Tag: john isner

ATP Tour wrap: Zverev stuns Nadal on clay for third straight win over top seed

ALEXANDER Zverev has found the winning formula to defeating Rafael Nadal, and it has now stretched to the clay courts, defeating the top seed Spaniard in straight sets to book a 2021 Madrid Masters 1000 semi-finals spot. The German fifth seed backed up his wins in the 2019 ATP Finals and 2020 Paris Masters with a third straight win in the Madrid Masters, but this victory was different. It was back on clay and in Nadal’s home nation, where the King of Clay is near-unbeatable. By the time the match ended, Zverev had won 6-4 6-4, coming back from 2-4 down in the first set to post the win in one hour and 44 minutes.

“[It is] definitely one of the biggest wins of my career so far, especially on clay against Rafa. It is the toughest thing to do in our sport,” Zverev said post-match. “Beating him in his house, in Spain, is incredible but the tournament is not over yet.”

The German served four aces, won 82 per cent of his first serve points, and broke Nadal three times to one during the match to secure his spot in the last four. Zverev won here in 2018, and holds a 13-2 record, also not dropping a set thus far in the 2021 edition. In the 2018 final, Zverev knocked off Dominic Thiem, which was the only time the German has been the third seed Austrian on clay. Thiem has an 8-2 head-to-head record against Zverev, and 4-1 on clay including the memorable come-from-behind five-set US Open final.

“I know that I can do it [against Dominic],” Zverev said. “Everyone remembers the US Open final that we played. “I remember it certainly and it is still going to be in the back of my mind when we play tomorrow. “I am looking forward to the match.”

Thiem had to get himself out of trouble after losing the first set and having to save several break points in the fifth game of the second set to remain in the contest against American John Isner, going on to post a three-set win. The Austrian broke his opponent in the penultimate game of the match to take out the deciding set and win, 3-6 6-3 6-4 to set up the huge semi-final with Zverev.

“I think we all know that he is one of the best servers in history and the altitude here in Madrid makes it even tougher to return his serve,” Thiem said post-match. “I was a little bit surprised by his return games. I think he actually attacked both of my serves, the first and the second, and it took me a while to get used to it. If you start a break down against guys like John, it is like starting a set down. I think the momentum of the whole match changed when I saved those four break points in the second [set].”

Isner served 18 aces without a double fault, and won 77 per cent of his first serve points. He managed to match Thiem on return points off his second serve, but could not convert more than one of his seven break point chances which proved costly. Thiem on the other hand managed to convert the two from four, and won a higher percentage of first serve points (79 per cent).

In the other quarter finals results, eighth seed Italian Matteo Berrettini came from a set down to storm to victory against 16th seed Chilean Cristian Garin, not dropping a game in the deciding set to win, 5-7 6-3 6-0. That victory set up a final four meeting with Norwegian Casper Ruud who knocked off Kazakhstan’s Alexander Bublik, 7-5 6-1. Zverev and Thiem are up first at 4pm local time ahead of the women’s final between Ash Barty and Aryna Sabalenka, with the Ruud-Berrettini semi-final at night.

MADRID MASTERS 1000 RESULTS:

[5] Alexander Zverev (GER) defeated [1] Rafael Nadal (ESP) 6-4 6-4
[3] Dominic Theim (AUT) defeated John Isner (USA) 3-6 6-3 6-4
[8] Matteo Berrettini (ITA) defeated [16] Cristian Garin (CHI) 5-7 6-3 6-0
Casper Ruud (NOR) defeated Alexander Bublik (KAZ) 7-5 6-1

Picture credit: ATP Tour

ATP Tour wrap: Even seeds fail as odds fall the way of victory

THE Round of 16 has well and truly begun at the Madrid Open, as competitors backed up a huge second round of event yesterday with little break as the third round got underway. Whilst the King of Clay retained the mantle with another win, three top 10 seeds fell in a big day on the clay.

It appeared as though every other seed proceeded to the quarter finals in an intriguing day of action, as the odd seeds in Rafael Nadal (first seed), Dominic Thiem (third), and Alexander Zverev (fifth) reigned supreme, whilst the evens in Daniil Medvedev (second), Stefanos Tsitsipas (fourth) and Andrey Rublev (sixth) failed to proceed to the next round.

Two of the major results of the day saw Russian pair Medvedev and Rublev both bundled out, with those two encounters the only three-setters of the day. It was 16th seed Chilean Cristian Garin who claimed the scalp of Medvedev, with the equal-biggest win of his career coming in the two and a half hour, 6-4 6-7 6-1 matchup. Whilst Medvedev broke back in the second to win the tiebreaker 6(2)-7, Garin’s overall service game efficiency paid off winning 71 per cent of his service points compared to Medvedev’s 62 per cent, whilst also claiming the ascendancy on return. For Rublev, it was American John Isner who spoiled the party with a 7-6 3-6 7-6 victory in just over two hours. Realistically, Rublev just could not compete with Isner on serve, as the hard-hitter piled on 29 aces to claim easy points, and while Rublev actually led service efficiency and won more off his serve (82 per cent compared to 68 per cent), Isner rallied when it mattered to win both the first and third set tiebreakers.

“I’m very happy,” Isner said post-match. “I wasn’t the better player out there today; I did win the match. “My serve kept me in it. “There’s a reason he’s won so many matches this year.”

“It’s a nice feather in my cap right now with my ranking being a little bit lower,” Isner said. “I haven’t played much since the tour stopped last year. “I think this is my only seventh event. I haven’t had many matches. “But to beat a guy like that, maybe being a little bit undercooked, is a very special moment for me.”

“It is my favourite clay court probably,” Isner said. “It has an indoor feel even though it’s not fully indoors. It’s got a great sound to it. “The court is fast. “To me it doesn’t seem like there’s too much clay on the court so, of all the clay courts I play on, it plays closest to a hard court of any of them. “The altitude in Madrid just really helps my serve. “The ball goes through the air very fast. You put all those things together, it’s a good recipe for me to do some damage on serve.”

The third upset of the day saw Casper Ruud scored a big win over Greek Stefanos Tsitsipas, 7-6 6-4, as the Norwegian marginally claimed victory winning the same amount of points, but fortunate to retain the upper hand throughout the close contest.

