Tag: hugo gaston

ATP 250s wraps: Tsonga beaten on return as Popyrin claims win in Singapore

GRAND SLAM finalist Jo-Wilfried Tsonga made his long-awaited return to the ATP Tour at the Open Sud de France in Montpellier yesterday, though it did not go plan. The former Top 10 talent was easily beaten by American Sebastian Korda in the first round of the ATP 250 event.

The match lasted just 72 minutes with Korda claiming the spoils, 6-4 6-2, dominating on serve and only dropping eight points in total, saving both of his opponent’s break point opportunities. Tsonga was far from his best, but getting through the match was the key, still winning 69 per cent of his first serve points, and serving five aces throughout the match. He saved three of six break points, but ultimately could not do enough against a player who has built form over the past 12 months.

It was better news for sixth seed Ugo Humbert, whose rise up the ATP Rankings continues following his straight sets win over Slovakian Norbert Gombos. Humbert won 6-4 7-6 in 78 minutes, slamming home 18 aces and winning 88 per cent of his first serve points off an elite 79 per cent efficiency to never give his opponent a chance. In Gombos’ defence, he held up well, actually breaking Humbert once from two chances, while the Frenchman broke him from both his opportunities. Overall the class of Humbert stood out and he advanced to the Round of 16.

In the final match played on day one of the main draw event, seventh seed Lorenzo Sonego battled past young Frenchman Hugo Gaston. The Italian won 6-3 6-7 6-1, holding his nerve in the third set after dropping the second set tiebreaker 9-7, to win in two hours and 19 minutes. He served seven aces and broke six times from 12 chances, while only being broken three times himself.

In today’s action, there are plenty more Frenchman on show, with Lucas Pouille taking on compatriot and wildcard Benjamin Bonzi, while Gilles Simon faces Austrian Dennis Novak. The match of the day could be either British wildcard and Grand Slam winner Andy Murray taking on Belarusian Egor Gerasimov, or Swede Mikael Ymer locking horns with Jiri Vesely.

OPEN SUD DE FRANCE ROUND OF 32 RESULTS:

[6] Ugo Humbert (FRA) defeated Norbert Gombos (SVK) 6-4 7-6
[7] Lorenzo Sonego (ITA) defeated [WC] Hugo Gaston (FRA) 6-3 6-7 6-1
Sebastian Korda (USA) defeated Jo-Wilfried Tsonga (FRA) 6-4 6-2

Five first round matches were completed in Singapore, with a mixed bag for the two seeds on court. Fifth seed Japanese counter puncher Yoshihito Nishioka defeated improving American Michael Mmoh 6-2 3-6 6-3, while seventh seed South African Lloyd Harris went down in three sets to Bulgarian wildcard Adrian Andreev.

Nishioka needed almost two hours to defeat Mmoh, surviving 11 aces to bring up 10 break point opportunities, albeit only taking three. It was two more than Mmoh who broke once in the second set, but could not do it again in the match. Meanwhile Andreev took two hours and 19 minutes to knock off the fast-serving Harris, not needing to serve and ace and even holding off 12 of 15 break point chances for the South African to win 1-6 6-3 6-4. The Bulgarian bounced back from a disappointing first set to post the impressive win over the developing Harris.

Andreev now takes on Australian Alexei Popyrin who knocked off American qualifier, Christopher Eubanks in two tiebreakers, 7-6 7-6, both of which were 7-5 tiebreakers. The match lasted one hour and 46 minutes, with Popyrin powering home 15 aces and saving 10 of 11 break points in a remarkable feat. He won 72 per cent of his first serve points, and also only broke Eubanks once, holding firm in the crucial tiebreakers to claim a narrow straight sets win.

In other Singapore results, United States’ Maxime Cressy became his nation’s sole winner on the day, downing Chinese Taipei’s Jason Jung in straight sets 7-6 6-2, while Japan’s Taro Daniel joined compatriot Nishioka in the second round after a tight three-set win over India’s Ramkumar Ramanathan, 6-3 6-7 6-3.

In today’s action, three Australians are out on court, with Marc Polmans up first against Japan’s Yasutaka Uchiyama. Following that match, qualifier John-Patrick Smith has to find a way to upstage sixth seed Macedonian Radu Albot, before James Duckworth takes to the court at night against German, Yannick Hanfmann.

SINGAPORE ROUND OF 32 RESULTS:

[5] Yoshihito Nishioka (JPN) defeated Michael Mmoh (USA) 6-2 3-6 6-3
[WC] Adrian Andreev (BUL) defeated [7] Lloyd Harris (RSA) 1-6 6-3 6-4
Maxime Cressy (USA) defeated Jason Jung (TAI) 7-6 6-2
Taro Daniel (JPN) defeated Ramkumar Ramanathan (IND) 6-3 6-7 6-3
Alexei Popyrin (AUS) defeated [Q] Christopher Eubanks (USA) 7-6 7-6

At the time of publishing, none of the day one matches had been completed in Cordoba, with the Argentinian tournament finishing off the third round of qualifying earlier in the day. The night session featured two Round of 32 matches which will be covered in tomorrow’s wrap, with Colombian Daniel Elahi Galan facing Slovakian Jozef Kovalik, followed by Spaniard Jaume Munar taking on Chilean wildcard Nicolas Jarry.

Picture credit: ATP Tour

French trio advance in Paris as Masters 1000 gets underway

ALL three French competitors have advanced through to the Round of 32 at the Paris ATP 1000 Masters in what will be the final non invite-only event left on tour. For a handful of top 40 players their seasons are over until the Australian summer whilst for others, their year still remains alive as they advanced through to the next stage of the tournament.

Ugo Humbert held off Casper Ruud in a three set come-from-behind victory, downing the Norwegian 4-6 6-2 7-6 in two hours and 11 minutes. The 34th ranked Humbert has every chance of moving past the second highest ranked Frenchman Benoit Paire with a good Masters, and he started off on the right note defeating the 27th ranked Ruud in an impressive but hard-fought performance. Both players won their first titles in 2020 – Humbert won his first two including one at Hamburg – with this match being the third between the pair at a 1-1 match. Back on Humbert’s favoured hard court, the 22-year-old was too strong off his serve, dominating with 84 and 67 per cent of his first and second serve points, also breaking twice from from two chances – both in the second set – and avoided any break point opportunities for his opponent after the first set. Humbert now takes on second seed Stefanos Tsitsipas in the next round.

Joining Humbert in the second round were compatriots and French wildcards, Corentin Moutet and Benjamin Bonzi. Moutet had to fight tooth-and-nail to defeat lucky loser Italian Salvatore Caruso, 3-6 7-6 6-3 in two hours and 31 minutes. Moutet was able to hold firm despite five aces from his opponent and 12 break point opportunities, winning four from eight himself to crucially win an additional break compared to his more experienced opponent. The 21-year-old levelled his ATP Tour win-loss record this year to move to 10-10 after the match. Bonzi had a much easier time of it, smashing Argentinian lucky loser Federico Coria in just 56 minutes, 6-2 6-1. The 24-year-old 180th ranked Bonzi made light work of his 93rd ranked opponent to serve eight aces and only drop three points off his first serve on his way to four breaks from five chances whilst saving the only break point opportunity he faced. It was not as positive for French teen Hugo Gaston, who suffered a straight sets defeat at the hands of top 20 player, Pablo Carreno Busta.

