Tag: kei nishikori

ATP Tour wrap: Zverev and Murray fall during Round of 16

GRASS court events in Berlin and London continued overnight, with the Noventi Open and cinch Championships showcasing increasingly intriguing results. Another top talent fell in Germany, with German number one, and third seed Alexander Zverev going down to Frenchman Ugo Humbert, really opening up the competition with just one seed heading into the quarter finals.

While Zverev hit a whopping 20 aces throughout the 7-6(4) 3-6 6-3 encounter, he could not command control with his opposition more effective winning 76 per cent of his first serve points off an 80 per cent clip, hitting 10 aces. Humbert marginally claimed more points than his higher ranked opposition, winning 51 per cent to Zverev’s 49 per cent.

“I don’t particularly know what I could have done differently, to be honest,” Zverev said. “Ugo was serving incredibly well in the first set, we both barely won points on each other’s serve. “Then in the third set, I think he found his rhythm from the baseline. “He was outplaying me. “It is not a great result for me, but I don’t know what I could have done differently.”

Humbert is next set to take on Sebastian Korda, who also required three sets to overcome former champion Kei Nishikori, 2-6 6-3 7-5. The 20-year-old American hit eight aces to Nishikori’s three throughout the two hour and 40 minute clash, and while he also hit four double faults to zero, it was his risk-taking that paid off.

“We know each other’s games so well, and he has watched me play since I started playing tennis, so there were definitely no secrets during our match,” Korda said. “It was just a mental battle and I stayed really calm in the big moments, saving lots of break points, and then I managed to win one at 5-5 and serve it out.”

“I would say it was a good level from both of us,” Nishikori said. “I think I played almost too good in the first set. “He then started making more balls and changed his position and started playing better in the second, and I think the third set could go both ways. “I had many chances, but he played good points and he deserved to win as he took risks.”

Nikoloz Basilashvili and Lloyd Harris will go head-to-head in the last quarter final, after the Georgian overcame fellow qualifier Arthur Rinderknech 6-2 7-5, while Harris recorded a similar 6-3 7-5 result over Slovakian Lukas Lacko.

At Cinch, results were much more predictable as all three seeds collected wins, and all four clashes complete in two sets. Top seed Matteo Berrettini took down former world number one Andy Murray, tasked with another Brit up next in sixth seed Daniel Evans who overcame Frenchman Adrian Mannarino.

“This was really hard. We all know who Andy is, he is a great player and he was always there even until the last point,” Berrettini said. “I’m really happy for my performance.

“I know how tough it is to come back from an injury, so I wish him the best of luck. I think he played great today. I played better. I am just happy that he is back.”

Berrettini hit 14 aces and won 83 per cent of his first serve points throughout the 85-minute, 6-3 6-3 clash, and also saved all three of Murray’s break point opportunities. Evans was dealt a tougher time from Mannarino, but made the most of his second serve to fend off the Frenchman’s advances to come away with the 6-4 7-6(7) victory.

“I’m just pleased to come through. I knew that he was good on grass, I knew that it was going to be a difficult match, but I didn’t envision it being that tight and obviously I didn’t want it that tight either,” Evans said. “It was a tough match, mentally more than anything, trying to hold my nerve when I was down a set point.”

The second quarter final will play out between second seed Canadian Denis Shapovalov and American Frances Tiafoe, with 22-year-old Shapovalov overcoming fellow left-hander Feliciano Lopez – for a second time in two weeks – as the American outlasted qualifying Serbian Viktor Troicki.

“It’s never easy playing Feliciano, especially on these courts on grass,” Shapovalov said in an on-court interview. “I’m super happy to get the win… When you have a big server like Feliciano, you kind of have to guess [on the return] and hopefully you get a racquet on it. I was hoping for a lot of second serves today.”

Whilst Lopez won 87 per cent of his first serve points, the Spaniard struggled to maintain intensity and consistency off his second serve winning just 10 points and failing to challenge Shapovalov with a break point opportunity, eventually falling 6-2 6-3.

For Tiafoe, the return to grass has seen a return of confidence, with an 85 per cent win rate off a 69 per cent clip telling the story of the 6-3 7-6(3) victory. Troicki hit 11 aces throughout but struggled on return, unable to command control.

“I’ve always really liked playing on grass,” Tiafoe said. “It suits my game; I have a really flat backhand and I’m a guy who really loves to play with intangibles. I’m just really enjoying myself right now. I’m trying to enjoy the game and just have fun with it and not take it so seriously and putting too much pressure on myself. It’s been working out pretty well.”

NOVENTI OPEN ROUND OF 16 RESULTS:

Ugo Humbert (FRA) defeated [3] Alexander Zverev (GER) 7-6 3-6 6-3
Lloyd Harris (RSA) defeated [Q] Lukas Lacko (SVK) 6-3 7-6
Sebastian Korda (USA) defeated Kei Nishikori (JPN) 2-6 6-3 7-5
[Q] Nikoloz Basilashvili (GEO) defeated [Q] Arthur Rinderknech (FRA) 6-2 7-5

CINCH CHAMPIONSHIPS ROUND OF 16 RESULTS:

[1] Matteo Berrettini (ITA) defeated [WC] Andy Murray (GBR) 6-3 6-3
[2] Denis Shapovalov (CAN) defeated Feliciano Lopez (ESP) 6-2 6-3
[6] Daniel Evans (GBR) defeated Adrian Mannarino (FRA) 6-4 7-6
Frances Tiafoe (USA) defeated [Q] Viktor Troicki (SRB) 6-3 7-6

ATP Tour wrap: Murray makes successful return as Medvedev struggles on grass

THE second day at both the Halle Noventi Open in Germany and Cinch Championships in London produced some big results, with the top seed at the first event defeated in straight sets, while a former world number one returned to the winners list at Cinch.

