannik Sinner all proceeded, while the likes of Gael Monfils (14th seed), Alex de Minaur (21st), Aslan Karatsev (24th) and Taylor Fritz (30th) all failed to proceed with all four only able to steal one set in their respective losses.

One of the biggest wins of the day, however, went to teenager Carlos Alcaraz, who downed the day’s remaining seed in Nikoloz Basilashvili in three sets, 6-4 6-2 6-4, in just under two hours.

“Obviously it’s good, the numbers, but I still focus on me,” Alcaraz said. “That means that I’m going the right way. I am doing the right things, and I keep [doing] this. I’m still growing up as a player and as a person, and that’s the important thing.”

“Today the positive emotions were really, really important because Nikoloz is a really, really good tennis player,” Alcaraz said. “He has a lot of great skills. He hits the ball really, really hard, and if you don’t focus, if you are not focused, it’s hard to play against him. You have to be focused all the time.”

The 18-year-old is the youngest male competitor to advance to the third round at the Roland Garros since Nadal in 2004, aged only 17. He finished off the encounter with 27 winners to Basilashvili’s 16, including 10 aces, also hitting less unforced errors (26-33).

“If I went down in that game, it was [going to be] really, really hard,” Alcaraz said. “I was focused, and that’s a good skill for me.”

Five more competitors joined the winners list on Day 5, with Ricardis Berankis and Cameron Norrie taken to four, while Soonwoo KwonLorenzo Musetti and Jan-Lennard Struff all heading into the third round with straight sets wins in the books.

ROLAND GARROS ROUND OF 64 RESULTS:

[1] Novak Djokovic (SRB) defeated Pablo Cuevas (URU) 6-3 6-2 6-4
[3] Rafael Nadal (ESP) defeated Richard Gasquet (FRA) 6-0 7-5 6-2
[8] Roger Federer (SUI) defeated Marin Cilic (CRO) 6-2 2-6 7-6 6-2
[9] Matteo Berrettini (ITA) defeated Federico Coria (ARG) 6-3 6-3 6-2
[10] Diego Schwartzman (ARG) defeated Ajlaz Bedene (SLO) 6-4 6-2 6-4
Mikael Ymer (SWE) defeated [14] Gael Monfils (FRA) 6-0 2-6 6-4 6-3
[18] Jannik Sinner (ITA) defeated Gianluca Mager (ITA) 6-1 7-5 3-6 6-3
Marco Cecchinato (ITA) defeated [21] Alex de Minaur (AUS) 6-4 6-1 3-6 6-1
Philipp Kohlschreiber (GER) defeated [24] Aslan Karatsev (RUS) 6-3 7-6 4-6 6-1
[Q] Carlos Alcaraz (ESP) defeated [28] Nikoloz Basilashvili (GEO) 6-4 6-2 6-4
Dominik Koepfer (GER) defeated [30] Taylor Fritz (USA) 6-3 6-2 3-6 6-4
Ricardis Berankis (POR) defeated James Duckworth (AUS) 7-5 2-6 7-6 6-0
Sonwoo Kwon (KOR) defeated Andreas Seppi (ITA) 6-4 7-5 7-5
Lorenzo Musetti (ITA) defeated Yoshihito Nishioka (JPN) 7-5 6-3 6-2
Cameron Norrie (GBR) defeated Lloyd Harris (RSA) 4-6 6-3 6-3 6-2
Jan-Lennard Struff (GER) defeated Facundo Bagnis (ARG) 7-5 7-6 6-4

Picture credit: Corinne Dubreuil/FFT

ATP Tour wrap: Frenchmen falter as Djokovic and Nadal claim quick wins

DAY 3 at the 2021 Roland Garros produced some intriguing results, with two of the top seeds in Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal retaining their winning form with respective straight set wins, while Andrey Rublev‘s Roland Garros run was cut dastardly short.

The world number seven struggled to keep up with German Jan-Lennard Struff early in the three hour and 46 minute first round clash before stealing momentum throughout the third and fourth sets to send the match to a decider. But despite a late challenge, Rublev was too late as Struff heads through to the Round of 64 with the 6-3 7-6 4-6 3-6 6-4 victory in the books.

“I played Andrey twice this year, lost twice in three sets, played twice a very good first set but couldn’t get the job done,” Struff said. “Definitely it’s a huge win for me in a Grand Slam against a top-10 player. Yeah, very, very important.”

The hard-hitting German piled on 25 aces throughout the contest, and despite hitting more unforced errors (55-47) and less winners (63-65) and winning the same amount of overall points (170), Struff was more consistent than Rublev, who was inefficient on serve in comparison.

