Tag: juan ignacio londero

ATP Tour wrap: Martinez overcomes Bublik as McDonald downs Lajovic

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

MILLENNIUM ESTORIL OPEN ROUND OF 32 RESULTS:

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

BMW OPEN ROUND OF 32 RESULTS:

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

ATP Tour wrap: Norrie continues red-hot form in Barcelona

GREAT Britain’s Cameron Norrie has continued his ripping form of late, taking another big scalp in 12th seed Karen Khachanov at the Barcelona Open. Clashing in the Round of 32, Norrie advanced in a tough three-set contest, winning 6-4 3-6 6-3 to advance through to the third round and be the only confirmed unseeded player in the Round of 16 at this stage. With the remaining 11 matches still to go, there are plenty of chances for more unseeded players to join him, but Norrie has the extra day’s rest to prepare for the next match.

In recent weeks, Norrie has claimed some big scalps in Italian Fabio Fognini and Bulgarian Grigor Dimitrov, and now has his third Top 20 win in as many weeks, advancing through to the next stage of the tournament. The Brit was the lowest ranked winner on the day, with four other seeds all booking their spots with straight sets wins. Roberto Bautista Agut was the top ranked player out on court, with the fifth seed defeating compatriot Pablo Andujar 6-4 6-0, joining seventh seed Denis Shapovalov, eighth seed David Goffin and 11th seed Jannik Sinner in the Round of 16.

The remaining Round of 64 matches were also completed in Barcelona, though it was not all good news for Spanish fans. Despite Albert Ramos-Vinolas securing a come-from-behind win over Danish qualifier Holger Vitus Nodskov Rune 6-7 7-1 7-6, three of his compatriots all fell. Young gun wildcard Carlos Alcaraz went down to Frances Tiafoe in straight sets, veteran Feliciano Lopez lost out to another rising young gun in Italian Lorenzo Musetti, while Alejandro Davidovich Fokina exited despite a strong first set, losing to Kazakhstan’s Alexander Bublik, 2-6 7-5 6-2. In the other two matches, Australia’s Jordan Thompson defeated France’s Richard Gasquet 7-6 3-6 7-6, and Gasquet’s compatriot Corentin Moutet won against German Dominik Koepfer, 7-5 6-2.

Meanwhile over in Serbia, the two home nation seeds had a mixed day out on court against qualifiers. Eighth seed Miomir Kecmanovic needed two tiebreakers to separate himself from Argentinian Facundo Bagnis, while ninth seed Laslo Djere went down to Italian Gianluca Mager, 6-4 6-3. French qualifier Arthur Rindeknecht made his way through to the season round against Argentina’s Juan Ignacio Londero, as Japan’s Taro Daniel won the battle of the lucky losers with Portugal’s Joao Sousa. Other winners included Australian Alexei Popyrin, Slovenia’s Aljaz Bedene, South Korea’s Soonwoo Kwon and Argentina’s Federico Delbonis.

BARCELONA OPEN ROUND OF 32 RESULTS:

[5] Roberto Bautista Agut (ESP) defeated Pablo Andujar (ESP) 6-4 6-0
[7] Denis Shapovalov (CAN) defeated Jeremy Chardy (FRA) 6-3 7-5
[8] David Goffin (BEL) defeated Pierre-Hugues Herbert (FRA) 6-2 6-4
[11] Jannik Sinner (ITA) defeated Egor Gerasimov (BLR) 6-3 6-2
Cameron Norrie (GBR) defeated [12] Karen Khachanov (RUS) 6-4 3-6 6-3

BARCELONA OPEN ROUND OF 64 RESULTS:

Albert Ramos-Vinolas (ESP) defeated [Q] Holger Vitus Nodskov Rune (DEN) 6-7 6-1 7-6
[WC] Lorenzo Musetti (ITA) defeated Feliciano Lopez (ESP) 6-4 6-3
Frances Tiafoe (USA) defeated [WC] Carlos Alcaraz (ESP) 6-4 7-6
Jordan Thompson (AUS) defeated Richard Gasquet (FRA) 7-6 4-6 7-6
Alexander Bublik (KAZ) defeated Alejandro Davidovich Fokina (ESP) 2-6 7-5 6-2
Corentin Moutet (FRA) defeated Dominik Koepfer (GER) 7-5 6-2

