Tag: lloyd harris

ATP Tour wrap: Thiem makes winning return

THE third day of the Madrid Open saw three seeds win as Dominic Thiem made his return to the court, while a couple of players continued impressive runs on the clay.

A close to two-month break from the competitive aspect of the game was not enough to sway Dominic Thiem from a dominant 6-1 6-3 defeat of qualifier Marcos Giron, flying out of the blocks and citing his extended break, stretching from mid-March, for the form he brought to the court to win in 57 minutes flat.

“For my game, I need 100 per cent intensity and 100 per cent energy. I’m not the guy who can serve through a match or who can play with a little bit of intensity and still win. I’m just not that type of guy,” Thiem said.

“[It was] better to come back when it’s possible again to play with that 100 per cent in every aspect of my game.”

Thiem hit five aces and won off a whopping 81 per cent of his first serve points – off an 80 per cent clip – in a virtually flawless effort. The Austrian also converted four break points and won 47 per cent of points on return in a seamless performance. He will take on unseeded Alex De Minaur in the Round of 16, following the Australian’s default victory 6-2 3-0 over South African, Lloyd Harris, who retired midway through the second set.

Thiem is also joined in the third round by sixth and eighth seeds Andrey Rublev and Matteo Berrettini, who both claimed wins over unseeded opposition. Berrettini disposed of compatriot Fabio Fognini with relative ease in a 6-3 6-4, 81-minute clash, and while Fognini was by no means wasteful with the ball, he just could not compete with Berrettini’s 85 per cent winning rate off his first serve off a 74 per cent clip. Fognini was well within his chances but failed to capitalise off his second serve at just a 37 per cent winning rate, compared to Berrettini’s 64 per cent.

Rublev did not have it quite as easy in his Madrid debut and third encounter with American Tommy Paul, dropping the first set tiebreaker 7-6(5) before working his way back into it to claim the 6-7 6-3 6-4 victory in two hours and 19 minutes. While Paul hit seven aces and impressed on serve, he was inefficient on return as Rublev won 70 per cent of his first serve points and saved five of eight break points, converting five in the process.

“It’s important to win when you’re not [playing] your [best] game and things are not going well,” Rublev said post-match. “So it’s really important to win this match to have more confidence. I’m happy that I turned it around.”

The remaining winner of the day was Alexander Bublik, as the Kazakh upset 11th seed Denis Shapovalov. He required two hours and 20 minutes to get past the Canadian, eventually claiming the 6-4 6-7 6-4 victory credit to his ability to win off Shapovalov’s 40 unforced errors, including a whopping 14 double faults for six aces. Comparatively, Bublik hit 10 aces and seven double faults – only marginally better, but making up the difference to win 66 per cent of his service points and take out the win.

MUTUA MADRID OPEN ROUND OF 32 RESULTS: 

[3] Dominic Thiem (AUT) defeated [Q] Marcos Giron (USA) 6-1 6-3
[6] Andrey Rublev (RUS) defeated Tommy Paul (USA) 6-7-6-3 6-4
[8] Matteo Berrettini (ITA) defeated Fabio Fognini (ITA) 6-3 6-4
Alexander Bublik (KAZ) defeated [11] Denis Shapovalov (CAN) 6-4 6-7 6-4
Alex De Minaur (AUS) defeated Lloyd Harris (RSA) 6-2 3-0 RET

Picture credit: Corinne Dubreuil/ATP

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: 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 Miami Open 1000: Popyrin and Duckworth book second round spots

THE first matches of the Miami Open 1000 took place overnight, with the winners advancing through to the second round of the major tournament. Whilst no seeds are in action in the Round of 128, there were still plenty of talented up-and-comers out on the hard courts.

Rising Australian Alexei Popyrin continued his good form coming off a maiden title a few weeks back to post a straight sets win over Spaniard Feliciano Lopez, 6-4 7-6. He made it to the second round with fellow Aussie James Duckworth, with a 6-2 4-6 6-4 win against German qualifier Mischa Zverev. France also had a couple of representatives through to the next round with wildcard Hugo Gaston, and Pierre-Hugues Herbert both advancing through to the Round of 64.

