Tag: pedro martinez

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

BMW OPEN FINAL RESULT:

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

ESTORIL OPEN FINAL RESULT:

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

MADRID OPEN ROUND OF 64 RESULTS:

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

Picture credit: ATP Tour

ATP Tour wrap: Martinez overcomes Bublik as McDonald downs Lajovic

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

MILLENNIUM ESTORIL OPEN ROUND OF 32 RESULTS:

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

BMW OPEN ROUND OF 32 RESULTS:

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

ATP Tour wrap: Rainy day grinds Monte Carlo Masters Day 2 to a halt

DAY 2 at the Monte Carlo Masters was interrupted by intermittent rainfall, limiting proceedings and eventually grinding the day to a halt with only four matches completed and five in the process when the cancellation was announced.

Russian Aslan Karatsev outclassed Italian wildcard Lorenzo Musetti in a huge clash which ended up playing over the course of around five hours thanks to rain delays. Whilst his now second round opposition in Stefanos Tsitsipas expected to take on Musetti in the Round of 32, Karatsev proved him wrong with the 6-3 6-4 sweep of Musetti, hitting 23 winners to win in just under 90 minutes all up. He won 78 per cent of first serve points off a 63 per cent clip and saved all four break points in the victory, setting up an intriguing clash with Tsitsipas next round.

“It was a really tough match [for] my first match of the season on clay [with] tough weather conditions,” Karatsev said. “We started in the morning [and] I started pretty well, I broke him and then the court was getting heavy, the ball was heavy. It is tough to play against him. [He is] really fit, [he] runs a lot and gives everything back, so you have to build the point by yourself and close the point by yourself.”

Meanwhile, a couple of Australians took the court with John Millman heading to the second round after downing Frenchman Ugo Humbert, whilst higher ranked Alex de Minaur fell to Spaniard Alejandro Davidovich Fokina. Davidovich Fokina saved six of eight break points in the 6-4 7-6 encounter with de Minaur, and was much more consistent across both his first and second serves at a higher efficiency to claim the victory. Millman’s 76 per cent winning rate off his first serve paid off against Humbert, whilst he also converted four of seven break points to come away with the 6-3 6-3 victory. In the remaining match, Tommy Paul came out with a default 4-1 victory when lucky loser Pedro Martinez retired midway through the first set, on court for less than 30 minutes.

MONTE CARLO MASTERS ROUND OF 64 RESULTS:

Aslan Karastev (RUS) defeated [W] Lorenzo Musetti (ITA) 6-3 6-4
Alejandro Davidovich Fokina (ESP) defeated Alex de Minaur (AUS) 6-4 7-6
John Millman (AUS) defeated Ugo Humbert (FRA) 6-3 6-3
Tommy Paul (USA) defeated [LL] Pedro Martinez 4-1

ATP Tour wrap: Round of 32 complete at Sardegna and Marbella

COMPETITION continued in Sardegna and Marbella today with the Round of 32 at both ATP 250 events still going strong and homegrown talent proving influential on Day 2 of proceedings.

At Sardegna, three set encounters told the story with fifth and sixth seeds Jan-Lennard Struff and John Millman amongst a group of six players who required a third set to clinch victory. Struff overcame a shocking 1-6 start to Joao Sousa to remain in the hunt for the second round, collecting the 1-6 6-1 7-5 victory in just over two hours. Gilles Simon was another who came from a set down to win in three, defeating home talent Stefano Travaglia 1-6 6-3 6-4, as did qualifier Jozef Kovalik, who was one of two Slovakian competitors to win on the day, joined by Andrej Martin in the second round.

