Tag: Pablo Carreno Busta

ATP Tour wrap: Carreno Busta, Anderson and Ruud add to trophy collections

TWO favourites earned tournament wins overnight as the Hamburg European Open, Hall of Fame Open and Nordea Open came to a close, with all three finals completed in straight sets.

In Germany, it was Pablo Carreno Busta who claimed his first ATP 500 trophy and sixth overall, as the Spanish second seed downed sixth seed Serbian Filip Krajinovic, 6-2 6-4 in 82 minutes. With an 81 per cent win rate off his first serve, Carreno Busta was relentless as he fired to continue his strong form on clay, having not dropped a set in Hamburg.

“It’s an incredible feeling,” Carreno Busta said. “I think that I worked very, very hard to finally win this title. “It’s my first ATP 500 title.”

“I felt very comfortable during the whole week from the first match,” he said. “I think that I played very good and I continued improving during the week. That’s very important and today in the final I probably played the best match of the tournament.”

In Newport, United States, South African Kevin Anderson returned to the winners circle, defeating American hopeful Jenson Brooksby and cutting off the 20-year-old’s exceptional run with a 7-6(8) 6-4 victory. Earning his sixth ATP Tour title did not come easy, with the American fighting until the bitter end in his main draw debut.

“It’s been a pretty tough run with some injuries. But to be back here at the International Tennis Hall of Fame with such history, this couldn’t be a better week for me to start, hopefully, my comeback,” Anderson said during the trophy ceremony. “I’m very motivated to get back. But it all starts with each match, and I was able to really grind it out.”

“Thanks to the tournament for giving me a wild card. It definitely worked out for me,” Anderson said. “The last time I was here was in 2008. It’s significant in a way. I was just starting my career, and I guess I’m towards the end, but definitely [am] very motivated to keep going.”

Anderson hit 16 aces throughout the two-hour and 11-minute contest, winning 81 per cent of his first serve points but could only remain marginally ahead of Brooksby, who ran out the game with six aces and winning 77 per cent of his first serve points.

“It’s amazing to get all the support from you guys, it gives me energy,” Brooksby said. “It was awesome playing here and I hope to be back again and pushing for more of these results.”

At Nordea, it was favourite and clay-court talent Casper Ruud who took out the trophy, skating past Argentinian Federico Coria in straight sets, 6-3 6-3. It was the Norwegian’s third tour-level title, of which all have been claimed on clay, and second for the year to follow on from a solid 2020.

“It was an incredible week, maybe the best week of my life,” Ruud said. “It is an incredible feeling playing here in Bastad with the Swedish, Norwegian and Danish support. There is nothing like that home crowd feeling.

“To win here means a lot. You get a little extra nervous as the No. 1 seed. Me and my father [former World No. 39 Christian Ruud] have been joking about when I am going to beat him at this and this, and now I think I have beaten him in everything! “The Ruud family can finally bring the trophy home to Norway. “It is a special feeling having him here with me.”

Ruud did not drop a set throughout the tournament, and brought that winning mentality with him to the final with an impressive and consistent service game, and return game to match as he claimed 62 per cent of the overall points.

HAMBURG EUROPEAN OPEN FINAL RESULT:

[2] Pablo Carreno Busta (ESP) defeated [6] Filip Krajinovic (SRB) 6-2 6-4

HALL OF FAME OPEN FINAL RESULT: 

[8] Kevin Anderson (RSA) defeated Jenson Brooksby (USA) 7-6 6-4

NORDEA OPEN FINAL RESULT: 

[1] Casper Ruud (NOR) defeated Federico Coria (ARG) 6-3 6-3

 

Picture credit: Witters/Hamburg European Open

ATP Tour wrap: Plethora of first-time finalists

THE finalists have been decided for the three ongoing ATP Tour tournaments, with the Hamburg ATP 500 event to be decided by a couple of seeds, while the ATP 250 grass event in Newport will see an unsuspecting American contest a hard-hitting veteran and the 250 clay event seeing two quick semi-finals winners.

At Hamburg, second seed Pablo Carreno Busta and sixth seed Filip Krajinovic will go head to head in the final after claiming respective straight sets wins. For Carreno Busta, it was 75 per cent effectiveness off his second serve that got the job done over Argentinian Federico Delbonis, claiming the 7-6(2) 6-3 win in just under two hours.

“It was a tough match today, but I am very happy because Federico is a really tough player,” Carreno Busta said. “Always when I play against him, I am very uncomfortable. I am happy because my level today was very good.

“I probably played better in the second set, but I continued fighting all the time. I enjoy playing here, I feel comfortable here. It is my most important match this year [tomorrow]. I need to be really focused until the end again.”

Krajinovic will contest for his maiden ATP Tour title, having made a final thrice before but yet to make that next step. The sixth seed Serbian overcame compatriot Laslo Djere in straight sets 6-4 6-2, winning 59 per cent of the overall points on his way to victory.

At Newport, Jenson Brooksby continued his stellar run on home soil with a 6-3 7-6(3) win over Australian seventh seed Jordan Thompson and will take on South African eighth seed Kevin Anderson after the hard-hitter overcame a fired-up Alexander Bublik, 4-6 7-6(3) 7-5.

“It’s the biggest match of the week, and I’ve worked a long time to be back in a final,” Anderson said. “It’s been quite some time for me [since my last final], so it means a lot. I am going to enjoy this win, and I hope to be ready for tomorrow.”

“After Wimbledon I saw that I wasn’t going to be in the main draw [of the US Open], so I emailed the tournament [in Newport] and they were kind enough to give me a wild card,” he said. “I knew I had to make the semis in order to reach the main draw, that was the first step. Now I hope that tomorrow I can go one step further.”

While it was about more than this tournament for Anderson, for 20-year-old Brooksby making it this far was about proving something to himself – and more than doing that coming from a 2-5 second set deficit to claim the win.

“I’m very excited to be in the final tomorrow and in such a great place, but I’m just going to try to treat it like it’s every other match and go out there with the same strategy,” Brooksby said. “I’m just excited to get out here tomorrow.”