“It was a very difficult match,” Popyrin said post-match. “Feli is a very tough player. He has an unbelievable serve, so when I had my chances to break I was putting all of my focus on the break points. There was no rhythm in the match, so not many rallies, but I am happy with the way I was mentally. There were a couple of shaky moments here and there, but I hung in to win.”

The news was a mixed bag for the American hopefuls, with three winners and three losers on day one of the main draw, and one to come at the time of publishing. Marcos Giron knocked off compatriot Tommy Paul in straight sets 7-6 6-4 in the all-United States battle, whilst qualifiers Mackenzie McDonald and Ernesto Escobedo both advanced, against Italian qualifier Paolo Lorenzi and Canadian veteran Vasek Pospisil respectively. Meanwhile German Yannick Hanfmann got the better of Steve Johnson, whilst Chinese Taipei’s Yen-Hsun Lu defeated Sam Querrey, both in straight sets.

In other results, Cameron Norrie had to fight off a determined Yoshihito Nishioka in three sets, 6-1 3-6 7-5, while Serbian Laslo Djere also needed the full three sets to defeat Czech Jiri Vesely, 6-3 5-7 6-1. Other winners on day one of the main draw were Swede Mikael Ymer, Lithuanian Ricardas Berankis, South African Lloyd Harris and Emil Ruusuvuori.

At the time of publishing, Frances Tiafoe and Stefano Travaglia were still on court deciding their first round match.

MIAMI OPEN 1000 ROUND OF 128 RESULTS:

[PR] Yen-Hsun Lu (TAI) defeated Sam Querrey (USA) 6-3 6-4
Yannick Hanfmann (GER) defeated Steve Johnson (USA) 7-5 6-2
Alexei Popyrin (AUS) defeated Feliciano Lopez (ESP) 6-4 7-6
Marcos Giron (USA) defeated Tommy Paul (USA) 7-6 6-4
Cameron Norrie (GBR) defeated Yoshihito Nishioka (JPB) 6-1 3-6 7-5
[WC] Hugo Gaston (FRA) defeated Dominik Koepfer (GER) 6-1 6-4
Pierre-Hugues Herbert (FRA) defeated Pedro Sousa (POR) 6-1 6-3
Mikael Ymer (SWE) defeated [Q] Alejandro Tabilo (CHI) 6-3 6-1
[Q] Ernesto Escobedo (USA) defeated [Q] Paolo Lorenzi (ITA) 6-3 6-2
James Duckworth (AUS) defeated [Q] Mischa Zverev (GER) 6-2 4-6 6-4
[Q] Mackenzie McDonald (USA) defeated Vasek Pospisil (CAN) 6-3 4-6 6-3
Ricardas Berankis (LTU) defeated [LL] Federico Gaio (ITA) 7-6 6-2
Lloyd Harris (RSA) defeated [Q] Emilio Nava (USA) 6-4 7-6
Laslo Djere (SRB) defeated Jiri Vesely (CZE) 6-3 5-7 6-1
Emil Ruusuvuori (FIN) defeated [WC] Carlos Alcaraz (ESP) 6-4 2-6 7-5

Frances Tiafoe (USA) vs Stefano Travaglia (ITA)

Picture credit: ATP Tour

ATP Tour wrap: Karatsev wins maiden title; top two seeds book Acapulco final

A MAIDEN title-winner was crowned in Dubai with victory over a qualifier in the final, as the top two seeds in Acapulco made their way through to the final.

Russian wildcard Aslan Karatsev‘s remarkable start to 2021 has continued with the Australian Open semi-finalist claiming his maiden ATP Tour title with victory in the final of the Dubai Tennis Championships. The 27-year-old defeated South African qualifier Lloyd Harris in straight sets 6-3 6-2, to cap off a remarkable week which included four wins against seeds, including second seed Andrey Rublev, and Next Gen Finals past winner Jannik Sinner. Unlike those two matches, Karatsev had this win a little easier, getting up in just 75 minutes.