“He is one of the best players this year on the Tour, one of the ones who has won the most matches. He’s won his first Masters 1000 in Monte-Carlo. Barcelona he was very close to getting the title there, as well,” Ruud said post-match. “But the conditions are a bit different here than other clay courts with the fast shots, the ball traveling faster through the air because of the altitude. You get a lot of free points with the serve that you don’t usually [get] on the clay courts. I think that also today went a bit in my advantage.

“I felt like he was doing some mistakes that he doesn’t always do. I was just trying to take care of the chances that I got.”

Nadal and Thiem disposed of a couple of Australians, downing qualifier Alexei Popyrin and top ranked Aussie Alex de Minaur respectively, and rather significantly at that. Nadal was always going to be a huge challenge for Popyrin, who was outclassed 6-3 6-3 in 79 minutes by the Spaniard, who was far more consistent. To Popyrin’s credit he hit seven more aces and won 83 per cent of his first serve points to lead Nadal, however it was the King of Clay’s ability to both save (five from six) and convert break points (four from six) that allowed him to overrun Popyrin and keep down the unforced errors. Meanwhile the matchup between Thiem and De Minaur may have started close but saw Thiem break even in the second, retaining control and forcing errant hits from the Australian.

Fifth seed Zverev joined the winners list with a dismissal of Daniel Evans, whilst eighth seed Matteo Berrettini continued his solid form on clay with a straight sets victory over Federico Delbonis and Alexander Bublik downed a third Russian in Aslan Karatsev to head into the quarter finals.

MADRID OPEN ROUND OF 16 RESULTS: 

[1] Rafael Nadal (ESP) defeated [Q] Alexei Popyrin (AUS) 6-3 6-3
[16] Cristian Garin (CHI) defeated [2] Daniil Medvedev (RUS) 6-4 6-7 6-1
[3] Dominic Thiem (AUT) defeated Alex de Minaur (AUS) 7-6 6-4
Casper Ruud (NOR) defeated [4] Stefanos Tsitsipas (GRE) 7-6 6-4
[5] Alexander Zverev (GER) defeated Daniel Evans (GBR) 6-3 7-6
John Isner (USA) defeated [6] Andrey Rublev (RUS) 7-6 3-6 7-6
[8] Matteo Berrettini (ITA) defeated [Q] Federico Delbonis (ARG) 7-6 6-4
Alexander Bublik (KAZ) defeated Aslan Karatsev (RUS) 6-4 6-3

ATP Tour wrap: Popyrin upsets Sinner as Nadal smashes heir apparent

AUSTRALIAN rising star Alexei Popyrin has knocked off his Italian counterpart in straight sets, defeating Next-Gen ATP Finals winner Jannik Sinner, 7-6 6-2 at the Madrid Masters 1000. In a day of huge results, Popyrin booked his spot in the Round of 16 with the upset over the 14th seed, in a match that lasted 95 minutes. After winning the first set in a tiebreaker 7-5, Popyrin stormed away with some crucial breaks in the second set to win it well.

“I think it was to stay level-headed after I got broken in the first game. “We had a tactic that I tried to implement in the first game. “I couldn’t quite get my aim. But I knew I would have chances, like most do. “I just had to capitalise on them when they came,” Popyrin said post-match. “That’s what I did, I guess… I have had a pretty good record in tie-breaks this year. “I felt confident going into the tie-break. “I just tried to stay level-headed.”

The Australian won 75 per cent of his first serve points, putting down eight aces to Sinners’ none, and breaking him four times, whilst saving three of five break point opportunities himself. He advances through to the Round of 16 at the ATP Masters 1000 event to play the toughest opponent you can on this surface – King of Clay Rafael Nadal. The number one seeds destroyed the player many believe to be his heir apparent in teenager Carlos Alcaraz.

“He has a lot of potential. He’s young and [a] good guy,” Nadal said post-match. “He already has a great level of tennis today, but I really believe that he’s going to be a fantastic player in the near future.

“I wish him all the very best. [As a] Spanish player and Spanish [tennis] fan, I really believe that we need somebody like him, and it’s great to have him here.”

The birthday boy – turning 18-years-old on the day of the loss was no match for the raging Nadal, who continued his ridiculous winning streak on clay with a 6-1 6-2 victory. Nadal won in just 78 minutes on court, only dropping five points off his first serve, and attacking Alcaraz’s serve with a massive 63 per cent success rate. In what was ultimately one-sided traffic the whole way through, the teenager got a lesson in what it takes to be the best, winning just 27 points for the match (33 per cent) and watching poetry in motion.

On facing Popyrin in the Round of 16, Nadal said he was looking forward to the challenge and had liked what he had seen from the Australian who had some big weapons he would need to be ready for in the clash.

“He has a huge serve, great forehand, young… Another tough opponent. But here we are in Masters 1000, so we can’t expect another thing,” Nadal said. “I hope to be ready to play well. That’s what I am going to need every single day if I want to have chances to keep playing. Tomorrow is another tough battle. I hope to be ready.”

In other results, fifth seed Alexander Zverev strolled past Kei Nishikori to set up a Round of 16 clash with Brit Daniel Evans, following the latter’s come-from-behind win over Australian John Millman. American John Isner upset ninth seed Roberto Bautista Agut in the Spaniard’s home country, 6-4 6-7 7-6 in a match that went down to the wire of two hours and 23 minutes. The other seed to fall was Diego Schwartzman, with the seventh seed Argentinian knocked out by Russian Aslan Karatsev 2-6 6-4 6-1, while clay court specialist Casper Ruud won through to have a crack against fourth seed Stefanos Tsitsipas who destroyed Benoit Paire. Other winners were 16th seed Cristian Garin and Argentinian qualifier Federico Delbonis.

