Tag: marco cecchinato

ATP Tour wrap: Seeds remain untouchable as Italian trio prevails

AN enticing Round of 16 is set at the 2021 Roland Garros tournament, with the men’s draw completing its Round of 32 yesterday boasting six seeded wins and little doubt in the top players’ ability to continue their runs. Meanwhile, two Italian teens joined a seeded compatriot in the fourth round.

It was a predictable day for world number one Novak Djokovic and dominant clay champion Rafael Nadal, with the duo both claiming straight set victories to head into the Round of 16. Djokovic required over an hour and a half to dispose of Lithuanian Ricardas Berankis 6-1 6-4 6-1, as Nadal took slightly more time, just over two hours, to defeat Brit Cameron Norrie. In doing so, he advances to the fourth round at a grand slam for the 50th time.

“Today I had in front [of me] a player [who is] having a great season,” Nadal said. “I went on court knowing that could be a tough match, and for moments [it was] like this. I’m happy to win in straight sets. I think I did what I had to do. For moments, I played well. I think [I played] a good first set. Then for moments I need to do things better, but I am confident that I can do it.”

“I don’t think I [was] returning unbelievable today,” Nadal said. “I just returned okay. But then I was solid from the baseline to put one more ball in and to make him play.”

Nadal will take on one of two up-and-coming teenaged Italians that have made it to the Round of 16, following 18th seed Jannik Sinner‘s defeat of Swede Mikael Ymer 6-1 7-5 6-3 to have a chance at opposing the Spaniard once more. The two met during the quarter finals here last year, with the clay champion reigning supreme on his way to the 2020 title. The second in Lorenzo Musetti claimed his maiden five set 3-6 6-4 6-3 3-6 6-3 victory over compatriot Marco Cecchinato to head into the fourth round, but has a just as daunting task set as he looks toward a clash with world number one, Djokovic.

“We know each other a little bit. [We] never played [a match] and it’s going to be the first time, [which is big], especially in a Grand Slam,” Musetti said about taking on Djokovic. “So for sure there is going to be a little bit of tension, but I think that is what I’ve been working for since my childhood. All the sacrifice and hard work I did in my childhood became reality now. So I’m just enjoying the moment and I will try to do my best.”

Meanwhile, Roger Federer overcame a hungry Dominik Koepfer to head into the fourth round, denying the German left-hander a chance at a second week berth. In different conditions – his maiden Roland Garros night session, and with no spectators due to a COVID-19 warranted curfew – Federer had the class to outdo Koepfer and claim the 7-6 6-7 7-6 7-5 win in three hours and 35 minutes.

“My fighting spirit got me over the line,” Federer said. “You’ve got to love what you do, and I do.”

“I probably would have struggled a great deal (without spectators) when I was a teenager or a young player, because for me, practice was not really what I loved doing at all. I actually really disliked it, and for me it was all about the matches and atmosphere and playing for something.”

Intriguingly, Federer struck more unforced errors (63-40) and less winners (51-55) throughout the contest, however claimed a whopping 72 per cent of net points and was marginally better on the return.

“I wasn’t sure after the second set how much was left in the tank, so it was a good battle until then,” Federer said. “I feel like I needed to maybe pace myself ever so slightly at that moment, especially emotionally, of not pressing too hard and wanting it too badly.”

“I clearly hadn’t practiced three hours 35, because that’s obviously always pushing it. I pushed as much as I could, as we thought reasonable. But this today was a huge step forward for the team, and for all of us. I didn’t expect to be able to win three matches here,” he added.

“Roger is Roger,” Koepfer told German press after the match. “Unbelievable what he does at the age of 39. He plays very good tennis and is incredibly fit. He played better in the deciding moments.”

Ninth seed Italian Matteo Berrettini was also victorious, rounding out the Italian winners to three following his sweep of Korean Soonwoo Kwon, as 10th seed Diego Schwartzman downed another German in Philipp Kohlschreiber, while Jan-Lennard Struff turned the German tides with his 6-4 7-6 6-2 sweep of Spanish qualifier Carlos Alcaraz, putting an end to the teenager’s sensational run.

ROLAND GARROS ROUND OF 32 RESULTS: 

[1] Novak Djokovic (SRB) defeated Ricardas Berankis (LTU) 6-1 6-4 6-1
[3] Rafael Nadal (ESP) defeated Cameron Norrie (GBR) 6-3 6-3 6-3
[8] Roger Federer (SUI) defeated Dominik Koepfer (GER) 7-6 6-7 7-6 7-5
[9] Matteo Berrettini (ITA) defeated Soonwoo Kwon (KOR) 7-6 6-3 6-4
[10] Diego Schwartzman (ARG) defeated Philipp Kohlschreiber (GER) 6-4 6-3 6-1
[18] Jannik Sinner (ITA) defeated Mikael Ymer (SWE) 6-1 7-5 6-3
Lorenzo Musetti (ITA) defeated Marco Cecchinato (ITA) 3-6 6-4 6-3 3-6 6-3
Jan-Lennard Struff (GER) defeated [Q] Carlos Alcaraz 6-4 7-6 6-2

Picture credit: Philippe Montigny/FFT

ATP Tour wrap: Frenchmen falter as Djokovic and Nadal claim quick wins

DAY 3 at the 2021 Roland Garros produced some intriguing results, with two of the top seeds in Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal retaining their winning form with respective straight set wins, while Andrey Rublev‘s Roland Garros run was cut dastardly short.

The world number seven struggled to keep up with German Jan-Lennard Struff early in the three hour and 46 minute first round clash before stealing momentum throughout the third and fourth sets to send the match to a decider. But despite a late challenge, Rublev was too late as Struff heads through to the Round of 64 with the 6-3 7-6 4-6 3-6 6-4 victory in the books.