“I am super happy. It was a tight match. [I was] really nervous,” Karatsev said post-match. “I want to congratulate my opponent for the final [run]. He did a great week… I am happy that I won.”

Karatsev weathered Harris’ eight aces to produce three of his own, whilst saving both break points and breaking his South African opponent three times from eight chances. He controlled play off his first serve, with a whopping 83 per cent success rate off a 62 per cent clip, also winning 50 per cent of his second serve points, compared to Harris’ two of 12. With 27 winners to his name, Karatsev added his name to the history books as a first time winner, the fourth to do so in 2021 in what is really changing of the guard, and also the third Russian to win a title.

“You never know when [success] is coming,” Karatsev said. “I did a good job with my team, with my coach and it has happened now.

“I am really happy with my performance and [I am] really happy with my game. “At the beginning of the year, [I was happy] to play an Australian Open semi-final [and] to show a great level. “After the Australian Open, I kept going, practising hard… I arrived here with more belief than in Doha. “I showed a fantastic week and a good game.”

The title moves Karatsev into world number 27, a remarkable bolt up the order since entering the year at 114th. He will now head to Miami where he will test his hand at his maiden ATP 1000 tournament in a 96-player field.

DUBAI TENNIS CHAMPIONSHIPS FINAL RESULT:

[WC] Aslan Karatsev (RUS) defeated [Q] Lloyd Harris (RSA) 6-3 6-2

 

Despite a number of upsets over the course of the tournament, the two top ranked players in Acapulco reached the Abierto Mexicano final. Greek star Stefanos Tsitsipas and German Alexander Zverev both booked their spots in the decider with straight sets wins over their lower ranked opponents to advance through to tonights’ final.

Tsitsipas won 6-1 6-3 over Italian teenager Lorenzo Musetti in one hour and 19 minutes, only serving the two aces, but winning 22 of 26 first serve points, then capitalising with more than half of his second serve points (52 per cent), compared to Musetti’s 56 and 41 per cent. The Greek top seed also did not face a break point, and broke four times from eight chances against the 19-year-old during the dominant win.

“Matches like this are really important and I’m happy to be playing well,” Tsitsipas said post-match. “Acapulco has been treating me really well and the fans have been giving me love and support. We’ll definitely see a lot from Lorenzo in the future, he has a wonderful one-handed backhand and creates lots of opportunities. He showed his level this week.”

In the other semi-final, Zverev was too good for a determined Dominik Koepfer, with the all-German battle lasting two hours and nine minutes before Zverev got up, 6-4 7-6, including a 7-5 second set tiebreaker. The second seed only served the three aces – the same as Koepfer, but had seven less double faults (1-8), whilst converting 71 per cent of his first serve points and 54 per cent of his second serve points. Koepfer was solid with 59 and 53 per cent respectively, but could only break Zverev twice, whilst the second seed broke his lower ranked compatriot three times during the two-hour and nine-minute match.

“He’s (Koepfer) a very tough player to play right now. He won some incredible matches,” Zverev said post-match. “Beating [Milos] Raonic on a hard court the way that he did is very tough. I think he showed that he is somebody who can play extremely well on this level. Today, honestly, I thought I played a not bad match and he gave me a tough time.”

Tsitsipas holds a 5-1 record over Zverev, and in fact has won the last five battles – including three straight-set wins over the German – when they have faced off. Zverev will be hoping to wind back to the clock to 2018 when he last defeated Tsitsipas in order to cause an upset in the final.

“I am really looking forward to the final,” Tsitsipas said. “Sascha is someone I’ve played against in the past and it’s never easy. We’re both really hungry and we’re both very competitive.”

ABIERTO MEXICANO SEMI-FINALS RESULTS:

[1] Stefanos Tsitsipas (GRE) defeated [Q] Lorenzo Musetti (ITA) 6-1 6-3
[2] Alexander Zverev (GER) defeated Dominik Koepfer (GER) 6-4 7-6

 

Picture credit: Francois Nel/Getty Images

ATP Tour wrap: Karatsev and Harris stun seeds for Dubai final as Musetti reaches Acapulco semis

STUNNING upsets in both Dubai and Acapulco have set up some huge semis and quarter finals respectively, with two of the top three ranked players in Dubai out in penultimate stage of the tournament.