It was Jan-Lennard Struff who claimed a huge win at Halle, overcoming Daniil Medvedev on the grass for one of the biggest wins of his career. Despite being 2-5 down in the first, Struff fired up to force a first set tiebreak, claiming the first before dominating the second to register the 7-6(6) 6-3 victory.

“He served for the [first] set at 6-5 and twice went for an ace on a second serve and I put returns in at 30/30 and 30/40. I then played a very good tie-break and at 5-1 up in the second set,” Struff explained.

“This is the biggest win — [FedEx ATP] Rankings wise — of my career and to do it here on home soil is very special… I live only an hour from here.”

“It is better to play him on grass rather than hard courts. I have a good game for grass and I like to come in. The wins at Roland Garros definitely gave me a confidence boost.”

Medvedev’s compatriot and fellow seed Andrey Rublev was more fortunate, downing another Russian Karen Khachanov in straight sets, 6-3 7-6. While Rublev ranked higher and has recent form to back him up, Khachanov is a former semi-finalist at Halle and would not go down without a fight.

“I was waiting for this match to feel this tension,” Rublev said. “I needed to feel the pressure and I am happy with my performance today in my first match on grass.”

Meanwhile, Struff was not the only German to reign supreme on home soil, joined by third seed Alexander Zverev and wildcard Philipp Kohlschreiber in the second round. Zverev was forced to overcome a second set resurgence from compatriot Dominik Koepfer while Kohlschreiber claimed a comparatively straightforward win over Austrian Jurij Rodionov. The remaining German in this half of the draw, lucky loser Yannick Hanfmann, fell in straight sets to qualifier Arthur Rinderknech.

Eighth seed Gael Monfils was knocked out by the hard-hitting Lloyd Harris, 6-4 6-4, with the South African winning 29 of his 33 first serve points on his way to victory, hitting six aces in the process. A couple more qualifiers joined the winners list with both Nikoloz Basilashvili and Lukas Lacko surviving three-setters to claim victory, as the former overcame another Frenchman Gilles Simon, while the latter battled through a tight opening set tiebreaker deficit to lead the remainder of his clash with Argentinian Guido Pella. The remaining winners on Day 2 at Halle were Felix Auger-AliassimeUgo Humbert and Kei Nishikori.

At the Queen’s Club in London, Andy Murray claimed his first win on grass since 2018 with a 6-3 6-2 sweep of out-of-form Frenchman Benoit Paire. The wildcard Brit required just 64 minutes to take out victory, firing 20 winners and 13 unforced errors throughout.

“I love it. I love playing tennis,” Murray said post-match. “Obviously competing is why you put in all the hard work. In the last few years I didn’t get to do that as much as I would have liked, so it’s great that I’m out here and able to compete again.”

“The body is old, but I did quite well today in terms of my movement and stuff,” Murray said. “It’s my first match on grass in three years and I’ve only played two or three practice sets in the buildup to this. I didn’t know exactly how I was going to play or how I was going to feel, but I think for a first match it was good.”

It was a good day to be a seed at the Cinch Championships, with all five of the day’s seeds proceeding including almost identical tight results to top see Matteo Berrettini and second seed Canadian Denis Shapovalov. Berrettini was well and truly challenged by compatriot Stefano Travaglia, with the two Italians battling hard throughout seeing a 7-6(5) 7-6(4) result.

“It’s always a fight [against Stefano]. We know each other pretty well,” Berrettini said. “We’ve played twice on the ATP Tour, but we’ve played so many more times in Futures, so I’ve known this guy for a long time. He’s always a great opponent, so well done to him. But I’m happy for my win.

“It really helps me to have so many [Italian] guys [in the Top 100] because you find new energy, and our quality is really high. We practise with each other all the time… It’s really helpful.”

Shapovalov was similarly challenged by qualifying Australian Aleksandar Vukic, needing every one of his 20 aces to overcome the qualifier 7-6(6) 7-6(6). Shapovalov may not have lost serve throughout and won 90 per cent of his first serve points to claim victory, but the Canadian explained the clash was anything but easy, with Vukic trailing on a similarly impressive 85 per cent first serve winning rate.

“Definitely not an easy, breezy match,” Shapovalov said post-match. “I think we both just served amazing today. I feel obviously very lucky to win this match today. It could have gone either way, so I’m very, very proud of myself.”

“Any time of the grass-court season, it’s super tough to get a rhythm, so it’s very important to serve big.”

Fourth seed Australian Alex de Minaur returned to the winners list with a come-from-behind victory over Serbian Laslo Djere, while sixth seed Brit Daniel Evans got the goods over the third Australian competitor of the day in Alexei Popyrin, 6-4 6-4. Italian Fabio Fognini was the remaining seed who reigned supreme, tested by Yen Hsun Lu before coming away with the straight sets win, 6-4 7-6.

The last three winners of the day required three sets apiece to claim victory, with Frances Tiafoe coming from a set down to defeat Aljaz Bedene, while Marin Cilic and Alexander Bublik overcame second set slumps to head into the second round.

