Tag: open sud de france

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

Monfils claims third Montpellier title

NUMBER one seed and tournament favourite, Gael Monfils has claimed his third Open Sud De France title at Montpellier following a straight sets win over Canadian, Vasek Pospisil. The world number nine drew level on points with Italian, Matteo Berrettini in eighth with the World Tennis Tournament coming up in Rotterdam likely to determine who falls into the ATP Finals placing early in the season.

In the Open Sud De France final, Monfils got up 7-5 6-3 in an hour and 37 minutes. He did not have it all his own way with the Canadian – who moved back into the top 100 after having an injury-wrecked 2019 – and only broke twice throughout the match. Monfils saved all four break point opportunities against him, and had an efficient 70 per cent first serve, from which he claimed 77 per cent of his points. Pospisil was not far behind with two thirds of his first serves hitting the mark, and only dropping six points when putting them in, but could only win five of 19 off his second serve, enabling Monfils to take advantage and make two crucial breaks. The Frenchman won double those points off his second serve, but it was his ability to just break at the right times and avoid going into tiebreakers with the North American.

The key for Monfils heading into the remainder of 2020 is to double up on titles in a single calendar year for the first time in his career. Since winning his first title at Sopot in 2005, Monfils has won no more than a title a year, with now eight more titles since 2009. Three of those have come at Montpellier, with victories in 2010, 2014 and now 2020. While he is ranked equal eighth in the world, Monfils heads into a stacked Rotterdam title where he is the reigning champion, which means he has points to uphold.

Seeded third, Monfils takes on Portugal’s Joao Sousa in the first round, but has the likes of fifth seed Fabio Fognini and top 20 Russian, Karen Khachanov in his section – though the pair are facing off in an unbelievable blockbuster match. Pospisil also heads to Rotterdam where he earned a Special Exemption. The Canadian was supposed to go through qualifying, but due to going so deep at Montpellier, he missed out on qualifying and tournament officials gave him approval and safe passage through to the main draw. Unfortunately for the 29-year-old, he runs into number one seed and world number five, Daniil Medvedev in the first round.

Cordoba/Montpellier/Pune wrap: Second seeds fall in France and India

A COUPLE of huge shocks headline the semi-finals across the world, as one French star zeroes in on this third title at the Open Sud De France.

OPEN SUD DE FRANCE – MONTPELLIER, FRANCE:

Gael Monfils is closing in on a third title at Montpellier after booking a spot in the final yesterday. The top 10 Frenchman defeated seventh seed Serbian Filip Krajinovic in straight sets, 7-6 6-2 to face Canadian Vasek Pospisil in the final. It was a shock result for the 29-year-old world number 132, who won through to meet Monfils in the final match with an upset triumph over top 10 Belgian, David Goffin. Pospisil has already moved up to 104th in the world and will be inside the top 100 if he can find a way to continue his terrific tournament with a win over Monfils. Pospisil defeated Goffin 6-3 1-6 7-5 in two hours and 21 minutes, serving eight aces, winning 72 per cent of his first serve points and breaking three times. Goffin arguably had better statistics with a 78 per cent success rate off his first serve, and also broke three times, but it was his second serve that let him down. The Canadian won 60 per cent of Goffin’s second serve points and took advantage of his slower serve. Only a point separated the players by the end of the match, but it was a handy point with the North American now trying to take down the tournament favourite. Monfils will move up to equal eighth with Matteo Berrettini if the Frenchman gets up.

SF Results:

[1] Gael Monfils (FRA) defeated [7] Filip Krajinovic (SRB) 7-6 6-2
Vasek Pospisil (CAN) defeated [2] David Goffin (BEL) 6-3 1-6 7-5

TATA OPEN – PUNE, INDIA:

Pospisil was not the only surprise winner in the semi-finals stage of ATP Tour tournaments yesterday, as Czech Jiri Vesely downed second seed, Ricardas Berankis in three tight tiebreakers. Vesely dropped the first tiebreaker but came back to win 6-7 7-6 7-6, eventually saluting 9-7 in the deciding set tiebreaker. The match lasted more than three hours and Vesely’s serve was unbelievable – putting down 28 aces and winning 86 per cent of his first serve points. He served at a healthy 65 per cent efficiency, while breaking three times – the same amount as his Lithuanian opponent. Vesely was able to do well off Berankis’ first serve, winning a third of the points, while Berankis only won a lowly 14 per cent. On the second serve however, Berankis took more control with a 56 to 45 per cent success rate comparison. Vesely now takes on eighth seed Belarusian, Egor Gerasimov who defeated Australian James Duckworth in the other semi-final, 7-6 6-4. Whichever player wins it will be a memorable occasion, with Gerasimov vying for his first ever ATP Tour title, while Vesely will look for his first title in five years – and only his second overall. Currently at 71 in the world having moved up 19 spots, Gerasimov will move to 61st overall with a win in the final, wile Vesely – ranked at 107th entering the tournament – is up to 88th already, with the chance to move one behind Gerasimov with a title win, into 72nd on the ATP Tour rankings.

