Tag: norbert gombos

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

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

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

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

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

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

OPEN SUD DE FRANCE ROUND OF 32 RESULTS:

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

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

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

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

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

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

SINGAPORE ROUND OF 32 RESULTS:

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

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

Picture credit: ATP Tour

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

AUSTRALIAN OPEN MEN’S ROUND OF 128 RESULTS:

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

Picture credit: Tennis World USA

Humbert joins big guns in huge Paris Masters final eight

UGO Humbert is the sole unseeded player through to the ATP Paris Masters 1000 quarter finals with the up and coming Frenchman joining a host of top 10 seeds in the final eight. Aside from Humbert’s upset win over second seed Stefanos Tsitsipas back in the second round, the lowest ranked seed in the quarter finals is 10th seed Milos Raonic.

In his latest win, Humbert showed he had more than enough firepower to dismiss fellow power server Marin Cilic, 6-3 6-7 6-3. Despite losing the second set in a tiebreaker, Humbert managed to claim victory in two hours and 24 minutes. He served 19 aces to 11, and had a higher serving efficiency of 59 to 54 per cent which helped him with an additional 15 points off the first serve as both players stood as an 84 per cent winning record off that service point.

“My game is a bit different. I try to play more aggressive,” Humbert said post-match. “[I’ve played] good matches against great players.”

More importantly, Humbert was only broken once from four chances for Cilic, whilst Humbert broke his opponent three times from eight chances on his way to the Round of 16 win. He now takes on Raonic who made light work of the lowest ranked player remaining in the third round, defeating American qualifier Marcos Giron 7-6 6-2.

The big serving Canadian slammed home 17 aces for only one double fault, won 30 of 34 points off his first serve and only dropped nine points in total off serve to not face a break point at any stage in the match. He managed to break Giron twice in the second set to storm home in 81 minutes after a tight first set tiebreaker.

Desperate to secure his spot in the ATP Finals, Diego Schwartzman completely dismantled Next-Gen Spanish talent Alejandro Davidovich Fokina in 61 minutes. The Argentinian counter puncher saved all four break point opportunities for his opponent, whilst capitalising on five of six on his way to a massive 6-1 6-1 victory and into the quarter finals.

“I thought the match was going to be very tough, as we played just 10 days ago,” Schwartzman said post-match. “I did everything well today, serving and moving well. “I am trying to do everything I can to be in London [at the Nitto ATP Finals].”

Schwartzman will now get a good test in the quarter finals going up against Daniil Medvedev after the third seed came from behind to down 16th seed Australian, Alex de Minaur. The Russian won 5-7 6-2 6-2 in an hour and 51 minutes with 13 aces and winning 74 per cent of his first serve points off a 64 per cent clip. The Australian had similar numbers, but Medvedev also won 54 per cent of his second serve, which was much higher than de Minaur’s 38 per cent for the Russian to book his spot in the next round.

The only man standing in the way of his ATP Finals dream is ninth seed Pablo Carreno Busta who has to win the Paris Masters whilst hoping Schwartzman bows out in his next match, in order to grab the final spot at the tournament. Carreno Busta took care of Slovakian qualifier Norbert Gombos in the Round of 16 with a 7-5 6-2 triumph in 80 minutes to book his spot in the quarter finals. He broke his opponent six times to being broken three, whilst had a superior first and second serve percentage throughout the straight sets wins.

His next opponent is going to be on another level though, facing world number two and top seed in Paris, Rafael Nadal. The Spaniard won 6-1 7-6 against a gallant Jordan Thompson who created a set point in the second set – his only break point of the entire match – but could not follow through, eventually going down 7-3 in the second set tiebreaker. Nadal just had too much polish for the 61st ranked Australian, ably to move through to the last eight to face his compatriot.

“I think I played a good first set,” Nadal said post-match. “A lot of good shots, good winners, serving well. “And then in the second, [I] was not able to find a way to [get] the break. “He started to serve very well, I think, and I missed a couple of returns that I could do better, I should do better.”