It was a first set tiebreaker that was the difference between a win and a loss for Australian sixth see Millman, who overcame Federico Coria 7-6(5) 3-6 6-3 in a mammoth three hour and 13 minute encounter, whilst Italian Marco Cecchinato was the remaining three set winner with a victory over compatriot Thomas Fabbiano 6-4 4-6 6-3. Lorenzo Musetti joined Ceecchinato in the second round after a confidence-boosting 6-0 6-1 obliteration of Dennis Novak in just 52 minutes, with the remaining win of the day going to British qualifier Liam Broady, who defeated Swiss qualifier Marc-Andrea Huesler 6-1 6-3.

SARDEGNA OPEN ROUND OF 32 RESULTS: 

[5] Jan-Lennard Struff (GER) defeated Joao Sousa (POR) 1-6 6-1 7-5
[6] John Millman (AUS) defeated Federico Coria (ARG) 7-6 3-6 6-3
[Q] Liam Broady (GBR) defeated [Q] Marc-Andrea Huesler (SUI) 6-1 6-3
Marco Cecchinato (ITA) defeated [WC] Thomas Fabbiano (ITA) 6-4 4-6 6-3
[Q] Jozef Kovalik (SVK) defeated [Q] Sumit Nagal (IND) 3-6 6-1 6-3
Andrej Martin (SVK) defeated Jiri Vesely (CZE) 6-4 2-6 6-1
Lorenzo Musetti (ITA) defeated Dennis Novak (AUT) 6-0 6-1
Gilles Simon (FRA) defeated Stefano Travaglia (ITA) 1-6 6-3 6-4

At Marbella, results went the opposite way with majority straight sets victories across the day, and just one three setter to speak of, which intriguingly was still a mostly one-sided battle as Alejandro Davidovich Fokina reigned supreme in a 6-7 6-2 6-2 encounter with Damir Dzumhur. The two hour flat matchup was marginally the longest of the day, with the Spaniard one of five to head into the second round. He is joined by Feliciano LopezJaume Munar, wildcard Carlos Alcaraz and qualifier Mario Vilella Martinez, after all four claimed solid wins.

The other three winners of the day hailed from Argentina, Belarus and Italy, with Argentinian Facundo Bagnis overcoming compatriot Francisco Cerundolo and Ilya Ivashka getting the job done in an identical 6-3 7-6(2) final result over another Spaniard in Pedro Martinez, while Gianluca Mager defeated Kazakh Mikhail Kukushkin.

ANYTECH365 ANDALUCIA OPEN ROUND OF 32 RESULTS:

[5] Alejandro Davidovich Fokina (ESP) defeated Damir Dzumhur (BIH) 6-7 6-2 6-2
[6] Feliciano Lopez (ESP) defeated Taro Daniel (JPN) 6-4 6-4
[WC] Carlos Alcaraz (ESP) defeated [Q] Nikola Milojevic (SRB) 7-6 6-3
Facundo Bagnis (ARG) defeated Francisco Cerundolo (ARG) 6-3 7-6
Ilya Ivashka (BLR) defeated Pedro Martinez (ESP) 6-3 7-6
Gianluca Mager (ITA) defeated Mikhail Kukushkin (KAZ) 7-5 6-3
Jaume Munar (ESP) defeated [Q] Henri Laaksonen (SUI) 6-4 6-1
[Q] Mario Vilella Martinez (ESP) defeated [Q] Bernabe Zapata Miralles (ESP) 6-2 6-3

ATP Miami Open 1000: Ivashka wins in three tiebreakers, as Aussies advance

TWO retirements, three tiebreak sets over more than three hours, and a couple of Australians back on the winners list, there was plenty to talk about at the 2021 ATP Miami Open on Thursday.

The epic three-set, three-tiebreaker match went down to the wire over three hours and 18 minutes, before Belarusian Ilya Ivashka got up over South Korean Soonwoo Kwon, 7-6 6-7 7-6. The first two tiebreakers were 7-4 in favour of the opposite opponents before Ivashka got up 7-3 in the deciding tiebreaker. He served 20 aces and won 71 per cent of his first serve points off a 72 per cent efficiency, breaking his opponent four times, while Kwon won 74 per cent of his first serves of a 55 per cent clip, breaking four times from 11 chances himself.