SERBIA OPEN ROUND OF 32 RESULTS:

[8] Miomir Kecmanovic (SRB) defeated [Q] Facundo Bagnis (ARG) 7-6 7-6
[Q] Gianluca Mager (ITA) defeated [9] Laslo Djere (SRB) 6-4 6-3
Federico Delbonis (ARG) defeated Ricardas Berankis (LTU) 6-4 3-6 6-1
Aljaz Bedene (SLO) defeated Sebastian Korda (USA) 7-5 1-6 7-6
Soonwoo Kwon (KOR) defeated [LL] Roberto Carballes Baena (ESP) 6-3 7-5
[LL] Taro Daniel (JPN) defeated [LL] Joao Sousa (POR) 7-5 6-3
Alexei Popyrin (AUS) defeated [Q] Francisco Cerundolo (ARG) 4-6 7-6 7-6
[Q] Arthur Rinderknech (FRA) defeated Juan Ignacio Londero (ARG) 6-1 7-5

ATP Tour wrap: Beltings galore as top seeds return at Monte Carlo Masters

TOP seeds and clay court specialists made their way through to the third round of the 2021 Monte Carlo Masters event, with a massively one-sided day of results. As the 14 remaining matches in the second round were completed, just one of those – Frenchman’s Lucas Pouille‘s victory over Australian Alexei Popyrin – went went to three sets. Pouille won 7-5 2-6 6-3 in by far the closest match of the day, in an overall event that was highly one-sided.

The only other straight sets match that at least looked like the eventual loser might take a set, was 14th seed Bulgarian Grigor Dimitrov‘s hard fought win over Frenchman Jeremy Chardy, 7-6 6-4. The remaining head-to-heads did not get beyond 10 games in a set, with the King of Clay, Rafael Nadal returning to wipe the court with Argentinian qualifier Federico Delbonis, whilst top seed Novak Djokovic reminded everyone what he was capable of, dismissing Italian young gun Jannik Sinner in straight sets 6-4 6-2, on his return from injury since claiming his ninth Australian Open title.

“It was solid match,” Nadal said post-match. “Of course, a very positive result. He’s a good player on clay… Nothing unbelievable, but nothing wrong. “Just a solid match, a positive start. “I think I did what I had to do today.”

Other top six seeds that advanced were fifth seed Alexander Zverev and sixth seed Andrey Rublev, who knocked out a couple more Italians in Lorenzo Sonego and Salvatore Caruso. It was a forgettable round for the European nation, as Belgian David Goffin defeated Italian qualifier Marco Cecchinato 6-4 6-0, with the quartet joining Matteo Berrettini – who lost to Alejandro Davidovich Fokina the day before – as omissions from the tournament. There was one more upset in the top eight seeds though, with clay court specialist Casper Ruud getting up over seventh seed Diego Schwartzman. The Norwegian won 6-3 6-3 to advance through to the third round.

The only other seed to fall on the day was 13th seed Hubert Hurkacz, who despite good form of late, went down to Brit Daniel Evans rather comfortably, 6-4 6-1. The sole Italian to win on the day and through to the Round of 16 was Fabio Fognini, with the 15th seed winning 6-3 6-3 against Australian Jordan Thompson. The Aussie was one of three Australians to fall in the second round, leaving none alive in the tournament, as John Millman suffered a 6-1 6-4 defeat at the hands of clay courter and 16th seed Cristian Garin, whilst qualifier Popyrin lost in that three-set match to Pouille.

In other results, Spanish seeded duo Roberto Bautista Agut and Pablo Carreno Busta joined Nadal in the next round with straight sets wins over American Tommy Paul and Russian Karen Khachanov, whilst Serbian Filip Krajinovic cruised through with a dominant 6-0 6-3 triumph over Argentinian lucky loser Juan Ignacio Londero. To recap yesterday’s Round of 32 results, Davidovich Fokina and Greece’s Stefanos Tsitsipas both won to round out the final 16 players in the Monte Carlo Masters third round.