Knowing he had to face the ninth seed Carreno Busta, Nadal admitted he needed to be at his best to win despite holding a 6-0 head-to-head record against his compatriot.
“I need to be ready to play my best against an opponent that I know is playing well and with confidence,” Nadal said. “I hope to be ready to play my game and really read well, because that’s what I’m going to need.”
In the late match, Alexander Zverev had to survive a massive fight against a determined Adrian Mannarino, winning 7-6 6-7 6-4 in three hours of play. The German served 19 aces and won 80 per cent of his first serve points, but could not shake off the Frenchman until late in the match. Zverev won the first set tiebreaker a whopping 13-11, before Mannarino turned the tables in the next tiebreaker 9-7. Neither player was willing to give an inch, with Zverev breaking four times to three throughout the match, the last of which came in the deciding set which he only just won. It almost looked like heading towards a third tiebreaker with Mannarino holding break point at 5-4 down in the decider, but Zverev bounced back to win the last three points of the match and claim victory.
Zverev takes on the winner of Andrey Rublev and Stan Wawrinka who only just stepped on court moments ago.

Gombos snuffs out Goffin’s last ATP Finals hope

DAVID Goffin has missed out on qualifying for the ATP Finals following a shock second round loss to Slovakian qualifier Norbert Gombos at the Paris Masters. The eighth seed went down in a heart-breaking loss 6-4 7-6 which officially put a line through the world number 14’s hopes of playing in the most prestigious invite-only event of the year.

The 105th ranked Gombos won 75 per cent of his first serve points off a 56 per cent efficiency, breaking three times from four chances, whilst saving six of eight for Goffin’s break point opportunities. The match lasted 97 minutes before Norbert won in the tightest of second sets, getting up 8-6 in the tiebreaker. What made the victory all the more remarkable was that Goffin held three set points to take the match into a decider at 6-3, but the Slovakian hit back to win the last five points of the match and claim victory. The loss now ends Goffin’s season for 2020.

Gombos could cause more havoc on the ATP Finals race when he takes on Spaniard Pablo Carreno Busta in the next round. The world number 15 has to win the Paris Masters to have any hope of making the eight-man tournament, and even then has to rely on ninth ranked Diego Schwartzman to exit early. The consistent Spaniard got the job done in the Round of 32 though, defeating German Jan-Lennard Struff 7-6 6-2 to advance to the third round.

Carreno Busta dominated off serve, only dropping four points off his first serve, and 12 for the entire one-hour and 20-minute match, saving Struff’s only break point opportunity. By contrast, Struff only won 71 and 52 per cent of his points off serve, still managed to hold on in all bar two service games, with Carreno Busta breaking twice in the second set to run away with the contest after a nail-biting first set.

At the time of publishing, Stefanos Tsitsipas and Frenchman Ugo Humbert were locked in the tightest of tussles at a set apiece and 3-3 in the decider. Humbert won the first set in a tiebreaker 7-4, before Tsitsipas won the second 8-6. Remarkably, the Greek star faced three match points at 6-3, but won the last five points of the second set to force it into a decider. The winner will now take on Maric Cilic, who had a walkover against another Frenchman in Corentin Moutet in the Round of 32. Having just gone out on court, Italian Matteo Berrettini and American Marcos Giron were going head-to-head in the final Round of 32 match.

Looking at the first round matches played on the day to complete the Round of 64, 12th seed Stan Wawrinka blasted his way into the next stage with a 6-3 7-6 triumph over Great Britain’s Dan Evans. Wawrinka hit 35 winners and served eight aces, not being broken during the match thanks to a high 83 and 67 per cent of points off his first and second serve respectively. Evans was pretty solid too, winning 76 per cent of his first serve points, but struggled off his slower second serve, winning just 46 per cent, and was broken in the first set which cost him in the 93-minute loss.

“I’m really happy with my level today, I was serving and moving well,” Wawrinka said post-match. “I was happy to be back here in Paris, even without crowd it’s always a great tournament. “We are lucky to still have some tournaments going, so I’m trying to enjoy them as much as possible.”

Now Wawrinka will face a fellow veteran in Richard Gasquet who dominated American Taylor Fritz early before having to fight through three sets to post a victory. Gasquet trounced his younger opponent 6-0 in just 25 minutes to start the match on his home court, but Fritz fought back to win the second set before the home nation hero won in three, 6-0 3-6 6-3 in 96 minutes on court. Gasquet had two less aces (9-11), but won more of his second serve points (50 per cent to 31 per cent) which was the key difference in the end.

“I am home and I like to play here in Bercy, even if there is no crowd,” Gasquet said post-match. “I am very happy with the way I played. It is very difficult to play without the support of a crowd.”

It was a relatively good day for the French, with Pierre-Hugues Herbert coming from behind to defeat Tennys Sandgren in a third set tiebreaker, 2-6 6-4 7-6, while Adrian Mannarino posted a straight sets 7-6 6-3 win over Serbian Dusan Lajovic. The news was not as positive for Mannarino’s conqueror at Nur-Saltan with recent maiden title winner John Millman going down in straight sets to another Serbian in Miomir Kecmanovic.

