Tag: michael mmoh

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

2021 ATP 250 previews: Montpellier, Cordoba and Singapore

THREE ATP Tour 250 events will take off immediately after the Australian Open this weekend, with a number of mid-tier talents gaining some extra match practice following disappointing exits from the Australian Open. The top ranked player across the three tournaments is Diego Schwartzman (ninth) at Cordoba, while Roberto Bautista Agut (13th) is top seed in Montpellier, and Frenchman Adrian Mannarino (36th) leads a lower-ranked field in Singapore.

CORDOBA:

Schwartzman is the standout candidate on the clay tournament and honestly he should put this one in the bank without too much trouble. His nearest rival is 29th ranked Frenchman Benoit Paire, who has opted for Spain rather than his home nation at Montpellier. Paire is in a career slump since reaching the Auckland final 13 months ago, and will struggle up against a ton of clay court regulars.

Miomir Kecmanovic and Guido Pella round out the top five, with 46th ranked Albert Ramos-Vinolas the other Top 50 player in the draw. This tournament looms as one where, if Schwartzman pulls out or has a shocker, could be spread across any number of players. Thiago Monteiro is one who has been in good form, the likes of Marco Cecchinato and Juan Ignacio Londero can never be discounted on clay, and even rising Spaniard Jaume Munar is a chance.

The number one alternative at the time of publishing was Thiago Seyboth Wild who has all the talent if he can harness it, and genuinely could grab a Top 100 spot with a good run here. Spanish talents and South Americans make up the majority of the draw, with only half a dozen automatic entries from Europe, and none from the United States or Asia/Oceania.

MONTPELLIER:

Bautista Agut was aggravated at the Australian Open organisation, and now he returns to France in a reverse-Paire rather than going to his home nation in Spain. He and 15th ranked David Goffin – who both suffered disappointing shock losses at the Grand Slam – will be the clear standouts in a tournament that has the highest quality of the three by a fair way. Goffin should be the favourite still, but there are plenty in the running.

Aside from having two Top 20 players, as well as an additional two Top 30 players in Dusan Lajovic and Hubert Hurkacz, there is an abundance of youth, and returning experience that has signed up for the Montpellier event. Jannik Sinner and Ugo Humbert who are arguably the two most exciting Next Gen talents in the world are seeded, as are Lorenzo Sonego – most famously known for his upset of Novak Djokovic last year – and German Jan-Lennard Struff who ran into form at the ATP Cup.

The likes of Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Andy Murray have been named amongst the candidates to play, like fans have teleported back to the mid 2000s. Both will be returning from injury if they take to the court, amongst a host of Frenchman entered. Richard Gasquet, Gilles Simon and Lucas Pouille are all in, with Nikoloz Basilashvili and Jiri Vesely also amongst the automatic entries.

SINGAPORE:

The weakest of the three draws by a fair margin, the lowest automatic entry comes in at 187th in the world. To be fair, it is former Top 10 player Ernests Gulbis, but the Latvian is far from his glory days of a decade ago. He still has the most titles of anyone in the draw however, with some real solid competitors, though a lack of top-end talent has to be said.

Singapore could mark a rematch between Frenchman Mannarino and Australian John Millman from last year, which saw the Australian win his first ever ATP Tour title at the Astana Open. They are the standouts for the Asian event, with Marin Cilic and Alexander Bublik rounding out the four seeds. The eighth highest ranked player is Soonwoo Kwon (97th), with fair talents Yoshihito Nishioka, Radu Albot and Lloyd Harris the other seeds.

The unseeded players have some potential, with Michael Mmoh showing good form at Melbourne Park, and Alexei Popyrin and James Duckworth always dangerous. Japanese duo Yasutaka Uchiyama and Taro Daniel join Nishioka at the event, though Mannarino and Millman are clearly the standouts to take home the ATP 250 event trophy.

Picture credit: Getty Images

Australian Open Men’s Round of 128 wrap: Aussie upsets rule day two

IT was a memorable day for the home nation at the Australian Open, as four more Aussies moved through to the second round of the Grand Slam yesterday. Two of those results were major upsets, with none bigger than wildcard Alexei Popyrin‘s come-from-behind five set win over 13th seed David Goffin. The Australian won 3-6 6-4 6-7 7-6 6-3 in three hours and 43 minutes, hitting 50 winners to 42, and capitalising off his second serve to put the Belgian away.

The result marked Goffin’s second first round exit to start 2021, after going down to Spanish young gun Carlos Alcaraz in the lead-up tournament. Speaking of Alcaraz, he booked his passage into the second round with a comprehensive 6-1 6-4 6-4 victory over fellow qualifier, Dutchman Botic Van de Zandschulp. Remarkably there were three all-qualifier battles out on court today, with rising Czech talent Tomas Machac overcoming Spaniard Mario Viella Martinez when leading two sets to one and 3-0 in the fourth before Martinez retired hurt. American Michael Mmoh was the other qualifier to oust a fellow qualifier, defeating Viktor Troicki in a 7-6 6-7 3-6 7-6 7-5 in a whopping four hours and six minutes.

For all of Mmoh’s great work, he gets the reward of playing Rafael Nadal in the second round, with the King of Clay shrugging off the talented Laslo Djere in straight sets, 6-3 6-4 6-1. Roman Safiullin was the fourth qualifier to make it through to the next round, toppling Ilya Ivashka of Belarus, 6-4 6-3 6-4 to set up a date with Cameron Norrie in the Round of 64. The Brit talent upset his top ranked compatriot Daniel Evans, with the 30th seed coming off his maiden ATP Tour title just two days earlier.

Back on the Australians, 21st seed Alex de Minaur took out 2020 Australian Open quarter finalist, Tennys Sandgren in three sets, 7-5 6-1 6-1 to move through to the Round of 64. Joining him were compatriots Thanasi Kokkinakis who made his successful return via a straight sets win over Soonwoo Kwon, and Christopher O’Connell who stunned German talent Jan-Lennard Struff by saving six break points and only conceding 23 unforced errors in the 7-6 7-6 6-1 victory. The other big upset of the day was Moldovan Radu Albot stunning 12th seed Roberto Bautista Agut in four sets. Bautista Agut expressed his displeasure in being locked away in quarantine for two weeks, but due to his first round performance can now sightsee for another fortnight, having gone down to Albot 6-7 6-0 6-4 7-6.

Looking at the top seeds, all bar Goffin made it through, with only Karen Khachanov dropping a set – to Australian wildcard Aleksandar Vukic – and Casper Ruud winning via a Jordan Thompson retirement whilst two sets to love up. Daniil Medvedev, Stefanos Tsitsipas, Andrey Rublev, Matteo Berrettini, Fabio Fognini, Borna Coric and Lorenzo Sonego breezed through to the second round without dropping a set, while Filip Krajinovic (28th seed) had to go to four sets to win against Dutchman Robin Haase. Aside from Goffin and Evans, the third seed to bow out at the first hurdle was 26th Polish seed, Hubert Hurkacz who went down to Swede Mikael Ymer in five sets after leading two sets to one, 3-6 6-3 3-6 7-5 6-3.

