Tag: soonwoo kwon

ATP Tour wrap: Seeds remain untouchable as Italian trio prevails

AN enticing Round of 16 is set at the 2021 Roland Garros tournament, with the men’s draw completing its Round of 32 yesterday boasting six seeded wins and little doubt in the top players’ ability to continue their runs. Meanwhile, two Italian teens joined a seeded compatriot in the fourth round.

It was a predictable day for world number one Novak Djokovic and dominant clay champion Rafael Nadal, with the duo both claiming straight set victories to head into the Round of 16. Djokovic required over an hour and a half to dispose of Lithuanian Ricardas Berankis 6-1 6-4 6-1, as Nadal took slightly more time, just over two hours, to defeat Brit Cameron Norrie. In doing so, he advances to the fourth round at a grand slam for the 50th time.

“Today I had in front [of me] a player [who is] having a great season,” Nadal said. “I went on court knowing that could be a tough match, and for moments [it was] like this. I’m happy to win in straight sets. I think I did what I had to do. For moments, I played well. I think [I played] a good first set. Then for moments I need to do things better, but I am confident that I can do it.”

“I don’t think I [was] returning unbelievable today,” Nadal said. “I just returned okay. But then I was solid from the baseline to put one more ball in and to make him play.”

Nadal will take on one of two up-and-coming teenaged Italians that have made it to the Round of 16, following 18th seed Jannik Sinner‘s defeat of Swede Mikael Ymer 6-1 7-5 6-3 to have a chance at opposing the Spaniard once more. The two met during the quarter finals here last year, with the clay champion reigning supreme on his way to the 2020 title. The second in Lorenzo Musetti claimed his maiden five set 3-6 6-4 6-3 3-6 6-3 victory over compatriot Marco Cecchinato to head into the fourth round, but has a just as daunting task set as he looks toward a clash with world number one, Djokovic.

“We know each other a little bit. [We] never played [a match] and it’s going to be the first time, [which is big], especially in a Grand Slam,” Musetti said about taking on Djokovic. “So for sure there is going to be a little bit of tension, but I think that is what I’ve been working for since my childhood. All the sacrifice and hard work I did in my childhood became reality now. So I’m just enjoying the moment and I will try to do my best.”

Meanwhile, Roger Federer overcame a hungry Dominik Koepfer to head into the fourth round, denying the German left-hander a chance at a second week berth. In different conditions – his maiden Roland Garros night session, and with no spectators due to a COVID-19 warranted curfew – Federer had the class to outdo Koepfer and claim the 7-6 6-7 7-6 7-5 win in three hours and 35 minutes.

“My fighting spirit got me over the line,” Federer said. “You’ve got to love what you do, and I do.”

“I probably would have struggled a great deal (without spectators) when I was a teenager or a young player, because for me, practice was not really what I loved doing at all. I actually really disliked it, and for me it was all about the matches and atmosphere and playing for something.”

Intriguingly, Federer struck more unforced errors (63-40) and less winners (51-55) throughout the contest, however claimed a whopping 72 per cent of net points and was marginally better on the return.

“I wasn’t sure after the second set how much was left in the tank, so it was a good battle until then,” Federer said. “I feel like I needed to maybe pace myself ever so slightly at that moment, especially emotionally, of not pressing too hard and wanting it too badly.”

“I clearly hadn’t practiced three hours 35, because that’s obviously always pushing it. I pushed as much as I could, as we thought reasonable. But this today was a huge step forward for the team, and for all of us. I didn’t expect to be able to win three matches here,” he added.

“Roger is Roger,” Koepfer told German press after the match. “Unbelievable what he does at the age of 39. He plays very good tennis and is incredibly fit. He played better in the deciding moments.”

Ninth seed Italian Matteo Berrettini was also victorious, rounding out the Italian winners to three following his sweep of Korean Soonwoo Kwon, as 10th seed Diego Schwartzman downed another German in Philipp Kohlschreiber, while Jan-Lennard Struff turned the German tides with his 6-4 7-6 6-2 sweep of Spanish qualifier Carlos Alcaraz, putting an end to the teenager’s sensational run.

ROLAND GARROS ROUND OF 32 RESULTS: 

[1] Novak Djokovic (SRB) defeated Ricardas Berankis (LTU) 6-1 6-4 6-1
[3] Rafael Nadal (ESP) defeated Cameron Norrie (GBR) 6-3 6-3 6-3
[8] Roger Federer (SUI) defeated Dominik Koepfer (GER) 7-6 6-7 7-6 7-5
[9] Matteo Berrettini (ITA) defeated Soonwoo Kwon (KOR) 7-6 6-3 6-4
[10] Diego Schwartzman (ARG) defeated Philipp Kohlschreiber (GER) 6-4 6-3 6-1
[18] Jannik Sinner (ITA) defeated Mikael Ymer (SWE) 6-1 7-5 6-3
Lorenzo Musetti (ITA) defeated Marco Cecchinato (ITA) 3-6 6-4 6-3 3-6 6-3
Jan-Lennard Struff (GER) defeated [Q] Carlos Alcaraz 6-4 7-6 6-2

Picture credit: Philippe Montigny/FFT

ATP Tour wrap: Rafa downs Gasquet for 17th time as Alcaraz impresses

IT was a fairly convincing day of action on Day 5 of the Roland Garros, with all men’s matches completed by the end of the fourth set although a smattering of lower seeds succumbed to hungry opponents in the Round of 64. Meanwhile, a teen talent made it through the second round with hopes to continue his great form on clay.

