Tag: stefanos tsitsipas

Miami Open 1000: Barty books semis spot as Hurkacz upsets Tsitsipas

WORLD number one Ash Barty is through to the 2021 Miami Open final after defeating fifth seed Elina Svitolina in straight sets. The Australian talent took one hour and 27 minutes to shake off the Ukrainian and advance through to the decider, continuing her run of good form this year after reaching a quarter final at the Australian Open.

Barty served up seven aces to two, and while she only served at a 46.2 per cent efficiency, she did win two thirds of her first serve points, and 54.3 per cent of her second serve points. By contrast, Svitolina had a much higher efficiency at 61.9 per cent, but only won 48.7 and 41.7 per cent of her first and second serve respectively. While Svitolina did break twice from seven chances, while Barty brought up 14 break point chances and converted five of them.

“Every time you’re on the court you’re able to improve, try to get a little bit better and grow every single day,” Barty said post-match. “And I think that’s come with every single match. Every single match I feel like I’ve done something a little bit better and that’s all you can ask. Just try to get that little bit better, that one percent that half-percent just trying to do things right each day.”

At the time of publishing, 11th seed Bianca Andreescu was set to take on 23rd seed Maria Sakkari in the other semi-final.

WTA MIAMI OPEN SEMI-FINALS RESULTS:

[1] Ash Barty (AUS) defeated [5] Elina Svitolina (UKR) 6-3 6-3
[11] Bianca Andreescu (CAN) [23] Maria Sakkari (GRE)

 

Hubert Hurkacz reached a semi-final on the back of a huge upset win over second seed Stefanos Tsitsipas, coming from behind to win 2-6 6-3 6-4 in two hours and 20 minutes. The Polish star fell behind early, but then turned it around with 15 aces to seven, and one and three double faults. The serving efficiency was fairly even, with the Greek second seed topping the first serve points won, 70 to 65 per cent, whilst Hurkacz won 53 to 43 per cent in the second serve.

“It is so big [to be in my first Masters 1000 semi-final], especially in front of the crowd here in Miami,” Hurkacz said post-match. “It is a super big win for me and I can’t wait for the next match.

“I was trying to keep fighting and that’s what I did. “[I am] super pumped and happy that I was able to turn this match around.”

At the time of publishing, fourth seed Russian Andrey Rublev was on court against unseeded American Sebastian Korda in the other quarter final.

ATP MIAMI OPEN QUARTER FINALS RESULTS:

[26] Hubert Hurkacz (POL) defeated [2] Stefanos Tsitsipas (GRE) 2-6 6-3 6-4
[4] Andrey Rublev (RUS) vs. Sebastian Korda (USA)

 

Picture credit: Getty Images

ATP Miami Open 1000: Korda continues run with Schwartzman upset

SEBASTIAN Korda will have the hopes of a nation on his shoulders after being the sole United States representative through to the 2021 Miami Open ATP 1000 quarter finals from a brutal day of Round of 16 action. Korda had a fantastic win over fifth seed Diego Schwartzman, 6-3 4-6 7-5 in two hours and 35 minutes to book his spot in the final eight.

He served eight aces to one, and capitalised with 73 per cent of his first serve points to Schwartzman’s 57 per cent, and served at a higher clip (62 to 56 per cent). The American broke four times from 11 chances, whilst his opponent won three games off Korda’s serve from eight opportunities.

Korda was the sole American left standing in the final eight, following losses to three of his compatriots. Top ranked United States competitor, John Isner lost out to seventh seed Roberto Bautista Agut in three sets, going down 6-3 4-6 7-6. He joined Frances Tiafoe and Taylor Fritz on the sidelines after Round of 16 losses. Top seed Daniil Medvedev won through against Tiafoe in straight sets 6-4 6-3, while Alexander Bublik triumphed in a come-from-behind victory over 22nd seed Fritz, 6-7 6-3 6-4.

“It was definitely a tough match,” Medvedev said of reaching his maiden Miami Open quarter final. “[There were] a lot of great points, some of them he won, some of them I won… The serve helped me a lot today, especially in the second set.”

It was a great day for up-and-coming ATP Tour players, with Jannik Sinner and Hubert Hurkacz both winning their respective matches. Italian teenager Sinner won through to his maiden ATP Masters 1000 quarter final following a 6-3 6-2 win over Finland’s Emil Ruusuvuori, while Hurkacz toppled 12th seed Milos Raonic in a come-from-behind upset win 4-6 6-3 7-6.

