Tag: Nikoloz Basilashvili

ATP Tour wrap: Basilashvili and Ramos-Vinolas grab titles ahead of Madrid

NIKOLOZ Basilashvili and Albert Ramos-Vinolas have added titles to their trophy cabinets with respective ATP Tour finals wins in the BMW Open and Estoril Open overnight. Georgian Basilashvili defeated seventh seed Jan-Lennard Struff to claim his fifth ATP Tour title, knocking off the German in his maiden final, whilst seven seed Spaniard Ramos Vinolas grabbed his third title with a come-from-behind win over unseeded Brit Cameron Norrie.

Basilashvili won 6-4 7-6 in one hour and 26 minutes, weathering a storm of 13 aces to put down six himself, whilst breaking Struff the one from two chances and saving the only break point he faced. It was truly a match of the power servers, and the Georgian was able to capitalise more, only dropping 16 points on serve in total, which was five less than his German opponent, as both players were ultra-impressive, but the Georgian won in the clutch moments, including a 7-5 second set tiebreak.

“It wasn’t easy and I was super-tight at the end,” Basilashvili said post-match. “It was very difficult. It’s never easy playing Jan, he’s a very big fighter and serves really well. I am super happy. It seems like German conditions suit me. This is my fifth [ATP Tour] title and it will give me confidence for the upcoming tournaments.”

In Portugal, Ramos-Vinolas found himself a set down against an in-form Norrie who wanted to move to outright third on the table of 2021 ATP Tour wins this year. Unfortunately for the Brit – who was subsequently searching for his maiden ATP Tour title like Struff – the Spaniard had other ideas, coming back to win the second set, then holding out in a third set tiebreaker 7-3, to win 4-6 6-3 7-6 in two hours and 44 minutes. Ramos-Vinolas served eight aces to Norrie’s six, and won 66 and 59 per cent of his first and second serve points compared to the Brit’s 62 and 49 per cent, though both players broke an identical four times from 11 chances.

“It means a lot [to win the title]. I won three tournaments in my career, so this is one of the best three weeks in my career. I am really happy,” Ramos-Vinolas said post-match. “It was a really difficult match against Cameron. I think he played a really good tournament. I am happy for me, but he is a really good friend of mine and I am sorry for him, because I think he deserved to win the tournament as [much as] me.”

Ramos-Vinolas moved to 16 wins on clay courts on the 2021 ATP Tour, nine clear of his nearest rivals which will hold him in good stead ahead of the Madrid Open which got underway with the first few matches. Eleventh seed Denis Shapovalov moved through with a convincing 6-1 6-3 victory over Serbian Dusan Lajovic, with Kazakhstan’s Alexander Bublik and United States’ Tommy Paul also claiming straight sets victories over Hungarian Marton Fucsovics and Spaniard Pedro Martinez respectively. In the closest match of the day, Australian Alex de Minaur came from behind to defeat Spanish wildcard Jaume Munar, 4-6 7-5 6-1 to moved through to the Round of 32.

BMW OPEN FINAL RESULT:

Nikoloz Basilashvili (GEO) defeated [7] Jan-Lennard Struff (GER) 6-4 7-6

ESTORIL OPEN FINAL RESULT:

[7] Albert Ramos-Vinolas (ESP) defeated Cameron Norrie (GBR) 4-6 6-3 7-6

MADRID OPEN ROUND OF 64 RESULTS:

[11] Denis Shapovalov (CAN) defeated Dusan Lajovic (SRB) 6-1 6-3
Alex de Minaur (AUS) defeated [WC] Jaume Munar (ESP) 4-6 7-5 6-1
Alexander Bublik (KAZ) defeated Marton Fucsovics (HUN) 7-6 6-3
Tommy Paul (USA) defeated [WC] Pedro Martinez (ESP) 6-4 7-5

Picture credit: ATP Tour

ATP Tour wrap: Struff eyes off maiden title in home nation

GERMAN Jan-Lennard Struff will eye off his maiden ATP Tour title after downing Belarusian qualifier Ilya Ivashka to reach the final of the BMW Open in Munich. The 87-minute victory came after Ivashka had disposed of his top ranked compatriot Alexander Zverev in the quarter finals, with Struff doing it a lot easier, 6-4 6-1 in 87 minutes of action.

The seventh seed’s win mean the home nation hero was finally able to break through to an ATP Tour final after previously reaching the semi-final stage of an ATP Tour tournament on seven occasions. Having been broken early and trailing 3-0, Struff looked in a bit of trouble until he won 12 of the next 13 games in a one-sided result much to the pleasure of the German crowd.

“I am happy to have reached my first final on home soil in Germany and I will try my best tomorrow,” Struff said post-match.