It was no worries for the three top 10 seeds of the day, with Novak DjokovicRafael Nadal and Roger Federer all making it through to the second round relatively unscathed, with only Federer dropping a set on his way to the Round of 32. Djokovic hit 31 winners against Uruguayan Pablo Cuevas in their first encounter to reign supreme, while Nadal claimed a 35th birthday win in his 6-0 7-5 6-2 disposal of Richard Gasquet – a whopping 17th time beating the Frenchman.

“Of course it’s better to win 16 in a row than lose 16 in a row,” Nadal said. “When you go to the match and you have been winning all the last 16 times, of course the confidence is a little bit higher than when you have a tougher head-to-head.

“Being honest, I respect (and) I know how good is Richard. “I know he’s coming back after a tough period of time. “I think he played smart, playing aggressive. “I don’t know. “I just went on court with highest respect, with the highest focus possible, and that’s what I try to do every day against everyone.”

“I’m playing well, feeling great. I’m ready to go deep in this tournament,” Djokovic said. “Hopefully that’s going to be the case. “But I’ll take it match by match, and so far the two matches that I have played have been played in a high quality.

“I’m pleased with the performance today, particularly against a very good player, a specialist on clay, someone I have never faced before. [He] has got a lot of spin,” Djokovic said. “[He hits] just a very difficult ball to handle in these kind of conditions when it’s a bit warmer… These balls during the day are bouncing really high.”

“I still do believe there’s no way I’m going to go really, really super deep here or go past the Novak section,” Federer said.

“The first round I didn’t surprise myself per se, but now in the second round, I did,” Federer said. “Now can I keep it up and how will the body react? We’ll see. The mind is getting stronger, I can feel it. I have more clarity, I have more confidence growing in me.”

“I feel like I surprised myself a little bit,” Federer told Tennis Channel. “I didn’t expect myself to play that well or to have the energy left at the end like this and being able to keep on serving so consistently at the end was great.”

Meanwhile, ninth, 10th and 18th seeds Matteo BerrettiniDiego Schwartzman and teen Jannik Sinner all proceeded, while the likes of Gael Monfils (14th seed), Alex de Minaur (21st), Aslan Karatsev (24th) and Taylor Fritz (30th) all failed to proceed with all four only able to steal one set in their respective losses.

One of the biggest wins of the day, however, went to teenager Carlos Alcaraz, who downed the day’s remaining seed in Nikoloz Basilashvili in three sets, 6-4 6-2 6-4, in just under two hours.

“Obviously it’s good, the numbers, but I still focus on me,” Alcaraz said. “That means that I’m going the right way. I am doing the right things, and I keep [doing] this. I’m still growing up as a player and as a person, and that’s the important thing.”

“Today the positive emotions were really, really important because Nikoloz is a really, really good tennis player,” Alcaraz said. “He has a lot of great skills. He hits the ball really, really hard, and if you don’t focus, if you are not focused, it’s hard to play against him. You have to be focused all the time.”

The 18-year-old is the youngest male competitor to advance to the third round at the Roland Garros since Nadal in 2004, aged only 17. He finished off the encounter with 27 winners to Basilashvili’s 16, including 10 aces, also hitting less unforced errors (26-33).

“If I went down in that game, it was [going to be] really, really hard,” Alcaraz said. “I was focused, and that’s a good skill for me.”

Five more competitors joined the winners list on Day 5, with Ricardis Berankis and Cameron Norrie taken to four, while Soonwoo KwonLorenzo Musetti and Jan-Lennard Struff all heading into the third round with straight sets wins in the books.

ROLAND GARROS ROUND OF 64 RESULTS:

[1] Novak Djokovic (SRB) defeated Pablo Cuevas (URU) 6-3 6-2 6-4
[3] Rafael Nadal (ESP) defeated Richard Gasquet (FRA) 6-0 7-5 6-2
[8] Roger Federer (SUI) defeated Marin Cilic (CRO) 6-2 2-6 7-6 6-2
[9] Matteo Berrettini (ITA) defeated Federico Coria (ARG) 6-3 6-3 6-2
[10] Diego Schwartzman (ARG) defeated Ajlaz Bedene (SLO) 6-4 6-2 6-4
Mikael Ymer (SWE) defeated [14] Gael Monfils (FRA) 6-0 2-6 6-4 6-3
[18] Jannik Sinner (ITA) defeated Gianluca Mager (ITA) 6-1 7-5 3-6 6-3
Marco Cecchinato (ITA) defeated [21] Alex de Minaur (AUS) 6-4 6-1 3-6 6-1
Philipp Kohlschreiber (GER) defeated [24] Aslan Karatsev (RUS) 6-3 7-6 4-6 6-1
[Q] Carlos Alcaraz (ESP) defeated [28] Nikoloz Basilashvili (GEO) 6-4 6-2 6-4
Dominik Koepfer (GER) defeated [30] Taylor Fritz (USA) 6-3 6-2 3-6 6-4
Ricardis Berankis (POR) defeated James Duckworth (AUS) 7-5 2-6 7-6 6-0
Sonwoo Kwon (KOR) defeated Andreas Seppi (ITA) 6-4 7-5 7-5
Lorenzo Musetti (ITA) defeated Yoshihito Nishioka (JPN) 7-5 6-3 6-2
Cameron Norrie (GBR) defeated Lloyd Harris (RSA) 4-6 6-3 6-3 6-2
Jan-Lennard Struff (GER) defeated Facundo Bagnis (ARG) 7-5 7-6 6-4

Picture credit: Corinne Dubreuil/FFT

ATP Tour wrap: Frenchmen falter as Djokovic and Nadal claim quick wins

DAY 3 at the 2021 Roland Garros produced some intriguing results, with two of the top seeds in Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal retaining their winning form with respective straight set wins, while Andrey Rublev‘s Roland Garros run was cut dastardly short.

