Tag: Jo-Wilfried Tsonga

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

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

Davis Cup future side: France

IT has seemed a world away since Spain lifted the 2019 Davis Cup. While the 2020 edition was ultimately cancelled and had to be postponed until 2021, it gives tennis fans extra time to work out what teams might look like when it recommences.

Draft Central will take a look at various nations over the break and see what the team might look like. Today’s team is France, with the world number one’s going through a changeover stage where they will need to balance between experience and the future with a heap of 30-plus ageing stars, and some up-and-comers.

TEAM:

#11 Gael Monfils
#30 Ugo Humbert
#6D Nicolas Mahut
#23D Pierre-Hugues Herbert

This French line-up might cause some controversy, because it does not include regulars, Benoit Paire and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga who have battled consistency and injuries respectively the last 12 months. Paire is now 31-years-old, and Tsonga is 35, while other Top 70 players, Gael Monfils (34), Adrian Mannarino (32), Richard Gasquet (34) and Gilles Simon (35) round out an incredibly experienced, but ultimately ageing core.

Of them, Monfils has been chosen to lead the side, because whilst in that veteran bracket, when fit he has the most about him that he could do damage to opposition sides. The French do not have any trouble getting Top 50 players to take on the opposition, and will be difficult against the lower nations, but their number one spot is in real threat because of the fact that their one and two singles players are no guarantees against the likes of Spain, Switzerland, Russia and the like.

Ugo Humbert has been chosen to add that youth dynamic in there, and at his best, he could be the best Frenchman on his day. He might not quite be at Monfils’ level just yet, but he has an all-round game and at 22-years-old, he has plenty of years to develop. Sebastien Grosjean must consider bringing Humbert in, because otherwise if another year or two goes by, the French could see a host of retirees and then forced to play younger kids before they are ready. The transition phase is now.

The French doubles pairing of Nicolas Mahut and Pierre-Hugues Herbert is an obvious one, with Herbert capable of playing singles, while Mahut is exclusively doubles these days at 38-years-old. If they wanted to hedge their bets and provide more singles options who can also play doubles, Paire and Jeremy Chardy are ranked in the Top 100 for both. France should consider blooding Corentin Moutet soon, even if only for dead rubbers because he and Humbert will be the future along with a couple of teenagers coming up.

Picture: Tennis Now

Hopman Cup hypothetical teams: France & Spain

ONE of the most unique tennis tournaments which features both ATP Tour and WTA Tour players is the Hopman Cup. Given the world’s circumstance and the fact it was already skipped on the eve of last year, it looks to be either delayed later in 2021, or perhaps at the turn of the New Year in 2022. However, in this new series we wanted to look at some hypothetical Hopman Cup teams and what they might look like if there was no COVID-19 pandemic, and if the famed mixed tournament did go ahead.

We continue the series with France and Spain, who have played 24 and 17 Hopman Cups, coming in at third and fourth respectively.

France: Ugo Humbert & Fiona Ferro

This French combination would be a dream to watch, even if it was not the most stacked it could be. From the men’s perspective, Ugo Humbert is a huge star of the future, and is starting to piece together all of his ability after a big 2020 season. With a big serve and impressive shots across the court, he is France’s next big thing, and soon will be their top ranked player. Gael Monfils would be just as good of a choice in terms of excitement, with the flamboyant top ranked star unfortunately having injury issues this year and is 34-years-old. Jo-Wilfried Tsonga is in a similar boat, while Benoit Paire and Adrian Mannarino are other acceptable choices. Humbert would be the pick though for his upside.

The women’s pick would not be as straight forward, but it would be fantastic to see Fiona Ferro put her hand up for the event. The French have won the title twice, and they featured Alize Cornet and Kristina Mladenovic, both of whom could be picked again. The French have no shortage of female talent in the top 100, but Ferro just has that exciting upside about her that would make her a good choice, and provide her with a good lead-up event to the Australian Open. Would this combination win the Hopman Cup? Probably not, but it would be exciting for fans.