“I mean, of course I was thinking that I would like to come back from 2-0, but I don’t know, the fifth set I was a bit unlucky,” Rublev said.

“I was feeling fine, I was practising well, I don’t know,” Rublev said. “I think we played a good level today. It’s not easy. He’s a really tough opponent for the first round, really tough, plus he’s playing better and better. He’s improving and he’s winning really great matches.”

For Djokovic and Nadal, their opening rounds were made much easier with the world number one and three claiming wins in straight sets. Djokovic appeared refreshed on court against American Tennys Sandgren, coming straight in off the back of a title in Belgrade over the weekend and not skipping a beat.

“They (Serbian fans) gave me a lot of energy and encouragement,” Djokovic said. “I felt great. I don’t think that I lost a lot of energy there, on the contrary I gained a lot, so hopefully I’ll be able to carry that into this tournament.

“He was close to breaking my serve. I somehow found really a lot of serves when I needed them and that got me out of trouble,” he continued. “Overall I am very pleased with the way I felt on the court tonight.”

Despite a late charge from Australian Alexei Popyrin, Nadal was rarely challenged in his first round matchup, coming from two match points down to dominate in the tiebreaker and claim the 6-3 6-2 7-6 victory in just under two and a half hours. While Popyrin hit six more winners (34-28), he struggled with unforced errors (43-23) with late errors in the third set hurting his chances of stealing a set from the clay court master.

“It’s his court,” said Popyrin, about playing Nadal on the main court Philippe Chatrier. “It will always be his court. I think it’s his favourite court to play on. And to nearly get a set out of him playing my first time on that court is a good achievement for me, but I’m still disappointed with it.”

“Here, especially on clay, the matches are best-of-five, the matches are long and it’s difficult to hold that kind of level for such a long time, playing with this kind of risk,” Nadal said. “Of course I don’t want to lose the set at all, but that’s part of the game.”

“You face a player that he’s decided to go for every shot, so you are in trouble. If he’s having success like he did with his serve, then it’s difficult to have breaks, and then you are in a tricky position.”

“With this serve, with this kind of shots from the baseline, you have everything to become a top player,” said Nadal. “If he wants to do it, of course he is going to have his chances, because he has a lot of very difficult things in his game… He has everything to become a fantastic player.”

Where Popyrin was unsuccessful, his 21st seed compatriot and top ranked Australian Alex de Minaur dominated his own contest with Italian Stefano Travaglia, staving off a third set comeback in much the same way as Nadal to claim a 6-2 6-4 7-6 victory. Travaglia had a number of compatriots playing on Day 3, joined on the sideline by Salvatore Caruso – who fell to another Australian James Duckworth in five –  while the second round entrants were headlined by top-ranked Italian Matteo Berrettini, Andreas Seppi and Marco Cecchinato.

Joining Rublev on the sidelines is 20th seed Felix Auger-Aliassime and 29th seed Frenchman Ugo Humbert, who was one of five hometown hopefuls to go down. Canadian Auger-Aliassime fell to veteran Seppi, who won his first match at the Roland Garros in four years and first tour-level match for 2021 in the process. Humbert was joined on the sidelines by wildcards Hugo Gaston and Benjamin Bonzi, as well as Adrian Mannarino and Lucas Pouille who both failed to pull off wins. Comparatively, 14th seed Gael Monfils and unseeded Richard Gasquet head through to the second round, with the former coming from a first set deficit to win in four over Spaniard Albert Ramos-Vinolas, as the latter disposed of compatriot Gaston.

Tenth and 24th seeds Diego Schwartzman and Aslan Karatsev both joined the winners list, as Schwartzman’s Argentinian compatriot Federico Coria also found success in the first round, and was one of four players to dispose of a Spaniard. Just Nadal made it through to represent the nation in the second round, as Coria disposed of Feliciano Lopez, while Philipp Kohlschreiber and Mikael Ymer claimed victories over Fernando Verdasco and Roberto Carballes Baena, respectively. The final winner for the day was Korean Soonwoo Kwon, who escaped with a three hour and nine minute victory over hard-hitter Kevin Anderson, who piled on a whopping 30 aces throughout the 7-5 6-4 2-6 7-6 contest.