MONTE CARLO MASTERS ROUND OF 32 RESULTS:

[1] Novak Djokovic (SRB) defeated Jannik Sinner (ITA) 6-4 6-2
[3] Rafael Nadal (ESP) defeated [Q] Federico Delbonis (ARG) 6-1 6-2
[5] Alexander Zverev (GER) defeated Lorenzo Sonego (ITA) 6-3 6-3
[6] Andrey Rublev (RUS) defeated [Q] Salvatore Caruso (ITA) 6-3 6-2
Casper Ruud (NOR) defeated [7] Diego Schwartzman (ARG) 6-3 6-3
[9] Roberto Bautista Agut (ESP) defeated Tommy Paul (USA) 6-3 6-4
[11] David Goffin (BEL) defeated [Q] Marco Cecchinato (ITA) 6-4 6-0
[12] Pablo Carreno Busta (ESP) defeated Karen Khachanov (RUS) 6-2 6-3
Daniel Evans (GBR) defeated [13] Hubert Hurkacz (POL) 6-4 6-1
[14] Grigor Dimitrov (BUL) defeated Jeremy Chardy (FRA) 7-6 6-4
[15] Fabio Fognini (ITA) defeated Jordan Thompson (AUS) 6-3 6-3
[16] Cristian Garin (CHI) defeated John Millman (AUS) 6-1 6-4
Filip Krajinovic (SRB) defeated [LL] Juan Ignacio Londero (ARG) 6-0 6-3
[WC] Lucas Pouille (FRA) defeated [Q] Alexei Popyrin (AUS) 75- 2-6 6-3

ATP Tour wrap: ATP 250 events begin in Europe

TWO ATP 250 events began this week, with proceedings starting up at the Sardegna Open in Cagliari, Italy, and the AnyTech365 Andalucia Open in Marbella, Spain.

At Sardegna, both seeds fell on Day 1 of the main event with seventh seed Argentinian Guido Pella and eighth seed Tommy Paul unable to overcome their respective lower ranked opposition. For Pella, it was a straight sets 6-4 6-0 loss to Belarusian Egor Gerasimov that saw him eliminated in under 90 minutes, with a shoddy service game allowing Gerasimov to maintain the upper hand. As for Paul, the American stole back the second set after going down 7-6(8) in the first, before falling at the third hurdle in the two hour and 56-minute blockbuster, as his German opposition in Yannick Hanfmann reigned supreme 7-6 5-7 6-3.

In the remaining two matches, Laslo Djere and Aljaz Bedene both remain in the hunt after collecting wins over a duo of Italian wildcards in Federico Gaio and Guilio Zeppieri, respectively. Whilst Djere collected a relatively straightforward 6-4 6-2 win over Gaio, Bedene was tested by 19-year-old Zeppieri, claiming a three-set victory 1-6 7-6 7-6 after a shocking first set.

SARDEGNA OPEN ROUND OF 32 RESULTS: 

Egor Gerasimov (BLR) defeated [7] Guido Pella (ARG) 6-4 6-0
Yannick Hanfmann (GER) defeated [8] Tommy Paul (USA) 7-6 5-7 6-3
Laslo Djere (SRB) defeated [WC] Federico Gaio (ITA) 6-4 6-2
Aljaz Bedene (SLO) defeated [WC] Giulio Zeppieri (ITA) 1-6 7-5 7-6

 

Three matches went all the way in Marbella, with just one match completed in two sets. The tournament also saw the complete opposite result to Sardegna as the seventh and eighth seeds in Soonwoo Kwon and Federico Delbonis both remain in the hunt following wins. Kwon’s first round victory came over 17-year-old Dane Holger Vitus Nodskov Rune, and the young gun put in the hard yards before the Korean reigned supreme in a two hour and 23 minute, 6-3 3-6 7-6 encounter. Comparatively, Delbonis downed Spaniard Roberto Carballes Baena in the only two-setter of the day, coming away with the 7-5 6-1 victory in one hour and 40 minutes.