Spain: Rafael Nadal & Garbine Muguruza

Going from a team that would probably not win the Hopman Cup to one that would be a high chance of winning the Hopman Cup, Spain always has a ridiculous amount of choices at its disposal. Surprisingly, the Spanish have only won the Hopman Cup four times – in 1990, 2002, 2010 and 2013 – with Fernando Verdasco and Annabel Medina Garrigues lifting the title last. In 2019, Garbine Muguruza competed at the event, and she would be the choice for this hypothetical one. She has the Grand Slam winning experience, is strong on hard courts and it would provide her with great experience in the lead-up to the Australian Open where she has fared so well. The Spanish women often return, with Arantxa Sanchez Vicario (seven years) and Medina Garrigues (four), playing 11 of the 17 Hopman Cups.

From the men’s side, it would not happen, but imagine if Rafael Nadal stepped up to the plate to compete in the Hopman Cup? The world number two would be a huge coup for the event, and with the 2019 competitor David Ferrer retiring, the Spanish would need a new entrant. Tommy Robredo did it for four years, and it would be feasible to see Pablo Carreno Busta putting up his hand for the event, or more likely a younger player like Jaume Munar, but Nadal would be the top pick. It would have advantages for the top ranked Spaniard, with the King of Clay able to get valuable minutes on his weakest surface of indoor hard court, in a setting that is not as competitive as other major events.

Picture: Tony McDonough

Is Ugo Humbert already the best Frenchman on the ATP Tour?

UGO Humbert is the best Frenchman on the ATP Tour. It is a big statement considering the amount of French talent going around at the moment. The nation has no shortage of talent, led by top talent Gael Monfils, the always exciting Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, and then the likes of Benoit Paire, Adrian Mannarino and Richard Gasquet cemented inside the top 50 players in the world. But unlike all of those players who are the wrong side of 30 – Paire is the youngest at 31 – Ugo Humbert is 22 and on the verge of breaking out in his career.

It could be argued he did just that in 2020, having his best season to-date and showing what he is capable of on the world stage. Prior to this year, Humber had a 19-26 record, but improved that to 43-38 after a huge 24-12 year that included two ATP Tour titles. The first one came in Auckland early in the year, defeating Paire in the final there, before backing up his performance indoors post the COVID break at Antwerp. His performances saw him move from 57th in the world up to number 30 in the past 12 months, giving French fans hope that he can lead the next wave of talents.

France is never short on up-and-comers, always having competitive players that will impress on the world stage. What makes Humbert so special is that he is that 188cm and is the pure power player who loves to win points quickly. He can make mistakes and is still raw, but wins a lot of points in a multitude of ways, be it off his serve, his forehand, backhand or approaching the net. In short, Humbert has a lot of tricks to his arsenal, and while he is raw, he can do a lot of damage when on song with his power plays.

It is remarkable to think that Humbert started his year with a straight sets loss in the third round of a Challenger event in Bendigo before posting a stunning maiden title win in Auckland. What made the victory in Auckland so special was the fact he knocked off four top 50 players including Casper Ruud, Denis Shapovalov, John Isner and Paire in that time. That is quite the mix of talents, and while he suffered a four-set loss to John Millman at the Australian Open and then bowed out in Montpellier to Feliciano Lopez, he reached the semi-finals at Delray Beach and arguably should have gone further.

Humbert’s Grand Slam record did not improve, with a second round defeat to Matteo Berrettini after a straight sets loss to Grigor Dimitrov in the first round at the Cincinnati masters, but he then toppled Fabio Fognini before losing to Shapovalov in Rome. He then stunned Daniil Medvedev in Hamburg before dropping his quarter finals loss to Ruud also squared that head-to-head up this year. A forgettable first round loss in Roland Garros to Marc Polmans meant he won one of four matches at the majors, a key reason why he could not crack into the top 20.

