Tag: gilles simon

ATP Tour wrap: Eastbourne Day 1 rained out as Ruud and Khachanov claim wins at Mallorca

THE opening day at Eastbourne was rained out, seeing the event pushed back a day as Day 2 went business as usual at the Mallorca Championships in Spain.

Two of the three seeds proved successful on the second day, as Casper Ruud and Karen Khachanov both claimed wins to open their accounts in the first round. Ruud required one hour and 39 minutes to earn victory over Frenchman Gilles Simon, utilising his 80 per cent winning rate off his first serve to come away with the 6-4 7-6(4) result. Whilst Ruud was not quite as potent off his second serve, winning just seven points from 16 chances, he saved three of four break points and converted three of his five break point opportunities.

Khachanov needed three sets, and two hours and 14 minutes to claim the win over a second Frenchman, qualifier Lucas Pouille, 7-6(7) 3-6 6-4. He hit 13 aces throughout the encounter, overcoming a second set deficit to fight back to his opening set form and used his consistency to power through Pouille’s efforts. Things went differently for eighth seed Dusan Lajovic though, as the Serbian fell to qualifier Lukas Klein 6-4 7-6(2). Despite hitting seven aces for zero double faults to Klein’s four and four, Lajovic was not as effective on the return, winning just 24 points off Klein’s service games. Klein, to his credit, won 53 per cent of points overall in a solid match for the Slovakian.

A trio of Spaniards played on home soil, with just one in Feliciano Lopez earning the win. Lopez defeated qualifying compatriot Nicola Kuhn 6-1 7-6(4). Despite dominating the first set, Kuhn came out flying in the second with a point to prove, with just the tiebreaker not going the qualifier’s way. Overall, Lopez won an excellent 84 per cent of points off his first serve, and backed it up with a 64 per cent winning rate off his second in a fairly consistent showing.

The third Spaniard in Jaume Munar fell to Tennys Sandgren 7-6(3) 7-5, with that matchup taking just a tick over two hours, while the battle between Italian Stefano Travaglia and Argentinian Guido Pella went the same distance, but with reversed results 7-5 7-6(4), as the Italian claimed the tight win. Travaglia’s compatriot Salvatore Caruso was not quite so lucky, falling to Czech Jiri Vesely 7-6 6-2, whilst the remaining matchup of the day between Corentin Moutet and Lloyd Harris saw at least one Frenchman get the chocolates, beating the South African 6-4 6-2.

MALLORCA CHAMPIONSHIPS ROUND OF 32 RESULTS:

[5] Casper Ruud (NOR) defeated Gilles Simon (FRA) 6-4 7-6
[6] Karen Khachanov (RUS) defeated [Q] Lucas Pouille (FRA) 7-6 3-6 6-4
[Q] Lukas Klein (SVK) defeated [8] Dusan Lajovic (SRB) 6-4 7-6
Feliciano Lopez (ESP) defeated [Q] Nicola Kuhn (ESP) 6-1 7-6
Corentin Moutet (FRA) defeated Lloyd Harris (RSA) 6-4 6-2
Tennys Sandgren (USA) defeated Jaume Munar (ESP) 7-6 7-5
Stefano Travaglia (ITA) defeated Guido Pella (ARG) 7-5 7-6
Jiri Vesely (CZE) defeated Salvatore Caruso (ITA) 7-6 6-2

 

Picture credit: Quality Sport Images

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: Geneva and Lyon events begin

TWO ATP 250 events have begun this week, with tournaments in Geneva and Lyon shaping up with their respective Round of 32. Four matches played out at both events on the opening day, with six of the seven French competitors falling across the two tournaments on a huge first day in both Switzerland and France.

At Geneva, Dominik Koepfer and Arthur Cazaux were the two big winners of the day disposing of French seeded duo, Benoit Paire and Adrian Mannarino. Koepfer may have lost the first set but that did not stop him from testing out-of-form seventh seed Paire, with a better service efficiency paying off despite hitting six double faults for three aces. While Paire won 82 per cent of his first serve points (60/73), Koepfer’s 66/98 off a 67 per cent clip paid off as he backed it up with a marginally better 51 per cent win rate off his second serve in the 6-7(8) 7-6(5) 6-4 contest. Koepfer saved a whopping 17 break points of Paire’s 19 chances, showcasing his strong defensive game to remain on top of the contest.