Elsewhere it was a great start for Australian duo, Jordan Thompson and Thanasi Kokkinakis. Thompson overcame Argentinian Federico Delbonis in two tight sets 7-6 6-4, while qualifier Kokkinakis won on his return to the court in Miami with a 6-3 6-3 victory over fellow qualifier, Japan’s Shintaro Mochizuki. A 17-year-old talent, Mochizuki is a former junior world number one who claimed the 2019 Wimbledon junior title and is currently ranked 630th in the world.

There were plenty of home nation talents out on the court, with a number of them getting up in victories. United States representatives Bjorn Fratangelo, Sebastian Korda, Denis Kudla and Tennys Sandgren all won through to the next round of the tournament. Qualifier Frantangelo defeated Fernando Verdasco in straight sets, while Korda inflicted the same defeat on Romanian Radu Albot, Kudla knocked off Jeremy Chardy in a tight three-set battle, while Sandgren only needed 12 games before Spaniard Pedro Martinez retired, leading 6-4 2-0. Michael Mmoh was the only American to lose out on the day, going down 6-4 6-4 to Italian young gun Lorenzo Musetti, 6-4 6-4.

In other straight sets results, lucky loser Damir Dzumhur toppled veteran South African Kevin Anderson in a close one 7-6 7-6, while Yasutaka Uchiyama and Daniel Elahi Galan both won in two sets against Salvatore Caruso and Thiago Seyboth Wild respectively. Croatian Marin Cilic had a tougher assignment against Federico Coria getting up 6-3 2-6 6-4, while Miomir Kecmanovic also needed three sets to topple British qualifier Liam Broady.

MIAMI OPEN ROUND OF 128 RESULTS:

[Q] Bjorn Frantangelo (USA) defeated Fernando Verdasco (ESP) 6-4 6-4
Sebastian Korda (USA) defated Radu Albot (ROU) 6-3 6-0
[Q] Thanasi Kokkinakis (AUS) defeated [Q] Shintaro Mochizuki (JPN) 6-3 6-3
Denis Kudla (USA) defeated Jeremy Chardy (FRA) 3-6 6-3 6-4
Marin Cilic (CRO) defeated Federico Coria (ARG) 6-3 2-6 6-4
[LL] Damir Dzumhur (BIH) defeated [PR] Kevin Anderson (RSA) 7-6 7-5
Mikhail Kukushkin (KAZ) defeated [WC] Jack Draper (GBR) 7-5 0-0 RET
Jordan Thompson (AUS) defeated Federico Delbonis (ARG) 7-6 6-4
Miomir Kecmanovic (SRB) defeated [Q] Liam Broady (GBR) 7-5 6-7 6-1
Tennys Sandgren (USA) defeated Pedro Martinez (ESP) 6-4 2-0 RET
Ilya Ivashka (BLR) defeated Soonwoo Kwon (KOR) 7-6 6-7 7-6
Yasutaka Uchiyama (JPN) defeated Salvatore Caruso (ITA) 6-3 6-4
Daniel Elahi Galan (COL) defeated [Q] Thiago Seyboth Wild (BRA) 6-3 6-4
Lorenzo Musetti (ITA) defeated Michael Mmoh (USA) 6-4 6-4
Christopher O’Connell (AUS) vs. Joao Sousa (POR)
Aljaz Bedene (SLO) vs. [Q] Thomas Fabbiano (ITA)

Picture credit: ATP Tour

Australian Open Men’s Round of 32 wrap: The greatness of Dominic Thiem shines through in a classic

IN the most highly-anticipated match of day five, world number three Dominic Thiem came back from two sets-to-love down to defeat Australia’s own Nick Kyrgios 4-6 4-6 6-3 6-4 6-4 in a thriller on John Cain Arena.