The German will now face fellow unseeded talent Nikoloz Basilashvili who has been there and done it before, collecting four ATP Tour titles, the most recent of which occurred in Doha earlier this year. Much like Struff the Georgian also came from a slight deficit – albeit only the opening game in this case – to string together the next nine matches to win the first set 6-1 and lead 3-0 against second seed Casper Ruud. Basilashvili eventually won the second set 6-2 with three of the last four games, to upset the highly ranked Norwegian and roll into the decider.

“I am feeling good and I am feeling fresh,” Basilashvili said post-match. “I am looking forward to the final. “I feel confident here and the court suits me, so it will be an interesting match tomorrow as we played recently in Italy.”

The interesting factor will be Basilashvili’s extra workload during the day after the Georgian defeated Slovenian lucky loser Norbert Gombos 6-4 6-4, and Ruud had taken down Australian eighth seed John Millman in the other quarter final 6-3 6-4, before having to head out on court for the semi-final last night.

Meanwhile in the other ATP 250 event, unseeded Brit Cameron Norrie booked his unlikely spot in the Estoril Open final in Portugal. Norrie overcame sixth seed Marin Cilic to make his way into the decider following two tight sets 7-6 7-5, and will take on seventh seed Albert Ramos-Vinolas in today’s final after the Spaniard took care of compatriot, eighth seed Alejandro Davidovich Fokina in the other semi-final, 6-1 6-4.

“I was really tough. I started a little bit slow and managed to ease my way into the match. [I] played really good when break point down and went after it,” Norrie said post-match. “[Marin] was serving great and it was really tricky to get his first serve back… I am fortunate to get through and I am just happy to be in my second final.”

Norrie is having some sort of season, having claimed 18 ATP Tour victories this season, ranked equal third overall with Italian Jannik Sinner, behind Greek star Stefanos Tsitsipas, and red-hot Russian Andrey Rublev (26). Going into outright third might be a challenge in this match though, as the Brit looks to overcome a 2-0 head-to-head advantage that Ramos-Vinolas has in their clashes thus far.

BMW OPEN SEMI-FINALS RESULTS:

Nikoloz Basilashvili (GEO) defeated [2] Casper Ruud (NOR) 6-1 6-2
Jan-Lennard Struff (GER) defeated [Q] Ilya Ivashka (BLR) 6-4 6-1

BMW OPEN QUARTER FINALS RESULTS:

[2] Casper Ruud (NOR) defeated [8] John Millman (AUS) 6-3 6-4
Nikoloz Basilashvili (GEO) defeated [LL] Norbert Gombos (SLO) 6-4 6-4

ESTORIL OPEN SEMI-FINALS RESULTS:

Cameron Norrie (GBR) defeated [6] Marin Cilic (CRO) 7-6 7-5
[7] Albert Ramos-Vinolas (ESP) defeated [8] Alejandro Davidovich Fokina (ESP) 6-1 6-4

Picture credit: ATP Tour

ATP Tour wrap: Qualifier stuns Zverev as Munich hosts thrillers

TOP seed and tournament favourite Alexander Zverev is out of the 2021 BMW Open in Munich, Germany after going down in a nail-biter to Belarusian qualifier Ilya Ivashka. With just two matches on court to start the quarter finals, the German fans through they might come away with back-to-back wins after seventh seed Jan-Lennard Struff held on against a determined Filip Krajinovic in three sets, but it was not to be.

In the first game, Struff needed all three sets to dismiss Krajinovic, with the seventh seed German winning 6-4 4-6 7-6 over the fourth seed Serbian. The deciding set tiebreaker went to 7-3, and was part of a whopping three-flat hours before the fast-serving Struff could advance. In those three hours, Struff put down 15 aces to Krajinovic’s six, whilst winning 77 per cent of his first serve points. By comparison the Serbian only won 58 per cent, but managed to save 11 of 16 break points, while Struff also defended well, saving eight of 13.

After Struff got up, the confidence of the home fans was sky-high to set up an all-German semi-final with Zverev out on court against Ivashka. After being pushed all the way in the first set, the number one seed prevailed 7-5 in the tiebreaker to take an early lead, and when the German served for the match at 5-4, many fans were expecting to head home shortly after. Ivashka had other ideas however, breaking the serve and winning the next three games – and nine of the last 12 0 to sail to victory, 6-7 7-5 6-3.

“This match was really tough for me and I was [close to losing] in the second set,” Ivashka said post-match. “I managed well and I tried stay in and fight until the last moment to see if he would give [me] chances and it happened.”

It was Ivashka first-ever Top 10 win, and his break in the seventh game of the second set helped him hold on and record a memorable come-from-behind victory, as both players serve five aces, but Zverev produced 10 more double faults. Ivashka saved six of nine break point opportunities, while breaking Zverev at a 50 per cent rate (five of 10).

“I just came to play match after match,” Ivashka said. “I knew that I had played well [in the] previous weeks… but I was not expecting [this run].”