In other results, Lorenzo Sonego continued his good form of late, backing up his Vienna final with a first round win over Kazakhstan’s Alexander Bublik, 6-1 6-4. Also through to the next round was 10th seed Milos Raonic who won his fifth straight match over Aljaz Bedene, only dropping six points on serve to win 6-2 6-3 in just over an hour. Kevin Anderson booked his spot in the Round of 32 after Laslo Djere pulled out trailing 5-2 in the first set, while Yoshihito Nishioka defeated Pablo Andujar in a come-from-behind 5-7 6-4 6-2 victory.

Picture: Getty Images

Austrian wildcard stuns Shapovalov in Vienna

AUSTRIAN wildcard Jurij Rodionov has stunned eighth seed Canadian Denis Shapovalov in a straight sets win, to advance through to the second round of the Erste Bank Open. The match lasted 87 minutes as the world number 153  won just his second match for the year. Both players have strong serves, but Shapovalov’s went missing with 10 double faults to two, whilst the pair served up five aces apiece in the match for a 6-4 7-5 result to Rodionov.

Both Rodionov and Shapovalov are 21-years-old though the latter has built a much bigger CV thus far. His inconsistent serving hurt him in the end as the Austrian took full advantage off the second serve, winning 62 per cent of Shapovalov’s second serves, and 68 per cent of his own. Despite coming close in both sets, Shapovalov dropped three service games to one, and eventually bowed out of the tournament to put his ATP Finals hopes in real danger. A good run in Vienna would have put the Canadian in contention for a top nine spot this year, especially with Gael Monfils losing his first round match – which would have seen Shapovalov leapfrog him with a win – and Matteo Berrettini and Diego Schwartzman both not competing in the tournament.

For Rodionov, he now advances into the Round of 16 to take on the winner of Aljaz Bedene and Daniel Evans. The news was not as good for fellow Austrian wildcard, Dennis Novak who suffered a tight three-set loss to South African Kevin Anderson. Whilst the former top five player is not what he used to be after injury kept him out of recent times, he was able to take care of the 92nd ranked Novak, winning 6-7 6-4 7-6 in two hours and 44 minutes of match play. Serving 18 aces, Anderson was hard to break – though it did happen once from the only opportunity – whilst Anderson broke twice to always put pressure on the Austrian. It came right down to the nail-biting deciding tiebreak as Anderson got up 8-6 in that third set to win in an epic thriller.

Monfils’ injury-affected year continued with another retirement from his first round match in Vienna. The enigmatic Frenchman lasted just nine games before pulling the pin against Spaniard Pablo Carreno Busta, going down 6-1 2-0 in 39 minutes before he had to retire. In that time, Carreno Busta won 16 of 21 points on serve, and Monfils only won 11 off his own serve, producing seven double faults in five games and clearly looking in trouble from early on. Carreno Busta will now take on Anderson in the second round of the tournament.

In the other results, Borna Coric made it 4-0 in his head-to-head against Taylor Fritz, defeating the American 6-4 6-4 in an hour and 29 minutes. Fritz served 12 aces to eight, but Coric’s consistency off his second serve – winning 71 per cent of the points to 48 per cent – was the difference – as well as breaking twice from three opportunities whilst saving all three of Fritz’s chances. Coric sets his sights on a likely Novak Djokovic Round of 16 encounter, with the world number one taking on Filip Krajinovic tomorrow. Lastly, fifth seed Andrey Rublev rolled on to easily take care of Slovakian Norbert Gombos 6-3 6-2 in just 60 minutes, serving 11 aces without a double-fault and only dropping 10 points on serve. He broke three times from four chances and did not face a break point in a dominant performance.

Tomorrow’s schedule of play at Vienna sees an all-Serbian battle between Djokovic and Krajinovic following on from a massive clash with Grigor Dimitrov and Karen Khachanov. At night, Dominic Thiem takes on lucky loser Vitaliy Sachko following Kei Nishikori‘s late withdrawal from the tournament, and Cristian Garin locks horns with Stan Wawrinka. Nishikori was one of three players to pull out at late notice, with Cologne finalist Diego Schwartzman and Antwerp finalist Alex de Minaur also pulling out allowing multiple lucky losers a second chance in Austria.