HALLE NOVENTI OPEN ROUND OF 32 RESULTS:

Jan-Lennard Struff (GER) defeated [1] Daniil Medvedev (RUS) 7-6 6-3
[3] Alexander Zverev (GER) defeated Dominik Koepfer (GER) 6-4 3-6 6-3
[4] Andrey Rublev (RUS) defeated Karen Khachanov (RUS) 6-3 7-6
Lloyd Harris (RSA) defeated [8] Gael Monfils (FRA) 6-4 6-4
Felix Auger-Aliassime (CAN) defeated Hubert Hurkacz (POL) 6-3 7-5
[Q] Nikoloz Basilashvili (GEO) defeated Gilles Simon (FRA) 6-1 3-6 6-4
Ugo Humbert (FRA) defeated Sam Querrey (USA) 4-6 7-6 7-6
[WC] Philipp Kohlschreiber (GER) defeated Jurij Rodionov (AUT) 6-4 6-3
[Q] Lukas Lacko (SVK) defeated Guido Pella (ARG) 6-7 7-5 6-1
Kei Nishikori (JPN) defeated Ricardas Berankis (LTU) 6-3 2-6 6-2
[Q] Arthur Rinderknech (FRA) defeated [LL] Yannick Hanfmann (GER) 7-5 6-3

CINCH CHAMPIONSHIPS ROUND OF 32 RESULTS:

[1] Matteo Berrettini (ITA) defeated Stefano Travaglia (ITA) 7-6 7-6
[2] Denis Shapovalov (CAN) defeated [Q] Aleksandar Vukic (AUS) 7-6 7-6
[4] Alex de Minaur (AUS) defeated Laslo Djere (SRB) 3-6 6-3 6-4
[6] Daniel Evans (GBR) defeated Alexei Popyrin (AUS) 6-4 6-4
[8] Fabio Fognini (ITA) defeated Yen Hsun Lu (TPE) 6-4 7-6
Marin Cilic (CRO) defeated [Q] Sebastian Ofner (AUT) 6-2 6-7 7-6
Alexander Bublik (KAZ) defeated Jeremy Chardy (FRA) 6-4 3-6 6-3
[WC] Andy Murray (GBR) defeated Benoit Paire (FRA) 6-3 6-2
Frances Tiafoe (USA) defeated Aljaz Bedene (SLO) 4-6 6-3 6-4

ATP Tour wrap: Medvedev and Tsitsipas to clash in quarters

THE men’s Roland Garros draw boasts a hugely competitive mix of players, with the Round of 16 action overnight proving just how tight the contest still is, with all three seeded favourites completing straight sets victories and only the unseeded clash going an extra set on a huge day of action.

Second and fifth seeds Daniil Medvedev and Stefanos Tsitsipas have set up a mouthwatering quarter finals clash with respective wins over Cristian Garin and Pablo Carreno Busta. Russian Medvedev has been in scintillating form at the Roland Garros despite a shaky past few events – having never won a clay match until this year – and was no different in this clash against the Chilean 22nd seed, requiring just over two hours to complete the 6-2 6-1 7-5 clean sweep.

“I learned that Roland-Garros, I need to play like on hard courts because [it] is bouncing low and fast. I don’t know if it was like this before and I was just unlucky with the draw,” Medvedev said. “Definitely what I learned, that I can move really well on clay. For this I need to have good shots. If you don’t have good shots, good players on clay, they start to move you all around the court… Here I’m able with these balls, with these conditions, to make shots that [are] not going to let my opponent attack me straightaway.

“Then I can take control of the game and be a great mover on clay. That’s one part that I learned.”

Comparatively, Garin is a clay court specialist. But he just could not sway the momentum in this clash, allowing Medvedev to hit a whopping 46 winners to 11 – including 14 aces to nil – throughout the contest. While Garin was better on the unforced error front, trailing Medvedev 29-32, the Russian was clinical off his first serve winning 86 per cent of points.

Fifth seed Tsitsipas was similarly challenged in the third set by another clay courter in 12th seed Carreno Busta, eventually requiring only four more minutes than Medvedev to claim the 6-3 6-2 7-5 victory, his 20th on clay for the season. Tsitsipas hit 41 winners for 17 unforced errors throughout the contest.

“I think I’ve played some of my best tennis when I don’t think much on the court, when everything is being done automatically, on autopilot,” Tsitsipas said. “I felt also my performance was at the top [against Carreno Busta]. So, yes, less thinking, more action.”

“In Grand Slams, it’s all about the endurance and being able to show up and do your job once every two days and do it well,” he said. “It’s demanding. It takes a lot of attention, a lot of effort. I’ve grown up into loving that process and wanting to repeat that.”

Meanwhile, sixth seed German Alexander Zverev downed Kei Nishikori in one hour and 54 minutes, extending his head to head over the Japanese talent to 5-1 and 3-1 on clay. Zverev will take on Alejandro Davidovich Fokina in the quarter finals, after the Spaniard overcame Federico Delbonis 6-4 6-4 4-6 6-4 in two hours and 56 minutes – over an hour longer on court than Zverev.

“Of course he’s had some fantastic matches, I think today was a fantastic match from his side,” Zverev said of Davidovich Fokina. “I have to come out here and I have to play my best and give myself the best chance to win.”

“I have to focus on myself,” said Zverev. “I feel like if I play my best tennis I’m difficult to beat.”

“I worked hard for this moment, and thanks to my team, they are supporting me every day. A lot of emotions… I’m so happy,” Davidovich Fokina said.

ROLAND GARROS ROUND OF 16 RESULTS:

[2] Daniil Medvedev (RUS) defeated [22] Cristian Garin (CHI) 6-2 6-1 7-5
[5] Stefanos Tsitsipas (GRE) defeated [12] Pablo Carreno Busta (ESP) 6-3 6-2 7-5
[6] Alexander Zverev (GER) defeated Kei Nishikori (JPN) 6-4 6-1 6-1
Alejandro Davidovich Fokina (ESP) defeated Federico Delbonis (ARG) 6-4 6-4 4-6 6-4

Picture credit: Nicolas Gouhier/FFT

ATP Tour wrap: Davidovich Fokina ousts Ruud in five as big guns advance to fourth round

ALEJANDRO Davidovich Fokina provided the upset of the day in the men’s Roland Garros action, knocking out 15th seed Norwegian and clay court specialist Casper Ruud in five sets. The match was a momentum-swinging contest, with Ruud funnily enough only dropping two games total in the sets he won, but not able to close out the closer ones, losing first and third set tiebreakers, and then finally a 12-game fifth set. Davidovich Fokina won 7-6 2-6 7-6 0-6 7-5 in a four-hour and 35-minute epic contest.