Tomorrow is a hectic day with the two quarter finals – between second seed Casper Ruud and eighth seed John Millman, and fifth seed Nikoloz Basilashvili and lucky loser Norbert Gombos – taking place, as well as both semi-finals between the winners of those games, and the Struff-Ivashka clash.

Meanwhile in Estoril, unseeded Brit Cameron Norrie stunned second seed Cristian Garin in a come-from-behind victory on clay, saluting 3-6 7-5 6-3 in a nail-bitter to advance through to the semi-finals. Norrie broke three times to two in the two-hour and 28-minute clash, winning 59 per cent of his second serves to Garin’s 43 per cent to be the difference in an otherwise relatively even match. Norrie will now face sixth seed Marin Cilic who had an easy day out by winning a tiebreaker in the first set before South African Kevin Anderson retired. In the other quarter finals, seventh seed Albert Ramos-Vinolas and eighth seed Alejandro Davidovich Fokina both won through to set up an all-Spanish semi-final following wins over respective Frenchmen, Corentin Moutet and third seed Ugo Humbert.

BMW OPEN QUARTER FINALS RESULTS:

[Q] Ilya Ivashka (BLR) defeated [1] Alexander Zverev (GER) 6-7 7-5 6-3
[7] Jan-Lennard Struff (GER) defeated [4] Filip Krajinovic (SRB) 6-4 4-6 7-6

ESTORIL OPEN QUARTER FINALS RESULTS:

Cameron Norrie (GBR) defeated [2] Cristian Garin (CHI) 3-6 7-5 6-3
[8] Alejandro Davidovich Fokina (ESP) defeated [3] Ugo Humbert (GRA) 6-4 6-4
[6] Marin Cilic (CRO) defeated Kevin Anderson (RSA) 7-6 0-0 RET
[7] Albert Ramos-Vinolas (ESP) defeated Corentin Moutet (FRA) 6-4 6-3

Picture credit: Christof Stache/AFP via Getty Images

ATP Tour wrap: Shapovalov bundled out among walkovers aplenty

THE Round of 16 has rolled on at the two ATP 250 events this week, with a couple of interesting results across both the BMW Open in Munich, Germany, and the Estoril Open in Portugal. A walkover was had at both tournaments in an intriguing quirk heading into the quarter-finals, as a top seed heads into the third round by default at both events.

At Munich, all three seeds prevailed on a trying day on clay, with the day’s top seed in Filip Krajinovic easing through to the third round following a walkover from German Yannick Hanfmann, while it was an entirely different story for Jan-Lennard Struff who overcame compatriot Dominik Koepfer in a massive 7-6(3) 6-7(0) 6-2 encounter.

Struff required two hours and 39 minutes to account for Koepfer, recovering from 2-4 down in the first to steal the first and requiring plenty of dash and dare to claim the final four games of the match to come away with victory, after a 0-7 deficit saw him drop the second set tiebreaker.

“I am very, very happy that I turned around the first set,” Struff said on court. “I played a not good second-set tie-break. Before [that] the set was okay, but I couldn’t lock into his service games that much… I am very happy that I broke him in the third set and I am very happy to be through. Dominik is a good guy and a very good player.”

The remaining winners of the day were fifth seed Georgian Nikoloz Basilashvili and lucky loser Norbert Gombos, who both claimed wins in straight sets, disposing of Colombian qualifier Daniel Elahi Galan and Argentinian Federico Coria, respectively.

At Estoril, top seed Canadian Denis Shapovalov was ousted by Frenchman Corentin Moutet, with only a second set grab from Shapovalov putting a blemish in Moutet’s solid 6-4 2-6 6-4 victory. With this outing Shapovalov’s first as a top seed, Moutet was aware of the gravity of the encounter.

“It was who will play less worst today,” Moutet said post-match. “I think he didn’t play his best level. “I’m really happy to win, of course, because he’s such a great player. “It was a very close match. “Today I’m lucky that I won at the end. “A few points decided the winner.”

The left-handed Frenchman required two hours and six minutes to dispose of Shapovalov, who was error-ridden on serve and failed to consistently capitalise on his opportunities. Comparatively, Moutet won 66 per cent of his first serve points and 50 per cent of his second set points, all off a 67 per cent clip. He also saved nine of 13 break points and converted on four.

Second seed Cristian Garin was not required to take the court as Moutet’s compatriots Richard Gasquet and Pierre-Hugues Herbert were not quite so lucky. While the former withdrew prior to the match with a left adductor injury, Herbert was take out in straight sets by seventh seed Spaniard Albert Ramos-Vinolas, as Cameron Norrie was tested by qualifier Pedro Martinez after dropping the first set, before running home with a huge three hour, 4-6 7-6(1) 7-5 victory.