Gaston last Frenchman standing at Roland Garros as Italians soar

IT was a great day at the French Open if you were an Italian, but not so much for the home nation as just one player remains from the 48 players left in the 2020 Roland Garros ATP draw. The first half of second round matches were completed today with just 20-year-old Hugo Gaston remaining alive in the tournament for the home fans. He accounted for Japan’s Yoshihito Nishioka in four sets and now has the tough test against 16th seed Stan Wawrinka in the Round of 32.

Gaston won 6-4 7-6 3-6 6-2 against Nishioka who reached the second round after a stunning straight sets victory over 19th seed Canadian, Felix Auger-Aliassime. The French wildcard, who is ranked 239th in the world, would not have been expected to be the last man standing from the home nation, but was thrust into the position after the other three remaining players lost out on day four.

Top ranked remaining Frenchman Benoit Paire went down to Argentinian Federico Coria in four sets, 7-6 4-6 6-3 6-1 to exit the tournament. Pierre-Hugues Herbert pushed sixth seed Alexander Zverev all the way, but could not get it done, losing 2-6 6-4 7-6 4-6 6-4, while French qualifier Ben Bonzi went down to rising star Jannik Sinner in straight sets, 6-2 6-4 6-4.

Sinner was one of a number of Italian winners on day four, with Lorenzo Sonego, Stefano Travaglia and Marco Cecchinato all booking their spots in the Round of 32. Sonego toppled Alexander Bublik 7-6 6-1 7-5, Travaglia got up over Kei Nishikori 6-4 2-6 7-6 4-6 6-2 in a thriller, while Cecchinato won through with a 6-3 6-2 5-7 6-2 win over Juan Ignacio Londero.

In other results, the top seeds had no problem breezing through as Rafael Nadal won 6-1 6-0 6-3 over American Mackenzie McDonald and third seed Dominic Thiem put away another American in Jack Sock, 6-1 6-3 7-6. Diego Schwartzman ran away with the contest against Italian qualifier Lorenzo Giustino, but in fairness, the latter spent almost five more hours on court in Round 1 compared to Schwartzman, playing out an 18-16 fifth set in Round 1, compared to the Argentinian dropping just four games in his first round encounter.

The biggest upset of the day was rising American star Sebastian Korda who won in four sets of 21st seed John Isner. Korda took out his highly rated compatriot, 6-4 6-4 2-6 6-4 to advance to the Round of 32 where her has a huge chance against Spanish qualifier, Pedro Martinez. The match lasted two hours and 26 minutes and was a huge boost for the 20-year-old who is the son of former Roland Garros runner-up Petr Korda.

While his dad represented the Czech Republic being born in Prague, Sebastian was born in the United States and at 196cm, the Next Gen ATP Finals contender has plenty of potential. Luckily for the 213th ranked American, Isner’s serving game was off, producing just 13 aces but 12 double faults, and winning only 72 per cent of his first serve points. Whilst that is impressive for most players, due to his high volume of aces, Isner’s total is usually up in the high eighties. Meanwhile Korda served up seven aces himself and won an identical 72 per cent off his first serve, but a higher 57 per cent off his second serve, breaking Isner five times which is a feat in itself.

“I’m over the moon,” Korda said post-match. “I’m super happy with the way I played, the way I stayed calm. I just played a really good match… I’m just looking forward to every single practice, every single match. [It]s been a good trip so far.”

It was more good news for the United States with Taylor Fritz getting up in straight sets over Radu Albot 6-3 6-2 6-4 to book a third round spot with Sonego, while Norwegian Casper Ruud also advanced with a win over Tommy Paul, 6-1 1-6 6-3 1-6 6-3 in an epic battle. In the other match of day four, Norbert Gombos booked his spot in the third round to face Schwartzman after winning against Austrian qualifier, Jurlj Rodionov in four sets, 6-2 2-6 7-6 6-4.

Pic: Getty Images

Sinner becomes a saint with stunning straight sets win at Roland Garros debut

JANNIK Sinner has stunned 11th seed David Goffin in straight sets to send the Belgian packing in the opening round of Roland Garros that got underway today. The 2019 Next Gen ATP Finals winner battled through a tough first set, before winning 14 of the last 17 games – and 11 straight games from last in the first set to early in the third set – to trounce the world number 13.

Sinner hit 23 winners and only 27 unforced errors against Goffin, who totalled 24 and 47 respectively. His serve was consistent, with a 68 per cent efficiency, and then winning 78 per cent of his first serve points, and 46 per cent of his second serve points, compared to Goffin’s 59 and 36 respectively. The 19-year-old’s ability to win 51 per cent of his receiving points was the difference in the end as he piled on the 11 consecutive games from 5-5 in the first set to 3-0 in the last, to take out the match 7-5 6-0 6-3.

