Tag: Lorenzo Sonego

ATP Tour wrap: French fall as Sinnik survives thriller to advance at Roland Garros

IT was a forgettable day for the French fans in Paris, as all six French representatives were bundled out of the 2021 Roland Garros ATP draw in the first round on day two. In a day that was largely favourable to seeds – with eight of the 10 seeds in action grabbing wins – there were still some thrilling contests, none more so than Italian young gun Jannik Sinner‘s five-set win over France’s Pierre Hugues-Herbert.

Sinner fell two sets to one down after winning the first one easily, before bouncing back to win in five sets, 6-1 4-6 6-7 7-5 6-4 to advance through to the Round of 64. The match lasted three hours and 32 minutes, as both players showed their talents at the net, with 24 per cent of the total points won there. Sinner won 61 per cent of his approach shots, whilst Herbert won 58 per cent, in a real epic battle. The Italian hit 15 less winners than his opponent (43-58), but had a whopping 26 less unforced errors (36-62) in a more conservative, but consistent performance. Herbert’s ability to control his serve (13 aces to five) was what kept him in it, but in the end, it was the mistakes that cost him and set Sinner into the next round.

Perhaps the biggest choke of the day went to American Frances Tiafoe, who was two sets to love up and in control against compatriot Steve Johnson. The more experienced kept toiling away though, and won the next three sets easily, dominating the fourth and fifth sets to win in three hours and 11 minutes, 6-7 3-6 6-4 6-2 6-1. Johnson hit 49 winners to 46 and 41 unforced errors to 47, marginally ahead in each statistical category, though breaking nine times to five was the difference in the latter stages of the match. Also needing five sets to win was American Tommy Paul, who survived an almighty fightback from Australian wildcard Christopher O’Connell to win 6-2 6-4 4-6 4-6 10-8 in three hours and 33 minutes. Paul hit six more winners (47-41) and had 10 less unforced errors (40-50), whilst winning an impressive 76 per cent of both his first serve points, and net points won to hold off the determined Australian and book himself a Round of 64 spot.

In terms of upsets, just two seeds fell on day two of the competition, with 13th seed David Goffin and 26th seed Lorenzo Sonego both exiting the Grand Slam. Sonego’s compatriot, Italian Lorenzo Musetti continued his great rise over the past 12 months to obliterate Goffin in the first set, before holding out in two more tight sets to win 6-0 7-5 7-6. The match lasted two hours and 18 minutes, with the sloppy Goffin hitting a whopping 48 unforced errors to Musetti’s 27, and while Goffin was more clinical at the net (79 to 64 per cent success), and hit more winners (37-23), Musetti posted a 71 per cent serving efficiency and first serve winning rate. Big serving South African Lloyd Harris might not have had his usual numbers off the aces (6-5), but still did enough to take care of Sonego in straight sets, 7-5 6-4 6-4 in an identical time to the other upset, two hours and 18 minutes. Harris did hit 40 winners to 31, and he won 75 and 69 per cent off his first and second serve respectively – losing just 24 points – to Sonego’s 66 and 58 per cent, to advance through to the next stage.

The other eight seeds in action all advanced, with eighth seed Roger Federer making his return to the Grand Slam circuit, posting a straight sets win over Uzbekistan qualifier Denis Istomin. The 6-2 6-4 6-3 victory in one hour and 33 minutes was the quickest of the ATP Tour matches, giving the Swiss Maestro an eye-catching start to the clay tournament. Federer was absolutely exquisite as he hit 48 winners to 18, and won 79 per cent of his points at the net compared to Istomin’s 43 per cent. He produced eight aces and only dropped 13 points on serve for the entire match, breaking five times from 13 chances and never conceding a break point opportunity in a clinical victory. Fellow top 10 seed Daniil Medvedev also advanced in straight sets, putting away a tough first round opponent in Alexander Bublik, 6-3 6-3 7-5. Fellow seeds, Casper Ruud and Nikoloz Basilashvili needed four sets to overcome their opponents Benoit Paire and Dusan Lajovic, whilst American trio seeded 30th, 31st and 32nd in Taylor Fritz, John Isner and Reilly Opelka, all advanced through to the Round of 64 with straight sets wins.