Davidovich Fokina closed out the first set 7-3 in the tiebreaker, before Ruud hit back with a dominant 6-2 second set. Davidovich Fokina against ground out a third set tiebreak win, this time going all the way to 8-6, but then Ruud piled on six consecutive games to win the fourth 6-0. It looked as though the Norwegian would run away with it in the fifth, but the Spaniard held his nerve and found a way to grab the momentum back and win 7-5 in the fifth. Both players hit 59 winners, with Davidovich Fokina hitting an additional nine unforced errors (61-52), but had a higher first serve efficiency and winning percentage. In the end, the points in crunch moments counted for more than the overall scheme of things and the Spaniard advanced.

The other big upset was Argentinian Federico Delbonis knocking out Italian 27th seed Fabio Fognini in straight sets. Delbonis won 6-4 6-1 6-3 in two hours and six minutes, only hitting five less winners (14-19), but was far more conservative with throwing away points as the Italian firebrand smashed 53 unforced errors to 24. The Argentinian also won 78 per cent of his first serve points compared to Fognini’s 63 per cent, as well as a dominant 59 to 28 per cent off the second serves, while claiming 47 per cent of his receiving points in the process. Six breaks from 14 chances compared to one from five was what helped the Argentinian advance through to the Round of 16 without too many problems.

At the the top end, top five seeds Daniil Medvedev and Stefanos Tsitsipas both advanced over big-serving Americans. The Greek fifth seed weathered 19 aces from 31st seed John Isner to serve eight of his own, and only drop 10 points off his first serve, to have a higher first serve winning percentage (86 to 77 per cent) and second serve winning percentage (60 to 51 per cent). Tsitsipas had 12 less winners (40-52) but taking out the aces, he was only down one (32-33), whilst Isner had 29 unforced errors to Tsitsipas’ 19. Meanwhile Medvedev cleaned up 32nd seed Reilly Opelka in straight sets 6-4 6-2 6-4, in one hour and 38 minutes. Medvedev hit 28 winners to 26, but also only 16 unforced errors to 36, as he made it count on his serve with 89 and 60 per cent success rates off his first and second serves to move through to the next round at Roland Garros.

In other results, sixth seed Alexander Zverev also advanced without a hitch, defeating Serbian Laslo Djere in straight sets, 6-2 7-5 6-2. Zverev won in two hours and eight minutes, hitting nine more winners (31-22) and nine less unforced errors (36-45). He joined fellow seeds, Pablo Carreno Busta and Cristian Garin in the Round of 16. Both claimed American scalps to make it four losses from four competitors from the United States on the day, with Carreno Busta knocking out Steve Johnson in straight sets, 6-4 6-4 6-2, while Garin took down Marcos Giron in four sets, 6-1 5-7 6-2 6-2. In the other match that got underway, Japan’s Kei Nishikori was afforded safe passage through to the next stage after Swiss qualifier Henri Laaksonen retired following the first set which Nishikori won 7-5.

ROLAND GARROS ROUND OF 32 RESULTS:

[2] Daniil Medvedev (RUS) defeated [32] Reilly Opelka (USA) 6-4 6-2 6-4
[5] Stefanos Tsitsipas (GRE) defeated [31] John Isner (USA) 5-7 6-3 7-6 6-1
[6] Alexander Zverev (GER) defeated Laslo Djere (SRB) 6-2 7-5 6-2
[12] Pablo Carreno Busta (ESP) defeated Steve Johnson (USA) 6-4 6-4 6-2
Alejandro Davidovich Fokina (ESP) defeated [15] Casper Ruud (NOR) 7-6 2-6 7-6 0-6 7-5
[22] Cristian Garin (CHI) defeated Marcos Giron (USA) 6-1 5-7 6-2 6-2
Federico Delbonis (ARG) defeated [27] Fabio Fognini (ITA) 6-4 6-1 6-3
Kei Nishikori (JPN) defeated [Q] Henri Laaksonen (SUI) 7-5 0-0 RET

Picture credit: ATP Tour

ATP Tour wrap: Garin fights back from two sets down and two match points in epic day of Roland Garros action

A WHOPPING 11 of the 16 Round of 64 Roland Garros ATP matches required at least four sets, in an epic day of action in Paris. Six matches went the full five sets, with an additional five going to four and only the five straight sets results. Of those straight sets results, three of the five involved at least one tiebreaker, and the most one-sided result still involved the loser winning between two and four games a set. Throw in a couple of big upsets and the day was perfect for spectators to expect the unexpected.

Cristian Garin was just about ready to pack his bags and depart from Paris when he was two sets to love down and faced two match points in the third set tiebreaker against American qualifier Mackenzie McDonald. The American set up match points at 6-5 and 7-6, before Garin came back to win the last three points of the set and secure the tiebreaker, then posted a 6-3 in the in fourth to level the match. The players went toe-for-toe in the fifth set, with the players going beyond the regulation games for Garin to need to break in the 14th game and secure the five set win, 4-6 4-6 7-6 6-3 8-6. The clay court specialist hit 71 winners to 56, and won 69 to 55 per cent net points, as well as only three more unforced errors (59-53), In what was truly an epic, 354 points were played in four hours and 14 minutes on court.

