Tag: marc polmans

ATP 250 wraps: Aussies bow out in Singapore as upsets take place in Montpellier

IT was a mixed bag of results on day two across the various ATP 250 events, as we recap the results as of publishing in Montpellier, Singapore and Cordoba.

A couple of experienced talents joined the list of outs from the Open Sud de France in Montpellier, with eighth seed Jan-Lennard Struff and Frenchman Gilles Simon both bundled out of the tournament. Struff went down to qualifier and compatriot Peter Gojowczyk in straight sets, losing 6-3 6-4 in one hour and 18 minutes, with the 144th ranked played topping his German counterpart who sits 107 placed above him in the world. Meanwhile Austrian Dennis Novak continued his strong start to the year with a solid three-set win over Simon. Novak needed a tiebreaker to get through the first set, before dropping away in the second, and then posting a win 7-6 1-6 6-3 to advance to the Round of 16.

In other results, wildcard Benjamin Bonzi won through in straight sets in the all-French clash against Lucas Pouille, getting up 7-6 6-2. Experienced Czech Jiri Vesely was far too good for a disappointing Mikael Ymer, winning 6-1 6-1, while in the final results, Dutch qualifier Tallon Griekspoor won 6-2 6-7 6-3 over American Marcos Giron in the clear best match of the day. It lasted two hours and 10 minutes with the players evenly matched until Griekspoor – who had saved all five break point opportunities from his opponent – broke for a third time to win. .

In the late game, the most talked about match took place on Court Patrice Dominguez with Belarusian Egor Gerasimov taking on Grand Slam winner and returning from injury Brit, Andy Murray. After a nail-biting first set tiebreaker (10-8), Gerasimov ran away with the contest in the second set to win 7-6 6-1 and book his spot in the second round.

OPEN SUD DE FRANCE ROUND OF 32 RESULTS:

[Q] Peter Gojowczyk (GER) defeated [8] Jan-Lennard Struff (GER) 6-3 6-4
[WC] Benjamin Bonzi (FRA) defeated Lucas Pouille (FRA) 7-6 6-2
[Q] Tallon Griekspoor (NED) defeated Marcos Giron (USA) 6-2 6-7 6-3
Dennis Novak (AUT) defeated Gilles Simon (FRA) 7-6 1-6 6-3
Jiri Vesely (CZE) defeated Mikael Ymer (SWE) 6-1 6-1
Egor Gerasimov (BLR) defeated Andy Murray (GBR) 7-6 6-1

 

Over in Singapore, five matches were completed on day two, and it was not good news for the Australians with all three players on court unable to join day one winner, Alexei Popyrin in the Round of 16. Marc Polmans was the toughest to beat, forcing Japan’s Yasutaka Uchiyama to three sets before going down 6-4 2-6 6-4 in two hours and 18 minutes. Similarly, John-Patrick Smith also suffered a three-set loss, this time to Macedonian sixth seed Radu Albot who won 6-2 3-6 6-1.

James Duckworth was unable to really break down German Yannick Hanfmann in their match, with the latter triumphing in straight sets, 6-2 6-4 to advance to the next round of action. In the other two matches, Turkish qualifier Altug Celikbilek won against Japanese wildcard Shintaro Mochizuki. Celikbilek got up 6-0 6-4 convincingly, while American Maxime Cressy moved into the Round of 16 with a 7-6 6-2 victory over Chinese Taipei’s Jason Jung.

SINGAPORE ROUND OF 32 RESULTS:

[6] Radu Albot (MCE) defeated [Q] John-Patrick Smith (AUS) 6-2 3-6 6-1
Maxime Cressy (USA) defeated Jason Jung (TAI) 7-6 6-2
Yannick Hanfmann (GER) defeated James Duckworth (AUS) 6-2 6-4
Yasutaka Uchiyama (JPN) defeated Marc Polmans (AUS) 6-4 2-6 6-4
[Q] Altug Celikbilek (TUR) defeated [WC] Shintaro Mochizuki (JPN) 6-0 6-4

 

The two lower ranked players at the Cordoba Open won through to the second round with hard-fought three sets wins over their respective opponents. Chilean wildcards Nicolas Jarry came from a set down to survive a nail-biting tiebreaker and then win in three against rising Spaniard Jaume Munar, 5-7 7-6 6-4. The match lasted a whopping two hours and 44 minutes with Jarry serving up seven aces, and winning 75 per cent of his first serve points, albeit off a lowly 54 per cent efficiency. Jarry’s was more efficient with 74 per cent of his first serves going in, but only capitalising on 63 per cent of them, as both players were broken five times.

In the other match, Jozef Kovalik also needed three sets to get past Daniel Elahi Galan, bouncing back from a disappointing second set to win 6-2 1-6 6-3 in an hour and 43 minutes. Kovalik broke four times to three, the last being a crucial one in the final set, to book his spot in the Round of 16 with victory on the clay courts.

CORDOBA OPEN ROUND OF 32 RESULTS:

[WC] Nicolas Jarry (CHL) defeated Jaume Munar (ESP) 5-7 7-6 6-4
Jozef Kovalik (SVK) defeated Daniel Elahi Galan (COL) 6-2 1-6 6-3

Picture credit: Yong Teck Lim/Getty Images

ATP 250s wraps: Tsonga beaten on return as Popyrin claims win in Singapore

GRAND SLAM finalist Jo-Wilfried Tsonga made his long-awaited return to the ATP Tour at the Open Sud de France in Montpellier yesterday, though it did not go plan. The former Top 10 talent was easily beaten by American Sebastian Korda in the first round of the ATP 250 event.

The match lasted just 72 minutes with Korda claiming the spoils, 6-4 6-2, dominating on serve and only dropping eight points in total, saving both of his opponent’s break point opportunities. Tsonga was far from his best, but getting through the match was the key, still winning 69 per cent of his first serve points, and serving five aces throughout the match. He saved three of six break points, but ultimately could not do enough against a player who has built form over the past 12 months.

It was better news for sixth seed Ugo Humbert, whose rise up the ATP Rankings continues following his straight sets win over Slovakian Norbert Gombos. Humbert won 6-4 7-6 in 78 minutes, slamming home 18 aces and winning 88 per cent of his first serve points off an elite 79 per cent efficiency to never give his opponent a chance. In Gombos’ defence, he held up well, actually breaking Humbert once from two chances, while the Frenchman broke him from both his opportunities. Overall the class of Humbert stood out and he advanced to the Round of 16.

In the final match played on day one of the main draw event, seventh seed Lorenzo Sonego battled past young Frenchman Hugo Gaston. The Italian won 6-3 6-7 6-1, holding his nerve in the third set after dropping the second set tiebreaker 9-7, to win in two hours and 19 minutes. He served seven aces and broke six times from 12 chances, while only being broken three times himself.

In today’s action, there are plenty more Frenchman on show, with Lucas Pouille taking on compatriot and wildcard Benjamin Bonzi, while Gilles Simon faces Austrian Dennis Novak. The match of the day could be either British wildcard and Grand Slam winner Andy Murray taking on Belarusian Egor Gerasimov, or Swede Mikael Ymer locking horns with Jiri Vesely.