Another three top 50 wins at Antwerp led him to the title, defeating Pablo Carreno Busta, Daniel Evans and Alex de Minaur. What makes those three players so different to his hat-trick of Shapovalov, Isner and Paire in Auckland is the fact the former are all-court or counter punchers, compared to the latter who are power players and big servers. In other words, Humbert can play – and win – against all types of players.

Another win over Ruud in Paris was followed by a hard fought victory over Stefanos Tsitsipas, and an equally challenging victory over Marin Cilic before being stopped by Milos Raonic in three sets in the quarter finals. The Masters ended his year, but he had one eight of nine to cap off the season and knocked off two top six players in the final couple of months. All in all, 2020 could be considered a success.

As of now, Humbert is yet to make his debut at the Davis Cup. That must change. He simply has to be in, and if Monfils is fit, then France should take those two as the starting singles players. Tsonga is unfortunately not as durable as he used to be, and one cannot trust Paire consistently. Right now, Mannarino should be considered ahead of both, but the French love to play with flair, and unfortunately as solid as Mannarino is, he does not have the big serve that the Davis Cup team loves. With such a strong doubles pairing of Pierre-Hugues Herbert and Nicolas Mahut, the French have to start thinking about the future.

Not only should Humbert be thrown into the Davis Cup team, France need to start considering the next generation of talents before the top stars retire, all bar maybe Paire will be on the way out in the next few years, so the planning time is now. It is time to see whether Lucas Pouille and Corentin Moutet can sink or swim, particularly the latter who is still 21. Hugo Gaston at 20 has talent throw him in the extended squad and even Gregoire Barrere and Benjamin Bonzi are putting their hands up.

Whatever happens, Humbert simply has to be in because he is France’s next big thing.

Picture: Getty Images

2020 European Open preview: Seven top 20 players set for Antwerp

SEVEN top 20 ATP Tour players will descend on Antwerp for the 2020 European Open which starts on Monday. The ATP 250 event is a hard court event and will see a stacked lineup, with 44th ranked Albert Ramos-Vinolas the lowest ranked direct acceptance, whilst Matteo Berrettini (8th) will head in as the top seed.

Alongside Berrettini, the other top ranked players who have nominated to play included David Goffin (12th), Andrey Rublev (14th), Fabio Fognini (15th), Karen Khachanov (16th), Pablo Carreno Busta (18th), Grigor Dimitrov (19th) and Milos Raonic (20th).

Among those not in the draw this year are reigning title holder Andy Murray, or former winners Kyle Edmund or Jo-Wilfried Tsonga (injured). Inaugural winner in 2016, Richard Gasquet is expected to play as the first alternative in Antwerp should there be a late withdrawal, as can be the case with the hectic schedule of 2020.

Last year’s title saw Murray breakthrough for his first – and only – title since returning from retirement. Using his protected ranking, the British Grand Slam winner defeated Stan Wawrinka in a come-from-behind victory, 3-6 6-4 6-4 to book a spot in the next round. Neither player will compete in Antwerp this year, with reigning semi-finalist Ugo Humbert automatically included in the draw along with Murray from the last eight in 2019.

Jannik Sinner, Marius Copil and Frances Tiafoe are all hoping to break into the draw as alternatives, or come through qualifying. Meanwhile Gilles Simon and Guido Pella – who made the last eight last year – are not competing in Belgium.

In terms of contenders, the big question mark will be on Goffin as he looks to return from a positive COVID-19 test to compete in his home nation, whilst compatriot Kimmer Coppejans has been handed a wildcard for the event. Sinner is in red hot form, and having been handed a wildcard at this event 12 months ago, do not be shocked for the Italian to be given one again as he hopes to go better than his semi-final appearance in 2019.