BMW OPEN ROUND OF 16 RESULTS:

[4] Filip Krajinovic (SRB) defeated [WC] Yannick Hanfmann (GER) W/O
[5] Nikoloz Basilashvili (GEO) defeated [Q] Daniel Elahi Galan (COL) 6-4 6-2
[7] Jan-Lennard Struff (GER) defeated Dominik Koepfer (GER) 7-6 6-7 6-2
[LL] Norbert Gombos (SVK) defeated Federico Coria (ARG) 6-4 6-1

ESTORIL OPEN ROUND OF 16 RESULTS:

Corentin Moutet (FRA) defeated [1] Denis Shapovalov (CAN) 6-4 2-6 6-4
[2] Cristian Garin (CHI) defeated Richard Gasquet (FRA) W/O
[7] Albert Ramos-Vinolas (ESP) defeated Pierre-Hugues Herbert (FRA) 6-2 7-6
Cameron Norrie (GBR) defeated [Q] Pedro Martinez (ESP) 4-6 7-6 7-5

Picture credit: Alex Caparros/Getty Images

ATP Tour wrap: Martinez overcomes Bublik as McDonald downs Lajovic

PLENTY of interesting results were had on the second day at both the Estoril and Munich Open events, as the clay season continues on the ATP Tour.

At Estoril, qualifier Pedro Martinez upset fifth seed Alexander Bublik in a dominant straight sets outcome, easily accounting for the Kazakh 6-3 6-0 in just 51 minutes. Whilst Bublik piled on six aces to Martinez’s one, the Kazakh fifth seed was uncharacteristically error-ridden and failed to convert a single break point from four chances. Martinez heads into the second round with the comfortable win behind him, with an excellent 82 per cent winning rate off his first serve, off a 70 per cent clip.

Meanwhile, sixth seed Marin Cilic was challenged by upcoming Spanish talent Carlos Alcaraz, winning the first set before dropping the second as Alcaraz created a huge turnaround in momentum. But it was not enough, as Cilic returned to his first set form in the third to eventually claim the 6-3 1-6 6-4 victory.

“I’m extremely happy to be here in Portugal, in Estoril for the first time,” Cilic said post-match. “It was a very difficult match. Carlos is a great young talent… Definitely he’s got an unbelievable future ahead of him.”

Cilic hit six aces to Alcaraz’s one, and whilst he also more than doubled Alcaraz’s three double faults, he was still more effective on serve, winning 60 per cent of his first serve points off a 64 per cent clip. Cilic was only marginally better on return, and won just one more point throughout the contest in the narrow win, which stretched out to two hours and 14 minutes in length.

“I was extremely happy to win after dropping the second set. He played really well,” Cilic said. “I was a break up in the third set and he broke back. In the end it was just a couple points that made the difference in the match.”

Three Frenchmen proceeded to the second round, with only Corentin Moutet realistically challenged for his spot in the second round by American Marcos Giron, forced to overcome a second set tiebreaker to come away with the 6-4 6-7(7) 6-4 victory. Richard Gasquet claimed a 6-3 7-5 victory over Argentinian Juan Ignacio Londero, whilst Pierre-Hugues Herbert downed compatriot Gilles Simon 7-5 6-3 to head into the second round. Seventh seed Albert Ramos-Vinolas disposed of compatriot Fernando Verdasco in straight sets, as Marco Cecchinato and Cameron Norrie were the remaining winners of the day.

At Munich, American qualifier Mackenzie McDonald provided the win of the day after disposing of sixth seed Dusan Lajovic 6-4 6-4, requiring just under 90 minutes to claim victory. McDonald boasted a 79 per cent winning rate off his first serve off a 66 per cent clip throughout and also saved two break points on his way to the win. The other two seeds of the day waged better battles to head into the second round, as both Georgian Nikoloz Basilashvili and German Jan-Lennard Struff reigned supreme, both claiming straight sets wins.

Two more German competitors won on home soil and will join Struff in the second round, with Yannick Hanfmann and Dominik Koepfer overcoming deficits to win in three sets. Meanwhile, Uruguayan Pablo Cuevas and Colombian Daniel Elahi Galan round out the remaining winners of the day, both disposing of Americans in Tennys Sandgren and Marcos Giron in straight sets.