Unfortunately for France, it was not a great day, with Australian Open finalist Jo-Wilfried Tsonga bundled out in four sets against Japan’s Yoshihito Nishioka. The Japanese talent won 6-4 6-2 3-6 7-6 to advance through to the Round of 64 in two hours and 52 minutes, winning the fourth set tiebreaker 7-5 in a match which almost went to five sets. Tsonga was far from disgraced upon his return, producing 19 aces to two, and hitting 61 winners to 21, but his power was still finding its consistency, whacking 73 unforced errors to 21 which proved costly. The longest match of the day was Jaume Munar‘s four-set come-from-behind victory over Jordan Thompson in four hours and 23 minutes. The Spaniard dropped the first set tiebreaker to the Australian 8-6, before a quicker second set followed, and then the clay court talent won 7-5 in the third set tiebreaker, and with an additional break secured in the win in an epic contest, 6-7 6-1 7-6 6-4. Thompson hit 55 winners to Munar’s 35, but the Spaniard had 28 less unforced errors (50-78), and was more efficient with his serve (75 to 54 per cent), also breaking five times from 23 chances to Thompson’s two from 10.

Fellow Spaniards Pedro Martinez – who defeated most recent title winner Sebastian Korda in straight sets – and Carlo Alcaraz also advanced through to the second round, with Great Britain’s Cameron Norrie, Croatia’s Marin Cilic, Germany’s Dominik Koepfer, Brazil’s Thiago Monteiro, Serbia’s Filip Krajinovic and Italy’s Gianluca Mager all sending wildcards, qualifiers or lucky losers home in the first round. Other winners were Poland’s Kamil Majchrzak and Argentina’s Federico Delbonis who both made their way into the second round at Roland Garros.

ROLAND GARROS ROUND OF 128 RESULTS:

[2] Daniil Medvedev (RUS) defeated Alexander Bublik (KAZ) 6-3 6-3 7-5
[8] Roger Federer (SUI) defeated [Q] Denis Istomin (UZB) 6-2 6-4 6-3
Lorenzo Musetti (ITA) defeated [13] David Goffin (BEL) 6-0 7-5 7-6
[15] Casper Ruud (NOR) defeated Benoit Paire (FRA) 5-7 6-2 6-1 7-6
[18] Jannik Sinner (ITA) defeated Pierre Hugues-Herbert (FRA) 6-1 4-6 6-7 7-5 6-4
Lloyd Harris (RSA) defeated [26] Lorenzo Sonego (ITA) 7-5 6-4 6-4
[28] Nikoloz Basilashvili (GEO) defeated Dusan Lajovic (SRB) 6-4 6-3 0-6 6-2
[30] Taylor Fritz (USA) defeated Joao Sousa (POR) 6-4 6-2 6-4
[31] John Isner (USA) defeated Sam Querrey (USA) 7-6 6-3 6-4
[32] Reilly Opelka (USA) defeated Andrej Martin (SLO) 6-3 6-2 6-4
Yoshihito Nishioka (JPN) defeated Jo-Wilfried Tsonga (FRA) 6-4 6-2 3-6 7-6
Marin Cilic (CRO) defeated [WC] Arthur Rinderknech (FRA) 7-6 6-1 6-2
Cameron Norrie (GBR) defeated [Q] Bjorn Fratangelo (USA) 7-5 7-5 6-2
Dominik Koepfer (GER) defeated [WC] Mathias Bourgue (FRA) 6-3 6-3 6-4
Steve Johnson (USA) defeated Frances Tiafoe (USA) 6-7 3-6 6-4 6-2 6-1
[PR] Kamil Majchrzak (POL) defeated [WC] Arthur Cazaux (FRA) 6-4 2-6 6-4 6-4
Thiago Monteiro (BRA) defeated [LL] Francisco Cerundolo (ARG) 6-3 6-4 6-3
Pedro Martinez (ESP) defeated Sebastian Korda (USA) 6-4 6-2 6-2
Filip Krajinovic (SRB) defeated [Q] Maximilian Marterer (GER) 6-4 6-1 7-6
Tommy Paul (USA) defeated [WC] Christopher O’Connell (AUS) 6-2 6-4 4-6 4-6 10-8
Gianluca Mager (ITA) defeated [LL] Peter Gojowczyk (GER) 6-2 3-6 6-4 7-5
Jaume Munar (ESP) defeated Jordan Thompson (AUS) 6-7 6-1 7-6 6-4
[Q] Carlos Alcaraz (ESP) defeated [Q] Bernabe Zapata Miralles (ESP) 6-3 2-6 6-1 7-6
Federico Delbonis (ARG) defeated Radu Albot (MOL) 6-1 2-6 6-0 6-1