At Bastad, Federico Coria will contest the final against top seed Casper Rudd, after both competitors sped through the semis in under 80 minutes each, over Yannick Hanfmann and Roberto Carballes Baena, respectively. Both players dictated their contest well to command proceedings, with Ruud’s 76 per cent win rate off his first serve points proving critical.

“I played a very good first set, I am very happy,” Ruud said. “[The second set] was a bit back and forth, I started to get a bit nervous towards the end. I started to play the points to quickly and didn’t play my game. That is natural when you are feeling the nerves.

“I am looking forward to the final. It is my fifth final of my career, and I am looking to make it three titles and my second one this year. I hope we can have some Scandinavian cheering.”

Comparatively, Coria has reached his maiden tour-level final, winning a total 62 per cent of overall points throughout his contest against Hanfmann.

“I am very happy. It is my first final tomorrow,” Coria said. “I played the best tennis of my life today here in Bastad. It is amazing [here]. It is beautiful.”

HAMBURG EUROPEAN OPEN SEMI-FINALS RESULTS:

[2] Pablo Carreno Busta (ESP) defeated Federico Delbonis (ARG) 7-6 6-3
[6] Filip Krajinovic (SRB) defeated Laslo Djere (SRB) 6-4 6-2

HALL OF FAME OPEN SEMI-FINALS RESULTS: 

[8] Kevin Anderson (RSA) defeated [1] Alexander Bublik (KAZ) 4-6 7-6 7-5
Jenson Brooksby (USA) defeated [7] Jordan Thompson (AUS) 6-3 7-6

NORDEA OPEN SEMI-FINALS RESULTS: 

[1] Casper Ruud (NOR) defeated Roberto Carballes Baena (ESP) 6-1 6-4
Federico Coria (ARG) defeated Yannick Hanfmann (GER) 6-2 6-1

ATP Tour wrap: Upsets galore at Hamburg as quarters completed across the board

THREE of the four quarter finals at Hamburg European Open went the way of the underdog, with four seeds all bundled out at the quarter finals stage. The biggest name to fall was tournament favourite and number one seed Stefanos Tsitsipas, who went down to sixth seed Filip Krajinovic in three sets.

The Greek talent won the first set 6-3, but then the Serbian hit back with some inspired tennis to take out the match in one hour and 59 minutes, 3-6 6-1 6-3. Krajinovic weathered 11 aces to win 76 and 57 per cent of his first and second serves off a 64 per cent clip, eclipsing Tsitsipas’ effort of 65 and 41 per cent. The Serbian sixth seed broke five times to two and won 69 and 44 per cent of his service and return points to the top seed’s 56 and 31 per cent.

“He started really well, really aggressively,” Krajinovic said. “I could not find my game, could not find my serve, he was overpowering me. “But at the end of the first set, I started to feel better, I was going for my shots. It paid off in the end. I am happy to beat Tsitsipas, he is an amazing player.

“I always play well here, and I hope I keep playing well here. “[Laslo] Djere is an amazing player, so it is going to be a tight match next. It is going to be an interesting [match] tomorrow.”

Now a Serbian is guaranteed in the Hamburg final after Krajinovic’s compatriot Laslo Djere made light work of third seed Nikoloz Basilashvili, 6-2 6-2. The third Serbian on court was not as fortunate, with fifth seed Dusan Lajovic going down to second seed Pablo Carreno Busta in a tight two-setter, 7-6 6-3. Carreno Busta will take on Argentina’s Federico Delbonis in the other semi-final after Delbonis took care of Benoit Paire in a come-from-behind win, 4-6 7-6 6-4.

In Sweden, the four quarter finals were completed on the clay with unseeded Federica Coria causing the big upset set, knocking out second seed Cristian Garin in three sets. The Argentinian won 6-4 4-6 6-2 to advance through to the semi-finals, leading top seed Casper Ruud as the sole seed in the last four after a walkover against Switzerland’s Herni Laaksonen. Qualifier Laaksonen was joined on the exits by fellow qualifier Frenchman Arthur Rinderknech who suffered defeat at the hands of German Yannick Hanfmann. The unseeded German won 6-4 6-3 to book a final four spot, with the other winner being Roberto Carballes Baena who knocked off Slovakian Norbet Gombos, 6-4 6-2.

In the third tournament, the two remaining quarter finals were completed with a mixed bag for the United States. Unseeded Jenson Brooksby continued his run with a dominant 6-0 6-3 victory over Peter Gojowczyk, whilst compatriot Maxime Cressy suffered a loss to seventh seed Jordan Thompson, 6-3 7-6.

HAMBURG EUROPEAN OPEN QUARTER FINALS RESULTS:

[6] Filip Krajinovic (SRB) defeated [1] Stefanos Tsitsipas (GRE) 3-6 6-1 6-3
[2] Pablo Carreno Busta (SRB) defeated [5] Dusan Lajovic (SRB) 7-6 6-3
Laslo Djere (SRB) defeated [3] Nikoloz Basilashvili (GEO) 6-2 6-2
Federico Delbonis (ARG) defeated [8] Benoit Paire (FRA) 4-6 7-6 6-4

HALL OF FAME OPEN QUARTER FINALS RESULTS:

[7] Jordan Thompson (AUS) defeated Maxime Cressy (USA) 6-3 7-6
Jenson Brooksby (USA) defeated Peter Gojowczyk (GER) 6-0 6-3

NORDEA OPEN QUARTER FINALS RESULTS:

[1] Casper Ruud (NOR) defeated [Q] Henri Laaksonen (SUI) W/O
Federico Coria (ARG) defeated [2] Cristian Garin (CHI) 6-4 4-6 6-2
Yannick Hanfmann (GER) defeated [Q] Arthur Rinderknech (FRA) 6-4 6-3
Roberto Carballes Baena (GER) defeated Norbert Gombos (SVK) 6-4 6-2

 

Picture credit: ATP Tour

ATP Tour wrap: Mixed bag of results as 250 and 500 events heat up

A MIXED bag of results were had across the board at all three ATP Tour tournaments yesterday, with the ATP 500 event in Hamburg and 250 clay event in Nordea continuing their Round of 16, while at the grass event in the United States, the quarter finals begun.