Of the unseeded battles, There were a number of Americans who made it through in Tommy Paul and Mackenzie McDonald joining Mmoh in the next round, while Spanish trio Feliciano Lopez, Pablo Andujar and Roberto Carballes Baena all made it into the Round of 64. Elsewhere, Uruguay’s Pablo Cuevas set up a second round date with di Minaur, while South Africa’s Lloyd Harris, Italian Salvatore Caruso, Brazillian Thiago Monteiro and Lithuanian Ricardas Berankis all won their respective singles matches.

Looking to day three, it will be a mini-ATP Cup style battle between Canada and Australia when Denis Shapovalov and Felix Auger-Aliassime take on Bernard Tomic and James Duckworth respectively with the winners of those clashes to face off. Nick Kyrgios will have a stern test against 29th seed Ugo Humbert, while Alex Bolt also takes on a seed in 18th seed Bulgarian Grigor Dimitrov. A couple of exciting matches to watch out for include 32nd seed Adrian Mannarino up against Serbian Miomir Kecmanovic, while another Serbian Dusan Lajovic takes on Alexander Bublik. Top seed Novak Djokovic will look to fend off the Americans as he takes on Frances Tiafoe in the second round before facing the winner of 27th seed Taylor Fritz, and his compatriot Reilly Opelka.

ROUND OF 128 RESULTS:

[2] Rafael Nadal (ESP) defeated Laslo Djere (SRB) 6-3 6-4 6-1
[4] Daniil Medvedev (RUS) defeated Vasek Pospisil (CAN) 6-2 6-2 6-4
[5] Stefanos Tsitsipas (GRE) defeated Gilles Simon (FRA) 6-1 6-2 6-1
[7] Andrey Rublev (RUS) defeated Yannick Hanfmann (GER) 6-3 6-3 6-4
[9] Matteo Berrettini (ITA) defeated Kevin Anderson (RSA) 7-6 7-5 6-3
Radu Albot (MOL) defeated [12] Roberto Bautista Agut (ESP) 6-7 6-0 6-4 7-6
[WC] Alexei Popyrin (AUS) defeated [13] David Goffin (BEL) 3-6 6-4 6-7 7-6 6-3
[16] Fabio Fognini (ITA) defeated Pierre-Hugues Herbert (FRA) 6-4 6-2 6-3
[19] Karen Khachanov (RUS) defeated [WC] Aleksandar Vukic (AUS) 6-3 6-7 7-6 6-4
[21] Alex de Minaur (AUS) defeated Tennys Sandgren (USA) 7-5 6-1 6-1
[22] Borna Coric (CRO) defeated Guido Pella (ARG) 6-3 7-6 7-5
[24] Casper Ruud (NOR) defeated Jordan Thompson (AUS) 6-3 6-3 2-1 RET
Mikael Ymer (SWE) defeated [26] Hubert Hurkacz (POL) 3-6 6-3 3-6 7-5 6-3
[28] Filip Krajinovic (SRB) defeated Robin Haase (NED) 7-6 6-3 4-6 6-2
Cameron Norrie (GBR) defeated [30] Daniel Evans (GBR) 6-4 4-6 6-4 7-5
[31] Lorenzo Sonego (ITA) defeated Sam Querrey (USA) 7-5 6-4 6-4
[Q] Carlos Alcaraz (ESP) defeated [Q] Botic Van de Zandschulp (NED) 6-1 6-4 6-4
Pablo Andujar (ESP) defeated [Q] Quentin Halys (FRA) 6-4 7-5 7-5
Ricardas Berankis (LTU) defaeted [WC] Sumit Nagal (IND) 6-2 7-5 6-3
Roberto Carballes Baena (ESP) defeated Attila Balazs (HUN) 7-5 3-6 6-2 6-3
Salvatore Caruso (ITA) defeated [Q] Henri Laaksonen (SUI) 6-2 6-4 6-3
Pablo Cuevas (URU) defeated Andreas Seppi (ITA) 6-4 4-6 6-2 6-2
Lloyd Harris (RSA) defeated [LL] Mikael Torpegaard (DEN) 4-6 6-3 6-2 6-2
[WC] Thanasi Kokkinakis (AUS) defeated Soonwoo Kwon (KOR) 6-4 6-1 6-1
Feliciano Lopez (ESP) defeated [WC] Li Tu (AUS) 6-7 6-4 7-6 6-4
[Q] Tomas Machac (CZE) defeated [Q] Mario Vilella Martinez (ESP) 6-7 7-5 6-0 3-0 RET
[PR] Mackenzie McDonald (USA) defeated Marco Cecchinato (ITA) 3-6 6-3 6-2 6-2
[Q] Michael Mmoh (USA) defeated [Q] Viktor Troicki (SRB) 7-6 6-7 3-6 7-6 7-5
Thiago Monteiro (BRA) defeated Andrej Martin (SVK) 7-6 6-1 6-2
[WC] Christopher O’Connell (AUS) defeated Jan-Lennard Struff (GER) 7-6 7-6 6-1
Tommy Paul (USA) defeated Nikoloz Basilashvili (GEO) 6-4 7-6 6-4
[Q] Roman Safiullin (RUS) defeated Ilya Ivashka (BLR) 6-4 6-3 6-4

Picture credit: Brandon Malone/AFP

ATP 250 wraps: Aussies succeed on home soil as Kyrgios returns

ANOTHER huge day was had at both the Great Ocean Road Open and Murray River Open, with the ATP 250 tournaments showcasing plenty of formidable names heading into the Australian Open next week.

It was a massive day at the Great Ocean Road Open, with a couple of intriguing results coming out of the Round of 64 draw. Three Australians made their mark on home soil with Jordan ThompsonMatthew Ebden and wildcard Dane Sweeny all coming away with victory, with the latter two completing wins in straight sets, while 11th seed Thompson was forced to three sets by Italian Gianluca Mager, and three other Australians failed to come away with the ‘W’. Only a small spat from ninth seed Tennys Sandgren soured the United States’ day, with 10th seed Sam Querrey joining him on the winners list, and while compatriot Maxime Cressy may not have gotten the chocolates this time, his excellent effort pushing Pierre-Hugue Herbert to the bitter end was commendable, taking the Frenchman to a 6-7 7-6 7-6 outcome in two hours and 39 minutes. It was the American’s error rate which was the catch, matching his 23 aces with the same number of double faults.

The only seed to fall was 14th seed and world number 59 Spaniard Pablo Andujar, who was swept aside by Pablo Cuevas 6-4 6-2, and is joined by compatriot Pedro Martinez on the sidelines after he was down by Mikael Torpegaard. Meanwhile, Spanish 17-year-old and excitement machine Carlos Alcaraz heads into the second round by default after his Hungarian opposition Attila Balasz retired, giving the youngster a chance to really prove himself on the ATP Tour after excelling on the ITF circuit. A second Spaniard joined the winners list, with 188th ranked Mario Vilella Martinez defeating German Jannick Hanfmann, who sits just outside the top 100 at 101 on the world rankings.