ROLAND GARROS ROUND OF 128 RESULTS:

[1] Novak Djokovic (SRB) defeated Tennys Sandgren (USA) 6-2 6-4 6-2
[3] Rafael Nadal (ESP) defeated Alexei Popyrin (AUS) 6-3 6-2 7-6
Jan-Lennard Struff (GER) defeated [7] Andrey Rublev (RUS) 6-3 7-6 4-6 3-6 6-4
[9] Matteo Berrettini (ITA) defeated [Q] Taro Daniel (JPN) 6-0 6-4 4-6 6-4
[10] Diego Schwartzman (ARG) defeated [PR] Yen-Hsun Lu (TPE) 6-2 6-2 6-3
[14] Gael Monfils (FRA) defeated Albert Ramos-Vinolas (ESP) 1-6 7-6 6-4 6-4
Andreas Seppi (ITA) defeated [20] Felix Auger-Aliassime (CAN) 6-3 7-6 4-6 6-4
[21] Alex de Minaur (AUS) defeated Stefano Travaglia (ITA) 6-2 6-4 7-6
[24] Aslan Karatsev (RUS) defeated [Q] Jenson Brooksby (USA) 6-3 6-4 6-4
Ricardas Berankis (LTU) defeated [29] Ugo Humbert (FRA) 6-4 6-4 2-6 6-4
Facundo Bagnis (ARG) defeated [WC] Benjamin Bonzi (FRA) 7-5 6-3 6-4
Aljaz Bedene (SLO) defeated Adrian Mannarino (FRA) 7-5 3-6 7-5 6-2
Marco Cecchinato (ITA) defeated Yasutaka Uchiyama (JPN) 3-6 6-1 6-2 6-4
Federico Coria (ARG) defeated Feliciano Lopez (ESP) 6-3 7-6 6-2
Pablo Cuevas (URU) defeated Lucas Pouille (FRA) 6-3 6-1 6-3
James Duckworth (AUS) defeated Salvatore Caruso (ITA) 6-4 3-6 7-6 6-2
Richard Gasquet (FRA) defeated [WC] Hugo Gaston (FRA) 6-1 6-4 6-2
[PR] Philipp Kohlschreiber (GER) defeated Fernando Verdasco (ESP) 7-6 6-2 2-6 7-6
Soonwoo Kwon (KOR) defeated Kevin Anderson (RSA) 7-5 6-4 2-6 7-6
Mikael Ymer (SWE) defeated Roberto Carballes Baena (ESP) 6-4 0-6 4-6 6-2 6-2

Picture credit: Nicolas Gouhier/FFT

ATP Tour wrap: Top three seeds bundled out in Parma and Belgrade

WORLD number one Novak Djokovic remains the only top three seed left across the ATP Tour’s two 250 events after the other five players all suffered defeats in both Parma and Belgrade. Just four matches were played in the Serbia Open to complete the Round of 16 matches, whilst all eight second round matches were run and done in the Emilia-Romagna Open after rain delays impacted previous day’s play.

Djokovic is the raging favourite in Belgrade, especially after the second and third seeds both suffered defeats via three-set losses to qualifiers. Spanish qualifier Roberto Carballes Baena knocked off second seed Gael Monfils in a tight contest after a strong start, winning 6-1 3-6 7-6 to advance to the next round. Joining the Spaniard in the quarter finals was Slovenian qualifier Andrej Martin who toppled Georgian third seed Nikoloz Basilashvili in an equally tight encounter after the first set, triumphing 6-1 4-6 7-6. Both third set tiebreakers finished with a 7-4 result.

In other Belgrade Open results, fifth seed Croatian Dusan Lajovic advanced with a 6-3 6-4 win over Frenchman Jeremy Chardy, while eighth seed Federico Delbonis knocked off fellow South American in Brazilian Thiago Monteiro. In an epic contest, the Argentinian escaped with the win, 7-6 3-6 6-4.

Belgrade was not the only tournament where top seeds fell in the second round. The top three seeds all exited in the Emilia-Romagna Open in Parma, Italy in very different ways. Top seed Lorenzo Sonego was taken out of his home tournament by ever-improving American Sebastian Korda in straight sets, 6-1 7-5. Third seed Albert Ramos-Vinolas put up more of a fight against Slovenian lucky loser Norbert Gombos, but still dropped out in three sets, 6-3 6-7 6-2. Second seed Benoit Paire‘s horror past 12 months continued with a disappointing 7-5 3-1 loss having to retire against Spaniard Jaume Munar.

In more predictable results, fourth seed Jan-Lennard Struff had his work cut out for him against a home nation favourite in wildcard Flavio Cobolli, but fought through three sets to win, 6-4 4-6 7-6. Fifth seed Richard Gasquet provided some relief for French tennis fans across the globe with a win against another Italian in qualifier Pedro Martinez 6-3 3-6 6-3, whilst eighth seed Yoshihito Nishioka easily took care of young gun Lorenzo Musetti in a shock straight sets win, 6-3 6-2.