The match was initially all about Kyrgios, as he came out of the blocks flying. He broke in the first game— the only break point opportunity for either man in the opening set— and won 83 per cent of his points on his first serve. The second set was similar, as Kyrgios was up and about while Thiem struggled to make an impact with his returns. Kyrgios got his break in the ninth game and served out the set to take a commanding lead. Thiem almost lost another break in the opening game of the third set, but he held on despite constant pressure from Kyrgios and the Australian crowd.

From there, the narrative shifted. It was no longer about Kyrgios and his tricks, it was about the greatness of Thiem. At one stage, Thiem won 22 consecutive points on serve and, to put it simply, never gave Kyrgios a chance. In the final three sets, the Austrian won a staggering 19 of 22 points on his second serve, not to mention over 80 per cent of points on his first serve. It was a clinic from the reigning US Open champion, as he reduced his unforced errors and started to show a much grander intensity.

To Kyrgios’ credit, he tried absolutely everything to turn the match back in his favour. Slower serves, underarm serves, drop shots, tweeners, arguing with the chair umpire, chatting with the crowd; it was a very entertaining Kyrgios showcase. Unfortunately for the Australian, he was up against a man that would never lay down.

The ability to persist in the longer rallies combined with his incredible serving made Thiem unstoppable. He capitalised on his first match point by hitting a signature backhand bullet down the line. After the match, Thiem reflected on his performance and the difficulty of playing Kyrgios in front of his home fans.

“There are easier things than playing Nick at his home tournament on his favourite court,” Thiem said. “He is a huge player when he is on fire like today. “When I was down two break points in the first game of the third set, I was considering the prospect of losing. “But I kept fighting and with the break in the third set, I thought there was a chance to turn it around. The longer the match went on, the more comfortable I felt.

“I stood further behind the baseline to return his serves in order to read his serve better and I got more looks to break him. “I always prefer playing in front of a crowd, even if they are for their local hero, but I accepted it. “Tonight was epic and it was a great match.”

This result will give Thiem plenty of confidence going into the second week, so do not be surprised if he works his way into a second consecutive Australian Open final. His biggest threat on that side of the draw is world number one Novak Djokovic, who survived a major scare against American 27th seed Taylor Fritz. The Serbian pulled out his 7-6 6-4 3-6 4-6 6-2 victory in just under three-and-a-half hours.

In other results, Felix Auger-Aliassime was too strong for Denis Shapovalov in the battle of Canadian youngsters, taking it out in straight sets 7-5 7-5 6-3. This was Auger-Aliassime’s first Grand Slam victory against Shapovalov. He will take on 27-year-old qualifier Aslan Karatsev in the fourth round, who produced the biggest upset of the day to defeat eighth seed Diego Schwartzman 6-3 6-3 6-3. Karatsev hit 50 winners in the clash compared to Schwartzman’s five, which was particularly impressive given that it was his first ever match against a player ranked inside the ATP Top 10.

Germany’s Alexander Zverev looked fantastic in his straight sets win over France’s Adrian Mannarino, Serbia’s Dusan Lajovic hit 48 winners in his victory against Spain’s Pedro Martinez and Canada’s Milos Raonic was too good for Hungary’s Marton Fucsovics.

In tomorrow’s matches, Australia’s final men’s championship hope Alex de Minaur will take on 16th seed Fabio Fognini in a fascinating matchup. Meanwhile, 20-time Grand Slam champion Rafael Nadal will aim to continue his outstanding start to the tournament against Great Britain’s Cameron Norrie.