Lithuanian Ricardas Berankis reigned supreme in a hard fought 6-4 6-7 7-5 win against Frenchman Lucas Pouille, going the full distance in the two hour and 49-minute matchup. Whilst Pouille was solid on return, not allowing Berankis to hit a single ace, Pouille hit six aces for six double faults on his way to the first round loss. Meanwhile, Norbert Gombos defeated Juan Ignacio Londero in just over two hours despite a closely contested first set, coming away with the 6-7 6-1 6-3 victory.

ANYTECH365 ANDALUCIA OPEN ROUND OF 32 RESULTS:

[7] Soonwoo Kwon (KOR) defeated [WC] Holger Vitus Nodskov Rune (DEN) 6-3 3-6 7-6
[8] Federico Delbonis (ARG) defeated Roberto Carballes Baena (ESP) 7-5 6-1
Ricardas Berankis (LTU) defeated Lucas Pouille (FRA) 6-4 6-7 7-5
Norbert Gombos (SVK) defeated Juan Ignacio Londero (ARG) 6-7 6-1 6-3

ATP 250 wraps: Tight matches at Rotterdam and Buenos Aires set the tone for competitions

JUST eight Round of 32 matches have played out across the Rotterdam and Argentina ATP 250 tournaments on the official first day of competition at both events, with plenty of interesting results at each of the two fields.

At Rotterdam, two former champions found their form as Kei Nishikori disposed of Canadian seventh seed Felix Auger Aliassime, whilst Andy Murray was one of two Brits to proceed to the second round after defeating fellow wildcard Robin Haase. Nishikori was challenged by the upcoming Canadian in his encounter with Auger Aliassime, with a tough first set testing the Japanese talent before handing down a 6-1 second set to reign supreme in straight sets, in 98 minutes. Whilst Auger Aliassime putt his serve to good use with seven aces, he could not rely on his first serve with an 83 per cent winning rate (24/29) off just a 54 per cent clip. Comparatively, Nishikori was cleaner on serve with an 85 per cent first serve win rate (41/48) off a 74 per cent clip.

Murray had a slow start to his encounter with his Dutch opposition in Haase, before overcoming a tough tiebreaker to come from behind during the second set and use his wealth of experience to reign supreme in the third, 2-6 7-6 6-3. Murray was marginally cleaner in the matchup, with six aces to two double faults compared to Haase’s nine and four. Meanwhile, Cameron Norrie coasted through in an upset over Georgian Nikoloz Basilashvili, winning 6-0 6-3 in just 63 minutes. With his service game on show and a 59 per cent winning rate on return, Norrie could not be stopped in the matchup.

At time of publishing, the tight battle between Marton Fucsovics and Reilly Opelka remains tough to predict with neither player able to break their opposition, after Fucsovics came away with the first set 7-6 and, despite breaking serve in the second at 5-3, the second set tiebreaker went the way of Opelka, with the third set about to begin at time of publishing.

ROTTERDAM OPEN ROUND OF 32 RESULTS:

[W] Andy Murray (GBR) defeated [W] Robin Haase (NED) 2-6 7-6 6-3
Kei Nishikori (JPN) defeated [7] Felix Auger Aliassime (CAN) 7-6 6-1
[Q] Cameron Norrie (GBR) defeated Nikoloz Basilashvili (GEO) 6-0 6-3
[Q] Marton Fucsovics (HUN) v. Reilly Opelka (USA)

In Buenos Aires, it was the seeded players who proceeded in convincing fashion, with sixth seed Pablo Andujar and seventh seed Laslo Djere both disposing of their opposition, though Djere arguably had the tougher time of it after a real challenge from Marco Cecchinato in the first set. Whilst Djere eventually reigned supreme in just over two and a quarter hours, the early contest was anything but easy as the pair traded blows in a 7-6(4) first set. However, Djere managed to steal away momentum in the second and continue that form in the third to run away with the 6-7 6-2 6-3 victory, credit to his improved 68 per cent second serve winning rate, compared to Cecchinato’s lower 40 per cent accuracy. Comparatively, Andujar swept past his Argentinian opposition in Juan Ignacio Londero 6-3 6-0 in just over an hour and a half, credit to his serving efficiency and ability to win off Londero’s serve.