In the remaining two results, the sole Italian winner of the day in wildcard Marco Cecchinato got up courtesy of a 7-5 6-2 win over seventh seed Slovenian Aljaz Bedene, whilst sixth seed United States representative Tommy Paul took down Czech Jiri Vesely in a come-from-behind victory, 6-7 7-6 6-3.

EMILIA-ROMAGNA OPEN ROUND OF 16 RESULTS:

Sebastian Korda (USA) defeated [1] Lorenzo Sonego (ITA) 6-1 7-5
Jaume Munar (ESP) defeated [2] Benoit Paire (FRA) 7-5 3-1 RET
[LL] Norbert Gombos (SLO) defeated [3] Albert Ramos-Vinolas (ESP) 6-3 6-7 6-2
[4] Jan-Lennard Struff (GER) defeated [WC] Flavio Cobolli (ITA) 6-4 4-6 7-6
[5] Richard Gasquet (FRA) defeated [Q] Pedro Martinez (ITA) 6-3 3-6 6-3
[6] Tommy Paul (USA) defeated Jiri Vesely (CZE) 6-7 7-6 6-3
[WC] Marco Cecchinato (ITA) defeated [7] Aljaz Bedene (SLO) 7-5 6-2
[8] Yoshihito Nishioka (JPN) defeated Lorenzo Musetti (ITA) 6-3 6-2

BELGRADE OPEN ROUND OF 16 RESULTS:

[Q] Roberto Carballes Baena (ESP) defeated [2] Gael Monfils (FRA) 6-1 3-6 7-6
[Q] Andrej Martin (SLO) defeated [3] Nikoloz Basilashvili (GEO) 6-1 4-6 7-6
[5] Dusan Lajovic (CRO) defeated Jeremy Chardy (FRA) 6-3 6-4
[8] Federico Delbonis (ARG) defeated Thiago Monteiro (BRA) 7-6 3-6 6-4

Picture credit: ATP Tour

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: Roger ousted in opening match

JUST the one Round of 16 match played out across the two ATP 250 events on Day 2, as both the Gonet Geneva Open in Switzerland and Open Parc Auvergne-Rhone-Alpes Lyon in France continue. But that one match saw Spaniard Pablo Andujar oust top seed and returnee Roger Federer, with the result the biggest win of Andujar’s career.

While Federer bounced back well after a shaky first set, it was the Spaniard who broke away from a 2-4 start to the third to eventually claim the win that made it such a triumph, eventually claiming the 6-4 4-6 6-4 victory and winning the remaining four games of the match to win in just under two hours.

“As [far as wins, this is] number one for sure,” Andujar said. “To win a tournament could be more emotional, but this is something I think I will remember my whole life.”

Whilst Federer was form from his career-best, returning to the clay for the first time this year and playing his first match since mid-March, the Spaniard had a clear game plan for negating the Swiss Master’s influence across the court.

“I was trying to keep the gap between the games small, trying to have faith that he was going to serve a little bit with second serves and at that moment I hoped I would have the chance to break him,” Andujar said. “For me it was very difficult, I couldn’t see his serve and he was serving pretty well, so it was difficult for me to return. I just got the chance at 4-3 when he didn’t serve with first serves and lucky me, I was able to break him.”

This is Federer’s first loss on home soil in Switzerland since 2013, but Andujar admitted Federer was not at his most potent, with the Swiss talent himself suggesting that he did not deserve a victory.

“Of course he’s much better than me and if he plays a [normal] match, he would beat me for sure. But I don’t think he played a really bad match,” Andujar said. “That’s my point of view. I think in some of the points, in some of the facets of the match, he played pretty well. I couldn’t return his serve, his first stroke after the serve is always very good. During the match, there were some good points.”

“Of course at 4-2 in the third you feel like, ‘Oh, that’s nice that I was able to turn around the match.’ You start feeling better and that’s when it dips and everything is over 10 minutes later,” Federer said. “But we know how tennis goes and that’s where it’s so brutal sometimes. But I feel like I didn’t deserve it at the end. There was just not enough happening in my game.”

In the rest of the day’s action, the remainder of the Round of 32 was complete with just one seed playing in sixth seed Fabio Fognini, claiming a speedy 6-2 6-2 victory over Argentinian Guido Pella. Qualifier Marco Cecchinato joins his higher ranked compatriot in the second round following a retirement mid-match from Stefano Travaglia, well on track to win in two before the 29-year-old pulled out of the matchup at 6-3 3-0.

A couple more qualifiers in Pablo Cuevas and Ilya Ivashka claimed straight set wins with the former downing a perhaps fatigued Reilly Opelka, who came in fresh off a run to the Rome Masters semi finals, and the latter cleaning up veteran Fernando Verdasco.