SF Results:

[8] Egor Gerasimov (BLR) defeated James Duckworth (AUS) 7-6 6-4
Jiri Vesely (CZE) defeated [2] Ricardas Berankis (LTU) 6-7 7-6 7-6

CORDOBA OPEN – CORDOBA, ARGENTINA:

After a number of years hovering just outside the top 30, Chilean 23-year-old Cristian Garin has moved inside the top 30 to a career-high 27th in the world. Garin did it off the back of a 2-6 6-2 6-2 come-from-behind victory in the semi-final against Slovenia’s Andrej Martin. The world number 100 slotted into number 93 after his semi-final appearance, but he was not able to sustain his first set effort against the third seed in the last two sets. It took Garin almost two hours to get the win, getting up 2-6 6-2 6-2 with four breaks to two, and serving at a 65 per cent efficiency rate. He won 69 per cent of his first serves and capitalised on his opponents’ second serve with a 53 per cent success rate. The Chilean now faces his biggest challenge in the tournament yet, facing Argentinian and top seed, Diego Schwartzman.

SF Results:

[1] Diego Schwartzman (ARG) defeated [4] Laslo Djere (SRB) 6-1 1-6 6-2
[3] Cristian Garin (CHI) defeated Andrej Marting (SLO) 2-6 6-2 6-2

Cordoba/Montpellier/Pune wrap: Monfils survives as French drop out in disappointing day for home nation

SEEDS moved through across the three ATP Tour events on quarter finals day as the final fours in each tournament at Montpellier, Pune and Cordoba were decided.

OPEN SUD DE FRANCE – MONTPELLIER, FRANCE:

Number one seed and top 10 player, Gael Monfils has survived an awful day for the home nation, with the Frenchman getting through unscathed 6-3 6-4 as all his compatriots fell. He defeated Slovakian, Norbert Gombos in 72 minutes with a first serve percentage 74, and a first serve points won percentage of 73. He broke three times to one, enough to avoid a third deciding set on his way to victory and a semi-final place. He will now take on seventh seed Serbian, Filip Krajinovic who knocked out Frenchman Gregoire Barrere 6-2 7-5 in an hour and 14 minutes.

In the other quarter finals, French duo Richard Gasquet and Pierre-Hugues Herbert fell, going down to Vasek Pospisil and second seed Belgian, David Goffin. Gasquet was forced to retire eight games into the match trailing 1-6 0-1, while Goffin had to overcome some resistance from Herbert in a 6-4 7-6 victory. The Canadian will now have to tackle the world number 10 in the other semi-final for a spot in the Montpellier final.

QF Results:

[1] Gael Monfils (FRA) defeated Norbert Gombos (SLO) 6-3 6-4
[7] Filip Krajinovic (SRB) defeated Gregoire Barrere (FRA) 6-2 7-5
Vasek Pospisil (CAN) defeated Richard Gasquet (FRA) 6-1 1-0 RET
[2] David Goffin (BEL) defeated Pierre-Hugues Herbert (FRA) 6-4 7-6

TATA OPEN – PUNE, INDIA:

It was not a great day for the Asian representation in India, with both fourth seed South Korean, Soonwoo Kwon and fifth seed Japanese player, Yuichi Sugita both bowing out. They lost in three tight sets with fellow seeds, Ricardas Berankis from Lithuania, and Belarusian Egor Gerasimov getting up in wins. The number eight seed will face sixth seed Australian, James Duckworth who downed Italian qualifier Roberto Marcora after his first back-to-back wins at ATP Tour level this tournament. Duckworth won 6-3 7-6 in the only straight sets quarter final win.