MADRID OPEN ROUND OF 32 RESULTS:

[1] Rafael Nadal (ESP) defeated [WC] Carlos Alcaraz 6-1 6-2
[2] Daniil Medvedev (RUS) defeated Alejandro Davidovich Fokina (ESP) 4-6 6-4 6-2
[4] Stefanos Tsitsipas (GRE) defeated Benoit Paire (FRA) 6-1 6-2
[5] Alexander Zverev (GER) defeated Kei Nishikori (JPN) 6-3 6-2
Aslan Karatsev (RUS) defeated [7] Diego Schwartzman (ARG) 2-6 6-4 6-1
John Isner (USA) defeated [9] Roberto Bautista Agut (ESP) 6-4 6-7 7-6
[Q] Alexei Popyrin (AUS) defeated [14] Jannik Sinner (ITA) 7-6 6-2
[16] Cristian Garin (CHI) defeated Dominik Koepfer (GER) 6-3 6-4
Casper Ruud (NOR) defeated [LL] Yoshihito Nishioka (JPN) 6-1 6-2
Daniel Evans (GBR) defeated John Millman (AUS) 6-7 6-2 6-3
[Q] Federico Delbonis (ARG) defeated Albert Ramos-Vinolas (ESP) 7-6 6-3

Picture credit: ATP Tour

ATP Tour wrap: Two of three seeds fall on second day at Madrid

TWO seeds fell on the official second day of competition at the 2021 ATP Mutua Madrid Open in Spain, whilst a couple of qualifiers and a young gun wildcard also proceeded through to the second round.

It was qualifier Argentinian Federico Delbonis that overcame 10th seed Pablo Carreno Busta on home soil, dropping the first set to the Spaniard before biting back in the second and retaining control from there on out. The two hour encounter saw Delbonis marginally lead for efficiency on his first and second serve winning rates despite Carreno Busta being cleaner on serve, resulting in the 3-6 6-4 6-3 finish. Meanwhile, South African Lloyd Harris out-hit Grigor Dimitrov, piling on 12 aces to three in the two and a half hour, 6-3 3-6 7-6 contest. The two players could not be split throughout, with the third set tiebreaker showcasing just how tight the matchup was, as both players completed the match winning the same amount of points throughout (104).

The only seed to win on the day was 16th seed Cristian Garin, who ousted a second Spaniard in Fernando Verdasco, while qualifiers Carlos Taberner and Pablo Andujar also fell on home soil, taken down by Italian Fabio Fognini and American Marcos Giron, respectively.

It was not all bad news for Spaniards though, as young gun Carlos Alcaraz proceeds to the second round after disposing of Frenchman Adrian Mannarino in straight sets, 6-4 6-0, to set up a clash with compatriot and clay champion Rafael Nadal in the Round of 32.

“I started the match a little bit nervous,” Alcaraz said. “I tried to play aggressive to get the nerves out and tried to enjoy playing here, in front of a big crowd in Madrid.”

“For me, [to] play against Rafa is a dream come true,” Alcaraz said. “Since I was a kid, I wished to play a match against Rafa and now I will be able to here [on] the Centre Court of La Caja Magica in Madrid. It is a really special match against Rafa.”

Still only 17-years-old – until next week – Alcaraz pulled off 19 forehand winners against Mannarino, and won an impressive 81 per cent of his first serve points to claim victory.

The remaining four matches saw two more French competitors fall to join Mannarino on the sideline, as Dubai champion Aslan Karatsev pulled off a 7-5 6-4 victory over Ugo Humbert while Daniel Evans overcame a fighting Jeremy Chardy in a two hour and 46-minute classic, 7-6 6-7 6-2, piling on 13 aces for one double fault in the process, compared to Chardy’s four for six. The remaining two matches went the way of John Isner and Dominik Koepfer, with plenty of intriguing matchups coming in the coming days.

MUTUA MADRID OPEN ROUND OF 64 RESULTS:

[Q] Federico Delbonis (ARG) defeated [10] Pablo Carreno Busta (ESP) 3-6 6-4 6-3
Lloyd Harris (RSA) defeated [13] Grigor Dimitrov (HUN) 6-3 3-6 7-6
[16] Cristian Garin (CHI) defeated [WC] Fernando Verdasco (ESP) 6-1 6-4
Daniel Evans (GBR) defeated Jeremy Chardy (FRA) 7-6 6-7 6-2
Fabio Fognini (ITA) defeated [Q] Carlos Taberner (ESP) 7-6 2-6 6-3
John Isner (USA) defeated Miomir Kecmanovic (SRB) 6-4 7-6
Aslan Karatsev (RUS) defeated Ugo Humbert (FRA) 7-5 6-4
Dominik Koepfer (GER) defeated Reilly Opelka (USA) 6-4 6-4
[WC] Carlos Alcaraz (ESP) defeated Adrian Mannarino (FRA) 6-4 6-0
[Q] Marcos Giron (USA) defeated [Q] Pablo Andujar (ESP) 6-7 7-6 7-5

ATP Miami Open 1000: Korda continues run with Schwartzman upset

SEBASTIAN Korda will have the hopes of a nation on his shoulders after being the sole United States representative through to the 2021 Miami Open ATP 1000 quarter finals from a brutal day of Round of 16 action. Korda had a fantastic win over fifth seed Diego Schwartzman, 6-3 4-6 7-5 in two hours and 35 minutes to book his spot in the final eight.

He served eight aces to one, and capitalised with 73 per cent of his first serve points to Schwartzman’s 57 per cent, and served at a higher clip (62 to 56 per cent). The American broke four times from 11 chances, whilst his opponent won three games off Korda’s serve from eight opportunities.

Korda was the sole American left standing in the final eight, following losses to three of his compatriots. Top ranked United States competitor, John Isner lost out to seventh seed Roberto Bautista Agut in three sets, going down 6-3 4-6 7-6. He joined Frances Tiafoe and Taylor Fritz on the sidelines after Round of 16 losses. Top seed Daniil Medvedev won through against Tiafoe in straight sets 6-4 6-3, while Alexander Bublik triumphed in a come-from-behind victory over 22nd seed Fritz, 6-7 6-3 6-4.

“It was definitely a tough match,” Medvedev said of reaching his maiden Miami Open quarter final. “[There were] a lot of great points, some of them he won, some of them I won… The serve helped me a lot today, especially in the second set.”