Meanwhile, 18-year-old Swiss wildcard Dominic Stephan Stricker downed Croatian Marin Cilic, Hungarian Marton Fucsovics defeated Swiss qualifier Henri Laaksonen and Feliciano Lopez claimed victory over lucky loser Daniel Altmaier, with all three winning in straight sets, as Laslo Djere was tested in the only three setter in the day’s Round of 32 proceedings, eventually overcoming Brazilian Thiago Monteiro.

Meanwhile in Lyon, it was another shaky day for Frenchmen as just Gael Monfils and Richard Gasquet proceeded to the Round of 16 from a pool of five. Fifth seed Monfils was tested by Brazilian Thiago Seyboth Wild in their 7-5 6-4 clash and Gasquet was forced to come from behind against compatriot and qualifier Gregoire Barrere, eventually claiming the 5-7 6-4 6-3 victory with his ability to save Barrere’s break point opportunities proving crucial.

Eighth seed Karen Khachanov was certainly put through his paces by wildcard Benjamin Bonzi in a tough two hour and 19 minute, 6-1 4-6 7-6(4) battle. Khachanov weathered Bonzi’s 10 aces and hit seven of his one, with his marginally better second serve efficiency proving to be the match winner.

19-year-old Italian Lorenzo Musetti had the tough task of taking down seventh seed Felix Auger-Aliassime, but that’s exactly what he did in a two hour and 46-minute blockbuster, 7-6 3-6 7-5. With a recent clash behind them, the Italian turned the tides on the 20-year-old Canadian this time around to record his fifth Top 20 victory.

“We played a really intense match, a real fight,” said Musetti. “I learned from the loss to Felix in Barcelona. It’s a good start and I hope to continue like that.”

While errors crept into both youngsters’ games, it was the Italian who was able to maintain composure, and despite winning the exact same total points as Auger Aliassime (104 apiece), claimed the victory.

The remaining matches saw qualifier Kamil Majchrzak defeat Joao Sousa, while Tommy Paul also reigned supreme over Jo-Wilfried Tsonga.

GONET GENEVA OPEN ROUND OF 32 RESULTS:

[6] Fabio Fognini (ITA) defeated Guido Pella (ARG) 6-2 6-2
[Q] Marco Cecchinato (ITA) defeated Stefano Travaglia (ITA) 6-3 3-0 RET
[Q] Pablo Cuevas (URU) defeated Reilly Opelka (USA) 7-6 6-2
Laslo Djere (SRB) defeated Thiago Monteiro (BRA) 6-7 6-3 7-5
Marton Fucsovics (HUN) defeated [Q] Henri Laaksonen (SUI) 7-5 7-5
[Q] Ilya Ivashka (BLR) defeated Fernando Verdasco (ESP) 7-6 6-4
Feliciano Lopez (ESP) defeated [LL] Daniel Altmaier (GER) 7-6 6-4
[WC] Dominic Stephan Stricker (SUI) defeated Marin Cilic (CRO) 7-6 6-1

GONET GENEVA OPEN ROUND OF 16 RESULTS:

Pablo Andujar (ESP) defeated [1] Roger Federer (SUI) 6-4 4-6 6-4

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

[5] Gael Monfils (FRA) defeated [LL] Thiago Seyboth Wild (BRA) 7-5 6-4
[ALT] Lorenzo Musetti (ITA) defeated [7] Felix Auger-Aliassime (CAN) 7-6 3-6 7-5
[8] Karen Khachanov (RUS) defeated [WC] Benjamin Bonzi (FRA) 6-1 4-6 7-6
Richard Gasquet (FRA) defeated [Q] Gregoire Barrere (FRA) 5-7 6-4 6-3
[Q] Kamil Majchrzak (POL) defeated [Q] Joao Sousa (POR) 6-3 7-6
Tommy Paul (USA) defeated Jo-Wilfried Tsonga (FRA) 6-3 6-3

Picture credit: Getty Images

ATP Tour wrap: Djoker relishes in rain as delays wreak havoc on draw

RAIN impacted the latest day’s play at the Internazionali BNL d’Italia, with just four of the Round of 32 matches completed, and seven Round of 64 matches wrapped up before the tournament organisers had to pull the pin on the day’s play. The only seed to book his spot through to the Round of 16 was world number one Novak Djokovic who took care of unseeded American Taylor Fritz in straight sets, 6-4 7-6.

Djokovic found the going a little simpler than his Australian Open bout with the rising United States representative, having gone to five sets back then, and only needing the straight sets on clay. He won 7-5 in the second set tiebreaker to grab the victory. Play was stopped at 5-5 in the second set due to rain, but the players ended up carrying on to complete the match before the event had to close.