MILLENNIUM ESTORIL OPEN ROUND OF 32 RESULTS:

[Q] Pedro Martinez (ESP) defeated [5] Alexander Bublik (KAZ) 6-3 6-0
[6] Marin Cilic (CRO) defeated [Q] Carlos Alcaraz (ESP) 6-3 1-6 6-4
[7] Albert Ramos-Vinolas (ESP) defeated Fernando Verdasco (ESP) 6-3 6-3
Marco Cecchinato (ITA) defeated Lloyd Harris (RSA) 6-3 6-4
Richard Gasquet (FRA) defeated Juan Ignacio Londero (ARG) 6-3 7-5
Pierre-Hugues Herbert (FRA) defeated Gilles Simon (FRA) 7-5 6-3
Corentin Moutet (FRA) defeated Marcos Giron (USA) 6-4 6-7 6-4
Cameron Norrie (GBR) defeated [WC] Joao Sousa (POR)

BMW OPEN ROUND OF 32 RESULTS:

[5] Nikoloz Basilashvili (GEO) defeated Thiago Monteiro (BRA) 6-2 6-3
[Q] Mackenzie McDonald (USA) defeated [6] Dusan Lajovic (RB) 6-4 6-4
[7] Jan-Lennard Struff (GER) defeated [LL] Andrej Martin (SVK) 6-4 6-3
Pablo Cuevas (URU) defeated Tennys Sandgren (USA) 7-6 0-6 6-1
[Q] Daniel Elahi Galan (COL) defeated Sebastien Korda (USA) 6-1 7-6
[WC] Yannick Hanfmann (GER) defeated [SE] Taro Daniel (JPN) 6-2 3-6 7-6
Dominik Koepfer (GER) defeated [WC] Philipp Kohlschreiber (GER) 4-6 6-4 6-3

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

MONTE CARLO MASTERS ROUND OF 32 RESULTS:

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

MONTE CARLO MASTERS ROUND OF 64 RESULTS:

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

ATP Tour wrap: Munar eyes off maiden title as Sonego upsets Fritz

JAUME Munar is eyeing off a maiden title in Marbella after accounting for teenage young gun Carlos Alcaraz and booking his spot in the Andalucia Open final. The world number 95 had a tough time against the teenager, but managed to hold off his opponent 7-6 6-4, winning the first set tiebreaker 7-4, and breaking four times to three overall to be the difference.

The match lasted one hour and 55 minutes, as the 23-year-old won 71 and 50 per cent of his first and second serve points, and broke four times from 11 chances. Alcaraz was strong defensively to save the other seven break point opportunities, but could only muster up five chances off Munar’s serve, and broke jus three times, with no aces and four double faults for the match.

Now Munar will take on top seed Pablo Carreno Busta who has far more experience himself, booking his spot in the final with a 6-1 3-6 7-6 victory over fourth seed Albert Ramos-Vinolas. Carreno Busta looked to be cruising early with an easy opening set, but Ramos-Vinolas was not going to go away easily, forcing out a third set, and then a tiebreaker, of which went 7-5 until the top seed was declared the winner.

The 29-year-old has won four career ATP Tour titles, and has brought up his 200th career ATP Tour win with the semi-final victory. At 15th in the world, the Spaniard will be hoping to edge closer to his career-high 10th he achieved in September, 2017.

Meanwhile in Cagliari, third seed Lorenzo Sonego will take on unseeded Serbian Laslo Djere following a couple of upsets in the Sardegna Open semi-finals. Sonego took out tournament favourite Taylor Fritz in three sets, winning 6-4 5-7 6-1, while Djere defeated fourth seed Nikoloz Basilashvili 6-2 6-0 in much easier fashion.

The Italian needed two hours and 39 minutes to defeat the American, winning 70 per cent of his first serve points off a 60 per cent efficiency, and whilst his second serve percentage – 30 per cent – was low he scrambled well to break eight times to five, creating 18 break point opportunities in the match. He has just won the won career title, but will achieve a career-high ranking having already surpassed his 32nd spot last year after the third seed entered the Sardegna Open at 34th in the world.

Djere on the other hand has won two career ATP Tour titles, and whilst he is ranked 57th in the world, has a career-high of 27th from June, 2019. The 25-year-old is still a developing talent, and will almost achieve a 50 per cent win-loss record on the ATP Tour if he can triumph in the final. His semi-final effort of just 52 minutes over the disappointing Georgian was nothing short of a rout, winning all bar nine points on serve, facing no break point opportunities and breaking in five of Basilashvili’s seven games.

The Monte Carlo Masters qualifying also got underway overnight, with top seed Dominik Koepfer, and the in-form Alexei Popyrin both making it through. Fellow German Yannick Hanfmann upset third seed Jiri Vesely, whilst the biggest upset was Australian wildcard Bernard Tomic, easily accounting for fourth seed Pierre-Hugues Herbert in straight sets, 6-3 6-0 in his best win in a long time.