Meanwhile Hamburg finalist Alex de Minaur advanced through to the next round with a strong 6-4 6-4 triumph over Italian Stefano Travaglia. The Australian only dropped six points off his first serve and capitalised off the Italian’s second serve to win 65 per cent of those points, and break on both opportunities. De Minaur held firm on his own serve facing three break points and was able to join fellow Australian Jordan Thompson in the second round. Thompson knocked over Argentinian qualifier, Federico Delbonis 6-2 6-3 in an hour and 18 minutes on court, serving five aces and only dropping 11 points on serve. The 61st ranked Thompson never looked like losing, and broke Delbonis four times in an impressive win.

Borna Coric earned his spot in the Round of 32 with a 7-6 6-1 victory over Hungarian Marton Fucsovics. The match lasted an hour and 46 minutes before the top 30 player could hold off the Hungarian, with the latter having a good season thanks to a 14-9 record on Tour. Coric produced five aces and won 73 per cent of his first serve points off a 75 per cent clip, whilst breaking three times to one, racing away in the final set to only drop seven points on serve in that set. Coric said it was a tough encounter despite the scoreline for the second set.

“It was not an easy match and every time we have played it’s been very tough,” he said post-match. “It’s always been a very physical match. In the tie-break, I went for my shots that maybe weren’t logical, but it paid off. In the second set, I started to play much better and played at quite a high level at the end. I played one bad game at 2-1 in the first set, when I missed two first serves, but pretty much the rest of the time I was serving huge. I feel like I’m starting to play some good tennis.”

In other results, wily veteran Feliciano Lopez will take on top seed and compatriot Rafael Nadal in the Round of 32 after a 7-6 6-1 win over Serbian Filip Krajinovic. The second set went to 13-11 before Lopez got up, then the Spaniard went on to crush his highly fancied opponent in the second set for a total match time of 84 minutes. Meanwhile it was not as good news for Spanish teammate Albert Ramos-Vinolas who lost to American qualifier Marcos Giron in the first round, going down in three sets, 6-3 4-6 6-1. Also through to the next round was Macedonian lucky loser Radu Albot who shocked Polish talent Hubert Hurkacz in three sets, 7-5 6-7 6-4, whilst Jan-Lennard Struff finally broke through for a win, this time against Georgian Nikoloz Basilashvili 6-4 6-2, and Slovakian qualifier Norbert Gombos took care of fellow qualifier Marco Cecchinato, 6-2 7-6. In the late matches, Marin Cilic took care of Felix Auger-Aliassime 6-0 3-6 6-3, whilst Karen Khachanov and Alejandro Davidovich Fokina were locked in a tight tussle at the time of publishing.

 

Picture: Getty Images

French Open debutants shine in promising show for the future

OUTSIDE of a couple of one-sided contest, there was a lot to like about the future of the ATP Tour at the Roland Garros, as the youngest remaining member in the men’s draw booked his spot in the quarter finals, and another went all the way with a top contender, only to fall short.

Next Gen ATP Finals winner Jannik Sinner was able to book his spot in the quarter finals after an upset 6-3 6-3 4-6 6-3 victory over Germany’s Alexander Zverev. Coming off a US Open final where he had match points to win his first major title, the up and comer was overwhelmed by the German in the Round of 16.

The 2020 Roland Garros marked Sinner’s first for his career with the 19-year-old having all the say with almost double the winners (39-20) and leaving Zverev wondering what could have been. The Italian also won 72 per cent of his net points and 39 per cent of his receiving points against such a big server as Zverev was reduced to just three aces for the match. It allowed Sinner to break five times to two in the three-hour and one-minute clash.

“It has been tough. We have practised sometimes in Monaco, so we know [each other] quite well,” Sinner said-post match. “Today was very tough, knowing that it was going to be a long match. At the end, I am very happy about my performance.”

The Italian also becomes the youngest player in 14 years to reach a Grand Slam quarter final since Novak Djokovic achieved the feat in Paris back in 2006. But Sinner is under no illusion of just how tough it is to try and defeat his next opponent Rafael Nadal, a 12-time Roland Garros winner.

“It’s not the easiest thing [to play Nadal at Roland Garros], for sure. I think the record he has here, I think nobody can beat that. He is super confident here,” Sinner said. “It’s going to be a difficult match for sure. It’s always [my aim] to go on court with the right attitude, trying to play [my] best tennis, which I have to do if I want to play [at] the same level as he plays.”

Indeed Nadal just breezed past American qualifier, Sebastian Korda in an hour and 55 minutes, 6-1 6-1 6-2 to reach another quarter final in Paris. The Spaniard was simply too good, and whilst he hit less winners than his determined opponent (15-21), he also had less than half the unforced errors (20-48) and won 59 per cent of his receiving points to break eight times in the dominant victory.

“I’m in [the] quarter-finals without losing a set and having very positive scores,” Nadal said post-match. “I can’t complain at all, so [I’m] happy for that.”

Korda said prior to their match and following his third round win, that Nadal was his inspiration growing up and he even named his cat after the Spanish star. After his loss to Nadal, Korda was still on cloud nine despite defeat.

“It was definitely the best moment of my life. It was super awesome,” Korda said. “After the match I asked him for a signed shirt when we were tapping rackets. I don’t know if anyone’s ever asked him for an autograph after a match, but that was definitely the coolest moment of my life and one I’ll never forget.”

Nadal said he was humbled by the experience and to be an inspiration in that way.

“It is a real honour [to have inspired Sebastian],” Nadal said. “All of my generation tried very hard to be passionate, to play every single day trying our best and if that is a good inspiration for the young generation that is good. “I am very happy for that.

“I really believe that we are a looking at a great player [in Sebastian]. “He is young. “Of course, he had some mistakes in some important moments, but the way that he hit the ball was really impressive.”

Up the other end of the half, Argentinian Diego Schwartzman also strolled into a quarter final with yet another straight sets win, this time over Lorenzo Sonego. Schwartzman won 6-1 6-3 6-4 to advance through to the quarter finals and put his first round exit at Flushing Meadows behind him. His good form on clay since – seeing him reach the final at Rome and defeating Nadal along the way in that tournament – has him up against one of the best clay courters going around in third seed Dominic Thiem.

“I am very happy, because I didn’t arrive to the clay season playing very well and I didn’t expect to [reach] the final in Rome [and] the quarter-finals here, not losing a set,” Schwartzman said post-match.

Now Schwartzman is through to his second quarter final in three years at Paris, and his fourth Grand Slam quarter final overall.

“It was a really tough match…. I didn’t start very well with many mistakes in just three games, [including] a few double faults. I was really nervous at the beginning. “The rain two years ago did not help me against Rafa [in the quarter-finals] but this year it helped me to be clear and it was a very good match for me.”

No doubt many were expecting Thiem to be Schwartzman’s opponent, but not in the way that the Austrian had to do it, fighting off a future star in Frenchman Hugo Gaston. Thiem looked comfortable early, winning the first two sets, before the last of the home nation competitors left fought back to win the next two and level the match courtesy of his drop shots. Thiem eventually settled in five sets, winning 6-4 6-4 5-7 3-6 6-3 in three hours and 32 minutes.