It was a great day for up-and-coming ATP Tour players, with Jannik Sinner and Hubert Hurkacz both winning their respective matches. Italian teenager Sinner won through to his maiden ATP Masters 1000 quarter final following a 6-3 6-2 win over Finland’s Emil Ruusuvuori, while Hurkacz toppled 12th seed Milos Raonic in a come-from-behind upset win 4-6 6-3 7-6.

Sinner will now take on Bublik in a tantalising semi-final, which the Kazakh 32nd seed said he was ready for despite the Italian’s obvious talent.

“[Sinner] is so young,” Bublik said. “He is an unbelievable athlete and he runs forever… He is an unbelievable player and sharing a quarter-final with him is a pleasure for me. I hope to have a great match.”

In the two matches yet to be completed, two top four seeds were out on court, with second seed Stefanos Tsitsipas taking on Italian Lorenzo Sonego, while fourth seed Andrey Rublev was engaged in a battle with unseeded Croatian Marin Cilic.

MIAMI OPEN ROUND OF 16 RESULTS:

[1] Daniil Medvedev (RUS) defeated Frances Tiafoe (USA) 6-4 6-3
[2] Stefanos Tsitsipas (GRE) [24] Lorenzo Sonego (ITA)
[4] Andrey Rublev (RUS) Marin Cilic (CRO)
Sebastian Korda (USA) defeated [5] Diego Schwartzman (ARG) 6-3 4-6 7-5
[7] Roberto Bautista Agut (ESP) defeated [18] John Isner (USA) 6-3 4-6 7-6
[26] Hubert Hurkacz (POL) defeated [12] Milos Raonic (CAN) 4-6 6-3 7-6
[21] Jannik Sinner (ITA) defeated Emil Ruusuvuori (FIN) 6-3 6-2
[32] Alexander Bublik (KAZ) defeated [22] Taylor Fritz (USA) 6-7 6-3 6-4

 

Picture credit: Geoff Burke / USA Today Sports

ATP Miami Open 1000: Medvedev survives Popyrin fight

TOP seed at the 2021 ATP 1000 Miami Open, Daniil Medvedev has survived an almighty scare from the red-hot Alexei Popyrin to advance through to the fourth round at the event. The Russian skipped away to a break early in the first set, but was forced to do it the hard way in a tiebreaker. It was symbolic of the entire match, with Medvedev needing two tiebreakers and an equally tight third set to eventually post a win.

The match lasted two hours and 37 minutes, with Medvedev winning the first set tiebreaker 7-3, before Popyrin stepped up in the clutch moments in the second set 9-7 to level the match at a tiebreaker apiece. Heading into the deciding set, a crucial break for Medvedev – only his second of the match – helped him get home, 7-6 6-7 6-4. Popyrin took it up to the Russian with 73 per cent of his first serve points going his way, and breaking the top seed despite Medvedev only losing four points off is first serve. In the end, the recently crowned world number two just finished it off a little cleaner.

“It’s probably one of the sweetest victories in my career, because I was cramping like hell in the third set,” Medvedev said post-match. “It’s one thing when you’re cramping when you’re [ahead in the score], but I started cramping before. It was tough to think about the win in these conditions.

“At the same time, I should have won in two sets and we would not be talking about cramping. But anyway, we have the result on the board and I’m happy that I managed to go through all the difficulties of this definitely crazy match.”

Seventh seed Roberto Bautista Agut also had to fight his way to a three-set win, shaking off 31st seed German Jan-Lennard Struff. Bautista Agut won 4-6 6-3 6-2 in a come-from-behind victory, much like 21st seed Italian Jannik Sinner. The teen sensation came from a set down against 14th seed Russian Karen Khachanov to hold on in a dominant second set tiebreaker, and build the momentum from there in a 4-6 7-6 6-4 victory. Similarly, 22nd seed Taylor Fritz had to win in three sets, defeating unseeded Brit Cameron Norrie, 6-4 3-6 6-1.

It must have been the day of tight results, with the only match between two unseeded players also going the full distance, as Finnish up-and-comer Emil Ruusuvuori defeated his Swedish counterpart Mikael Ymer. Ruusuvuori won 4-6 6-1 7-5 in another come-from-behind win, and whilst the other completed match at the time of publishing – John Isner‘s defeat of Felix Auger-Aliassime – was not three sets, it involved two tiebreakers of 7-5, for a 7-6 7-6 victory in favour of the big-serving American.

The two matches just starting at the time of publishing were 16th seed Dusan Lajovic up against unseeded American Frances Tiafoe, and Australian James Duckworth going head-to-head with 32nd seed Alexander Bublik.

ATP MIAMI OPEN 1000 ROUND OF 32 RESULTS:

[1] Daniil Medvedev (RUS) defeated Alexei Popyrin (AUS) 7-6 6-7 6-4
[7] Roberto Bautista Agut (ESP) defeated [31] Jan-Lennard Struff (GER) 4-6 6-3 6-2
[18] John Isner (USA) defeated [11] Felix Auger-Aliassime (CAN) 7-6 7-6
[21] Jannik Sinner (ITA) defeated [14] Karen Khachanov (RUS) 4-6 7-6 6-4
[16] Dusan Lajovic (SRB) vs. Frances Tiafoe (USA)
[22] Taylor Fritz (USA) defeated Cameron Norrie (GBR) 6-4 3-6 6-1
[32] Alexander Bublik (KAZ) vs. James Duckworth (AUS)
Emil Ruusuvuori (FIN) defeated Mikael Ymer (SWE) 4-6 6-1 7-5

 

Photo credit: Mike Lawrence/ATP Tour

ATP Miami Open 1000: Popyrin and Duckworth stun seeds in Miami

ALEXEI Popyrin and James Duckworth are through to the third round of the ATP Miami Open 1000 tournament after huge upset wins over their seeded opponents. The Australian duo both advanced following victories over Reilly Opelka and David Goffin respectively, in what was a massive result for the pair over in the United States.

Duckworth stunned eighth seed Goffin 6-3 6-1, hitting 22 winners in just 77 minutes of play. Popyrin needed just 65 minutes to dismiss the 30th seeded Opelka, backing up his great form in 2021 which saw him claim the Singapore Tennis Open title. He out-aced Opelka 13-12 which is not easy to do, but crucially saved three break points and broke his opponent three times himself from six chances.