“I played Andrey twice this year, lost twice in three sets, played twice a very good first set but couldn’t get the job done,” Struff said. “Definitely it’s a huge win for me in a Grand Slam against a top-10 player. Yeah, very, very important.”

The hard-hitting German piled on 25 aces throughout the contest, and despite hitting more unforced errors (55-47) and less winners (63-65) and winning the same amount of overall points (170), Struff was more consistent than Rublev, who was inefficient on serve in comparison.

“I mean, of course I was thinking that I would like to come back from 2-0, but I don’t know, the fifth set I was a bit unlucky,” Rublev said.

“I was feeling fine, I was practising well, I don’t know,” Rublev said. “I think we played a good level today. It’s not easy. He’s a really tough opponent for the first round, really tough, plus he’s playing better and better. He’s improving and he’s winning really great matches.”

For Djokovic and Nadal, their opening rounds were made much easier with the world number one and three claiming wins in straight sets. Djokovic appeared refreshed on court against American Tennys Sandgren, coming straight in off the back of a title in Belgrade over the weekend and not skipping a beat.

“They (Serbian fans) gave me a lot of energy and encouragement,” Djokovic said. “I felt great. I don’t think that I lost a lot of energy there, on the contrary I gained a lot, so hopefully I’ll be able to carry that into this tournament.

“He was close to breaking my serve. I somehow found really a lot of serves when I needed them and that got me out of trouble,” he continued. “Overall I am very pleased with the way I felt on the court tonight.”

Despite a late charge from Australian Alexei Popyrin, Nadal was rarely challenged in his first round matchup, coming from two match points down to dominate in the tiebreaker and claim the 6-3 6-2 7-6 victory in just under two and a half hours. While Popyrin hit six more winners (34-28), he struggled with unforced errors (43-23) with late errors in the third set hurting his chances of stealing a set from the clay court master.

“It’s his court,” said Popyrin, about playing Nadal on the main court Philippe Chatrier. “It will always be his court. I think it’s his favourite court to play on. And to nearly get a set out of him playing my first time on that court is a good achievement for me, but I’m still disappointed with it.”

“Here, especially on clay, the matches are best-of-five, the matches are long and it’s difficult to hold that kind of level for such a long time, playing with this kind of risk,” Nadal said. “Of course I don’t want to lose the set at all, but that’s part of the game.”

“You face a player that he’s decided to go for every shot, so you are in trouble. If he’s having success like he did with his serve, then it’s difficult to have breaks, and then you are in a tricky position.”

“With this serve, with this kind of shots from the baseline, you have everything to become a top player,” said Nadal. “If he wants to do it, of course he is going to have his chances, because he has a lot of very difficult things in his game… He has everything to become a fantastic player.”

Where Popyrin was unsuccessful, his 21st seed compatriot and top ranked Australian Alex de Minaur dominated his own contest with Italian Stefano Travaglia, staving off a third set comeback in much the same way as Nadal to claim a 6-2 6-4 7-6 victory. Travaglia had a number of compatriots playing on Day 3, joined on the sideline by Salvatore Caruso – who fell to another Australian James Duckworth in five –  while the second round entrants were headlined by top-ranked Italian Matteo Berrettini, Andreas Seppi and Marco Cecchinato.

Joining Rublev on the sidelines is 20th seed Felix Auger-Aliassime and 29th seed Frenchman Ugo Humbert, who was one of five hometown hopefuls to go down. Canadian Auger-Aliassime fell to veteran Seppi, who won his first match at the Roland Garros in four years and first tour-level match for 2021 in the process. Humbert was joined on the sidelines by wildcards Hugo Gaston and Benjamin Bonzi, as well as Adrian Mannarino and Lucas Pouille who both failed to pull off wins. Comparatively, 14th seed Gael Monfils and unseeded Richard Gasquet head through to the second round, with the former coming from a first set deficit to win in four over Spaniard Albert Ramos-Vinolas, as the latter disposed of compatriot Gaston.

Tenth and 24th seeds Diego Schwartzman and Aslan Karatsev both joined the winners list, as Schwartzman’s Argentinian compatriot Federico Coria also found success in the first round, and was one of four players to dispose of a Spaniard. Just Nadal made it through to represent the nation in the second round, as Coria disposed of Feliciano Lopez, while Philipp Kohlschreiber and Mikael Ymer claimed victories over Fernando Verdasco and Roberto Carballes Baena, respectively. The final winner for the day was Korean Soonwoo Kwon, who escaped with a three hour and nine minute victory over hard-hitter Kevin Anderson, who piled on a whopping 30 aces throughout the 7-5 6-4 2-6 7-6 contest.

ROLAND GARROS ROUND OF 128 RESULTS:

[1] Novak Djokovic (SRB) defeated Tennys Sandgren (USA) 6-2 6-4 6-2
[3] Rafael Nadal (ESP) defeated Alexei Popyrin (AUS) 6-3 6-2 7-6
Jan-Lennard Struff (GER) defeated [7] Andrey Rublev (RUS) 6-3 7-6 4-6 3-6 6-4
[9] Matteo Berrettini (ITA) defeated [Q] Taro Daniel (JPN) 6-0 6-4 4-6 6-4
[10] Diego Schwartzman (ARG) defeated [PR] Yen-Hsun Lu (TPE) 6-2 6-2 6-3
[14] Gael Monfils (FRA) defeated Albert Ramos-Vinolas (ESP) 1-6 7-6 6-4 6-4
Andreas Seppi (ITA) defeated [20] Felix Auger-Aliassime (CAN) 6-3 7-6 4-6 6-4
[21] Alex de Minaur (AUS) defeated Stefano Travaglia (ITA) 6-2 6-4 7-6
[24] Aslan Karatsev (RUS) defeated [Q] Jenson Brooksby (USA) 6-3 6-4 6-4
Ricardas Berankis (LTU) defeated [29] Ugo Humbert (FRA) 6-4 6-4 2-6 6-4
Facundo Bagnis (ARG) defeated [WC] Benjamin Bonzi (FRA) 7-5 6-3 6-4
Aljaz Bedene (SLO) defeated Adrian Mannarino (FRA) 7-5 3-6 7-5 6-2
Marco Cecchinato (ITA) defeated Yasutaka Uchiyama (JPN) 3-6 6-1 6-2 6-4
Federico Coria (ARG) defeated Feliciano Lopez (ESP) 6-3 7-6 6-2
Pablo Cuevas (URU) defeated Lucas Pouille (FRA) 6-3 6-1 6-3
James Duckworth (AUS) defeated Salvatore Caruso (ITA) 6-4 3-6 7-6 6-2
Richard Gasquet (FRA) defeated [WC] Hugo Gaston (FRA) 6-1 6-4 6-2
[PR] Philipp Kohlschreiber (GER) defeated Fernando Verdasco (ESP) 7-6 6-2 2-6 7-6
Soonwoo Kwon (KOR) defeated Kevin Anderson (RSA) 7-5 6-4 2-6 7-6
Mikael Ymer (SWE) defeated Roberto Carballes Baena (ESP) 6-4 0-6 4-6 6-2 6-2

Picture credit: Nicolas Gouhier/FFT

ATP Tour wrap: Korda claims maiden title as Djoker wins on home soil

SEBASTIAN Korda has claimed his maiden ATP Tour title by defeating Italian Marco Cecchinato in the 2021 Emilia-Romagna Open final overnight. The American server might not have had the home support in Parma, Italy, but he certainly had a performance fit for a title winner, cruising to a 6-2 6-4 victory in one hour and 15 minutes.

Korda served six aces and four double faults to Cecchinato’s three and one, winning an elite 82 per cent of his first serve points off a 67 per cent clip. His second serve was a worry with just a 42 per cent success rate, but Korda’s dominance off his first serve – compared to Cecchinato’s 66 and 61 per cent respectively – was what got him home. He saved the only break point opportunity Cecchinato created, and broke the Italian three times himself from six chances.

“This is something that I’ve dreamed of,” Korda said post-match. “I really thought I was going to get it done in Delray Beach [earlier this year], and I was a little heartbroken.

“But I stayed positive, even with such a bad first part of the clay-court season. “I took a couple of days off, recharged my batteries, and had a really good practice week in Prague with my dad and my coach. “I came back hungrier, and I’m playing some really good tennis now.”

Meanwhile it was little surprise to see the Belgrade Open winner with world number one Novak Djokovic fighting off spirited Slovenian qualifier Alex Molcan in front of a home crowd and in a stadium named after himself to claim his 83rd career ATP Tour title. The top seed won 6-4 6-3 over the 255th ranked Molcan, with the Slovenian playing in his first ATP Tour final compared to Djokovic’s 119th.

“It’s been a while since I last played here in front of a crowd,” Djokovic said post-match. “We played here one month ago [at the Serbia Open], without a crowd. To hold a trophy here after 10 years is really special and it couldn’t be better ahead of Roland Garros. I am playing well, feeling good and I have spent quality time with my family.”

The world number one, whilst not perfect on serve with just a 55 per cent efficiency and three double faults to two aces, still won 70 and 45 per cent of his first and second serve points, compared to Molcan’s 53 and 35 per cent. Upon return, Molcan was quite steadfast, converting four of five break point chances against a player hard to break, but unfortunately was broken in six of his own nine service games which cost him during the match with the extra break in each set.

“I’m feeling good and tired,” Molcan said. “I made my first ATP Tour final from qualification. “I played good tennis here and I was fighting. “Today, I tried as well, but it wasn’t enough. “I didn’t play badly, but I was playing against Djokovic and you have to play unbelievably well. “Hopefully, I can continue to have opportunities to play at this level. “It was a big lesson today to play against Novak.”

BELGRADE OPEN FINAL RESULT:

[1] Novak Djokovic (SRB) defeated [Q] Alex Molcan (SLO) 6-4 6-3

EMILIA-ROMAGNA OPEN FINAL RESULT:

Sebastian Korda (USA) defeated [WC] Marco Cecchinato (ITA) 6-2 6-4

 

Picture credit: ATP Tour

ATP Tour wrap: Slovenian qualifier to face Djoker in Belgrade final as Korda and Cecchinato set to do battle in Parma

RANKED 255th in the world, Slovenian qualifier Alex Molcan will try to do the unthinkable and knock off world number one Novak Djokovic in his home country of Serbia in the Belgrade Open final. Whilst 254 ranking places separate the pair, both earned their spots in the decider following wins over their respective opponents. Djokovic toppled another Slovenian qualifier in Andrej Martin in what was a tougher-than-expected three-set contest, whilst Molcan toppled eighth seed Federico Delbonis in a come-from-behind win.

Molcan had not won a main draw match coming into the Serbia Open, having lost both previous encounters, but the 23-year-old Slovenian showed he had come to play at the 250 event, fighting back from a set down to claim the win over Delbonis in two hours and 42 minutes, 4-6 6-4 6-4. Molcan won 62 and 41 per cent of his first and second serve points, and saved a whopping 13 of 19 break points, whilst breaking his opponent seven of 15 times, and that extra break proved the difference in the deciding set.