The world number seven struggled to keep up with German Jan-Lennard Struff early in the three hour and 46 minute first round clash before stealing momentum throughout the third and fourth sets to send the match to a decider. But despite a late challenge, Rublev was too late as Struff heads through to the Round of 64 with the 6-3 7-6 4-6 3-6 6-4 victory in the books.

“I played Andrey twice this year, lost twice in three sets, played twice a very good first set but couldn’t get the job done,” Struff said. “Definitely it’s a huge win for me in a Grand Slam against a top-10 player. Yeah, very, very important.”

The hard-hitting German piled on 25 aces throughout the contest, and despite hitting more unforced errors (55-47) and less winners (63-65) and winning the same amount of overall points (170), Struff was more consistent than Rublev, who was inefficient on serve in comparison.

“I mean, of course I was thinking that I would like to come back from 2-0, but I don’t know, the fifth set I was a bit unlucky,” Rublev said.

“I was feeling fine, I was practising well, I don’t know,” Rublev said. “I think we played a good level today. It’s not easy. He’s a really tough opponent for the first round, really tough, plus he’s playing better and better. He’s improving and he’s winning really great matches.”

For Djokovic and Nadal, their opening rounds were made much easier with the world number one and three claiming wins in straight sets. Djokovic appeared refreshed on court against American Tennys Sandgren, coming straight in off the back of a title in Belgrade over the weekend and not skipping a beat.

“They (Serbian fans) gave me a lot of energy and encouragement,” Djokovic said. “I felt great. I don’t think that I lost a lot of energy there, on the contrary I gained a lot, so hopefully I’ll be able to carry that into this tournament.

“He was close to breaking my serve. I somehow found really a lot of serves when I needed them and that got me out of trouble,” he continued. “Overall I am very pleased with the way I felt on the court tonight.”

Despite a late charge from Australian Alexei Popyrin, Nadal was rarely challenged in his first round matchup, coming from two match points down to dominate in the tiebreaker and claim the 6-3 6-2 7-6 victory in just under two and a half hours. While Popyrin hit six more winners (34-28), he struggled with unforced errors (43-23) with late errors in the third set hurting his chances of stealing a set from the clay court master.

“It’s his court,” said Popyrin, about playing Nadal on the main court Philippe Chatrier. “It will always be his court. I think it’s his favourite court to play on. And to nearly get a set out of him playing my first time on that court is a good achievement for me, but I’m still disappointed with it.”

“Here, especially on clay, the matches are best-of-five, the matches are long and it’s difficult to hold that kind of level for such a long time, playing with this kind of risk,” Nadal said. “Of course I don’t want to lose the set at all, but that’s part of the game.”

“You face a player that he’s decided to go for every shot, so you are in trouble. If he’s having success like he did with his serve, then it’s difficult to have breaks, and then you are in a tricky position.”

“With this serve, with this kind of shots from the baseline, you have everything to become a top player,” said Nadal. “If he wants to do it, of course he is going to have his chances, because he has a lot of very difficult things in his game… He has everything to become a fantastic player.”

Where Popyrin was unsuccessful, his 21st seed compatriot and top ranked Australian Alex de Minaur dominated his own contest with Italian Stefano Travaglia, staving off a third set comeback in much the same way as Nadal to claim a 6-2 6-4 7-6 victory. Travaglia had a number of compatriots playing on Day 3, joined on the sideline by Salvatore Caruso – who fell to another Australian James Duckworth in five –  while the second round entrants were headlined by top-ranked Italian Matteo Berrettini, Andreas Seppi and Marco Cecchinato.

Joining Rublev on the sidelines is 20th seed Felix Auger-Aliassime and 29th seed Frenchman Ugo Humbert, who was one of five hometown hopefuls to go down. Canadian Auger-Aliassime fell to veteran Seppi, who won his first match at the Roland Garros in four years and first tour-level match for 2021 in the process. Humbert was joined on the sidelines by wildcards Hugo Gaston and Benjamin Bonzi, as well as Adrian Mannarino and Lucas Pouille who both failed to pull off wins. Comparatively, 14th seed Gael Monfils and unseeded Richard Gasquet head through to the second round, with the former coming from a first set deficit to win in four over Spaniard Albert Ramos-Vinolas, as the latter disposed of compatriot Gaston.

Tenth and 24th seeds Diego Schwartzman and Aslan Karatsev both joined the winners list, as Schwartzman’s Argentinian compatriot Federico Coria also found success in the first round, and was one of four players to dispose of a Spaniard. Just Nadal made it through to represent the nation in the second round, as Coria disposed of Feliciano Lopez, while Philipp Kohlschreiber and Mikael Ymer claimed victories over Fernando Verdasco and Roberto Carballes Baena, respectively. The final winner for the day was Korean Soonwoo Kwon, who escaped with a three hour and nine minute victory over hard-hitter Kevin Anderson, who piled on a whopping 30 aces throughout the 7-5 6-4 2-6 7-6 contest.