“All of the hard work I’ve put in the pre-season is paying off, 11 wins in 14 matches,” Popyrin told ATPTour.com. “I really thought I was consistent during the match. Putting in lots of returns is difficult when Reilly is firing down 230 km/h bombs.”

Popyrin now has his hands full having to take on top seed, Russian Daniil Medvedev who easily accounted for Chinese Taipei’s Yen-Hsun Lu 6-2 6-2. Duckworth will face Alexander Bublik. Bublik comfortably took care of Serbian Laslo Djere 6-3 6-4 to make his way through to the Round of 32. The biggest upset of the day was Finn up and comer Emil Ruusuvuori‘s win over German third seed Alexander Zverev. The unseeded talent came from behind to post a 1-6 6-3 6-1 victory over the Top 10 talent and book his spot in the third round.

Meanwhile the other major upset of the day was Great Britain’s Cameron Norrie toppling ninth seed Bulgarian Grigor Dimitrov in two tight sets, 7-5 7-5. The unseeded players joined Swede Mikael Ymer who won through to the third round hoping to turn his form of the past 18 months around with a three-set victory over 27th seed Nikoloz Basilashvili of Georgia, 6-3 4-6 6-4.

In other results, there were a number of seeds who advanced in the earlier games, as 12th seed Roberto Bautista Agut did not even take the court with a walkover against in-form South African Lloyd Harris. Canadian young gun Felix Auger-Aliassime also toppled in-form Pierre Hugues-Herbert in straight sets, while Karen Khachanov and Dusan Lajovic took care of their respective opponents, Yannick Hanfmann and Ernesto Escobedo. In a battle of the young guns, Italian Jannik Sinner got the better of Frenchman Hugo Gaston 6-2 6-2, as Taylor Fritz toppled compatriot Marcos Giron in straight sets, 6-2 6-2. The other completed result was 31st seed German Jan-Lennard Struff defeating Lithuanian Ricardas Berankis, 6-3 6-4.

At the time of publishing, 18th seed John Isner and compatriot, qualifier Mackenzie McDonald were about to head out on court, whilst 19th seed Brit Dan Evans and American Frances Tiafoe were locked in a tight tussle in their battle on Court 1.

ATP MIAMI OPEN ROUND OF 64:

[1] Daniil Medvedev (RUS) defeated [PR] Yen-Hsun Lu (TAI) 6-2 6-2
Emil Ruusuvuori (FIN) defeated [3] Alexander Zverev (GER) 1-6 6-3 6-1
James Duckworth (AUS) defeated [8] David Goffin (BEL) 6-3 6-1
Cameron Norrie (GBR) defeated [9] Grigor Dimitrov (BUL) 7-5 7-5
[11] Felix Auger-Aliassime (CAN) defeated Pierre-Hugues Herbert (FRA) 6-4 6-4
[12] Roberto Bautista Agut (ESP) defeated Lloyd Harris (RSA) W/O
[14] Karen Khachanov (RUS) defeated Yannick Hanfmann (GER) 6-3 6-2
[16] Dusan Lajovic (CRO) defeated [Q] Ernesto Escobedo (USA) 6-2 6-3
[18] John Isner (USA) vs. [Q] Mackenzie McDonald (USA)
[19] Daniel Evans (GBR) vs. Frances Tiafoe (USA)
[21] Jannik Sinner (ITA) defeated [WC] Hugo Gaston (FRA) 6-2 6-2
[22] Taylor Fritz (USA) defeated Marcos Giron (USA) 6-2 6-2
Mikael Ymer (SWE) defeated [27] Nikoloz Basilashvili (GEO) 6-3 4-6 6-4
Alexei Popyrin (AUS) defeated [30] Reilly Opelka (USA) 6-4 6-2
[31] Jan-Lennard Struff (GER) defeated Ricardas Berankis (LTU) 6-3 6-4
[32] Alexander Bublik (KAZ) defeated Laslo Djere (SRB) 6-3 6-4

Picture credit: ATP Tour

ATP Tour wrap: Qualifiers continue runs in Dubai and Acapulco

THE two ATP 500 events in Dubai and Acapulco provided some surprising upsets, as well as some come-from-behind wins as we recap the day’s action.

The top two remaining seeds continued their straight-sets run into the semi-finals, joining the two surprise packets in the semi-finals of the 2021 ATP Dubai Tennis Championships. Second seed Andrey Rublev and third seed Denis Shapovalov continued their dominant form to reach the final four, while Russian wildcard Aslan Karatsev and South African qualifier Lloyd Harris continued their respective runs into the semis.

The top ranked Rublev has been near unbeatable at ATP 500 level of late, and his consecutive run – which includes three titles – extended to 23. He defeated Hungarian Marton Fucsovics in straight sets 7-5 6-2, repeating the effort from their head-to-head at the most recent ATP 500 event in Rotterdam. The second seed will now lock horns with compatriot Karatsev who paved his way through to the semis with a come-from-behind win over young gun Jannik Sinner.

“I have really great connection with Marton and we are good friends on Tour. I have a huge respect for him. All the matches that we’ve played each other were drama matches,” Rublev said post-match. “We just smiled because we always have tough matches against each other. It’s not easy to play each other. “It’s always long rallies, it’s always tough points and in the end we just smiled.”

Karatsev dropped the first set to the Italian 16th seed in a tiebreaker 7-5, but found his groove in the final two sets to win 6-7 6-3 6-2 in the longest match of the day at two hours and 29 minutes. Sinner served up 10 aces against the Australian Open semi-finalist, but Karatsev was more consistent upon return, breaking five times to two and winning 79 and 50 per cent of his first and second serve points.

“It was tough at the beginning as he is a really talented guy,” Karatsev said post-match. “In the tie-break I was a little unlucky. I felt more comfortable in the second set and knew how to play against him.”

Meanwhile third seed Shapovalov was able to get past Frenchman Jeremy Chardy in another quarter final, defeating his opponent 7-5 6-4. The Canadian has also not dropped a set in Dubai and was able to book a date with Harris in the semi-finals following the big-serving South African’s victory over Kei Nishikori. It is Harris’ second win over a Grand Slam champion, having defeated Dominic Thiem in the Round of 32. This time he had to fight all the way in three sets, defeating the Japanese veteran, 6-1 3-6 6-3.