Berrettini is the highest ranked player and should be amongst the main contenders, but the world number eight is inconsistent at the best of times. He is capable of beating anyone but can also drop games he should win. He comes in off a less-than-convincing third round run at Roland Garros where he needed four sets to defeat Lloyd Harris, then went down in straight sets to Daniel Altmaier. In his last hard court event at the US Open, Berrettini had good wins over Humbert and Casper Ruud – both competing in Antwerp – before going down in four sets to the in-form Rublev.

Since his run to the fourth round at the US Open, Goffin’s clay season has not gone to play with first-up losses to Marin Cilic and Sinner at Rome and Paris, then had to withdraw from Cologne due to the positive COVID-19 test. Now back in his home nation, Goffin can have familiar surroundings and will be keen to get back on the winners list.

Another player who will be glad to be back on hard court include Alex de Minaur who reached the quarter finals at the US Open, then had back-to-back first round losses on the clay to German qualifier Dominik Koepfer and Italian Marco Cecchinato in Rome and Paris respectively. Wins over Khachanov and Gasquet at Flushing Meadows will give him confidence heading into Antwerp.

Dimitrov is another contender here, having defeated Sinner in Rome, and pushed Denis Shapovalov all the way in the quarter finals there, before reaching the fourth round at Roland Garros and testing Stefanos Tsitsipas at times.

Rublev has been one of the most in-form players of recent times but there is expected to be a point where so much tennis will catch up to him. He will have to be considered amongst the top contenders here, with a top soft end that he knows he can beat,.

Clay court players with automatic entries include Nikoloz Basilashvili, Cristian Garin, Dusan Lajovic, Ruud and Ramos-Vinolas who all can perform on hard courts, but are traditionally clay court performers.

Picture: USTA

2020 WTA Nature Valley Open / ATP Stuttgart Open fantasy tennis: Chaos reigns in Germany as seeds skittled on day one

ONLY one seed fell at the 2020 WTA Nature Valley Open fantasy tennis tournament, whilst there was a lot more chaos at the ATP Stuttgart Open. In Germany, just one of the four seeds on court survived day one against the stronger unseeded grass court players.

Looking at the Nature Valley Open in Nottingham first, there was only the one shock which came in the form of Swiss qualifier Viktorija Golubic knocking out fifth seed Ukrainian Dayana Yastremska. Golubic made it through to the Round of 16 courtesy of a 2-6 6-3 6-4 come-from-behind win over the world number 16 in her bid to eye off a top 100 spot. The other seed engaged in a three-set come-from-behind match was eighth seed Shuai Zhang, but this time the 34th ranked Chinese talent got up, albeit with some nervous moments against British wildcard and world number 146 Harriet Dart, 4-6 6-3 6-4.

The other seeds had less trouble to move through to the second round, although sixth seed Greek up and comer Maria Sakkari took three sets to knock out Frenchwoman Oceane Dodin, 6-3 3-6 6-4. Top seed Petra Kvitova, third seed Belinda Bencic and seventh seed Donna Vekic all won through to the Round of 16 without being forced into a tenth game in any set. Second seed Canadian Bianca Andreescu got past British wildcard Katie Swan in a tight 7-5 6-4 win, whilst fourth seed Croatian Petra Martic had a similar experience against Serbian wildcard Ivana Jorovic before saluting 7-5 6-1.

In the unseeded matches, only Coco Vandeweghe and Liudmila Samsonova were forced into three sets before getting up. Vandeweghe toppled American compatriot Shelby Rogers 6-0 3-6 7-5, while Russian Samsonova also knocked out an American, downing Ann Li 6-2 2-6 6-1. In other results, Ajla Tomljanovic, Tatjana Maria, Kristina Mladenovic, Stefanie Voegele and Yanina Wickmayer all booked their places in the Round of 16. Reigning champion Caroline Garcia was the final winner through to the second round, knocking off American Jennifer Brady 6-2 6-2 in under an hour.