At Hamburg, three of the four seeds reigned supreme, with just fourth seed Albert Ramos-Vinolas falling in the second round to Argentinian Federico Delbonis in straight sets, 6-3 7-6, with the Argentinian improving his win record to 6-2 against Ramos-Vinolas. But proceedings went much easier for second seed Pablo Carreno Busta, who overcame compatriot and qualifier Carlos Taberner 7-5 6-3 in one hour and 46 minutes.

”I knew that it was very important at the beginning of the match because it was his fourth match here and it was my first one, so it can be difficult,” Carreno Busta said. “I was very focused on my game, I tried to be aggressive all the time.

”Carlos then started to play more aggressive from 1-4 and hit more winners, so I continued fighting and I am happy as it is important [to get through] the first match.”

Carreno Busta will next take on fifth seed Serbian Dusan Lajovic, who was the only player taken to three sets on the day with a 6-4 6-7(2) 6-3 victory over Slovak Alex Molcan. Lajovic required close to three hours to close out the match, winning 66 per cent of his first serve points on his way to the win. Meanwhile, eighth seed Benoit Paire rounded out the winners with a close shave over qualifier Juan Pablo Varillas, 7-5 7-6(8) in two hours and three minutes.

At Nordea, top seed Casper Ruud claimed the win of the day over Danish young gun Holger Vitus Nodskov Rune, 6-0 6-2 in just 65 minutes. With six aces and an 87 per cent win rate off his first serve, it was a confidence-boosting win for the Norwegian.

“I am very happy today. It is a surface I have had the most success of my career, it is great to be back here in Bastad,” Ruud said. “The tournament is so nice as always. There is a bit of extra pressure [being the top seed]. In a match like this against a fellow Scandinavian younger player, it is even more.

“I think I was very professional in my mindset today. I played a match without any errors really from the first to the last point. It is a nice feeling being the top seed but also pressure. I felt great crowd support, it is nice to feel that energy.”

Ruud will next take on Swiss talent Henri Laaksonen after the qualifier defeated wildcard hometown hopeful Elias Ymer. Roberto Carballes Baena and Norbert Gombos will go head-to-head in the quarter finals, after the duo executed upset victories over third seed Fabio Fognini and eighth seed Emil Ruusuvuori, respectively.

At the Newport quarter finals, it was Alexander Bublik and Kevin Anderson who came away with wins, as both seeds overcame their lower-ranked opposition. While Kazakh talent Bublik controlled proceedings against Chinese Taipei’s Jason Jung from the get-go to reign supreme 6-2 6-4, it was a different story for the hard-hitting South African who was forced to overcome a huge start from American wildcard Jack Sock to eventually claim the come-from-behind 6-7(5) 6-2 6-4 victory.

“I was up against a really, really good player. Jack has had a couple of tough years, but his level is way above his ranking,” Anderson said. “I really had to dig deep, it was a very physical match and conditions were much warmer today. I thought I did a good job, battling hard and fighting for every point. Fortunately, I was able to figure out a way to come through in the end.”

Anderson hit a whopping 20 aces for six double faults to claim the win, winning 90 per cent of his first serve points in the process. He and Bublik will go head-to-head for the first time in the semi final, with the Kazakh talent also relying on his strong serve to take out victory, with 14 aces to his name and a win rate of 85 per cent off his first serve.

“There are a lot of positives: staying confident throughout the entire match, and staying focused against such a tricky opponent. He runs around a lot and plays very solid,” Bublik said. “I tried to keep my nerves together and served well, which definitely helps.”

HAMBURG EUROPEAN OPEN ROUND OF 16 RESULTS:

[2] Pablo Carreno Busta (ESP) defeated [Q] Carlos Taberner (ESP) 7-5 6-3
Federico Delbonis (ARG) defeated [4] Albert Ramos-Vinolas (ESP) 6-3 7-6
[5] Dusan Lajovic (SRB) defeated [Q] Alex Molcan (SVK) 6-4 6-7 6-3
[8] Benoit Paire (FRA) defeated [Q] Juan Pablo Varillas (AUT) 7-5 7-6

NORDEA OPEN ROUND OF 16 RESULTS:

[1] Casper Ruud (NOR) defeated [WC] Holger Vitus Nodskov Rune (DEN) 6-0 6-2
Roberto Carballes Baena (ESP) defeated [3] Fabio Fognini (ITA) 6-3 1-6 6-4
Norbert Gombos (SVK) defeated [8] Emil Ruusuvuori (FIN) 6-2 6-4
[Q] Henri Laaksonen (SUI) defeated [WC] Elias Ymer (SWE) 6-2 7-5

HALL OF FAME OPEN QUARTER FINALS RESULTS:

[1] Alexander Bublik (KAZ) defeated Jason Jung (TPE) 6-2 6-4
[8] Kevin Anderson (RSA) defeated [WC] Jack Sock (USA) 6-7 6-2 6-4

 

Picture credit: ATP Tour

ATP Tour wrap: Hurkacz stuns Federer to claim semi finals berth

HUBERT Hurkacz has continued his stunning Wimbledon run with another huge scalp this week, defeating his second straight top 10 seed in two days with a straight sets upset over Roger Federer. Meanwhile, it was all systems go for the remaining favourites, as all three claimed the upper hand.

It was Hurkacz’s composure and consistency under pressure which handed him a daring 6-3 7-6(4) 6-0 win over the Swiss Maestro, winning 79 per cent of his first serve points credit to his 10 aces and 36 winners. While Federer hit almost as many winners registering 34 for the game, it was the unforced error count between the two (31-12) that really raised eyebrows, as Hurkacz’s cleanliness paved the way, despite the huge obstacle he was facing.

“Obviously I was a little bit nervous,” Hurkacz said post-match. “I mean, playing against Roger in a Grand Slam quarterfinal, it’s a very big thing for me. But I was trying to stay as calm as I could.

“I was trying always to believe myself during the match and just trust my game and stay as aggressive as I could.”