Picture credit: Nicolas Gouhier/FFT

ATP Tour wrap: Top three seeds bundled out in Parma and Belgrade

WORLD number one Novak Djokovic remains the only top three seed left across the ATP Tour’s two 250 events after the other five players all suffered defeats in both Parma and Belgrade. Just four matches were played in the Serbia Open to complete the Round of 16 matches, whilst all eight second round matches were run and done in the Emilia-Romagna Open after rain delays impacted previous day’s play.

Djokovic is the raging favourite in Belgrade, especially after the second and third seeds both suffered defeats via three-set losses to qualifiers. Spanish qualifier Roberto Carballes Baena knocked off second seed Gael Monfils in a tight contest after a strong start, winning 6-1 3-6 7-6 to advance to the next round. Joining the Spaniard in the quarter finals was Slovenian qualifier Andrej Martin who toppled Georgian third seed Nikoloz Basilashvili in an equally tight encounter after the first set, triumphing 6-1 4-6 7-6. Both third set tiebreakers finished with a 7-4 result.

In other Belgrade Open results, fifth seed Croatian Dusan Lajovic advanced with a 6-3 6-4 win over Frenchman Jeremy Chardy, while eighth seed Federico Delbonis knocked off fellow South American in Brazilian Thiago Monteiro. In an epic contest, the Argentinian escaped with the win, 7-6 3-6 6-4.

Belgrade was not the only tournament where top seeds fell in the second round. The top three seeds all exited in the Emilia-Romagna Open in Parma, Italy in very different ways. Top seed Lorenzo Sonego was taken out of his home tournament by ever-improving American Sebastian Korda in straight sets, 6-1 7-5. Third seed Albert Ramos-Vinolas put up more of a fight against Slovenian lucky loser Norbert Gombos, but still dropped out in three sets, 6-3 6-7 6-2. Second seed Benoit Paire‘s horror past 12 months continued with a disappointing 7-5 3-1 loss having to retire against Spaniard Jaume Munar.

In more predictable results, fourth seed Jan-Lennard Struff had his work cut out for him against a home nation favourite in wildcard Flavio Cobolli, but fought through three sets to win, 6-4 4-6 7-6. Fifth seed Richard Gasquet provided some relief for French tennis fans across the globe with a win against another Italian in qualifier Pedro Martinez 6-3 3-6 6-3, whilst eighth seed Yoshihito Nishioka easily took care of young gun Lorenzo Musetti in a shock straight sets win, 6-3 6-2.

In the remaining two results, the sole Italian winner of the day in wildcard Marco Cecchinato got up courtesy of a 7-5 6-2 win over seventh seed Slovenian Aljaz Bedene, whilst sixth seed United States representative Tommy Paul took down Czech Jiri Vesely in a come-from-behind victory, 6-7 7-6 6-3.

EMILIA-ROMAGNA OPEN ROUND OF 16 RESULTS:

Sebastian Korda (USA) defeated [1] Lorenzo Sonego (ITA) 6-1 7-5
Jaume Munar (ESP) defeated [2] Benoit Paire (FRA) 7-5 3-1 RET
[LL] Norbert Gombos (SLO) defeated [3] Albert Ramos-Vinolas (ESP) 6-3 6-7 6-2
[4] Jan-Lennard Struff (GER) defeated [WC] Flavio Cobolli (ITA) 6-4 4-6 7-6
[5] Richard Gasquet (FRA) defeated [Q] Pedro Martinez (ITA) 6-3 3-6 6-3
[6] Tommy Paul (USA) defeated Jiri Vesely (CZE) 6-7 7-6 6-3
[WC] Marco Cecchinato (ITA) defeated [7] Aljaz Bedene (SLO) 7-5 6-2
[8] Yoshihito Nishioka (JPN) defeated Lorenzo Musetti (ITA) 6-3 6-2

BELGRADE OPEN ROUND OF 16 RESULTS:

[Q] Roberto Carballes Baena (ESP) defeated [2] Gael Monfils (FRA) 6-1 3-6 7-6
[Q] Andrej Martin (SLO) defeated [3] Nikoloz Basilashvili (GEO) 6-1 4-6 7-6
[5] Dusan Lajovic (CRO) defeated Jeremy Chardy (FRA) 6-3 6-4
[8] Federico Delbonis (ARG) defeated Thiago Monteiro (BRA) 7-6 3-6 6-4

Picture credit: ATP Tour

ATP Tour wrap: Djokovic and Nadal to contest for Rome title

RAIN delays set up an enticing eighth day of action at the Rome Masters, as two players played back-to back-matches on a huge day on clay. Whilst Stefanos Tsitsipas held the upper hand prior to the delays, it was not to be done as Novak Djokovic made great use of the delay to build his form once more. Meanwhile, Lorenzo Sonego almost completed a dream run on home turf, making the semi-finals before he was stopped in his tracks by the Serbian in three sets.

The quarters saw two hard-fought contests, as Djokovic and Tsitsipas continued their matchup from the day prior with the Greek not going home quietly in a 4-6 7-5 7-5 encounter, which went the whole hog for three hours and 16 minutes. Meanwhile Sonego was tested early by seventh seed Russian Andrey Rublev before running out 3-6 6-4 6-3 victor in two hours and 33 minutes.

“There are many things to say about today or yesterday’s match. It kind of felt like we played two matches… The one yesterday, where he was the better player. He started better today also. I managed to somehow to hold my nerves [and] break his serve in the important moments in the second and third sets,” Djokovic said post-match.

Djokovic backed up well, but it was safe to say that Italian Sonego also backed up fairly well too, challenging the world number one to the bitter end.

“[This is] my favorite tournament in the world, I’m with my people here,” Sonego said. “[I am] so happy for this because I played every point. I’m really happy.”

“It’s a very emotional moment for me, playing in [the] semi-finals with Novak,” Sonego said. “He’s [an] unbelievable player. He’s the best in the world. I want to do my best.”

But despite holding match points in the second set, Djokovic was unable to clinch an easy win against the Italian – who came in hunting and in the unprecedented position of leading their head to head 1-0. It was not to be done though, as Djokovic fired in the third to fly into the Rome final, 6-3 6-7 6-2.

“I have only myself to blame for not closing the match in two sets,” Djokovic said. “At the end of the day, he is showing why he reached his first [ATP Masters 1000] semi-finals. He’s a quality player. [It is] not easy to play against him. Obviously he had the crowd behind him. It was an electric atmosphere out there on the court.”

Djokovic’s two straight victories on the day set up an enticing final against clay champion Rafael Nadal, following the Spaniard’s 6-4 6-4 sweep of Reilly Opelka.

“I did the thing that I had to do today,” Nadal said post-match. “It is not an easy, beautiful match to play and, [against] a player like Reilly, [you aren’t going to] have rhythm. You know you are going to have just a few options on your return and you know he can play very aggressive from the baseline. That is what happened at the beginning of the match. He had some options [for the] break and it was super important for me to save those moments.”

“I don’t have much time [to recover], I played a lot of tennis,” Djokovic said. “Hopefully I’ll have fresh legs, because that’s what I definitely will need. “It’s necessary in order to have a chance against Rafa.”

INTERNAZIONALI BNL D’ITALIA QUARTER FINALS RESULTS:

[1] Novak Djokovic (SRB) defeated [5] Stefanos Tsitsipas (GRE) 4-6 7-5 7-5
Lorenzo Sonego (ITA) defeated [7] Andrey Rublev (RUS) 3-6 6-4 6-3

INTERNAZIONALI BNL D’ITALIA SEMI-FINALS RESULTS:

[2] Rafael Nadal (ESP) defeated Reilly Opelka (USA) 6-4 6-4
[1] Novak Djokovic (SRB) defeated Lorenzo Sonego (ITA) 6-3 6-7 6-2

Picture credit: ABACA/PA Images

ATP Tour wrap: Nadal and Opelka and Tsitsipas forced to wait on Djokovic lead

JUST two ATP Tour matches were completed in a ran-affected day of action, with Greek fifth seed Stefanos Tsitsipas holding a nerve-wracking lead over world number one Novak Djokovic, and seventh seed Russian Andrey Rublev and unseeded Italian Lorenzo Sonego yet to go out on court.