OPEN SUD DE FRANCE ROUND OF 32 RESULTS:

[6] Ugo Humbert (FRA) defeated Norbert Gombos (SVK) 6-4 7-6
[7] Lorenzo Sonego (ITA) defeated [WC] Hugo Gaston (FRA) 6-3 6-7 6-1
Sebastian Korda (USA) defeated Jo-Wilfried Tsonga (FRA) 6-4 6-2

Five first round matches were completed in Singapore, with a mixed bag for the two seeds on court. Fifth seed Japanese counter puncher Yoshihito Nishioka defeated improving American Michael Mmoh 6-2 3-6 6-3, while seventh seed South African Lloyd Harris went down in three sets to Bulgarian wildcard Adrian Andreev.

Nishioka needed almost two hours to defeat Mmoh, surviving 11 aces to bring up 10 break point opportunities, albeit only taking three. It was two more than Mmoh who broke once in the second set, but could not do it again in the match. Meanwhile Andreev took two hours and 19 minutes to knock off the fast-serving Harris, not needing to serve and ace and even holding off 12 of 15 break point chances for the South African to win 1-6 6-3 6-4. The Bulgarian bounced back from a disappointing first set to post the impressive win over the developing Harris.

Andreev now takes on Australian Alexei Popyrin who knocked off American qualifier, Christopher Eubanks in two tiebreakers, 7-6 7-6, both of which were 7-5 tiebreakers. The match lasted one hour and 46 minutes, with Popyrin powering home 15 aces and saving 10 of 11 break points in a remarkable feat. He won 72 per cent of his first serve points, and also only broke Eubanks once, holding firm in the crucial tiebreakers to claim a narrow straight sets win.

In other Singapore results, United States’ Maxime Cressy became his nation’s sole winner on the day, downing Chinese Taipei’s Jason Jung in straight sets 7-6 6-2, while Japan’s Taro Daniel joined compatriot Nishioka in the second round after a tight three-set win over India’s Ramkumar Ramanathan, 6-3 6-7 6-3.

In today’s action, three Australians are out on court, with Marc Polmans up first against Japan’s Yasutaka Uchiyama. Following that match, qualifier John-Patrick Smith has to find a way to upstage sixth seed Macedonian Radu Albot, before James Duckworth takes to the court at night against German, Yannick Hanfmann.

SINGAPORE ROUND OF 32 RESULTS:

[5] Yoshihito Nishioka (JPN) defeated Michael Mmoh (USA) 6-2 3-6 6-3
[WC] Adrian Andreev (BUL) defeated [7] Lloyd Harris (RSA) 1-6 6-3 6-4
Maxime Cressy (USA) defeated Jason Jung (TAI) 7-6 6-2
Taro Daniel (JPN) defeated Ramkumar Ramanathan (IND) 6-3 6-7 6-3
Alexei Popyrin (AUS) defeated [Q] Christopher Eubanks (USA) 7-6 7-6

At the time of publishing, none of the day one matches had been completed in Cordoba, with the Argentinian tournament finishing off the third round of qualifying earlier in the day. The night session featured two Round of 32 matches which will be covered in tomorrow’s wrap, with Colombian Daniel Elahi Galan facing Slovakian Jozef Kovalik, followed by Spaniard Jaume Munar taking on Chilean wildcard Nicolas Jarry.

Picture credit: ATP Tour

Australian Open Men’s Round of 128 wrap: Finn young gun and Belarusian danger man upset French duo

FINNISH young gun Emil Ruusuvuori caused the biggest upset on day one of the 2021 Australian Open, knocking off 10th seed Frenchman Gael Monfils in a five-set thriller. The match lasted three hours and 46 minutes, and was not the only heartbreak for France, with second ranked Frenchman Benoit Paire also bowing out of the Grand Slam.

The 21-year-old Ruusuvuori showed unbelievable grit and determination to save 17 break points during the 3-6 6-4 7-5 3-6 6-3 win, broken six of 23, whilst breaking his opponent the same amount of times. Monfils fired off 13 aces to four and only had five double faults to 11, but it was Ruusuvuori’s perseverance in the end that saw him get up in a remarkable upset.

Paire went down in four sets to Belarusian Egor Gerasimov, 6-2 2-6 7-6 7-5 despite hitting a whopping 74 winners to 25. The match was controlled off Paire’s racquet, also hitting 21 aces to five. The issue for the Frenchman has always been his consistency with said power, casually serving 23 double faults and hitting 90 unforced errors – numbers that will rarely ever win you a tennis match.

It was not all bad news for the French nation however, with the most in-form Frenchmen in Ugo Humbert and Adrian Mannarino – both seeds themselves at 29th and 32nd respectively – moving onto the next round, as did Corentin Moutet and lucky loser Alexandre Muller. Of those results, Moutet’s five-set upset of Australian John Millman on his home soil was huge, as the up-and-coming talent won 6-4 6-7 3-6 6-2 6-3 to advance to the Round of 64.

As for the home nation hopes, it was a mixed bag with Nick Kyrgios getting through his opening round match in straight sets, James Duckworth taking care of lucky loser Damir Dzumhur in three, and Alex Bolt managing to fend off Norbert Gombos in four. Even Bernard Tomic booked his spot in the Round of 64 after opponent Yuichi Sugita had to retire at a set apiece and Tomic 4-1 up in the third. Unfortunately for the home fans, wildcard Marc Polmans joined Millman in exiting the tournament.

The most talked about match coming into day one was the unbelievable draw between 11th seed Canadian Denis Shapovalov and Italian rising talent Jannik Sinner. It lived up to all expectations with Shapovalov winning 3-6 6-3 6-2 4-6 6-4 in three hours and 55 minutes of action. Shapovalov controlled the tempo with 62 winners to 26, but also hit 71 unforced errors to 44. He managed to win 75 per cent of his first serve points, and broke Sinner five times from 10 attempts. The Italian will be ruing missed opportunities, setting up a whopping 20 break point chances, but only making the most of three of them.

In terms of the top eight seeds, Novak Djokovic and Dominic Thiem both moved through to the second round without dropping a set, while Alexander Zverev and Diego Schwartzman were forced to work a little harder to win in four. Canada would have certainly been pleased with day one, as Milos Raonic and Felix Auger-Aliassime barely broke a sweat in easy straight sets wins to join Shapovalov in the Round of 64. Stan Wawrinka, Pablo Carreno Busta and Grigor Dimitov also advanced without a hiccup, while Dusan Lajovic was put through the ultimate test of five sets against Ukrainian qualifier Sergiy Stakovsky before surviving, while American Taylor Fritz won in four sets against Spaniard Albert Ramos-Vinolas.