In the remaining matches, German Dominik Koepfer disposed of a second Argentinian competitor in Thiago Agustin Tirante, well and truly tested in the first set by the wildcard, before completing the match strongly to come out 2-6 6-3 6-4 victor in one hour and 51 minutes, whilst the final matchup of the day in Argentina between Roberto Carballes Baena and Thiago Monteiro is yet to begin at time of publishing.

ARGENTINA OPEN ROUND OF 32 RESULTS:

[6] Pablo Andujar (ESP) defeated Juan Ignacio Londero (ARG) 6-3 6-0
[7] Laslo Djere (SRB) defeated Marco Cecchinato (ITA) 6-7 6-2 6-3
Dominik Koepfer (GER) defeated [W] Thiago Agustin Tirante (ARG) 2-6 6-3 6-4
Roberto Carballes Baena (ESP) v. Thiago Monteiro (BRA)

2021 ATP 250 previews: Montpellier, Cordoba and Singapore

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

CORDOBA:

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

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

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

MONTPELLIER:

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

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

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

SINGAPORE:

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

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

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

Picture credit: Getty Images

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

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

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

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

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

GREAT OCEAN ROAD OPEN ROUND OF 64 RESULTS:

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

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

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

MURRAY RIVER OPEN ROUND OF 64 RESULTS:

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

Picture credit: AFP

2021 ATP Cup preview: Argentina

ARGENTINA have opted for a fairly obvious four to send to the ATP Cup, with ninth ranked Diego Schwartzman helping them qualify for the tournament, but only one other singles player, as well as a doubles combination which will hopefully get them a leg up in that deciding tie if required.

TEAM:

Diego Schwartzman
Guido Pella
Horacio Zeballos
Maximo Gonzalez

The Argentinian team is not bad, but also not good. One would imagine the results will depend on which teams they cop in the group, because Schwartzman can trouble certain top players, but have little chance against others. His second player in Guido Pella is another singles player who might notch up an odd win here or there, and is no pushover, but will struggle against the top nation’s second players, and unlike Serbia or Spain, does not always have the luxury to fall back on the top player’s guaranteed win.

The doubles combination is a strong one, with the third ranked Horacio Zeballos the best doubles player in the tournament, with the 35-year-old to team up with 43rd ranked doubles player Maximo Gonzalez. Both Schwartzman (52nd) and Pella (71st) are ranked inside the top 100, but they will not be used for the doubles unless injury strikes. Having Zeballos is a huge advantage for the South American team, and they will start favourites in that match more often than not.

Unfortunately for Argentina, unless Juan Martin del Potro was fully fit, they have solid, consistent players who would worry opposition nations on clay. Unfortunately, with the exception of Schwartzman coming off a career-best year, they do not have a lot of alternatives outside the singles players. In a perfect world, Schwartzman and del Potro would be a potent combination, whilst the likes of Federico Delbonis, Juan Ignacio Londero and Federico Coria all sit inside the Top 100 singles players. None strike fear into the heart of the opposition on hard court, so for this tournament, the team is what you would expect it to be.

If teams are seeded by their top ranked player, then Argentina would prefer to have Austria. It gives Pella a huge chance to knock off the second player in Dennis Novak, while Schwartzman has at least beaten Dominic Thiem three times (though is 3-6 in the head-to-head). They would be favourites against Austria with the doubles to come through strong, but would need a miracle against either Serbia or Spain, with Schwartzman needing to upset Daniil Medvedev to have a chance against Russia.

Argentina should win against Greece and Japan if they face them, with possible chances against Austria and Australia, though unless they really get a favourable draw, it will be difficult to see them advancing through to the semi-finals.

Picture credit: Philippe Montigny/FFT

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

Kei returns in Kitzbuhel as Garcia overcomes quick turnaround to win in Istanbul

A STAR-studded Generali Open in Kitzbuhel, Austria kicked off mid-week with a host of top 30 players who were ousted from the US Open on show, whilst the BNP Paribas Tennis Championships got underway in Istanbul. Both tournaments had players who lasted as long as the fourth round at Flushing Meadows, meaning they had as little as 48 hours to fly to Europe and get on court for their first round encounters.

KEI RETURNS IN KITZBUHEL

The top seed in the Generali is Fabio Fognini, who opted to forgo playing in the United States, whilst another seed to earn a Round 1 bye was Diego Schwartzman who lost in the first round at Flushing Meadows.