“I think it was an amazing match by both of us,” Thiem said post-match. “Haven’t seen for a very long time a player with such a big touch in his hands. “His drop shots are just from another planet, I was sprinting like 400 times to the net. “All the credit to him. “If he continues like this, he’s going to be a huge, huge player and make a lot of joy in this stadium in the future.”

Picture: Getty Images

Frenchman Hugo Gaston claims big upset win over Wawrinka

IT was a day of favourites progressing through to the Round of 16 at Roland Garros with the likes of Rafael Nadal and Alexander Zverev making no mistake against their unseeded opponents in their respective matches. Meanwhile, Dominic Thiem also inflicted pain against his Norwegian counterpart to edge himself closer to another title.

Although the favourites were making it look easy, last Frenchman standing Hugo Gaston took it upon himself to keep the French faithful happy in one of the biggest upsets of the day. The 20-year-old hailing from Toulouse pushed Swiss star Stan Wawrinka to his limits, matching him for intensity and court coverage to walk away with the chocolates in a gruelling five setter 2-6 6-3 6-3 4-6 6-0.

“I tried to play my game, but I didn’t know I could do it – until I won,” Gaston said. “Every time I go on court I try to concentrate and play my game. I am grateful of the support I had and in two days’ time I will play [Dominic] Thiem. I have nothing to lose.”

With the match on pause for over two hours midway through the third set due to rain, Gaston came out with a real hunger and intensity against the 16th seed. Although Wawrinka won the battle when it came to winners, hitting 49 as opposed to Gaston’s 35, his lack of discipline allowed the youngster to capitalise, with Wawrinka registering 33 more unforced errors (74-31).

Wawrinka was strong on the serve as per usual dishing up seven aces to his opponent’s two but his overall accuracy on the first serve was down at 60 per cent compares to Gaston’s marginally better 63 per cent. Currently ranked at world number 239, Gaston holds the title for the lowest ranked player left in the tournament heading into the final 16 since 2002, showcasing just how big of a win this was for the up and coming Frenchman who is set to take on Thiem next round.

Speaking of Thiem, the Austrian made light work of his opponent Casper Ruud getting the job done in two hours and 15 minutes such was his dominance for the 6-4 6-3 6-1 win.

“He was playing well from beginning to the end,” Thiem said. “I really raised my level. Maybe the first four games were not as good as the rest of the match by me, but he’s a really good player, especially on clay, probably one of the best of the season.”

Thiem capitalised on most areas, particularly the first serve sitting at a 67 per cent winning rate while Ruud languished at 51 per cent. The experience of Thiem was on show throughout the battle as the world number three only made 28 unforced errors compared to 37 while his ability to finish off points was on show hitting 32 winners.

In other results, The quickest match of the round saw Nadal move through to the next stage in just over an hour and a half as he dominated Italian Stefano Travaglia 6-1 6-4 6-0 while Zverev was next fastest taking care of Marco Cecchinato in three sets 6-1 7-5 6-3. Others that progressed through to the next stage consisted of Diego Schwartzman, Jannik Sinner and American youngster Sebastian Korda. Lorenzo Sonego fought gallantly against Taylor Fritz, edging the American out of contention with a 7-6 6-3 7-6 victory.

Gaston last Frenchman standing at Roland Garros as Italians soar

IT was a great day at the French Open if you were an Italian, but not so much for the home nation as just one player remains from the 48 players left in the 2020 Roland Garros ATP draw. The first half of second round matches were completed today with just 20-year-old Hugo Gaston remaining alive in the tournament for the home fans. He accounted for Japan’s Yoshihito Nishioka in four sets and now has the tough test against 16th seed Stan Wawrinka in the Round of 32.

Gaston won 6-4 7-6 3-6 6-2 against Nishioka who reached the second round after a stunning straight sets victory over 19th seed Canadian, Felix Auger-Aliassime. The French wildcard, who is ranked 239th in the world, would not have been expected to be the last man standing from the home nation, but was thrust into the position after the other three remaining players lost out on day four.

Top ranked remaining Frenchman Benoit Paire went down to Argentinian Federico Coria in four sets, 7-6 4-6 6-3 6-1 to exit the tournament. Pierre-Hugues Herbert pushed sixth seed Alexander Zverev all the way, but could not get it done, losing 2-6 6-4 7-6 4-6 6-4, while French qualifier Ben Bonzi went down to rising star Jannik Sinner in straight sets, 6-2 6-4 6-4.

Sinner was one of a number of Italian winners on day four, with Lorenzo Sonego, Stefano Travaglia and Marco Cecchinato all booking their spots in the Round of 32. Sonego toppled Alexander Bublik 7-6 6-1 7-5, Travaglia got up over Kei Nishikori 6-4 2-6 7-6 4-6 6-2 in a thriller, while Cecchinato won through with a 6-3 6-2 5-7 6-2 win over Juan Ignacio Londero.

In other results, the top seeds had no problem breezing through as Rafael Nadal won 6-1 6-0 6-3 over American Mackenzie McDonald and third seed Dominic Thiem put away another American in Jack Sock, 6-1 6-3 7-6. Diego Schwartzman ran away with the contest against Italian qualifier Lorenzo Giustino, but in fairness, the latter spent almost five more hours on court in Round 1 compared to Schwartzman, playing out an 18-16 fifth set in Round 1, compared to the Argentinian dropping just four games in his first round encounter.

The biggest upset of the day was rising American star Sebastian Korda who won in four sets of 21st seed John Isner. Korda took out his highly rated compatriot, 6-4 6-4 2-6 6-4 to advance to the Round of 32 where her has a huge chance against Spanish qualifier, Pedro Martinez. The match lasted two hours and 26 minutes and was a huge boost for the 20-year-old who is the son of former Roland Garros runner-up Petr Korda.

While his dad represented the Czech Republic being born in Prague, Sebastian was born in the United States and at 196cm, the Next Gen ATP Finals contender has plenty of potential. Luckily for the 213th ranked American, Isner’s serving game was off, producing just 13 aces but 12 double faults, and winning only 72 per cent of his first serve points. Whilst that is impressive for most players, due to his high volume of aces, Isner’s total is usually up in the high eighties. Meanwhile Korda served up seven aces himself and won an identical 72 per cent off his first serve, but a higher 57 per cent off his second serve, breaking Isner five times which is a feat in itself.

“I’m over the moon,” Korda said post-match. “I’m super happy with the way I played, the way I stayed calm. I just played a really good match… I’m just looking forward to every single practice, every single match. [It]s been a good trip so far.”

It was more good news for the United States with Taylor Fritz getting up in straight sets over Radu Albot 6-3 6-2 6-4 to book a third round spot with Sonego, while Norwegian Casper Ruud also advanced with a win over Tommy Paul, 6-1 1-6 6-3 1-6 6-3 in an epic battle. In the other match of day four, Norbert Gombos booked his spot in the third round to face Schwartzman after winning against Austrian qualifier, Jurlj Rodionov in four sets, 6-2 2-6 7-6 6-4.