In other games, a duo of Dutch winners in Robin Haase and Botic Van De Zandschulp got the job done, while Thiago Monteiro, Sergiy Stakhovsky and Cedrik-Marcel Stebe also put first round wins on the board.

GREAT OCEAN ROAD OPEN ROUND OF 64 RESULTS:

[9] Tennys Sandgren (USA) defeated [WC] John-Patrick Smith (AUS) 6-3 5-7 6-4
[10] Sam Querrey (USA) defeated Henri Laaksonen (SUI) 4-6 7-6 6-0
[11] Jordan Thompson (AUS) defeated Gianluca Mager (ITA) 4-6 6-4 6-3
Pablo Cuevas (URU) defeated [14] Pablo Andujar (ESP) 6-4 6-2
Carlos Alcaraz (ESP) defeated Attila Balazs (HUN) 2-2 RET
Matthew Ebden (AUS) defeated Federico Delbonis (ARG) 6-3 7-6
Robin Haase (NED) defeated Kimmer Coppejans (BEL) 6-4 6-3
Pierre-Hugues Herbert (FRA) defeated Maxime Cressy (USA) 6-7 7-6 7-5
Thiago Monteiro (BRA) defeated Thomas Fancutt (AUS) 6-4 6-4
Sergiy Stakhovsky (UKR) defeated Roman Safiullin (RUS) 6-7 6-4 6-3
Cedrik-Marcel Stebe (GER) defeated Hugo Dellien (BOL) 6-4 6-4
[WC] Dane Sweeny (AUS) defeated Ji Sung Nam (KOR) 7-6 7-5
Mikael Torpegaard (DEN) defeated Pedro Martinez (ESP) 6-4 7-5
Mario Vilella Martinez (ESP) defeated Jannick Hanfmann (GER) 7-6 6-4
Botic Van De Zandschulp (NED) defeated Tristan Schoolkate (AUS) 6-4 7-5

Just the one seed participated on day two at the Murray River Open, with Australian Nick Kyrgios the lone competitor and coming out with a solid win after overcoming a slow start against Frenchman Alexandre Muller, 3-6 6-4 7-6. The Australian took the court for the first time since last Australian summer, having sat out of thee remainder of 2020 due to COVID-19, and while it took the talent some time to get into the swing of things, his 22 aces more than proved he is ready for the challenge and return to the court. Kyrgios was not the only Australia who was successful on home soil though, joined by all three other Australians in this half of the draw as James DuckworthAlexei Popyrin and wildcard Andrew Harris all collected wins. Popyrin’s outing against Croatian Borna Gojo was perhaps one of the matches of the day, with all three sets taken to a tiebreaker in the 6-7 7-6 7-6 encounter, coming down to a battle of the service game as the two combined for 10 double faults and 36 aces in a two and a half hour battle.

Other tough battles came between the likes of Mikhail Kukushkin and Juan Ignacio Londero, with a 4-6 7-5 6-2 result the way of the former, while Japan’s Yuichi Sugita fought past a tight opening set against pressurised Frenchman Quentin Halys to come away with a 3-6 7-6 7-5 victory in two hours and 13 minutes. In other matches, American Marcos Giron downed compatriot Michael Mmoh in straight sets, as did Finnish competitor Emil Ruusuvuori against Serbian Viktor Troicki, while Gilles Simon and Jiri Vesely also got first round wins on the board.

MURRAY RIVER OPEN ROUND OF 64 RESULTS:

[13] Nick Kyrgios (AUS) defeated Alexandre Muller (FRA) 3-6 6-4 7-6
James Duckworth (AUS) defeated Tomas Machac (CZE) 6-3 6-4
Marcos Giron (USA) defeated Michael Mmoh (USA) 6-1 7-5
[WC] Andrew Harris (AUS) defeated Taro Daniel (JPN) 5-7 6-4 7-5
Mikahul Kukushkin (KAZ) defeated Juan Ignacio Londero (ARG) 4-6 7-5 6-2
Alexei Popyrin (AUS) defeated Borna Gojo (CRO) 6-7 7-6 7-6
Emil Ruusuvuori (FIN) defeated Viktor Troicki (SRB) 6-3 6-4
Gilles Simon (FRA) defeated Elias Ymer (SWE) 6-4 6-4
Yuichi Sugita (JPN) defeated Quentin Halys (FRA) 3-6 7-6 7-5
Jiri Vesely (CZE) defeated Frederico Ferreira Silva (POR) 6-4 6-4

Picture credit: AFP

Qualifiers confirmed for Australian Open

ALLOWING enough time to quarantine for 14 days, the Australian Open qualifiers have been confirmed following the completion of the three-round qualification stage over in the UAE. Hosted in Dubai three weeks prior to the Australian Open first round kicking off, 16 men and 16 women earned their places in the respective 128-player draws.

The successful qualifiers had to win three matches to make their way into the Australian Open main draw, and a mix of youth and experience will take to the courts next month.

Looking at the women’s draw, the experience begins with 2012 Roland Garros finalist Sara Errani, as well as two-time Grand Slam doubles winner Timea Babos who have both qualified in the singles draw. Fresh off a starring run to the 2020 US Open quarter finals, Bulgarian Tsvetana Pironkova has qualified for the main draw to try and replicate her run in Melbourne.

The top ranked qualifier was Slovenian Kaja Juvan, with the 20-year-old ranked 104th in the world, just missing out on an automatic spot in the main draw. Having won through to the second round at both Roland Garros and US Open, Juvan will be eyeing off a win for the first time at Melbourne Park. Third seed in qualifying, Belgian Greet Minnen also booked her spot at Melbourne Park, with the 110th ranked 23-year-old having only made main draws at the three Grand Slams last year, and made a second round at the Australian Open.

Without a doubt the best story was the qualification of 243rd ranked Brit, Francesca Jones, who has overcome Ectrodactyly Ectodermal Dysplasia (EED) to inspire many around the world. EED is a rare genetic condition where Jones was born with one less finger on each hand, and only seven toes. At only 20-years-old, the Leeds-born talent is appearing in her first Grand Slam main draw.

Among others to earn main draw spots in the women’s draw were top ranked Egyptian Mayar Sherif, Italian teenage young gun Elisabetta Cocciaretto, and Canadian 30-year-old Rebecca Marino who last played at Melbourne Park back in 2013.

Looking at the ATP qualifiers, one of the most talked about players is teenage sensation Carlos Alcaraz who lost himself no followers on his smashing of second qualifying seed Hugo Dellien in order to make the main draw. Aslan Karatsev is the highest ranked qualifier heading to Melbourne Park, with the 27-year-old Russian winning a spot. Dellien and top seed Gregoire Barrere – who lost to 182nd ranked Portugese player Frederico Ferreira Silva – were both knocked out of contention.