“It was a very strange match with strange conditions. Obviously playing under the rain non-stop for almost two full sets, it is challenging for both me and him,” Djokovic said post-match. “I thought that I had an advantage there because the conditions were slower which allows me to return his serves, because he’s got really big serves.”

After breaking Fritz on his first opportunity of both sets, Djokovic was able to maintain control for the majority of the sets, but failed to serve out the match at 5-4 with Fritz breaking him and eventually forcing the Serbian star into a tiebreaker. The organisers temporarily called off the match – after hopes Djokovic would just serve out the game and end it – before the players returned to court three hours later.

“I kind of kept the match under my control for most part of the two sets, then served for the match; very sloppy service game,” Djokovic said. “He played well, made a great passing shot to come back. I was stressed out in the end obviously, but I think it was the right call to stop the match.”

In other Round of 32 results that were completed, eighth seed Diego Schwartzman was knocked out in sensational fashion, bowing out to Canadian Felix Auger-Aliassime. The North American young gun won 6-1 6-3 against the clay courter to advance through to the third round, whilst Kei Nishikori did not even need to step out on court as the former Top 5 player enjoyed a walkover after 11th seed Pablo Carreno Busta pulled out of the tournament. Meanwhile United States’ Reilly Opelka won 6-4 6-4 over rising Italian young gun Lorenzo Musetti to also advance.

Across the Round of 64 results, the major winners were the top ranked Italian in Matteo Berrettini hoping to go one better than he did in Madrid, fighting past Nikoloz Basilashvili in three sets. Meanwhile 10th seed Roberto Bautista Agut and 13th seed Denis Shapovalov both won in straight sets against qualifiers. Gael Monfils and Grigor Dimitrov were not so lucky, going down to Italian Lorenzo Sonego and Spanish qualifier Alejandro Davidovich Fokina in the first round. In other results, John Millman took care of Serbian Dusan Lajovic, and Brit qualifier Cameron Norrie was too good for fellow qualifier, Spaniard Roberto Carballes Baena.

ROME MASTERS 1000 ROUND OF 32 RESULTS:

[1] Novak Djokovic (SRB) defeated Taylor Fritz (USA) 6-3 7-6
Felix Auger-Aliassime (CAN) defeated [8] Diego Schwartzman (ARG) 6-1 6-3
Kei Nishikori (JPN) defeated [11] Pablo Carreno Busta (ESP) W/0
Reilly Opelka (USA) defeated [WC] Lorenzo Musetti (ITA) 6-4 6-4

ROME MASTERS 1000 ROUND OF 64 RESULTS:

[9] Matteo Berrettini (ITA) defeated Nikoloz Basilashvili (GEO) 4-6 6-2 6-4
[10] Roberto Bautista Agut (ESP) defeated [Q] Tommy Paul (USA) 6-3 6-4
[13] Denis Shapovalov (CAN) defeated [Q] Kamil Majchrzak (POL) 6-1 6-3
Lorenzo Sonego (ITA) defeated [14] Gael Monfils (FRA) 6-4 5-7 6-4
[Q] Alejandro Davidovich Fokina (ESP) defeated [16] Grigor Dimitrov (BUL) 6-4 7-6
John Millman (AUS) defeated Dusan Lajovic (SRB) 6-3 6-4
[Q] Cameron Norrie (GBR) defeated [Q] Roberto Carballes Baena (ESP) 6-4 6-4

Picture: ATP Tour

2021 ATP/WTA 1000 Miami Open preview: Federer and Nadal withdraw as Barty returns

THE 2021 Miami Open is set to begin this week, played from Monday, March 22 through to Sunday, April 4, with the 1000 event expected to showcase some high calibre encounters across both the ATP and WTA Tours. Whilst the men’s list is missing a couple of notable names within the top 20, the women’s draw will boast just about all of the big names in the biz as the season rolls on despite COVID-19 restrictions still impacting proceedings. Both the men’s and women’s reigning Australian Open champions are set to compete, highlighting the strength of the respective events.

On the ATP Tour, the clear omissions from the draw include Rafael NadalDominic Thiem and Roger Federer, with the trio’s absence making for a huge hole in the draw and a real opportunity for the developing players coming through the ranks to make their mark. Looking down the list, it’s safe to say Novak Djokovic and Daniil Medvedev are the clear frontrunners in as first and second seeds with one title apiece to start the year, whilst Stefanos Tsitsipas and Alexander Zverev are well within their chances here given the glaring absences. 2021 title-winners Andrey Rublev (Rotterdam title, 13-2 in 2021), Diego Schwartzman (Buenos Aires, 8-3) and David Goffin (Montpellier, 9-5) also register high in the draw, with the likes of Matteo Berrettini, Denis ShapovalovGael Monfils and Roberto Bautista Agut rounding out the top 11 or so players, pending shuffling from this week’s results. Factor in the explosiveness of the likes of Nick Kyrgios, who is still yet to confirm attendance, and the wealth of Spanish talent currently residing within and around the top 50, and there is so much that could go against the grain here.

