Tag: pablo andujar

ATP Tour wrap: Two of three seeds fall on second day at Madrid

TWO seeds fell on the official second day of competition at the 2021 ATP Mutua Madrid Open in Spain, whilst a couple of qualifiers and a young gun wildcard also proceeded through to the second round.

It was qualifier Argentinian Federico Delbonis that overcame 10th seed Pablo Carreno Busta on home soil, dropping the first set to the Spaniard before biting back in the second and retaining control from there on out. The two hour encounter saw Delbonis marginally lead for efficiency on his first and second serve winning rates despite Carreno Busta being cleaner on serve, resulting in the 3-6 6-4 6-3 finish. Meanwhile, South African Lloyd Harris out-hit Grigor Dimitrov, piling on 12 aces to three in the two and a half hour, 6-3 3-6 7-6 contest. The two players could not be split throughout, with the third set tiebreaker showcasing just how tight the matchup was, as both players completed the match winning the same amount of points throughout (104).

The only seed to win on the day was 16th seed Cristian Garin, who ousted a second Spaniard in Fernando Verdasco, while qualifiers Carlos Taberner and Pablo Andujar also fell on home soil, taken down by Italian Fabio Fognini and American Marcos Giron, respectively.

It was not all bad news for Spaniards though, as young gun Carlos Alcaraz proceeds to the second round after disposing of Frenchman Adrian Mannarino in straight sets, 6-4 6-0, to set up a clash with compatriot and clay champion Rafael Nadal in the Round of 32.

“I started the match a little bit nervous,” Alcaraz said. “I tried to play aggressive to get the nerves out and tried to enjoy playing here, in front of a big crowd in Madrid.”

“For me, [to] play against Rafa is a dream come true,” Alcaraz said. “Since I was a kid, I wished to play a match against Rafa and now I will be able to here [on] the Centre Court of La Caja Magica in Madrid. It is a really special match against Rafa.”

Still only 17-years-old – until next week – Alcaraz pulled off 19 forehand winners against Mannarino, and won an impressive 81 per cent of his first serve points to claim victory.

The remaining four matches saw two more French competitors fall to join Mannarino on the sideline, as Dubai champion Aslan Karatsev pulled off a 7-5 6-4 victory over Ugo Humbert while Daniel Evans overcame a fighting Jeremy Chardy in a two hour and 46-minute classic, 7-6 6-7 6-2, piling on 13 aces for one double fault in the process, compared to Chardy’s four for six. The remaining two matches went the way of John Isner and Dominik Koepfer, with plenty of intriguing matchups coming in the coming days.

MUTUA MADRID OPEN ROUND OF 64 RESULTS:

[Q] Federico Delbonis (ARG) defeated [10] Pablo Carreno Busta (ESP) 3-6 6-4 6-3
Lloyd Harris (RSA) defeated [13] Grigor Dimitrov (HUN) 6-3 3-6 7-6
[16] Cristian Garin (CHI) defeated [WC] Fernando Verdasco (ESP) 6-1 6-4
Daniel Evans (GBR) defeated Jeremy Chardy (FRA) 7-6 6-7 6-2
Fabio Fognini (ITA) defeated [Q] Carlos Taberner (ESP) 7-6 2-6 6-3
John Isner (USA) defeated Miomir Kecmanovic (SRB) 6-4 7-6
Aslan Karatsev (RUS) defeated Ugo Humbert (FRA) 7-5 6-4
Dominik Koepfer (GER) defeated Reilly Opelka (USA) 6-4 6-4
[WC] Carlos Alcaraz (ESP) defeated Adrian Mannarino (FRA) 6-4 6-0
[Q] Marcos Giron (USA) defeated [Q] Pablo Andujar (ESP) 6-7 7-6 7-5

ATP Tour wrap: Matches underway at Munich and Estoril

PROCEEDINGS are underway at the ATP Tour 250 events in Munich, Germany and Estoril, Portugal, as the Round of 32 begins.

At Estoril, a number of Spaniards took the court with just the one reigning supreme in eighth seed Alejandro Davidovich Fokina – the only seed of the day – in a hard-fought day on the clay. Davidovich Fokina took on compatriot Pablo Andujar and claimed a 6-3 4-6 6-1 victory in just under two and a half hours. Whilst it was not a particularly effective service encounter from either Spaniard, the higher ranked of the two came away with the chocolates.

South African Kevin Anderson hard-hitter piled on a whopping 20 aces on his way to victory over American Frances Tiafoe, reigning supreme for a come-from-behind 4-6 7-6 7-6 victory. Anderson only hit three double faults throughout the contest but failed to really command control in the tight encounter, though to his credit did not relinquish easy points to Tiafoe, saving a match point to claim victory in two hours and 47 minutes.

“It was obviously a very, very close match,” Anderson said post-match. “I think there were a lot of positives, a lot of really high quality tennis, especially from midway through the second until the end of the match, I was really happy with the way I played. I think even if I had lost that match, obviously it’s always tough losing, but I definitely felt I took a step in the right direction today.

“Getting the win is a big added bonus, it gives me another opportunity to come out in a couple days’ time.”

Frenchman Jeremy Chardy defeated the third Spaniard in qualifier Jaume Munar in a come-from-behind victory, 3-6 6-3 6-4. Where Munar had the upper hand early, Chardy bit back in the second to command proceedings and cleaned up his act, not wasting as many service game on his way to the opening round victory.In the remaining game, Portugal qualifer Nuno Borges downed Australian Jordan Thompson in the only straight setter of the day, 7-6 6-3.