ROLAND GARROS ROUND OF 128 RESULTS:

[1] Novak Djokovic (SRB) defeated Tennys Sandgren (USA) 6-2 6-4 6-2
[3] Rafael Nadal (ESP) defeated Alexei Popyrin (AUS) 6-3 6-2 7-6
Jan-Lennard Struff (GER) defeated [7] Andrey Rublev (RUS) 6-3 7-6 4-6 3-6 6-4
[9] Matteo Berrettini (ITA) defeated [Q] Taro Daniel (JPN) 6-0 6-4 4-6 6-4
[10] Diego Schwartzman (ARG) defeated [PR] Yen-Hsun Lu (TPE) 6-2 6-2 6-3
[14] Gael Monfils (FRA) defeated Albert Ramos-Vinolas (ESP) 1-6 7-6 6-4 6-4
Andreas Seppi (ITA) defeated [20] Felix Auger-Aliassime (CAN) 6-3 7-6 4-6 6-4
[21] Alex de Minaur (AUS) defeated Stefano Travaglia (ITA) 6-2 6-4 7-6
[24] Aslan Karatsev (RUS) defeated [Q] Jenson Brooksby (USA) 6-3 6-4 6-4
Ricardas Berankis (LTU) defeated [29] Ugo Humbert (FRA) 6-4 6-4 2-6 6-4
Facundo Bagnis (ARG) defeated [WC] Benjamin Bonzi (FRA) 7-5 6-3 6-4
Aljaz Bedene (SLO) defeated Adrian Mannarino (FRA) 7-5 3-6 7-5 6-2
Marco Cecchinato (ITA) defeated Yasutaka Uchiyama (JPN) 3-6 6-1 6-2 6-4
Federico Coria (ARG) defeated Feliciano Lopez (ESP) 6-3 7-6 6-2
Pablo Cuevas (URU) defeated Lucas Pouille (FRA) 6-3 6-1 6-3
James Duckworth (AUS) defeated Salvatore Caruso (ITA) 6-4 3-6 7-6 6-2
Richard Gasquet (FRA) defeated [WC] Hugo Gaston (FRA) 6-1 6-4 6-2
[PR] Philipp Kohlschreiber (GER) defeated Fernando Verdasco (ESP) 7-6 6-2 2-6 7-6
Soonwoo Kwon (KOR) defeated Kevin Anderson (RSA) 7-5 6-4 2-6 7-6
Mikael Ymer (SWE) defeated Roberto Carballes Baena (ESP) 6-4 0-6 4-6 6-2 6-2

Picture credit: Nicolas Gouhier/FFT

ATP Tour wrap: Belgrade and Parma get underway

WITH both the Geneva and Lyon Open done and dusted, we turn our eyes to the Belgrade and Parma ATP 250 events this week with the first day of Round of 32 action beginning overnight.

Belgrade saw three matches play out, with a couple of Serbian wildcards taking the court though only one heads into the second round. Marko Topo was ousted by the more experienced Federico Coria who started slow but eventually blew the Serbian out of the park with a 4-6 6-2 6-0 result in just over two hours, making use of the 17-year-old’s errors. Compatriot Pedja Krstin had much better luck in his own encounter though, defeating Korean Soonwoo Kwon 6-2 3-6 6-1 to mark his first tour level victory. Jeremy Chardy collected the remaining victory of the day, downing American Tennys Sandgren in just 69 minutes, winning 81 per cent of points off his first serve on his way to the 6-4 6-2 victory.

Parma saw two Italian-American clashes to open the Round of 32 proceedings, with the results going one of each way as American sixth seed Tommy Paul defeated Italian Stefano Travaglia 7-5 6-4, before Italian wildcard Flavio Cobolli flipped the script in the second match, defeating American Marcos Giron. Cobolli completed his come-from-behind victory in two hours and 34 minutes, outlasting Giron 3-6 7-6(6) 7-6(4) the American in an impressive effort for the 19-year-old Italian on his tour-level debut. Paul’s victory was much more straightforward, as the American claimed victory in less than 90 minutes with an impressive service game at his disposal.

BELGRADE OPEN ROUND OF 32 RESULTS:

Jeremy Chardy (FRA) defeated Tennys Sandgren (USA) 6-4 6-2
Federico Coria (ARG) defeated [WC] Marko Topo (SRB) 4-6 6-2 6-0
[WC] Pedja Krstin (SRB) defeated Soonwoo Kwon (KOR) 6-2 3-6 6-1

EMILIA-ROMAGNA OPEN ROUND OF 32 RESULTS:

[6] Tommy Paul (USA) defeated Stefano Travaglia (ITA) 7-5 6-4
[WC] Flavio Cobolli (ITA) defeated Marcos Giron (USA) 3-6 7-6 7-6

Picture credit: Eric Alonso/Getty Images

ATP Tour wrap: Nadal stirred but not shaken by Ivashka in Barcelona

ELEVEN-time Barcelona champion Rafael Nadal had to overcome a bump in the road in the beginning of his quest to a dozen titles at the event, needing three sets to overcome Belarusian qualifier Ilya Ivashka. Nadal dropped the first set 6-3, but soon found his groove to take out the match in two hours and 20 minutes. 3-6 6-2 6-4.

Playing on the Centre Court funnily enough named after himself in Pista Rafa Nadal, the world number three praised the underdog’s efforts early to match it with him and he had to lift his game accordingly to overcome the 111th ranked Belarusian.

“He played well. He played at a very high level, and I didn’t, especially at the beginning,” Nadal said post-match. “And then I think I changed a little bit the way I played. I was more aggressive later, and the match changed a lot. I’m happy I [fought] hard today to be in the third round. That’s what I needed after the loss at Monte-Carlo.”

Yet to lose a match on clay against a qualifier from 38 attempts, Nadal found a way to win, breaking three times to two – both of the latter came in the first set – whilst winning 80 per cent of his first serve points. Ivashka did well to take his chances, but in the end the Nadal consistency was too much, as the Spaniard won 39 per cent of his return points to Ivashka’s 31 per cent.

“I’m sure that I’m going to have the chance to play better, and I’m going to fight for it,” Nadal said. “I have the confidence that I’m not very far [from playing well], even if the last two matches [here and in Monte-Carlo] haven’t been perfect. But here I am, and I am with the right energy to try hard. It’s a process… I’m confident that by working every day I’m going to find [right] the solutions.”