The player with the highest career ranking is Serbian Viktor Troicki, with the former world number 12 making his way into the singles draw, alongside rising talents, Michael Mmoh and Elias Ymer. Australian Bernard Tomic was the only local hope to book a spot in the main draw out of the qualifying contenders.

Dutch player Botic Van De Zandschulp ensured the Netherlands had a representative in the men’s draw, much like Sergiy Stakhovsky for Ukraine. A young gun to watch is 20-year-old Czech Tomas Machac, while 23-year-old Russian Roman Safiullin had some promising performances last year and is also into the Round of 128.

The full list of qualifiers are below in the table.

WOMEN MEN
Greet Minnen (BEL) Sergiy Stakhovsky (UKR)
Chloe Paquet (FRA) Michael Mmoh (USA)
Whitney Osuigwe (USA) Viktor Troicki (SRB)
Timea Babos (HUN) Roman Safiullin (RUS)
Elisabetta Cocciaretto (ITA) Mario Vilella Martinez (ESP)
Mayo Hibi (JPN) Henri Laaksonen (SUI)
Kaja Juvan (SLO) Carlos Alcaraz (ESP)
Sara Errani (ITA) Elias Ymer (SWE)
Valeria Savinykh (RUS) Maxime Cressy (USA)
Tsvetana Pironkova (BUL) Kimmer Coppejans (BEL)
Francesca Jones (GBR) Tomas Machac (CZE)
Clara Burel (FRA) Aslan Karatsev (RUS)
Liudmila Samsonova (RUS) Botic Van de Zandschulp (NED)
Rebecca Marino (CAN) Quentin Halys (FRA)
Olga Danilovic (SRB) Bernard Tomic (AUS)
Mayar Sherif (EGY) Frederico Ferreira Silva (POR)

Picture credit: Getty Images

Kukushkin ousts Garin in five, sets up third round clash with Thompson

MIKHAIL Kukushkin has outlasted Chilean 13th seed Cristian Garin to win in five sets today, setting up a third round encounter at the US Open with Australian Jordan Thompson. The 32-year-old Kazakhstan player won the first two sets with ease, before Garin hit back in the next two to level the match at two sets all, like he had done in the first round. Unlike that Round of 128 great escape over American wildcard Ulises Blanch, Garin was not able to pull off another come-from-behind victory and went down in five sets, 6-2 6-1 3-6 4-6 7-5 in four hours.

Ranked 90th in the world, Kukushkin was able to go toe-for-toe with the world number 19, hitting 45 winners apiece, though Kukushkin had six less unforced errors (41-47). While not completely dominant after the first couple of sets, Kukushkin still won all the key stats, recording a 59 per cent serving efficiency (compared to 54 per cent), 70 per cent first serve winning ratio (66 per cent) and 47 per cent second serve winning ratio (39 per cent). He was also able to capitalise on break point opportunities better, with nine from 13 – with five of those coming in the first two sets, and the last of those coming in the deciding fifth set – compared to Garin’s six of 16 success rate. The Chilean was able to serve double the aces (12-6), but unfortunately it did not help the knock on him being a clay specialist who struggles on hard court in big tournaments.

Now Kukushkin will face off against Australian Thompson, who booked his spot in the Round of 16 with a 6-1 6-4 3-6 6-3 triumph over Belarusian Egor Gerasimov. The Belarusian was coming off a good win over 18th seed Dusan Lajovic, but it was Thompson that fired from early on, racing through the first set, then going 2-0 up before the world number 72 won the third set. The Sydney-born Thompson is ranked nine places higher than his opponent, but he was largely made to fight off a fierce, but erratic Gerasimov. The Belarusian smashed 23 winners (six less than Thompson) but 51 unforced errors in a match he would rather like to forget, winning just 35 per cent of points off his second serve, whilst Thompson won 57 per cent of those to go with 72 per cent off his first serve as well as eight aces.

In terms of the top seeds, Novak Djokovic moved to 25-0 in season 2020 with a 6-7 6-3 6-4 6-2 win over Kyle Edmund. He did not have it all his own way against the Brit, but when the Serbian is winning 83 per cent of his first serve points off a 67 per cent success rate with 16 aces, very few could stop him. Edmund was not bad, doing well of his own service, but winning just 25 per cent of his return points compared to Djokovic’s 42 per cent. Now the Serbian meets Jan-Lennard Struff for the third time this year, after the German 28th seed got past American Michael Mmoh in straight sets, 6-2 6-2 7-5. Also through to the Round of 16 was fifth seed Alexander Zverev making it two Germans into the third round, defeating American 19-year-old Brandon Nakashima in four sets, 7-5 6-7 6-3 6-1. While Zverev got through, he admitted Nakashima – who only made his ATP Tour debut in January – was one to look out for in the future.

“Obviously I didn’t want to lose the second set, but I know that if I play my game I can still win,” Zverev said post-match. “So it was one set all, everything was still open. “He’s a good player [and] has an incredible backhand… “He’s a great player, I think, with great potential. “His serve surprised me a lot, because he doesn’t serve very fast. “But his placement is incredible. “He can go any corner. “He has all the serves that you need. “His second serve is incredibly good.”

Zverev will shape up against Frenchman, Adrian Mannarino who won against former top 10 player Jack Sock in straight sets, 7-6 7-5 6-2. The winner of that match will face off against either Cameron Norrie or Alejandro Davidovich Fokina with the two unseeded players making it through to the Round of 16. Norrie backed up his win against Diego Schwartzman in Round 1 with a 6-3 6-4 6-4 victory over another Argentinian in Federico Coria, while Davidovich Fokina upset rising talent, Pole Hubert Hurkacz.

At the other end of the draw, seventh seed David Goffin will take on the in-form 26th seed Filip Krajinovic, while Taylor Fritz was the only American – out of seven – to move from the second to the third round. Fritz got up 7-5 6-3 6-2 over Gilles Simon to book a date with Canadian young star, Denis Shapovalov who survived a dogfight against South Korea’s Soonwoo Kwon, 6-7 6-4 6-4 6-2. Meanwhile Pablo Carreno Busta had an easy second round encounter to roll past American wildcard Mitchell Krueger, 6-1 6-2 6-2 to come up against Lithuanian Ricardas Berankis who won in four sets against Steve Johnson. In the remaining two matches, 27th seed Borna Coric got through in a five-set thriller against Argentinian Juan Ignacio Londero to take on Greek star, Stefanos Tsitsipas who was matched at times by little known American world number 168 – or the next John Isner at 201cm- Maxime Cressy, but got there in the end.