Meanwhile, teen French wildcard Cazaux took the court for his first ATP Tour-level match and claimed his first win in one fell swoop, with a 6-3 6-7 6-3 sweep of compatriot Mannarino. He required just under two and a half hours to defeat the eighth seed, hitting 10 aces and showing immense control to come back from the 6-7(5) second set to take out the victory.

“It’s something very great. It’s a big win for me today. It’s the biggest win of my life,” Cazaux said. “I’m so grateful and I hope to continue in this tournament.”

Overall, Cazaux won 72 per cent of his service points off a 60 per cent clip, and whilst his return could do with some improving, it was at a greater efficiency than his experienced opposition who failed to adjust to the 18-year-old’s exciting style of play, which included a ‘tweener’ during the second set.

“When I hit the shot, I didn’t think about nothing. I had my back to the net and I just hit the shot. I didn’t ask any questions in my head,” Cazaux said. “It was a big shot. I’m so happy I hit this shot.”

The remaining two matches saw straight sets victories go to Spaniard Pablo Andujar and American Tennys Sandgren, with the former downing Australian Jordan Thompson in less than 90 minutes, while the latter required an hour and 47 minutes to take down Italian Salvatore Caruso.

At Lyon, none of the home nation’s talent headed through to the second round in a disastrous and rainy day of action, as three of the four winners only required two sets to proceed. The quickest win of the day went to Aljaz Bedene, as the Slovenian downed former top 10 veteran, Gilles Simon. Bedene won 84 per cent of his service points in a classy 6-2 6-3 win, whilst also winning 48 per cent on return and converting four break points in a one-sided one hour and 16 minute contest.

Pierre-Hugues Herbert had a strong start against American Sebastian Korda but fell away in the second, registering nine double faults throughout as Korda cleaned up on serve, winning 78 per cent of his first serve points to claim the 7-6(5) 6-4 victory. Cameron Norrie registered a similarly solid win 7-5 6-3 in just over 90 minutes, utilising Corentin Moutet‘s shaky second serve to his advantage to win 49 per cent of his return points to go with a serviceable 60 per cent service game winning rate.

The remaining matchup saw Yoshihito Nishioka claim victory in Lyon’s only three-setter for the day, overcoming Ugo Humbert 3-6 6-3 6-4 after a shaky start. While Humbert was solid on serve, winning 70 per cent of his first serve points (37/53) off a 64 per cent clip (53/83), Nishioka pipped him at the post winning 43 points of a possible 66, despite a lower percentage efficiency on both to claim the ascendancy and ultimately the victory. The Japanese 25-year-old saved 12 break points from Humbert’s 15 chances and converted four of nine, eventually winning 51 per cent of the overall points (95 to Humbert’s 92) in a tough, yet even, clash.

GONET GENEVA OPEN ROUND OF 32 RESULTS: 

Dominik Koepfer (GER) defeated [7] Benoit Paire (FRA) 6-7 7-6 6-4
[WC] Arthur Cazaux (FRA) defeated [8] Adrian Mannarino (FRA) 6-3 6-7 6-3
Pablo Andujar (ESP) defeated Jordan Thompson (AUS) 6-0 6-4
Tennys Sandgren (USA) defeated Salvatore Caruso (ITA) 6-3 6-4

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

Aljaz Bedene (SLO) defeated Gilles Simon (FRA) 6-2 6-3
Cameron Norrie (GBR) defeated Corentin Moutet (FRA) 7-5 6-3
Sebastian Korda (USA) defeated Pierre-Hugues Herbert (FRA) 7-6 6-4
Yoshihito Nishioka (JPN) defeated Ugo Humbert (FRA) 3-6 6-3 6-4

ATP Tour wrap: Martinez overcomes Bublik as McDonald downs Lajovic

PLENTY of interesting results were had on the second day at both the Estoril and Munich Open events, as the clay season continues on the ATP Tour.