“I never expected that,” said Sinner, when asked about the 11-game streak post-match. “I was playing well from the beginning of the second set. I felt comfortable on court trying to go with the backhand a little bit more down the line and to open the court a little bit.”

It was only Sinner’s second Grand Slam victory, and he was on debut at Roland Garros. Now he will take on French qualifier, Benjamin Bonzi who won his second ATP Tour match with a four-set upset over Finn Emil Ruusuvuori. The 24-year-old Frenchman is ranked 227th in the world and Sinner will be highly fancied to advance through to the Round of 32.

Meanwhile another match that was billed as the match of the day turned into a fizzer as Stan Wawrinka completely destroyed fellow Grand Slam winner Andy Murray in straight sets. The Swiss star won 6-1 6-3 6-2 in an hour and 37 minutes, hitting a whopping 42 winners to just 10, whilst only having one more unforced error (27-26), He also dominated on serve dropping just four points off his first serve, and then won 66 per cent of Murray’s second serve points.

“I was expecting a tough match,” Wawrinka said post-match. “I was really focussed with a champion like Andy. “Even if the scoreboard is only one side like today, you have to keep focus. “You never know what can happen. “Today I’m really happy with what I have done on the court. “Great to be back, great to feel that way, and looking forward for the next match.”

Now Wawrinka will take on in-form German Dominik Koepfer in the second round after he defeated Frenchman Antoine Hoang in four sets, 6-2 3-6 6-1 6-1 in two hours and four minutes. In a rain-affected day, French compatriot Benoit Paire moved through in straight sets with a win over Soonwoo Kwon, 7-5 6-4 6-4. He joined fellow seeds, John Isner, Diego Schwartzman and Taylor Fritz all in the second round.

It was not as positive for Australian Alex de Minaur who was bundled out on his least favourite surface, losing to clay court specialist, Italian qualifier Marco Cecchinato in straight sets, 7-6 6-4 6-0, whilst Daniel Evans and Borna Coric also lost, going down to Kei Nishikori and Norbert Gombos respectively.

Unlike the Australian Open and US Open, Roland Garros has not implemented the deciding set tiebreakers, which saw two players advance under the more traditional win-by-two-games rule. Juan Ignacio Londero defeated compatriot Federico Delbonis in five after seemingly falling asleep for a couple of sets, 6-4 7-6 2-6 1-6 14-12, while Austrian qualifier Jurlj Rodionov stunned Frenchman Jeremy Chardy in a come-from-behind win, 3-6 4-6 7-6 6-4 10-8.

In other results, Radu Albot defeated Jordan Thompson in straight sets, Federico Coria toppled lucky loser Jason Jung in three but two tiebreakers, while Stefano Travaglia and Andreas Seppi also advanced. In the final match of the day, German sixth seed Alexander Zverev won 7-5 6-2 6-4 to book his place in the Round of 64,.

The rest of the matches were delayed due to rain, but with the weather forecast predicting rain for six of the next seven days, it could be the longest-running Roland Garros on record.

Picture: Getty Images

Fucsovics wins in five sets and hours to upset Dimitrov

IT was the longest match of the tournament thus far, but Hungary’s Marton Fucsovics will not mind, emerging victorious over highly fancied 13th seed, Grigor Dimitrov. The unseeded Hungarian has enjoyed a promising year in 2020, and that form continued with a 6-7 7-6 3-6 6-4 6-1 win in what took four hours and 50 minutes. What is even more remarkable is that the four-hour mark was breached whilst still in the fourth set. If the underdog had not won the fifth 6-1, it may well have surpassed five hours on court easily.

The world number 66 had to win almost 200 points (197) in the epic match, covering 5.6km on court, with Dimitrov not far behind with 5.5km in that time. It was his serve hat held him in good stead, with Fucsovics winning 67 per cent off his first serve, but crucially, 58 per cent off his second serve. He was also to able capitalise off Dimitrov’s second serve, with a 55 per cent success rate. Both players looked comfortable at the net, and while the Bulgarian was able to still play his power game – hitting 59 winners to 40 – he also made a lot more errors (74-54).

Fucsovics will now want to rest up ahead of a huge third round clash with American Frances Tiafoe. The inconsistent talent held off a determined John Millman to win in five sets, 7-6 3-6 1-6 6-3 6-3 to come from two sets to one down in three hours and 57 minutes. The Australian can consider himself incredibly unlucky, having won 11 more points for the match, hitting six more winners and 19 less unforced errors, as well as having a higher winning percentage on his first and second serves, more aces, less double faults and one more break point. But Tiafoe found a way to win with the world number 82 needing the full match length to finally get it done.