At Munich, five matches played out with both hometown hopefuls falling on home soil, as an all-Australian head-to-head saw the only seed of the day claim victory in the opening round.

On a day packed with multiple countrymen taking the court, it was the two Argentinians that both took out victories, although one came much easier than the other as Guido Pella walked away with a 6-0 2-0 trouncing of Belarusian Egor Gerasimov who was forced to retire mid-match, whilst Pella’s compatriot Federico Coria claimed a 6-3 3-6 6-2 victory over German Cedrik-Marcel Stebe. Gerasimov’s compatriot in Ilya Ivashka claimed the quickest and easiest win of the day by far, obliterating Emil Ruusuvuori 6-1 6-2 and forcing errors from the Finnish competitor to complete victory in 67 minutes.

Eighth seed John Millman overcame compatriot Alexei Popyrin but did not have it easy, requiring almost three hours to consolidate a 7-6 3-6 7-5 victory. A marginally better winning rate on both his first and second serve paid off, as Millman outlasted Popyrinto claim the win. Meanwhile, Lithuanian lucky loser Ricardas Berankis was the remaining winner of the day, defeating the second German in wildcard Maximillian Marterer, 7-6 6-3 to head to the second round.

MILLENNIUM ESTORIL OPEN ROUND OF 32 RESULTS:

[8] Alejandro Davidovich Fokina (ESP) defeated Pablo Andujar (ESP) 6-3 4-6 6-1
Kevin Anderson (RSA) defeated Frances Tiafoe (USA) 4-6 7-6 7-6
Jeremy Chardy (FRA) defeated [Q] Jaume Munar (ESP) 3-6 6-3 6-4
[Q] Nuno Borges (POR) defeated Jordan Thompson (AUS) 7-6 6-3

BMW OPEN ROUND OF 32 RESULTS:

[8] John Millman (AUS) defeated Alexei Popyrin (AUS) 7-6 3-6 7-5
Federico Coria (ARG) defeated [Q] Cedrik-Marcel Stebe (GER) 6-3 3-6 6-2
[LL] Ricardas Berankis (LTU) defeated [WC] Maximillian Marterer (GER) 7-6 6-3
[Q] Ilya Ivashka (BLR) defeated Emil Ruusuvuori (FIN) 6-1 6-2
Guido Pella (ARG) defeated Egor Gerasimov (BLR) 6-0 2-0 RET

ATP Tour wrap: Norrie continues red-hot form in Barcelona

GREAT Britain’s Cameron Norrie has continued his ripping form of late, taking another big scalp in 12th seed Karen Khachanov at the Barcelona Open. Clashing in the Round of 32, Norrie advanced in a tough three-set contest, winning 6-4 3-6 6-3 to advance through to the third round and be the only confirmed unseeded player in the Round of 16 at this stage. With the remaining 11 matches still to go, there are plenty of chances for more unseeded players to join him, but Norrie has the extra day’s rest to prepare for the next match.

In recent weeks, Norrie has claimed some big scalps in Italian Fabio Fognini and Bulgarian Grigor Dimitrov, and now has his third Top 20 win in as many weeks, advancing through to the next stage of the tournament. The Brit was the lowest ranked winner on the day, with four other seeds all booking their spots with straight sets wins. Roberto Bautista Agut was the top ranked player out on court, with the fifth seed defeating compatriot Pablo Andujar 6-4 6-0, joining seventh seed Denis Shapovalov, eighth seed David Goffin and 11th seed Jannik Sinner in the Round of 16.

The remaining Round of 64 matches were also completed in Barcelona, though it was not all good news for Spanish fans. Despite Albert Ramos-Vinolas securing a come-from-behind win over Danish qualifier Holger Vitus Nodskov Rune 6-7 7-1 7-6, three of his compatriots all fell. Young gun wildcard Carlos Alcaraz went down to Frances Tiafoe in straight sets, veteran Feliciano Lopez lost out to another rising young gun in Italian Lorenzo Musetti, while Alejandro Davidovich Fokina exited despite a strong first set, losing to Kazakhstan’s Alexander Bublik, 2-6 7-5 6-2. In the other two matches, Australia’s Jordan Thompson defeated France’s Richard Gasquet 7-6 3-6 7-6, and Gasquet’s compatriot Corentin Moutet won against German Dominik Koepfer, 7-5 6-2.

Meanwhile over in Serbia, the two home nation seeds had a mixed day out on court against qualifiers. Eighth seed Miomir Kecmanovic needed two tiebreakers to separate himself from Argentinian Facundo Bagnis, while ninth seed Laslo Djere went down to Italian Gianluca Mager, 6-4 6-3. French qualifier Arthur Rindeknecht made his way through to the season round against Argentina’s Juan Ignacio Londero, as Japan’s Taro Daniel won the battle of the lucky losers with Portugal’s Joao Sousa. Other winners included Australian Alexei Popyrin, Slovenia’s Aljaz Bedene, South Korea’s Soonwoo Kwon and Argentina’s Federico Delbonis.