Nadal will now face former Top 5 player Kei Nishikori, who fought through his second straight three-set match to overcome 13th seed and clay court specialist Christian Garin 7-6 4-6 6-1, reversing the pair’s head-to-head from last year at Hamburg where the Chilean won easily. In other results, top seeds Stefanos Tsitsipas, Andrey Rublev and Diego Schwartzman all advanced, though the latter was given a scare by American Frances Tiafoe, needing three sets to win, 3-6 7-5 6-1.

It was good news for the Spanish contingent, with sixth seed Pablo Carreno Busta, qualifier Bernabe Zapata Miralles and unseeded Albert Ramos-Vinolas all booking their spots through to the next round. Australian 14th seed Alex de Minaur broke his poor form on clay with a straight sets win over Alexander Bublik, while Corentin Moutet and Felix Auger-Aliassime both won through to the Round of 16.

It was a good day for Serbian fans at the Serbian Open, as three of the four winners hailed from the nation. Top seed Novak Djokovic breezed through past Soonwoo Kwon 6-1 6-3, with fifth seed Filip Krajinovic also smacking his opponent, compatriot and wildcard Nikola Milojevic, 6-1 6-1. Eighth seed Miomir Kecmanovic had a tougher time against French qualifier Arthur Rinderknecht before making his way into the quarter finals, while Italian second seed Matteo Berrettini won 6-4 6-3 over compatriot Marco Cecchinato.

BARCELONA OPEN ROUND OF 32 RESULTS:

[1] Rafael Nadal (ESP) defeated [Q] Ilya Ivashka (BLR) 3-6 6-2 6-4
[2] Stefanos Tsitsipas (GRE) defeated [WC] Jaume Munar (ESP) 6-0 6-2
[3] Andrey Rublev (RUS) defeated [LL] Federico Gaio (ITA) 6-4 6-3
[4] Diego Schwartzman (ARG) defeated Frances Tiafoe (USA) 3-6 7-5 6-1
[6] Pablo Carreno Busta (ESP) defeated Jordan Thompson (AUS) 6-4 6-0
[Q] Bernabe Zapata Miralles (ESP) defeated [9] Fabio Fognini (ITA) 6-0 4-4 RET
[10] Felix Auger-Aliassime (CAN) defeated [WC] Lorenzo Musetti (ITA)
Kei Nishikori (JPN) defeated [13] Cristian Garin (CHI) 7-6 4-6 6-1
[14] Alex de Minaur (AUS) defeated Alexander Bublik (KAZ) 7-6 6-2
Corentin Moutet (FRA) defeated [16] Daniel Evans (GBR) 6-4 5-7 6-3
Albert Ramos-Vinolas (ESP) defeated [17] Adrian Mannarino (FRA) 6-4 6-4

SERBIA OPEN ROUND OF 16 RESULTS:

[1] Novak Djokovic (SRB) defeated Soonwoo Kwon (KOR) 6-1 6-3
[2] Matteo Berrettini (ITA) defeated Marco Cecchinato (ITA) 6-4 6-3
[5] Filip Krajinovic (SRB) defeated [WC] Nikola Milojevic (SRB) 6-1 6-1
[8] Miomir Kemanovic (SRB) defeated [Q] Arthur Rinderknech (FRA) 6-3 3-6 6-3

Picture credit: Josep Lago/AFP via Getty Images

ATP Tour wrap: Spanish conquer opponents in Marbella

IN a throw back to their WTA Russian counterparts last month, Spain has completely dominated the quarter finals at the Andalucia Open to ensure a homegrown winner in Marbella. All four Spaniards in action won through to the semi-finals at the ATP 250 event, meaning there will be two all-Spanish finals to determine who makes it through to the last match of the tournament. While it was not quite as impressive as the all-eight quarter finalists at St. Petersburg, the home fans will certainly be happy over the coming days.

The top two ranked players remaining in Pablo Carreno Busta and Albert Ramos-Vinolas make it through, the former with the easiest win of the day, booking a 6-4 6-0 victory over seventh seed Soonwoo Kwon. Ramos-Vinolas had a tougher day with a three-set win over Slovenian Norbert Gombos, 6-7 7-5 6-4. Both players will now horns in the semi-finals, where the 29-year-old Carreno Busta has a 2-1 head-to-head record over the 33-year-old Ramos-Vinolas. All those three matches came in 2016-17, with Carreno Busta winning their first two encounters in three sets on clay, before Ramos-Vinolas won the most recent clay on hard court.

The other two semi-finalists are Jaume Munar and Carlos Alcaraz who continued their form after impressive Round of 16 wins over higher ranked opponents, with another couple of upsets. Munar needed three sets to come from behind against Belarusian Ilya Ivashka 6-4 6-4 6-4, while Alcaraz stunned clay court specialist and third seed Casper Ruud, 6-2 6-4. They will now go head-to-head for the first time to guarantee the final will be a young up-and-coming Spaniard taking on a veteran Spaniard.

Over in Sardegna, Lorenzo Sonego will fly the Italian flag after a come-from-behind victory over German Yannick Hanfmann. The third seed won 3-6 7-6 6-3 in a thrilling contest to book his spot in the semi-finals, and will now take on second seed American Taylor Fritz. The top ranked played remaining and tournament favourite, Fritz took care of Slovenian Aljaz Bedene in the only straight sets win of the day, 6-3 6-4.

In the other quarter finals, the other Italian in teenager Lorenzo Musetti was knocked out, suffering defeat at the hands of Serbian Laslo Djere. The 6-4 4-6 6-2 victory was a hard-fought one against a rising talent, with Djere now set to face fourth seed Nikoloz Basilashvili in the semi-finals. The Georgian knocked out fifth seed Jan-Lennard Struff in a bad day for the Germans, getting up 7-5 4-6 6-3 in another tight contest in Cagliari.