Also through to the next round in the same block is another American, in wildcard J.J Wolf who defeated Roberto Carballes Baena 6-2 6-4 6-3, heading into the Round of 32 to take on red-hot third seed, Daniil Medvedev. The Russian had no issues defeating the hard working Chris O’Connell 6-3 6-2 6-4 and is red-hot favourite to move through to a quarter final given the 66th ranked Fucsovics is the top ranked player outside the world number four in the section.

Also through to the Round of 16 to set up a huge clash were Matteo Berrettini and Casper Ruud. The sixth seed Italian won 6-4 6-4 7-6 over emerging Frenchman Ugo Humbert, while Ruud toppled Finn Emil Ruusuvuori 6-4 6-3 3-2 with the latter retiring midway through the third set. Finally, it was Russian Andrey Rublev who took care of Gregoire Barrere 6-2 6-4 7-6 to advance through to the third round and face Salvatore Caruso. The Italian won against late inclusion, Ernesto Escobedo 3-6 6-4 6-3 6-4 to move into the Round of 16.

Down the bottom of the half, second seed  and birthday boy Dominic Thiem skipped passed Indian talent Sumit Nagal 6-3 6-3 6-2, and has his sights set on former US Open winner, Marin Cilic. The Croatian was far from his best, dropping a set but eventually getting the better of Slovenian Norbert Gombos in his match, 6-3 1-6 7-6 7-5 in some tense moments for the talent tall. Thiem turned 27 today, making for a memorable birthday and taking just the two hours to record a win over the 124th ranked Indian.

“I was playing well today,” Thiem said post-match. “I had a good plan for the match. “He’s very dangerous when he can dictate with his forehand. “I was exactly trying to avoid that.” He also has very, very fast legs… I was trying to play my fastest tennis to keep him on the backhand, to not let him dictate with the forehand. “I did that very well today.

“I think the only bad game he played was at 4-3 to me, in the first set, where he kind of came back into the match after he broke me, then he did some unforced errors. “Besides that, I think it was a good match on a quite good level. “I’m happy to be through in straight sets.”

On hearing that he will now face the 2014 US Open winner, the Austrian world number three said he would not take him lightly, declaring him one of the best players of the past 10 years.

“He’s one of the big champions of the last decade, one of the very few active players, who won a Grand Slam tournament here in New York,” Thiem said. “Even though, for sure, he’s not on the top of his game, he’s always dangerous for a deep run in these big tournaments. “He’s not a guy I want to face in the third round as he’s a former champion.” On a good day, he can beat anybody. “It’s going to be a real tough one.”

The other major upset was in the all-Canadian battle between Vasek Pospisil and 25th seed Milos Raonic. The lower ranked compatriot tumbled out the North American danger man, in a 6-7 6-3 7-6 6-3 triumph to set up a date with eighth seed Roberto Bautista Agut in the Round of 16. Also through was Australian Alex de Minaur who now takes on another up and comer in Russian 11th seed, Karen Khachanov. The Australian won 6-4 6-3 6-7 7-5 against French veteran Richard Gasquet, while Khachanov saw past his compatriot Andrey Kuznetsov, 6-3 6-4 6-1.

In the remaining two matches, 15th seed Felix Auger-Aliassime was in control of his match under the roof of Arthur Ashe Stadium against Brit Andy Murray, leading the Grand Slam winner and taking out a three set victory. Auger-Aliassime will play the victor of Corentin Moutet and Daniel Evans, with that clash postponed due to rain.

Picture: USTA

Mertens flexes muscles as top seed Pliskova has shock exit

ELISE Mertens has had a stunning opening round win at the Western & Southern Open, while number one seed Karolina Pliskova had a shock round one exit and Ons Jabeur and Vera Zvonareva have defied terrible opening sets to advance through on day four of the WTA Tour competition. Meanwhile the ATP Tour tournament saw the first Round of 32 match take place, with a number of seeds exiting the tournament.

WTA Tour:

Mertens completely stunned top 50 talent, Rebecca Peterson with a 6-0 6-2 victory, wrapping up the match in under an hour of court time. Mertens served six aces and only dropped two points off her first serve, which itself was a healthy 66.7 per cent efficiency. She saved both break points against her, whilst securing five breaks off six opportunities to smash her Swedish opponent in a one-sided contest. Peterson only won 23 of a possible 76 points for the match – 30.3 per cent – in what was an ominous sign for the Belgian heading into the second round.