In the tightest finish to an otherwise one-sided contest both ways, Jiri Vesely came back from a set down to run out a 2-6 6-1 7-6 winner over Belarusian, Ilya Ivashka. The unseeded Czech had to fight until 13-11 in the epic tiebreaker to finally claim the win in two and a half hours. He served up 13 aces and won 77 per cent of his first serve points, breaking three times compared to his opponents’ twice at the same time. Ivashka was solid on his serve, winning 72 per cent of his points, and he attacked his opponents’ second serve with a 55 per cent success rate, but could not make enough of an impact off his first serve. In the end, Vesely won nine points points than Ivashka, but it was enough to book a spot in the final four against Berankis.

QF Results:

[6] James Duckworth (AUS) defeated [Q] Roberto Marcora (ITA) 6-3 7-6
[8] Egor Gerasimov (BLR) defeated [4] Soonwoo Kwon (JPN) 4-6 7-6 6-4
Jiri Vesely (CZE) defeated Ilya Ivashka (BLR) 2-6 6-1 7-6
[2] Ricardas Berankis (LTU) defeated [5] Yuichi Sugita (JPN) 4-6 7-6 6-2

CORDOBA OPEN – CORDOBA, ARGENTINA:

Chilean up-and-comer, Cristian Garin is through to the semi-finals of the Cordoba Open following a tight three-set win over sixth seed Uruguayan, Pablo Cuevas. He downed his more experienced opponent 1-6 6-3 6-4, coming back from a set down to win in just under two hours. He was far from clinical with a 67 per cent first serve points won from 63 per cent efficiency, but he was able to be stronger on his second serve than his opponent with 58 to 52 per cent success. Both players won 36 per cent of points upon return, and while it looked like Cuevas was going to stroll to victory early, Garin showed great fight in the final two sets to break three times and not be broken himself. By winning match point, Garin won the identical amount of points as Cuevas, with the pair winning 82 of the 164 points each.

Garin will now face Slovakian Andrej Martin who downed in-form French young gun, Corentin Moutet in straight sets 6-3 6-2. In the other quarter finals results, number on seed and tournament favourite Diego Schwartzman survived a couple of second set points to book a spot in the semi-finals with a 6-0 7-6 victory over fifth seed Spaniard, Albert Ramos-Vinolas, while fourth seed, Laslo Djere came from behind to defeat reigning champion, Juan Ignacio Londero, 6-7 6-3 7-6 to face Schwartzman in the semi-finals.

QF Results:

[1] Diego Schwartzman defeated [5] Albert Ramos-Vinolas 6-0 7-6
[4] Laslo Djere (SRB) [8] Juan Ignacio Londero (ARG) 6-7 6-3 7-6
[3] Cristian Garin (CHI) defeated [6] Pablo Cuevas (URU) 1-6 6-3 6-4
Andrej Martin (SVK) defeated Corentin Moutet (FRA) 6-3 6-2

Cordoba/Montpellier/Pune wrap: Barrere and Pospisil upset Dimitrov and Shapovalov in Montpellier

IT was another day of action packed matches with quarter finalists decided in the Tata Open and a couple of Frenchmen progressing through to the next stage of the Open Sud De France.

TATA OPEN – PUNE, INDIA:

Four players are through to the quarter finals after three impressive wins on Day 5 of the Tata Open. Fifth seed, Yuichi Sugita had the easiest day of all, walking through to the final eight with qualifier Viktor Troicki pulling out of the tournament. Second seed, Lithuania’s Ricardas Berankis joined Sugita in the quarter finals with a 7-6 6-1 victory over German, Cedrik-Marcel Stebe. The news was not so good for the Italian seeds however, with both third seed, Stefano Travaglia and seventh seed, Salvatore Caruso going down in straight sets. Travaglia lost to Belarusian, Ilya Ivashka while Caruso suffered defeat at the hands of Czech, Jiri Vesely.

In the only Round of 32 match to be completed, Japan’s Taro Daniel sent Indian wildcard, Sasikumar Mukund packing. He defeated the home country combatant, 6-2 7-6 to move through to the Round of 16 where he will face Australia’s James Duckworth tomorrow. It took Daniel an hour and 39 minutes to finally dispatch of Mukund, winning 77 and 61 per cent of his first and second serve points respectively. He also produced seven aces without a double fault, while Mukund only served up five aces for four double faults.