Picture: Rhea Nall/USTA

Norrie comes from behind to stun Schwarzman in “two dogs with no serves” match

UNSEEDED Brit, Cameron Norrie has stunned the US Open followers with a massive come-from-behind five-set win against Diego Schwartzman to book a spot in the second round. The 25-year-old world number 76 defied heavy odds to win just his second career match in five sets, and his fifth in 50 games coming from a set down. This was not just one set down, but two, with Norrie having to overcome a two sets to love deficit with Schwartzman leading 6-3 6-4, before hitting back to win 3-6 4-6 6-2 6-1 7-5.

The match was a record-breaker for its whopping 58 break points, as it went to almost four hours in matchplay – three hours and 58 minutes – before Norrie was able to get back and win following five broken service games in the opening two sets. Norrie actually trailed again in the fifth at 3-5 and then saved two match points in the deciding set, before he broke Schwartzman for the 11th time in the match at 6-5 to take out the win.

“I’m not sure it’s too good of a record to be holding, but I think it had a lot to do with how he returns. It was tough to get free points out there,” Norrie said post-match. “It’s nice to be part of that [record] and it shows that it was just two dogs out there battling with no serves really. “It was a good match and I guess I’ll take the record.”

The total breakdown of break points was Norrie winning 11 of 31, whilst Schwartzman recorded eight of 27. The Brit said he was thankful to get through the scrap ahead of his second round match with Argentinian, Federico Coria who also came from two sets down to level the match before opponent Jason Jung was forced to retire 2-0 down in the fifth set.

“I was just real happy that I stayed patient and didn’t snap too much,” Norrie said. “I think I could have easily snapped at missing that many returns, especially against a guy [who doesn’t have] a huge serve. “I think my attitude won it for me today… sometimes you’ve got to win ugly, I think.”

Whilst Norrie’s win was the biggest in terms of opposition ranking, Schwartzman was not the only casualty on day one, with big serving American, and number one player from the home nation in John Isner exiting after a five-set thriller against compatriot, Steve Johnson. While Isner is the worst first round opponent when it comes to trying to warm up upon return games, Johnson did his best, weathering a storm of 52 aces from his higher ranked opponent, while producing 22 himself.

Johnson is no slouch on serve, and he won a whopping 85 per cent of his first serve points – more than Isner, but crucially was able to break twice and not be broken himself in a blockbuster smashing fest. The match lasted three hours and 50 minutes, with Isner smashing 91 winners to Johnson’s 74 during the 6-7 6-3 6-7 6-3 7-6 victory. Now the 30-year-old must advance through to take on Lithuania’s Ricardas Berankis in the second round.

At the top end of the seeds, the like of Novak Djokovic, Alexander Zverev, Stefanos Tsitsipas and David Goffin all advanced, though Zverev and Goffin dropped sets to challenging opponents in Kevin Anderson and Reilly Opelka.

Jordan Thompson flew the flag for Australia, booking his spot in the Round of 64 with a win over Italian Stefano Travaglia, and he will now take on Egor Gerasimov. The Belarusian upset 18th seed Dusan Lajovic in four sets, 6-1 4-6 6-4 6-4 in two hours and 26 minutes to make his way through. It was better news for his compatriot Filip Krajinovic on the same court later in the day, defeating Swede Mikael Ymer in straight sets.

The only other seed who looked in trouble on day one that came close to losing outside of those who did, was 13th seed Chilean Cristian Garin who had a less-than-convincing five-set win over United States’ Ulises Blanch.

The 244th 22-year-old stunned the world number 19 early in the match, winning the first two sets, 6-4 7-5, before Garin wrestled back control at 4-4 in the third to win six of the next eight games and level the match at two sets apiece. The Chilean then went on with it to win the match 4-6 5-7 6-4 6-4 6-2 in just over three hours of matchplay.

In terms of young guns, American teenager Brandon Nakashima defeated Italian Paolo Lorenzi in straight sets to book a second round date with Zverev, while 168th ranked 23-year-old Maxime Cressy knocked out Jozef Kovalik to have just as tough of a challenge in the next round against Tsitsipas. Mitchell Kreuger and Marcos Giron joined 19th seed Taylor Fritz and former top 10 player Jack Sock, as the other Americans through to the next round.

In other results, Kyle Edmund knocked off Alexander Bublik to take on the toughest challenge in tennis – Djokovic – while Jan-Lennard Struff remained on track to face the Serbian star again in the third round with a win over Spaniard, Pedro Martinez. Pablo Carreno-Busta, Denis Shapovalov, Borna Coric, Hubert Hurkacz and Adrian Mannarino all advanced through to the next stage of the event, set to face Krueger, Soonwoo Kwon, Juan Ignacio Londero, Alejandro Davidovich Fokina and Sock respectively. Of the remaining unseeded winners, Gilles Simon, Lloyd Harris and Mikhail Kukushkin all made it through.

At the time of publishing, United States’ Michael Mmoh had the advantage over Portugal’s Joao Sousa, leading two sets to one, entering into the fourth set.

Form shows in New York as stacked qualifying draw gets underway

IT was a huge first day at the traditional Cincinnati Masters – moved to New York for COVID-19 reasons in the lead up to the United States – with the Western & Southern Open’s qualifying taking place in the women’s and men’s draws.

Focusing the attention on the women’s draw, three of the top four seeds in the qualifying were bundled out, as those who impressed at Lexington continued their form. Here’s some of the highlights:

  • Top seed Jil Teichmann smashed Aliona Bolsova 6-2 6-2 in just 62 minutes of play
  • Canadian teenager Leylah Fernandez upset second seed Anna Blinkova 6-1 6-4
  • Liudmila Samsonova took down third seed Lauren Davis rather easily, 6-4 6-1
  • It was a positive day for the Americans with a number of crucial wins including Ann Li, Shelby Rogers, CiCi Bellis, Kristie Ahn, Jessica Pegula, Katie Volynets, Christina McHale and Caroline Dolehide
  • The longest match of the day by far was 12th seed Kristen Flipkens‘ 5-7 7-5 7-6 epic against Ukrainian Katarina Zavatska
  • Just 10 seeds remain out of the 20 that were out on court in a massive day of upsets
  • Teichmann and Rogers and Fernandez and Ahn are among the tantalising round two qualifying matches on display tomorrow

The ATP Tour’s tournament had just as many shocks on day one, with the majority of qualifiers out on court in the Masters 1000 event. Here’s some of the highlights from the day:

  • Ranked outside the top 100, Finn Emil Ruusuvuori took out second seed Frenchman Jeremy Chardy far too easily, 6-0 6-1, in a day of upsets on Court 12, with 17th and 19th seeds, Federico Delbonis and Laslo Djere both bowing out to unseeded Jaume Munar and Marcos Giron
  • Great American hope Brandon Nakashima was no match for 21st seed Hungarian, Marton Fucsovics, losing 6-2 6-4, while it was better news for lowly ranked J.J. Wolf and Mackenzie McDonald who knocked over 11th seed Egor Gerasimov and 24th seed Yuchi Sugita respectively
  • South African Lloyd Harris found his form from January with an upset win over up and coming Swede and 10th seed, Mikael Ymer 7-5 7-5
  • Third seed Pablo Cuevas joined Chardy and Juan Ignacio Londero on the sidelines after a shock loss to unseeded Japanese talent, Yasutaka Uchiyama
  • The first Australian male on court, Jordan Thompson was able to topple American Michael Mmoh
  • Salvatore Caruso defeated ATP Next Gen Finals winner Jannik Sinner in the all-Italian clash late in the day, while top seed Gilles Simon booked a spot in the second round of qualifying with a win over Taro Daniel

The wildcards for the ATP Tour events are impressive with the likes of up and comer, Tommy Paul and Australian Open quarter finalist Tennys Sandgren, as well as Frances Tiafoe and Grand Slam winner Andy Murray – the latter of whom both face off in the Round of 64.