For many of the players there will be a quick turnaround with the ATP Masters Monte Carlo 1000 taking place tomorrow for qualifiying, as the likes of Ramos-Vinolas, Fritz, Carreno Busta, Sonego, Basilashvili and Djere are all in the 64-player main draw.

ANDALUCIA OPEN QUARTER FINALS RESULTS:

[1] Pablo Carreno Busta (ESP) defeafed [7] Soonwoo Kwon (KOR) 6-4 6-0
[4] Albert Ramos Vinolas (ESP) defeated Norbert Gombos (SLO) 6-7 7-5 6-4
Jaume Munar (ESP) defeated Ilya Ivashka (BLR) 6-7 6-4 6-4
[WC] Carlos Alcaraz (ESP) defeated [3] Casper Ruud (NOR) 6-2 6-4

SARDEGNA OPEN QUARTER FINALS RESULTS:

[2] Taylor Fritz (USA) defeated Aljaz Bedene (SLO) 6-3 6-4
[3] Lorenzo Sonego (ITA) defeated Yannick Hanfmann (GER) 3-6 7-6 6-3
[4] Nikoloz Basilashvili (GEO) defeated [5] Jan-Lennard Struff (GER) 7-5 4-6 6-3
Laslo Djere (SRB) defeated Lorenzo Musetti (ITA) 6-4 4-6 6-2

Picture credit: ATP Tour

ATP Tour wrap: Future of Spanish tennis on display in Marbella

THERE was a changing of the guard in Marbella for the Andalucia Open, with two of the brightest young Spaniards toppling experienced opponents in terrific wins to book their spots in the quarter finals of the ATP 250 event. While 23-year-old Jaume Munar has been threatening to make his move up the ATP Rankings for some time, it is 17-year-old Carlos Alcaraz who is starting to find his groove on the senior Tour after a dominant Challenger ITF circuit last year.

Touted as one of the next big things in Spanish tennis, Alcaraz only has the nine main draw ATP Tour matches to-date, with a 4-5 record and a career-high 127th in the world. He will surpass that effort by the end of the tournament, and will eye off a spot in the Top 100 in the coming weeks. Heading into the clay court season, Alcaraz has only played two previous matches on the surface at ATP Tour level, winning one of them, but has exclusively played on clay through the Challenger Tour, and predominantly on the ITF Tour.

The teenager has a winning record of 28-11 on the Challenger Tour, with all those wins coming on clay, which included three titles and a 73.7 per cent winning record on the surface. He also has nerves of steel, winning 14 of 17 tiebreakers at 82.4 per cent. On the ITF Tour, he has won three titles – two on clay with a 19-4 record and one on hard court with a 8-1 record – and also successfully won six of eight matches in tiebreaks.

In short, Alcaraz should be put into the Davis Cup side, and he showed it by overcoming veteran compatriot Feliciano Lopez in a come-from-behind win, 4-6 6-2 6-4. It stands as the second best win of 2021, after he toppled David Goffin in straight sets back in Melbourne in January, 6-3 6-3. Twelve months ago, Alcaraz also accounted for compatriot Albert Ramos-Vinolas in three tight sets, showing he can knock off higher ranked talents between him and representing his country.

For Munar, he is inside the Top 100 at 95th, but still some way off his career high of 52nd back in May, 2019 where he looked to be primed to crack the Top 50. He has a 33-51 record on the ATP Tour, but a 1-8 record against the Top 10 players. His Round of 16 win over Fabio Fognini will help with that confidence, but the issue is his matchplay on surfaces other than clay.

The 23-year-old has won eight of 23 matches on either hard or grass – yet to win an ATP Tour match on grass – with a 25-28 record on clay. He has graduated the Challenger Tour with five titles on clay and one on hard, though runs at just under 50 per cent on the latter surface. On the ITF Tour, he has won six titles, all on clay, meaning 11 of his 12 overall titles are on the red dirt surface.

Now Munar will come up against Belarusian Ilya Ivashka in the last eight, whilst Alcaraz will face clay specialist and third seed Casper Ruud in another quarter final. Ruud took care of Italian Gianluca Mager in straight sets, while Ivashka dominated fifth seed Spaniard Alejandro Davidovich Fokina in their Round of 16 match. The other quarter finals are top seed Pablo Carreno Busta up against seventh seed Soonwoo Kwon, and fourth seed Ramos-Vinolas taking on Slovakian Norbert Gombos.

Over in Italy, it was a similar story for the up-and-coming Italians, with teenage star Lorenzo Musetti taking care of top seed Daniel Evans in an absolute thriller. Musetti won 6-1 1-6 7-6, cruising early before the Brit hit back, and it led to an unbelievable final set tiebreaker that went 18 points until Musetti claimed it, 10-8. Third seed Lorenzo Sonego also made his way through to the quarter finals with a 6-4 6-1 win over Gilles Simon, while Yannick Hanfmann spoiled the party for another Italian in Marco Cecchinato, and Serbian Laslo Djere took care of sixth seed Australian John Millman.

Musetti will now take on Djere, and Hanfmann battle Sonego, whilst second seed Taylor Fritz locks horns with Slovenian Aljaz Bedene, and the fourth and fifth seeds in Nikoloz Basilashvili and Jan-Lennard Struff will do battle in the other quarter finals.