“Walking off the court realising that I won against Roger, I mean, [it] just kind of dream come true, especially here on grass in Wimbledon,” he said. “It felt so special with the crowd around as well.”

But while the win was a milestone for Hurkacz, it was a disappointing reality for Federer, who was “bagelled” at Wimbledon for the very first time during the 6-0 third set, and was aiming to reach the Wimbledon semi finals for a record-extending 14th time off the back of two knee surgeries last year.

“The last 18 months have been long and hard,” Federer said during his post-match press conference. “I felt very disappointed in the moment [of defeat] itself. I still am. I feel horribly exhausted. I could go for a nap right now. You put everything on the line, and when it’s all over you could just go sleep because you’re so exhausted from mentally pushing yourself forward, and trying everything.”

The champion is also all too aware that time could be running out for him to take out another grand slam title, although made it clear that an immediate retirement is not in the cards.

“No, it’s just about having perspective. You need a goal when you’re going through rehab. You can’t think of the entire mountain to climb at once. You got to go in steps. Wimbledon was the initial first super-step.

“As you can see, it was a struggle for me and putting in extra effort all the time, especially when things got difficult against Hubert. I knew it was going to be really hard. Now I just got to talk to the team, take my time, take the right decision.

“Clearly there’s still a lot of things missing in my game that maybe 10, 15, 20 years ago were very simple and very normal for me to do. Nowadays they don’t happen naturally anymore. I got to always put in the extra effort mentally to remember to do this or do that. I have a lot of ideas on the court, but sometimes I can’t do what I want to do.”

Matteo Berrettini will take on the rising Pole next, following a 6-3 5-7 7-5 6-3 sweep of Canadian Felix Auget-Aliassime. It was the Italian’s 10th consecutive grass court win and another one to add to his current winning tally – now at 23 wins from the past 26 matches – and makes Berrettini the first Italian to reach the Wimbledon semi finals in the Open Era.

“Everything is crazy right now. Thanks to Felix, I think we made a great match and I hope you guys enjoyed it,” Berrettini said in his on-court interview. “He’s probably one of my best friends on tour, so it’s never easy to play against him. But that’s sport and I’m really happy.”

“I think we know each other pretty well. We played just once in a tournament on grass two years ago, but for sure he improved, I improved,” Berrettini said. “Today was really tricky. It’s always special to play on such a nice court, so it was really difficult. Good luck to him, but now I’m happy for myself.”

The second semi final will contest between world number one Novak Djokovic and 10th seed Canadian Denis Shapovalov, with the former recording his 100th grass court win over Hungarian Marton Fucsovics in two hours and 17 minutes, 6-3 6-4 6-4, while the latter outlasted Russian Karen Khachanov in a huge three hour and 26-minute clash, going all the way to a 6-4 3-6 5-7 6-1 6-4 five set result.

Competing in his maiden grass court quarter final – and only his second grand slam quarter overall – Shapovalov broke new ground to reach his maiden semi final berth, explaining that he drew on his US Open quarter finals experience to claim the win this time around.

“I think going into the fifth set today was exactly what I took. I was in a similar position against Carreno Busta (Pablo Carreno Busta) at the US Open. I won the fourth set really easily,” Shapovalov said. “It kind of allowed myself to just, like, relax a little bit and think that everything’s under control, that I have momentum. Then things kind of turned quickly.

“So, I knew going into the fifth set I’ve got to leave everything I have on the court for every single point that I play. I really felt like I was really in every single return, every single shot. That’s the difference I made.

“After the fourth set, I told myself, just using that experience from the US Open, this is what I want to change and really start the set off well. I think my game just elevated. It’s something to be super, super proud of myself for.”

“Definitely a super difficult match ahead of me. I believe in my game. I think I’ve been playing really, really good tennis. To beat these players with the way I’ve been playing, it’s not easy to do,” Shapovalov said. “So, I have full belief in myself and in my game that I’m able to win on Friday.

“I think when you’re at the semi-finals of a tournament, there’s not really underdogs. Honestly, it’s been great. Even today when I played the fifth set, I felt super, super fresh. I feel fresh now. Hopefully, that continues.”

Djokovic’s confident form has continued, and why would it not with 32 wins from 35 matches for the year so far, not dropping a set as he reached his 10th Wimbledon semi final. He also leads Shapovalov 6-0 in their head-to-head, proving his confidence is not for naught.

“It was kind of up and down. I thought I played extremely well the first five, six games,” Djokovic said. “Had a couple set points, 5-0, 5-1 also couple set points. And then some long games.

“Overall, I feel like I’ve been playing, hitting the ball well throughout the entire tournament, putting myself exactly where I want to be: semi-finals. Not spending too much energy. Now I really have to be consistent from the first to last point in next match, and hopefully another one on Sunday.”

As for Shapovalov, Djokovic said he expects the lefty to be a huge task to overcome on the grass.

“He has really an all-around game,” Djokovic said. “Huge serve, lefty, which is always tricky to play someone who is left-handed on the quick surfaces. He’s comfortable coming in to net. I think his movement has improved. Due to better movement, he’s probably making less errors, which was probably the part of his game that was always troubling him.

“I’m sure that that’s going to be the biggest test I will have so far in the tournament, which is also expected. It’s semi-finals. I’m looking forward to it. It’s going to be a battle and I need to be at my best.”

WIMBLEDON QUARTER FINALS WRAP:

[1] Novak Djokovic (SRB) defeated Marton Fucsovics (HUN) 6-3 6-4 6-4
[14] Hubert Hurkacz (POL) defeated [6] Roger Federer (SUI) 6-3 7-6 6-0
[7] Matteo Berrettini (ITA) defeated [16] Felix Auger-Aliassime (CAN) 6-3 5-7 7-5 6-3
[10] Denis Shapovalov (CAN) defeated [25] Karen Khachanov (RUS) 6-4 3-6 5-7 6-1 6-4

 

Picture credit: AELTC/Edward Whitaker

2021 Wimbledon preview: Will the Fed Express have one last stop? Can Serena equal the Grand Slam record?

THE Wimbledon Championships are finally here. One of the most eloquent events on the planet, the third Grand Slam of the year played on the grass courts of London are set to begin overnight with plenty of sub-plots in both the men’s and women’s draws. For the greatest ever champions at the event, there is a chance it will be the last hurrah, with Roger Federer and Serena Williams both gunning for perhaps their last Wimbledon titles. Standing in their way are the likes of Novak Djokovic – looking to equal Rafael Nadal and Federer on 20 Grand Slams – and Ash Barty who when fully fit has proven she can get it done across any surface.