When the rain halted play, the Greek talent had the advantage over Djokovic, not only having won a set, but was a break up to head into the night knowing that if there was one person who could benefit from a night’s rest, it is likely the world number one. Not only does the delay mean the match has to be completed today, but will mean double duties for the winner, as well as the winner of Rublev and Sonego who have not even served a ball yet.

In the matches that were completed, world number two and King of Clay Rafael Nadal got a huge boost with a straight sets win over sixth seed German Alexander Zverev. After Zverev toppled him in Madrid, Nadal made sure lightning did not strike twice, claiming a straight sets win over his opponent, 6-3 6-4 to advance through to the semi-finals.

“[I am] happy. I played a very solid match with not many mistakes, playing the way that I have to,” Nadal said post-match. “[It is] an important victory for me against a great player.”

Nadal is a nine-time champion in Rome, and if he was to make it all the way through and claim a double-figure amount of titles on the Italian clay, then he would equal Djokovic’s 36 ATP Masters 1000 crowns, an achievement he had hold of prior to the Serbian catching up. Now the Spaniard takes on unseeded American Reilly Opelka, who managed to get the job done against Argentinian qualifier Federico Delbonis, 7-5 7-6.

“[I will face] a big chance against a player who has almost an unreturnable serve. [Reilly] is playing well,” Nadal said. “I need to be very focussed with my serve and then try to be ready to accept [the situation] and be [engaged] on the return. That is what I am looking for.”

Opelka needed one hour and 41 minutes to win over Delbonis in the first match of the day, and will enter his maiden Masters 1000 semi-final. The big serving American produced 18 aces in the match, and has been in red-hot form on serve all tournament to book a spot in the final four of the Rome Masters,.

“I’ve definitely served well. I hit my spots really well today, especially in big moments,” Opelka said post-match. “I think that has been critical. I have stayed calm [and on] big points, I have delivered.”

ROME MASTERS 1000 QUARTER FINALS RESULTS:

[5] Stefanos Tsitsipas (GRE) leads [1] Novak Djokovic (SRB) 6-4 2-1
[2] Rafael Nadal (ESP) defeated [6] Alexander Zverev (GER) 6-3 6-4
[7] Andrey Rublev (RUS) vs. Lorenzo Sonego (ITA)
Reilly Opelka (USA) defeated [Q] Federico Delbonis (ARG) 7-5 7-6

 

Picture credit: Corinne Dubreuil/ATP Tour

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: Predictable day at Rome despite Medvedev fall

IT was a mostly predictable day of Round of 32 results at the Internazionali BNL d’Italia in Rome, as all bar two seeds proceeded to the third round following convincing wins. Just two were taken to three sets in a fairly comprehensive day on the clay.

Eight of the 10 seeds proceeded, as just Daniil Medvedev (third seed) and David Goffin (12th) fell to unseeded opposition. Medvedev was well and truly outclassed by his compatriot Aslan Karatsev, starting slow and unable to ever really command control of the 6-2 6-4 encounter.

“I’m super happy,” Karatsev said. “It was a really tough match. Against Medvedev you never know, he’s a big server. It’s tough to return, but I managed it well.”

Where it is usually Medvedev who hits big, it was Karatsev that claimed a 90 per cent winning rate off his first serve, converting three break points in the process to claim the one hour and 17 minute victory. For Goffin, it was an even worse result coming up against in-form qualifier Federico Delbonis, who swept the Belgian away with a 67 minute, 6-2 6-1 win. Like Karatsev, Delbonis was impressive on serve winning 82 per cent of his first serve points and rendered Goffin error-ridden to claim the match.

The two three setters of the day both saw the higher ranked of the draw reign supreme, however not by much as both Dominic Thiem and Andrey Rublev were tested in their respective encounters. For Thiem, it took a big momentum swing at 1-3 to steal back the second and claim a bagel in the third to command victory, eventually disposing of hungry Hungarian Marton Fucsovics, 3-6 7-6 6-0.

“It was such a close match, especially in the second set,” said Thiem. “I knew he’d be a super-tough opponent, particularly coming from different conditions in Madrid. I was fighting all the match and stayed in there. At the end, I got the reward for fighting. I had difficulties with my timing and my serve. I have to hurt my opponent more with my shots. I still won a great match and I will try to improve for tomorrow.”