Pic: Getty Images

Medvedev headlines massive exits in Roland Garros first round

IT might only be the second day, but it was carnage at Roland Garros with four top 20 seeds bombing out, including two top eight seeds in a huge day of upsets. The biggest of the lot was fourth seed Daniil Medvedev, who faltered in his first match for the second consecutive tournament, losing to Hungarian Marton Fucsovics after going down to Frenchman Ugo Humbert at Hamburg.

Fuscovics won in four sets, 6-4 7-6 2-6 6-1 which was his second massive Round 1 win at a Grand Slam this year following his upset over Denis Shapovalov at the Australian Open in January. Medvedev hit 51 unforced errors and only 27 winners to Fucsovics’ 49 and 36 during the three-hour and 17-minute four-set match, as the Hungarian bounced back from a disappointing third set to post a huge career win.

Unfortunately for the fourth seed Russian, the Round of 128 loss paints an eerily similar story, having not won a match at Roland Garros in four starts. Fucsovics now takes on Albert Ramos-Vinolas in the second round after he defeated Adrian Mannarino in straight sets.

Medvedev was far from the only high-ranked casualty of the day, as eighth seed Gael Monfils fell victim to the in-form Alexander Bublik. The Kazakh won in four sets, 6-4 7-5 3-6 6-3 to move through to the second round, joining compatriot Mikhail Kukushkin in the Round of 64. Kukushkin had an equally impressive victory, downing 14th seed Fabio Fognini in four sets, running away with it in the end after clinching a third set tiebreaker, 7-5 3-6 7-6 6-0.

Other upsets on the day were Japan’s Yoshihito Nishioka taking out Canadian young gun Felix Auger-Aliassime in straight sets, 7-5 6-3 6-3, whilst Serbian qualifier Nikola Milojevic won against his higher ranked compatriot Filip Krajinovic, 6-4 3-6 6-3 6-1. American Tennys Sandgren was the other player to knock out a seed on day two, defeating 29th seed Hubert Hurkacz in a massive 7-5 2-6 4-6 7-6 11-9 effort.

Successful seeds on the day included last year’s finalists Rafael Nadal and Dominic Thiem who breezed through, as well as Karen Khachanov, Pablo Carreno Busta and Casper Ruud who all favour the clay courts of Paris. If you thought the four-hour 31-minute epic between Sandgren and Hurkacz was long, spare a thought for Italian qualifier Lorenzo Giustino and Frenchman Corentin Moutet who competed in the second longest Roland Garros match ever.

Without the fifth set tiebreaker in play, Giustino and Moutet played 34 games in the final set, in a six-hour and five-minute contest that resulted in the former going through to the next round. Out on Court 14, neither player would give an inch and it was hard to believe the match could have gone even loner considering Moutet won the first set 6-0, before succumbing, 0-6 7-6 7-6 2-6 18-16.

The Frenchman hit 88 winers and 88 unforced errors and was unlucky not to win given the Italian hit a whopping 96 unforced errors to just 57 winners. In the end though, his ninth break of the contest proved crucial. In a tougher blow, Moutet won 25 more points than his opponent (242-217) but it would not be enough.

They might not have succeeded in Hamburg, but Germans Jan-Lennard Struff and Daniel Altmaier will face off in the second round after winning their respective first round matches. Struff defeated Frances Tiafoe, while Altmaier upset Spanish veteran Feliciano Lopez. In other results, Alijaz Bedene, Lorenzo Sonego, Tommy Paul, Guido Pella, Pedro Martinez, Jiri Vesely, Daniel Elahi Galan, Mackenzie McDonald, Jack Sock and Hugo Gaston all advanced through to the Round of 64.

Picture: Getty Images

2020 ATP Roland Garros preview: Can Nadal win number 13?

RAFAEL Nadal is always the nominal favourite at Roland Garros, probably because he has only lost three matches there in his entire career, of which one was via retirement. The King of Clay will be keen to bounce back from a shock loss to Diego Schwartzman in Rome to really put a stamp on his favourite event and extend his ridiculous lead at the top of the French Open titleholders.

With the draw released yesterday, it was announced unseeded Belarusian Egor Gerasimov has the near-impossible task of taking down the 12-time winner, with Nadal’s run to the third round fate-accompli with a likely matchup against the winner of first round battle, Daniel Evans and Kei Nishikori.

The entire quarter of the draw has some big names, but mostly in the top eighth, with Alexander Zverev (sixth seed) and David Goffin (11th) in there. Goffin has a tough first-up match with Italian young gun Jannik Sinner in one of the danger games for a seed, while 23rd seed Frenchman Benoit Paire lost his only match since returning from a positive COVID-19 test result and if he finds form could face Goffin the third round. Australian Alex de Minaur reached his first Grand Slam quarter final at the US Open but after an easier first round qualifying opponent, has Zverev for likely company in the third round.

If we are talking about matches to look forward to, then look no further than Dominic Thiem‘s quarter of the draw. The back-to-back runner-up will not have to wait until the final to play his nemesis Nadal, landing in the same half as him. Gael Monfils is up the other end of the quarter taking on in-form Alexander Bublik in a tough first-up game. Thiem himself has to take on Marin Cilic, but should have him comfortably covered on clay.

The match of the first round has to be 16th seed Stan Wawrinka up against wildcard Brit, Andy Murray. Both are Grand Slam winners and to draw in the first round is an unbelievable event. Murray is also the last wildcard you would want to face if you are Wawrinka. Also in that draw we see a ton of Americans and Frenchman running around, including teenager Hugo Gaston who if he can overcome compatriot Maxime Janvier, could have a crack at fellow young gun, Felix Auger-Aliassime in the second round. Schwartzman takes on rising Serbian Miomir Kecmanovic in the first round, whilst Casper Ruud is in line to face Thiem in the third round if he can make it.

Without Thiem in his half, it is hard to see Novak Djokovic not reaching the final as the third best clay courter in the world. He has drawn improving Swede, Mikael Ymer in the first round, and has an overall smooth draw to the fourth round, with just Hubert Hurkacz in his way. A third round clash between Cristian Garin and Karen Khachanov would be on the cards for the right to play Djokovic in the fourth round which would be the Serb’s first test.

Australian John Millman has fallen in this quarter of the draw, up against Pablo Carreno Busta in what will be a tough, but winnable game for the Australian. The match of that eighth has to be seventh seed Matteo Berrettini up against Vasek Pospisil, with the in-form Canadian showing in recent weeks what he can do now he is back within the automatic entry for Grand Slams. Jan-Lennard Stuff takes on Frances Tiafoe in the first round too, while Roberto Bautista Agut has drawn Richard Gasquet in a match that will possibly be the longest of the seeded games.

In the second quarter of the draw, the best players yet to win a Grand Slam are in line to face off in a quarter final with fourth seed and US Open semi-finalist Daniil Medvedev and fifth seed Stefanos Tsitsipas falling here. Medvedev has the dangerous Marton Fucsovics in the first round, while Tsitsipas takes on improving Jaume Munar. The quarter might not have the op-end quality in terms of other seeds, but they have some seriously talented clay courters.

Nikoloz Basilashvili is a known performer on clay, as is Dusan Lajovic and Filip Krajinovic, all who fall into the quarter. Denis Shapovalov and Andrey Rublev do not always have the consistency in their game, but they, along with the ever-dangerous Grigor Dimitrov round out the seeds. The match of this quarter is likely unseeded pair, Serbian Laslo Djere and Kevin Anderson, with Djere favoured due to the service. Keep an eye out for young Frenchman, Harold Mayot who takes on Spaniard Alejandro Davidovich Fokina.