Russian wildcard Aslan Karatsev‘s season just keeps getting better and better with the 27-year-old excitement machine stunning highly ranked compatriot Andrey Rublev, by ending his 23-game winning streak at ATP 500 events in Dubai overnight. Karatsev won 6-2 4-6 6-4 in the semi-final clash to move into his first ever ATP 500 final on debut in the tournament. By defeating the second seed, Karatsev won against a fourth straight seed in the tournament, showing he can match it with anyone on any given day and makes you wonder how he could have he could have only won three ATP Tour matches prior to 2021.

Prior to the Australian Open, Karatsev was ranked 114th in the world with a 3-10 ATP Tour record, but three tournaments later and he is up to 14-12 and potentially on the verge of his maiden ATP title. He reached the final in two hours and 12 minutes on court against Rublev, serving seven aces to five, and winning 78 per cent of his first serve points. He also created a whopping 16 break point opportunities – taking four of them, to Rublev’s two of our, defeating the Russian who had met every challenge set of him at ATP 500 events in the past 12 months. The Russian wildcard hit a whopping 41 winners during the match to be the first wildcard player through to the final in 24 years.

“It was a really tight match [against a] tough opponent,” Karatsev said post-match. “It was an unbelievable performance [from Andrey]. He didn’t lose a match at an ATP 500 in [one year]. Everything was decided in one or two points, I feel happy.”

Karatsev now faces South African qualifier Lloyd Harris who has had a stunning tournament himself, most recently knocking off third seed Denis Shapovalov in three epic sets, 6-7 6-4 7-6 to advance through to the final. The last tiebreaker went to 8-6 and could have gone either way, but the big-serving South African got it done in two hoursand 41 minutes. He served 12 aces to eight, and won 80 and 53 per cent of his first and second serve points compared to Shapovalov’s 75 and 47 per cent.

Much like Karatsev, Harris is also yet to claim an ATP Tour title, with the 24-year-old in his maiden final. The winner of the match will join Daniel Evans, Alexei Popyrin and Juan Manuel Cerundolo as first-time winners in 2021. A win to Karatsev would see him reach the Top 30 in a remarkable start to the year, while Harris would enter the Top 50.

DUBAI TENNIS CHAMPIONSHIPS SEMI-FINALS RESULTS:

[WC] Aslan Karatsev (RUS) defeated [2] Andrey Rublev (RUS) 6-2 4-6 6-4
[Q] Lloyd Harris (RSA) defeated [3] Denis Shapovalov (CAN) 6-7 6-4 7-6

 

Italian teenager Lorenzo Musetti has booked his spot in the Abierto Mexicano ATP 500 event after an impressive win over fifth seed Grigor Dimitrov. The 19-year-old defeated the Bulgarian 6-4 7-6, making his way into the final four in two hours and nine minutes. There was not much between the players, with Musetti breaking three times to two, but creating 14 break point opportunities to really put pressure on his more experienced opponent. In the end it just came down to crucial moments, with Dimitrov’s inconsistency on serve, and Musetti’s determination that played a role in the result.

“It’s incredible really. I didn’t expect this,” Musetti said post-match. “Today I think I played the best match in my life. Grigor is an incredible opponent, a great fighter. “Even today, I had a lot of match points and was really difficult for my coach.”

In other results, the top two seeds advanced through to the semis, with Stefanos Tsitsipas defeated seventh seed Felix Auger-Aliassime in three sets, 7-5 4-6 6-3. The Greek number one seed needed two hours and three minutes to shake off the young Canadian, winning 76 per cent of his first serve points off a 70 per cent clip, also breaking three times to two throughout the match. There was not much between the players, and in the end, it was the final set break that helped the tournament favourite secure his spot.