There were a number of interesting results throughout the first round, with the biggest returnee, Kei Nishikori playing his first match since the US Open. Unfortunately for the Japanese star, his return was abruptly ended by rising Serbian, Miomir Kecmanovic who won in three sets, 4-6 6-4 6-2. He now goes on to play the improving Jordan Thompson who took down compatriot John Millman in three sets, 6-3 4-6 7-6 in what was only a couple of days turnaround for Thompson since exiting the US Open in the fourth round on Monday.

Other seeds who move through to the second round were Dusan Lajovic (third) and Nikoloz Basilashvili (fourth) who both had first round byes, as well as fifth seed Hubert Hurkacz and seventh seed Guido Pella. Austrian wildcard Sebastian Ofner will take on Schwartzman in the Round of 16 following a 6-7 6-4 7-6 epic triumph over Macedonia’s Radu Albot. At the other end of the draw, Swiss wildcard Marc-Andrea Huesler will face top seed Fognini in a tough challenge for the 303rd ranked 24-year-old. He made his way into the second win courtesy of a come-from-behind win over Finn Emil Ruusuvuori, 3-6 6-4 7-6.

Other winners from Round 1 included Argentinian qualifier, Federico Delbonis who upset compatriot Juan Ignacio Londero in a one-side 6-4 6-0 triumph, as well as Spanish veteran Feliciano Lopez, German qualifier Maximilian Marterer, Serbian qualifier Laslo Djere, and Italian young gun Jannik Sinner.

For Sinner, it was his first match on clay in 14 months, and coming up against German Philipp Kohlschreiber – who is a two-time past winner of the Generali Open and actually lives in Kitzbuhel – it was always going to be tough. But Sinner made it look easy, winning 6-3 6-2 to book a spot in the second round against Djere.

“Obviously, it has not been easy for both of us,” Sinner said post-match. “We played the US Open one week ago. “We are maybe still jetlagged. “It has not been easy. “I have not been playing on clay for more than one year, so it is a little bit different… I tried to push from the back [of the] court and tried to play my game. “Today, I am very happy.”

GARCIA FORCED TO WORK, BUT SURVIVES FIRST-UP ENCOUNTER

Frenchwoman Caroline Garcia, fresh off her third round appearance at the Australian Open – and upset win over Karolina Pliskova – is through to the second round at Istanbul after defeating Turkish wildcard, Cagla Buyukakcay. Garcia dropped the second set to love, but won 6-4 0-6 7-5 in two hours and 31 minutes. She was seeded fourth at the tournament, with top two seeds, Svetlana Kuznetsova and Rebecca Peterson having first round byes.

It was a promising first round for the seeds, with third seed Polona Hercog defeating another Turkish wildcard in Berfu Cengiz, leaving the home nation without a representative in the second round. The Slovenian won 6-2 6-3 to advance through to the second round, while unseeded Russian Margarita Gasparyan took just 64 minutes to send the third Turkish talent, Pemra Ozgen home 6-2 6-0 and face Peterson in the Round of 16.

Other seeds to advance were sixth seed Belgian Alison Van Uytvanck and eighth seed Japanese talent Misaki Doi who both enjoyed good wins over Slovakian Viktoria Kuzmova and Australian qualifier Ellen Perez respectively. The news was not as good for seventh seed Kazakh, Zarina Diyas who fell to in-form Belarusian Aliaksandra Sasnovich, while fifth seed Heather Watson was forced to retire against Sara Sorribes Tormo in the fifth game of their first round match.

In other Round 1 results, rising Italian talent Jasmine Paolini, Spaniard Paula Badosa and Slovakian Anna Karolina Schmiedlova all won on the opening day. Meanwhile on the second day of Round of 32 results, unseeded hopes, Tereza Martincova, Danka Kovinic and Patricia Maria Tig all won, as did Canadian qualifier, Eugenie Bouchard. The world number 272 won in 96 minutes against Bulgarian Viktoriya Tomova 6-2 6-4 to continue her rise up the rankings in the hope of a top 200 berth ahead of Roland Garros.