ROUND OF 32 RESULTS:

[1] Novak Djokovic (SRB) defeated  [27] Taylor Fritz (USA) 7-6 6-4 3-6 4-6 6-2
[3] Dominic Thiem (AUT) defeated Nick Kyrgios (AUS) 4-6 4-6 6-3 6-4 6-4
[6] Alexander Zverev (GER) defeated [32] Adrian Mannarino (FRA) 6-3 6-3 6-1
[14] Milos Raonic (CAN) defeated Marton Fucsovics (HUN) 7-6 5-7 6-2 6-2
[18] Grigor Dimitrov (BUL) defeated [15] Pablo Carreno Busta (ESP) 6-0 1-0 (retired)
[20] Felix Auger-Aliassime (CAN) defeated [11] Denis Shapovalov (CAN) 7-5 7-5 6-3
[23] Dusan Lajovic (SRB) defeated Pedro Martinez (ESP) 6-7 7-5 6-1 6-4
[Q] Aslan Karatsev (RUS) defeated [8] Diego Schwartzman (ARG) 6-3 6-3 6-3

Picture credit: ATP Tour

Australian Open Men’s Round of 64 wrap: Kyrgios and Fritz come back from brink, as Fucsovics holds on in thrillers

THREE epic five-set matches were the talking point of the Round of 64 action at Melbourne Park yesterday, featuring two unseeded players toppling higher ranked opponents, and another winning against a compatriot, to book their place in the third round of the Grand Slam. Australian Nick Kyrgios and American Taylor Fritz both advanced through to the Round of 32, coming from two sets to one down in order to win, while Marton Fucsovics survived a mighty scare to hold on in a nail-biting tiebreak.

The longest match of the day went to Fritz and fellow American Reilly Opelka, with the match lasting a whopping four hours and seven minutes. Opelka won the first set 6-4, which followed three consecutive tiebreak sets – with Opelka being two sets to one up before Fritz levelled in the fourth – and Fritz eventually ran away with it in the fifth to post a 4-6 7-6 6-7 7-6 6-2 victory. Opelka served a casual 43 aces on his way to 91 winners, whilst his opponent had 18 and 54 respectively. However despite both serving seven double faults, Fritz only had an additional 26 unforced errors compared to the wild Opelka (79).

At night, Kyrgios also had to come from two sets to one down against the talented Ugo Humbert, posting a remarkable five-set win over the 29th seed. Kyrgios won 5-7 6-4 3-6 7-6 6-4 having been a break down late in the fourth set, but forced a tiebreaker which he won 7-2. Both big servers, Kyrgios marginally shaded Humbert with 30 aces to 27, as well as an 80 per cent first serve success rate, ahead of 78 per cent for his French opponent. Humbert was superb off the return, hitting 11 return winners to five (and seven more overall), as well as four less unforced errors. In the end it was Kyrgios’ ability to stand up when it counted for him to move through to the next round.

In a different style of match, Fucsovics had to hold on against a fierce and determined Stan Wawrinka in five sets, causing the upset of the day during the 7-5 6-1 4-6 2-6 7-6 victory. He won the first two sets and looked good, until the Swiss star clicked into gear, roaring back into the match. It was fitting that a massive 20-point tiebreaker would split the two, with Wawrinka two points away from victory at one stage, leading 8-4 in that super tiebreak. He won just one of the next eight points – though did have two match points against the Hungarian, before Fucsovics could finally collapse in jubilation. Fucsovics hit 34 winners to Wawrinka’s 49, but also had many less unforced errors (46-73) in the win.

The three five-set matches were complemented by a number of unseeded players pushing their seeded opponents in matches. Frances Tiafoe took a set off tournament favourite and world number one Novak Djokovic before going down 6-4 6-7 7-6 6-3, while Corentin Moutet, Jiri Vesely and Alexander Bublik did the same against Milos Raonic, Pablo Carreno Busta and Dusan Lajovic respectively. Unseeded Spaniard Pedro Martinez needed four sets to dispose of Finn Emil Ruusuvuori – who defeated Gael Monfils in the first round – coming back from a disappointing first set to win 1-6 6-3 6-2 7-6.