Sinner will now take on Bublik in a tantalising semi-final, which the Kazakh 32nd seed said he was ready for despite the Italian’s obvious talent.

“[Sinner] is so young,” Bublik said. “He is an unbelievable athlete and he runs forever… He is an unbelievable player and sharing a quarter-final with him is a pleasure for me. I hope to have a great match.”

In the two matches yet to be completed, two top four seeds were out on court, with second seed Stefanos Tsitsipas taking on Italian Lorenzo Sonego, while fourth seed Andrey Rublev was engaged in a battle with unseeded Croatian Marin Cilic.

MIAMI OPEN ROUND OF 16 RESULTS:

[1] Daniil Medvedev (RUS) defeated Frances Tiafoe (USA) 6-4 6-3
[2] Stefanos Tsitsipas (GRE) [24] Lorenzo Sonego (ITA)
[4] Andrey Rublev (RUS) Marin Cilic (CRO)
Sebastian Korda (USA) defeated [5] Diego Schwartzman (ARG) 6-3 4-6 7-5
[7] Roberto Bautista Agut (ESP) defeated [18] John Isner (USA) 6-3 4-6 7-6
[26] Hubert Hurkacz (POL) defeated [12] Milos Raonic (CAN) 4-6 6-3 7-6
[21] Jannik Sinner (ITA) defeated Emil Ruusuvuori (FIN) 6-3 6-2
[32] Alexander Bublik (KAZ) defeated [22] Taylor Fritz (USA) 6-7 6-3 6-4

 

Picture credit: Geoff Burke / USA Today Sports

ATP Miami Open 1000: Korda dominates on home soil as Hurkacz upsets Shapovalov

IN a day that largely went the way of the higher ranked player in each Miami Open ATP 1000 contest, the fourth round of the tournament was decided following eight singles matches played out overnight. Unlike the day before where all bar two matches were three-setters, this day was a little different with many of the matches racing through quickly and all bar one being over in straight sets results.

The biggest upset was arguably American Sebastian Korda who took out the red-hot Aslan Karatsev, with the Russian now-17th seed no match for the home nation hero. Korda won 6-3 6-0 in a one-sided affair to advance to the last 16 to be one of only two unseeded players in that half of the draw. The other is Croatian Marin Cilic, with the veteran toppling Italian teenager Lorenzo Musetti in straight sets, 6-3 6-4.

“[It was] my third match in a row on the same court and I just got used to the conditions,” Cilic said post-match. “I felt quite good on the ball today and I returned well. I felt that I put a lot of returns back in comparison to the first two matches. It was a very good performance and definitely something motivating for the next matches.”

Polish up-and-comer Hubert Hurkacz defied his 26th seeding with a tight straight sets win over sixth seed Canadian Denis Shapovalov. Hurkacz won 6-3 7-6 to hold off the fellow youngster, winning 8-6 in a nail-biting second set tiebreaker. It was better news for Shapovalov’s compatriot Milos Raonic, who toppled 20th seed Ugo Humbert 6-4 7-5 to advance to the Round of 16. Humbert was one of two Frenchman to depart on the day, with 25th seed Adrian Mannarino bowing out to fifth seed Argentinian Diego Schwartzman 6-1 6-4.

On the Grandstand court, fourth seed Andrey Rublev defeated 29th seed Hungarian Marton Fucsovics 6-2 6-1 to continue his ripping form, defeating his opponent for the third time in the past month. Last time they played, Fucsovics famously said he would be glad if he “never had to play him again”, and unfortunately for the Hungarian, the tournament draw was not kind to him.

“I was laughing, because of [the] situation and plus Marton also told me, ‘I don’t want to see you. I don’t want to see you,'” Rublev said post-match. “[It was] just a situation that [was] fun, and I feel sorry.”

In the latest match, Stefanos Tsitsipas and Kei Nishikori engaged in the best battle of the day, as the Greek won the first set, before the former Top 5 Japanese talent took out the second set. It took a full three sets for Tsitsipas to finally shake off Nishikori, breaking him twice in the deciding set to cruise to a win in just under two hours, 6-3 3-6 6-1.