BARCELONA OPEN ROUND OF 32 RESULTS:

[5] Roberto Bautista Agut (ESP) defeated Pablo Andujar (ESP) 6-4 6-0
[7] Denis Shapovalov (CAN) defeated Jeremy Chardy (FRA) 6-3 7-5
[8] David Goffin (BEL) defeated Pierre-Hugues Herbert (FRA) 6-2 6-4
[11] Jannik Sinner (ITA) defeated Egor Gerasimov (BLR) 6-3 6-2
Cameron Norrie (GBR) defeated [12] Karen Khachanov (RUS) 6-4 3-6 6-3

BARCELONA OPEN ROUND OF 64 RESULTS:

Albert Ramos-Vinolas (ESP) defeated [Q] Holger Vitus Nodskov Rune (DEN) 6-7 6-1 7-6
[WC] Lorenzo Musetti (ITA) defeated Feliciano Lopez (ESP) 6-4 6-3
Frances Tiafoe (USA) defeated [WC] Carlos Alcaraz (ESP) 6-4 7-6
Jordan Thompson (AUS) defeated Richard Gasquet (FRA) 7-6 4-6 7-6
Alexander Bublik (KAZ) defeated Alejandro Davidovich Fokina (ESP) 2-6 7-5 6-2
Corentin Moutet (FRA) defeated Dominik Koepfer (GER) 7-5 6-2

SERBIA OPEN ROUND OF 32 RESULTS:

[8] Miomir Kecmanovic (SRB) defeated [Q] Facundo Bagnis (ARG) 7-6 7-6
[Q] Gianluca Mager (ITA) defeated [9] Laslo Djere (SRB) 6-4 6-3
Federico Delbonis (ARG) defeated Ricardas Berankis (LTU) 6-4 3-6 6-1
Aljaz Bedene (SLO) defeated Sebastian Korda (USA) 7-5 1-6 7-6
Soonwoo Kwon (KOR) defeated [LL] Roberto Carballes Baena (ESP) 6-3 7-5
[LL] Taro Daniel (JPN) defeated [LL] Joao Sousa (POR) 7-5 6-3
Alexei Popyrin (AUS) defeated [Q] Francisco Cerundolo (ARG) 4-6 7-6 7-6
[Q] Arthur Rinderknech (FRA) defeated Juan Ignacio Londero (ARG) 6-1 7-5

ATP Tour wrap: Mixed bag for Serbians, while Nishikori survives Barcelona scare

KEI Nishikori is no stranger to adversity. The Japanese 2014 US Open runner-up has had his fair share of injuries over the past couple of years, seeing the former Top 5 talent to slip outside the Top 30. Heading into the Barcelona, the unseeded world number 39 had won six of 13 games in 2021, hardly a form line that is indicative of what he is capable of. Whilst his best may well be behind him, Nishikori showed he can dig deep, coming back from a set and a break down to win in three over Argentinian Guido Pella in the first round of the Barcelona Open.

Nishikori dropped the first set 6-4 and was 2-4 and 5-6 down in the second set, agonisingly close to an early exit from the tournament he won back-to-back in 2014-15. He battled hard to take the second set in a tiebreaker against Pella 7-4, then raced away with a 6-2 victory in the third to move through to the second round. Nishikori said he was disappointed with his opening two sets, and was lucky to get away with the win, aware of how close he came to losing the match.

“He had the match today at 6-5, serving [for the match],” Nishikori said post-match. “He was much better in the first and second [sets] and 3-0 up in the tie-break. I don’t know how I fought through. [In the] third set, I was playing much better.

“I was making so many unforced errors in the first and second [sets]. Maybe he got a little bit tired and I was playing strong in the third set. I want to take that to the next round… The way I fought today and the way I played in the third set was good.”

Nishikori will need to improve drastically to defeat 13th seed Cristian Garin, with the Chilean on his preferred clay surface. Nishikori had a forgettable meeting with Garin last year, albeit when he was still returning from injury, losing 6-0 6-3 in a disappointing head-to-head at Hamburg. Now on clay, Garin will be even more difficult to knock off, with the Chilean undoubtedly the favourite, but Nishikori could frustrate him.

While Nishikori survived, another former Top 5 talent Jo-Wilfried Tsonga was not so lucky, knocked out by Egor Gerasimov in straight sets, 7-5 6-1. He joined fellow Frenchmen Gilles Simon and Benoit Paire in exiting the tournament, with the latter arguably in the worst form of anyone on Tour and not looking like that will change anytime soon. Pierre-Hugues Herbert and Jeremy Chardy flew the flag for the French, booking their spots in the next round, while all three Spaniards out on court made it through, with Jaume Munar, Pablo Andujar and Bernabe Zapata Miralles securing their Round of 32 spots. Italian lucky loser Federico Gaio, Belarusian qualifier Ilya Ivashka and Brit Cameron Norrie were the other three winners on day one of the main draw matches at Barcelona.

In Serbia, four players from the home nation were out on court on day one, with mixed results. Fifth seed Filip Krajinovic looked in control in his match, leading a set up and at 5-5 in the second, but then dropped five of the next six games to trail 1-3 in the third set. Krajinovic found a way to steady, winning five consecutive games to end the match and secure the 7-5 5-7 6-3 win over Italian Stefano Travaglia.

It was the opposite result for the other Serbia-Italy clash, as Marco Cecchinato found his clay form that made him dangerous a couple of years back, defeating Viktor Troicki in straight sets, 6-1 6-4 to book a date with Italian second seed Matteo Berrettini in the second round. Australian seventh seed John Millman also spoiled the party for Serbian wildcard Danilo Petrovic in two tight sets 7-5 6-4, while fellow wildcard Nikola Milojevic knocked off Federico Coria 6-4 6-0. Regardless of how results play out at the tournament, it is almost a forgone conclusion that Serbia will lift the trophy, with world number one Novak Djokovic a raging favourite at the event, with Berrettini his closest rival and then Aslan Karatsev – who was not even inside the Top 100 at the start of the year – seeded third.