“I’m really happy about today’s win,” Molcan said post-match. “This is the biggest win of my career, of course. I will play my first final at ATP level against Djokovic, and I couldn’t be happier. “I will try to enjoy tomorrow’s match [as much] as I can. “I will try to have fun, and we’ll see what will happen.”

Djokovic also needed three sets, having a second set scare against Martin before putting the foot down in the final set to run out a 6-1 4-6 6-0 winner in one hour and 55 minutes. He only served the one ace, and was well down on his usual dominance, broken three times, though he broke the Slovenian seven times himself and won 69 per cent of his second serve points to Martin’s 37 per cent during the victory. The win enabled Djokovic to play his first final in front of a home crowd since 2011 at a venue named after him – the Novak Tennis Centre – in what will be a heavy one-sided support base.

“I’m super excited to play in front of a Serbian crowd. This is my home town. I’m always excited, but also nervous, coming out on the court and playing in front of my home crowd,” Djokovic said post-match. “It’s a very unique feeling. You feel a lot of pressure and expectations. But I’m just happy to fight for a trophy tomorrow.”

Meanwhile over in Italy, United States’ Sebastian Korda booked his spot in the Emilia-Romagna Open final with a 6-3 6-3 triumph over sixth seed compatriot Tommy Paul. The world number 63 will eye off his maiden ATP Tour title in Parma, defeating Paul in one hour and 22 minutes, dominating his first serve with a 76 per cent success rate off a 72 per cent clip, and saving eight of nine break points. He also broke his fellow American four times to secure the win.

The other finalist in Parma is clay court specialist and home nation hero Marco Cecchinato, who knocked off Jaume Munar in three sets. The match lasted two hours and 40 minutes despite the final two sets combining for only one more game than the first one. After an epic tiebreaker that went in the favour of the Italian 7-2, opposing players won respective sets 6-1, for the Italian to salut 7-6 1-6 6-1 in the contest and book his spot in the Parma final to try and win his fourth ATP Tour title.

EMILIA-ROMAGNA OPEN SEMI-FINALS RESULTS:

Sebastian Korda (USA) defeated [6] Tommy Paul (USA) 6-3 6-3
[WC] Marco Cecchinato (ITA) defeated Jaume Munar (ESP) 7-6 1-6 6-1

BELGRADE OPEN SEMI-FINALS RESULTS:

[1] Novak Djokovic (SRB) defeated [Q] Andrej Martin (SLO) 6-1 4-6 6-0
[Q] Alex Molcan (SLO) defeated [8] Federico Delbonis (ARG) 4-6 6-4 6-4

Picture credit: ATP Tour

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 equals fifth-most ATP Tour Open Era wins as seeds clean up at Parma

THE Belgrade and Emilia-Romagna Opens continue, with the former entering the Round of 16 stage while the latter played the remainder of its Round of 32 matches a day behind schedule following rain delays yesterday.

In the Round of 16 in Serbia, Novak Djokovic made it through his first matchup relatively unscathed, escaping a third set against German lucky loser Mats Moraing, 62 7-6(4). The world number one hit three aces and won 71 per cent of his first serve points off a 59 per cent clip, tying with Guillermo Vilas for the fifth most match wins in the Open Era in the process.

“I was twice a break up in the second set so I maybe could have finished out the job earlier, but credit to him for fighting, for playing really well, for playing very courageous, very bold tennis,” Djokovic said.

Fourth seed Adrian Mannarino was not quite as lucky, as he fell to Spaniard Fernando Verdasco 7-6 6-0. The 90 minute encounter saw Verdasco hit four aces and win 70 per cent of his first serve points off a 77 per cent clip. While Mannarino tested Verdasco in the first, he more or less ran out of legs in the second as the Spaniard claimed a bagel second set. Meanwhile, Federico Coria outclassed in-form Uruguayan Pablo Cuevas in just under 75 minutes, winning 83 per cent of his first serve points, while qualifier Alex Molcan blew wildcard Pedja Krstin out of the water with a 6-0 6-0 result and the first double bagel result for the ATP Tour this season.

At the Parma event in Italy, all three seeds reigned supreme with fifth seed Richard Gasquet and seventh seed  Aljaz Bedene not troubled by their respective opposition in qualifier Daniel Altmaier and home hopeful Salvatore Caruso. Whilst eighth seed Yoshihito Nishioka joined his fellow top seeds in the second round, he was certainly tested by American Sam Querrey who took out the early lead, before the Japanese talent commanded the remainder of the proceedings.

Caruso’s five compatriots endured a mixed bag of results, as three more fell but two to the hands of fellow Italians. Wildcard Marco Cecchinato defeated qualifier Raul Brancaccio 6-3 7-6 as in-form Lorenzo Musetti also proceeded, following a come from behind victory over Gianluca Mager.

“I think the Lorenzo of two years ago would not have been able to win this match today for sure after the bad loss of the first set,” Musetti said. “There’s a lot of improvement, we are happy and there is a lot of work to do. We are here to try to go as far as I can and [I] try to do my best.”

“You lost one match, you understand why you lost and you try to do better next time. That’s the goal and that’s the thing that I’m focussing on,” Musetti said. “I think this is the only thing. There is no other way to solve these problems. You just have to understand what you need and try to do your best.”

The remaining Italian in the draw was veteran wildcard Andreas Seppi, who fell to American Sebastian Korda 6-3 6-4.

“I’m excited. It’s another great experience for me. He’s playing some really good tennis,” Korda said post-match. “He made the semi-finals of Rome, which is massive. [I am] looking forward to it and hope that it’s going to be a good match.”