Top 5 Matches to Watch:

[16] Stan Wawrinka (SUI) vs. [WC] Andy Murray (GBR)
[11] David Goffin (BEL) vs. Jannik Sinner (ITA)
[3] Dominic Thiem (AUT) vs. Marin Cilic (CRO)
[7] Matteo Berrettini (ITA) vs. Vasek Pospisil (CAN)
[32] Daniel Evans (GBR) vs. Kei Nishikori (JPN)

Prediction:

Nadal to defeat Djokovic in four sets, with Thiem and Tsitsipas to lose in the semis. Expect a surprise quarter finals opponent for Thiem, with either Schwartzman or Coric potentially getting there over Monfils. Medvedev, Zverev and potentially Bautista Agut to round out the final eight, with Berrettini’s form of late a little shaky.

Picture: Getty Images

2020 ATP Roland Garros fantasy tennis: Querrey takes out Medvedev in come-from-behind five-set win

A FIVE-SET come-from-behind win to Sam Querrey has caused the biggest upset of the tournament thus far. The unseeded American took down fifth seed Russian Daniil Medvedev, showing his higher ranked opponent that he meant business. The result came after Medvedev narrowly escaped a five-set match in Round 1, and despite leading two sets to one in the Round of 64 clash, could not finish off Querrey, who triumphed 2-6 6-4 3-6 7-5 6-3.

He was the only seed to fall in the first day of the second round, as the procession of top 30 players continued into the Round of 32. But only five seeded players won through in straight sets, a refreshing change of just how close the competition is. Seventh seed Alexander Zverev had the quickest match of all, winning in less than 90 minutes to post a 6-2 6-2 6-0 victory over Argentinian Federico Coria, whilst Filip Krajinovic, Andy Murray, Pablo Carreno Busta and Hubert Hurkacz won their respective matches in straight sets.

At the top of the world rankings, second and third seeds Novak Djokovic and Dominic Thiem both dropped sets, with the Serbian world number two winning 4-6 6-1 6-3 6-1 after an early scare against Stefano Travaglia, whilst Thiem was challenged but shook off teenage Brazilian Thiago Seyboth Wild, 7-5 6-1 6-7 6-0. Roberto Bautista-Agut won in fourth sets against Taylor Fritz, whilst Nikoloz Basilashvili and Milos Raonic also dropped sets against French duo Jeremy Chardy and Hugo Gaston.

In other results, Karen Khachanov managed to avoid it being a day to forget for Russia, posting a five-set victory over Serbia’s Dusan Lajovic, 7-6 4-6 6-3 5-7 6-1. Other winners on day five were a trio of unseeded players, Guido Pella, Mikael Ymer and Nicolas Jarry. The Chilean qualifier Jarry had a particularly impressive win, downing Australian firebrand Nick Kyrgios in straight sets, 6-3 6-1 6-3.

ROUND OF 64 RESULTS:

[2] Novak Djokovic (SRB) defeated Stefano Travaglia (ITA) 4-6 6-1 6-3 6-1
[3] Dominic Thiem (AUT) defeated Thiago Seyboth Wild (BRA) 7-5 6-1 6-7 6-0
Sam Querrey (USA) defeated [5] Daniil Medvedev (RUS) 2-6 6-4 3-6 7-5 6-3
[7] Alexander Zverev (GER) defeated Federico Coria (ARG) 6-2 6-2 6-0
[12] Roberto Bautista Agut (ESP) defeated Taylor Fritz (USA) 6-4 6-2 5-7 6-4
[13] Matteo Berrettini (ITA) defeated Marin Cilic (CRO) 6-3 6-0 2-6 7-5
[15] Nikoloz Basilashvili (GEO) defeated Jeremy Chardy (FRA) 6-4 4-6 6-2 6-2
[16] Karen Khachanov (RUS) defeated Dusan Lajovic (SRB) 7-6 4-6 6-3 5-7 6-1
[17] Filip Krajinovic (SRB) defeated Dennis Novak (AUT) 6-2 6-2 6-4
[21] Andy Murray (GBR) defeated Jiri Vesely (CZE) 7-6 6-1 7-6
[23] Milos Raonic (CAN) defeated [WC] Hugo Gaston (FRA) 6-3 2-6 6-1 6-2
[24] Pablo Carreno Busta (ESP) defeated Kevin Anderson (RSA) 6-2 7-6 7-6
[28] Hubert Hurkacz (POL) defeated Hugo Dellien (BOL) 7-6 6-2 6-3
Guido Pella (ARG) defeated Juan Ignacio Londero (ARG) 7-6 6-4 6-2
[Q] Nicolas Jarry (CHI) defeated Nick Kyrgios (AUS) 6-3 6-1 6-3
Mikael Ymer (SWE) defeated Kyle Edmund (GBR) 6-2 7-5 6-2

2020 ATP Roland Garros fantasy tennis: RBA salutes as Edmund topples compatriot

ROBERTO Bautista Agut survived a thriller against Italian Andreas Seppi, and Kyle Edmund won the Battle of Britain to move through to the second round of Roland Garros in the 2020 ATP fantasy tennis tournament. The 12th seed Spaniard was able to overcome Seppi in a topsy-turvy contest, eventually winning 6-1 4-6 6-0 2-6 6-2 to book a spot in the next round, whilst Edmund defeated his compatriot and highest ranked Brit Daniel Evans, 6-3 6-4 6-3 to forge a path into the second round.

Elsewhere it was a largely predictable day from the seeds with Colombian qualifier Santiago Giraldo giving world number two Novak Djokovic something to think about early before the Serbian shook him off in a 7-5 6-0 6-1 victory. Similarly, Alexander Zverev brushed past Chris O’Connell, and Karen Khachanov, Milos Raonic and Pablo Carreno Busta all moved through to the next stage of competition without dropping a set. It was not a good day for Australian hopes with O’Connell, Jordan Thompson, James Duckworth and Alexei Popyrin all smashed in their respective matches.

Of the last three, it was Khachanov, Kevin Anderson and Stefano Travaglia who all booked spots in the Round of 64 with victories of those competitors from Down Under. The talking point of the day was French teenager Hugo Gaston toppling Spanish qualifier Marcel Granollers 3-6 7-6 7-5 7-6 in a match that lasted almost three hours before the future star booked his spot in the next round.

Of the remaining winners, 28th seed Pole Hubert Hurkacz was able to get past Spanish qualifier Jaume Munar, 6-2 6-1 5-7 6-4, whilst Federico Coria downed American up-and-comer Brandon Nakashima 6-3 7-5 6-2. They joined Sweden’s Mikael Ymer, Serbia’s Dusan Lajovic, United States’ Taylor Fritz and Bolivia’s Hugo Dellien in the next round of competition.