BARCELONA OPEN ROUND OF 64 RESULTS:

[WC] Jaume Munar (ESP) defeated Thiago Monteiro (BRA) 6-3 7-5
Pablo Andujar (ESP) defeated Gilles Simon (FRA) 6-1 3-6 6-3
Jeremy Chardy (FRA) defeated Nikoloz Basilshvili (GEO) 6-4 3-6 6-3
[LL] Federico Gaio (ITA) defeated Benoit Paire (FRA) 7-5 6-3
Egor Gerasimov (BLR) defeated Jo-Wilfried Tsonga (FRA) 7-5 6-1
Pierre-Hugues Herbert (FRA) defeated [Q] Sumit Nagal (IND) 7-5 6-0
[Q] Ilya Ivashka (BLR) defeated [Q] Tallon Griekspoor (NED) 6-3 6-1
Kei Nishikori (JPN) defeated Guido Pella (ARG) 4-6 7-6 6-2
Cameron Norrie (GBR) defeated Salvatore Caruso (ITA) 6-1 6-2
[Q] Bernabe Zapata Miralles (ESP) defeated [Q] Andrey Kuznetsov (RUS) 6-7 7-5 6-1

SERBIA OPEN ROUND OF 32 RESULTS:

[5] Filip Krajinovic (SRB) defeated Stefano Travaglia (ITA) 7-5 5-7 6-3
[7] John Millman (AUS) defeated [WC] Danilo Petrovic (SRB) 7-5 6-4
Marco Cecchinato (ITA) defeated [WC] Viktor Troicki (SRB) 6-1 6-4
[WC] Nikola Milojevic (SRB) defeated Federico Coria (ARG) 6-4 6-0

Picture credit: Alex Caparros/Getty Images

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: Seeds struggle to capitalise as tournaments heat up

ALL three ATP 250 tournaments in Qatar, Marseille and Chile are heating up, with the Doha contest completing the quarterfinals whilst both Marseille and Santiago have just completed the Round of 16. Plenty of top talent is still making its way through the draw but some of the biggest names in the game have already fallen as the three tournaments head toward the final stages.

Qatar threw up some of the most significant and mind-boggling results of the day, as first, second and fourth seeds fell amongst upsets galore in the quarterfinals. Only three matches went ahead, with third seed Andrey Rublev handed an early entry to the semis following a walkover from Hungarian Marton Fucsovics and the remaining encounters all taken out to three sets by the respective underdogs. Nicoloz Basilashvili has nabbed the upset of his career, with the Georgian getting the chocolates over returnee Roger Federer 3-6 6-1 7-5 in one hour and 50 minutes. While the Swiss master was cleaner on serve, registering 12 aces for zero double faults – compared to Basilashvili’s 12 and five –  the Georgian world number 42 was more efficient and made the most of his return ability.

Top seed Dominic Thiem also had the carpet swept out from under him in a 7-6 2-6 6-4 dismissal from fifth seed Roberto Bautista Agut. The longest match of the three saw neither player give an inch, as the Spaniard came back from a horror second set to reign supreme. Bautista Agut was far more consistent and made the most of his chances, with a 63 per cent and 57 per cent winning rate off his first and second serves, whilst Thiem was arguably more effective on his first serve at 76 per cent, but struggled to maintain intensity on his second serve winning off just 32 per cent of his chances. Meanwhile, world number 33 Taylor Fritz earned bragging rights over fourth seed Canadian Denis Shapovalov in the duo’s two hour and five minute contest, utilising his 71 per cent serving efficiency to take down his opposition. Whilst Shapovalov was marginally more effective off his second serve, he only saved the one break point in the 5-7 6-3 7-5 encounter.

Seeds Bautista Agut and Rublev will go head-to-head in the first semi final, seeing an unseeded duo in Basilashvili and Fritz fight it out in the second semi.

QATAR OPEN QUARTERFINAL RESULTS:

[5] Roberto Bautista Agut (ESP) defeated [1] Dominic Thiem (AUT) 7-6 2-6 6-4
Nikoloz Basilashvili (GEO) defeated [2] Roger Federer (SUI) 3-6 6-1 7-5
[3] Andrey Rublev (RUS) defeated Marton Fucsovics (HUN) W/O
Taylor Fritz (USA) defeated [4] Denis Shapovalov (CAN) 5-7 6-3 7-5

Two seeds made their way through to the quarterfinals in Marseille, as Daniil Medvedev and Stefanos Tsitsipas proved too strong in straight sets wins over Egor Gerasimov and Lucas Pouille respectively. For Medvedev, it was a 6-2 6-4 sweep in 71 minutes over Belarusian Gerasimov, capitalising with an excellent 83 per cent effectiveness off his first serve, and backing it up on his second serve. Whilst Gerasimov had his moments, particularly during the second set, it was not enough to defeat the Russian top seed. Tsitsipas had a similar outcome against Pouille, downing the Frenchman in just over an hour on court 6-2 6-3.

Two Frenchman managed what Pouille did not, and won their respective encounters as qualifier Arthur Rinderknech defeated seventh seed Alejandro Davidovich Fokina in the lone three setter of the day, 3-6 6-1 6-2, whilst Pierre-Hugues Herbert disposed of Cameron Norrie 6-3 6-4. Rinderknech slammed home 13 aces to Davidovich Fokina’s one in the encounter, with a whopping 87 per cent success rate off a 68 per cent clip, compared to the Spaniard’s 60 per cent winning rate off a 65 per cent efficiency. It was a similar story for Rinderknech’s compatriot, as Herbert hit 14 aces and won 80 per cent of his first serve points to head through to the quarterfinals.