NATURE VALLEY OPEN ROUND OF 32 RESULTS:

[1] Petra Kvitova (CZE) defeated [Q] Elena Gabriela Ruse (ROU) 6-3 6-3
[2] Bianca Andreescu (CAN) defeated [WC] Katie Swan (GBR) 7-5 6-4
[3] Belinda Bencic (SUI) defeated Sara Sorribes Tormo (ESP) 6-2 6-1
[4] Petra Martic (CRO) defeated [WC] Ivana Jorovic (SRB) 7-5 6-1
[Q] Viktorija Golubic (SUI) defeated [5] Dayana Yastremska (UKR) 2-6 6-3 6-4
[6] Maria Sakkari (GRE) defeated Oceane Dodin (FRA) 6-3 3-6 6-4
[7] Donna Vekic (CRO) defeated [WC] Naiktha Bains (GBR) 6-1 6-4
[8] Shuai Zhang (CHN) defeated [WC] Harriet Dart (GBR) 4-6 6-3 6-4
Coco Vandeweghe (USA) defeated Shelby Rogers (USA) 6-0 3-6 7-5
Ajla Tomljanovic (AUS) defeated Heather Watson (GBR) 6-2 6-1
Tatjana Maria (GER) defeated [Q] Astra Sharma (AUS) 6-2 6-3
Kristina Mladenovic (FRA) defeated Julia Goerges (GER) 6-3 6-0
Caroline Garcia (FRA) defeated Jennifer Brady (USA) 6-2 6-2
Stefanie Voegele (SUI) defeated Patricia Maria Tig (ROU) 6-2 6-2
Liudmila Samsonova (RUS) defeated Ann Li (USA) 6-2 2-6 6-1
[Q] Yanina Wickmayer (BEL) defeated Jil Teichmann (SUI) 6-1 7-5

Whilst the results in Nottingham might have gone to script, over in Stuttgart, that was far from the case. Three of the four seeds all fell at the first hurdle, leaving only eighth seed Italian Fabio Fognini remaining to join the top four seeds in the second round. Fognini downed German Philipp Kohlschreiber to book a place in the second round, but was not joined by Nikoloz Basilashvili, Karen Khachanov or Denis Shapovalov. Guido Pella, John Millman and Gilles Simon all won in straight sets to move through to the Round of 16 in sensational upsets.

One of the early title contenders from an unseeded perspective in Marin Cilic also won through, albeit with a come-from-behind win against a plucky Damir Dzumhur who qualified for the event. Cilic won 3-6 6-3 6-4 to make his way into the second round. Also through to the next stage were a couple of wildcards in Juan Martin del Potro and Dustin Brown. The Argentinian Grand Slam winner defeated home nation talent Jan-Lennard Struff 6-3 6-1, while Brown got the home crowd happy again with a 6-3 2-6 6-3 triumph over Hungarian qualifier Marton Fucsovics.

In the remaining matches, American duo John Isner and Sam Querrey fought through to the second round. Isner overcame Australian Nick Kyrgios in a remarkable triple tiebreaker match, winning 6-7 7-6 7-6, while Querrey knocked out 2019 Stuttgart Open runner-up, Felix Auger-Aliassime in three sets, 6-4 4-6 6-2. The losing teenager’s compatriot in Milos Raonic got the chocolates in the first round however, knocking out German wildcard Dominik Koepfer 4-6 6-1 6-4, while Feliciano Lopez and Lucas Pouille both won through to the Round of 16.