WOMEN’S:

Looking at the WTA Tour draw, the immediate thought is to those not at the event in a couple of Grand Slam winners. World number two Naomi Osaka and world number three Simona Halep are both not competing at the All England Club, leaving Barty and Aryna Sabalenka as the top two seeds. It will be Sabalenka’s highest ever seeding at a Grand Slam, and for a player who has failed to make it past the fourth round at any major, or the second round at Wimbledon, all eyes will be on the Belarusian at the event.

Sabalenka has been handed a soft draw to begin with, as four qualifiers and a wildcard sit in the first two rounds, with 32nd seed Ekaterina Alexandrova set to be her first seeded opponent if Sabalenka can – and should – make the third round. It gets a little tougher from there with the in-form Maria Sakkari and Elena Rybakina a potential third round matchup and then the winner in-line for a Sabalenka Round of 16 clash.

At the other end of the draw, tournament favourite Barty can beat anyone on any surface, and first up will be Carla Suarez Navarro in a battle of two of the Tour’s heartwarming talents. Barty’s exploits and worldwide respect are well known, but Suarez Navarro is returning to the Tour after beating a Hodgkin’s lymphoma diagnosis in September, having retired from the professional Tour in order to look after her health. Whilst not the ideal first round match back for the Spaniard, it will be a great sub-plot to see her back out there.

If Barty can survive the talented Suarez Navarro – who has made the fourth round of Wimbledon three times – then her first big test will come against home nation hero Johanna Konta in the third round. Konta is fairly strong on grass, and should test Barty, though a fourth round matchup with Kiki Bertens – the 10th best grass court in the draw – will be a potential blockbuster. Williams is also lurking in Barty’s half if the pair make it all the way to the semi-finals, with Williams every chance to greet the world number one in the final four.

The second ranked grass court player in the draw is Czech Petra Kvitova who has copped American Sloane Stephens up first, then might have four consecutive opponents of home nation hero Heather Watson, American Jessica Pegula, fellow Czech Karolina Pliskova, and 2020 Australian Open winner Sofia Kenin. That draw is as rough as they come considering Pegula’s form, and Kenin and Pliskova’s ability on grass.

Garbine Muguruza is another to take note of, ranked third overall on the surface, and matched up with Fiona Ferro in the opening round. All eyes will be on a potential third round clash with Ons Jabeur. The Tunisian recently claimed her first WTA Tour – the first Arab player to ever do so – and she is ranked fourth overall on the surface, which sets up a tantalising clash in only the third round.

If smokies are what you are looking for, then do not sleep on young gun Coco Gauff, who is capable of pulling off big wins on the surface as she has shown since debut at Wimbledon. She will have to do it the hard way with Belinda Bencic and Williams as her likely third and fourth round opponents, though Williams also has Bad Homburg champion Angelique Kerber to deal with in the Round of 16.

Other grass court players who are ranked highly include Daria Kasatkina, Liudmila Samsonova and Madison Keys, with Elise Mertens and Elina Svitolina some other seeds who are more than capable on the surface, making it some high-quality tennis.

First round matches to watch:

[10] Petra Kvitova (CZE) vs. Sloane Stephens (USA)
[1] Ash Barty (AUS) vs. Carla Suarez Navarro (ESP)
[24] Anett Kontaveit (EST) vs. Marketa Vondrousova (CZE)
[18] Elena Rybakina (KAZ) vs. Kristina Mladenovic (FRA)
[8] Karolina Pliskova (CZE) vs. Tamara Zidansek (CZE)

MEN’S:

In the ATP Tour draw, the sixth seeded Federer will have a tough road to a record-breaking 21st Grand Slam. The Swiss Maestro is running out time with age and durability catching up to him, and the Wimbledon event organisers have done him no favours. Adrian Mannarino is never a first round matchup you want in a Grand Slam, with another Frenchman in veteran Richard Gasquet, home nation hero Cameron Norrie and the either the red-hot Lorenzo Sonego or reliable Spaniard Pablo Carreno Busta waiting in the fourth round. Mallorca winner Daniil Medvedev is the top four seed in his quarter of the draw, with Alexander Zverev the other one in his half. Medvedev has one of the toughest first round matches in German Jan-Lennard Struff, whilst Zverev has a host of Americans lining up in the early rounds.

The match of the first round surely has to be 21st seed Ugo Humbert up against Australian Nick Kyrgios. One of many classics across the draw, it is hard to look past it as one that will be as entertaining as they come. With Australian Open runner-up Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and young gun Canadian Felix Auger-Aliassime also in that little group in the first three rounds, there are plenty of great matches. Just above that section is a first round match to die for with the old and the new as Australian Alexei Popyrin takes on US Open runner-up Kei Nishikori in the first round. Nearly every first round match in that section is phenomenal, with another Australian in Jordan Thompson locking horns with 12th seed Casper Ruud, and Russian bolter Aslan Karatsev facing Frenchman Jeremy Chardy.

Djokovic is favourite for the event and he looks to have a fairly safe draw until the quarter finals. Brit wildcard Jack Draper is up first, with the teenager certainly having a memorable opening round encounter, before the Serbian is set to play former Top 10 player Kevin Anderson. Djokovic’s first seeded encounter could be Alejandro Davidovich Fokina, with the wounded Gael Monfils and clay court oriented Cristian Garin the highest ranked en route to Djokovic’s quarter finals. A mouth-watering last eight clash with either Jannik Sinner or Andrey Rublev would be a must-watch, but both young guns must overcome their own draws in the process. Sinner faces tricky Hungarian Marton Fucsovics in the opening round, and also has the likes of Jiri Vesely and Diego Schwartzman for company, with the diminutive Argentinian facing out-of-sorts Benoit Paire in the opening round. Rublev takes on Federico Delbonis in the first round, with Fabio Fognini a tough third round potential matchup.