American trio Reilly Opelka, Frances Tiafoe and qualifier Maxime Cressy also booked their places in the second round of the Australian Open, while Czech Jiri Vesely needed five sets – coming from two sets to one down -to put away Belgian qualifier, Kimmer Copperjans. Spaniard Pedro Martinez, Kazakh Alexander Bublik, Hungarian Marton Fucsovics, Russian Aslan Karatsev, Serbian Miomir Kecmanovic and German Dominik Koepfer were the other winners on day one.

AUSTRALIAN OPEN MEN’S ROUND OF 128 RESULTS:

[1] Novak Djokovic (SRB) defeated Jeremy Chardy (FRA) 6-3 6-1 6-2
[3] Dominic Thiem (AUT) defeated Mikhail Kukushkin (KAZ) 7-6 6-2 6-3
[6] Alexander Zverev (GER) defeated Marcos Giron (USA) 6-7 7-6 6-3 6-2
[8] Diego Schwartzman (ARG) defeated Elias Ymer (SWE) 7-6 6-4 2-6 6-2
Emil Ruusuvuori (FIN) defeated [10] Gael Monfils (FRA) 3-6 6-4 7-5 3-6 6-3
[11] Denis Shapovalov (CAN) defeated Jannik Sinner (ITA) 3-6 6-3 6-2 4-6 6-4
[14] Milos Raonic (CAN) defeated Federico Coria (ARG) 6-3 6-3 6-2
[15] Pablo Carreno Busta (ESP) defeated Kei Nishikori (JPN) 7-5 7-6 6-2
[17] Stan Wawrinka (SUI) defeated Pedro Sousa (POR) 6-3 6-2 6-4
[18] Grigor Dimitrov (BUL) defeated Marin Cilic (CRO) 6-4 6-2 7-6
[20] Felix Auger-Aliassime (CAN) defeated [LL] Cedrik-Marcel Stebe (GER) 6-2 6-4 6-2
[23] Dusan Lajovic (SRB) defeated [Q] Sergiy Stakhovsky (UKR) 5-7 6-4 6-3 5-7 6-4
Egor Gerasimov (BLR) defeated [25] Benoit Paire (FRA) 6-2 2-6 7-6 7-5
[27] Taylor Fritz (USA) defeated Albert Ramos-Vinolas (ESP) 7-6 3-6 6-2 7-6
[29] Ugo Humbert (FRA) defeated Yasutaka Uchiyama (JPN) 6-3 6-4 6-7 6-3
[32] Adrian Mannarino (FRA) defeated Dennis Novak (AUT) 6-2 6-4 7-6
[WC] Alex Bolt (AUS) defeated Norbert Gombos (SVK) 6-2 6-2 4-6 6-3
Alexander Bublik (KAZ) defeated Aljaz Bedene (SLO) 6-4 7-5 5-7 6-4
[Q] Maxime Cressy (USA) defaeted [LL] Taro Daniel (JPN) 7-6 7-6 6-4
James Duckworth (AUS) defeated [LL] Damir Dzumhur (BIH) 6-3 6-2 6-4
Marton Fucsovics (HUN) defeated [WC] Marc Polmans (AUS) 4-6 6-3 6-1 6-7 6-3
[Q] Aslan Karatsev (RUS) defeated Gianluca Mager (ITA) 6-3 6-3 6-4
Miomir Kecmanovic (SRB) defeated Kamil Majchrzak (POL) 6-2 6-4 6-3
Dominik Koepfer (GER) defeated [LL] Hugo Dellien (BOL) 7-5 6-2 6-4
Nick Kyrgios (AUS) defeated [Q] Federico Ferreira Silva (POR) 6-4 6-4 6-4
Pedro Martinez (ESP) defeated Yoshihito Nishioka (JPN) 6-7 6-1 6-1 6-1
Corentin Moutet (FRA) defeated John Millman (AUS) 6-4 6-7 3-6 6-2 6-3
[LL] Alexandre Muller (FRA) defeated Juan Ignacio Londero (ARG) 4-6 6-3 6-0 6-3
Reilly Opelka (USA) defeated [PR] Yen-Hsun Lu (TAI) 6-3 7-6 6-3
Frances Tiafoe (USA) defeated Stefano Travaglia (ITA) 7-5 6-2 6-2
[Q] Bernard Tomic (AUS) defeated Yuichi Sugita (JPN) 3-6 6-1 4-1 RET
Jiri Vesely (CZE) defeated [Q] Kimmer Coppejans (BEL) 6-4 3-6 6-7 6-3 6-3

Picture credit: Tennis World USA

ATP 250 wraps: Intriguing results as men’s Summer Series begins

A HUGE day of action around the ground saw a flurry of players return to the court ahead of the Australian Open, with both the Great Ocean Road Open and Murray River Open starting. With a number of players across both tournaments returning to the court with protected rankings from injury, there were plenty of intriguing results at play.

At the Great Ocean Road Open, just one seed in Aljaz Bedene proceeded through to the second round after both Laslo Djere and Feliciano Lopez fell to lower ranked opposition. Poland’s Kamil Majchrzak, who was enabled entry via his protected ranking, disposed of Djere in straight sets 6-3 6-4, while South African Kevin Anderson was huge in his encounter with Lopez, hitting a whopping 17 aces on his way to 6-4 7-5 victory. Bedene was well and truly tested by his opposition however, with Japan’s Yasutaka Uchiyama testing the Slovenian throughout the 7-6 7-6 contest in just under two hours, coming back from a 1-4 deficit in the first set to reign supreme.

All three Australians made it through to the second round with wildcard Max Purcell and Aleksander Vukic disposing of their opposition in straight sets, while Chris O’Connell had a tougher time against Dominik Koepfer, with the German taking out the first set 7-5 before the Aussie lifted, flying out of the gates after winning the second set to win 5-7 6-4 6-1.

Italians Salvatore Caruso and Stefano Travaglia both came away with victory on day one, with the former downing compatriot Andreas Seppi in a tight 7-5 7-6 outing, while the latter overcame a slow start to run out 2-6 7-5 7-6 victor against Spaniard Roberto Carballes Baena. The final match saw Soonwoo Kwon outlast a tough Andrej Martin, 6-3 6-7 7-6.

GREAT OCEAN ROAD OPEN ROUND OF 64 RESULTS:

Salvatore Caruso (ITA) defeated Andreas Seppi (ITA) 7-5 7-6
Kamil Majchrzak (POL) defeated [12] Laslo Djere (SRB) 6-3 6-4
[13] Aljaz Bedene (SLO) defeated Yasutaka Uchiyama (JAP) 7-6 7-6
Kevin Anderson (RSA) defeated [16] Feliciano Lopez (ESP) 6-4 7-5
Soonwoo Kwon (KOR) defeated Andrej Martin (SVK) 6-3 6-7 7-6
Christopher O’Connell (AUS) defeated Dominik Koepfer (GER) 5-7 6-4 6-1
[WC] Max Purcell (AUS) defeated Norberrt Gombos (SVK) 6-4 6-4
Stefano Travaglia (ITA) defeated Roberto Carballes Baena (ESP) 2-6 7-5 7-6
Aleksander Vukic (AUS) defeated Yen-Hsun Lu (TPE) 6-4 7-5

At the Murray River Open, Australia was not so lucky with four of its seven competitors facing off, and only one other reigning supreme in a difficult draw. Alex Bolt and Harry Bourchier were the victors out of the all-Aussie battles, disposing of returnee Thanasi Kokkinakis – entered via his protected ranking – and Marc Polmans, respectively. Wildcard Jason Kuber joined Bolt and Bourchier on the winners list after an excellent outing against Italian ninth seed and world number 34 Lorenzo Sonego, with the Australian playing well above his ranking of 265 to take out the 3-6 6-3 6-4 victory. Meanwhile, wildcards Blake Mott and Li Tu were also unsuccessful, going down to Albert Ramos-Vinolas and Pedro Sousa, respectively.