ROUND OF 128 RESULTS:

[2] Novak Djokovic (SRB) defeated [Q] Santiago Giraldo (COL) 7-5 6-0 6-1
[7] Alexander Zverev (GER) defeated [WC] Chris O’Connell (AUS) 6-2 6-1 6-1
[12] Roberto Bautista Agut (ESP) defeated Andreas Seppi (ITA) 6-1 4-6 6-0 2-6 6-2
[16] Karen Khachanov (RUS) defeated Jordan Thompson (AUS) 7-5 6-2 6-4
[23] Milos Raonic (CAN) defeated Miomir Kecmanovic (SRB) 7-5 6-3 7-6
[24] Pablo Carreno Busta (ESP) defeated Lloyd Harris (RSA) 6-3 6-1 6-4
[28] Hubert Hurkacz (POL) defeated [Q] Jaume Munar (ESP) 6-2 6-1 5-7 6-4
Kyle Edmund (GBR) defeated [29] Daniel Evans (GBR) 6-3 6-4 6-3
Federico Coria (ARG) defeated [WC] Brandon Nakashima (USA) 6-3 7-5 6-2
Mikael Ymer (SWE) defeated Salvatore Caruso (ITA) 6-3 7-6 6-1
[WC] Hugo Gaston (FRA) defeated [Q] Marcel Granollers (ESP) 3-6 7-6 7-5 7-6
Dusan Lajovic (SRB) defeated Laslo Djere (SRB) 6-2 6-2 6-3
Taylor Fritz (USA) defeated Vasek Pospisil (CAN) 6-0 6-3 6-0
Kevin Anderson (RSA) defeated James Duckworth (AUS) 6-2 6-2 6-2
Hugo Dellien (BOL) defeated Alexander Bublik (KAZ) 7-6 7-6 6-1
Stefano Travaglia (ITA) defeated Alexei Popyrin (AUS) 6-1 6-1 6-1

Australian Open: Men’s Day 2 review – Gulbis winds back clock with first round upset

ON Day 2 of the 2020 Australian Open, a second top 20 Canadian seed fell – this time to a qualifier – while a number of others had to fight hard in order to survive against stiff opposition.

In the top eighth of the draw, world number one Rafael Nadal started off his Australian Open campaign without a hiccup, winning 6-2 6-3 6-0 against Bolivia’s Hugo Dellien. Nadal barely left second gear as he hit 38 winners and won 83 per cent of his net points, breaking eight times to two during the contest. He only hit the 21 unforced errors across the three sets and had a nice tune-up for the later rounds, with his next direct opponent being Argentinian, Federico Delbonis.

Delbonis toppled Portugal’s Joao Sousa in straight sets, winning 6-3 6-4 7-6 in two hours and 19 minutes. In that time, the Argentinian served up 11 aces and 46 winners with only four double faults and 31 unforced errors, winning all the key statistical categories against his opponent. He broke twice during the contest which was enough to net him the first two sets, avoiding being broken himself then winning the third set tiebreaker, 7-3 to book a spot in the second round.

On track for a third round clash with his top countryman, Spain’s Pablo Carreno Busta moved through to the Round of 64 after downing lucky loser, Jozef Kovalik. The Slovenian won the second set against the 27th seed, but ultimately Carreno Busta was the cleaner player, triumphing 6-4 3-6 6-1 7-6 in two hours and 37 minutes. The Spaniard hit 41 winners and only 27 unforced errors, while controlling his first serve with a winning percentage of 87 per cent.

Peter Gojowczyk won the battle of the qualifiers, with the German downing his American counterpart, Chris Eubanks 7-6 6-3 4-6 6-0 to set up a clash with Carreno Busta in the second round. Gojowczyk hit 34 winners with 27 unforced errors, breaking four times and controlling with his serve, recording 74 and 64 winning percentages on his first and second serve respectively. Eubanks was solid with 40 winners of his own and 22 aces, but he could not do enough to impact and faded in the final set.

Also through to the next round was 16th seed, Karen Khachanov who posted a four-set win over Spanish qualifier, Mario Vilella Martinez. The Spaniard surprised the top 20 player by winning the first set, but Khachanov got back on top after that, saluting 4-6 6-4 7-6 6-3 to book a spot in the second round. Khachanov was too strong across all areas, smashing home 59 winners and 10 aces as his serving percentages of 81 and 71 for first and second serve points won was elite. He only broke twice, but his serve was strong enough to hold sway and not be broken after the first set.

Swedish young gun, Mikael Ymer also moved through to the next round after a straight sets win over Yasutaka Uchiyama of Japan. Ymer won 6-4 6-1 6-2 to set up a chance against the 16th seed, with the 21-year-old winning every statistical category. He was sensible with 28 winners and 22 unforced errors, also dominant on serve (77 per cent of his first serve points off 75 per cent efficiency) and at the net (79 per cent success rate). He was able to also dig deep on Uchiyama’s serve to win 46 per cent of his receiving points.

Frenchman Gilles Simon continued his winning record against Uruguay’s Pablo Cuevas with a swift 6-1 6-3 6-3 victory on Court 3. Simon took just under two hours, but never really looked troubled winning 81 per cent of his first serve points, while collecting almost half of his opponents serve points. He struggled a bit with efficiency just putting 55 per cent of his first serves in, but hit 26 winners for only 16 unforced errors, and won nine of the 10 approach shots. He now takes on Australian Nick Kyrgios who toppled Italian Lorenzi Sonego, 6-2 7-6 7-6 in two hours and 13 minutes of play.

[1] R. Nadal (ESP) defeated H. Dellien (BOL) 6-2 6-3 6-0
F. Delbonis (ARG) defeated J. Sousa (POR) 6-3 6-4 7-6
[Q] P. Gojowczyk (GER) defeated [Q] C. Eubanks (USA) 7-6 6-3 4-6 6-0
[27] P. Carreno Busta (ESP) defeated [LL] J. Kovalik (SLO) 6-4 3-6 6-1 7-6
[23] N. Kyrgios (AUS) defeated L. Sonego (ITA) 6-2 7-6 7-6
G. Simon (FRA) defeated P. Cuevas (URG) 6-1 6-3 6-3
M. Ymer (SWE) defeated Y. Uchiyama (JPN) 6-4 6-1 6-2
[16] K. Khachanov (RUS) defeated [Q] M. Vilella Martinez (ESP) 4-6 6-4 7-6 6-3

Ernests Gulbis produced the upset of the Australian Open first round with the Latvian qualifier downing 20th seed, Felix Auger-Aliassime. In a bad couple of days for Canada, Auger-Aliassime joined 13th seed and countryman, Denis Shapovalov in exiting the tournament, after Gulbis triumphed 7-5 4-6 7-6 6-4 in three and a half hours. Gulbis hit 41 winners to 35 and played an impressive service style with 79 per cent success rate off his first serve, and 60 per cent off his second. He broke three times to the Canadian teenager’s twice, and the 19-year-old struggled to combat the Latvian throughout the contest though it was a matter of a few points here and there that were the difference.

Gulbis now faces Slovenia’s Aljaz Bedene who came from behind to defeat Australia’s James Duckworth in five sets. After winning the first set 6-4, Bedene conceded the next two in tiebreakers to the Aussie, before picking up the slack again to secure a Round 2 spot courtesy of a 6-4 6-7 6-7 6-2 6-4 victory. His first and second serve points winning percentages of 87 and 62 were superb, as he broke four times while not being broken himself. Also hitting 72 winners, and only 47 unforced errors, Bedene showed he could be a handful for anyone. Granted though, Duckworth was not as clinical as he could have been with just 51 winners and 71 unforced errors in the contest.