With no Nadal in the draw, third seed Stefanos Tsitsipas steps up into the placing, with Frances Tiafoe up first, and the likes of Karen Khachanov and Eastbourne champion Alex de Minaur possible third and fourth round opponents. Australia’s top ranked player has to contend with in-form Sebastian Korda in the first round, and also has a potential third round clash with home nation hero and grass court talent Dan Evans. The Brit will take on one of the better grass court players over time in Feliciano Lopez in the opening round though, so there are no easy matches. Another Australian in John Millman has copped Roberto Bautista Agut in the first round, with Andy Murray earning a wildcard and coming up against Georgian 24th seed Nikoloz Basilashvili. Murray is a really good chance in that contest, though Denis Shapovalov as a third round opponent seems stiff.

Seventh seed Matteo Berrettini is currently the second ranked grass court player, with the 25-year-old Italian taking on Argentinian Guido Pella in the first round. He has a fairly standard draw to begin with, as John Isner appears to be his logical third round opponent. Karatsev is an unknown on grass and is line for a Round of 16 clash with Berrettini, though Ruud as the highest ranked player in the section will be keen to step up to the plate.

Another to keep an eye on in the draw is Marin Cilic – who has a potential third round clash with Medvedev – with the Croatian ranked inside the Top 10 grass court players. As Nadal, Dominic Thiem, Milos Raonic and David Goffin are all missing, the draw is open for some underdog stories to come through, and there are plenty of tantalising first round matches, never mind the third round and beyond clashes.

First round matches to watch:

[21] Ugo Humbert (FRA) vs. Nick Kyrgios (AUS)
[2] Daniil Medvedev (RUS) vs. Jan-Lennard Struff (GER)
[6] Roger Federer (SUI) vs. Adrian Mannarino (FRA)
[15] Alex de Minaur (AUS) vs. Sebastian Korda (USA)
Kei Nishikori (JPN) vs. Alexei Popyrin (AUS)

 

Picture credit: Michael Regan/Getty Images

ATP Tour wrap: Lucky losers doubled-tapped in Eastbourne as Sonego spoils all-Aussie final

LORENZO Sonego has played the role of party pooper for the Australian fans, overcoming a plucky Max Purcell in three sets to book his spot in the Viking International Eastbourne final. The Italian third seed now has a date with second seed Australian Alex de Minaur, following de Minaur’s straight sets win over Soonwoo Kwon.

Remarkably, both Purcell and Kwon lost in qualifying, but earned replacement spots in the Eastbourne tournament, making it all the way to the penultimate round. The lowly ranked Purcell almost made it an all-Aussie final before Sonego stopped him in his tracks. Sonego won 6-1 3-6 6-1 against the 283rd ranked Purcell, booking his spot in the final which will be his second of the year after winning the Sardegna Open, and gunning for his second overall grass title after winning the Antalya Open back in 2019.

“I am really happy because this is my second final on grass and I like the conditions here because I can go to the net,” Sonego said post-match. “I am serving well, I am more offensive, and I want to do the same tomorrow.”

“With only three tournaments on grass, it is not easy to adapt. But my tennis is good for this surface because I serve well and if I return better, I can have a great tournament each week.”

Now the world number 27 will have the toughest match of his tournament thus far, locking horns with de Minaur, who disposed of Kwon in 81 minutes, 6-3 7-6. The Australian world number 18 has never reached a grass court final, having won all of his four previous titles on hard court. He is yet to drop a set in the tournament and will be favourite in the match.

“I am very happy to be playing in another final,” de Minaur said. “I am playing some great tennis on the grass. “I am really enjoying myself out there and hopefully I can play well tomorrow and take it home.

“I think for me, the clay season is a long stint, so I was looking forward to the grass season. I have gained confidence from every match I have won, and I have had a lot of matches under my belt. All these things help each other.”

Meanwhile in Mallorca, top seed Daniil Medvedev gave his Wimbledon preparations the best possible chance with a hard-fought come-from-behind win over fourth seed Pablo Carreno Busta. Medvedev won 3-6 6-3 6-2 to overcome the Spaniard and book his place in the final, set to take on the big-serving Sam Querrey following the unseeded American’s 6-4 6-3 triumph over Frenchman Adrian Mannarino.

“I know that I can play good on grass,” Medvedev said post-match. “Unfortunately we don’t have that many tournaments, only one ATP 500 and one Grand Slam. “It’s going to be a special feeling [if I] win my first title on grass. “I still don’t have one on clay, even if I have one final. “Adding these titles, especially on different surfaces, can help your confidence and it’s just a great thing for your career.”

In order to do so, Medvedev will need to weather the red-hot Querrey who slammed home 18 aces against Mannarino and only dropped one point on his first serve, to win in just 70 minutes, He is gunning for his eleventh ATP Tour title – the same as Medvedev – but first since 2017.

MALLORCA CHAMPIONSHIPS SEMI-FINALS RESULTS:

[1] Daniil Medvedev (RUS) defeated [4] Pablo Carreno Busta (ESP) 3-6 6-3 6-2
Sam Querrey (USA) defeated Adrian Mannarino (FRA) 6-4 6-3

VIKING INTERNATIONAL EASTBOURNE SEMI-FINAL RESULTS:

[2] Alex de Minaur (AUS) defeated [LL] Soonwoo Kwon (KOR) 6-3 7-6
[3] Lorenzo Sonego (ITA) defeated [LL] Max Purcell (AUS) 6-1 3-6 6-1

 

Picture credit: ATP Tour

ATP Tour wrap: Race for Wimbledon heats up as semis arrive at ATP 250 events

A COUPLE of lucky losers and Australians continued their runs at Eastbourne overnight, setting up plenty of intrigue as the semi–finals arrive, whilst at Mallorca just one of the three hometown hopes survived as top seed Daniil Medvedev continued on his merry way.