At Estoril, qualifier Pedro Martinez upset fifth seed Alexander Bublik in a dominant straight sets outcome, easily accounting for the Kazakh 6-3 6-0 in just 51 minutes. Whilst Bublik piled on six aces to Martinez’s one, the Kazakh fifth seed was uncharacteristically error-ridden and failed to convert a single break point from four chances. Martinez heads into the second round with the comfortable win behind him, with an excellent 82 per cent winning rate off his first serve, off a 70 per cent clip.

Meanwhile, sixth seed Marin Cilic was challenged by upcoming Spanish talent Carlos Alcaraz, winning the first set before dropping the second as Alcaraz created a huge turnaround in momentum. But it was not enough, as Cilic returned to his first set form in the third to eventually claim the 6-3 1-6 6-4 victory.

“I’m extremely happy to be here in Portugal, in Estoril for the first time,” Cilic said post-match. “It was a very difficult match. Carlos is a great young talent… Definitely he’s got an unbelievable future ahead of him.”

Cilic hit six aces to Alcaraz’s one, and whilst he also more than doubled Alcaraz’s three double faults, he was still more effective on serve, winning 60 per cent of his first serve points off a 64 per cent clip. Cilic was only marginally better on return, and won just one more point throughout the contest in the narrow win, which stretched out to two hours and 14 minutes in length.

“I was extremely happy to win after dropping the second set. He played really well,” Cilic said. “I was a break up in the third set and he broke back. In the end it was just a couple points that made the difference in the match.”

Three Frenchmen proceeded to the second round, with only Corentin Moutet realistically challenged for his spot in the second round by American Marcos Giron, forced to overcome a second set tiebreaker to come away with the 6-4 6-7(7) 6-4 victory. Richard Gasquet claimed a 6-3 7-5 victory over Argentinian Juan Ignacio Londero, whilst Pierre-Hugues Herbert downed compatriot Gilles Simon 7-5 6-3 to head into the second round. Seventh seed Albert Ramos-Vinolas disposed of compatriot Fernando Verdasco in straight sets, as Marco Cecchinato and Cameron Norrie were the remaining winners of the day.

At Munich, American qualifier Mackenzie McDonald provided the win of the day after disposing of sixth seed Dusan Lajovic 6-4 6-4, requiring just under 90 minutes to claim victory. McDonald boasted a 79 per cent winning rate off his first serve off a 66 per cent clip throughout and also saved two break points on his way to the win. The other two seeds of the day waged better battles to head into the second round, as both Georgian Nikoloz Basilashvili and German Jan-Lennard Struff reigned supreme, both claiming straight sets wins.

Two more German competitors won on home soil and will join Struff in the second round, with Yannick Hanfmann and Dominik Koepfer overcoming deficits to win in three sets. Meanwhile, Uruguayan Pablo Cuevas and Colombian Daniel Elahi Galan round out the remaining winners of the day, both disposing of Americans in Tennys Sandgren and Marcos Giron in straight sets.

MILLENNIUM ESTORIL OPEN ROUND OF 32 RESULTS:

[Q] Pedro Martinez (ESP) defeated [5] Alexander Bublik (KAZ) 6-3 6-0
[6] Marin Cilic (CRO) defeated [Q] Carlos Alcaraz (ESP) 6-3 1-6 6-4
[7] Albert Ramos-Vinolas (ESP) defeated Fernando Verdasco (ESP) 6-3 6-3
Marco Cecchinato (ITA) defeated Lloyd Harris (RSA) 6-3 6-4
Richard Gasquet (FRA) defeated Juan Ignacio Londero (ARG) 6-3 7-5
Pierre-Hugues Herbert (FRA) defeated Gilles Simon (FRA) 7-5 6-3
Corentin Moutet (FRA) defeated Marcos Giron (USA) 6-4 6-7 6-4
Cameron Norrie (GBR) defeated [WC] Joao Sousa (POR)

BMW OPEN ROUND OF 32 RESULTS:

[5] Nikoloz Basilashvili (GEO) defeated Thiago Monteiro (BRA) 6-2 6-3
[Q] Mackenzie McDonald (USA) defeated [6] Dusan Lajovic (RB) 6-4 6-4
[7] Jan-Lennard Struff (GER) defeated [LL] Andrej Martin (SVK) 6-4 6-3
Pablo Cuevas (URU) defeated Tennys Sandgren (USA) 7-6 0-6 6-1
[Q] Daniel Elahi Galan (COL) defeated Sebastien Korda (USA) 6-1 7-6
[WC] Yannick Hanfmann (GER) defeated [SE] Taro Daniel (JPN) 6-2 3-6 7-6
Dominik Koepfer (GER) defeated [WC] Philipp Kohlschreiber (GER) 4-6 6-4 6-3

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: Fritz poised for move on clay

IT is time for Taylor Fritz to make his move. The 23-year-old American has been been in the Top 100 since shooting up to 81st in the world rankings back in February, 2016. Then, the 18-year-old was seen as one of the many youngsters ready to take the world by storm and be the next big thing from the United States.

Unfortunately it did not quite go to plan, and Fritz’s 2017 was a forgettable one where he yo-yo’d in and out of the Top 100, before a new year in 2018 saw him crack it again and this time he would not drop out. While Fritz has not had a substantial drop in the past three years, he really has not made any inroads, and has hovered around the Top 30 for some time, reaching 24th in the world last August, and currently sitting 30th.

Fritz is still young, but at 23, he should be hitting his peak, and at 193cm, the American has plenty of potential. He has just one title – at Eastbourne in 2019 – with four finals losses. He runs at close to 50 per cent success across all surfaces, and is not phased by either left or right handers with an even billing there too. On paper, he should not have too many weaknesses, able to serve strongly – winning 75 per cent of his first serve points – return relatively well and have a solid all-round forehand and backhand shot selection.

The issue from a service perspective is more his efficiency, putting just 59 per cent of his first serves in court, then having to recover by winning 50 per cent of his second serve points. He is the furthest thing from a volleyer, and prefers to keep the tempo from the baseline, which is his style, being a strong server, then baseline talent.

In his win against Slovakian Andrej Martin overnight, Fritz took 93 minutes to win 6-2 7-6. After cruising in the first set, he did not have the same level of control in the second, as Martin lifted and forced Fritz to fight out a tiebreaker, something the American seed has become fairly good at over his career. On this occasion, Fritz won 7-4 and therefore booked his spot in the quarter finals at the Sardegna Open.

He only produced the two aces, but three double faults and served at a 55 per cent efficiency, which summarised him in a nutshell. He won 68 and 44 per cent of his first and second serve points, breaking five times to three. What did stand out was his much higher first serve return, which is often quite low, but Fritz won 46 per cent of points off the Slovakian’s first serve. It meant he could take control upon return, and if he could tighten up his efficiency, he could go a long way on Tour.

He will now face Slovenian Aljaz Bedene in the quarter finals, after Bedene defeated Belarusian Egor Gerasimov in straight sets, 6-4- 7-6. Fritz and Bedene played for the first time in the Cincinnati Masters 1000 last year, with the Slovenian emerging triumphant 7-6 7-5 in a nail-biter. It is not a result that would haunt Fritz too much, and the world number 30’s best is better than Bedene’s, but the Slovenian can be a tricky opponent. In that match, Bedene had one more ace (11-10), and ironically Fritz’s first serve was more efficient (63 per cent), but his worries with first serve return success at a shocking 16 per cent. He will need to have more resistance on the clay against Bedene than he did on the hard courts that day.

Also into the quarter finals are fourth and fifth seeds Nikoloz Basilashvili and Jan-Lennard Struff who both won through with respective wins over qualifiers. They are in the top half of the draw though, with top seed Daniel Evans to play teenage wonderkid Lorenzo Musetti today, and Laslo Djere to face off against John Millman for the other spot. In the bottom half of the the draw, and upset by German Yannick Hanfmann over American Tommy Paul in the first round has really opened the draw wide up, and Hanfmann will now take on clay court specialist Marco Cecchinato, with the Italian’s compatriot Lorenzo Sonego entering the tournament up against reliable Frenchman Gilles Simon.