For second seed Alexander Zverev, it was much easier, walking through to the semi-finals after eighth seed Norwegian Casper Ruud pulled out. Zverev will be joined by compatriot Dominik Koepfer in the final four, after the latter defeated Great Britain’s Cameron Norrie in straight sets, 7-5 6-4 to advance through. The Germans will now face off to see which one is the last one standing, while Tsitsipas and Musetti will challenge each other in the second semi-final of the day.

ABIERTO MEXICANO QUARTER FINALS RESULTS:

[1] Stefanos Tsitsipas (GRE) defeated [7] Felix Auger-Aliassime (CAN) 7-5 4-6 6-3
[2] Alexander Zverev (GER) defeated [8] Casper Ruud (NOR) W/O
[Q] Lorenzo Musetti (ITA) defeated [5] Grigor Dimitrov (BUL) 6-4 7-6
Dominik Koepfer (GER) defeated Cameron Norrie (GBR) 7-5 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: Horror day for Aussies in Dubai

IT was a day to forget for Australian representatives in the 2021 Dubai Tennis Championships, as all four of the nation’s competitors bowed out of the ATP 500 event. Top hope Alex de Minaur lost to Frenchman Jeremy Chardy in the only Round of 32 match of the day, while John Millman, Christopher O’Connell and Jordan Thompson also departed, losing to a trio of qualifiers in a disappointing result for the nation.

Chardy proved too good for de Minaur in a surprise come-from-behind win over the ninth seed, posting a 2-6 6-3 6-4 victory in an hour and 44 minutes. The Australian had two more aces (7-5) and one less double fault (2-3), but Chardy won the same amount of break points (two) as de Minaur, and both came at crucial moments in the second and third sets respectively. The players were so even across the board, Chardy only won four more points than the Australian for the entirety of the match (81-77).

Fellow Frenchman Richard Gasquet achieved some personal history at the event, moving up to sixth on the most career match wins from active players with his 550th triumph at the event. If Gasquet can make a quarter final, then the 34-year-old will surpass Spaniard Fernando Verdasco in fifth on that table, behind the ‘Big Four’ of Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray. Gasquet achieved the feat courtesy of a straightforward 6-4 6-2 triumph over Italian Marco Cecchinato.

“I am feeling great here,” Gasquet said post-match. “I know this court well. “I played well [here] last year. “It is a fast court. “I like to play on it. “It is important to serve well and it was a great match. “I started well, feeling confident and winning the first set and then I played better in the second set.”

Meanwhile the forgettable day from the Australian representatives saw Millman up first losing to Spanish qualifier Bernabe Zapata Miralles. The Spaniard won 6-4 6-4 against Millman to advance, while fellow qualifiers, Lloyd Harris and Emil Ruusuvuori toppled Christopher O’Connell and Jordan Thompson. In an all-qualifier battle, Harris got the chocolate over O’Connell courtesy of a come-from-behind 6-7 6-4 6-1 victory, with the South African getting better as the match went on. Young Finn, Ruusuvuori continued his good form of the last 12 months to win 6-3 7-6 against Thompson.

The news was not as positive for a couple of other qualifiers with Kazakhstan’s Mikhail Kukushkin and India’s Yuki Bhambri both bowing out in the first round. Germany’s Jan-Lennard Struff won against Kukushkin, powering his way to a 6-3 6-2 victory on the back of 16 aces, while Slovenian Aljaz Bedene took care of Bhambri in a more challenging match than he would have liked, coming from a set down to win 3-6 6-1 6-4.

In other results, Spaniard Alejandro Davidovich Fokina defeated Macedonian lucky loser Radu Albot in straight sets 6-4 6-4, while in the latest game, Marton Fucsovics defeated Vasek Pospisil 2-6 7-5 6-4 in a three-set thriller to round out the day.