A shaky start could not topple Medvedev once he found his groove, completing a great 7-5 6-1 matchup with fifth seed Norwegian Casper Ruud to head into the semis in Spain. With eight aces and an 86 per cent win rate off his first serve, Medvedev is yet to drop a set in Mallorca and despite being slightly critical of his own performance, was glad to proceed after falling in the opening round at Halle last week.

“I feel like it was a funny match. Maybe [it was] not the highest level, but I’m really happy to win and be in the semi-finals here. I’m looking forward to tomorrow,” Medvedev said post-match.

“I don’t think grass is his best surface, but in the first set he was playing top level and I couldn’t get any break points,” Medvedev said. “But as soon as he started serving a bit worse and making some errors, I tried to use it as fast as I could. It was important to win the first set and not in a tie-break, this gives me a boost of confidence.”

Medvedev will take on fourth seed Spaniard Pablo Carreno Busta, who found a 6-4 6-4 victory over Australian Jordan Thompson, saving all three break points the Australian conjured throughout the 82-minute clash. However, his compatriots in third seed Roberto Bautista Agut and veteran Feliciano Lopez were not quite so lucky, both failing to proceed on home soil. Bautista Agut fell in straight sets to American Sam Querrey, 6-3 7-6(4), while Lopez was plucky in his encounter with Adrian Mannarino, stealing the second set off the Frenchman and mounting a huge 15 aces, before eventually going down 6-4 3-6 6-3 in an hour and 37 minutes.

At Eastbourne, a couple of Australians found their form as second seed and Australian number one Alex de Minaur executed a solid 6-4 6-4 victory over Canadian Vasek Pospisil. He will take on lucky loser Soonwoo Kwon in the semis, following the Korean’s 6-4 7-5 victory over qualifier Ilya Ivashka.

“[I am] very happy. This is a part of the season which I look forward to every year, and I feel like I have been able to gradually improve and play better and better, so I am very happy with where my game is at,” de Minaur said.

“I feel like [the] last grass season I didn’t perform the way I wanted to, so it’s good to kind of show what I can do on this surface. Mentally I think I’m staying in the moment. I’m doing what I need to do.”

Lucky loser Max Purcell drew another lucky loser in Italian Andreas Seppi, reigning supreme in three sets to head into his maiden ATP Tour semi final. Purcell required just under two hours to claim the 6-4 1-6 6-4 result, and despite his second set slip-up was excited for an opportunity to take on another Italian in Lorenzo Sonego next.

“You have to believe [these moments will come], or who would want to go out there?” Purcell said. “I’ve been waiting for the right opportunity. This just happens to be the week where I’m making a little bit of a start.”

Third seed Sonego impressed in his 6-1 7-5 clash with eighth seed Kazakh Alexander Bublik, notching his 17th win for the year in the process.

“I am really happy with the match because it is not easy playing against Bublik, because he is an amazing talent,” Sonego said. “Especially in the second set, it was really tough, but I am happy with the match.

“I am full of energy because I like playing here. “My serve is good for the grass court, and I like playing in Eastbourne. “There are a lot of Italian fans, and it is good for me.”

VIKING INTERNATIONAL EASTBOURNE QUARTER FINALS RESULTS:

[2] Alex De Minaur (AUS) defeated Vasek Pospisil (CAN) 6-4 6-4
[3] Lorenzo Sonego (ITA) defeated [8] Alexander Bublik (KAZ) 6-1 7-5
[LL] Soonwoo Kwon (KOR) defeated [Q] Ilya Ivashka (BLR) 6-4 7-5
[LL] Max Purcell (AUS) defeated [LL] Andreas Seppi (ITA) 6-4 1-6 6-4

MALLORCA CHAMPIONSHIPS QUARTER FINALS RESULTS: 

[1] Daniil Medvedev (RUS) defeated [5] Casper Ruud (NOR) 7-5 6-1
Sam Querrey (USA) defeated [3] Roberto Bautista Agut (ESP) 6-3 7-6
[4] Pablo Carreno Busta (ESP) defeated Jordan Thompson (AUS) 6-4 6-4
Adrian Mannarino (FRA) defeated Feliciano Lopez (ESP) 6-4 3-6 6-3

Picture credit: Mallorca Championships/Manuel Queimadelos

ATP Tour wrap: Purcell takes out Monfils in stunning Eastbourne upset

LUCKY loser Australian Max Purcell has stunned top seed Gael Monfils in a three-set win overnight to book his spot in the Viking International Eastbourne quarter finals. The Australian needed two hours and 10 minutes to down Monfils, who has admittedly had a forgettable year, moving to a 2-8 record in 2021. Having battled with injury the past few years, Monfils was bundled out by the world 283, as Purcell grabbed what was only his third ATP Tour main draw win – and second back-to-back – with a 6-4 5-7 6-4 triumph.

“It feels unbelievable,” Purcell said post-match. “I’ve struggled to get into any singles events over the past nine months and primarily played doubles, so to get on a run here, on my favourite surface, is great. I thought I’d come out and have a go. When I missed the opportunity to close out the match at 5-4 in the second set, Gael showed what a good player he is.”

Purcell weathered 16 aces, whilst serving nine of his own, but won 76 and 52 per cent of his first and second serves compared to Monfils’ 71 and 45 per cent. He also broke four times to three, with the last of those proving crucial in grabbing the biggest win of the Australian’s career.

The win allowed Purcell to move into hist first ever ATP Tour quarter final, to take on former Eastbourne champion – and remarkably another lucky loser – in Andreas Seppi. Taking down top seed Monfils allowed Purcell’s compatriot Alex de Minaur to be the highest remaining seed at the grass court event, defeating home nation talent Liam Broady in straight sets, 6-3 6-4.

Australia’s top ranked ATP Tour player needed an hour and 40 minutes to defeat Broady, describing the match as “very intense” having reached number 18 in the world recently, a career-high. The rising Australian will take on veteran Canadian Vasek Pospisil who took out a retiring Spanish sixth seed, Alejandro Davidovich Fokina who called it quits following the first set tiebreak loss.