OPEN 13 PROVENCE ROUND OF 16 RESULTS:

[1] Daniil Medvedev (RUS) defeated Egor Gerasimov (BEL) 6-2 6-4
[2] Stefanos Tsitsipas (GRE) defeated Lucas Pouille (FRA) 6-2 6-3
[Q] Arthur Rinderknech (FRA) defeated [7] Alejandro Davidovich Fokina (ESP) 3-6 6-1 6-2
Pierre-Hugues Herbert (FRA) defeated Cameron Norrie (GBR) 6-3 6-4

In Chile, two seeds fell with just one remaining on this half of the draw as upsets galore continue in Santiago. It was Colombian Daniel Elahi Galan who took out third seed Pablo Andujar in straight sets, setting the tone with a huge 6-1 first set before the Spaniard bit back in the second for the 6-1 7-6(7) result. With six aces serving at 79 per cent, Elahi Galan was excellent and his confidence knew no bounds following his excellent first set. Qualifier Juan Pablo Varillas came away with a similarly impressive victory over seventh seed Argentinian Federico Coria, with his consistency paying off throughout a tough 6-4 7-6 contest.

The third encounter saw a speedy 73 minute victory from Spaniard Roberto Carballes Baena, disposing of wildcard Juan Manuelo Cerundolo 6-2 6-0. The remaining matchup between home nation hopes Cristian Garin and Alejandro Tabilo saw neither player give an inch during the early stages, before the top seed dominated from there-on out in a stellar 6-2 6-2 victory.

CHILE OPEN ROUND OF 16 RESULTS:

Daniel Elahi Galan (COL) defeated [3] Pablo Andujar (ESP) 6-1 7-6
[Q] Juan Pablo Varillas (PER) defeated [7] Federico Coria (ARG) 6-4 7-6
Roberto Carballes Baena (ESP) defeated [WC] Juan Manuelo Cerundolo (ARG) 6-2 6-0
[1] Cristian Garin (CHI) defeated [Q] Alejandro Tabilo (CHI) 6-2 6-2

ATP Tour wrap: Roger returns to a win as top five seeds advance in Doha

THREE tournaments across the globe saw Round of 16 matches completed in Doha, Marseille and Santiago, including the return of a legend as we wrap up the day’s work on the ATP Tour.

Roger Federer was the man everyone was watching in Doha, as the Swiss Grand Slam winner made his successful return from injury to post a solid victory over Great Britain’s Daniel Evans. It was far from complete, only just surviving a first set tiebreaker and then dropping the second set, but Federer came away with the three set win. 7-6 3-6 7-5 in two hours and 24 minutes. He served up 13 aces and won 79 per cent of his first serve points, and showed enough to suggest he will be building in the coming weeks.

“It feels good to be back,” Federer said post-match. “I am happy to be standing here regardless of if I won or lost, but obviously winning feels better. It was a good match. Dan played a good match too. He has been a wonderful training partner as well. Over the past two weeks, we played over 20 sets and it went on [tonight].”

Federer joined fellow top five seeds through to the quarter finals in Dominic Thiem, Andrey Rublev, Denis Shapovalov and Roberto Bautista Agut who all advanced into the final eight. Thiem had the biggest fight of the lot, coming back from a set down to shake off Russian wildcard and Australian Open semi-finalist Aslan Karatsev, 6-7 6-3 6-2. Shapovalov got the better of Canadian compatriot Vasek Pospisil again 7-5 6-4, while Bautista Agut defeated Kazakhstan’s Alexander Bublik 6-4 6-3, and Rublev waltzed through to the quarter finals following opponent Richard Gasquet‘s withdrawal pre-match.

In the other results, Taylor Fritz put in the biggest upset of the day, defeating sixth seed Belgian David Goffin 6-1 5-7 7-6. The other two unseeded players to advance through were Nikoloz Basilashvili and Marton Fucsovics. Basilashvili toppled Tunisian wildcard Malek Jaziri in straight sets 6-2 6-2, while Fucsovics had to work a bit harder to shake off South African qualifier Lloyd Harris in three, 4-6 7-6 6-2.

Fritz takes on Shapovalov up first tomorrow, with Rublev and Fucsovics completing the day session at Doha. Federer and Basilashvili open the night session, with the completion of the evening being Thiem and Bautista Agut in a blockbuster head-to-head.

QATAR OPEN ROUND OF 16 RESULTS:

[1] Dominic Thiem (AUT) defeated [WC] Aslan Karatsev (RUS) 6-7 6-3 6-2
[2] Roger Federer (SUI) defeated Daniel Evans (GBR) 7-6 3-6 7-5
[3] Andrey Rublev (RUS) defeated Richard Gasquet (FRA) W/O
[4] Denis Shapovalov (CAN) defeated Vasek Pospisil (CAN) 7-5 6-4
[5] Roberto Bautista Agut (ESP) defeated Alexander Bublik (KAZ) 6-4 6-3
Taylor Fritz (USA) defeated [6] David Goffin (BEL) 6-1 5-7 7-6
Nikoloz Basilashvili (GEO) defeated [WV] Malek Jaziri (TUN) 6-2 6-2
Marton Fucsovics (HUN) defeated [Q] Lloyd Harris (RSA) 4-6 7-6 6-2

 

Six matches were completed in Marseille overnight, as the first four quarter finalists were decided, and the Round of 32 remaining two matches done and dusted. In those first round contests, Belarusian Egor Gerasimov destroyed German Yannick Hanfmann 6-2 6-0, while Great Britain’s Cameron Norrie advanced through in a tough one over French qualifier Constant Lestienne, 6-4 6-7 6-3.