DUBAI TENNIS CHAMPIONSHIPS ROUND OF 32 RESULTS:

Jeremy Chardy (FRA) defeated [9] Alex de Minaur (AUS) 2-6 6-3 6-4

DUBAI TENNIS CHAMPIONSHIPS ROUND OF 64 RESULTS:

[Q] Bernabe Zapata Miralles (ESP) defeated John Millman AUS) 6-4 6-4
Richard Gasquet (FRA) defeated Marco Cecchinato (ITA) 6-4 6-2
Vasek Pospisil (CAN) Marton Fucsovics (HUN)
Alejandro Davidovich Fokina (ESP) defeated [LL] Radu Albot (MCE) 6-4 6-4
[Q] Lloyd Harris (RSA) defeated [Q] Christopher O’Connell (AUS) 6-7 6-4 6-1
[Q] Emil Ruusuvuori (FIN) defeated Jordan Thompson (AUS) 6-3 7-6
Jan-Lennard Struff (GER) defaeted [Q] Mikhail Kukushkin (KAZ) 6-3 6-2
Aljaz Bedene (SLO) defeated [Q] Yuki Bhambri (IND) 3-6 6-1 6-4

 

Picture credit: ATP Tour

ATP Tour wrap: Roger returns to a win as top five seeds advance in Doha

THREE tournaments across the globe saw Round of 16 matches completed in Doha, Marseille and Santiago, including the return of a legend as we wrap up the day’s work on the ATP Tour.

Roger Federer was the man everyone was watching in Doha, as the Swiss Grand Slam winner made his successful return from injury to post a solid victory over Great Britain’s Daniel Evans. It was far from complete, only just surviving a first set tiebreaker and then dropping the second set, but Federer came away with the three set win. 7-6 3-6 7-5 in two hours and 24 minutes. He served up 13 aces and won 79 per cent of his first serve points, and showed enough to suggest he will be building in the coming weeks.

“It feels good to be back,” Federer said post-match. “I am happy to be standing here regardless of if I won or lost, but obviously winning feels better. It was a good match. Dan played a good match too. He has been a wonderful training partner as well. Over the past two weeks, we played over 20 sets and it went on [tonight].”

Federer joined fellow top five seeds through to the quarter finals in Dominic Thiem, Andrey Rublev, Denis Shapovalov and Roberto Bautista Agut who all advanced into the final eight. Thiem had the biggest fight of the lot, coming back from a set down to shake off Russian wildcard and Australian Open semi-finalist Aslan Karatsev, 6-7 6-3 6-2. Shapovalov got the better of Canadian compatriot Vasek Pospisil again 7-5 6-4, while Bautista Agut defeated Kazakhstan’s Alexander Bublik 6-4 6-3, and Rublev waltzed through to the quarter finals following opponent Richard Gasquet‘s withdrawal pre-match.

In the other results, Taylor Fritz put in the biggest upset of the day, defeating sixth seed Belgian David Goffin 6-1 5-7 7-6. The other two unseeded players to advance through were Nikoloz Basilashvili and Marton Fucsovics. Basilashvili toppled Tunisian wildcard Malek Jaziri in straight sets 6-2 6-2, while Fucsovics had to work a bit harder to shake off South African qualifier Lloyd Harris in three, 4-6 7-6 6-2.

Fritz takes on Shapovalov up first tomorrow, with Rublev and Fucsovics completing the day session at Doha. Federer and Basilashvili open the night session, with the completion of the evening being Thiem and Bautista Agut in a blockbuster head-to-head.

QATAR OPEN ROUND OF 16 RESULTS:

[1] Dominic Thiem (AUT) defeated [WC] Aslan Karatsev (RUS) 6-7 6-3 6-2
[2] Roger Federer (SUI) defeated Daniel Evans (GBR) 7-6 3-6 7-5
[3] Andrey Rublev (RUS) defeated Richard Gasquet (FRA) W/O
[4] Denis Shapovalov (CAN) defeated Vasek Pospisil (CAN) 7-5 6-4
[5] Roberto Bautista Agut (ESP) defeated Alexander Bublik (KAZ) 6-4 6-3
Taylor Fritz (USA) defeated [6] David Goffin (BEL) 6-1 5-7 7-6
Nikoloz Basilashvili (GEO) defeated [WV] Malek Jaziri (TUN) 6-2 6-2
Marton Fucsovics (HUN) defeated [Q] Lloyd Harris (RSA) 4-6 7-6 6-2

 

Six matches were completed in Marseille overnight, as the first four quarter finalists were decided, and the Round of 32 remaining two matches done and dusted. In those first round contests, Belarusian Egor Gerasimov destroyed German Yannick Hanfmann 6-2 6-0, while Great Britain’s Cameron Norrie advanced through in a tough one over French qualifier Constant Lestienne, 6-4 6-7 6-3.