Fritz has the best chance to-date of adding a second title to his name, and whilst hard court might be his preferred surface, he is able to hide his first serve return worries on clay, and still be a dangerous server. He will have to overcome more clay-competent players, but he has the talent and should at least make a final at Sardegna, with the top half of the draw much more stacked than the bottom half.

Meanwhile over at the Andalucia Open, it was a rather predictable day, with three of the four seeds advancing. Tournament favourite Pablo Carreno Busta defeated Spanish compatriot and qualifier Mario Vilella Martinez, joining fourth seed Albert Ramos-Vinolas in the final eight. Korean Soonwoo Kwon also made his way through with a triumph over Argentinian Facundo Bagnis, whilst Slovakian Norbert Gombos took down eighth seed Argentinian Federico Delbonis.

SARDEGNA OPEN ROUND OF 16 RESULTS:

[2] Taylor Fritz (USA) defeated Andrej Martin (SVK) 6-2 7-6
[4] Nikoloz Basilashvili (GEO) defeated [Q] Jozef Kovalik (SVK) 4-6 6-4 7-5
[5] Jan-Lennard Struff (GER) defeated [Q] Liam Broady (GBR) 6-4 6-2
Aljaz Bedene (SLO) defeated Egor Gerasimov (BLR) 6-4 7-6

ANDALUCIA OPEN ROUND OF 16 RESULTS:

[1] Pablo Carreno Busta (ESP) defeated [Q] Mario Vilella Martinez (ESP) 7-6 6-3
[4] Albert Ramos-Vinolas (ESP) defeated Ricardas Berankis (LTU) 6-3 4-6 6-3
[7] Soonwoo Kwon (KOR) defeafed Facundo Bagnis (ARG) 6-1 6-3
Norbert Gombos (SVK) defeated [8] Federico Delbonis (ARG) 5-7 7-6 7-6

ATP Tour wrap: Round of 32 complete at Sardegna and Marbella

COMPETITION continued in Sardegna and Marbella today with the Round of 32 at both ATP 250 events still going strong and homegrown talent proving influential on Day 2 of proceedings.

At Sardegna, three set encounters told the story with fifth and sixth seeds Jan-Lennard Struff and John Millman amongst a group of six players who required a third set to clinch victory. Struff overcame a shocking 1-6 start to Joao Sousa to remain in the hunt for the second round, collecting the 1-6 6-1 7-5 victory in just over two hours. Gilles Simon was another who came from a set down to win in three, defeating home talent Stefano Travaglia 1-6 6-3 6-4, as did qualifier Jozef Kovalik, who was one of two Slovakian competitors to win on the day, joined by Andrej Martin in the second round.

It was a first set tiebreaker that was the difference between a win and a loss for Australian sixth see Millman, who overcame Federico Coria 7-6(5) 3-6 6-3 in a mammoth three hour and 13 minute encounter, whilst Italian Marco Cecchinato was the remaining three set winner with a victory over compatriot Thomas Fabbiano 6-4 4-6 6-3. Lorenzo Musetti joined Ceecchinato in the second round after a confidence-boosting 6-0 6-1 obliteration of Dennis Novak in just 52 minutes, with the remaining win of the day going to British qualifier Liam Broady, who defeated Swiss qualifier Marc-Andrea Huesler 6-1 6-3.

SARDEGNA OPEN ROUND OF 32 RESULTS: 

[5] Jan-Lennard Struff (GER) defeated Joao Sousa (POR) 1-6 6-1 7-5
[6] John Millman (AUS) defeated Federico Coria (ARG) 7-6 3-6 6-3
[Q] Liam Broady (GBR) defeated [Q] Marc-Andrea Huesler (SUI) 6-1 6-3
Marco Cecchinato (ITA) defeated [WC] Thomas Fabbiano (ITA) 6-4 4-6 6-3
[Q] Jozef Kovalik (SVK) defeated [Q] Sumit Nagal (IND) 3-6 6-1 6-3
Andrej Martin (SVK) defeated Jiri Vesely (CZE) 6-4 2-6 6-1
Lorenzo Musetti (ITA) defeated Dennis Novak (AUT) 6-0 6-1
Gilles Simon (FRA) defeated Stefano Travaglia (ITA) 1-6 6-3 6-4

At Marbella, results went the opposite way with majority straight sets victories across the day, and just one three setter to speak of, which intriguingly was still a mostly one-sided battle as Alejandro Davidovich Fokina reigned supreme in a 6-7 6-2 6-2 encounter with Damir Dzumhur. The two hour flat matchup was marginally the longest of the day, with the Spaniard one of five to head into the second round. He is joined by Feliciano LopezJaume Munar, wildcard Carlos Alcaraz and qualifier Mario Vilella Martinez, after all four claimed solid wins.