Sonego was not the only seed to fall, joined on the sidelines by Croatian Marin Cilic, who was defeated by Jeremy Chardy in a tight battle – with the Frenchman saving five match points to get the win – and Richard Gasquet, who was downed by American Mackenzie McDonald in just over 90 minutes. On the flip side, the likes of Adrian MannarinoTommy Paul and Marton Fucsovics all defeated their respective unseeded opposition.

In the remaining matches, Ricardas Berankis, Federico Coria, Egor Gerasimov and Corentin Moutet all reigned supreme, and will proceed into the Round of 32.

MURRAY RIVER OPEN ROUND OF 64 RESULTS:

Jeremy Chardy (FRA) defeated [11] Marin Cilic (CRO) 2-6 6-3 7-6
[WC] Jason Kuber (AUS) defeated [9] Lorenzo Sonego (ITA) 3-6 6-3 6-4
[10] Adrian Mannarino (FRA) defeated Mikael Ymer (SWE) 7-5 6-2
[12] Albert Ramos-Vinolas (ESP) defeated [WC] Blake Mott (AUS) 6-2 6-4
Mackenzie McDonald (USA) defeated [14] Richard Gasquet (FRA) 7-6 7-5
[15] Tommy Paul (USA) defeated Cameron Norrie (GBR) 4-6 7-6 6-3
[16] Marton Fucsovics (HUN) defeated Marco Cecchinato (ITA) 7-6 6-3
Ricardas Berankis (LTU) defeated Sumit Nagal (IND) 6-2 6-2
Alex Bolt (AUS) defeated Thanasi Kokkinakis (AUS) 2-6 6-4 6-3
Harry Bourchier (AUS) defeated Marc Polmans (AUS) 6-4 6-4
Federico Coria (ARG) defeated Radu Albot (MDA) 7-6 6-4
Egor Gerasimov (BLR) defeated Lloyd Harris (RSA) 6-3 7-5
Corentin Moutet (FRA) defeated Frances Tiafoe (USA) 3-6 6-4 6-4
Pedro Sousa (POR) defeated Li Tu (AUS) 6-4 7-6

2021 Murray River Open ATP preview: Deep draw provides even competition

UNLIKE its opposing ATP 250 event, the 2021 Murray River Open has some good depth to its ranks, with 14 players inside the Top 50 and many of the qualifying direct acceptances are far from easy beats as well. It looks like a difficult draw to predict who will win, but top seed Stan Wawrinka will be the favourite heading in as he returns to Australia.

Always hard to beat during the Australian Summer, the 18th ranked Wawrinka leads a strong field which also sees the return of Nick Kyrgios. The former top ranked Australian takes to the court for hist first competitive match since February last year, and is seeded 13th at the event. The last time Kyrgios played a full match – he retired to Ugo Humbert in Acapulco in February last year – was a four-set Round of 16 loss to Rafael Nadal at the Australian Open. How he fares in this event will be a real unknown considering his lack of court time.

The top seed reached the quarter finals of the ATP Paris Masters, defeating the red-hot Andrey Rublev along the way. He had some shock losses last year – including straight set defeats to players outside the Top 200 – but has the capacity to beat anyone on his day. If every player was to play at their maximum peak, Wawrinka and Kyrgios are the two best in the draw.

One player who neither would particularly enjoy facing is second seed Grigor Dimitrov who is always a chance as a tough opponent. The Bulgarian former world number three defeated Karen Khachanov and Stefanos Tsitsipas in his last tournament back in Vienna, and has form over Wawrinka, defeating him in Acapulco on Dimitrov’s way to a semi-final loss to Nadal. A disappointing second round loss at Melbourne Park to Tommy Paul – who is seeded here – will burn for Dimitrov, keen to have a prolonged impact in the upcoming Grand Slam.

Rounding out the top four seeds are Canadian young gun Felix Auger-Aliassime and Croatian Borna Coric. Yet to win a title, Auger-Aliassime has the talent to do it here at this event, but four consecutive losses leading into 2021 – two of which were to opponents outside the Top 80 – and he just needs to refresh for the Australian Summer. Coric is another player yet to win a title, seemingly cruising along in the Top 30, but capable of making the step up. He came close to a maiden title in St Petersburg, defeating Milos Raonic in the semis before bowing out to Rublev in the final. Remarkably, Coric claimed the scalps of Tsitsipas and Dominic Thiem last year, so is more than capable.

Looking down the list, Casper Ruud has the opportunity to stand up to the critics, whilst Taylor Fritz is in a position to go from potential to fulfilled potential at world number 30. Humbert showed those signs last year as he had a breakout season that netted him two titles, while Daniel Evans rounds out the top eight seeds and is one of the most frustrating opponents given he can just purely wear opponents down.

A good mix of ageing and young talent fills out the large draw, with Adrian Mannarino, Marin Cilic and Richard Gasquet all seeded, while Paul, Frances Tiafoe and Emil Ruusuvuori have entered the draw from an up-and-comping perspective. Outside of Kyrgios, James Duckworth is a home town hero, but he is far from the only Australian with direct entries of Alexei Popyrin, Marc Polmans, Alex Bolt, Bernard Tomic and fan favourite, Thanasi Kokkinakis all back in action.

Wawrinka and Kyrgios are great shouts for the tournament, but Humbert has the potential to do anything, and with the Australian Open around the corner, some players at the tournament may have more to prove than others.

Picture credit: Daniel Pockett/Getty Images

Is Ugo Humbert already the best Frenchman on the ATP Tour?

UGO Humbert is the best Frenchman on the ATP Tour. It is a big statement considering the amount of French talent going around at the moment. The nation has no shortage of talent, led by top talent Gael Monfils, the always exciting Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, and then the likes of Benoit Paire, Adrian Mannarino and Richard Gasquet cemented inside the top 50 players in the world. But unlike all of those players who are the wrong side of 30 – Paire is the youngest at 31 – Ugo Humbert is 22 and on the verge of breaking out in his career.

It could be argued he did just that in 2020, having his best season to-date and showing what he is capable of on the world stage. Prior to this year, Humber had a 19-26 record, but improved that to 43-38 after a huge 24-12 year that included two ATP Tour titles. The first one came in Auckland early in the year, defeating Paire in the final there, before backing up his performance indoors post the COVID break at Antwerp. His performances saw him move from 57th in the world up to number 30 in the past 12 months, giving French fans hope that he can lead the next wave of talents.