ANDALUCIA OPEN SEMI-FINALS RESULTS:

[1] Pablo Carreno Busta (ESP) defeated [4] Albert Ramos-Vinolas (ESP) 6-1 3-6 7-6
Jaume Munar (ESP) defeated [WC] Carlos Alcaraz (ESP) 7-6 6-4

SARDEGNA OPEN SEMI-FINALS RESULTS:

[3] Lorenzo Sonego (ITA) defeated [2] Taylor Fritz (USA) 6-4 5-7 6-1
Laslo Djere (SRB) defeated [4] Nikoloz Basilashvili (GEO) 6-2 6-0

ATP Tour wrap: Spanish conquer opponents in Marbella

IN a throw back to their WTA Russian counterparts last month, Spain has completely dominated the quarter finals at the Andalucia Open to ensure a homegrown winner in Marbella. All four Spaniards in action won through to the semi-finals at the ATP 250 event, meaning there will be two all-Spanish finals to determine who makes it through to the last match of the tournament. While it was not quite as impressive as the all-eight quarter finalists at St. Petersburg, the home fans will certainly be happy over the coming days.

The top two ranked players remaining in Pablo Carreno Busta and Albert Ramos-Vinolas make it through, the former with the easiest win of the day, booking a 6-4 6-0 victory over seventh seed Soonwoo Kwon. Ramos-Vinolas had a tougher day with a three-set win over Slovenian Norbert Gombos, 6-7 7-5 6-4. Both players will now horns in the semi-finals, where the 29-year-old Carreno Busta has a 2-1 head-to-head record over the 33-year-old Ramos-Vinolas. All those three matches came in 2016-17, with Carreno Busta winning their first two encounters in three sets on clay, before Ramos-Vinolas won the most recent clay on hard court.

The other two semi-finalists are Jaume Munar and Carlos Alcaraz who continued their form after impressive Round of 16 wins over higher ranked opponents, with another couple of upsets. Munar needed three sets to come from behind against Belarusian Ilya Ivashka 6-4 6-4 6-4, while Alcaraz stunned clay court specialist and third seed Casper Ruud, 6-2 6-4. They will now go head-to-head for the first time to guarantee the final will be a young up-and-coming Spaniard taking on a veteran Spaniard.

Over in Sardegna, Lorenzo Sonego will fly the Italian flag after a come-from-behind victory over German Yannick Hanfmann. The third seed won 3-6 7-6 6-3 in a thrilling contest to book his spot in the semi-finals, and will now take on second seed American Taylor Fritz. The top ranked played remaining and tournament favourite, Fritz took care of Slovenian Aljaz Bedene in the only straight sets win of the day, 6-3 6-4.

In the other quarter finals, the other Italian in teenager Lorenzo Musetti was knocked out, suffering defeat at the hands of Serbian Laslo Djere. The 6-4 4-6 6-2 victory was a hard-fought one against a rising talent, with Djere now set to face fourth seed Nikoloz Basilashvili in the semi-finals. The Georgian knocked out fifth seed Jan-Lennard Struff in a bad day for the Germans, getting up 7-5 4-6 6-3 in another tight contest in Cagliari.

For many of the players there will be a quick turnaround with the ATP Masters Monte Carlo 1000 taking place tomorrow for qualifiying, as the likes of Ramos-Vinolas, Fritz, Carreno Busta, Sonego, Basilashvili and Djere are all in the 64-player main draw.

ANDALUCIA OPEN QUARTER FINALS RESULTS:

[1] Pablo Carreno Busta (ESP) defeafed [7] Soonwoo Kwon (KOR) 6-4 6-0
[4] Albert Ramos Vinolas (ESP) defeated Norbert Gombos (SLO) 6-7 7-5 6-4
Jaume Munar (ESP) defeated Ilya Ivashka (BLR) 6-7 6-4 6-4
[WC] Carlos Alcaraz (ESP) defeated [3] Casper Ruud (NOR) 6-2 6-4

SARDEGNA OPEN QUARTER FINALS RESULTS:

[2] Taylor Fritz (USA) defeated Aljaz Bedene (SLO) 6-3 6-4
[3] Lorenzo Sonego (ITA) defeated Yannick Hanfmann (GER) 3-6 7-6 6-3
[4] Nikoloz Basilashvili (GEO) defeated [5] Jan-Lennard Struff (GER) 7-5 4-6 6-3
Laslo Djere (SRB) defeated Lorenzo Musetti (ITA) 6-4 4-6 6-2

Picture credit: ATP Tour

ATP Tour wrap: Future of Spanish tennis on display in Marbella

THERE was a changing of the guard in Marbella for the Andalucia Open, with two of the brightest young Spaniards toppling experienced opponents in terrific wins to book their spots in the quarter finals of the ATP 250 event. While 23-year-old Jaume Munar has been threatening to make his move up the ATP Rankings for some time, it is 17-year-old Carlos Alcaraz who is starting to find his groove on the senior Tour after a dominant Challenger ITF circuit last year.