The other three winners of the day hailed from Argentina, Belarus and Italy, with Argentinian Facundo Bagnis overcoming compatriot Francisco Cerundolo and Ilya Ivashka getting the job done in an identical 6-3 7-6(2) final result over another Spaniard in Pedro Martinez, while Gianluca Mager defeated Kazakh Mikhail Kukushkin.

ANYTECH365 ANDALUCIA OPEN ROUND OF 32 RESULTS:

[5] Alejandro Davidovich Fokina (ESP) defeated Damir Dzumhur (BIH) 6-7 6-2 6-2
[6] Feliciano Lopez (ESP) defeated Taro Daniel (JPN) 6-4 6-4
[WC] Carlos Alcaraz (ESP) defeated [Q] Nikola Milojevic (SRB) 7-6 6-3
Facundo Bagnis (ARG) defeated Francisco Cerundolo (ARG) 6-3 7-6
Ilya Ivashka (BLR) defeated Pedro Martinez (ESP) 6-3 7-6
Gianluca Mager (ITA) defeated Mikhail Kukushkin (KAZ) 7-5 6-3
Jaume Munar (ESP) defeated [Q] Henri Laaksonen (SUI) 6-4 6-1
[Q] Mario Vilella Martinez (ESP) defeated [Q] Bernabe Zapata Miralles (ESP) 6-2 6-3

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

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

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

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

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

OPEN SUD DE FRANCE ROUND OF 32 RESULTS:

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

 

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

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

SINGAPORE ROUND OF 32 RESULTS:

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

 

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

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

CORDOBA OPEN ROUND OF 32 RESULTS:

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

Picture credit: Yong Teck Lim/Getty Images

2021 ATP 250 previews: Montpellier, Cordoba and Singapore

THREE ATP Tour 250 events will take off immediately after the Australian Open this weekend, with a number of mid-tier talents gaining some extra match practice following disappointing exits from the Australian Open. The top ranked player across the three tournaments is Diego Schwartzman (ninth) at Cordoba, while Roberto Bautista Agut (13th) is top seed in Montpellier, and Frenchman Adrian Mannarino (36th) leads a lower-ranked field in Singapore.

CORDOBA:

Schwartzman is the standout candidate on the clay tournament and honestly he should put this one in the bank without too much trouble. His nearest rival is 29th ranked Frenchman Benoit Paire, who has opted for Spain rather than his home nation at Montpellier. Paire is in a career slump since reaching the Auckland final 13 months ago, and will struggle up against a ton of clay court regulars.

Miomir Kecmanovic and Guido Pella round out the top five, with 46th ranked Albert Ramos-Vinolas the other Top 50 player in the draw. This tournament looms as one where, if Schwartzman pulls out or has a shocker, could be spread across any number of players. Thiago Monteiro is one who has been in good form, the likes of Marco Cecchinato and Juan Ignacio Londero can never be discounted on clay, and even rising Spaniard Jaume Munar is a chance.

The number one alternative at the time of publishing was Thiago Seyboth Wild who has all the talent if he can harness it, and genuinely could grab a Top 100 spot with a good run here. Spanish talents and South Americans make up the majority of the draw, with only half a dozen automatic entries from Europe, and none from the United States or Asia/Oceania.

MONTPELLIER:

Bautista Agut was aggravated at the Australian Open organisation, and now he returns to France in a reverse-Paire rather than going to his home nation in Spain. He and 15th ranked David Goffin – who both suffered disappointing shock losses at the Grand Slam – will be the clear standouts in a tournament that has the highest quality of the three by a fair way. Goffin should be the favourite still, but there are plenty in the running.