The four Open 13 Provence Round of 16 matches saw all three seeds on court book their spots in the quarter finals, and it was further bad news for the home nation. While fourth seed Ugo Humbert made his way through to the final eight, it was at the expense of compatriot Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, while wildcard Hugo Gaston also fell, going down to fifth seed Jannik Sinner in straight sets. Continuing the theme of straight sets results, third seed Karen Khachanov knocked off American Mackenzie McDonald 7-6 6-4, while Australian qualifier Matthew Ebden stunned Finnish young gun Emil Ruusuvuori, 6-2 6-2.

The remaining four Round of 16 matches take place today, with Norrie challenging Frenchman Pierre-Hugues Herbert, and Gerasimov stepping up against top seed Daniil Medvedev. In the other games, two more home nation heroes enter the court, as qualifier Arthur Rinderknech will test himself against seventh seed Spaniard Alejandro Davidovich Fokina, while Lucas Pouille has an even stiffer test, up against second seed Greek Stefanos Tsitsipas.

OPEN 13 PROVENCE ROUND OF 16 RESULTS:

[3] Karen Khachanov (RUS) defeated [PR] Mackenzie McDonald (USA) 7-6 6-4
[4] Ugo Humbert (FRA) defeated Jo-Wilfried Tsonga (FRA) 6-3 6-4
[5] Jannik Sinner (ITA) defeated [WC] Hugo Gaston (FRA) 6-4 6-1
[Q] Matthew Ebden (AUS) defeated Emil Ruusuvuori (FIN) 6-2 6-2

ROUND OF 32 RESULTS:

Cameron Norrie (GBR) defeated [Q] Constant Lestienne (FRA) 6-4 6-7 6-3
Egor Gerasimov (BLR) defeated Yannick Hanfmann (GER) 6-2 6-0

 

At the time of publishing, three Round of 16 matches were completed, with two of the three seeds in action making it through to the quarter finals. Fourth seed Serbian Laslo Djere took out Portugal’s Pedro Sousa in a three set battle 5-7 7-5 6-3, while eighth seed Argentinian Federico Delbonis easily accounted for Slovenian Andrej Martin 6-0 6-3.

Fellow Argentinian Facundo Bagnis provided the upset of the day against fifth seed Frances Tiafoe, defeating the American through two tiebreakers, which were 7-3 7-2 for a final result of 7-6 7-6. The final match of the day was between second seed Frenchman Benoit Paire and Danish qualifier Holger Vitus Nodskov Rune for a spot in the quarter finals.

In tomorrow’s matches, the remaining four Round of 16 games take place. Top seed Cristian Garin takes on compatriot, Chilean wildcard Alejandro Tabilo. In other fixtures, third seed Pablo Andujar faces Colombian Daniel Elahi Galan, fellow Spaniard Roberto Carballes Baena locks horns with Argentinian wildcard and Cordoba Open winner Juan Manuel Cerundolo, while another Argentinian in seventh seed Federico Coria goes head to head with Austrian qualifier Juan Pablo Varillas.

CHILE OPEN ROUND OF 16 RESULTS:

[2] Benoit Paire (FRA) vs. [Q] Holger Vitus Nodskov Rune (DEN)
[4] Laslo Djere (SRB) defeated Pedro Sousa (POR) 5-7 7-5 6-3
Facundo Bagnis (ARG) defeated [5] Frances Tiafoe (USA) 7-6 7-6
[8] Federico Delbonis (ARG) defeated Andrej Martin (SLO) 6-0 6-3

 

Picture credit: Mohamed Farag/Getty Images

2021 ATP Tour 250 Doha/Marseille/Santiago previews: Fed Express returns

THREE ATP Tour 250 events take place this week, with the biggest talking point being the return of Roger Federer for the first time in more than 12 months. The Fed Express will play at Doha in a strong top-end field, whilst tournaments at Marseille and Santiago also take place this weekend.

DOHA:

Federer’s return to the ATP Tour will be the story of this tournament, regardless of how he goes. The now world number five will be seeded second at this event behind Austrian Dominic Thiem, who has become a Grand Slam winner since the Swiss maestro last played. The top five talents are joined by another Top 10 player in Andrey Rublev who hopes to build on his strong early season form, as an additional four Top 15 players are entered making it a really impressive elite group.

The injury-stricken Gael Monfils returns alongside recent Open Sud de France finalists in David Goffin and Roberto Bautista Agut, and young gun Canadian Denis Shapovalov. The latter is in the form of his life ranked 11th overall, with Goffin is seventh seed but still 14th in the world. Stan Wawrinka rounds out the eight seeds coming in at world number 20, while all the automatic entries are inside the Top 50.

Among those entries are Dusan Lajovic – fresh off an upset win over Daniil Medvedev at Rotterdam – as well as Lorenzo Sonego – who defeated Novak Djokovic late last year – and Alexander Bublik – who claimed an upset win over Alexander Zverev last week – who will be threats to the Top 20 players. Croatian Borna Coric and Brit Daniel Evans are other Top 30 players in the draw, while Australian John Millman will be searching for that all-important first win in an individual event for 2021.

No one is expecting Federer to storm to a title straight off the bat as much as that would be a fairytale, however he would be the sentimental favourite. Much more likely is a Thiem-Rublev final which would be entertaining, with Shapovalov and Goffin the others in-form.