STUTTGART OPEN ROUND OF 32 RESULTS:

Guido Pella (ARG) defeated [5] Nikoloz Basilashvili (GEO) 6-4 6-2
John Millman (AUS) defeated [6] Karen Khachanov (RUS) 7-6 7-6
Gilles Simon (FRA) defeated [7] Denis Shapovalov (CAN) 7-5 6-2
[8] Fabio Fognini (ITA) defeated Philipp Kohlschreiber (GER) 6-1 6-4
Marin Cilic (CRO) defeated [Q] Damir Dzumhur (BIH) 3-6 6-3 6-4
[WC] Juan Martin del Potro (ARG) defeated Jan-Lennard Struff (GER) 6-3 6-1
[WC] Dustin Brown (GER) defeated [Q] Marton Fucsovics (HUN) 6-3 2-6 6-3
John Isner (USA) defeated Nick Kyrgios (AUS) 6-7 7-6 7-6
Sam Querrey (USA) defeated Felix Auger-Aliassime (CAN) 6-4 4-6 6-2
Feliciano Lopez (ESP) defeated [Q] Denis Kudla (USA) 6-3 6-4
Milos Raonic (CAN) defeated [WC] Dominik Koepfer (GER) 4-6 6-1 6-4
Lucas Pouille (FRA) defeated Jo-Wilfried Tsonga (FRA) 4-6 6-3 6-0

2020 ATP Stuttgart Open fantasy tennis preview: Zverev returns home amongst strong field

NOW that our 2020 ATP Roland Garros fantasy tennis tournament is in the books, some of the top ATP Tour players turn their attention to Germany for the Stuttgart Open. Led by Roland Garros winner Alexander Zverev, the tournament features 10 top 30 players in a draw that is likely to be highly competitive.

FAVOURITE:

Alexander Zverev (GERMANY)

The clear and deserving favourite backing up from his French Open win, the world number four will start as the top seed here in his home nation. Keen to bring success back to Germany, Zverev has earned a nice bye in the first round, but will have a likely tough encounter against Marin Cilic in the second round. While Zverev has proven to be a dominant clay courter and strong hard courter, his grass game could still improve, so he will be keen to do that in this ATP250 tournament. A potential quarter finals clash with Juan Martin del Potro could also spell trouble for the number one seed.

CONTENDERS:

Daniil Medvedev (RUSSIA)

The second seed and world number five maintains his spot in the top five despite Zverev leaping ahead of him, and will be keen to snatch it back with a deep run here. His form this year has been less than ideal, but he has a good chance in Stuttgart, and a reasonable draw too. A bye in the opening round then a potential clash with either one of two Frenchmen, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga or Lucas Pouille and a quarter final against Fabio Fognini, Medvedev will start favourite in those games on this surface. The Russian has a good chance of going all the way and has to be considered.

Matteo Berrettini (ITALY)

Breaking the mold of being an Italian who is strong on grass, Berrettini won here in 2019, defeating Felix Auger-Aliassime in the final. Remarkably, that line-up could be a second round encounter, but he also could face the more-than-competent Sam Querrey as well. If Berrettini can get past the Round of 16, then he could eye up going deep and would fancy himself matching up against Medvedev in the final. Having been there and done it before, you can never discount Berrettini when it comes to contenders.

Felix Auger-Aliassime (CANADA)

Much like Berrettini, Auger-Aliassime has gone to the last match of the tournament before, and battled hard against his fellow up and comer. The teenager has an incredibly difficult first-up match against Querrey and he will need to be at his best to avoid giving up a lot of ranking points with a loss. If he can set up a 2019 final rematch in the Round of 16, that would be huge, and give him confidence to go on a run here in Stuttgart again.

ROUGHIE:

Marin Cilic (CROATIA)

The Croatian world number 48 has slid down the rankings this year, but he would have pencilled in the grass court season. As one of the best clay court players in the world, it is hard to deny he has a massive chance in Stuttgart. Always challenging to beat on his best day, if Cilic can find the form that he has shown in the past, he could go all the way. A potential second round match with Zverev looms, but they are not on clay anymore, and if you throw rankings out the window, Cilic has every right to start favourite.