France is never short on up-and-comers, always having competitive players that will impress on the world stage. What makes Humbert so special is that he is that 188cm and is the pure power player who loves to win points quickly. He can make mistakes and is still raw, but wins a lot of points in a multitude of ways, be it off his serve, his forehand, backhand or approaching the net. In short, Humbert has a lot of tricks to his arsenal, and while he is raw, he can do a lot of damage when on song with his power plays.

It is remarkable to think that Humbert started his year with a straight sets loss in the third round of a Challenger event in Bendigo before posting a stunning maiden title win in Auckland. What made the victory in Auckland so special was the fact he knocked off four top 50 players including Casper Ruud, Denis Shapovalov, John Isner and Paire in that time. That is quite the mix of talents, and while he suffered a four-set loss to John Millman at the Australian Open and then bowed out in Montpellier to Feliciano Lopez, he reached the semi-finals at Delray Beach and arguably should have gone further.

Humbert’s Grand Slam record did not improve, with a second round defeat to Matteo Berrettini after a straight sets loss to Grigor Dimitrov in the first round at the Cincinnati masters, but he then toppled Fabio Fognini before losing to Shapovalov in Rome. He then stunned Daniil Medvedev in Hamburg before dropping his quarter finals loss to Ruud also squared that head-to-head up this year. A forgettable first round loss in Roland Garros to Marc Polmans meant he won one of four matches at the majors, a key reason why he could not crack into the top 20.

Another three top 50 wins at Antwerp led him to the title, defeating Pablo Carreno Busta, Daniel Evans and Alex de Minaur. What makes those three players so different to his hat-trick of Shapovalov, Isner and Paire in Auckland is the fact the former are all-court or counter punchers, compared to the latter who are power players and big servers. In other words, Humbert can play – and win – against all types of players.

Another win over Ruud in Paris was followed by a hard fought victory over Stefanos Tsitsipas, and an equally challenging victory over Marin Cilic before being stopped by Milos Raonic in three sets in the quarter finals. The Masters ended his year, but he had one eight of nine to cap off the season and knocked off two top six players in the final couple of months. All in all, 2020 could be considered a success.

As of now, Humbert is yet to make his debut at the Davis Cup. That must change. He simply has to be in, and if Monfils is fit, then France should take those two as the starting singles players. Tsonga is unfortunately not as durable as he used to be, and one cannot trust Paire consistently. Right now, Mannarino should be considered ahead of both, but the French love to play with flair, and unfortunately as solid as Mannarino is, he does not have the big serve that the Davis Cup team loves. With such a strong doubles pairing of Pierre-Hugues Herbert and Nicolas Mahut, the French have to start thinking about the future.

Not only should Humbert be thrown into the Davis Cup team, France need to start considering the next generation of talents before the top stars retire, all bar maybe Paire will be on the way out in the next few years, so the planning time is now. It is time to see whether Lucas Pouille and Corentin Moutet can sink or swim, particularly the latter who is still 21. Hugo Gaston at 20 has talent throw him in the extended squad and even Gregoire Barrere and Benjamin Bonzi are putting their hands up.

Whatever happens, Humbert simply has to be in because he is France’s next big thing.

Picture: Getty Images

Struff suffers second consecutive loss to German qualifier, as Italian teen Musetti’s run continues

TWO ATP 250 events took off today with the Round of 32 in both Cologne, Germany and Sardinia, Italy with some upset results. Three seeds were ousted across both tournaments, with just two getting up as it was bad news for second ranked German, Jan-Lennard Struff, whilst great news for Italian teen sensation, Lorenzo Musetti.

In Cologne, Stuff suffered his second consecutive loss across two tournaments to German qualifiers, backing up his shock defeat to compatriot Daniel Altmaier at Roland Garros with a straight sets defeat at the hands of fellow German, Oscar Otte. The 142nd ranked Otte needed just 79 minutes to defeat the seventh seed, breaking four times to two and winning 76 per cent of his first serve points to triumph 6-4 6-3. He joined another German in wildcard, Mischa Zverev in the second round after he rather easily defeated Australian John Millman in straight sets, 6-1 6-4. Currently ranked 268th, Zverev showed he has the same ability as his older brother Alexander, winning in an identical 79 minutes against the 44th ranked Australian, with six breaks to two.

The other big upset of the day was American Steve Johnson – who bounced back from one of his worst performances in recent memory at Roland Garros where he won just two games in three sets against Roberto Carballes Baena – to knock off rising Serbian, and fifth seed Filip Krajinovic in just over three hours. Johnson won 3-6 6-4 6-4 to book his spot in the next round courtesy of 10 aces and a 76 per cent success rate off his first serve points. Also through to the second round was sixth seed Hubert Hurkacz who knocked off lucky loser, Australian Marc Polmans, while Dennis Novak compounded the day to forget for Australia with a 6-3 6-3 win over Jordan Thompson, and Romania’s Radu Albot defeated Frenchman Pierre-Hugues Herbert in three sets, 6-2 4-6 6-4

COLOGNE ROUND OF 32 RESULTS:

Steve Johnson (USA) defeated [5] Filip Krajinovic (SRB) 3-6 6-4 6-4
Dennis Novak (AUT) defeated Jordan Thompson (AUS) 6-3 6-3
[Q] Oscar Otte (GER) defeated [7] Jan-Lennard Struff (GER) 6-4 6-3
Radu Albot (ROU) defeated Pierre-Hugues Herbert (FRA) 6-2 4-6 6-4
[6] Hubert Hurkacz (POL) defeated [LL] Marc Polmans (AUS) 6-2 7-5
[WC] Mischa Zverev (GER) defeated John Millman (AUS) 6-1 6-4

There were only the four matches played in Sardinia, with Musetti once again taking the headlines thanks to the 18-year-old knocking off eighth seed Pablo Cuevas. Musetti clocked up his seventh top 100 win in a month as he continues to rise up the ATP Tour rankings, defeating the Argentinian on his preferred clay surface to win 7-6 7-5. He won 63 and 58 per cent of his first and second serve points respectively in the match, battling hard against the determined veteran to hold his own and eventually earn a spot in the next round.

“Pablo is a clay player and a really tough player with a lot of experience,” Musetti said post-match. “I knew from the beginning it would be really tough tennis.”

Now Musetti will take on fellow Italian, Andrea Pellegrino who knocked off another home nation representative in Stefano Travaglia. The latter was forced to retire due to a headache, with Pellegrino getting up 4-6 7-6 3-0. Meanwhile in other results, seventh seed Tommy Paul put a first set loss behind him to knock over Slovakian lucky loser Andrej Martin, 5-7 6-3 7-5. In the other match, Czech Jiri Vesely held off a determined Kamil Majchrzak who made things interesting in the second set, before Vesely steadied at the end to win, 6-1 7-5.