Aside from having two Top 20 players, as well as an additional two Top 30 players in Dusan Lajovic and Hubert Hurkacz, there is an abundance of youth, and returning experience that has signed up for the Montpellier event. Jannik Sinner and Ugo Humbert who are arguably the two most exciting Next Gen talents in the world are seeded, as are Lorenzo Sonego – most famously known for his upset of Novak Djokovic last year – and German Jan-Lennard Struff who ran into form at the ATP Cup.

The likes of Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Andy Murray have been named amongst the candidates to play, like fans have teleported back to the mid 2000s. Both will be returning from injury if they take to the court, amongst a host of Frenchman entered. Richard Gasquet, Gilles Simon and Lucas Pouille are all in, with Nikoloz Basilashvili and Jiri Vesely also amongst the automatic entries.

SINGAPORE:

The weakest of the three draws by a fair margin, the lowest automatic entry comes in at 187th in the world. To be fair, it is former Top 10 player Ernests Gulbis, but the Latvian is far from his glory days of a decade ago. He still has the most titles of anyone in the draw however, with some real solid competitors, though a lack of top-end talent has to be said.

Singapore could mark a rematch between Frenchman Mannarino and Australian John Millman from last year, which saw the Australian win his first ever ATP Tour title at the Astana Open. They are the standouts for the Asian event, with Marin Cilic and Alexander Bublik rounding out the four seeds. The eighth highest ranked player is Soonwoo Kwon (97th), with fair talents Yoshihito Nishioka, Radu Albot and Lloyd Harris the other seeds.

The unseeded players have some potential, with Michael Mmoh showing good form at Melbourne Park, and Alexei Popyrin and James Duckworth always dangerous. Japanese duo Yasutaka Uchiyama and Taro Daniel join Nishioka at the event, though Mannarino and Millman are clearly the standouts to take home the ATP 250 event trophy.

Picture credit: Getty Images

ATP 250 wraps: Aussies succeed on home soil as Kyrgios returns

ANOTHER huge day was had at both the Great Ocean Road Open and Murray River Open, with the ATP 250 tournaments showcasing plenty of formidable names heading into the Australian Open next week.

It was a massive day at the Great Ocean Road Open, with a couple of intriguing results coming out of the Round of 64 draw. Three Australians made their mark on home soil with Jordan ThompsonMatthew Ebden and wildcard Dane Sweeny all coming away with victory, with the latter two completing wins in straight sets, while 11th seed Thompson was forced to three sets by Italian Gianluca Mager, and three other Australians failed to come away with the ‘W’. Only a small spat from ninth seed Tennys Sandgren soured the United States’ day, with 10th seed Sam Querrey joining him on the winners list, and while compatriot Maxime Cressy may not have gotten the chocolates this time, his excellent effort pushing Pierre-Hugue Herbert to the bitter end was commendable, taking the Frenchman to a 6-7 7-6 7-6 outcome in two hours and 39 minutes. It was the American’s error rate which was the catch, matching his 23 aces with the same number of double faults.

The only seed to fall was 14th seed and world number 59 Spaniard Pablo Andujar, who was swept aside by Pablo Cuevas 6-4 6-2, and is joined by compatriot Pedro Martinez on the sidelines after he was down by Mikael Torpegaard. Meanwhile, Spanish 17-year-old and excitement machine Carlos Alcaraz heads into the second round by default after his Hungarian opposition Attila Balasz retired, giving the youngster a chance to really prove himself on the ATP Tour after excelling on the ITF circuit. A second Spaniard joined the winners list, with 188th ranked Mario Vilella Martinez defeating German Jannick Hanfmann, who sits just outside the top 100 at 101 on the world rankings.

In other games, a duo of Dutch winners in Robin Haase and Botic Van De Zandschulp got the job done, while Thiago Monteiro, Sergiy Stakhovsky and Cedrik-Marcel Stebe also put first round wins on the board.