The four Open 13 Provence Round of 16 matches saw all three seeds on court book their spots in the quarter finals, and it was further bad news for the home nation. While fourth seed Ugo Humbert made his way through to the final eight, it was at the expense of compatriot Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, while wildcard Hugo Gaston also fell, going down to fifth seed Jannik Sinner in straight sets. Continuing the theme of straight sets results, third seed Karen Khachanov knocked off American Mackenzie McDonald 7-6 6-4, while Australian qualifier Matthew Ebden stunned Finnish young gun Emil Ruusuvuori, 6-2 6-2.

The remaining four Round of 16 matches take place today, with Norrie challenging Frenchman Pierre-Hugues Herbert, and Gerasimov stepping up against top seed Daniil Medvedev. In the other games, two more home nation heroes enter the court, as qualifier Arthur Rinderknech will test himself against seventh seed Spaniard Alejandro Davidovich Fokina, while Lucas Pouille has an even stiffer test, up against second seed Greek Stefanos Tsitsipas.

OPEN 13 PROVENCE ROUND OF 16 RESULTS:

[3] Karen Khachanov (RUS) defeated [PR] Mackenzie McDonald (USA) 7-6 6-4
[4] Ugo Humbert (FRA) defeated Jo-Wilfried Tsonga (FRA) 6-3 6-4
[5] Jannik Sinner (ITA) defeated [WC] Hugo Gaston (FRA) 6-4 6-1
[Q] Matthew Ebden (AUS) defeated Emil Ruusuvuori (FIN) 6-2 6-2

ROUND OF 32 RESULTS:

Cameron Norrie (GBR) defeated [Q] Constant Lestienne (FRA) 6-4 6-7 6-3
Egor Gerasimov (BLR) defeated Yannick Hanfmann (GER) 6-2 6-0

 

At the time of publishing, three Round of 16 matches were completed, with two of the three seeds in action making it through to the quarter finals. Fourth seed Serbian Laslo Djere took out Portugal’s Pedro Sousa in a three set battle 5-7 7-5 6-3, while eighth seed Argentinian Federico Delbonis easily accounted for Slovenian Andrej Martin 6-0 6-3.

Fellow Argentinian Facundo Bagnis provided the upset of the day against fifth seed Frances Tiafoe, defeating the American through two tiebreakers, which were 7-3 7-2 for a final result of 7-6 7-6. The final match of the day was between second seed Frenchman Benoit Paire and Danish qualifier Holger Vitus Nodskov Rune for a spot in the quarter finals.

In tomorrow’s matches, the remaining four Round of 16 games take place. Top seed Cristian Garin takes on compatriot, Chilean wildcard Alejandro Tabilo. In other fixtures, third seed Pablo Andujar faces Colombian Daniel Elahi Galan, fellow Spaniard Roberto Carballes Baena locks horns with Argentinian wildcard and Cordoba Open winner Juan Manuel Cerundolo, while another Argentinian in seventh seed Federico Coria goes head to head with Austrian qualifier Juan Pablo Varillas.

CHILE OPEN ROUND OF 16 RESULTS:

[2] Benoit Paire (FRA) vs. [Q] Holger Vitus Nodskov Rune (DEN)
[4] Laslo Djere (SRB) defeated Pedro Sousa (POR) 5-7 7-5 6-3
Facundo Bagnis (ARG) defeated [5] Frances Tiafoe (USA) 7-6 7-6
[8] Federico Delbonis (ARG) defeated Andrej Martin (SLO) 6-0 6-3

 

Picture credit: Mohamed Farag/Getty Images