SARDINIA ROUND OF 32 RESULTS:

[7] Tommy Paul (USA) defeated [LL] Andrej Martin (SVK) 5-7 6-3 7-5
[WC] Lorenzo Musetti (ITA) defeated [8] Pablo Cuevas (ARG) 7-6 7-5
[Q] Andrea Pellegrino (ITA) defeated Stefano Travaglia (ITA) 4-6 7-6 3-0 RET
Jiri Vesely (CZE) ddefeated Kamil Majchrzak (POL) 6-1 7-5

Picture: Getty Images

Carballes Baena topples Shapovalov in five to clinch third round spot

ROBERTO Carballes Baena has won an epic battle over top 10 player and ninth seed, Denis Shapovalov to book his spot in the third round at Roland Garros. The Spanish world number 101 backed up his shellacking of Steve Johnson in the first round – dropping just two games – to overcome Shapovalov in a five-hour titanic struggle.

Carballes Baena hit the trifecta of firsts for his efforts, reaching the third round of a Grand Slam, defeating a top 10 player and winning a five-set match for the first time in his ATP Tour career. A clay court specialist having played more than 70 per cent of his matches on the surface, defeated Shapovalov 7-5 6-7 6-3 3-6 8-6.

“It is a dream for me to win a match like this,” Carballes Baena said post-match. “I tried to be very solid and focused on my game. Shapovalov served very well, but I played a very good match. It was the first time I beat a Top 10 player, reached the third round of a Grand Slam, and the first time I won a fifth set.”

It did not look good for Carballes Baena in the deciding set, a break down trailing at 3-5 and Shapovalov served for the match at 5-4 and then again at 6-5 after the Canadian broke his lower ranked opponent in the eleventh match, Never giving up, Carballes Baena kept fighting and won the last three games of the match to salute and book his spot in the Round of 32.

The Spaniard now takes on 18th seed Grigor Dimitrov in the Round of 32 after the Bulgarian defeated Slovakian Andrej Martin, 6-4 7-6 6-1 in their clash. The winner of that battle will take on either Stefanos Tsitsipas or Aljaz Bedene in the Round of 16, after the Greek fifth seed trounced Pablo Cuevas, 6-1 6-4 6-2, while Bedene won through in four sets over Serbian qualifier Nikola Milojevic.

Most of the matches went as planned on day four, with just two more seeds dropping, the biggest upset of which was German qualifier Daniel Altmaier taking down his compatriot, Jan-Lennard Struff. The world number 186 showed plenty of talent in defeating the 30th seed, winning in a surprising three sets, 6-3 7-6 6-3 to now move on and have a tough challenge in Matteo Berrettini. The seventh seed Italian took four sets to shake off South African Lloyd Harris, winning 6-4 4-6 6-2 6-3 to make his way into the third round of the French Open.

It marked a record four Italians who reached the third round following the three victories on day three from the nation. Speaking of clay court nations, it will be an all-seeded, all-Spanish battle in the third round when 10th seed Roberto Bautista Agut takes on his compatriot, 17th seed Pablo Carreno Busta. Bautista Agut brushed aside Hungarian Attila Balazs in the second round, while Carreno Busta did it just as easy against Argentinian Guido Pella. They both only dropped six games in their respective matches and head into the Round of 32 match having not dropped a set yet.

In the only other all-seeded match in the third round, 15th seed Russian Karen Khachanov will lock horns with 20th seed Cristian Garin in what is set to be an entertaining contest. Khachanov had some good practice at tiebreakers in the second round, playing three of them and winning two on his way to a 6-1 6-7 7-6 7-6 victory against Czech Jiri Vesely, while Garin also dropped a set against Australian Marc Polmans, before winning 6-7 6-2 7-6 6-4.

The winner of that third round clash will likely face Novak Djokovic who again wasted no time on court in destroying his latest opponent, Lithuanian Ricardas Berankis. Djokovic took just 83 minutes – beating his first round time – to win 6-1 6-2 6-2 in an embarrassingly one-sided match. Next up is an opponent who lost in qualifying but got a reprieve as a lucky loser, Colombia’s Daniel Elahi Galan. The Colombian earned the right to face Djokovic after blitzing American Tennys Sandgren 6-2 6-2 6-3 in the Round of 64.

Meanwhile 13th seed Andrey Rublev will take on South African Kevin Anderson in the third round after Rublev won in four sets against Spaniard Alejandro Davidovich Fokina. The Russian defeated his opponent 7-5 6-1 3-6 6-1 to move through to the next round to take on the big-serving South African who upset 22nd seed Serbian Dusan Lajovic, 6-2 6-4 4-6 3-6 6-3, holding on in three hours and nine minutes. Lajovic was the second consecutive Serbian that Anderson had ousted in Paris after defeating Laslo Djere in the first round.

The other two winners on day four were unseeded pair, Thiago Monteiro and Marton Fucsovics. They guarantee at least one unseeded player will reach the fourth round of the French Open following Monteiro’s straight sets win over American Marcos Giron, while Fucsovics had a memorable win over Albert Ramos-Vinolas, 7-6 6-3 7-5 to book his spot in the Round of 32.

Picture: Getty Images

Hamburg finalists fight back from two-set deficits to stage remarkable first round wins

STEFANOS Tsitsipas and Andrey Rublev are lucky to survive the first round of the French Open after slow starts almost cost the Hamburg European Open finalists. A tight turnaround between the ATP500 event and the Grand Slam meant some soreness for the talented top 15 players, but neither would have expected to go two sets down against their respective opponents at Roland Garros.

In a match that lasted three hours and 12 minutes, it took the fifth seeded Tsitsipas five sets to come from behind against world number 109, Jaume Munar. Whilst the rising Spanish 23-year-old has shown some promising signs over the past couple of years, he almost caused the upset of the first round by racing away to a 6-4 6-2 lead against the Hamburg runner-up. It was clear Tsitsipas was not his usual self throughout the match, serving just six aces – as well as six double-faults, and hitting 54 winners throughout the contest.

Munar played well with 38 of his own winners and won 36 per cent of his points off Tsitsipas’ serve, breaking him five times from seven opportunities. With just 21 unforced errors Munar had an incredible game, but Tsitsipas stepped up when it counted to win 4-6 2-6 6-1 6-4 6-4.

Relieved just to get a win, Tsitsipas said he was not feeling it early on and struggled to get into the game, but was pleased to work his way back into the contest.

“Playing a best-of-five [match] can be very challenging and I am really happy that I will walk away from [Court] Suzanne-Lenglen today with a win,” Tsitsipas said post-match.

“I don’t think I’ve ever played a match like this before. “The emotions and the nerves at the very beginning were not there, but [I made] slight adjustments and tried to find a way to win, a different way. “It wasn’t working out for me in the beginning. Nothing was working… But I am really proud of myself, the effort I put in and the amount of dedication.”