Given it is an ATP 1000 event, there is no shortage of talent as players flock to Miami. Even heading down the list to lower ranked players, there are plenty of quality names across the board with in-form and young talent looking to add valuable points to their rankings. Two-time Miami champion Andy Murray is the big name wildcard at the event, joined by teen Carlos Alcaraz, Michael Mmoh, Hugo Gaston and Jack Draper in the main draw.

Heading to the women’s draw, and whilst there is more consistent top talent in the draw, that does not make it any easier to predict with the relatively even WTA Tour boasting a number of players who consistently step up at this level. Australian world number one and reigning 2019 Miami champion Ash Barty is reportedly set to compete after spending an unprecedented year way from the international circuit in 2020, joined by the ever formidable Naomi OsakaSimona HalepSofia Kenin and Elina Svitolina to round out the top five seeds. Also featuring are eight-time champion Serena Williams, who can never be overlooked in an event of this calibre, and a number of developing talents with French Open champion Iga Swiatek (2020) and 2019 US Open winner Bianca Andreescu both set to take the court here. Jennifer BradyKarolina Pliskova and Madison Keys are another few who cannot be dismissed, as are the ever exciting teens Coco Gauff and Amanda Anisimova.

Factor in the evenness and unpredictability of the women’s draw, with realistically any number of the top 20 – or upwards of that – capable of beating anyone on their day, and Miami will have a real battle on its hands. The women’s main draw wildcards include Anna Kalinskaya, Ana Konjuh, Storm Sanders, Katrina Scott, Mayar Sherif, Xiyu Wang and Xinyu Wang, with qualifiers for both the women’s and men’s events set to play out over March 22-23.

2021 ATP Tour 250 Doha/Marseille/Santiago previews: Fed Express returns

THREE ATP Tour 250 events take place this week, with the biggest talking point being the return of Roger Federer for the first time in more than 12 months. The Fed Express will play at Doha in a strong top-end field, whilst tournaments at Marseille and Santiago also take place this weekend.

DOHA:

Federer’s return to the ATP Tour will be the story of this tournament, regardless of how he goes. The now world number five will be seeded second at this event behind Austrian Dominic Thiem, who has become a Grand Slam winner since the Swiss maestro last played. The top five talents are joined by another Top 10 player in Andrey Rublev who hopes to build on his strong early season form, as an additional four Top 15 players are entered making it a really impressive elite group.

The injury-stricken Gael Monfils returns alongside recent Open Sud de France finalists in David Goffin and Roberto Bautista Agut, and young gun Canadian Denis Shapovalov. The latter is in the form of his life ranked 11th overall, with Goffin is seventh seed but still 14th in the world. Stan Wawrinka rounds out the eight seeds coming in at world number 20, while all the automatic entries are inside the Top 50.

Among those entries are Dusan Lajovic – fresh off an upset win over Daniil Medvedev at Rotterdam – as well as Lorenzo Sonego – who defeated Novak Djokovic late last year – and Alexander Bublik – who claimed an upset win over Alexander Zverev last week – who will be threats to the Top 20 players. Croatian Borna Coric and Brit Daniel Evans are other Top 30 players in the draw, while Australian John Millman will be searching for that all-important first win in an individual event for 2021.

No one is expecting Federer to storm to a title straight off the bat as much as that would be a fairytale, however he would be the sentimental favourite. Much more likely is a Thiem-Rublev final which would be entertaining, with Shapovalov and Goffin the others in-form.

 

MARSEILLE:

The two players considered the next Grand Slam winners will face-off in Marseille, with world number three Daniil Medvedev and world number six Stefanos Tsitsipas entered as the top two seeds. The Russian top seed will be wanting to improve on his shock first round loss to Lajovic last start, and will be fresh here, while Tsitsipas will be looking to continue his Rotterdam form if he does indeed play. Third seed Karen Khachanov is the other Top 30 player, with the draw thinning out after the top six.

Young guns Ugo Humbert and Jannik Sinner continue to follow each other around the world at the same tournaments and remain danger men to any player above them, whilst Kei Nishikori‘s recent form – which included wins over Felix Auger-Aliassime and Alex de Minaur at Rotterdam – has the sixth seed in the mix as well. Compatriot Yoshihito Nishioka and Spaniard Alejandro Davidovich Fokina round out the eight seeds at the event, with France unsurprisingly well represented in Marseille.