Most of the other seeded wins were one-sided as Dominic Thiem and Diego Schwartzman cruised through without too many headaches. Three Australians departed in straight sets at the hands of seeds, as Denis Shapovalov knocked off Bernard Tomic, Grigor Dimitrov took out Alex Bolt, and Felix Auger-Aliassime claimed a win over James Duckworth. In other matches, 32nd seed Adrian Mannarino continued his good form with a convincing 6-1 6-2 6-4 victory over Serbian Miomir Kecmanovic, whilst the most one-sided result of the entire day was Russian qualifier Aslan’s Karatsev‘s 93-minute rout of Belarusian Egor Gerasimov, dropping just one game on his way to a 6-0 6-1 6-0 win.

The Round of 32 matches that the day two results have set up include blockbusters such as third seed Thiem up against Kyrgios, Carreno Busta taking on Dimitrov and an all-Canadian battle between Shapovalov and Auger-Aliassime. Completing the Round of 64 matches today, Australians Thanasi Kokkinakis and Alex de Minaur are in action against fifth seed Stefanos Tsitsipas and Uruguayan Pablo Cuevas respectively, while rising stars Carlos Alcaraz and Mikael Ymer face off, and Casper Ruud takes on Tommy Paul.

ROUND OF 64 RESULTS:

[1] Novak Djokovic (SRB) defeated Frances Tiafoe (USA) 6-3 6-7 7-6 6-3
[3] Dominic Thiem (AUT) defeated Dominik Koepfer (GER) 6-4 6-0 6-2
[6] Alexander Zverev (GER) defeated [Q] Maxime Creesy (USA) 7-5 6-4 6-3
[8] Diego Schwartzman (ARG) defeated [LL] Alexandre Muller (FRA) 6-2 6-0 6-3
[11] Denis Shapovalov (CAN) defeated [Q] Bernard Tomic (AUS) 6-1 6-3 6-2
[14] Milos Raonic (CAN) defeated Corentin Moutet (FRA) 6-7 6-1 6-1 6-4
[15] Pablo Carreno Busta (ESP) defeated Jiri Vesely (CZE) 6-3 7-6 2-6 6-4
Marton Fucsovics (HUN) defeated [17] Stan Wawrinka (SUI) 7-5 6-1 4-6 2-6 7-6
[18] Grigor Dimitrov (BUL) defaeted [WC] Alex Bolt (AUS) 7-6 6-1 6-2
[20] Felix Auger-Aliassime (CAN) defeated James Duckworth (AUS) 6-4 6-1 6-2
[23] Dusan Lajovic (SRB) defeated Alexander Bublik (KAZ) 6-4 7-6 4-6 6-3
[27] Taylor Fritz (USA) defeated Reilly Opelka (USA) 4-6 7-6 6-7 7-6 6-2
Nick Kyrgios (AUS) defeated [29] Ugo Humbert (FRA) 5-7 6-4 3-6 7-6 6-4
[32] Adrian Mannarino (FRA) defeated Miomir Kecmanovic (SRB) 6-1 6-2 6-4
[Q] Aslan Karatsev (RUS) defeated Egor Gerasimov (BLR) 6-0 6-1 6-0
Pedro Martinez (ESP) defeated Emil Ruusuvuori (FIN) 1-6 6-3 6-2 7-6

Picture credit: Getty Images

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

AUSTRALIAN OPEN MEN’S ROUND OF 128 RESULTS:

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

Picture credit: Tennis World USA

ATP 250 wraps: Aussies succeed on home soil as Kyrgios returns

ANOTHER huge day was had at both the Great Ocean Road Open and Murray River Open, with the ATP 250 tournaments showcasing plenty of formidable names heading into the Australian Open next week.