In the remaining matches, lucky loser Norbert Gombos claimed a two hour and 53-minute victory over Finn Emil Ruusuvuori, 7-6(4) 5-7 6-3, while Spanish duo Pedro Martinez and Jaume Munar both won through to the second round, as did Czech Jiri Vesely.

BELGRADE OPEN ROUND OF 16 RESULTS:

[1] Novak Djokovic (SRB) defeated [LL] Mats Moraing (GER) 6-2 7-6
Fernando Verdasco (ESP) defeated [4] Adrian Mannarino (FRA) 7-6 6-0
Federico Coria (ARG) defeated Pablo Cuevas (URU) 6-3 6-2
[Q] Alex Molcan (SLO) defeated [WC] Pedja Krstin (SRB) 6-0 6-0

EMILIA-ROMAGNA OPEN ROUND OF 32 RESULTS:

[5] Richard Gasquet (FRA) defeated [Q] Daniel Altmaier (GER) 6-3 6-3
[7] Aljaz Bedene (SLO) defeated Salvatore Caruso (ITA) 6-4 7-6
[8] Yoshihito Nishioka (JPN) defeated Sam Querrey (USA) 3-6 6-3 7-6
[WC] Marco Cecchinato (ITA) defeated [Q] Raul Brancaccio (ITA) 6-3 7-6
[LL] Norbert Gombos (SVK) defeated Emil Ruusuvuori (FIN) 7-6 5-7 6-3
Sebastian Korda (USA) defeated [WC] Andreas Seppi (ITA) 6-3 6-4
[Q] Pedro Martinez (ESP) defeated Gilles Simon (FRA) 6-0 6-4
Jaume Munar (ESP) defeated [Q] Mikael Ymer (SWE) 6-3 7-6
Lorenzo Musetti (ITA) defeated Gianluca Mager (ITA) 4-6 6-1 6-2
Jiri Vesely (CZE) defeated Steve Johnson (USA) 7-6 6-2

Picture credit: Getty Images

ATP Tour wrap: Norrie claims Thiem scalp as Shapovalov and Cuevas go two from two for the day

IT was another huge day on clay in both Switzerland and France as both the Geneva Open and Lyon Open played out the Round of 16, whilst Geneva also saw the quarter finals completed.

It took an impressive effort, but two from three of the Round of 16 victors at Geneva made their way through two matches in the one day to head into the semi finals. Denis Shapovalov continued his solid form, first outclassing qualifier Marco Cecchinato in a 6-7 7-5 6-1 matchup, before backing it up with a 6-4 6-4 win over fellow Round of 16 winner in Laslo Djere. Djere was also tested in his Round of 16 matchup and could not compare against a tough Shapovalov effort following an Italian three setter of his own against sixth seed Fabio Fognini, only able to claim the ‘W’ over one seed for the day.

“I definitely think I played amazing today,” Shapovalov said. “Obviously a very tough day playing two matches, but super happy to get the win and super excited to be in the semi-finals.”

Shapovalov will take on qualifier Pablo Cuevas in the semis, after the Uruguayan also won both of his matches on the day, first ending teen wildcard Arthur Cazaux‘s run with a 6-2 6-4 victory and then downing fourth seed Grigor Dimitrov 7-6 6-3.

“We’ve only played once before on hard courts and he beat me there,” Shapovalov said about Cuevas. “He’s an amazing clay-court player, so it will definitely be a tough battle ahead of me.”

The other semi-final will comprise of third seed Norwegian Casper Ruud and Spaniard Pablo Cuevas, after both players came from behind to claim three set victories over Dominik Koepfer and Dominic Stephan Stricker, respectively.

“It was a tough match. Dominik played very well in the first set, I think. He answered me with great backhands when I tried to play heavy down to his backhand corner,” Ruud said. “I think I was able to find a way today and I was happy with the way I was playing in the second and third sets.”

At Lyon, it was a different story entirely with just the Round of 16 playing and a whopping four seeds falling at the hurdle. The biggest of the lot saw Cameron Norrie claim his maiden top five victory over Dominic Thiem, with the returning Austrian unable to compete with the firing Brit in a shaky 6-3 6-2 clash.

“I’m so pleased to win today, it’s the biggest win of my career and my highest-ranked win,” Norrie said post-match. “It’s such a beautiful day in Lyon… I couldn’t be happier to get the win today and to get another match on the clay before Roland Garros.”

Norrie won a whopping 91 per cent of points off his first serve off a 73 per cent clip, showcasing just what he is capable of in the 65 minute victory.

“I’m moving well and I’ve played a lot of matches [on clay],” Norrie said. “I’m feeling good on my feet and hitting my forehand well and serving well. I’m looking forward to the next match, it’s going to be a tricky one as both those guys are great players.”

“It was a huge disappointment just now. Just also a big, I would stay, step backwards after promising tournaments in Madrid and Rome. I don’t really know why,” Thiem said. “I was preparing well here, practising well and just didn’t find any rhythm, any strokes. Don’t really know what happened.

“It’s not good for the confidence. To be honest, the way I played today, I was expecting that more to come in Madrid because I hadn’t played for so long,” Thiem said. “But now I was back in the match rhythm and actually hoping for good tennis. I don’t know what to say or what to think. That’s why I need to analyse it and just need to work hard for Roland Garros and [I am] hoping for the best there.”

Thiem is joined on the sidelines by third, fifth and sixth seeds in Diego SchwartzmanGael Monfils and Jannik Sinner, with the former and latter downed by hometown hopefuls in Richard Gasquet and Arthur Rinderknech on home soil, while Monfils was downed by Japanese left-hander Yoshihito Nishioka. The only winning seed for the day was Stefanos Tsitsipas, with the second seed Greek overcoming American Tommy Paul with ease in 75 minutes, 6-1 6-4, becoming the first player to rack up 30 wins for the season thus far in the process.