ANDALUCIA OPEN ROUND OF 16 RESULTS:

Jaume Munar (ESP) defeated [2] Fabio Fognini (ITA) 6-2 6-1
[3] Casper Ruud (NOR) defeated Gianluca Mager (ITA) 6-3 6-2
Ilya Ivashka (BLR) defeated [5] Alejandro Davidovich Fokina (ESP) 6-1 6-3
[WC] Carlos Alcaraz (ESP) defeated [6] Feliciano Lopez (ESP) 4-6 6-2 6-4

SARDEGNA OPEN ROUND OF 16 RESULTS:

Lorenzo Mussetti (ITA) defeated [1] Daniel Evans (GBR) 6-1 1-6 7-6
[3] Lorenzo Sonego (ITA) defeated Gilles Simon (FRA) 6-4 6-1
Laslo Djere (SRB) defeated [6] John Millman (AUS) 6-3 6-3
Yannick Hanfmann (GER) defeated Marco Cecchinato (ITA) 7-5 6-1

Picture credit: ATP Tour

ATP Tour wrap: ATP 250 events begin in Europe

TWO ATP 250 events began this week, with proceedings starting up at the Sardegna Open in Cagliari, Italy, and the AnyTech365 Andalucia Open in Marbella, Spain.

At Sardegna, both seeds fell on Day 1 of the main event with seventh seed Argentinian Guido Pella and eighth seed Tommy Paul unable to overcome their respective lower ranked opposition. For Pella, it was a straight sets 6-4 6-0 loss to Belarusian Egor Gerasimov that saw him eliminated in under 90 minutes, with a shoddy service game allowing Gerasimov to maintain the upper hand. As for Paul, the American stole back the second set after going down 7-6(8) in the first, before falling at the third hurdle in the two hour and 56-minute blockbuster, as his German opposition in Yannick Hanfmann reigned supreme 7-6 5-7 6-3.

In the remaining two matches, Laslo Djere and Aljaz Bedene both remain in the hunt after collecting wins over a duo of Italian wildcards in Federico Gaio and Guilio Zeppieri, respectively. Whilst Djere collected a relatively straightforward 6-4 6-2 win over Gaio, Bedene was tested by 19-year-old Zeppieri, claiming a three-set victory 1-6 7-6 7-6 after a shocking first set.

SARDEGNA OPEN ROUND OF 32 RESULTS: 

Egor Gerasimov (BLR) defeated [7] Guido Pella (ARG) 6-4 6-0
Yannick Hanfmann (GER) defeated [8] Tommy Paul (USA) 7-6 5-7 6-3
Laslo Djere (SRB) defeated [WC] Federico Gaio (ITA) 6-4 6-2
Aljaz Bedene (SLO) defeated [WC] Giulio Zeppieri (ITA) 1-6 7-5 7-6

 

Three matches went all the way in Marbella, with just one match completed in two sets. The tournament also saw the complete opposite result to Sardegna as the seventh and eighth seeds in Soonwoo Kwon and Federico Delbonis both remain in the hunt following wins. Kwon’s first round victory came over 17-year-old Dane Holger Vitus Nodskov Rune, and the young gun put in the hard yards before the Korean reigned supreme in a two hour and 23 minute, 6-3 3-6 7-6 encounter. Comparatively, Delbonis downed Spaniard Roberto Carballes Baena in the only two-setter of the day, coming away with the 7-5 6-1 victory in one hour and 40 minutes.

Lithuanian Ricardas Berankis reigned supreme in a hard fought 6-4 6-7 7-5 win against Frenchman Lucas Pouille, going the full distance in the two hour and 49-minute matchup. Whilst Pouille was solid on return, not allowing Berankis to hit a single ace, Pouille hit six aces for six double faults on his way to the first round loss. Meanwhile, Norbert Gombos defeated Juan Ignacio Londero in just over two hours despite a closely contested first set, coming away with the 6-7 6-1 6-3 victory.

ANYTECH365 ANDALUCIA OPEN ROUND OF 32 RESULTS:

[7] Soonwoo Kwon (KOR) defeated [WC] Holger Vitus Nodskov Rune (DEN) 6-3 3-6 7-6
[8] Federico Delbonis (ARG) defeated Roberto Carballes Baena (ESP) 7-5 6-1
Ricardas Berankis (LTU) defeated Lucas Pouille (FRA) 6-4 6-7 7-5
Norbert Gombos (SVK) defeated Juan Ignacio Londero (ARG) 6-7 6-1 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

ATP 250 wraps: Albot upsets Mannarino in Singapore as top seeds advance in Montpellier

IT was a huge day of ATP Tour action across the globe, as we look at how the matches went down in Montpellier, Singapore and Cordoba with the quarter finals completed in two tournaments, and the Round of 16 wrapped up in the latter one.

Looking at Montpellier, the top two seeds remain on a crash course to meet in the Open Sud de France final after winning their quarter finals in style to now take on unseeded opponents in the semis. In a tournament where nothing has been as expected, number one seed Roberto Bautista Agut, and number two seed David Goffin both provided some stability with comfortable victories.

Bautista Agut won 6-3 6-3 over talented sixth seed Frenchman Ugo Humbert, while Goffin dispensed of seventh seed Italian Lorenzo Sonego, 6-4 6-4. Bautista Agut needed 75 minutes to knock off Humbert, dominating off his consistent serve, only dropping three points off his first serve, and 11 in total, while Humbert could not get his usual power off his serve going, matching the more steady Bautista Agut with three aces each. Goffin also only served the three aces, defeating Sonego in 86 minutes, breaking three times to one which was enough to salute in straight sets fashion.