OPEN SUD DE FRANCE – MONTPELLIER, FRANCE:

France’s Adrian Mannarino looked past a minor lapse in concentration during the second set to post a 6-0 6-7 6-0 victory over Australian Open surprise packet, Alexei Popyrin. He was joined in the second round by compatriot, Richard Gasquet who defeated fellow Frenchman Gilles Simon, 6-4 6-4. It was not as good news for young gun Frenchman, Ugo Humbert with the eighth seed bowing out in his opening match to the experienced Feliciano Lopez. The Spaniard won a rather easy 6-4 6-1 to book a spot in the Round of 16.

Speaking of the Round of 16, the first matches were completed for the round, with Frenchman Gregoire Barrere causing an upset over fourth seed Belarusian, Grigor Dimitrov. In a match that no doubt the umpire might have had some troubles addressing just one player given their similarly sounding first names, it was Barrere who used the home crowd advantage to spur him on to victory. Ranked 91st in the world and yet to win an ATP Tour title, the 25-year-old battled hard for two hours and 33 minutes before finally exacting a perfect comeback after dropping the first set to win, 6-7 6-4 7-5. He broke five times to three, and won 38 per cent of his return points in an even contest, with just five points separating the two players after an epic match. Barrere will now take on the winner of seventh seed Serbian, Filip Krajinovic and Sweden up-and-comer, Mikael Ymer. The other Round of 16 result was another shock with Vasek Pospisil turning around and smashing highly touted youngster, Denis Shapovalov with the experienced Canadian rolling the number three seed and compatriot 6-2 6-3.

CORDOBA OPEN – CORDOBA, ARGENTINA:

Four singles matches were completed on Day 5 in Argentina with Uruguayan sixth seed, Pablo Cuevas defeating Italian, Gianluca Mager in three sets. It took more than two hours for the experienced Cuevas to eventually get the job done, getting through a couple of nervous tiebreakers before running away with it in the third and deciding set. Cuevas served eight aces and won 78 per cent of his first serve points, while breaking six times to three – including three times in the final set.

In other results, Slovenian Andrej Martin knocked off Spanish qualifier, Carlos Taberner 6-3 7-6. Taberner really took it to Martin in the second set forcing it to a tiebreaker but in the end the Slovenian did enough to keep him at bay and progress through to the next stage. Cristian Garin made light work of Attila Balazs defeating him in two sets 6-3 6-0 while Corentin Moutet got the job done despite dropping the first set to Guido Pella 6-7 7-5 6-3.

Cordoba/Montpellier/Pune wrap: Duckworth through to Round of 16 in Pune

IT was a more complete day for the three ATP Tour tournaments on the go across the world, with mostly expected results.

OPEN SUD DE FRANCE – MONTPELLIER, FRANCE:

Fifth seed wildcard, Felix Auger-Aliassime survived a three-set match to down qualifier, Damir Dzumhur. Losing the first set tiebreaker, the Canadian came back to post a 6-7 6-2 6-2 win. Earlier in the day, seventh seed Filip Krajinovic defeated French qualifier, Enzo Couacaud 6-4 6-4, while Pierre-Hugues Herbert knocked off Ukrainian qualifier, Sergiy Stakhovsky 6-2 7-5. On Court 1, Alexander Bublik downed Switzerland’s Henri Laaksonen, as Finnish qualifier Emil Ruusuvuori defeated Austrian, Dennis Novak 7-6 4-6 6-2.

It was the first match on Court Patrice Dominguez that raised eyebrows as Swedish up-and-comer, Mikael Ymer defeated Next Gen Finals winner, Italian Jannik Sinner. The Italian young gun had no answers for his opponent, who won 76 per cent of his first serve points and half of his second serve points. He broke four times to two and won 67 per cent of his return points off the second serve. Sinner was solid across the board, but his second serve struggles ultimately cost him on this occasion.

TATA OPEN – PUNE, INDIA:

James Duckworth booked a spot in the second round of the Tata Open courtesy of a 7-6 6-4 victory over German, Peter Gojowczyk. The Australian took an hour and 23 minutes to get the win, serving nine aces and breaking once in the second set. He saved the only break point opportunity for the German, and won 66 per cent of his second serve points. The important win for the Australian gave him an extra day’s rest against his potential opponent which could be Japan’s Taro Daniel, who faces Indian wildcard, Sasikumar Mukund as the only Round of 32 match yet to be played.