“I [took] control of the match from early on, and after that I didn’t let go,” Tsitsipas said post-match. “I had a few opportunities in the second set to go up a double break and I missed a shot that I felt like I shouldn’t have missed. But [overall] I was playing good tennis today. I was able to move him around the court and find angles, press with my forehand. It wasn’t my best day on serve, but I found solutions when things proved difficult.”

GONET GENEVA OPEN ROUND OF 16 RESULTS:

[2] Denis Shapovalov (CAN) defeated [Q] Marco Cecchinato (ITA) 6-7 7-5 6-1
Laslo Djere (SRB) defeated [6] Fabio Fognini (ITA) 6-3 6-7 6-1
[Q] Pablo Cuevas (URU) defeated [WC] Arthur Cazaux (FRA) 6-2 6-4

GONET GENEVA OPEN QUARTER FINALS RESULTS:

[2] Denis Shapovalov (CAN) defeated Laslo Djere (SRB) 6-4 6-4
[3] Casper Ruud (NOR) defeated Dominik Koepfer (GER) 2-6 6-1 6-4
[Q] Pablo Cuevas (URU) defeated [4] Grigor Dimitrov (BUL) 7-6 6-3
Pablo Andujar (ESP) defeated [WC] Dominic Stephan Stricker (SUI) 4-6 6-4 6-4

OPEN PARC AUVERGNE-RHONE-ALPES LYON ROUND OF 16 RESULTS:

Cameron Norrie (GBR) defeated [1] Dominic Thiem (AUT) 6-3 6-2
[2] Stefanos Tsitsipas (GRE) defeated Tommy Paul (USA) 6-1 6-4
Richard Gasquet (FRA) defeated [3] Diego Schwartzman (ARG) 6-3 7-5
Yoshihito Nishioka (JPN) defeated [5] Gael Monfils (FRA) 4-6 6-3 7-6
[LL] Arthur Rinderknech (FRA) defeated [6] Jannik Sinner (ITA) 6-7 6-2 7-5

Picture credit: Getty Images

ATP Tour wrap: Rain forces delays at Geneva and Lyon

RAIN delays in Geneva and a combination of first and second round matches in Lyon painted an intriguing day at the respective ATP 250 events. There were very little surprises compared to the past round, with just one seed falling across the two competitions.

At Geneva, two matches are yet to complete with second seed Denis Shapovalov and Marco Cecchinato unable to take the court for their clash and forcing the match to be played tomorrow. Meanwhile, Laslo Djere leads Fabio Fognini in the third set and qualifier Pablo Cuevas leads wildcard Arthur Cazaux, with the remainder of the two matches to play from 12pm.

Third and fourth seeds Casper Ruud and Grigor Dimitrov both claimed straight set wins, as did home town hope and teenager Dominic Stephan Stricker. Ruud was challenged in the first by American Tennys Sandgren before reigning supreme in the second and winning a huge 82 per cent of points off a 67 per cent first serve clip. He also converted three break points to claim the 7-5 6-2 match. For Dimitrov, the victory over Ilya Ivashka looked to be a lot more clinical and one-sided before the Belarusian bit back in the second, coming from 0-5 down to eventually lose 6-4 6-4.

“Today was honestly just a good day for me, I was very pleased with the way I fought,” Dimitrov said post-match. “I’ve been quite misfortunate in my past two or three matches that I’ve played in Madrid and Rome. I felt that I fell short with a few points here and there and therefore lost the matches.

“That can be very discouraging, but I’m very thankful that I actually got the opportunity to compete here again. Getting a wild card meant a lot to me, so I really wanted to execute every chance that I have when I’m out there on the court.”

18-year-old Stricker took down Marton Fucsovics to head into his maiden tour-level quarter final, saving eight of 11 break points and cruising past two rain delays to eventually take out the 7-5 6-4 victory.

“It feels great to be here, to beat two of these guys,” Stricker said. “I’m very happy with my performance today. I played a good match. It was hard with these rain delays, but I just tried my best. I’m pretty happy with what I did today and I’m just looking forward to my match tomorrow and just trying my best.”

Stricker won 53 per cent of the overall points to claim victory. The final match saw Dominik Koepfer challenged by Feliciano Lopez throughout their two hour and 18-minute contest, with the former clinching victory 7-5 6-7(1) 6-3.

At Lyon, five matches played out with the two Round of 32 matches going the whole hog, as sixth seed Jannik Sinner claimed victory over Russian Aslan Karatsev despite giving away a 0-6 bagel to start, coming back to win 0-6 6-3 6-4, while lucky loser and hometown hopeful Arthur Rinderknech overcame a mid-match challenge from qualifying Swede Mikael Ymer to claim 6-3 6-7 6-2 victory.

In the day’s Round of 16 matches, it was fourth seed David Goffin who fell in straight sets to Aljaz Bedene, as eighth seed Karen Khachanov reigned supreme over qualifying Pole Kamil Majchrzak and Lorenzo Musetti continued his good form with a win over American and fellow youngster Sebastian Korda, overcoming a mid-match hiccup and rain delays to claim the 6-3 1-6 6-4 win.

“I lost my focus and he won the second set easily,” said Musetti. “I started the third set well with a break up, but then Sebi came back and he was playing really well. I played with my heart and my body. I am really proud of myself.”