Tenth seed, Gael Monfils breezed past Yen-Hsun Lu in straight sets, downing the world number 532nd winning 6-1 6-4 6-2. While Lu was strong at the net, Monfils was too strong on serve, producing six aces and a 79 per cent winning ratio on his first serve, while attacking Luc’s second serve with a 61 per cent record. Monfils will need be playing a slightly different player to the slower serving Lu in Round 2, after 40-year-old Ivo Karlovic booked a spot in the match.

Karlovic averaged 207kmh first serves and just a casual 195kmh second serves on his way to metaphorically blowing Canadian Vasek Pospisil off the court in straight sets. Despite Pospisil holding a positive head-to-head record against the Croatian, he was no match for Karlovic who powered his way to victory with 13 aces and an 89 per cent first serve winning percentage. Karlovic also broke twice while not being broken himself, and while Pospisil was able to win 83 per cent of his first serve points and hit 49 winners, he could not crack into his opponents’ serve, winning just 15 of a possible receiving 94 points.

Fifth seed, Dominic Theim also moved on in the tournament, overcoming Frenchman, Adrian Mannarino who is far from an easy first round matchup. The Austrian triumphed 6-4 7-5 6-2 in two hours and 21 minutes, breaking five times and winning 42 per cent of his receiving points. He also won 77 per cent of his first serve points and produced 36 winners, though was not as clean as he could have been with 34 unforced errors as well. He now has the task of breaking Australian hearts when he takes on wildcard Alex Bolt in the Round of 64.

World number 140, Bolt upset Albert Ramos-Vinolas, a player who is ranked 98 places higher on the ATP rankings, in five tight sets 7-6 1-6 6-7 6-1 6-4. Despite being down two sets to one, Bolt never gave in to turn the match around and run out winning it in just under three and a half hours. Bolt can be erratic with his play producing 69 unforced errors, but also hit 55 winners while serving up 11 aces and winning 67 per cent of his points at the net. His serve-volleys troubled the Spaniard who still broke five times, but could not get it done despite his impressive second set and tiebreak-winning third set.

Also having to come back from two sets to one down in order to win, South African veteran Kevin Anderson posted a five-set win over Belarusian qualifier, Ilya Ivashka. Anderson won the first set but trailed after three, before finally stepping up to win 6-4 2-6 4-6 6-4 7-6, finishing off his younger opponent 10-8 in the super tiebreaker. The world number 122 took almost four hours to get across the line, but served up 16 aces and 48 winners as he challenged Ivashka with his net approaches, winning 71 per cent of the time he did. He was a bit rushed with 67 unforced errors, but his power and smarts got him over the line and into the second round.

Finishing off the eighth of the draw, 29th seed Taylor Fritz booked a spot in the Round of 64 with a straight sets win over Dutch qualifier, Tallon Griekspoor. Fritz won 6-3 6-3 6-3 to book a date with Anderson in the next round, serving 17 aces and only losing a remarkable one point on his first serve. He hit 39 winners and overpower Griekspoor in a stunning performance which showed why he could a dark horse for the tournament. Just as impressive as his power and serving prowess, Fritz hit just 14 unforced errors for the match, and won 86 per cent of his net points.

[10] G. Monfils (FRA) defeated Y. Lu (TAI) 6-1 6-4 6-2
I. Karlovic (CRO) defeated V. Pospisil (CAN) 7-6 6-4 7-5
A. Bedene (SLO) defeated J. Duckworth (AUS) 6-4 6-7 6-7 6-2 6-4
[Q] E. Gulbis (LAT) defeated [20] F. Auger-Aliassime (CAN) 7-5 4-6 7-6 6-4
[29] T. Fritz (USA) defeated [Q] T. Griekspoor (NED) 6-3 6-3 6-3
K. Anderson (RSA) defeated [Q] I. Ivashka (BLR) 6-2 2-6 4-6 6-4 7-6
[WC] A. Bolt (AUS) defeated A. Ramos-Vinolas (AUS) 7-6 1-6 6-7 6-1 6-4
[5] D. Thiem (AUT) defeated A. Mannarino (FRA) 6-3 7-5 6-2

One of the tournament favourites has moved through to the second round despite a challenge from his American opponent. Fourth seed Russian, Daniil Medvedev stepped up after being a set-all to defeat Frances Tiafoe, 6-3 4-6 6-4 6-2 in an exciting two and a half hour contest. Medvedev’s serve was not always perfect with 13 aces but a huge 12 double faults for just 53 per cent accuracy on the first serve. He did enough to win overall, mainly breaking nine times to five off the back of a 44 per cent success rate when receiving. He also hit 42 winners for the match and was strong without being outstanding to move through to Round 2 where he actually faces a lower ranked opponent than top 50 Tiafoe.

That opponent is Spanish qualifier, Pedro Martinez who defeated Dominik Koepfer of Germany to keep his Australian Open dream alive. Martinez won 6-3 6-4 7-5 to set up a clash with Medvedev in the Round of 64 after an impressive showing of 41 winners and only 25 unforced errors in his Round 1 contest. He also won 80 per cent of points when approaching the net which will be crucial against the world number four, and had a consistent serve throughout the match despite only producing one ace.

An injury retirement has opened up that eighth of the draw, with 28th seed Jo-Wilfried Tsonga bowing out to Australian Alexei Popyrin, who showed concern for a player he considered his hero, post-match. Popyrin won 6-7 6-2 6-1 before Tsonga called time, having had to have painkillers to get through the match to that point. Ranked 96th in the world, Popyrin was strong in his own right during the match with a low 16 unforced errors and 34 winners, while keeping his first and second serve points won above 75 per cent.

The Australian takes on Spain’s Jaume Munar who bundled out French wildcard, Hugo Gaston in four sets. Sitting at a set apiece, Munar stepped it up a notch in the third and fourth sets to run out a 7-5 5-7 6-0 6-3 winner. It took three and a half hours, but Munar had 44 winners to 37 unforced errors, compared to his opponent with 56 and 73 respectively. He also won 48 per cent of his receiving points and broke nine times to five to guarantee he moved at least one round further in the tournament.

In a surprise to no one, American 19th seed John Isner had a tournament-high four tiebreakers in his win over Brazilian, Thiago Monteiro. The biggest server on the ATP Tour is virtually unbreakable when on song, and it contributes to epic clashes. In three hours and 27 minutes, Isner got up 6-7 7-6 7-6 7-6, with a casual 46 aces and 89 winners. Credit has to go to Monteiro for forcing tiebreakers with those kinds of numbers, though the Brazilian produced 18 aces and 68 winners himself in one of the best games of the round. Both had elite first serve points won percentages, while they were also quite dominant at the net. Now the 34-year-old, 208cm American progresses through to take on Chilean qualifier, Alejandro Tabilo.

In an equally long clash with fellow qualifier, Colombian Daniel Elahi Galan, Tabilo won 4-6 6-3 6-4 6-7 6-4 to book a spot in the Round of 64. Tabilo reached 50 winners for the game and won 79 per cent of his net points, while breaking five times to three, including a crucial one in the deciding set. His second serve winning percentage of 62 was impressive, while Galan was good enough to win with a 72 per cent first serve winning percentage, but could not quite get it done with the match on the line in the final set.