In other results, Czech Republic’s Jiri Vesely knocked over another Indian wildcard in Arjun Kadhe, 6-2 6-4, while Kadhe’s compatriot, Prajnesh Gunneswaran won against German, Yannick Maden in two tiebreakers. On Court 1, eighth seed Egor Gerasimov booked a spot in the Round of 16 with a 6-2 6-3 victory over Italian, Paolo Lorenzi. Fellow Belarusian, Ilya Ivashka also moved through to the next round with a 6-3 6-2 win over Russia’s Evgeny Donskoy. Italian qualifier Roberto Marcora defeated Czech Republic’s Lukas Rosol 6-3 6-2, while Serbian qualifier Nikola Milojevic won against Antoine Hoang.

CORDOBA OPEN – CORDOBA, ARGENTINA:

Fifth seed Spaniard, Albert Ramos-Vinolas opened his Cordoba Open tournament with a 6-4 7-6 victory over Argentinian Facundo Bagnis. The match lasted two hours with Ramos-Vinolas winning 63 and 68 per cent of his first and second serve points. He only had a 51 per cent first serve percentage, but broke three times to two in order to win the opening set, then survived a tiebreaker in the second to book a spot in the Round of 16.

Other results on the clay saw a duo of Argentinian’s winning with wildcard Pedro Cachin and last year’s Open winner, eighth seed Juan Ignacio Londero both getting through with respective victories over Hugo Dellien and Marco Cecchinato. It was not as positive for Leonardo Mayer and Federico Coria who went down to Jaume Munar and Andrej Martin respectively. In the other singles match, Spain’s Pablo Andujar was victorious over lucky loser, Filip Horansky 6-2 6-2.

ATP Tour daily wrap: Cordoba/Montpellier/Pune – Carreno Busta, Karlovic and Verdasco out in respective opening rounds

WITH the Australian Open now in the rear view mirror, the ATP Tour split across three continents, with tournaments in Argentina, France and India. We recap how the first matches from the respective Round of 32s went down.

TATA OPEN, PUNE – INDIA:

Both home nation representatives have fallen, while last year’s runner-up also went down in a day where four singles matches were completed. Qualifier, Viktor Troicki moved through to the Round of 16 following a 6-2 6-7 6-1 victory of India’s Sumit Nagal. Seventh seed Italian, Salvatore Caruso also booked a spot in the next round with a 3-6 6-4 7-5 victory over Indian wildcard Ramkumar Ramanathan, while Japanese fifth seed, Yuichi Sugita downed Italian Thomas Fabbiano comfortably, 6-3 6-0.

The surprise of the day was a straight sets win to German, Cedrik-Marcel Stebe who handled big-serving veteran, Ivo Karlovic in straight sets. While Karlovic celebrated his 40th birthday last year, the Croatian made the Tata Open final 12 months ago and was considered one of the outside contenders for the title. Stebe had other ideas however, winning 6-3 6-4 in just over an hour as Karlovic only marginally shaded Stebe in the ace department (6-5), but the German’s first serve points percentage of 83 per cent was important. Stunningly, Stebe broke Karlovic eight times – from only eight opportunities – while the Croatian could only manage it twice from four chances. Stebe now moves on to face Lithuania’s Ricardas Berankis, the second seed in the tournament.

OPEN SUD DE FRANCE, MONTEPELLIER – FRANCE:

Three singles matches were completed in the opening round at the Open Sud de France as qualifying was completed on Day 2. Canadian, Vasek Pospisil defeated Slovenian, Alijaz Bedene in straight sets, 6-3 6-4, while Frenchman, Gregoire Barrere moved through to the last 16 with a straight sets win over Portugals’ Joao Sousa, 6-2 7-6

The biggest upset occurred with top 30 Spaniard, Pablo Carreno Busta knocked out of the tournament in three sets by Slovakian, Norbert Gombos. The 104th ranked Gombos triumphed after being a set down, 3-6 6-4 6-3 to move through to the Round of 16. The match took an hour and 43 minutes, serving nine aces and winning 72 per cent of his first serve points. Carreno Busta won 75 per cent of his first serve points, but managed just 29 per cent on his second serve. Despite breaking three times, Gombos broke four times and won 42 per cent of his receiving points in one of his best performances to-date.

CORDOBA OPEN, CORDOBA – ARGENTINA:

Down on the clay courts of Cordoba, seventh seed Fernando Verdasco was the biggest casualty of the first day, losing to compatriot, Spanish qualifier Carlos Taberner. The qualifier won 4-6 6-1 6-4 to knock out the experienced veteran, winning 75 per cent of his first serve points and breaking five times to his opponents’ three. While he did serve six double faults to only four aces, he was consistent for longer, particularly after settling in the second set.