Rublev had a tougher challenge against a highly rated Sam Querrey, in what was a titanic struggle over three hours and 17 minutes. Querrey stepped up in the opening two set tiebreakers to claim a 2-0 love, and was at 5-2 with a break in hand. It seemed as though the Hamburg champion was headed for an early exit at Roland Garros, before the Russian won five consecutive games – breaking his opponent twice – to take the third set. From there, Rublev had the momentum and he never lost it, winning 6-7 6-7 7-5 6-4 6-3.

It was Rublev’s first win at Roland Garros and now he sets his sights on a clay court talent in Spaniard Alejandro Davidovich Fokina who defeated French teenager, Harold Mayot for a spot in the Round of 64, 7-6 6-3 7-5. It was not a good day for the French with the home nation representatives dropping like flies. Aside from Mayot, Gilles Simon, Richard Gasquet, Ugo Humbert, Gregoire Barrere and Quentin Halys all lost on day three, leaving just three Frenchmen in the Round of 64.

Simon put up a fight against ninth seed Canadian Denis Shapovalov before the youngster and newest top 10 player won 6-2 7-5 5-7 6-3, while Humbert won a set but had a shock loss to Australian lucky loser Marc Polmans in a disappointing defeat for a player who last start knocked off world number four Daniil Medvedev, 6-2 6-2 3-6 6-3. Halys took Marcos Giron to five sets but lost 8-6 in the fifth in a four-hour and 22-minute loss, while Gasquet and Barrere were beaten in straight sets by seeds, Roberto Bautista Agut and Grigor Dimitrov.

Meanwhile number one seed Novak Djokovic looked like he had some place to be, dismantling rising Swede Mikael Ymer in just 98 minutes, 6-0 6-2 6-3 barely breaking a sweat on his way to the second round. The only quicker match was Roberto Carballes Baena stunning Steve Johnson 6-1 6-1 6-0 in 83 minutes, almost unheard of for a three-set match. Matteo Berrettini had a similarly one-sided result against Vasek Pospisil 6-3 6-1 6-3, while Cristian Garin and Dusan Lajovic both made their way into the Round of 64 with four-set wins over Philipp Kohlschreiber and Gianluca Mager respectively.

Way out on Court 12, Brazilian clay courter Thiago Monteiro added to a horror fortnight for 31st seed Nikoloz Basilashvili after the clay courter lost in the first round defending his Hamburg title, and then was bundled out in straight sets first-up against Monteiro at Roland Garros, 7-5 6-4 6-2. In unseeded matches, Slovenia’s Andrej Martin, Uruguay’s Pablo Cuevas, South African duo Lloyd Harris and Kevin Anderson, Lithuania’s Ricardas Berankis and Hungary’s Attila Balazs all advanced through to the next stage of the tournament.

Picture: Peter Staples/ATP Tour

Australian Open: Men’s Day 3 review – Sandgren and Paul lead American charge

TENNYS Sandgren and Tommy Paul are leading the American charge after downing top 20 players in Round 2 of the Australian Open yesterday. They were the major upsets on a day where there was plenty of action, with Australian John Millman, and Croatian Maric Cilic also booking a spot in the Round of 32 after upset victories over seeds.

Sandgren guaranteed at least one United States player will reach the fourth round by downing eighth seed Italian, Marco Berrettini in five sets. Leading two sets to love, the world number 100 shocked the eighth seed with a 7-6 6-4 lead earner before Berrettini roared to life. He ploughed through the next two sets to draw level, before Sandgren stepped up again to win a remarkable contest, 7-6 6-4 4-6 6-2 7-5 in three hours and 23 minutes. Sandgren sealed the victory after breaking Berrettini in the eleventh game of the deciding set, then serving out the match to love. It was certainly a battle of the big servers with Sandgren leading the way with 22 aces to 16, though the Italian had five more winners (50-49), though also 15 more unforced errors (49-34). By causing the upset, Sandgren now faces compatriot, Sam Querrey in the Round of 32.

Querrey down’s Lithuania’s Ricardas Berankis in four sets, winning 7-6 4-6 6-4 6-4 in a tight two and a half hour contest. The big serving American put down 26 aces and 59 winners in a dominant display, winning 87 per cent of his first serve points, and more than half of his second serve points. Berankis was impressive in his own right despite not having the same serving power, winning 72 per cent of his first serve points and recording 38 winners, often approaching the net with a neat touch. Despite this, Querrey’s first serve average of 194 kmh was faster than Berankis’ top serve (193 kmh) and it showed with some easy points going to the American.

Italian firebrand, Fabio Fognini overcame the obstacles of home court support and a never-say-die attitude from Australian Jordan Thompson to post his second successive five-set win at Melbourne Park. After spending three hours and 38 minutes on court in Round 1, the 12th seed topped the effort with four hours and five minutes in the second round, having to shake off an almighty comeback from the local to eventually shake him off, 7-6 6-1 3-6 4-6 7-6 with a 10-4 super tiebreak score. Fognini was producing everything off his racket with a massive 70 winners, but 77 unforced errors as he served up 10 aces and won 73 per cent of his first serves. Thompson was more subdued with 36 winners and 47 unforced errors, though he had two more aces (12) and broke the same amount of times (three) in an evenly matched contest.

Having an earlier end to his contest, 22nd seed Guido Pella overcame determined Frenchman, Gregoire Barrere out on Court 13 with a 6-1 6-4 3-6 6-3 victory in two hours and 11 minutes. Pella dominated all the statistical areas, breaking five times to two, hitting two more winners and serving three more aces. He also produced 11 less unforced errors, but despite this, Barrere continued to hang around after a disappointing first set. Pella booked his spot in the Round of 32 against Fognini, with the Argentinian having beaten his opponent twice compared to the Italian’s once, though all were on clay.

T. Sandgren (USA) defeated [8] M. Berrettini (ITA) 7-6 6-4 4-6 2-6 7-5
S. Querrey (USA) defeated R. Berankis (LIT) 7-6 4-6 6-4 6-4
[22] Guido Pella (ARG) defeated G. Barrere (FRA) 6-1 6-4 3-6 6-3
[12] F. Fognini (ITA) defeated J. Thompson (AUS) 7-6 6-1 3-6 4-6 7-6

While Thompson might have gone down, Australian fan favourite Millman celebrated on Melbourne Arena with a straight sets win over Hubert Hurkacz. The Polish young gun had to come from two sets down against Austrian qualifier Dennis Novak in Round 1 to win, and was tasked with the same deficit against Millman, as well as a 0-4 deciding set deficit. While he broke back once and had additional break points to put the match back on serve, Millman held his nerve in the ninth game to serve out the match. In fact, Millman broke a total of eight times from 10 opportunities during the match, while Hurkacz managed the five from 10. The Australian is not a big hitter, with just 19 winners and 44 unforced errors, but he keeps counter punching and it wilted the 31st seed in the two and a half hour contest. Now the 30-year-old Australian gets to face world number three, Roger Federer in the third round who defeated Serbia’s Filip Krajinovic in straight sets, 6-1 6-4 6-1.