In the battle of the unseeded players, Belarusian Egor Gerasimov came back from a set deficit to post a win over Alejandro Davidovich Fokina, 4-6 6-4 7-5. The match lasted two hours and 29 minutes, with Gerasimov producing 16 aces and breaking five times to four in an impressive performance against the rising Spaniard. Meanwhile German qualifier Peter Gojowczyk – who defeated highly rated compatriot Jan-Lennard Struff in the first round – continued his run with a 6-4 6-1 victory over Dennis Novak. The match lasted 83 minutes, with Gojowczyk saving both break points he faced, whilst capitalising on four of 13 against the Austrian. His serving efficiency was poor at 45 per cent, but he made the most of it when it did go in, only dropping three points off his first serve.

Gerasimov takes on Goffin in the first semi-final on Court Patrice Dominguez today, while Bautista Agut faces Gojowczyk in the other semi-final.

OPEN SUD DE FRANCE QUARTER FINALS:

[1] Roberto Bautista Agut (ESP) defeated [6] Ugo Humbert (FRA) 6-3 6-3
[2] David Goffin (BEL) defeated [7] Lorenzo Sonego (ITA) 6-4 6-4
Egor Gerasimov (BLR) defeated Alejandro Davidovich Fokina (ESP) 4-6 6-4 7-5
[Q] Peter Gojowczyk (GER) defeated Dennis Novak (AUT) 6-4 6-1

 

In Singapore, top seed Adrian Mannarino was the major casualty of an otherwise as expected day, with two other top four seeds, and the higher ranked Australian in an all-Australian battle, moving through to the semi-finals. Mannarino suffered a straight sets defeat against tricky Macedonian Radu Albot who has found form of late, getting up 6-3 6-4 in an impressive performance. Albot served five aces without a double-fault and broke three times to one throughout the 95-minute match, only dropping four points on his second serve to be able to recover well.

Following him into the final four were third seed Marin Cilic, fourth seed Alexander Bublik, and Australian Alexei Popyrin. Cilic was able to fight back from a disappointing second set to post a three-set victory over Soonwoo Kwon in the match of the day. The match lasted exactly two hours, and with 18 aces and an 80 per cent first serve success rate, the Chilean veteran proved too powerful for the Korean, breaking a fourth time in the deciding set.

Bublik took care of Japan’s Yoshihito Nishioka in straight sets, 6-3 6-2 in 73 minutes and serving 15 aces to zero. He faced nine break points and remarkably saved them all, whilst making the most of his opportunities with three breaks from six chances. Meanwhile, Popyrin defeated compatriot and wildcard Matthew Ebden, 6-4 7-6 in one hour and 25 minutes. The winner put up 14 aces to three and broke the only opportunity created in the match, whilst controlling his serve to only lose 16 points on serve at a high 76 per cent success rate.

Cilic will now face Popyrin in the first-up semi-final today, before Albot and Bublik lock horns in the match straight after for a spot in the final.

SINGAPORE QUARTER FINALS:

[6] Radu Albot (MCE) defeated [1] Adrian Mannarino (FRA) 6-3 6-4
[3] Marin Cilic (CRO) defeated [8] Soonwoo Kwon (KOR) 6-2 2-6 7-5
[4] Alexander Bublik (KAZ) [5] Yoshihito Nishioka (JPN) 6-3 6-2
Alexei Popyrin (AUS) defeated [WC] Matthew Ebden (AUS) 6-4 7-6

 

The time difference in Cordoba, Argentina means that the Round of 16 was completed overnight, with the quarter finals set to take place today. Aside from a shock loss to third seed Serbian Miomir Kecmanovic, the results went as planned, with three top eight seeds all knocking out their unseeded opponents. It also meant the home nation has four representatives in the quarter finals, with the potential to be an all-Argentinian final four if they can somehow get up.

Argentinian qualifier Juan Manuel Cerundolo caused the one big upset of the day, toppling Kecmanovic in a come-from-behind win. After dropping the first set in a tiebreaker, Cerundolo held firm in the second set, and ran away with it in the third to secure a 6-7 7-5 6-2 victory. The match lasted two hours and 19 minutes, with Cerundolo breaking six times to three, and winning 64 per cent of both his first and second serve points, while Kecmanovic only managed 44 per cent success off his second serve and his inconsistent form of late continued.

The other three-setter was fifth seed Albert Ramos-Vinolas who survived a scare from another Argentinian qualifier in Tomas Martin Etcheverry, 2-6 7-6 7-5. The match went for a whopping two hours and 49 minutes before Ramos-Vinolas could finally shake off his lower ranked opponent, needing to break a third time during the win. Both players served five aces, but it was Etcheverry who won more overall points, being better on serve and return, but Ramos-Vinolas just found a way to win.

The other two results were fairly straightforward with top seed Diego Schwartzman winning 6-2 6-2 over Italian clay courter Marco Cecchinato, while seventh seed Brazilian Thiago Monteiro accounted for unseeded Spaniard Roberto Carballes Baena, 6-3 6-4. Looking to the quarter finals today, Monteiro takes on Cerundolo and Schwartzman faces Ramos-Vinolas, while in the other ones, Federico Coria matches up against second seed Benoit Paire, while Argentinian qualifier Facundo Bagnis meets Slovakian Jozef Kovalik.

CORDOBA ROUND OF 16:

[1] Diego Schwartzman (ARG) defeated Marco Cecchinato (ITA) 6-2 6-2
[5] Albert Ramos-Vinolas (ESP) defeated [Q] Tomas Martin Etcheverry (ARG) 2-6 7-6 7-5
[7] Thiago Monteiro (BRA) defeated Roberto Carballes Baena (ESP) 6-3 6-4
[Q] Juan Manuel Cerundolo (ARG) defeated [3] Miomir Kecmanovic (SRB) 6-7 7-5 6-2

Picture credit: ATP Tour