Rublev’s matchup went far differently, with opposition Jan-Lennard Struff only marginally taking out the first set before Rublev arrested back control once more.

Remaining seeds in Rafael NadalStefanos TsitsipasAlexander ZverevMatteo BerrettiniRoberto Bautista Agut and Denis Shapovalov all continued their winning ways, as unseeded duo Alejandro Davidovich Fokina and Lorenzo Sonego joined the winners list and head to the Round of 16.

INTERNAZIONALI BNL D’ITALIA ROUND OF 32 RESULTS:

[2] Rafael Nadal (ESP) defeated Jannik Sinner (ITA) 7-5 6-4
Aslan Karatsev (RUS) defeated [3] Daniil Medvedev (RUS) 6-2 6-4
[4] Dominic Thiem (AUT) defeated Marton Fucsovics (HUN) 3-6 7-6 6-0
[5] Stefanos Tsitsipas (GRE) defeated Marin Cilic (CRO) 7-5 6-2
[6] Alexander Zverev (GER) defeated [Q] Hugo Dellien (BOL) 6-2 6-2
[7] Andrey Rublev (RUS) defeated Jan-Lennard Struff (GER) 6-7 6-1 6-4
[9] Matteo Berrettini (ITA) defeated John Millman (AUS) 6-4 6-2
[10] Roberto Bautista Agut (ESP) defeated Cristian Garin (CHI) 7-6 6-3
[Q] Federico Delbonis (ARG) defeated [12] David Goffin (BEL) 6-2 6-1
[13] Denis Shapovalov (CAN) defeated [WC] Stefano Travaglia (ITA) 7-6 6-3
[Q] Alejandro Davidovich Fokina (ESP) defeated [Q] Cameron Norrie (GBR) 6-2 6-3
Lorenzo Sonego (ITA) defeated [WC] Gianluca Mager (ITA) 6-4 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: Beltings galore as top seeds return at Monte Carlo Masters

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

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

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

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

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

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

MONTE CARLO MASTERS ROUND OF 32 RESULTS:

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

ATP Tour wrap: Popyrin’s stunning turnaround confirms second round spot

AUSTRALIAN young gun Alexei Popyrin has produced a stunning comeback after dropping the first set to love, to book a second round spot in the 2021 Monte Carlo Masters 1000 event. Popyrin fell 6-0 down against Spaniard Pablo Andujar, then somehow managed to pick himself off the canvas to post a 0-6 6-2 7-6 victory in one hour and 58 minutes.

Popyrin served seven aces for five double faults, a far better ratio than his opponent, though Andujar was much more efficient with his serve, producing a 65 per cent efficiency to the Australian’s 47 per cent. Popyrin also won 71 per cent of his first serve points compared to Andujar’s 66 per cent. Neither player was particularly dominant on their second serve, with Popyrin taking 56 per cent of the points off Andujar, while the Spaniard won 48 per cent of Popyrin’s second serve. In the end just four points separated the players as Popyrin won 91 to 87 in the match.

The Australian – who had to come through qualifying – moved to a 12-4 record this season, and won his 14th tiebreaker from 17 chances, a remarkable amount of tiebreakers in just 15 matches – greater than one per match. His maiden title in Singapore has seen him get on the board on the ATP Tour, but he also has four Top 50 victories to his name, and will now take on French wildcard Lucas Pouille in the second round. Popyrin has an open draw into the the quarter finals if he is good enough, following Alejandro Davidovich Fokina‘s upset of Matteo Berrettini.

Davidovich Fokina defeated the eighth seed Italian 7-5 6-3 in their clash, to book a spot in the third round and await the winner of Popyrin and Pouille. The pair met at the Australian Open third round last year, with the Frenchman winning an absolute classic in five sets, 7-6 6-3 6-7 4-6 6-3 after the Australian came from two sets down to force a fifth set, including holding his nerve in the third set to win the tiebreaker 12-10.

Davidovich Fokina was pleased with his upset of Berrettini to advance and have a rest before his next match, and noted he was aware that the Italian rising talent was returning from injury.