“It was a tough match as Jeremy was serving and playing well,” Shapovalov said post-match. “I am really happy that I was able to convert the break points. It helps to play three straight sets matches and I feel fresh and ready to go.”

Karatsev has shuffled up four places in the ATP Tour world rankings, going above both Nishikori and Fucsovics into number 38 in the world, while Harris is now also at a career-high of 64th following a 17-spot rise. Rublev is slowly closing the gap on the Top 7, while Shapovalov has leapfrogged Roberto Bautista Agut who fell in the Round of 16 at Acapulco.

DUBAI TENNIS CHAMPIONSHIPS QUARTER FINALS RESULTS:

[2] Andrey Rublev (RUS) defeated Marton Fucsovics (HUN) 7-5 6-2
[3] Denis Shapovalov (CAN) defeated Jeremy Chardy (FRA) 7-5 6-4
[WC] Aslan Karatsev (RUS) defeated [16] Jannik Sinner (ITA) 6-7 6-3 6-2
[Q] Lloyd Harris (RSA) defeated Kei Nishikori (JPN) 6-1 3-6 6-3

 

Five of the seven seeds in the Abierto Mexicano ATP 500 event made their way through to the last eight in what was largely a one-sided day of action. Six of the eight matches were done in just two sets, with no more than 19 games played in each of those. The two three-set matches featured the remaining qualifiers with the results going both ways.

Italian teenager Lorenzo Musetti booked his spot in the quarter finals with a come-from-behind win over United States’ Frances Tiafoe 2-6 6-3 7-6, including a dominant 7-1 final set tiebreaker. He joined eighth seed Casper Ruud in there who had a similarly tough time shaking off Dutch qualifier Tallon Griekspoor in three sets, 4-6 6-3 7-6. Ruud won the deciding tiebreaker 7-3 in a match that lasted two hours and 23 minutes, which was 21 minutes less than the Musetti-Tiafoe clash.

All the other results were straightforward, though not always as you would expect, with German Dominik Koepfer and Brit Cameron Norrie being two other unseeded players to reach the Acapulco quarter finals. Koepfer upset fourth seed Canadian Milos Raonic 6-4 6-2, while Norrie took down Italian sixth seed Fabio Fognini, 6-4 6-3. It was better news for another Canadian in seventh seed Felix Auger-Aliassime who defeated United States’ wildcard Sebastian Korda 6-3 6-4.

Korda joined John Isner on the list of outs, following the big-serving American’s demise at the hands of top seed Stefanos Tsitsipas. The Greek talent won 6-3 6-2 to breeze through to the last eight, as did second seed Alexander Zverev and fifth seed Grigor Dimitov. The pair proved too strong for Serbian duo Laslo Djere and Miomir Kecmanovic respectively, defeating them both in straight sets respectively.

The results set up some blockbuster quarter finals, with Tsitsipas and Auger-Aliassime being the pick of the bunch. The other all-seeded quarter final between Ruud and Zverev is highly anticipated, whilst Musetti takes on Dimitrov, and Norrie faces Koepfer.

ABIERTO MEXICANO ROUND OF 16 RESULTS:

[1] Stefanos Tsitsipas (GRE) defeated John Isner (USA) 6-3 6-2
[2] Alexander Zverev (GER) defeated Laslo Djere (SRB) 6-4 6-3
Dominik Koepfer (GER) defeated [4] Milos Raonic (CAN) 6-4 6-2
[5] Grigor Dimitrov (BUL) defeated Miomir Kecmanovic (SRB) 6-4 6-2
Cameron Norrie (GBR) defeated [6] Fabio Fognini (ITA) 6-4 6-3
[7] Felix Auger-Aliassime (CAN) defeated [WC] Sebastian Korda (USA) 6-3 6-4
[8] Casper Ruud (NOR) defeated [Q] Tallon Griekspoor (NED) 4-6 6-3 7-6
[Q] Lorenzo Musetti (ITA) defeated Frances Tiafoe (USA) 2-6 6-3 7-6

ATP Tour wrap: Seeds begin to fall in Dubai, as Musetti upsets Schwartzman in Acapulco

IT was a horror day for the seeds in Dubai’s ATP 500 event, but not so bad for the ones at Acapulco, though one diminutive Argentinian Top 10 talent fell to an Italian qualifier.

Unseeded players at the Dubai Tennis Championships began to get their revenge on the seed’s who dominated the previous day’s play, with every possible unseeded player making their way through to the quarter finals at the ATP 500 event. The only unseeded player to lose out was Slovenia’s Aljaz Bedene, who went down to fellow unseeded talent Kei Nishikori who won in straight sets, 6-4 6-4 to advance to the final eight in the tournament.

The big wins were qualifier Lloyd Harris and wildcard Aslan Karatsev who advanced through to the quarter finals thanks to hard-fought victories in their respective matches. The South African Harris defeated 14th seed Serbian Filip Krajinovic in two tight sets 7-6 6-4, overcoming the first set tiebreaker 7-5 before holding up well under pressure in the second set to secure the win. Australian Open semi-finalist Karatsev won through with a come-from-behind three-set win over 17th seed Lorenzo Sonego, 3-6 6-3 6-4.

Other unseeded players to advance through were Frenchman Jeremy Chardy and Hungarian Marton Fucsovics. Chardy toppled Russian eighth seed Karen Khachanov 6-7 6-4 6-4 in an epic battle throughout two hours and 36 minutes, while Fucsovics defeated 11th seed Serbian Dusan Lajovic to advance to the next round of the tournament. Khachanov was the second highest ranked player to bow out in the Round of 16, as fourth seed Roberto Bautista Agut went down to Italian teenager Jannik Sinner, 6-4 3-6 7-5 in another epic contest that lasted two hours and 24 minutes and saw Sinner serve 16 aces throughout the match.