DARK HORSE:

Juan Martin del Potro (ARGENTINA)

The Argentinian has had some rough draws of late, coming up against some elite players early in tournaments and falling earlier than expected. He has shown some promising signs in his return year, but is still ranked 121st in the world and was easily offered a wildcard in this 250K event. He is the player no one wants to come up against because he is so dominant on grass, and realistically if he plays to his potential could be the best player here on the surface. He lines up against home nation competitor Jan-Lennard Struff in the first round, but expect him to cruise all the way to the quarter finals where he will face either Zverev or Cilic.

2020 ATP Roland Garros fantasy tennis: Bedene and Jarry head through to final 16

ALJAZ Bedene joins Nicolas Jarry as the only two unseeded players in the fourth round of the 2020 ATP Roland Garros fantasy tennis tournament, having defeated Frenchman Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in five sets. The Slovenian took more than three and a half hours to finally put Tsonga away on his opponents’ home court, but saluted with a 7-6 1-6 6-2 6-7 6-4 victory to book a spot in the Round of 16 against the top ranked Frenchman in Gael Monfils.

 

Aside from Bedene, the results went largely as expected, with five of the other seven winners ranked higher than their respective opponents. The two ranked lower were 19th seed Chilean Cristian Garin, and 20th seed Italian Fabio Fognini. Both are very strong clay courters and took out 11th seed Belgian David Goffin and 14th seed Russian Andrey Rublev in straight sets.

 

At the top of the seeded players, world number one Rafael Nadal took out another competent clay courter in Casped Ruud. The Norwegian was no match for the Spanish star and 12-time Roland Garros winner, with Nadal getting better and better as the match went on. In the end, Nadal claimed a 6-3 6-2 6-0 win in just an hour and 40 minutes. He joined Monfils in the next round who disposed of 22nd seed Denis Shapovalov in straight sets, 6-3 7-5 6-3.

 

Argentinian talent Diego Schwartzman is in career-best form at a career-high number eight in the world, and he survived a mighty scare to shake off Canadian teenager Felix Auger-Aliassime in five sets. Having to come back from two sets to one down, Schwartzman won 5-7 7-6 4-6 6-0 6-4 in four hours and 14 minutes.

 

It was great news for the two Swiss players out on court, with top 10 talents Roger Federer and Stan Wawrinka rounding out the final 16. Federer defeated Italian Gianluca Mager 7-5 6-3 6-7 6-2, while Wawrinka came from a set down to defeat home nation hero Richard Gasquet in four sets, 4-6 6-3 6-0 6-4.

 

In tomorrow’s action for this half of the draw, Nadal faces Fognini, Garin takes on Federer, Schwartzman meets Wawrinka and Bedene sizes up against Monfils.

 

ROUND OF 32 RESULTS:

 

[1] Rafael Nadal (ESP) defeated [32] Casper Ruud (NOR) 6-3 6-2 6-0

[4] Roger Federer (SUI) defeated Gianluca Mager (ITA) 7-5 6-3 6-7 6-2

[8] Diego Schwartzman (ARG) defeated [26] Felix Auger-Aliassime (CAN) 5-7 7-6 4-6 6-0 6-4

[9] Gael Monfils (FRA) defeated [22] Denis Shapovalov (CAN) 6-3 7-5 6-3

[10] Stan Wawrinka (SUI) defeated Richard Gasquet (FRA) 4-6 6-3 6-0 6-4

[19] Cristian Garin (CHI) defeated [11] David Goffin (BEL) 6-4 6-1 6-2

[20] Fabio Fognini (ITA) defeated [14] Andrey Rublev (RUS) 6-2 7-5 6-3

Aljaz Bedene (SLO) defeated [27] Jo-Wilfried Tsonga (FRA) 7-6 1-6 6-2 6-7 6-4

2020 ATP Roland Garros fantasy tennis: Bedene stuns Greek star to book third round spot

THE final 32 players in contention for the 2020 ATP Roland Garros fantasy tennis title have been decided with a massive upset occurring on day six of the competition. Sixth seed Greek up and comer, Stefanos Tsitsipas is out of contention after unseeded Slovenian clay courter Aljaz Bedene won in five thrilling sets. The match lasted three hours and 45 minutes before the Slovenian was able to celebrate, but he did so in style, ousting the world number six, 7-6 6-3 4-6 2-6 7-5.