GONET GENEVA OPEN ROUND OF 16 RESULTS:

[3] Casper Ruud (NOR) defeated Tennys Sandgren (USA) 7-5 6-2
[4] Grigor Dimitrov (BUL) defeated [Q] Ilya Ivashka (BLR) 6-4 6-4
Dominik Koepfer (GER) defeated Feliciano Lopez (ESP) 7-5 6-7 6-3
[WC] Dominic Stephan Stricker (SUI) defeated Marton Fucsovics (HUN) 7-5 6-4

Laslo Djere (SRB) leading Fabio Fognini (ITA) 6-3 6-7 2-0
[Q] Pablo Cuevas (ARG) leading [WC] Arthur Cazaux (FRA) 6-2 4-3
[2] Denis Shapovalov (CAN) v. Marco Cecchinato (ITA)

OPEN PARC AUVERGNE-RHONE-ALPES LYON ROUND OF 32 RESULTS:

[6] Jannik Sinner (ITA) defeated Aslan Karatsev (RUS) 0-6 6-3 6-4
[LL] Arthur Rinderknech (FRA) defeated [Q] Mikael Ymer (SWE) 6-3 6-7 6-2

OPEN PARC AUVERGNE-RHONE-ALPES LYON ROUND OF 16 RESULTS:

Aljaz Bedene (SLO) defeated [4] David Goffin (BEL) 7-6 6-3
[8] Karen Khachanov (RUS) defeated [Q] Kamil Majchrzak (POL) 7-6 6-3
[ALT] Lorenzo Musetti (ITA) defeated Sebastian Korda (USA) 6-3 1-6 6-4

Picture credit: Laurent Gillieron

ATP Tour wrap: Roger ousted in opening match

JUST the one Round of 16 match played out across the two ATP 250 events on Day 2, as both the Gonet Geneva Open in Switzerland and Open Parc Auvergne-Rhone-Alpes Lyon in France continue. But that one match saw Spaniard Pablo Andujar oust top seed and returnee Roger Federer, with the result the biggest win of Andujar’s career.

While Federer bounced back well after a shaky first set, it was the Spaniard who broke away from a 2-4 start to the third to eventually claim the win that made it such a triumph, eventually claiming the 6-4 4-6 6-4 victory and winning the remaining four games of the match to win in just under two hours.

“As [far as wins, this is] number one for sure,” Andujar said. “To win a tournament could be more emotional, but this is something I think I will remember my whole life.”

Whilst Federer was form from his career-best, returning to the clay for the first time this year and playing his first match since mid-March, the Spaniard had a clear game plan for negating the Swiss Master’s influence across the court.

“I was trying to keep the gap between the games small, trying to have faith that he was going to serve a little bit with second serves and at that moment I hoped I would have the chance to break him,” Andujar said. “For me it was very difficult, I couldn’t see his serve and he was serving pretty well, so it was difficult for me to return. I just got the chance at 4-3 when he didn’t serve with first serves and lucky me, I was able to break him.”

This is Federer’s first loss on home soil in Switzerland since 2013, but Andujar admitted Federer was not at his most potent, with the Swiss talent himself suggesting that he did not deserve a victory.

“Of course he’s much better than me and if he plays a [normal] match, he would beat me for sure. But I don’t think he played a really bad match,” Andujar said. “That’s my point of view. I think in some of the points, in some of the facets of the match, he played pretty well. I couldn’t return his serve, his first stroke after the serve is always very good. During the match, there were some good points.”

“Of course at 4-2 in the third you feel like, ‘Oh, that’s nice that I was able to turn around the match.’ You start feeling better and that’s when it dips and everything is over 10 minutes later,” Federer said. “But we know how tennis goes and that’s where it’s so brutal sometimes. But I feel like I didn’t deserve it at the end. There was just not enough happening in my game.”

In the rest of the day’s action, the remainder of the Round of 32 was complete with just one seed playing in sixth seed Fabio Fognini, claiming a speedy 6-2 6-2 victory over Argentinian Guido Pella. Qualifier Marco Cecchinato joins his higher ranked compatriot in the second round following a retirement mid-match from Stefano Travaglia, well on track to win in two before the 29-year-old pulled out of the matchup at 6-3 3-0.

A couple more qualifiers in Pablo Cuevas and Ilya Ivashka claimed straight set wins with the former downing a perhaps fatigued Reilly Opelka, who came in fresh off a run to the Rome Masters semi finals, and the latter cleaning up veteran Fernando Verdasco.

Meanwhile, 18-year-old Swiss wildcard Dominic Stephan Stricker downed Croatian Marin Cilic, Hungarian Marton Fucsovics defeated Swiss qualifier Henri Laaksonen and Feliciano Lopez claimed victory over lucky loser Daniel Altmaier, with all three winning in straight sets, as Laslo Djere was tested in the only three setter in the day’s Round of 32 proceedings, eventually overcoming Brazilian Thiago Monteiro.

Meanwhile in Lyon, it was another shaky day for Frenchmen as just Gael Monfils and Richard Gasquet proceeded to the Round of 16 from a pool of five. Fifth seed Monfils was tested by Brazilian Thiago Seyboth Wild in their 7-5 6-4 clash and Gasquet was forced to come from behind against compatriot and qualifier Gregoire Barrere, eventually claiming the 5-7 6-4 6-3 victory with his ability to save Barrere’s break point opportunities proving crucial.

Eighth seed Karen Khachanov was certainly put through his paces by wildcard Benjamin Bonzi in a tough two hour and 19 minute, 6-1 4-6 7-6(4) battle. Khachanov weathered Bonzi’s 10 aces and hit seven of his one, with his marginally better second serve efficiency proving to be the match winner.

19-year-old Italian Lorenzo Musetti had the tough task of taking down seventh seed Felix Auger-Aliassime, but that’s exactly what he did in a two hour and 46-minute blockbuster, 7-6 3-6 7-5. With a recent clash behind them, the Italian turned the tides on the 20-year-old Canadian this time around to record his fifth Top 20 victory.