“Roberto is an incredible player, very solid,” Sinner said post-match. “It was very tough, not going for too much or striking the ball too slow. I am looking for these kind of tough matches in order to improve. I am happy to have won and can play one more match here tomorrow. I tried to control my emotions as much as possible, which helped me a lot.”

It was a lot more straight forward for the other two seeds who advanced, with second seed Andrey Rublev and third seed Denis Shapovalov having no issues moving through to the quarter finals. Rublev defeated 15th seed American Taylor Fritz 6-3 6-1 to book his place in the final eight, while Shapovalov took out 13th seed Pole Hubert Hurkacz 6-4 6-3.

The quarter final take place today with Shapovalov and Chardy up first, followed by Karatsev and Sinner in the other afternoon match. At night, Harris and Nishikori lock horns, followed by Fucsovics and Rublev in the late game. Chardy and Sinner will also have to double-up during the day with doubles quarter finals as well later in the afternoon.

DUBAI TENNIS CHAMPIONSHIPS ROUND OF 16 RESULTS:

[2] Andrey Rublev (RUS) defeated [15] Taylor Fritz (USA) 6-3 6-1
[3] Denis Shapovalov (CAN) defeated [13] Hubert Hurkacz (POL) 6-4 6-3
[16] Jannik Sinner (ITA) defeated [4] Roberto Bautista Agut (ESP) 6-4 3-6 7-5
Jeremy Chardy (FRA) defeated [8] Karen Khachanov (RUS) 6-7 6-4 6-4
Marton Fucsovics (HUN) defeated [11] Dusan Lajovic (SRB) 6-1 4-6 6-4
[Q] Lloyd Harris (RSA) defeated [14] Filip Krajinovic (SRB) 7-6 6-4
[WC] Aslan Karatsev (RUS) defeated [17] Lorenzo Sonego (ITA) 3-6 6-3 6-4
Kei Nishikori (JPN) defeated Aljaz Bedene (SLO) 6-4 6-4

 

In Acapulco, the Round of 32 was completed with 10 clashes played out on day two of the main draw matches, in the smaller ATP 500 event. The story of the day was Italian teenager Lorenzo Musetti – who only turned 19 earlier this month – taking down top seed Diego Schwartzman to set himself up for a Top 100 spot at the end of the tournament.

The qualifier won 6-3 2-6 6-4 in two hours and 23 minutes, serving six aces to zero, and winning 66 per cent of his first serve points. Schwartzman was more consistent off his second serve – winning 64 per cent of the points, but Musetti capitalised at the right times, breaking in the final set to claim the win and move through to the Round of 16.

“There is a lot of work, a lot of sacrifice and I think some tears left in my eyes,” Musetti said post-match. “I’m really proud of myself, but now I’m going to work harder and focus on the next days.”

All the other seeds in action advanced through to the next round unscathed, meaning seven of the eight seeds will be there in the Round of 16. Top seed Stefanos Tsitsipas brushed aside Frenchman Benoit Paire 6-3 6-1, whilst fifth seed Bulgarian Grigor Dimitrov spent the least time on court in a 6-4 3-0 win over Adrian Mannarino, as the Frenchman had to retire. Meanwhile other seeds Milos Raonic, Fabio Fognini and Casper Ruud all advanced through to the second round with straight set victories.

In the battle of the unseeded players, Serbia’s Miomir Kecmanovic and Great Britain’s Cameron Norrie both advanced in straight sets, defeating Feliciano Lopez and Stefan Kozlov respectively. In the all-American battle, Frances Tiafoe had some tense moments against up-and-coming qualifier and compatriot Brandon Nakashima, before posting a 6-4 6-7 7-6 victory – with both tiebreakers being 7-5 to respective players – in the longest match of the day with players spending two hours and 47 minutes on court. In the other result, Dutch qualifier Tallon Griekspoor moved through to the Round of 16 with a 7-6 4-6 6-3 victory over United States’ lucky loser Denis Kudla.

There are some ripping contests in today’s action with Musetti now facing off against Tiafoe for a spot in the quarter finals, while Fognini will take on Norrie. On centre court, top seed Tsitsipas will have a blockbuster match against John Isner, while earlier in the evening, American wildcard Sebastian Korda will face seventh seed Canadian Felix Auger-Aliassime, and Serbian Laslo Djere will lock horns with German second seed Alexander Zverev.

ABIERTO MEXICANO ROUND OF 32 RESULTS:

[1] Stefanos Tsitsipas (GRE) defeated Benoit Paire (FRA) 6-3 6-1
[Q] Lorenzo Musetti (ITA) defeated [3] Diego Schwartzman (ARG) 6-3 2-6 6-4
[4] Milos Raonic (CAN) defeated Tommy Paul (USA) 7-6 6-4
[5] Grigor Dimitrov (BUL) defeated Adrian Mannarino (FRA) 6-4 3-0 RET
[6] Fabio Fognini (ITA) defeated Stefano Travaglia (ITA) 7-5 6-2
[8] Casper Ruud (NOR) defeated [SE] Daniel Elahi Galan (COL) 6-4 6-1
Miomir Kecmanovic (SRB) defeated Feliciano Lopez (ESP) 6-4 6-4
Frances Tiafoe (USA) defeated [Q] Brandon Nakashima (USA) 6-4 6-7 7-6
Cameron Norrie (GBR) defeated [Q] Stefan Kozlov (USA) 6-3 6-3
[Q] Tallon Griekspoor (NED) defeated [LL] Denis Kudla (USA) 7-6 4-6 6-3

 

Picture credit: ATP Tour

ATP Tour wrap: Harris stuns Thiem in Dubai

THERE was plenty to unpack in the ATP Tour over the past 24 hours with some massive upsets in Dubai, and the Abierto Mexicano kicked off in Acapulco.

In Dubai, Lloyd Harris has caused the upset of the day with a straight sets win over top seed Dominic Thiem. The US Open reigning champion automatically booked his spot in the Round of 32 due to his seeding, but lasted just 72 minutes on court as the South African server won 6-3 6-4. Harris broke twice without facing a break point, and only lost one point on his first serve to be near-impenetrable off his racket. Thiem still won 81 per cent of his first serve points, but only served at 51 per cent efficiency in a disappointing performance from the Austrian.