Someone who could get it done despite a challenge from his opponent was 15th seed Stan Wawrinka who defeated Damir Dzumhur as one of our matches of the day yesterday. He now takes on Italy’s Andreas Seppi who won in straight sets over Serbian, Miomir Kecmanovic 6-4 6-4 7-6. The Italian served up 10 aces in two hours and hit 48 winners for only 30 unforced errors, broken just once while returning the favour to the Serbian three times. Seppi has not been in super form of late, but he has made it through to a Round of 64 where Wawrinka will be a massive challenge for the 35-year-old veteran.

[4] D. Medvedev (RUS) defeated F. Tiafoe (USA) 6-3 4-6 6-4 6-2
[Q] P. Martinez (ESP) defeated D. Koepfer (GER) 6-3 6-4 7-5
J. Munar (ESP) defeated [WC] H. Gaston (FRA) 7-5 5-7 6-0 6-3
A. Popyrin (AUS) defeated [28] J. Tsonga (FRA) 6-7 6-2 6-1 RETIRED
[19] J. Isner (USA) defeated T. Monteiro (BRA) 6-7 7-6 7-6 7-6
[Q] A. Tabilo (CHI) defeated [Q] D. Galan (COL) 4-6 6-3 6-4 6-7 6-4
A. Seppi (ITA) defeated M. Kecmanovic (SRB) 6-4 6-4 7-6
[15] S. Wawrinka (SUI) defeated D. Dzumhur (BIH) 7-5 6-7 6-4 6-4

There was just the one surprise in the bottom eighth of the men’s singles top half of the draw with 98th ranked Egor Gerasimov downing top 50 Norwegian prospect, Casper Ruud in five sets. Gerasimov looked to be on top early taking the first two sets 6-3 7-6, before Ruud bounced back with his own two sets, 6-1 6-4 to level the scores at two sets apiece. In fitting circumstances, the three and a half hour battle came down to a super tiebreak where the Belarusian got up 10-6 for a 6-3 7-6 1-6 4-6 7-6 triumph out on Court 13. Gerasimov serve 21 aces to 13 and hit 74 winners in a powerful display as neither player wanted to give in, but in the end it was the Belarusian who emerged victorious to set up a Round 2 match with seventh seed, Alexander Zverev.

It was a lot smoother for Zverev in a straight sets win over Italian, Marco Cecchinato, though it was far from easy with the tight three-set victory taking two hours and 23 minutes. Zverev’s serve was back on in the game after a shaky ATP Cup, winning 72 per cent off his first serve points off 84 per cent first serve in. He produced eight aces and hit 35 winners to 28, whilst keeping his unforced errors down to a low 28. The German also broke five times to three during the match and claimed 43 per cent of his receiving points to move through to the next round.

Eleventh seed David Goffin also moved through to the Round of 64 with a straight sets triumph of France’s Jeremy Chardy. Goffin won 6-4 6-3 6-1 with the Belgian winning 83 per cent of his first serve points, while breaking six times to one in a fairly comprehensive win. He only hit the 20 winners showing an area of improvement for the future, but did enough throughout the one hour, 48 minute match to book a date with Pierre-Hugues Herbert in the second round.

Herbert came from two sets to one down to post a tight win over Great Britain’s Cameron Norrie on Court 15. The match lasted almost four hours as Herbert hit 58 winners and produced 14 aces with plenty of net action throughout. The pair played a total of 100 points that involved one approaching the net, with Norrie marginally higher at 67 to 63 per cent success rate. Herbert will be keen to lower his unforced error count which reached 76, but is building nicely for the tough clash against the world number 11.

In a rather odd match that had the result expected but with a mid-match twist, Russian Alexander Rublev continued his unbeaten 2020 with a win over Australian wildcard, Chris O’Connell. The Round 1 match was closer than many anticipated with the world number 115 returning from injury against the top 20 player, but held up his own, even winning a set to love during Rublev’s 6-3 0-6 6-4 7-6 win. In that second set, the Australian restricted Rublev to four winners and seven unforced errors, as well as just 10 total points won, while hitting 13 winners himself and breaking three times. The class of Rublev shown through overall despite hitting less winners (41-52), also having a manageable 27 unforced errors as he won 75 per cent of his first serve points, and more importantly, 57 per cent of his second serve points. Both players were solid at the net, but the Russian stepped up when it counted and got the job done in a fourth set tiebreak.

Rublev now moves on and faces Japan’s Yuichi Sugita who smashed Frenchman, Elliot Benchetrit. The French qualifier has now best been known for his ‘banana stunt’ in qualifying where he handed a ball girl a banana to unpeel for him before being scolded by the chair umpire. It might have been his only moment of fame (or infamy) for the whole tournament as he just won five games in Sugita’s 6-2 6-0 6-3 easy win. The Japanese world number 91 won 85 per cent of his first serve points compared to Benchetrit’s 39 per cent, and had only eight unforced errors for 24 winners in an ultra-economical match. He broke six times in the process and moved through to take on Rublev.

It was another tough battle out on Court 12 where Georgian, Nikoloz Basilashvili just escaped from South Korea’s Soonwoo Kwon. The 26th seed led two sets to one at one stage, but was forced into a deciding set before getting up 6-7 6-4 7-5 3-6 6-3 in just under four hours of matchplay. Basilashvili served 22 aces and hit 61 winners, too strong on his first serve with a winning ratio of 73 per cent, as well as breaking seven times to five. His second serve is an area of improvement with Kwon recording 12 return winners from a game-high 66 total winners.

Fernando Verdasco continues to defy age and posted a 7-5 6-2 6-1 victory over lucky loser, Evgeny Donskoy. The 36-year-old Spaniard enjoyed a smooth run after a tight first set with the Russian, hardly faltering on serve. Verdasco recorded a 75 per cent first serve percentage, then won 85 per cent of those serves, while claiming two thirds of his second serve. All up, he lost just 14 points and was not broken once, but broke his opponent five times, four of which came in the last two sets. Not known for being a huge hitter, the counter puncher produced 21 winners and 14 unforced errors compared to Donkoy’s 20 and 35 respectively. He now faces Basilashvili in the second round.

[11] D. Goffin (BEL) defeated J. Chardy (FRA) 6-4 6-3 6-1
P. Herbert (FRA) defeated C. Norrie (GBR) 7-5 3-6 3-6 7-5 6-4
Y. Sugita (JPN) defeated [Q] E. Benchetrit (FRA) 6-2 6-0 6-3
[17] A. Rublev (RUS) defeated [WC] C. O’Connell (AUS) 6-3 0-6 6-4 7-6
[26] N. Basilashvili (GEO) defeated S. Kwon (KOR) 6-7 6-4 7-5 3-6 6-3
F. Verdasco (ESP) defeated [LL] E. Donskoy (RUS) 7-5 6-2 6-1
E. Gerasimov (BLR) defeated C. Ruud (NOR) 6-3 7-6 1-6 4-6 7-6
[7] A. Zverev (GER) defeated M. Cecchinato (ITA) 6-4 7-6 6-3