Picture: Getty Images

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

Australian Open: Day 2 review (Day 1 completed) – Fognini produces comeback as Jabeur sends Konta packing

WITH rain causing a major delay on Day 1, we have split the remainder of the Round 1 Australian Open review into two parts. First we look at the games that did not take place or were suspended from Day 1 that were completed on Day 2, with a further two articles – one men’s and one women’s – outlining the scheduled Day 2 results later.

MEN’S:

American Tennys Sandgren has booked a date with Matteo Berrettini in the second round after the world number 100 defeated Argentinian qualifier, Marco Trungelliti in straight sets. Sandgren had it easy in the first set with a 6-1 win, before having to battle hard on his way to a 6-1 6-4 7-5 triumph. The American used his serve-volleying technique well with an 82 per cent success rate on his first serve points, followed up by a 70 per cent win ratio when approaching the net. Along with 32 winners and 13 aces, he was too powerful for the Argentinian who was consistent on serve (70 per cent first serve) but could not break through while Sandgren had four breaks himself.

Australian Jordan Thompson provided some joy for Australian fans down the bottom half of the draw with a straight sets win over Kazakhstan’s Alexander Bublik. The 6-4 6-3 6-2 victory was impressive to move through to the Round of 64, hitting less winners (29 to 39), but also being more sensible with his shots, recording just 20 unforced errors to Bublik’s 49 (which included five return unforced errors). He broke six times to Bublik’s once across the match and was a ray of consistency in a strong performance.

Thompson now faces 12th seed Fabio Fognini who must have enjoyed a nice rest overnight, coming from two sets down when play was suspended yesterday, to run out a five-set victor. He had to battle hard but was superb on the second day, winning 3-6 6-7 6-4 6-3 7-6 with a 10-5 score in the super tiebreak. He weathered the Reilly Opelka storm of 35 aces and 60 winners, to continually battle away and break three times in the end, as well as hit 41 winners and serve up 11 aces himself. Most importantly, he only had the 44 unforced errors to Opelka’s 73, while being the more dominant party when approaching the net with a 78 per cent success rate.


T. Sandgren (USA) defeated [Q] M. Trungelliti (ARG) 6-1 6-4 7-5
J. Thompson (AUS) defeated A. Bublik (KAZ) 6-4 6-3 6-2
[12] F. Fognini (ITA) defeated R. Opelka (USA) 3-6 6-7 6-4 6-3 7-6 SUSPENDED

A couple of five-set thrillers rounded out the second eighth of the bottom half of the draw, with one coming from two sets two, while the other survived an almighty comeback. Poland’s Hubert Hurkacz found himself two sets to love down against Austrian qualifier, Dennis Novak before coming back with vigour to run out a 6-7 1-6 6-2 6-3 6-4 winner. The 31st seed had hit only 17 winners and 30 unforced errors in the opening two sets, but took control after that, getting into the groove to hit 34 winners and only 21 unforced errors in his charge home. Hurkacz pounded 16 aces and clocked up an average of 187 kmh serves, winning 76 per cent of his first serve points and breaking five times to his opponents’ three to move through to the second round.

In one of the more impressive performances, Australia’s John Millman upset in-form Frenchman, Ugo Humbert. The 21-year-old was coming off a title at Auckland but it mattered little to the journeyman Aussie who in front of a home crowd powered to victory, 7-6 6-3 1-6 7-5. It was not the cleanest performance by either player with a combined 127 unforced errors for just 57 winners, and Humbert won one more point than the Australian. However it was Millman who took his chances with a more consistent serve – just two double faults to the Frenchman’s 11 – that got him home in the end.

Also moving onto the next round was Serbia’s Filip Krajinovic who held on against a fast finishing Quentin Halys. The French qualifier almost completed the perfect comeback after being two tiebreakers down to level the scores only to eventually lose to Krajinovic, 7-6 7-6 3-6 4-6 7-5. Halys’ serving kept him in it with 32 aces and a mind-boggling 98 winners. Though it was fair to say the Frenchman just went all out with an equally stunning 15 double faults and 80 unforced errors. Krajinovic was more controlled with 51 winners and 44 unforced errors, while winning 52 per cent of his second serve points – compared to 37. His reward for victory is now facing Roger Federer in the second round.

Meanwhile in-form American Tommy Paul moved past Argentina’s Leonardo Mayer in four sets, coming back from a set down to win 4-6 6-4 6-4 6-4. Predominantly serving strongly without a huge amount of his power that he has shown at times, Paul won 70 per cent of his first serve and 76 per cent of his second serve points, making it difficult for Mayer to break. Though he did so four times, Paul broke his opponent six times as well as hit a clean 41 winners for 24 unforced errors. Mayer was okay throughout with a strong presence at the net, but it was not enough to get the win.

The final match was Italian Next Gen winner Jannik Sinner knocking off Australian qualifier Max Purcell in straight sets. Sporting a classy Hawaiian top, Sinner claimed the victory 7-6 6-2 6-4 over the young Australian with a mullet. Sinnik can be erratic with his shots at times – hitting 36 unforced errors from 27 winners – but has some nice skills that will only develop with more experience. He won 79 per cent of his first serve points, and broke Purcell five times during the match on his way to victory and a spot in the second round against Hungarian, Marton Fucsovics who knocked off 13th seed Denis Shapovalov.

J. Sinner (ITA) defeated [Q] M. Purcell (AUS) 7-6 6-2 6-4
T. Paul (USA) defeated L. Mayer (ARG) 4-6 6-4 6-4 6-4
[31] H. Hurkacz (POL) defeated [Q] D. Novak (AUT) 6-7 1-6 6-2 6-3 6-4
J. Millman (AUS) defeated U. Humbert (FRA) 7-6 6-3 1-6 7-5
F. Krajinovic (SRB) defeated [Q] Q. Halys (FRA) 7-6 7-6 3-6 4-6 7-5

Looking into the bottom quarter of the draw, two matches were completed over the two days with Canadian Milos Raonic winning the required extra game to finish off lucky loser, Lorenzo Giustino, while ninth seed Roberto Bautista Agut completed a three-set win over Feliciano Lopez. Bautista Agut was too good for the veteran, winning 75 and 70 per cent of his first and second serve points and playing a typical “RBA” game with his 36 winners and 17 unforced errors to lead in every statistical category against his countryman.