 

MARSEILLE:

The two players considered the next Grand Slam winners will face-off in Marseille, with world number three Daniil Medvedev and world number six Stefanos Tsitsipas entered as the top two seeds. The Russian top seed will be wanting to improve on his shock first round loss to Lajovic last start, and will be fresh here, while Tsitsipas will be looking to continue his Rotterdam form if he does indeed play. Third seed Karen Khachanov is the other Top 30 player, with the draw thinning out after the top six.

Young guns Ugo Humbert and Jannik Sinner continue to follow each other around the world at the same tournaments and remain danger men to any player above them, whilst Kei Nishikori‘s recent form – which included wins over Felix Auger-Aliassime and Alex de Minaur at Rotterdam – has the sixth seed in the mix as well. Compatriot Yoshihito Nishioka and Spaniard Alejandro Davidovich Fokina round out the eight seeds at the event, with France unsurprisingly well represented in Marseille.

Jo-Wilfried Tsonga will be back again to try and grab a win in his second 2021 start, joined by the likes of Lucas Pouille and Pierre-Hugues Herbert as automatic entries. Brit Cameron Norrie and Belarusian Egor Gerasimov have shown potential at different points this year, while young Finn Emil Ruusuvuori is another one to watch out for.

Tsitsipas will arguably start favourite, with a final against Medvedev the dream for onlookers, but you can never discount Humbert or Sinner with their potential.

 

SANTIAGO:

By far the weakest draw mainly due to the clay surface, the 250 event in Santiago will draw some of the lower ranked clay court specialists to try and grab a win. Cristian Garin will be the strong favourite for the event, seeded first as 22nd in the world, while 29th ranked Frenchman Benoit Paire is the other Top 50 player. After that it drops off with third seed Pablo Andujar (57th) and fourth seed Laslo Djere (60th) also entering.

Recent maiden title winner Juan Manuel Cerundolo, as well as Chilean Nicolas Jarry have earned wildcards at the event, with Jarry the other home nation hero after Garin in the main draw. The lowest automatic entry outside of wildcards is 128th ranked Slovakian Jozef Kovalik who reached a quarter final at Cordoba, while the likes of Marco Cecchinato, Salvatore Caruso and Jaume Munar are others to watch.

This is Garin’s tournament to win. His favourite surface, a weakened draw, it is hard not to see him lifting the cup, with perhaps the red-hot Cerundolo his biggest challenger, alongside the unpredictable but talented clay courter in Cecchinato.

Picture credit: Julian Finney

ATP Tour wraps: Tsitsipas and Rublev set up exciting semi at Rotterdam

THE 2021 Rotterdam and Argentina Opens have hit the quarter finals stage, with opposing results across the two tournaments with predictable outcomes from the seeds in the Netherlands, whilst Buenos Aires saw some intriguing results.

At Rotterdam, Stefanos Tsitsipas and Andrey Rublev have set up an excellent semi final after overcoming their respective quarter final opposition in Karen Khachanov and Jeremy Chardy in three sets each. Rublev was well and truly challenged by Chardy, with the two hour and 39 minute matchup requiring two tiebreaker sets before Rublev ran away with the 7-6 6-7 6-4 result. The Russian utilised his huge serve, capitalising with 15 aces for zero double faults, compared to Chardy’s nine and seven. Meanwhile, Tsitsipas had it slightly easier despite going three minutes longer than Rublev, coming back from a set down to win 4-6 6-3 7-5.

Croatian Borna Coric overcame a haughty Kei Nishikori in straight sets but was taken to two tiebreakers in the two hour long match, with the two players unable to be split throughout for a 7-6(2) 7-6(4) result. Coric utilised his service game to full effect in the maqtchup, winning 82 per cent of first serve points and hitting 11 aces off a 64 per cent clip, and was marginally more effective on his second serve than Nishikori. The final match saw Marton Fucsovics down Tommy Paul in the quickest encounter of the day, winning 6-4 6-3 in one hour and 41 minutes.

ROTTERDAM OPEN QUARTER FINAL RESULTS:

[2] Stefanos Tsitsipas (GRE) defeated Karen Khachanov (RUS) 4-6 6-3 7-5
[4] Andrey Rublev (RUS) defeated [Q] Jeremy Chardy (FRA) 7-6 6-7 6-4
Borna Coric (CRO) defeated Kei Nishikori (JPN) 7-6 7-6
Marton Fucsovics (HUN) defeated Tommy Paul (USA) 6-4 6-3

In Argentina, the day’s encounters went a different way as a couple of seeds fell, with one – top seed and homegrown talent Diego Schwartzman – still yet to complete his matchup against qualifier Jaume Munar. Sixth seed Pablo Andujar took on the red-hot Francisco Cerundolo, with the Argentinian 22-year-old taking every chance he can get on home soil and coming away with another excellent win despite a shocking first set, 1-6 6-3 6-2. Cerundolo was marginally better overall off both his service and return games, recovering well after the first set to come away with a solid victory in two hours and 11 minutes. The other seed to fall was seventh seed Serbian Laslo Djere, who was unfortunate to draw compatriot and fourth seed, Miomir Kecmanovic. Kecmanovic realistically never looked like losing this matchup, taking out the first set 6-4 with relative ease, and whilst the second set dragged on in a tight 7-6(6) tiebreaker, it was enough to remain on top.