In other results, Uruguay’s Pablo Cuevas moved through to the Round of 16 with the sixth seed getting up over Argentinian, Federico Delbonis 7-5 6-2. Meanwhile Hungary’s Attila Balazs defeated Italian, Lorenzo Sonego 6-2 7-6 and Italian Gianluca Mager sent Argentinian qualifier, Juan Pablo Ficovich packing, 6-2 3-6 6-2.

2020 Open Sud de France preview: Youth and experience to go head-to-head in Montpellier

OF all the three 250k events over the week, Montpellier’s Open Sud de France is set to be the biggest of the lot with a raft of top 20 players leading the charge in what will be a competitive event in the first week of February.

FAVOURITE:

Gael Monfils

After opting to play in his home nation, Monfils will start as favourite after a solid fourth round appearance at Melbourne Park. The top 10 player is the number one seed at Montpellier and with the withdrawal of the in-form Alex Rublev, he has plenty of reasons to be confident. A loss to Australian Open finalist, Dominic Thiem ended his campaign, but Monfils played some terrific tennis up until that point. He was able to contain the big serving Ivo Karlovic and the danger man in Ernests Gulbis, and would back himself in her against a number of players he can beat, especially at one. With a favourable draw, Monfils would hope to repeat his efforts here from 2010 and 2014, where he won the title.

CONTENDERS:

David Goffin (Belgium)

Had a superb ATP Cup where he knocked off Rafael Nadal and Grigor Dimitrov, then reached the third round at Melbourne Park before falling to a red-hot Andrey Rublev. He is a player consistently around the top 30 mark, but has only won two tournaments in the past five years – both in 2017. Yet to take out a major tournament, he is good enough to play five or six strong matches in a row and cause an upset here or there, but he just has to physically do it. Moved up to 10th in the ATP Rankings after the Australian Open and will start as the number one seed in Montpellier.

Denis Shapovalov (Canada)

Will be seething after a super disappointing first round exit at Melbourne Park, going down to Hungarian, Marton Fucsovics in four sets. He showed so much promise in the Davis Cup and ATP Cup, stunning top 10 players Stefanos Tsitsipas and Zverev in straight sets. He also pushed Novak Djokovic and Alex de Minaur to three sets in the tournament, only losing to the world number one in a deciding set tiebreaker. Since then though he went down to eventual winner, Ugo Humbert in Auckland, and then bowed out to Fucsovics a week later at the Australian Open. More rested than the other players in the top bracket there – due to the early exit – he should be refreshed and rejuvenated physically and mentally to attack the title and add to his maiden win at Stockholm last year.

Felix Auger-Aliassime (Canada)

Almost identically to Shapovalov, the 19-year-old Canadian would be really disappointed with a first round exit at Melbourne Park. There were high hopes he could challenge some of the world’s best players after going deep in multiple tournament in 2019, and while he is still a teenager, has so much potential. He lost out to the experienced Gulbis, and will want to build on his performance from the week before where he made a semi-final in Adelaide before going down to eventual winner Rublev. Seeded fifth here, a potential quarte r finals match looms with Goffin, which makes it a tough draw but we know what he is capable of on his best day.

ROUGHIE:

Ugo Humbert (France)

Took out his maiden title at Auckland last month with a huge run to the final and win over Benoit Paire in the decider. He is back on home soil and has to be one of the chances, especially against some of the international competitors. He has the shotmaking and style to become a top 10 player, and he has made giant leaps in the last 12 months. He did run into trouble against John Millman in the first round of the Australian Open, but prefers his power-on-power rallies rather than taking on a counter puncher work horse. He has an incredibly tough draw though, coming up against the always troubling Feliciano Lopez in the first round, with a second round looming against either of his compatriots Gilles Simon or Richard Gasquet, followed by a quarter finals matchup with Shapovalov. Not easy, and it will take his best tennis to make it through the tournament.

DARK HORSE:

Jannik Sinner (Italy)

There were plenty of players who could fall into this category, but the ATP Next Gen Finals winner from 2019 has been building well over the last 12 months. Still only 18, the red haired baseliner competed strongly against eventual finalist, Benoit Paire in Auckland before defeating Max Purcell on home soil in the first round at Melbourne Park. Sinner can be erratic with his shotmaking at times, but when he is hitting them sweetly, he looks like a star of the future. The Italian teenager went down to Fucsovics in three sets in the second round, but as the Hungarian showed throughout the tournament, he was no easy opponent, making it to the fourth round.