The biggest upset of the day went to Swiss talent Henri Laaksonen, with the qualifier upstanding the usually consistent 11th seed Spaniard Roberto Bautista Agut. Laaksonen started strong to win the first set, and whilst Bautista strongly won the second to look like he was going to build all the momentum, Laaksonen found another gear to win in two hours and 21 minutes, 6-3 2-6 6-3 6-2. The Swiss player hit a massive 53 winners to 17, and whilst he also had 18 more unforced errors (43-25), won 42 per cent of his receiving points to Bautista Agut’s 35 per cent, and won 57 per cent of his second serve points – and 74 per cent of his first serve points – to be incredibly hard to move on serve.

The other big upset of sorts was Japan’s Kei Nishikori who fought back from a two sets to one deficit to post an epic win over 23rd seed Russian Karen Khachanov. The 2014 US Open finalist and former Top 5 player showed he still has the potential to match it with the world’s best, winning 4-6 6-2 2-6 6-4 6-4 in three hours and 59 minutes. Nishikori hit 57 winners to 43 and still had three less unforced errors (56-59), with the Japanese talent breaking five times from 19 chances, one more than Khachanov’s four from 12 in a proving break to end the match. Nishikori said he was thrilled with taking down a quality talent in Khachanov.

“Yeah, that part I’m really happy with,” he said post-match. “Comparing the end of the last year with this tournament, I’m playing much better this year and fighting for two four-hour match. I don’t think I could do that last year. “My level was pretty high. “Even though I’m not having great result, I think the Europe season was good for me: Madrid and Rome. I only lost to top-10 players. “You can say I’m not beating Top 10 players right now, but I think things are getting much better for me. “I think I’m on the way to Top 10 again. “Yeah, I’m really enjoying this moment.”

In terms of comebacks, Laslo Djere had to come from the clouds to fend off Serbian compatriot Miomir Kecmanovic, winning 4-6 4-6 6-3 6-2 6-3 after being two sets down in three hours and 31 minutes. Djere powered on after dropping the first two sets, and whilst he hit 12 more unforced errors (56-44), hit a whopping 65 winners to 31 in the impressive performance. The other five-set results were Spaniard Alejandro Davidovich Fokina‘s win over Dutch qualifider Botic Van de Zandschulp, 6-4 6-4 5-7 2-6 6-4 to steady in the fifth to avoid a complete disaster, as well as American Steve Johnson‘s three-hour and 49-minute 6-4 6-7 7-6 3-6 6-3 victory over Brazilian Thiago Monteiro to advance to the third round. Argentinian Federico Delbonis also won in an epic against Spaniard Pablo Andujar, 4-6 6-1 3-6 6-3 6-3.

In more simple results, second seed Daniil Medvedev, 12th seed Pablo Carreno Busta and 32nd seed Reilly Opelka advanced through to the third round after dropping a set but posting four-set wins. It was much easier going for fifth seed Stefanos Tsitsipas, sixth seed Alexander Zverev – who was pushed all the way in the first round – 15th seed Casper Ruud, 27th seed Fabio Fognini and 31st seed John Isner who claimed Round of 64 wins in straight sets. Of the other unseeded remaining clash, American Marcos Giron knocked off Argentinian Guido Pella 7-6 6-1 6-7 6-4.

ROLAND GARROS ROUND OF 64 RESULTS:

[2] Daniil Medvedev (RUS) defeated Tommy Paul (USA) 3-6 6-1 6-4 6-3
[5] Stefanos Tsitsipas (GRE) defeated Pedro Martinez (ESP) 6-3 6-4 6-3
[6] Alexander Zverev (GER) defeated [Q] Roman Safiullin (RUS) 7-6 6-3 7-6
[Q] Henri Laaksonen (SUI) defeated [11] Roberto Bautista Agut (ESP) 6-3 2-6 6-3 6-2
[12] Pablo Carreno Busta (ESP) defeated [WC] Enzo Coacaud (FRA) 2-6 6-3 6-4 6-4
[15] Casper Ruud (NOR) defeated [PR] Kamil Majchrzak (POL) 6-3 6-2 6-4
[22] Cristian Garin (CHI) defeated [Q] Mackenzie McDonald (USA) 4-6 4-6 7-6 6-3 8-6
Kei Nishikori (JPN) defeated [23] Karen Khachanov (RUS) 4-6 6-2 2-6 6-4 6-4
[27] Fabio Fognini (ITA) defeated Marton Fucsovics (HUN) 7-6 6-1 6-2
[31] John Isner (USA) defeated Filip Krajinovic (SRB) 7-6 6-1 6-2
[32] Reilly Opelka (USA) defeated Jaume Munar (ESP) 6-3 6-2 3-6 7-5
Alejandro Davidovich Fokina (ESP) defeated [Q] Botic Van de Zandschulp (NED) 6-4 6-4 5-7 2-6 6-4
Federico Delbonis (ARG) defeated Pablo Andujar (ESP) 4-6 6-1 3-6 6-3 6-2
Laslo Djere (SRB) defeated Miomir Kecmanovic (SRB) 4-6 4-6 6-3 6-2 6-3
Marcos Giron (USA) defeated Guido Pella (ARG) 7-6 6-1 6-7 6-4
Steve Johnson (USA) defeated Thiago Monteiro (BRA) 6-3 6-7 7-6 3-6 6-3

Picture credit: ATP Tour via Twitter

ATP Tour wrap: Thiem exits first round of Roland Garros

THE opening day of Roland Garros proceedings saw plenty of significant results, although none more so than the ousting of fourth seed Austrian Dominic Thiem. Thiem looked well on his way to booking a second round entry with a two sets to love lead, before dropping the remaining sets to be taken down in five sets. The Austrian was the only Grand Slam winner in his favourable half of the draw, ultimately making him a shoe-in for making the latter rounds, however Thiem’s poor recent form continues to plague him as Pablo Andujar took full advantage to claim a huge opening round win.

“It is very special to win here in Roland-Garros, in Court Philippe-Chatrier. Such an emotional win for me, being two sets to love down against an amazing player,” Andujar said.