Bautista Agut now sets his sights on young Saudi Arabian-born Michael Mmoh who is representing the United States. At 22-years-old he saw past Spain’s Pablo Andujar and could boost his ranking well past his 200-plus current ranking. In the two hour match he served eight aces and had a consistent first serve, putting it in 79 per cent of the time while winning 44 per cent of his opponents’ serve points. He broke seven times to Andujar’s three, hitting 30 winners along the way on his road to the Round of 64.

There must be something about the flight from Auckland to Melbourne because while Humbert bowed out, Benoit Paire had to fight for his spot in a five-set win over German, Cedrick Marcel Stebe. It was a tough fight for four sets before the Frenchman and ASB Classic finalist ran away with it 6-0 in the deciding set. With the match on the line at two sets all, Paire produced a near-perfect set with four aces, 12 winners and only dropping three points on serve as he broke his opponent three times and restricted him to just 10 points in total.

His Round 2 opponent Marin Cilic had a much easier time, downing Frenchman Corentin Moutet, 6-3 6-2 6-4 to advance through to the next stage. Cilic won 83 and 77 per cent of his first and second serve points respectively, hit 34 winners and looked incredibly dangerous for an unseeded player capable of knocking off any top 30 opponent. He was far too good for Moutet and has a 4-1 head-to-head record against Paire so will start favourite in the matchup.

The final match of the eighth was Chile’s Cristian Garin winning in straight sets against Italian, Stefano Travaglia 6-4 6-3 6-4. In just over two hours, Garin won every possible area he could with a strong serve-volley game thanks to 72 per cent of his first serve points and 82 per cent of his net points won. He smashed 38 winners and only 23 unforced errors, while his opponent struggled to break the 36th ranked Chilean only converting one of his seven opportunities.


C. Garin (CHI) defeated S. Travaglia (ITA) 6-4 6-3 6-4
[32] M. Raonic (CAN) defeated [LL] L. Giustino (ITA) 6-2 6-1 6-3
[21] B. Paire (FRA) defeated C. Stebe (GER) 6-4 3-6 6-3 6-7 6-0
M. Cilic (CRO) defeated C. Moutet (FRA) 6-3 6-2 6-4
[WC] M. Mmoh (USA) defeated P. Andujar (ESP) 6-1 6-4 6-4
[9] R. Bautista Agut (ESP) defeated F. Lopez (ESP) 6-2 6-2 7-5

In the final eighth of the draw, a further five matches were completed on top of the three that finished on Day 1. It was a good day for Serbia with Dusan Lajovic coming from a first set deficit prior to the suspended play, only to come back and down Brit, Kyle Edmund for the first time in the pair’s history. It took a massive two hours and 46 minutes in an epic for what was essentially a straight sets win, but ultimately worth it for Lajovic who triumphed 7-6 6-3 7-6. He won 81 per cent of his first serves, smashed home 39 winners including three off the return, while forcing Edmund on the back foot with an impressive 37 per cent receiving points won.

At the top of the eighth, 14th seed Diego Schwartzman sent South African improver Lloyd Harris back to earth after a strong Adelaide carnival that saw him reach the final. Schwartzman posted a comfortable 6-4 6-2 6-2 victory in just under two hours to move through to the next round. It was Harris’ wild shots that were ultimately his undoing, hitting 47 unforced errors to Schwartzman’s 18, while only winning 40 per cent of his second serve points and breaking once to the Argentinian’s six times. Schwartzman now takes on Spain’s Alejandro Davidovich Fokina who defeated Slovakian qualifier, Norbert Gombos in five sets.

Davidovich Fokina had to come back from two sets to one down to win 4-6 6-4 2-6 6-3 6-2 in an armwrestle. The Spaniard hit less winners (40) and only won two more points overall, but broke six times to his opponents’ five which was the difference in the end. Neither player set the world on fire to be fair, but the world number 88 got the job done in just over three hours and booked a spot in the Round of 64.

With an even tougher task in Round 2, Japanese wildcard Tatsuma Ito will now head to Rod Laver Arena where he tries to stop the seven-time Australian Open champion, Novak Djokovic. Ito downed Indian lucky loser, Prajnesh Gunneswaran in straight sets 6-4 6-2 7-5, serving at 76 per cent efficiency, as well as winning 70 per cent of his first serve points. Ito was more controlled on serve despite four double faults, as Gunneswaran posted 13 aces, but struggled on his second serve with just 38 per cent success rate in the match.

Australian wildcard Marc Polmans had the most epic battle of the Australian Open so far, seeing off a comeback from Kazakhstan veteran, Mikhail Kukushkin in an unbelievable four hours and 17 minutes on Court 7. Polmans looked to be cruising when he shocked the world number 68 with the first two sets in the bag at 6-4 6-3, but Kukushkin was not to give up. Instead the veteran won the next two 6-4 7-6, including a 10-8 tiebreaker in the fourth to force a decider. Luckily for the home fans, they went home happy as the 133rd ranked, South African-born local won 6-4 6-3 4-6 6-7 6-4 to book a spot against Lajovic in the Round of 64. He will hope to be rested after the battle with 346 points played, but Polmans was economical with just 34 unforced errors whilst playing 53 winners. Kukushkin hit 84 winners, but struggled on Polman’s serve with just a 38 per cent success rate.

[14] D. Schwartzman (ARG) defeated L. Harris (RSA) 6-4 6-2 6-2
A. Davidovich Fokina (ESP) defeated [Q] N. Gombos (SVK) 4-6 6-4 2-6 6-3 6-2
[WC] M. Polmans (AUS) defeated M. Kukushkin (KAZ) 6-4 6-3 4-6 6-7 6-4
[24] D. Lajovic (SRB) defeated K. Edmund (GBR) 7-6 6-3 7-6
[WC] T. Ito (JPN) defeated [LL] P. Gunneswaran (IND) 6-4 6-2 7-5

WOMEN’S:

Slovenian top 50 player, Polona Hercog booked a date with world number one Ash Barty in the second round following a straight sets victory over Swede, Rebecca Peterson. Hercog won 6-3 6-3 in a solid performance which saw her break four times to Peterson’s once, while winning almost half of her receiving points. In the match she produced a superior 68 and 53 per cent first serve point winning percentage, much higher than her opponent’s 48 per cent. She will need to improve to match it with Barty though who is on another level altogether.

Dangerous Belgian qualifier, Greet Minnen continued her run by moving into the second round thanks to a tight three-set win over Aliaksandra Sasnovich of Belarus. Minnen triumphed 7-6 4-6 7-5 in a two hour and 39 minute battle on Court 15 where she hit 39 winners to 18 in a display of power. The Belgian also hit 62 unforced errors against the 94th ranked Sasnovich, but broke at crucial times, as well as controlled her first serve with a 70 per cent winning ratio.