MIAMI OPEN ROUND OF 32 RESULTS:

[2] Stefanos Tsitsipas (GRE) defeated [28] Kei Nishikori (JPN) 6-3 3-6 6-1
[4] Andrey Rublev (RUS) defeated [29] Marton Fucsovics (HUN) 6-2 6-1
[5] Diego Schwartzman (ARG) defeated [25] Adrian Mannarino (GFRA) 6-1 6-4
[26] Hubert Hurkacz (POL) defeated [6] Denis Shapovalov (CAN) 6-3 7-6
[12] Milos Raonic (CAN) defeated [20] Ugo Humbert (FRA) 6-4 7-5
Sebastian Korda (USA) defeated [17] Aslan Karatsev (RUS) 6-3 6-0
[24] Lorenzo Sonego (ITA) defeated Daniel Elahi Galan (COL) 7-6 6-3
Marin Cilic (CRO) defeated Lorenzo Musetti (ITA) 6-3 6-4

 

Picture credit: ATP Tour

ATP Miami Open 1000: Tsitsipas and Nishikori set for third round blockbuster

WORLD number five Stefanos Tsitsipas and former world number four Kei Nishikori have collected important wins at the Miami Open this morning to set up a blockbuster third round clash between the pair for Tuesday. Tsitsipas breezed past Damir Dzumhur 6-1 6-4 and became just the third ATP player to claim 15 victories in the 2021 season so far. Meanwhile, Nishikori had it much tougher against Aljaz Bedene, winning 7-6 5-7 6-4 in two hours and 50 minutes. The Japanese star won 73 per cent of points on first serve and won 67 per cent of points on Bedene’s second serve. Bedene has had a tough fortnight against Nishikori, as he was also defeated by the 2014 US Open finalist at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships last week.

Tsitsipas was happy with his performance, particularly given that he had lost three of his four previous clashes against Dzumhur. “It was a great match, especially against a guy that I probably don’t have a good record playing against in the past,” Tsitsipas said post-match. “I started the match very strong, breaking him twice and taking a big lead in the score, and I think the things worked out by themselves after that.”

Tsitsipas will attempt to defeat Nishikori for the first time in the third round, as Nishikori was victorious in their one previous matchup (in 2018) 6-3 6-3. With this in mind, Tsitsipas knows that he has his work cut out for him. “[Kei is] a player that has played very well in the past, and even now he can raise his level really high,” Tsitsipas said. “I’ll try and be ready for the battle… It’s important for me to have matches against strong opponents like him. I am very pumped for the match and I’m going to try and put my best performance out there. I’m going to try and take it game by game… It’s a strong third round, I won’t hide it. It’s important for me to be ready for that match and be physically prepared.”

In other results, Australians Alex de Minaur, Thanasi Kokkinakis and Jordan Thompson bowed out in their respective matches, and tenth seed Fabio Fognini was shocked by American Sebastian Korda 1-6 6-4 6-2. Former US Open champion Marin Cilic was a big winner, as he saved 11 break points in his 3-6 7-5 7-6 defeat of 13th seed Cristian Garin. Consistent performers Andrey Rublev, Diego Schwartzman and Milos Raonic all cruised through their matches in straight sets.

ATP MIAMI OPEN 1000 ROUND OF 64 RESULTS:

[2] Stefanos Tsitsipas (GRE) defeated Damir Dzumhur (BIH) 6-1 6-4
[4] Andrey Rublev (RUS) defeated Tennys Sandgren (USA) 6-1 6-2
[5] Diego Schwartzman (ARG) defeated Yasutaka Uchiyama (JPN) 6-3 6-3
[6] Denis Shapovalov (CAN) defeated Ilya Ivashka (BLR) 6-7 6-4 6-4
Sebastian Korda (USA) defeated [10] Fabio Fognini (ITA) 1-6 6-4 6-2
[12] Milos Raonic (CAN) defeated Jordan Thompson (AUS) 6-2 6-1
Marin Cilic (CRO) defeated [13] Cristian Garin (CHI) 3-6 7-5 7-6
Daniel Elahi Galan (COL) defeated [15] Alex de Minaur (AUS) 4-6 6-3 6-4
[17] Aslan Karatsev (RUS) defeated Mikhail Kukushkin (KAS) 6-4 6-3
[20] Ugo Humbert (FRA) defeated Joao Sousa (POR) 6-1 6-4
Lorenzo Musetti (ITA) defeated [23] Benoit Paire (FRA) 6-3 6-3
[24] Lorenzo Sonego (ITA) defeated [Q] Bjorn Fratangelo (USA) 6-4 7-6
[25] Adrian Mannarino (FRA) defeated Miomir Kecmanovic (SRB) 6-3 6-4
[26] Hubert Hurkacz (POL) defeated Denis Kudla (USA) 7-6 6-4
[28] Kei Nishikori (JPN) defeated Aljaz Bedene (SLO) 7-6 5-7 6-4
[29] Marton Fucsovics defeated Thanasi Kokkinakis (AUS) 7-6 6-7 6-4