GREAT OCEAN ROAD OPEN ROUND OF 64 RESULTS:

[9] Tennys Sandgren (USA) defeated [WC] John-Patrick Smith (AUS) 6-3 5-7 6-4
[10] Sam Querrey (USA) defeated Henri Laaksonen (SUI) 4-6 7-6 6-0
[11] Jordan Thompson (AUS) defeated Gianluca Mager (ITA) 4-6 6-4 6-3
Pablo Cuevas (URU) defeated [14] Pablo Andujar (ESP) 6-4 6-2
Carlos Alcaraz (ESP) defeated Attila Balazs (HUN) 2-2 RET
Matthew Ebden (AUS) defeated Federico Delbonis (ARG) 6-3 7-6
Robin Haase (NED) defeated Kimmer Coppejans (BEL) 6-4 6-3
Pierre-Hugues Herbert (FRA) defeated Maxime Cressy (USA) 6-7 7-6 7-5
Thiago Monteiro (BRA) defeated Thomas Fancutt (AUS) 6-4 6-4
Sergiy Stakhovsky (UKR) defeated Roman Safiullin (RUS) 6-7 6-4 6-3
Cedrik-Marcel Stebe (GER) defeated Hugo Dellien (BOL) 6-4 6-4
[WC] Dane Sweeny (AUS) defeated Ji Sung Nam (KOR) 7-6 7-5
Mikael Torpegaard (DEN) defeated Pedro Martinez (ESP) 6-4 7-5
Mario Vilella Martinez (ESP) defeated Jannick Hanfmann (GER) 7-6 6-4
Botic Van De Zandschulp (NED) defeated Tristan Schoolkate (AUS) 6-4 7-5

Just the one seed participated on day two at the Murray River Open, with Australian Nick Kyrgios the lone competitor and coming out with a solid win after overcoming a slow start against Frenchman Alexandre Muller, 3-6 6-4 7-6. The Australian took the court for the first time since last Australian summer, having sat out of thee remainder of 2020 due to COVID-19, and while it took the talent some time to get into the swing of things, his 22 aces more than proved he is ready for the challenge and return to the court. Kyrgios was not the only Australia who was successful on home soil though, joined by all three other Australians in this half of the draw as James DuckworthAlexei Popyrin and wildcard Andrew Harris all collected wins. Popyrin’s outing against Croatian Borna Gojo was perhaps one of the matches of the day, with all three sets taken to a tiebreaker in the 6-7 7-6 7-6 encounter, coming down to a battle of the service game as the two combined for 10 double faults and 36 aces in a two and a half hour battle.

Other tough battles came between the likes of Mikhail Kukushkin and Juan Ignacio Londero, with a 4-6 7-5 6-2 result the way of the former, while Japan’s Yuichi Sugita fought past a tight opening set against pressurised Frenchman Quentin Halys to come away with a 3-6 7-6 7-5 victory in two hours and 13 minutes. In other matches, American Marcos Giron downed compatriot Michael Mmoh in straight sets, as did Finnish competitor Emil Ruusuvuori against Serbian Viktor Troicki, while Gilles Simon and Jiri Vesely also got first round wins on the board.

MURRAY RIVER OPEN ROUND OF 64 RESULTS:

[13] Nick Kyrgios (AUS) defeated Alexandre Muller (FRA) 3-6 6-4 7-6
James Duckworth (AUS) defeated Tomas Machac (CZE) 6-3 6-4
Marcos Giron (USA) defeated Michael Mmoh (USA) 6-1 7-5
[WC] Andrew Harris (AUS) defeated Taro Daniel (JPN) 5-7 6-4 7-5
Mikahul Kukushkin (KAZ) defeated Juan Ignacio Londero (ARG) 4-6 7-5 6-2
Alexei Popyrin (AUS) defeated Borna Gojo (CRO) 6-7 7-6 7-6
Emil Ruusuvuori (FIN) defeated Viktor Troicki (SRB) 6-3 6-4
Gilles Simon (FRA) defeated Elias Ymer (SWE) 6-4 6-4
Yuichi Sugita (JPN) defeated Quentin Halys (FRA) 3-6 7-6 7-5
Jiri Vesely (CZE) defeated Frederico Ferreira Silva (POR) 6-4 6-4

Picture credit: AFP