In a seedless third round match, two players who have cause upsets to top 20 seeds are set to face off when Hungarian, Marton Fucsovics takes on American, Paul. Fucsovics booked his spot in the next round after defeating Italian young gun Jannik Sinner 6-4 6-4 6-3 which followed on from his four-set triumph over 13th seed Canadian, Denis Shapovalov in Round 1. The Hungarian hit 22 winners and won 69 per cent of his first serve points, also being more proficient at the net with a 74 per cent success rate. Sinner hit 16 winners but 47 unforced errors in the clash, breaking three times, and was not able to match the Hungarian who managed it seven times from 12 opportunities.

Meanwhile Paul had to survive a mighty comeback from 18th seed, Grigor Dimitrov during a 6-4 7-6 3-6 6-7 7-6 victory in a four hour and 19 minute epic encounter on Margaret Court Arena. Despite Dimitrov’s 21 aces and 68 winners, Paul maintained his composure with 11 and 60 respectively, winning 70 per cent of his first serve points. He broke the Belarusian five times (one less than Dimitrov broke him), but kept battling away before producing a memorable super tiebreak, getting up 10-3, winning the last seven points of the match and earning a spot in the Round of 32.

M. Fucsovics (HUN) defeated J. Sinner (ITA) 6-4 6-4 6-3
T. Paul (USA) defeated [18] G. Dimitrov (BLR) 6-4 7-6 3-6 6-7 7-6
J. Millman (AUS) defeated [31] H. Hurkacz (POL) 6-4 7-5 6-3
[3] R. Federer (SUI) defeated F. Krajinovic (SRB) 6-1 6-4 6-1

Unfortunately Melbourne Park attendees hoping to see Draft Central‘s Match of Day would have been left disappointed after it was announced that German Philipp Kohlschreiber had pulled out of the Open due to a muscle strain. It allowed sixth seed, Stefanos Tsitsipas safe passage into the Round of 32, where he will face 32nd seed, Canadian Milos Raonic. The big serving Raonic was at his best against up-and-coming Chilean, Cristian Garin winning 6-3 6-4 6-2 in an hour and 37 minutes. He served 19 aces and hit 35 winners during the display, looking impenetrable on serve with a 92 per cent first serve success rate. He also worried the smaller Garin at the net, winning 20 of a possible 25 net points, and only having the 25 unforced errors for the match. So dominant was he on serve the Garin failed to break him once during the contest, and in fact only won 10 points across the three sets on Raonic’s serve.

The other top 10 seed in the eighth of the draw also booked a spot in the Round of 32, with world number nine, Roberto Bautista Agut coming from a set down to defeat American wildcard, Michael Mmoh. The 217th ranked American won the first set 7-5 in a surprise, but then the experienced Bautista Agut – nine years his senior – kicked into gear. He posted a 5-7 6-2 6-4 6-1 victory in two hours and 44 minutes. The Spaniard is not a big server, but he continues to use his counter punching strengths to advantage, winning 79 per cent of his first serve points, and an impressive 57 per cent of his second serve points. He won 39 per cent of his receiving points and still hit 32 winners while only having 33 unforced errors, compared to Mmoh’s 44 and 62. He broke six times to one, all coming in the final three sets to record an important victory.

Another five-set epic on Day 3 was Croatian Marin Cilic‘s come-from-behind win over 21st seed Benoit Paire. Cilic had a 4-1 head-to-head record against Paire, and despite cruising to a 6-2 lead after the first set, found himself two sets to one down after the Frenchman won the next two. He again found top gear with a 6-1 fourth set win, then the duo traded blows in a momentum swinging fifth set, eventually winning 6-2 6-7 3-6 6-1 7-6 and 10-3 in the super tiebreak. Paire served up a high volume of aces (30) though also had 10 double faults, winning 83 per cent of his first serve points, as well as 63 winners. But it was the unforced errors that counted the most, with Cilic only having 38 to 59, and winning a massive 81 per cent of his net points to prove a real problem for Paire. The Croatian broke six times to three throughout the five-set contest and earned a spot in the next round against Bautista Agut.

[6] S. Tsitsipas (GRE) defeated P. Kohlschreiber (GER) WALK-OVER
[32] M. Raonic (CAN) defeated C. Garin (CHI) 6-3 6-4 6-2
M. Cilic (CRO) defeated [21] B. Paire (FRA) 6-2 6-7 3-6 6-1 7-6
[9] R. Bautista Agut (ESP) defeated [WC] M. Mmoh (USA) 5-7 6-2 6-4 6-1

The bottom eighth of the men’s draw saw all four winners cruise through in four sets, led by world number two and tournament favourite, Novak Djokovic. The Serbian seven-time winner defeated Japanese wildcard Tatsuma Ito 6-1 6-4 6-2 in just over an hour and a half. From the first game through to the last, Djokovic never looked like losing with another comfortable performance. He served 16 aces and won 93 per cent of his first serve points, only dropping six points on serve, while winning 44 per cent of Ito’s serve points. His 31 winners were accompanied by just 17 unforced errors, giving the Japanese 31-year-old a lesson in what it takes to be the top of the world. He now faces Ito’s compatriot, Yoshihito Nishioka in the Round of 32.

Nishioka upset the inconsistent Brit, Dan Evans with a 6-4 6-3 6-4 victory in just under two hours out on Court 19. Ranked 71st in the world, the Japanese underdog was too consistent for the 30th seed, downing Evans with a 75 per cent serving percentage, while winning 85 per cent of his net points. Both players looked comfortable at the net, and while Evans hit 32 winners, he also recorded 39 unforced errors. Nishioka hit a more conservative 23 and 19, while winning 34 per cent of his receiving points. Breaking four times to nil, Nishioka just did enough to keep Evans at arms-length and secure a spot in the third round.

Argentinian 14th seed Diego Schwartzman won in similarly cruisy circumstances, getting up 6-1 6-4 6-2 over Spaniard, Alejandro Davidovich Fokina. Schwartzman was economical in his approach, only recording 29 unforced errors from 18 winners and breaking seven times to cause all sorts of headaches for Davidovich Fokina. Playing his successful counter punching game, the 170cm Argentinian worked his way into the Round of 32 to now face 24th seed, Dusan Lajovic.

The Serbian won his second successive straight sets victory, downing Australian wildcard Marc Polmans 6-2 6-4 6-3 in an hour and 52 minutes. Lajovic served up 12 aces and hit 46 winners, dominating at the net with an 80 per cent winning record when there. He also broke five times and saved five break point opportunities, as Polmans ran into a player just a class above. The Australian could only manage the 11 winners for the match and while his serving efficiency of 72 per cent was good, he won just 55 and 58 per cent of his first and second serve points.

[14] D. Schwartzman (ARG) defeated A. Davidovich Fokina (ESP) 6-1 6-4 6-2
[24] D. Lajovic (SRB) defeated [WC] M. Polmans (AUS) 6-4 6-4 6-3
Y. Nishioka (JPN) defeated [30] D. Evans (GBR) 6-4 6-3 6-4
[2] N. Djokovic (SRB) defeated [WC] T. Ito (JPN) 6-1 6-4 6-2