“We played a really intense match, a real fight,” said Musetti. “I learned from the loss to Felix in Barcelona. It’s a good start and I hope to continue like that.”

While errors crept into both youngsters’ games, it was the Italian who was able to maintain composure, and despite winning the exact same total points as Auger Aliassime (104 apiece), claimed the victory.

The remaining matches saw qualifier Kamil Majchrzak defeat Joao Sousa, while Tommy Paul also reigned supreme over Jo-Wilfried Tsonga.

GONET GENEVA OPEN ROUND OF 32 RESULTS:

[6] Fabio Fognini (ITA) defeated Guido Pella (ARG) 6-2 6-2
[Q] Marco Cecchinato (ITA) defeated Stefano Travaglia (ITA) 6-3 3-0 RET
[Q] Pablo Cuevas (URU) defeated Reilly Opelka (USA) 7-6 6-2
Laslo Djere (SRB) defeated Thiago Monteiro (BRA) 6-7 6-3 7-5
Marton Fucsovics (HUN) defeated [Q] Henri Laaksonen (SUI) 7-5 7-5
[Q] Ilya Ivashka (BLR) defeated Fernando Verdasco (ESP) 7-6 6-4
Feliciano Lopez (ESP) defeated [LL] Daniel Altmaier (GER) 7-6 6-4
[WC] Dominic Stephan Stricker (SUI) defeated Marin Cilic (CRO) 7-6 6-1

GONET GENEVA OPEN ROUND OF 16 RESULTS:

Pablo Andujar (ESP) defeated [1] Roger Federer (SUI) 6-4 4-6 6-4

OPEN PARC AUVERGNE-RHONE-ALPES LYON ROUND OF 32 RESULTS:

[5] Gael Monfils (FRA) defeated [LL] Thiago Seyboth Wild (BRA) 7-5 6-4
[ALT] Lorenzo Musetti (ITA) defeated [7] Felix Auger-Aliassime (CAN) 7-6 3-6 7-5
[8] Karen Khachanov (RUS) defeated [WC] Benjamin Bonzi (FRA) 6-1 4-6 7-6
Richard Gasquet (FRA) defeated [Q] Gregoire Barrere (FRA) 5-7 6-4 6-3
[Q] Kamil Majchrzak (POL) defeated [Q] Joao Sousa (POR) 6-3 7-6
Tommy Paul (USA) defeated Jo-Wilfried Tsonga (FRA) 6-3 6-3

Picture credit: Getty Images

ATP Tour wrap: Seeds all advance in Munich and Estoril

IT was a largely predictable day in the ATP 250 events across Europe as all six seeds out on court in Munich and Estoril advanced through to the quarter finals after the Round of 16 matches got underway. The only Top 10 talent in action was top seed Alexander Zverev, with the BMW Open favourites dominating 6-2 6-4 against Lithuania’s Ricardas Berankis to book his spot in the final eight. The match lasted one hour and 27 minutes before the German advanced, putting up six aces and winning 73 per cent of his first serve points.

“I haven’t played much tennis the past few weeks, so I know I’ll need to improve for the next match,” Zverev said post-match. “I’ve had success in the past and I feel good here. I’ve played well in the practice and hopefully I can do better on the match court.”

Zverev will be difficult to beat at home on the clay, though second seed Casper Ruud would be in with a shot, cruising through his first match in the tournament by taking care of Uruguay’s Pablo Cuevas, 6-3 6-2. Ruud was tough to beat on serve, only dropping nine points – including only two on his second serve – whilst not facing a break point and breaking the Uruguayan three times.

In other results, John Millman knocked off Guido Pella following the Argentinian’s retirement early in the second set. Despite being a set up, Pella dropped the first two games of the second set and was forced to retire in the 75th minute of the match. Meanwhile, Belarusian qualifier Ilya Ivashka knocked off fellow qualifier, United States’ Mackenzie McDonald in three sets, 6-7 6-1 6-2, cruising home to book his spot in the next round against Zverev.

Over in Portugal, it was a good day for the seeds there too, albeit with a few more complications. With the exception of eighth seed Alejandro Davidovich Fokina‘s whitewash of Frenchman Jeremy Chardy 6-1 6-2, the other two seeds needed three sets to overcome their opponents. Third seed Ugo Humbert got up in a tight struggle over Italian Marco Cecchinato 6-4 3-6 6-3, while sixth seed Marin Cilic dropped the first set in a tiebreaker to home nation qualifier, Nuno Borges before coming back to win, 6-7 6-4 6-4. In the other match, South African Kevin Anderson took care of Spanish lucky loser Roberto Carballes Baena in straight sets, 6-3 7-6.

BMW OPEN ROUND OF 16 RESULTS:

[1] Alexander Zverev (GER) defeated [LL] Ricardas Berankis (LTU) 6-2 6-4
[2] Casper Ruud (NOR) defeated Pablo Cuevas (URU) 6-3 6-2
[8] John Millman (AUS) defeated Guido Pella (ARG) 4-6 2-0
[Q] Ilya Ivashka (BLR) defeated [Q] Mackenzie McDonald (USA) 6-7 6-1 6-2

ESTORIL OPEN ROUND OF 16 RESULTS:

[3] Ugo Humbert (FRA) defeated Marco Cecchinato (ITA) 6-4 3-6 6-3
[6] Marin Cilic (CRO) defeated [Q] Nuno Borges (POR) 6-7 6-4 6-4
[8] Alejandro Davidovich Fokina (ESP) defeated Jeremy Chardy (FRA) 6-1 6-2
Kevin Anderson (RSA) [LL] Roberto Carballes Baena (ESP) 6-3 7-6

Picture credit: ATP Tour