The only match that took less time was 12th seed Estonian Anett Kontaveit‘s 6-3 6-1 triumph over Russian Daria Kasatkina, defeating the world number 68 in 56 minutes. Kontaveit served seven aces and won 71.9 and 66.7 percent of her points of her first and second serves, to break five times to once and win 65.2 per cent of the total match points. In other straight forward clashes, Netherlands’ Arantxa Rus knocked off Alison Van Uytvanck 6-2 6-3 in an upset, as Christina McHale stunned Iga Swiatek 6-2 6-4, Yulia Putintseva continued her good form with a 6-4 6-3 victory over Shuai Zhang and Kirsten Flipkens skipped passed Katerina Siniakova in the battle of the qualifiers.

In more startling results, both Jabeur and Zvonareva came back from huge first set deficits to post three-set wins in just under two hours each. The Tunisian talent who is known for her hard court prowess was better for longer against a plucky Leylah Fernandez, defeating the young gun 0-6 6-4 6-3 in an hour and 55 minutes. It was a similar story for veteran Zvonareva who had to fight off a more experienced opponent than Fernandez in Magda Linette, winning 1-6 6-3 6-1 in an hour and 45 minutes. German Laura Siegemund also defied her qualifying status to win in the longest match of the day, defeating 10th seed Marketa Vondrousova to move through to the second round at New York.

In other results, American return queen CiCi Bellis continued her remarkable story with a 6-2 3-6 7-6 victory over fellow qualifier, Oceane Dodin. Meanwhile Czech Marie Bouzkova defeated Anna Kalinskaya 6-1 7-5 and Jessica Pegula upset Top Seed Open winner, Jennifer Brady in a tight 7-6 6-4 victory. In the late results, Caroline Garcia defied a late challenge from Sloane Stephens to win in straight sets, 6-3 7-6, while Jil Teichmann defeated Danielle Collins 6-3 6-3.

In the final matches of the day, Veronika Kudermetova won the first set over Pliskova before the first seed hit back in the second, winning the first four games before Kudermetova came from behind for the 7-5 6-4 victory. Alize Cornet dominated the first set against American second seed Sofia Kenin to hold herself in good stead for the second set, serving for the match at 6-1 5-2 before Kenin hit back to go to a tiebreaker at the end of the second set (6-1 5-6). While Cornet ran out victor eventually in one hour and 43 minutes, it was a huge second set from Kenin that kept the match tight.

ATP Tour:

Andrey Rublev was the biggest casualty of day four at New York, losing to Brit, Daniel Evans in three sets thanks to the latter’s ability to grind and run out stronger in the third deciding set. The up and coming Russian joined another player who had appeared to be on the rise – Chile’s Cristian Garin – on the sidelines after a disappointing fadeaway in the final set resulted in qualifier Aljaz Bedene skipping to a 6-4 6-7 6-0 triumph.

Of the other seeds in action, top ranked player on court in Diego Schwartzman took care of Casper Ruud in straight sets, but not without a struggle, winning 7-6 6-3 to advance through to the second round. Also through to the next round was 14th seed Bulgarian Grigor Dimitrov who enjoyed a 6-3 6-4 victory over rising Frenchman, Ugo Humbert. The other Russian seed in Karen Khachanov took home the win against Kazakhstan’s Alexander Bublik in a 6-4 6-4 victory, while John Isner had a good day on the main court with a 7-5 6-4 win over Hubert Hurkacz.

In other completed matches at the time of publishing, Marcos Giron got up in the battle of the all-American qualifiers with the narrowest of straight sets wins over compatriot Mackenzie McDonald. Giron won 7-6 7-5 to book a spot in the second round, joining Frenchman Richard Gasquet who knocked off another United States qualifier in J.J. Wolf, 6-4 6-4. The other all-qualifiers battle resulted in Hungary’s Marton Fucsovics triumphing over Slovenia’s Norbert Gombos 6-3 6-4, whilst in the match prior, Australian Open quarter finalist and United States’ wildcard, Tennys Sandgren defeated Italian Lorenzo Sonego.

In a number of late matches, fourth seed Stefanos Tsitsipas easily rolled past the returning Kevin Anderson 6-1 6-3, while Australian John Millman survived an almost three-hour thriller against Frenchman Adrian Mannarino to win 4-6 6-4 7-6. In another all-qualifying battle, American Sebastian Korda and Finn Emil Ruusuvuori locked horns on court 14 with the latter getting up a three set battle, 6-7 6-4 5-7.