“I’m super, super happy with that win. [He is] by far the highest-ranked player I have beaten,” Harris said post-match. “I look up to Domi a lot so, for me, it is a special feeling. “I am really happy. “Just the fact that I am playing good tennis, match in, match out now is giving me a lot of confidence.”

Thiem was not the only seed to bow out, with fifth seed Belgian David Goffin and sixth seed Spaniard Pablo Carreno Busta also losing. Goffin went down to Kei Nishikori, with the Japanese Grand Slam winner continuing to build since returning from injury, posting a tight 6-3 7-6 victory over the seed. Meanwhile, Rotterdam finalist Marton Fucsovics posted a come-from-behind win over Carreno Busta, dropping the first set in a tiebreaker before winning 6-7 6-3 6-2.

Lower down the seeded order, 12th seed Brit Daniel Evans lost at the hands of reborn Australian Open semi-finalist Aslan Karatsev, with the Russian wildcard winning in three sets, 6-4 4-6 6-4 to move through to the Round of 16. The only other unseeded player to make his way through to the third round was Slovenian Aljaz Bedene who took care of Italian lucky loser Lorenzo Giustino in straight sets.

It was a lot easier going for top talents, Andrey Rublev and Denis Shapovalov who accounted for Finnish qualifier Emil Ruusuvuori and German Jan-Lennard Stuff in straight sets. The second and third seeds were joined by fourth seed Roberto Bautista Agut in the third round, who won after Australian Matthew Ebden retired at 4-1 down in the first set. Also through to the next round was Russian eighth seed Karen Khachanov, who defeated the last remaining Australian in wildcard Alexei Popyrin, 6-4 3-6 7-6.

Dusan Lajovic, Hubert Hurkacz, Taylor Fritz, Jannik Sinner and Lorenzo Sonego were the other seeds through to the Round of 16, setting up some tantalising matches for the next day’s play. Harris will face Krajinovic, Fritz waill face Rublev, Sinner will take on Bautista Agut and Shapovalov will face Hurkacz in the games to watch, while the other four matches see Bedene facing Nishikori, Sonego locking horns with Karatsev, Fucsovics taking on Lajovic, and Frenchman Jeremy Chardy up against Khachanov.

DUBAI TENNIS CHAMPIONSHIPS ROUND OF 32 RESULTS:

[Q] Lloyd Harris (RSA) defeated [1] Dominic Thiem (AUT) 6-3 6-4
[2] Andrey Rublev (RUS) defeated [Q] Emil Ruusuvuori (FIN) 6-4 6-4
[3] Denis Shapovalov (CAN) defeated Jan-Lennard Struff (GER) 6-1 6-3
[4] Roberto Bautista Agut (ESP) defeated [SE] Matthew Ebden (AUS) 4-1 RET
Kei Nishikori (JPN) defeated [5] David Goffin (BEL) 6-3 7-6
Marton Fucsovics (HUN) defeated [6] Pablo Carreno Busta (ESP) 6-7 6-3 6-2
[8] Karen Khachanov (RUS) defeated [WC] Alexei Popyrin (AUS) 6-4 3-6 7-6
[11] Dusan Lajovic (CRO) defeated [WC] Malek Jaziri (TUN) 7-5 6-2
[WC] Aslan Karatsev (RUS) defeated [12] Daniel Evans (GBR) 6-4 4-6 6-4
[13] Hubert Hurkacz (POL) defeated Richard Gasquet (FRA) 6-3 6-4
[14] FIlip Krajinovic (SRB) defeated Alejandro Davidovich Fokina (ESP) 7-5 6-4
[15] Taylor Fritz (USA) defeated Nikoloz Basilashvili (GEO) 4-6 6-3 7-6
[16] Jannik Sinner (ITA) defeated Alexander Bublik (KAZ) 2-6 7-6 6-4
[17] Lorenzo Sonego (ITA) defeated [Q] Bernabe Zapata Miralles (ESP) 6-2 6-2
Aljaz Bedene (SLO) defeated [LL] Lorenzo Giustino (ITA) 6-4 6-3

 

It was a mixed bag for Americans in Mexico, with four United States, one Canadian and one Mexican out on court in a day of straight sets action. Whilst there were some anticipated Round of 32 matches to open the Abierto Mexicano, no match really lived up to too much bar seventh seed Felix Auger-Aliassime‘s victory over Tennys Sandgren. The young gun won 6-3 7-6 to advance through to the second round, the closest of the six encounters on the day.

United States’ Sebastian Korda also had a tight first set before impressively shaking off Croatian Marin Cilic 7-5 6-2, joining compatriot John Isner in the second round. The big serving American took care of Italian Salvatore Caruso in straight sets, 6-4 6-3. The news was not as positive for Steve Johnson, who bowed out 6-2 6-3 to Serbian Laslo Djere, while German duo Alexander Zverev and Dominik Koepfer both advanced through to the Round of 16.

The second seed Zverev won 6-3 6-1 against Spanish teenage talent Carlos Alcaraz, while Koepfer booked his spot in the second round with a 6-4 6-2 victory over local wildcard, Gerardo Lopez Villasenor. A massive day of action will see the other six seeds in action, with number one seed Stefanos Tsitsipas facing Frenchman Benoit Paire, third seed Diego Schwartzman up against Italian young gun qualifier Lorenzo Musetti, Adrian Mannarino trying to take down fifth seed Grigor Dimitrov, and Tommy Paul up against fourth seed Milos Raonic.

ABIERTO MEXICANO ROUND OF 32 RESULTS:

[2] Alexander Zverev (GER) defeated [WC] Carlos Alcaraz (ESP) 6-3 6-1
[7] Felix Auger-Aliassime (CAN) defeated Tennys Sandgren (USA) 6-3 7-6
[WC] Sebastian Korda (USA) defeated Marin Cilic CRO) 7-5 6-2
Laslo Djere (SR) defeated Steve Johnson (USA) 6-2 6-3
John Isner (USA) defeated Salvatore Caruso (ITA) 6-4 6-3
Dominik Koepfer (GER) defeated [WC] Gerardo Lopez Villasenor (MEX) 6-4 6-2

 

Picture credit: ATP Tour