It was a massive day at the Great Ocean Road Open, with a couple of intriguing results coming out of the Round of 64 draw. Three Australians made their mark on home soil with Jordan ThompsonMatthew Ebden and wildcard Dane Sweeny all coming away with victory, with the latter two completing wins in straight sets, while 11th seed Thompson was forced to three sets by Italian Gianluca Mager, and three other Australians failed to come away with the ‘W’. Only a small spat from ninth seed Tennys Sandgren soured the United States’ day, with 10th seed Sam Querrey joining him on the winners list, and while compatriot Maxime Cressy may not have gotten the chocolates this time, his excellent effort pushing Pierre-Hugue Herbert to the bitter end was commendable, taking the Frenchman to a 6-7 7-6 7-6 outcome in two hours and 39 minutes. It was the American’s error rate which was the catch, matching his 23 aces with the same number of double faults.

The only seed to fall was 14th seed and world number 59 Spaniard Pablo Andujar, who was swept aside by Pablo Cuevas 6-4 6-2, and is joined by compatriot Pedro Martinez on the sidelines after he was down by Mikael Torpegaard. Meanwhile, Spanish 17-year-old and excitement machine Carlos Alcaraz heads into the second round by default after his Hungarian opposition Attila Balasz retired, giving the youngster a chance to really prove himself on the ATP Tour after excelling on the ITF circuit. A second Spaniard joined the winners list, with 188th ranked Mario Vilella Martinez defeating German Jannick Hanfmann, who sits just outside the top 100 at 101 on the world rankings.

In other games, a duo of Dutch winners in Robin Haase and Botic Van De Zandschulp got the job done, while Thiago Monteiro, Sergiy Stakhovsky and Cedrik-Marcel Stebe also put first round wins on the board.

GREAT OCEAN ROAD OPEN ROUND OF 64 RESULTS:

[9] Tennys Sandgren (USA) defeated [WC] John-Patrick Smith (AUS) 6-3 5-7 6-4
[10] Sam Querrey (USA) defeated Henri Laaksonen (SUI) 4-6 7-6 6-0
[11] Jordan Thompson (AUS) defeated Gianluca Mager (ITA) 4-6 6-4 6-3
Pablo Cuevas (URU) defeated [14] Pablo Andujar (ESP) 6-4 6-2
Carlos Alcaraz (ESP) defeated Attila Balazs (HUN) 2-2 RET
Matthew Ebden (AUS) defeated Federico Delbonis (ARG) 6-3 7-6
Robin Haase (NED) defeated Kimmer Coppejans (BEL) 6-4 6-3
Pierre-Hugues Herbert (FRA) defeated Maxime Cressy (USA) 6-7 7-6 7-5
Thiago Monteiro (BRA) defeated Thomas Fancutt (AUS) 6-4 6-4
Sergiy Stakhovsky (UKR) defeated Roman Safiullin (RUS) 6-7 6-4 6-3
Cedrik-Marcel Stebe (GER) defeated Hugo Dellien (BOL) 6-4 6-4
[WC] Dane Sweeny (AUS) defeated Ji Sung Nam (KOR) 7-6 7-5
Mikael Torpegaard (DEN) defeated Pedro Martinez (ESP) 6-4 7-5
Mario Vilella Martinez (ESP) defeated Jannick Hanfmann (GER) 7-6 6-4
Botic Van De Zandschulp (NED) defeated Tristan Schoolkate (AUS) 6-4 7-5

Just the one seed participated on day two at the Murray River Open, with Australian Nick Kyrgios the lone competitor and coming out with a solid win after overcoming a slow start against Frenchman Alexandre Muller, 3-6 6-4 7-6. The Australian took the court for the first time since last Australian summer, having sat out of thee remainder of 2020 due to COVID-19, and while it took the talent some time to get into the swing of things, his 22 aces more than proved he is ready for the challenge and return to the court. Kyrgios was not the only Australia who was successful on home soil though, joined by all three other Australians in this half of the draw as James DuckworthAlexei Popyrin and wildcard Andrew Harris all collected wins. Popyrin’s outing against Croatian Borna Gojo was perhaps one of the matches of the day, with all three sets taken to a tiebreaker in the 6-7 7-6 7-6 encounter, coming down to a battle of the service game as the two combined for 10 double faults and 36 aces in a two and a half hour battle.