Jo-Wilfried Tsonga will be back again to try and grab a win in his second 2021 start, joined by the likes of Lucas Pouille and Pierre-Hugues Herbert as automatic entries. Brit Cameron Norrie and Belarusian Egor Gerasimov have shown potential at different points this year, while young Finn Emil Ruusuvuori is another one to watch out for.

Tsitsipas will arguably start favourite, with a final against Medvedev the dream for onlookers, but you can never discount Humbert or Sinner with their potential.

 

SANTIAGO:

By far the weakest draw mainly due to the clay surface, the 250 event in Santiago will draw some of the lower ranked clay court specialists to try and grab a win. Cristian Garin will be the strong favourite for the event, seeded first as 22nd in the world, while 29th ranked Frenchman Benoit Paire is the other Top 50 player. After that it drops off with third seed Pablo Andujar (57th) and fourth seed Laslo Djere (60th) also entering.

Recent maiden title winner Juan Manuel Cerundolo, as well as Chilean Nicolas Jarry have earned wildcards at the event, with Jarry the other home nation hero after Garin in the main draw. The lowest automatic entry outside of wildcards is 128th ranked Slovakian Jozef Kovalik who reached a quarter final at Cordoba, while the likes of Marco Cecchinato, Salvatore Caruso and Jaume Munar are others to watch.

This is Garin’s tournament to win. His favourite surface, a weakened draw, it is hard not to see him lifting the cup, with perhaps the red-hot Cerundolo his biggest challenger, alongside the unpredictable but talented clay courter in Cecchinato.

Picture credit: Julian Finney

2021 ATP World Tennis Tournament & Argentina Open preview

WITH only two past winners in the 2021 World Tennis Tournament draw, the odds are in favour of a first-time winner at the 500 Rotterdam event which will welcome a number of the top stars on Tour. With Novak Djokovic nursing a torn muscle, and Rafael Nadal and Dominic Thiem resting, Russian Daniil Medvedev will enter the tournament as top seed and favourite at the event.

Gael Monfils is a back-to-back winner, but has opted not to take part this year as he still battles coming back from injury and his own form, while Stan Wawrinka (2015) and Andy Murray (2009) are the only past winners of the event in the draw. Despite not featuring any of the Big Three – Djokovic, Nadal and Roger Federer – the next crop of talents are all attending, with Australian Open finalist Medvedev the pick to go deep given his recent form.

Stefanos Tsitsipas, Alexander Zverev and Andrey Rublev have all been handed top four seedings at the exclusive event, while Felix Auger-Aliassime is also in the top eight alongside more experienced talents in Roberto Bautista Agut, David Goffin and Wawrinka. Aside from Goffin who has struggled of late, the rest of the seeds have been in some strong form, with the top four particularly favoured to once again continue their ATP Tour success.

Outside the top eight, Alex de Minaur is a huge threat, while young guns Ugo Humbert and Jannik Sinner are back again, as are the likes of Karen Khachanov and Hubert Hurkacz. Further down the list, John Millman will hope to turn around his poor start to 2021, with Marin Cilic and Kei Nishikori past Top 10 talents who are always dangers at any level, as is Grand Slam winner Murray. In terms of local hopes, Botic Van De Zandschulp and Robin Haase have been handed wildcards, but face an incredibly uphill battle against the world’s best players.

If you had to pick a winner, Medvedev is the choice, though the stacked field with Cilic being the lowest ranked automatic entry outside of wildcards, means it is an incredibly talented draw.

 

ARGENTINA OPEN:

From the star-studded 500 tournament to a lower-ranked clay court event in Argentina, some of the top clay courters in the world will look to take full advantage of a weakened field to snare a title. Top seed Diego Schwartzman is able to remain in his home country following the Cordoba Open, and he will be joined by second seed and clay court specialist, Cristian Garin. Benoit Paire and Miomir Kecmanovic round out the top four seeds, with Paire grabbing his second win in 12 months, and the up-and-coming Kecmanovic in a similar form struggle.

Guido Pella is a threat in his home nation, with Albert Ramos-Vinolas, Laslo Djere and Pablo Andujar rounding out the top eight players and Top 60 talents at the event. The 2019 winner, Marco Cecchinato is back to try and win another title, ranked 79th in the world currently. Joao Sousa  – ranked 93rd in the world – is the lowest ranked automatic entry, though the Argentinian wildcards yet to be fully announced are always a threat.

Schwartzman and Garin are the clear and away standouts in this draw, and would make for an entertaining final.