“In every step I took since I came back after my injury, I really tried to enjoy everything, I really tried to give everything.

“I remember 2015 was a great year for me (third round at Roland Garros).” Maybe I have less legs and I play better tennis. “But I think that’s the most important part of it, it’s the one I’m enjoying the most.”

Andujar claimed the 4-6 5-7 6-3 6-4 6-4 victory in just under four and a half minutes, hitting 46 winners for 47 unforced errors throughout the marathon encounter. While Thiem hit 20 more winners, he also piled on 14 more unforced errors. Thiem was frustrated by his performance, stating that despite practicing well for the past few months, that form is not showing on court.

“All the shots are missing power. They are not accurate enough. I’m not moving well enough, so everything in my game has some per cents missing,” Thiem said post-match.

“I don’t really know why, because since I stepped back on court it’s already been two months, and I was really practising well, super intense as well.”

While Thiem was the highest seed to fall on the opening day, he was by no means the only one, with 16th seed Grigor Dimitrov forced to retire midway through his clash with American Marcos Giron, while 19th seed Pole Hubert Hurkacz and 25th seed Brit Daniel Evans also fell, with the former downed in five by qualifier Botic Van de Zandschulp and the latter succumbing to Serbian Miomir Kecmanovic.

It was a successful day for the remaining seven seeds, as top 15 talents Stefanos TsitsipasAlexander ZverevRoberto Bautista Agut and Pablo Carreno Busta all reigned supreme, joined by the likes of Cristian GarinKaren Khachanov and Fabio Fognini in the second round.

A fourth Spaniard in Alejandro Davidovich Fokina made his way to the second round, as did a smattering of qualifiers in Henri LaaksonenMackenzie McDonald and Roman Safiullin, and wildcard Frenchman Enzo Couacaud. The remaining winners of the day included former top five talent Kei Nishikori and Argentinian Guido Pella, while both Laslo Djere and Marton Fucsovics took care of Frenchman to head into the second round.

ROLAND GARROS ROUND OF 128 RESULTS:

Pablo Andujar (ESP) defeated [4] Dominic Thiem (AUT) 4-6 5-7 6-3 6-4 6-4
[5] Stefanos Tsitsipas (GRE) defeated Jeremy Chardy (FRA) 7-6 6-3 6-1
[6] Alexander Zverev (GER) defeated [Q] Oscar Otte (GER) 3-6 3-6 6-2 6-3 6-0
[11] Roberto Bautista Agut (ESP) defeated [Q] Mario Vilella Martinez (ESP) 6-4 6-4 6-2
[12] Pablo Carreno Busta (ESP) defeated Norbert Gombos (SVK) 6-3 6-4 6-3
Marcos Giron (USA) defeated [16] Grigor Dimitrov (BUL) 2-6 4-6 7-5 3-0 RET
[Q] Botic Van de Zandschulp (NED) defeated [19] Hubert Hurkacz (POL) 6-7 6-7 6-2 6-2 6-4
[22] Cristian Garin (CHI) defeated Juan Ignacio Londero (ARG) 3-6 6-4 7-6 6-2
[23] Karen Khachanov (RUS) defeated Jiri Vesely (CZE) 6-1 6-2 6-3
Miomir Kecmanovic (SRB) defeated [25] Daniel Evans (GBR) 1-6 6-3 6-3 6-4
[27] Fabio Fognini (ITA) defeated [WC] Gregoire Barrere (FRA) 6-4 6-1 6-4
[WC] Enzo Couacaud (FRA) defeated Egor Gerasimov (BLR) 7-6 6-4 6-3
Alejandro Davidovich Fokina (ESP) defeated Mikhail Kukushkin (KAZ) 6-4 6-4 6-3
Laslo Djere (SRB) defeated Corentin Moutet (FRA) 6-3 6-7 7-6 7-5
Marton Fucsovics (HUN) defeated Gilles Simon (FRA) 6-4 6-1 7-6
[Q] Henri Laaksonen (SUI) defeated Yannick Hanfmann (GER) 6-1 6-3 4-6 6-2
[Q] Mackenzie McDonald (USA) defeated Emil Ruusuvuori (FIN) 4-6 6-3 7-6 6-3
Kei Nishikori (JPN) defeated [Q] Alessandro Giannessi (ITA) 6-4 6-7 6-3 4-6 6-4
Guido Pella (ARG) defeated [Q] Daniel Elahi Galan (COL) 6-3 7-6 7-5
[Q] Roman Safiullin (RUS) defeated [Q] Carlos Taberner (ESP) 7-6 1-6 6-0 6-2

Picture credit: Getty Images

ATP Tour wrap: Thiem falls as Rafa is challenged during Round of 16

ROME saw another seemingly predictable day as the Internazionali BNL d’Italia continues to roll on, with plenty of top talent taking to the clay for the Round of 16. Whilst three seeds fell, two went down to higher ranked opposition in tough clashes as Dominic Thiem was the biggest name to drop to an unseeded opposition.

Thiem’s three hour and 24-minute clash with Lorenzo Sonego had everything, as the fourth seed Austrian dropped the first set before recovering to take momentum at the perfect moment during the second. But whatever extra gear Thiem had found, Sonego brought in the third to eventually claim the 6-4 6-7(5) 7-6(5) victory.

“It’s amazing, an unbelievably emotional moment for me because I’m in Rome, in my Italy with fans for two sets,” Sonego said in his on-court interview. “I’m so happy for this victory, for this match. Thiem is with Nadal the best player on clay.”

While Thiem served for the match during the third set, the Italian built on the home crowd support throughout the first two – prior to a 22-minute delay to usher out the crowd due to a COVID-issued curfew – to snatch the victory, winning 51 per cent of points and hitting nine aces in the process.