Picture: Tennis World USA

Seeds skittled in New York as W&S Open main draws decided

JUST six of a possible 24 qualifying seeds are through to the main draw of the Western & Southern Open’s WTA Tour main draw, while the ATP event had a remarkable four make it through qualifying.

Looking at the WTA Tour side of things, the youth of the Tour continued to impress today with some of the most exciting youngsters making their way into the main draw. Canadian teen, Leylah Fernandez made her way through to the main draw with a 6-4 6-1 triumph over American Kristie Ahn, while recently turned 20-year-old Ann Li also made it through with an impressive 6-3 7-6 win over Viktoria Kuzmova. CiCi Bellis‘ return to the circuit continued with a huge come-from-behind win over Belgian Ysaline Bonaventure, one of four American qualifiers through to the Round of 64. The other two were other seeded qualifiers in Jessica Pegula and Cristina McHale.

Top seeded qualifier and Top Seed Open finalist Jil Teichmann made it to the main draw with a win over Shelby Rogers for the second time in a week, again defeating her in straight sets 6-3 6-4 after doing it in the Lexington semi-final. Aside from the trio of Americans, the other top ranked players to survive qualifying were fifth seed Laura Siegemund, seventh seed Arantxa Rus and 12th seed Kirsten Flipkens. Other qualifiers were Russian duo, Vera Zvonareva and Anna Kalinskaya, and Frenchwoman Oceane Dodin.

WTA TOUR QUALFIERS:

Vera Zvonareva (RUS)
Arantxa Rus (NED)
Ann Li (USA)
Anna Kalinskaya (RUS)
Leylan Fernandez (CAN)
CiCi Bellis (USA)
Oceane Dodin (FRA)
Kirsten Fllipkens (BEL)
Laura Siegemund (GER)
Jil Teichmann (SUI)
Cristina McHale (USA)
Jessica Pegula (USA)

In their first event since March, the ATP Tour’s qualifying draw produced a number of upsets on the final day of that stage, with plenty of lowly ranked competitors making it through to the Round of 64 at New York. The highest ranked player to make it through to the first round of the main draw was Aljaz Bedene, with the fourth seed just getting past Austrian Dennis Novak, 4-6 6-3 6-4. He joined Marton Fucsovics, Cameron Norrie and Ricardas Berankis as the seeds through to the next stage of the tournament.

Top seeded qualifier, Gilles Simon had a shock loss to American wildcard, Sebastian Korda. The 54th ranked Frenchman looked good in the opening set then won just one game in the final two sets to lose 3-6 6-0 6-1 against the 224th ranked 20-year-old Korda. Another lowly ranked American in 271st ranked Mackenzie McDonald also booked his spot in the main draw with a 6-7 7-5 7-6 victory over German Dominik Koepfer, while fellow wildcard J.J. Wolf defeated up-and-coming Spaniard Jaume Munar in a come-from-behind 2-6 6-4 6-4 victory to also add to the American representation. Other winners through to the main draw were Emil Ruusuvuori, Salvatore Caruso, Marcos Giron and Norbert Gombos who all saluted in the second round of qualifying.

ATP TOUR QUALIFIERS:

Sebastian Korda (USA)
Emil Ruusuvuori (FIN)
Ricardas Berankis (LTU)
Aljaz Bedene (SLO)
Mackenzie McDonald (USA)
Marton Fucsovics (HUN)
Salvatore Caruso (ITA)
Cameron Norrie (GBR)
Marcos Giron (USA)
Lloyd Harris (RSA)
J.J Wolf (USA)
Norbert Gombos (SVK)

Tomorrow’s action at New York kicks off with a massive day on the Grandstand Court, starting with Ekaterina Alexandrova up against ninth seed, Elena Rybakina in one of the matches of the day. Following that, 13th seed Maria Sakkari tackles American young gun Coco Gauff. Wrapping up the day session, wildcard duo Frances Tiafoe and Andy Murray do battle, before 16th seed Dayana Yastremska and American wildcard Venus Williams go at it, and Canandian 12th seed Denis Shapovalov and Croatian Marin Cilic light up the night session.

Other matches not to be missed on the first day of action at New York include German Jan-Lennard Struff up against Australian Alex de Minaur, American duo Alison Riske and Amanda Anisimova doing battle, and the big serving Sam Querrey and Milos Raonic lock horns.