Touted as one of the next big things in Spanish tennis, Alcaraz only has the nine main draw ATP Tour matches to-date, with a 4-5 record and a career-high 127th in the world. He will surpass that effort by the end of the tournament, and will eye off a spot in the Top 100 in the coming weeks. Heading into the clay court season, Alcaraz has only played two previous matches on the surface at ATP Tour level, winning one of them, but has exclusively played on clay through the Challenger Tour, and predominantly on the ITF Tour.

The teenager has a winning record of 28-11 on the Challenger Tour, with all those wins coming on clay, which included three titles and a 73.7 per cent winning record on the surface. He also has nerves of steel, winning 14 of 17 tiebreakers at 82.4 per cent. On the ITF Tour, he has won three titles – two on clay with a 19-4 record and one on hard court with a 8-1 record – and also successfully won six of eight matches in tiebreaks.

In short, Alcaraz should be put into the Davis Cup side, and he showed it by overcoming veteran compatriot Feliciano Lopez in a come-from-behind win, 4-6 6-2 6-4. It stands as the second best win of 2021, after he toppled David Goffin in straight sets back in Melbourne in January, 6-3 6-3. Twelve months ago, Alcaraz also accounted for compatriot Albert Ramos-Vinolas in three tight sets, showing he can knock off higher ranked talents between him and representing his country.

For Munar, he is inside the Top 100 at 95th, but still some way off his career high of 52nd back in May, 2019 where he looked to be primed to crack the Top 50. He has a 33-51 record on the ATP Tour, but a 1-8 record against the Top 10 players. His Round of 16 win over Fabio Fognini will help with that confidence, but the issue is his matchplay on surfaces other than clay.

The 23-year-old has won eight of 23 matches on either hard or grass – yet to win an ATP Tour match on grass – with a 25-28 record on clay. He has graduated the Challenger Tour with five titles on clay and one on hard, though runs at just under 50 per cent on the latter surface. On the ITF Tour, he has won six titles, all on clay, meaning 11 of his 12 overall titles are on the red dirt surface.

Now Munar will come up against Belarusian Ilya Ivashka in the last eight, whilst Alcaraz will face clay specialist and third seed Casper Ruud in another quarter final. Ruud took care of Italian Gianluca Mager in straight sets, while Ivashka dominated fifth seed Spaniard Alejandro Davidovich Fokina in their Round of 16 match. The other quarter finals are top seed Pablo Carreno Busta up against seventh seed Soonwoo Kwon, and fourth seed Ramos-Vinolas taking on Slovakian Norbert Gombos.

Over in Italy, it was a similar story for the up-and-coming Italians, with teenage star Lorenzo Musetti taking care of top seed Daniel Evans in an absolute thriller. Musetti won 6-1 1-6 7-6, cruising early before the Brit hit back, and it led to an unbelievable final set tiebreaker that went 18 points until Musetti claimed it, 10-8. Third seed Lorenzo Sonego also made his way through to the quarter finals with a 6-4 6-1 win over Gilles Simon, while Yannick Hanfmann spoiled the party for another Italian in Marco Cecchinato, and Serbian Laslo Djere took care of sixth seed Australian John Millman.

Musetti will now take on Djere, and Hanfmann battle Sonego, whilst second seed Taylor Fritz locks horns with Slovenian Aljaz Bedene, and the fourth and fifth seeds in Nikoloz Basilashvili and Jan-Lennard Struff will do battle in the other quarter finals.

ANDALUCIA OPEN ROUND OF 16 RESULTS:

Jaume Munar (ESP) defeated [2] Fabio Fognini (ITA) 6-2 6-1
[3] Casper Ruud (NOR) defeated Gianluca Mager (ITA) 6-3 6-2
Ilya Ivashka (BLR) defeated [5] Alejandro Davidovich Fokina (ESP) 6-1 6-3
[WC] Carlos Alcaraz (ESP) defeated [6] Feliciano Lopez (ESP) 4-6 6-2 6-4

SARDEGNA OPEN ROUND OF 16 RESULTS:

Lorenzo Mussetti (ITA) defeated [1] Daniel Evans (GBR) 6-1 1-6 7-6
[3] Lorenzo Sonego (ITA) defeated Gilles Simon (FRA) 6-4 6-1
Laslo Djere (SRB) defeated [6] John Millman (AUS) 6-3 6-3
Yannick Hanfmann (GER) defeated Marco Cecchinato (ITA) 7-5 6-1

Picture credit: ATP Tour

ATP Tour wrap: Fritz poised for move on clay

IT is time for Taylor Fritz to make his move. The 23-year-old American has been been in the Top 100 since shooting up to 81st in the world rankings back in February, 2016. Then, the 18-year-old was seen as one of the many youngsters ready to take the world by storm and be the next big thing from the United States.

Unfortunately it did not quite go to plan, and Fritz’s 2017 was a forgettable one where he yo-yo’d in and out of the Top 100, before a new year in 2018 saw him crack it again and this time he would not drop out. While Fritz has not had a substantial drop in the past three years, he really has not made any inroads, and has hovered around the Top 30 for some time, reaching 24th in the world last August, and currently sitting 30th.