“It’s not easy to play two sets with fans and one more set with no fans,” Sonego said. “But I had my team and they supported me always. I’m happy.”

Top two seeds Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal proceeded through to the next round, although the king of clay had a sloppy start and shaky third set that almost saw Canadian 13th seed Denis Shapovalov take out an upset.

“[It] is an important victory for me [to] be able to win matches like today, three hours and 27 [minutes], in the Barcelona final three hours and 38 [minutes], long matches,” said Nadal. “To be able to win these kinds of matches against young players gives me confidence with my body. It’s true that I have to do things better for tomorrow. But the main thing today for me is [to] recover physically.”

Shapovalov led 4-0 in the first and 3-0 in the second, before Nadal was able to switch up a gear to eventually claim the 3-6 6-4 7-6 victory.

“[This] has been a positive victory for me,” Nadal said. “I [fought] until the end a lot to be in quarter-finals. Tomorrow is a chance to play a quarter-final match. I hope to be ready to compete well.”

“These matches, you have nothing to lose… I also think I have what it takes to beat these guys,” Shapovalov later reflected. “It’s not a surprise to me. It’s just a tough loss. Of course, it’s not the first time Rafa’s done this. I’m not the first person to lose with match points. For sure, he does well with the pressure in those moments.

“Just something I have to take back and just make a couple changes. But I’m definitely happy with where my game’s at, relatively speaking, against the greatest player on this surface.”

Djokovic had it much easier over qualifier Alejandro Davidovich Fokina, sweeping the Spaniard in 70 minutes. Davidovich Fokina’s compatriot in Roberto Bautista Agut also struggled against higher ranked opposition, as the 10th seed fell 6-4 6-4 to seventh seed Russian Andrey Rublev.

In other games, fifth and sixth seeds Stefanos Tsitsipas and Alexander Zverev both continued their winning run in Rome, with the former defeating ninth seed Matteo Berrettini in front of his home crowd, and the latter tested by returning former champion Kei Nishikori before reigning supreme. The final two to round out the quarter finals are Argentinian Federico Delbonis – the only remaining qualifier left in the draw – and unseeded American, Reilly Opelka.

INTERNAZIONALI BNL D’ITALIA ROUND OF 16 RESULTS:

[1] Novak Djokovic (SRB) defeated [Q] Alejandro Davidovich Fokina (ESP) 6-2 6-1
[2] Rafael Nadal (ESP) defeated [13] Denis Shapovalov (CAN) 3-6 6-4 7-6
Lorenzo Sonego (ITA) defeated [4] Dominic Thiem (AUT) 6-4 6-7 7-6
[5] Stefanos Tsitsipas (GRE) defeated [9] Matteo Berrettini (ITA) 7-6 6-2
[6] Alexander Zverev (GER) defeated Kei Nishikori (JPN) 4-6 6-3 6-4
[7] Andrey Rublev (RUS) defeated [10] Roberto Bautista Agut (ESP) 6-4 6-4
[Q] Federico Delbonis (ARG) defeated Felix Auger-Aliassime (CAN) 7-6 6-1
Reilly Opelka (USA) defeated Aslan Karatsev (RUS) 7-6 6-4

Picture credit: Corinne Dubreuil/ATP Tour

ATP Tour wrap: Djoker relishes in rain as delays wreak havoc on draw

RAIN impacted the latest day’s play at the Internazionali BNL d’Italia, with just four of the Round of 32 matches completed, and seven Round of 64 matches wrapped up before the tournament organisers had to pull the pin on the day’s play. The only seed to book his spot through to the Round of 16 was world number one Novak Djokovic who took care of unseeded American Taylor Fritz in straight sets, 6-4 7-6.

Djokovic found the going a little simpler than his Australian Open bout with the rising United States representative, having gone to five sets back then, and only needing the straight sets on clay. He won 7-5 in the second set tiebreaker to grab the victory. Play was stopped at 5-5 in the second set due to rain, but the players ended up carrying on to complete the match before the event had to close.

“It was a very strange match with strange conditions. Obviously playing under the rain non-stop for almost two full sets, it is challenging for both me and him,” Djokovic said post-match. “I thought that I had an advantage there because the conditions were slower which allows me to return his serves, because he’s got really big serves.”

After breaking Fritz on his first opportunity of both sets, Djokovic was able to maintain control for the majority of the sets, but failed to serve out the match at 5-4 with Fritz breaking him and eventually forcing the Serbian star into a tiebreaker. The organisers temporarily called off the match – after hopes Djokovic would just serve out the game and end it – before the players returned to court three hours later.

“I kind of kept the match under my control for most part of the two sets, then served for the match; very sloppy service game,” Djokovic said. “He played well, made a great passing shot to come back. I was stressed out in the end obviously, but I think it was the right call to stop the match.”

In other Round of 32 results that were completed, eighth seed Diego Schwartzman was knocked out in sensational fashion, bowing out to Canadian Felix Auger-Aliassime. The North American young gun won 6-1 6-3 against the clay courter to advance through to the third round, whilst Kei Nishikori did not even need to step out on court as the former Top 5 player enjoyed a walkover after 11th seed Pablo Carreno Busta pulled out of the tournament. Meanwhile United States’ Reilly Opelka won 6-4 6-4 over rising Italian young gun Lorenzo Musetti to also advance.

Across the Round of 64 results, the major winners were the top ranked Italian in Matteo Berrettini hoping to go one better than he did in Madrid, fighting past Nikoloz Basilashvili in three sets. Meanwhile 10th seed Roberto Bautista Agut and 13th seed Denis Shapovalov both won in straight sets against qualifiers. Gael Monfils and Grigor Dimitrov were not so lucky, going down to Italian Lorenzo Sonego and Spanish qualifier Alejandro Davidovich Fokina in the first round. In other results, John Millman took care of Serbian Dusan Lajovic, and Brit qualifier Cameron Norrie was too good for fellow qualifier, Spaniard Roberto Carballes Baena.