“I’m very happy with this win. I’m very excited to defeat a Top 10 player,” Davidovich Fokina said post-match. “Last year I faced a couple of Top 10 players and I came close, but I couldn’t close them out. “But here I am improving every day, I’m playing better and better. “I also knew that Matteo was coming back from an injury and he wouldn’t have a lot of rhythm. I was able to take advantage of that today.”

The other Round of 32 match saw fourth seed Stefanos Tsitsipas advance with a straight sets win over the dangerous Aslan Karatsev, 6-3 6-4. The Greek star will now await the winner of 16th seed clay court specialist Cristian Garin and Australian John Millman. In other results, the seeds all advanced with Spanish duo Roberto Bautista Agut and Pablo Carreno Busta, Pole Hubert Hurkacz, Bulgarian Grigor Dimitrov and Italian Fabio Fognini all joining Garin – who knocked off Canadian young gun Felix Auger-Aliassime – in the second round.

Norwegian Casper Ruud set up a tantalising clash with fellow clay courter Diego Schwartzman, as Argentinian qualifier Federico Delbonis advanced past Adrian Mannarino to have the tough job of matching Rafael Nadal on the clay. Italian teenager Jannik Sinner got past Albert Ramos-Vinolas 6-3 6-4 and now faces top seed Novak Djokovic in the Serbian’s first match since his Australian Open triumph. It was not a great day for the Serbians overall, with Miomir Kecmanovic, Dusan Lajovic and Laslo Djere all knocked out in the first round, and Filip Krajinovic advancing thanks to a retirement from Georgian Nikoloz Basilashvili. Other winners were Great Britain’s Daniel Evans, France’s Jeremy Chardy, Russia’s Karen Khachanov and a trio of Italians in Lorenzo Sonego, and qualifiers Marco Cecchinato and Salvatore Caruso.

MONTE CARLO MASTERS ROUND OF 32 RESULTS:

[4] Stefanos Tsitsipas (GRE) defeated Aslan Karatsev (RUS) 6-3 6-4
Alejandro Davidovich Fokina (ESP) defeated [8] Matteo Berrettini (ITA) 7-5 6-3

MONTE CARLO MASTERS ROUND OF 64 RESULTS:

[9] Roberto Bautista Agut (ESP) defeated Taylor Fritz (USA) 6-2 7-5
[12] Pablo Carreno Busta (ESP) defeated [Q] Stefano Travaglia (ITA) 7-5 7-6
[13] Hubert Hurkacz (POL) defeated [Q] Thomas Fabbiano (ITA) 6-3 3-6 6-3
[14] Grigor Dimitrov (BUL) defeated Jan-Lennard Struff (GER) 6-3 6-4
[15] Fabio Fognini (ITA) defeated Miomir Kecmanovic (SRB) 6-2 7-5
[16] Cristian Garin (CHI) defeated Felix Auger-Aliassime (CAN) 7-6 6-1
Jannik Sinner (ITA) defeated Albert Ramos-Vinolas (ESP) 6-3 6-4
Daniel Evans (GBR) defeated Dusan Lajovic (SRB) 6-3 6-7 6-2
[WC] Lucas Pouille (FRA) defeated Guido Pella (ARG) 6-3 6-4
Karen Khachanov (RUS) defeated Laslo Djere (SRB) 6-4 6-1
[Q] Marco Cecchinato (ITA) defeated [Q] Dominik Koepfer (GER) 6-4 6-3
[Q] Salvatore Caruso (ITA) defeated [WC] Lucas Catarina (POL) 6-7 7-6 6-3
Casper Ruud (NOR) defeated [WC] Holger Vitus Nodskov Rune (DEN) 6-2 6-1
Lorenzo Sonego (ITA) defeated Marton Fucsovics (HUN) 6-3 6-4
[Q] Federico Delbonis (ARG) defeated Adrian Mannarino (FRA) 7-5 6-1
Jeremy Chardy (FRA) defeated Alexander Bublik (KAZ) 6-4 0-6 7-5
[Q] Alexei Popyrin (AUS) defeated Pablo Andujar (ESP) 0-6 6-2 7-6
Filip Krajinovic (SRB) defeated Nikoloz Basilashvili (GEO) 6-1 2-0

ATP Tour wrap: Hometown heroes take out trophies as Monte Carlo gets underway

THE home crowds rallied at the Sardegna and Marbella ATP 250 final events on Sunday, with an Italian and a Spaniard taking out the respective trophies following impressive three-set victories. Meanwhile, the Monte Carlo Masters event has begun in Monaco, with just two main draw encounters opening proceedings as the qualifiers were completed.