Other tough battles came between the likes of Mikhail Kukushkin and Juan Ignacio Londero, with a 4-6 7-5 6-2 result the way of the former, while Japan’s Yuichi Sugita fought past a tight opening set against pressurised Frenchman Quentin Halys to come away with a 3-6 7-6 7-5 victory in two hours and 13 minutes. In other matches, American Marcos Giron downed compatriot Michael Mmoh in straight sets, as did Finnish competitor Emil Ruusuvuori against Serbian Viktor Troicki, while Gilles Simon and Jiri Vesely also got first round wins on the board.

MURRAY RIVER OPEN ROUND OF 64 RESULTS:

[13] Nick Kyrgios (AUS) defeated Alexandre Muller (FRA) 3-6 6-4 7-6
James Duckworth (AUS) defeated Tomas Machac (CZE) 6-3 6-4
Marcos Giron (USA) defeated Michael Mmoh (USA) 6-1 7-5
[WC] Andrew Harris (AUS) defeated Taro Daniel (JPN) 5-7 6-4 7-5
Mikahul Kukushkin (KAZ) defeated Juan Ignacio Londero (ARG) 4-6 7-5 6-2
Alexei Popyrin (AUS) defeated Borna Gojo (CRO) 6-7 7-6 7-6
Emil Ruusuvuori (FIN) defeated Viktor Troicki (SRB) 6-3 6-4
Gilles Simon (FRA) defeated Elias Ymer (SWE) 6-4 6-4
Yuichi Sugita (JPN) defeated Quentin Halys (FRA) 3-6 7-6 7-5
Jiri Vesely (CZE) defeated Frederico Ferreira Silva (POR) 6-4 6-4

Picture credit: AFP

Davis Cup future side: Spain

IT has seemed a world away since Spain lifted the 2019 Davis Cup. While the 2020 edition was ultimately cancelled and had to be postponed until 2021, it gives tennis fans extra time to work out what teams might look like when it recommences.

Draft Central will take a look at various nations over the break and see what the team might look like. Today’s team is Spain, one of the super powers of the ATP Tour, and ranked third overall in the Davis Cup Rankings, having won the title in 2019.

TEAM:

#2 Rafael Nadal
#13 Roberto Bautista Agut
#16 Pablo Carreno Busta
#9D Marcel Granollers

One of the teams to beat in the Davis Cup, it is very easy for Spain to put together a title-winning side, led by world number two, Rafael Nadal. The Spanish not only have great singles players, but the majority of them can back up playing doubles, with even Nadal capable of stepping up on the doubles court.

Looking at the singles spots which is a hotly contested race, Nadal is the clear number one singles player, with Roberto Bautista Agut earning the second spot. They both are getting towards the twilights of their careers, aged 34 and 32 respectively, and even Pablo Carreno Busta who is the baby of the team, is 29. The other Top 50 player is Albert Ramos-Vinolas who comes in at 46th in the world, but he too is the wrong side of 30 (32).

Spain need to start thinking about a transition phase into their next group of young stars, with perhaps playing Nadal in one singles against minnows and throwing 21-year-old Alejandro Davidovich Fokina into the team, who is ranked 52nd in the world. Below him, Pedro Martinez (23-years-old) is ranked 85th, whilst fellow 23-year-olds, Jaume Munar and Carlos Taberner are in the Top 150 either side of teenage clay court sensation, Carlos Alcaraz.

They are the future of the Spanish Davis Cup team, but the nation can challenge for back-to-back titles, and Marcel Granollers will be the experience in the doubles. He could play with Carreno Busta in the doubles, and Nadal and Bautista Agut take the singles, while the next stars could have a match here or there in the extended squads. Overall, Spain is always a threat for a title.

Picture: Getty Images