ROME MASTERS 1000 ROUND OF 32 RESULTS:

[1] Novak Djokovic (SRB) defeated Taylor Fritz (USA) 6-3 7-6
Felix Auger-Aliassime (CAN) defeated [8] Diego Schwartzman (ARG) 6-1 6-3
Kei Nishikori (JPN) defeated [11] Pablo Carreno Busta (ESP) W/0
Reilly Opelka (USA) defeated [WC] Lorenzo Musetti (ITA) 6-4 6-4

ROME MASTERS 1000 ROUND OF 64 RESULTS:

[9] Matteo Berrettini (ITA) defeated Nikoloz Basilashvili (GEO) 4-6 6-2 6-4
[10] Roberto Bautista Agut (ESP) defeated [Q] Tommy Paul (USA) 6-3 6-4
[13] Denis Shapovalov (CAN) defeated [Q] Kamil Majchrzak (POL) 6-1 6-3
Lorenzo Sonego (ITA) defeated [14] Gael Monfils (FRA) 6-4 5-7 6-4
[Q] Alejandro Davidovich Fokina (ESP) defeated [16] Grigor Dimitrov (BUL) 6-4 7-6
John Millman (AUS) defeated Dusan Lajovic (SRB) 6-3 6-4
[Q] Cameron Norrie (GBR) defeated [Q] Roberto Carballes Baena (ESP) 6-4 6-4

Picture: ATP Tour

ATP Tour wrap: Italians compete well on Rome Day 2

IT was a successful day of action for home nation hopefuls on Day 2 of proceedings at the ATP 1000 Internazionali BNL d’Italia Masters Open in Rome, as four Italian talents – including three wildcards – reigned supreme and one claimed victory over the only seed of the day.

It was 19-year-old Lorenzo Musetti who claimed a big scalp over top 20 Polish talent Hubert Hurkacz, taking out the first set with ease before the 15th seed was forced to retire early in the second.

“It’s always incredible playing here in Rome,” Musetti said. “It’s a fantastic site here in Foro Italico. Even without a crowd, tonight was really fun.”

Musetti hit 13 winners to two unforced errors in a clean first set before Hurkacz was forced to stop play. He is joined by fellow teen Jannik Sinner and other compatriots Gianluca Mager and Stefano Travaglia in the second round, while Fabio Fognini fell to a resurgent Kei Nishikori in straight sets. Mager scalped top-ranked Australian Alex De Minaur while both Sinner and Travaglia earned bragging rights over Frenchmen Ugo Humbert and Benoit Paire, as the remaining French talent on the day in Adrian Mannarino was outclassed by an unlikely victor in qualifying Bolivian Hugo Dellien who picked up his first ATP Tour level win for the year in the process.

A couple of lucky losers in Yoshihito Nishioka and Aljan Bedene could not maintain their luck when they were both disposed of in speedy encounters, falling to Hungarian Marton Fucsovics and German Jan-Lennard Struff in 56 minutes and 66 minutes, respectively. Taylor Fritz and Aslan Karastev executed excellent straight sets victories and will need to bring that form into their next respective encounters, setting up huge challenges in the second round with matchups set against Novak Djokovic and Daniil Medvedev. Sinner is dealt with the tough draw of clay champion, Rafael Nadal next up.

“I was really frustrated to give away the early break,” Fritz said following his victory over Brit, Daniel Evans. “He played two pretty good points, then I missed two forehands. I thought I was hitting the ball really well right from the beginning. I just told myself not to get too upset about it, as I was playing well. Dan has been playing well lately, beating Novak in Monte-Carlo, so it’s great to get a strong win. I am going to try my best [against Djokovic].”

“We (Djokovic) played twice on clay in 2018, in Monte-Carlo and Madrid,” Fritz explained. “I got beaten pretty bad those two times. I feel better prepared to play him now, after the match in Australia.”

In other games, Argentinian qualifier Federico Delbonis, Croatian Marin Cilic and Chilean Cristian Garin all claimed wins on their opening day.

INTERNAZIONALI BNL D’ITALIA ROUND OF 64 RESULTS: 

[WC] Lorenzo Musetti (ITA) defeated [15] Hubert Hurkacz (POL) 6-4 2-0 RET
Marin Cilic (CRO) defeated Alexander Bublik (KAZ) 4-6 6-2 6-3
[Q] Federico Delbonis (ARG) defeated Karen Khachanov (RUS) 3-6 6-4 6-0
[Q] Hugo Dellien (BOL) defeated Adrian Mannarino (FRA) 2-6 7-5 6-2
Taylor Fritz (USA) defeated Daniel Evans (GBR) 6-3 6-2
Marton Fucsovics (HUN) defeated [LL] Yoshihito Nishioka (JPN) 6-0 6-2
Cristian Garin (CHI) defeated Lloyd Harris (RSA) 7-5 6-2
Aslan Karatsev (RUS) defeated Miomir Kecmanovic (SRB) 7-6 6-4
[WC] Gianluca Mager (ITA) defeated Alex De Minaur (AUS) 6-4 6-3
Kei Nishikori (JPN) defeated Fabio Fognini (ITA) 6-3 6-4
Jannik Sinner (ITA) defeated Ugo Humbert (FRA) 6-2 6-4
Jan Lennard-Struff (GER) defeated [LL] Aljaz Bedene (SLO) 6-3 6-1
[WC] Stefano Travaglia (ITA) defeated Benoit Paire (FRA) 6-4 6-3

Picture credit: Corinne Dubreuil/ATP Tour

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