In an identical result to the day before, all the remaining seeds made their way through to the next round meaning just seven unseeded players remain in Roland Garros. There was almost another boil over in the second round, with Swiss Master Roger Federer surviving a scare against Japanese Grand Slam winner Kei Nishikori. Federer eventually won 6-4 2-6 2-6 7-6 6-4 but had to come from two sets to one down in order to win. It was one of the five, five set matches, along with Russian Andrey Rublev’s come-from-behind victory over Hungarian Marton Fucsovics, 3-6 7-5 6-7 6-4 6-3.

The other five set match was a massive come-from-behind win by 11th seed David Goffin who had to fight back from two sets down to shake off Brazilian Thiago Monteiro. Goffin trailed Monteiro 6-3 6-3 after 80 minutes of game play, but little did the crowd know it would be another two and a half hours before the match ended, with the Belgian getting up 3-6 3-6 6-2 7-5 6-4. He joined ninth seed Gael Monfils in the next round after the Frenchman also came from a deficit to defeat Serbian qualifier, Albert Ramos-Vinolas.

It was easier for world number one Rafael Nadal, 19th seed Cristian Garin, up and comers Felix Auger-Aliassime and Casper Ruud, and veteran Jo-Wilfried Tsonga who all waltzed through to the next round in straight sets. Other winners were seeds, Diego Schwartzman, Fabio Fognini and Denis Shapovalov, as well as unseeded duo, Richard Gasquet and Italian Gianluca Mager.

ROUND OF 64 RESULTS:

[1] Rafael Nadal (ESP) defeated Philipp Kohlschreiber (GER) 6-1 6-1 6-3
[4] Roger Federer (SUI) defeated Kei Nishikori (JPN) 6-4 2-6 2-6 7-6 6-4
Aljaz Bedene (SLO) defeated [6] Stefanos Tsitsipas (GRE) 7-6 6-3 4-6 2-6 7-5
[8] Diego Schwartzman (ARG) defeated Albert Ramos-Vinolas (ESP) 1-6 6-2 7-6 7-6
[9] Gael Monfils (FRA) defeated [Q] Janko Tipsarevic (SRB) 4-6 6-4 3-6 6-2 6-4
[10] Stan Wawrinka (SUI) defeated Lorenzo Sonego (ITA) 6-7 7-5 7-5 6-0
[11] David Goffin (BEL) defeated Thiago Monteiro (BRA) 3-6 3-6 6-2 7-5 6-4
[14] Andrey Rublev (RUS) defeated Marton Fucsovics (HUN) 3-6 7-5 6-7 6-4 6-3
[19] Cristian Garin (CHI) defeated Ricardas Berankis (LTU) 6-2 6-1 6-0
[20] Fabio Fognini (ITA) defeated Juan Martin del Potro (ARG) 3-6 7-6 6-2 6-4
[22] Denis Shapovalov (CAN) defeated [Q] Carlos Taberner (ESP) 6-0 3-6 6-2 6-1
[26] Felix Auger-Aliassime (CAN) defeated [WC] Quentin Halys (FRA) 6-0 6-2 6-3
[27] Jo-Wilfried Tsonga (FRA) defeated [Q] Bernard Tomic (AUS) 6-4 6-4 6-3
[32] Casper Ruud (NOR) defeated Lucas Pouille (FRA) 6-2 6-2 6-1
Richard Gasquet (FRA) defeated Steve Johnson (USA) 6-4 4-6 7-6 6-3
Gianluca Mager (ITA) defeated [Q] Damir Dzumhur (BIH) 6-3 6-2 6-3