Meanwhile, fifth seed Spaniard Albert Ramos-Vinolas encountered a fighting Sumit Nagal, with the Indian qualifier fighting until the bitter end in a huge two hour and 26 minute 4-6 6-2 7-5 encounter. The final match result of the round between Schwartzman and Munar could eventually set up an all-Argentinian battle in the final matchup, making this one a huge battle for the Argentinian top seed in Buenos Aires.

ARGENTINA OPEN QUARTER FINAL RESULTS:

[4] Miomir Kecmanovic (SRB) v. [7] Laslo Djere (SRB) 6-4 7-6
[5] Albert Ramos-Vinolas (ESP) defeated [Q] Sumit Nagal (IND) 4-6 6-2 7-5
[Q] Francisco Cerundolo (ARG) defeated [6] Pablo Andujar (ESP) 1-6 6-3 6-2
[1] Diego Schwartzman (ARG) v. [Q] Jaume Munar (ESP)

ATP Tour wraps: Seeds fall in Round of 16 at Rotterdam and Buenos Aires

PLENTY went on at the two ATP Tour competitions during their respective Day 4 proceedings. Today’s Round of 16 matches at the Argentina ATP 250 tournament are still only part-way done, but the pressure is on with one seed winning and one seed falling already at both competitions today, and a couple more yet to take the court.

Rotterdam’s day is complete, headlined by an excellent win from qualifying Frenchman Jeremy Chardy over sixth seed David Goffin, whilst Stefanos Tsitsipas overcame a headstrong Hubert Hurkacz. The tight encounter between Chardy and Goffin was the one to watch, as the two plus-30-year-olds committed to a 7-6 7-6 result in one hour and 43 minutes, as Chardy narrowly came away with the second set tiebreaker 7-5. It was the Frenchman’s first serve efficiency that saved his game, serving at an excellent 73 per cent clip compared to Goffin’s 58 per cent, and while both players won 78 per cent of their first serve points, Chardy narrowly had more winning chances with 40 made from 51 attempts to Goffin’s 36 from 46.

The matchup between Tsitsipas and Hurkacz was nothing to scoff at though, with the 6-4 4-6 7-5 result seeing Hurkacz come close to executing a huge comeback after a tight first set. Whilst the Polish world number 30 made Tsitsipas fight for victory, with eight aces to the Greek’s three, Hurkacz also made more unforced errors and racked up six double faults to Tsitsipas’ nil, with the story told in their respective service efficiency. Tsitsipas won 80 per cent of his first serve points off a 66 per cent clip (54 from 82) compared to Hurkacz’s 76 per cent off 57 per cent (54 from 95), with the latter wasting opportunities.

In other games, qualifier Marton Fucsovics continued his solid run with a straight sets 6-3 6-2 victory over Spaniard Alejandro Davidovich Fokina in just over 90 minutes, as Croatian Borna Coric picked up an identical result in one hour and 12 minutes over Dusan Lajovic, and Tommy Paul came from a set down to defeat Kazakh Alexander Bublik 6-7 6-3 6-1.

ROTTERDAM OPEN ROUND OF 16 RESULTS:

[2] Stefanos Tsitsipas (GRE) defeated Hubert Hurkacz (POL) 6-4 4-6 7-5
[Q] Jeremy Chardy (FRA) defeated [6] David Goffin (BEL) 7-6 7-6
Tommy Paul (USA) defeated Alexander Bublik (KAZ) 6-7 6-3 6-1
Borna Coric (CRO) defeated Dusan Lajovic (SRB) 6-3 6-2
[Q] Marton Fucsovics (HUN) defeated Alejandro Davidovich Fokina (ESP) 6-3 6-2

 

In Argentina, proceedings have gone much the same as sixth seed Pablo Andujar defeated Italian Gianluca Mager in straight sets, whilst Benoit Paire struggled to maintain pressure on qualifying Argentinian Francisco Cerundolo, winning the first set but unable to clinch the win in three sets following a disagreement with the chair umpire. The battle between Andujar and Mager took over two hours to complete, as Andujar won the first set 6-4 following an early break, whilst Mager well and truly took it to the Spaniard in the second set before eventually going down 6-4 7-6 in 121 minutes. Whilst Mager hit 10 aces and three double faults to Andujar’s three apiece, the sixth seed made better use of his service games and was more consistent overall, utilising all his experience to outlast the world number 101.

In the encounter between Paire and Cerundolo, it was the 22-year-old Argentinian who came out on top in the 4-6 6-3 6-1 matchup, with Paire’s docked points following a disagreement in the second set resulting in the Frenchman appearing to “tank” for the remainder of the match. But that was not to say that Cerundolo did not deserve the victory, with his whopping 81 per cent service efficiency proving crucial, winning just 67 per cent of his first serve points but having more opportunities to get on the board. Cerundolo also saved 71 per cent (five from seven) of his break points, as the Frenchman struggled to effectively compete after the tight first set.

At time of publish, Jaume Munar leads Frances Tiafoe in their encounter, as the Spaniard took out the tight 7-6 (7-4) first set. The remaining match will see top seed and homegrown hero Diego Schwartzman take the court against qualifying Slovakian Lukas Klein.

ARGENTINA OPEN ROUND OF 16 RESULTS:

[Q] Francisco Cerundolo (ARG) defeated [3] Benoit Paire (FRA) 4-6 6-3 6-1
[6] Pablo Andujar (ESP) defeated Gianluca Mager (ITA) 6-4 7-6
[1] Diego Schwartzman (ARG) v. [Q] Lukas Klein (SVK)
[Q] Jaume Munar (ESP) v. [8] Frances Tiafoe (USA)