“A very tough match at a high level, against a tricky opponent, who has been playing great,” de Minaur said post-match. It’s a part of the year that I love. I enjoy the grass-court swing and I want to make every match count.”

In the other result, the news was not as good for John Millman, with the Aussie falling to third seed Italian Lorenzo Sonego in straight sets, 6-4 6-2. In a draw that is wide open – due to three lucky losers and one qualifier making it to the final eight – Sonego will take on eighth seed Kazakh Alexander Bublik, with Belarusian qualifier Ilya Ivashka and lucky loser Soonwoo Kwon battling it out in the other quarter final.

Meanwhile in Mallorca, the Spanish contingent had a good day, with third seed Roberto Bautista Agut and fourth seed Pablo Carreno Busta both advancing to the quarter finals. Bautista Agut knocked off Italian Stefano Travaglia 6-3 7-5, whilst Carreno Busta was too good for Czech Jiri Vesely, 6-4 6-4. United States’ Sam Querrey had the easiest match of the day with a walkover against seventh seed Ugo Humbert, whilst Australian Jordan Thompson made it three out of four Australian wins overnight, defeating Slovakian qualifier Lukas Klein, 6-4 6-4.

MALLORCA CHAMPIONSHIPS ROUND OF 16 RESULTS:

[3] Roberto Bautista Agut (ESP) defeated Stefano Travaglia (ITA) 6-3 7-5
[4] Pablo Carreno Busta (ESP) defeated Jiri Vesely (CZE) 6-4 6-4
Sam Querrey (USA) defeated [7] Ugo Humbert (FRA) W/O
Jordan Thompson (AUS) defeated [Q] Lukas Klein (SVK) 6-4 6-4

VIKING INTERNATIONAL EASTBOURNE ROUND OF 16 RESULTS:

[LL] Max Purcell (AUS) defeated [1] Gael Monfils (FRA) 6-4 5-7 6-4
[2] Alex de Minaur (AUS) defeated [WC] Liam Broady (GBR) 6-3 6-4
[3] Lorenzo Sonego (ITA) defeated John Millman (AUS) 6-4 6-2
Vasek Pospisil (CAN) defeated [6] Alejandro Davidovich Fokina (ESP) 7-6 0-0 RET

 

Picture credit: ATP Tour

ATP Tour wrap: Medvedev and Tsitsipas to clash in quarters

THE men’s Roland Garros draw boasts a hugely competitive mix of players, with the Round of 16 action overnight proving just how tight the contest still is, with all three seeded favourites completing straight sets victories and only the unseeded clash going an extra set on a huge day of action.

Second and fifth seeds Daniil Medvedev and Stefanos Tsitsipas have set up a mouthwatering quarter finals clash with respective wins over Cristian Garin and Pablo Carreno Busta. Russian Medvedev has been in scintillating form at the Roland Garros despite a shaky past few events – having never won a clay match until this year – and was no different in this clash against the Chilean 22nd seed, requiring just over two hours to complete the 6-2 6-1 7-5 clean sweep.

“I learned that Roland-Garros, I need to play like on hard courts because [it] is bouncing low and fast. I don’t know if it was like this before and I was just unlucky with the draw,” Medvedev said. “Definitely what I learned, that I can move really well on clay. For this I need to have good shots. If you don’t have good shots, good players on clay, they start to move you all around the court… Here I’m able with these balls, with these conditions, to make shots that [are] not going to let my opponent attack me straightaway.

“Then I can take control of the game and be a great mover on clay. That’s one part that I learned.”

Comparatively, Garin is a clay court specialist. But he just could not sway the momentum in this clash, allowing Medvedev to hit a whopping 46 winners to 11 – including 14 aces to nil – throughout the contest. While Garin was better on the unforced error front, trailing Medvedev 29-32, the Russian was clinical off his first serve winning 86 per cent of points.

Fifth seed Tsitsipas was similarly challenged in the third set by another clay courter in 12th seed Carreno Busta, eventually requiring only four more minutes than Medvedev to claim the 6-3 6-2 7-5 victory, his 20th on clay for the season. Tsitsipas hit 41 winners for 17 unforced errors throughout the contest.

“I think I’ve played some of my best tennis when I don’t think much on the court, when everything is being done automatically, on autopilot,” Tsitsipas said. “I felt also my performance was at the top [against Carreno Busta]. So, yes, less thinking, more action.”

“In Grand Slams, it’s all about the endurance and being able to show up and do your job once every two days and do it well,” he said. “It’s demanding. It takes a lot of attention, a lot of effort. I’ve grown up into loving that process and wanting to repeat that.”

Meanwhile, sixth seed German Alexander Zverev downed Kei Nishikori in one hour and 54 minutes, extending his head to head over the Japanese talent to 5-1 and 3-1 on clay. Zverev will take on Alejandro Davidovich Fokina in the quarter finals, after the Spaniard overcame Federico Delbonis 6-4 6-4 4-6 6-4 in two hours and 56 minutes – over an hour longer on court than Zverev.

“Of course he’s had some fantastic matches, I think today was a fantastic match from his side,” Zverev said of Davidovich Fokina. “I have to come out here and I have to play my best and give myself the best chance to win.”

“I have to focus on myself,” said Zverev. “I feel like if I play my best tennis I’m difficult to beat.”

“I worked hard for this moment, and thanks to my team, they are supporting me every day. A lot of emotions… I’m so happy,” Davidovich Fokina said.

ROLAND GARROS ROUND OF 16 RESULTS:

[2] Daniil Medvedev (RUS) defeated [22] Cristian Garin (CHI) 6-2 6-1 7-5
[5] Stefanos Tsitsipas (GRE) defeated [12] Pablo Carreno Busta (ESP) 6-3 6-2 7-5
[6] Alexander Zverev (GER) defeated Kei Nishikori (JPN) 6-4 6-1 6-1
Alejandro Davidovich Fokina (ESP) defeated Federico Delbonis (ARG) 6-4 6-4 4-6 6-4

Picture credit: Nicolas Gouhier/FFT