Minnen now faces up-and-coming young star, Kazakhstan’s Elena Rybakina after the 20-year-old recorded a 6-3 6-2 victory over United States’ Bernada Pera. Rybakina lost to Pera last time they faced, but there were no troubles this time as she controlled play and backed up her recent title in Hobart and final at Shenzhen. Rybakina’s serve was a treat with an 87 per cent first serve percentage, while breaking three times from five opportunities and now allowing her opponent an opportunity to return the favour.

In the last remaining match in the eighth, 18th seed Alison Riske knocked over Chinese world number 51, Wang Yafan in three sets, 7-6 2-6 6-3 taking three hours on the dot to do so. Riske hit 45 winners throughout the contest to her opponent’s 41, and was stronger at the net with a 68 per cent winning ratio. Neither player’s serve was overly outstanding with just over 50 per cent on both first serve winning points, but it was standing up at the right time which Riske did in the deciding set to move through to the second round and face Yafan’s compatriot in Zhu Lin.

P. Hercog (SLO) defeated R. Peterson (SWE) 6-3 6-3
[Q] G. Minnen (BEL) defeated A. Sasnovich (BLR) 7-6 4-6 7-5
[29] E. Rybakina (KAZ) defeated B. Pera (USA) 6-3 6-2
[18] A. Riske (USA) defeated Y. Wang (CHN) 7-6 2-6 6-3

American 10th seed Madison Keys breezed through to Round 2 with a 6-3 6-1 triumph over Russian, Daria Kasatkina in under an hour. One of the outside favourites for the tournament, Keys started her campaign off on the right foot with the comfortable win, serving four aces as Kasatkina failed to produce an ace but recorded nine double faults in a disaster of a match on-serve. Keys hit 29 winners to five, including punishing the slower serving Kasatkina with eight return winners.

Keys now faces Netherlands’ Arantxa Rus who upset Magda Linette in three sets. After losing the first set in disappointing fashion, Rus bounced back to record a 1-6 6-3 6-4 victory in over two hours of action. Ranked 50 places higher, and statistically looking stronger on serve and at the net, it was more a case of the Pole’s loose shots that were costing her, racking up 51 unforced errors. Rus did not doing anything special other than continue to put pressure on with her first serve percentage of 78, while breaking even with five break games each.

Meanwhile Japanese qualifier, Nao Hibino downed China’s Peng Shuai in three sets. Shuai won the first set 6-4, before Hibino came back to post a 4-6 7-6 6-3 win in what was an odd set of circumstances given Hibino is actually placed a rank higher than her opponent at 103rd in the world. Hibino won 71 per cent of her first serve points and was efficient upon approaching the net, winning 81 per cent of her net points on her way to a massive 51 winners. Her second serve was a bit of a liability with Shuai hitting seven return winners, but in play action, the Japanese qualifier was too strong to move through to the next stage of the tournament.

Hibino faces a red-hot 22nd seed, Maria Sakkari who downed Russia’s Margarita Gasparyan 6-2 6-2. Sakkari recorded a whopping 92 per cent success rate on her first serve, and the Russian could not find a way through, failing to create a break point opportunity as the Greek posted four breaks in the match, winning the long rallies with 16 winners to four. Sakkari also won almost half of her receiving points, taking control of Gasparyan’s serve with the Russian recording just 50 and 43 per cent success on her first and second serve points respectively.

[10] M. Keys (USA) defeated D. Kasatkina (RUS) 6-3 6-1
A. Rus (NED) defeated M. Linette (POL) 1-6 6-3 6-4
[Q] N. Hibino (JPN) defeated S. Peng (CHN) 4-6 7-6 6-3
[22] M. Sakkari (GRE) defeated M. Gasparyan (RUS) 6-2 6-2

The biggest upset of the Day 1 scheduled matches was Tunisia’s Ons Jabeur bundling out 12th seed, Johanna Konta of Great Britain in straight sets, 6-4 6-2. The world number 87 was consistent throughout the win to open up the eighth of the draw, hitting 19 winners and only 12 unforced errors, while producing a 74 and 67 per cent winning ratio on her first and second serves. By contrast, the 13th ranked Konta only managed 60 and 36 per cent respectively, only managing to break once compared to Jabeur’s four times during the match which cost her and she became the highest ranked casualty of the Day 1 scheduled matches.

Jabeur now takes on Frenchwoman, Caroline Garcia who downed American Madison Brengle from a set down. Trailing after losing a tiebreaker 7-5, Garcia found the form that made her a top 40 player last year to run out a 6-7 6-2 6-2 winner in two hours. It was all decided off Garcia’s racquet with a massive 48 winners and 40 unforced errors, while Brengle was often reactive with just nine winners and 22 unforced errors. While the American did produce a serve percentage of 75 per cent, it was the only key area she excelled in as Garcia was more efficient once in play with a 72 per cent first serve win ratio, while breaking five times to one and putting down seven aces in the victory.

It was much easier for teenage Ukrainian star, Dayana Yastremska as the 23rd seed made light work of Slovenian qualifier, Kaja Juvan 6-1 6-1 in 54 minutes. Yastremska was just a class above with 11 winners to six, while Juvan hit 32 unforced errors to 18. Breaking five times and winning 78 and 70 per cent of her first and second serve points, Yastremska was a rock on serve, with Juvan unable to break and hit just one winner off the return. The 19-year-old now meets 2018 Australian Open winner, Caroline Wozniacki in Round 2.

Chinese 27th seed, Wang Qiang saw off the challenge of French veteran, Pauline Parmentier in straight sets. The 33-year-old received a wildcard entry into the Australian Open, but was bundled out by the world number 29, 7-6 6-3 in an hour and a half of action. It was a tight game for the most part, with Qiang being more economical thanks to her 17 winners and 28 unforced errors compared with 10 and 36 respectively for her opponent. Parmentier also served five double faults, while Qiang was must stronger off her second serve points with a 58 per cent success rate compared to just 24 per cent for the Frenchwoman.

In the other remaining match of the eighth, it was better news for France as Fiona Ferro breezed past Alison Van Uytvanck, 6-2 6-1 in an hour and 14 minutes. Despite being ranked 16 places lower than her opponent, the world number 63 had no problems throughout the game, breaking five times and saving all three break point opportunities from the Belgian. She broke even with her winners and unforced errors at 16-apiece, while controlling play with her serve, dropping only 14 points on-serve as her opponent struggled with just 41 per cent of her first serve points won.

O. Jabeur (TUN) defeated [12] J. Konta (GBR) 6-4 6-2
C. Garcia (FRA) defeated M. Brengle (USA) 6-7 6-2 6-2
[23] D. Yastremska (UKR) defeated [Q] K. Juvan (SLO) 6-1 6-1
[27] Q. Wang (CHN) defeated [WC] P. Parmentier (FRA) 7-6 6-3
F. Ferro (FRA) defeated A. Van Uytvanck (BEL) 6-2 6-1