At Sardegna, it was third seed Italian Lorenzo Sonego who claimed the title with a 2-6 7-6 6-4 victory over Serbian Laslo Djere. The huge three hour encounter was fitting for a final, as the Serbian claimed the first set with relative ease before being forced into a second set tiebreaker wherein Sonego took the chocolates.

Sonego capitalised off Djere’s unforced error count and eight double faults to clinch victory, despite lacking intensity on serve. He was marginally more efficient on serve winning 70 per cent of first serve points off a 68 per cent clip, compared to Djere’s 71 per cent off a 57 per cent clip.

Sonego’s victory at Sardegna marks the first time an Italian has won an ATP Tour title on home soil in 15 years, with this title his second in as many days after clinching the doubles title alongside Andrea Vavassori a day prior.

“The match was long and I remained calm in the second-set tie-break,” Sonego said. “I knew the match wasn’t finished because I had always kept fighting. It’s wonderful to win the title with all my team here. Now, I am really tired, but I am very happy. I am happy to follow in [Filippo] Volandri’s footsteps and win a title on home soil.”

SARDEGNA OPEN FINAL RESULT:

[3] Lorenzo Sonego (ITA) defeated Laslo Djere (SRB) 2-6 7-6 6-4

 

At Marbella, Pablo Carreno Busta reigned supreme in an all-Spanish final, defeating Jaume Munar 6-1 2-6 6-4 to claim the AnyTech365 Andalucia title. While Munar served up six aces to Carreno Busta’s zero, the top seed Spaniard was much more efficient on serve, with his 78 per cent clip paying off while a clean and consistent first and second effort was evident.

This win marked Carreno Busta’s 200th tour-level victory in excellent circumstances on home soil, winning his first Spanish title in two hour and 21 minutes.

“I suffered like yesterday trying to continue fighting all the time… I needed to do it if I wanted to win this kind of match,” Carreno Busta said. “It’s a pleasure to win a title here in Spain, in Marbella. For me, it’s very special. It’s my fifth title, so I’m very, very happy for the victory.”

“I started really good, really focused, being very aggressive,” Carreno Busta said. “After that I missed a little bit and Jaume started to play better and at the end.”

ANYTECH365 ANDALUCIA OPEN FINAL RESULT:

[1] Pablo Carreno Busta (ESP) defeated Jaume Munar (ESP) 6-1 2-6 6-4

 

Meanwhile, the Monte Carlo Masters ATP 1000 event has begun in Monaco, with just two matches played on the opening day as the qualifying rounds were complete. David Goffin and Jordan Thompson were the two winners of the day, both overcoming second set comebacks to claim respective victories in three sets.

Goffin was the cleaner player in his 6-4 3-6 6-0 victory over Marin Cilic to get the tournament started, claiming the early ascendancy before easing off in the second and blowing the Croatian away in the third set. The 11th seed Belgian was less efficient on serve but marginally more effective and consistent, hitting six aces for three double faults off a 47 per cent clip (34/73), compared to Cilic’s 10 and 10 off a 51 per cent clip (55/108).

Thompson would not be given an easy time by the higher ranked Frenchman in Benoit Paire, forced to fight for every inch of his 6-4 6-7 7-6, three hour and three minute victory. Despite dropping the second set tiebreaker 7-6(3), Thompson came out with a vengeance in the third and forced continuous errors on serve for the Frenchman, who served up 18 double faults for just eight aces. The Australian made the most of his service games against the hard-hitter, and both claimed and saved nine break points on his way to victory.

The qualifying rounds are done and dusted, seeing top seed German Dominik Koepfer, second seed Italian Stefano Travaglia, eighth seed Australian Alexei Popyrin and ninth seed Argentinian Federico Delbonis gain entry into the Monte Carlo main draw, joined by a trio of Italians.

MONTE CARLO MASTERS ROUND OF 64 RESULTS:

[11] David Goffin (BEL) defeated Marin CIlic (CRO) 6-4 3-6 6-0
Jordan Thompson (AUS) defeated Benoit Paire (FRA) 6-4 6-7 7-6