Fritz is still young, but at 23, he should be hitting his peak, and at 193cm, the American has plenty of potential. He has just one title – at Eastbourne in 2019 – with four finals losses. He runs at close to 50 per cent success across all surfaces, and is not phased by either left or right handers with an even billing there too. On paper, he should not have too many weaknesses, able to serve strongly – winning 75 per cent of his first serve points – return relatively well and have a solid all-round forehand and backhand shot selection.

The issue from a service perspective is more his efficiency, putting just 59 per cent of his first serves in court, then having to recover by winning 50 per cent of his second serve points. He is the furthest thing from a volleyer, and prefers to keep the tempo from the baseline, which is his style, being a strong server, then baseline talent.

In his win against Slovakian Andrej Martin overnight, Fritz took 93 minutes to win 6-2 7-6. After cruising in the first set, he did not have the same level of control in the second, as Martin lifted and forced Fritz to fight out a tiebreaker, something the American seed has become fairly good at over his career. On this occasion, Fritz won 7-4 and therefore booked his spot in the quarter finals at the Sardegna Open.

He only produced the two aces, but three double faults and served at a 55 per cent efficiency, which summarised him in a nutshell. He won 68 and 44 per cent of his first and second serve points, breaking five times to three. What did stand out was his much higher first serve return, which is often quite low, but Fritz won 46 per cent of points off the Slovakian’s first serve. It meant he could take control upon return, and if he could tighten up his efficiency, he could go a long way on Tour.

He will now face Slovenian Aljaz Bedene in the quarter finals, after Bedene defeated Belarusian Egor Gerasimov in straight sets, 6-4- 7-6. Fritz and Bedene played for the first time in the Cincinnati Masters 1000 last year, with the Slovenian emerging triumphant 7-6 7-5 in a nail-biter. It is not a result that would haunt Fritz too much, and the world number 30’s best is better than Bedene’s, but the Slovenian can be a tricky opponent. In that match, Bedene had one more ace (11-10), and ironically Fritz’s first serve was more efficient (63 per cent), but his worries with first serve return success at a shocking 16 per cent. He will need to have more resistance on the clay against Bedene than he did on the hard courts that day.

Also into the quarter finals are fourth and fifth seeds Nikoloz Basilashvili and Jan-Lennard Struff who both won through with respective wins over qualifiers. They are in the top half of the draw though, with top seed Daniel Evans to play teenage wonderkid Lorenzo Musetti today, and Laslo Djere to face off against John Millman for the other spot. In the bottom half of the the draw, and upset by German Yannick Hanfmann over American Tommy Paul in the first round has really opened the draw wide up, and Hanfmann will now take on clay court specialist Marco Cecchinato, with the Italian’s compatriot Lorenzo Sonego entering the tournament up against reliable Frenchman Gilles Simon.

Fritz has the best chance to-date of adding a second title to his name, and whilst hard court might be his preferred surface, he is able to hide his first serve return worries on clay, and still be a dangerous server. He will have to overcome more clay-competent players, but he has the talent and should at least make a final at Sardegna, with the top half of the draw much more stacked than the bottom half.

Meanwhile over at the Andalucia Open, it was a rather predictable day, with three of the four seeds advancing. Tournament favourite Pablo Carreno Busta defeated Spanish compatriot and qualifier Mario Vilella Martinez, joining fourth seed Albert Ramos-Vinolas in the final eight. Korean Soonwoo Kwon also made his way through with a triumph over Argentinian Facundo Bagnis, whilst Slovakian Norbert Gombos took down eighth seed Argentinian Federico Delbonis.

SARDEGNA OPEN ROUND OF 16 RESULTS:

[2] Taylor Fritz (USA) defeated Andrej Martin (SVK) 6-2 7-6
[4] Nikoloz Basilashvili (GEO) defeated [Q] Jozef Kovalik (SVK) 4-6 6-4 7-5
[5] Jan-Lennard Struff (GER) defeated [Q] Liam Broady (GBR) 6-4 6-2
Aljaz Bedene (SLO) defeated Egor Gerasimov (BLR) 6-4 7-6

ANDALUCIA OPEN ROUND OF 16 RESULTS:

[1] Pablo Carreno Busta (ESP) defeated [Q] Mario Vilella Martinez (ESP) 7-6 6-3
[4] Albert Ramos-Vinolas (ESP) defeated Ricardas Berankis (LTU) 6-3 4-6 6-3
[7] Soonwoo Kwon (KOR) defeafed Facundo Bagnis (ARG) 6-1 6-3
Norbert Gombos (SVK) defeated [8] Federico Delbonis (ARG) 5-7 7-6 7-6