Picture credit: Mike Lawrence/ATP Tour

ATP Tour wrap: Zverev breaks five-game losing streak against Tsitsipas for Acapulco title

ALEXANDER Zverev has finally toppled nemesis Stefanos Tsitsipas to claim the Abierto Mexicano title in Acapulco yesterday. The top two seeds reached the final of the event, and the number one seed in Greek talent Tsitsipas held a 5-1 record against the German. It had been three years since Zverev triumphed in a match over Tsitsipas – the first time the pair had met – with the results getting more and more one-sided in favour of the the Greek.

In this match however, it was Zverev who emerged triumphant, albeit in a tight contest, winning 6-4 7-6, and the second set tiebreaker going 7-3 in his favour. Unsurprisingly Zverev’s serve was still inconsistent, serving eight double faults for only four aces, and having an efficiency of 60 per cent. Tsitsipas had four and three in favour of double faults, but a higher efficiency of 65 per cent. In saying that though, Zverev did capitalise off his first serve, winning 78 per cent of his points to Tsitsipas’ 62 per cent, then broke three times to two, having created four more break point opportunities in the two-hour and 18-minute match.

“I’ve always said that this is definitely a tournament that I wanted to win in my career,” Zverev said post-match. “I have a very strong relationship with Mexico and with this tournament. I came here with a goal and I achieved it, and I’m very happy with that.”

Tsitsipas had an early break in the first set, and even brought up a set point in the twelfth game of the second set to try and level the scores. The German managed to hold firm though and hold his serve well. The Greek led by as much as 4-1 in the first set and had three chances to go 5-1 up, but then Zverev won the next five games in style to claim the opening set and show what he was made of.

“In the beginning I started off extremely bad, I thought I didn’t play well at all,” Zverev said. “I had to fight my way into the match, and I did well to win the first set. In the second set, when I have a chance I need to close it out against these top players because normally they won’t give you a second chance. I thought I played extremely well in the tie-break, I’m happy with how it went.”

Tsitsipas himself had to fight back from six of his 12 break points faced in the eleventh game of the second set, then turned it around to hold a set point in that twelfth game, but could not capitalise, with Zverev needing three match points to finally seal the deal, and the ATP 500 title.

“I take this week very positively,” Tsitsipas said post-match. “I think it is great being able to play at such an intensity and level. I was very close once again to clinch and get that title, but it wasn’t meant to be… I played well.”

Both players will now eye off the Miami Open ATP 1000 tournament which kicks off tonight.

ABIERTO MEXICANO FINAL RESULT:

[2] Alexander Zverev (GER) defeated [1] Stefanos Tsitsipas (GRE) 6-4 7-6

 

Picture credit: Alfredo Estrella/AFP via Getty Images

2021 ATP/WTA 1000 Miami Open preview: Federer and Nadal withdraw as Barty returns

THE 2021 Miami Open is set to begin this week, played from Monday, March 22 through to Sunday, April 4, with the 1000 event expected to showcase some high calibre encounters across both the ATP and WTA Tours. Whilst the men’s list is missing a couple of notable names within the top 20, the women’s draw will boast just about all of the big names in the biz as the season rolls on despite COVID-19 restrictions still impacting proceedings. Both the men’s and women’s reigning Australian Open champions are set to compete, highlighting the strength of the respective events.

On the ATP Tour, the clear omissions from the draw include Rafael NadalDominic Thiem and Roger Federer, with the trio’s absence making for a huge hole in the draw and a real opportunity for the developing players coming through the ranks to make their mark. Looking down the list, it’s safe to say Novak Djokovic and Daniil Medvedev are the clear frontrunners in as first and second seeds with one title apiece to start the year, whilst Stefanos Tsitsipas and Alexander Zverev are well within their chances here given the glaring absences. 2021 title-winners Andrey Rublev (Rotterdam title, 13-2 in 2021), Diego Schwartzman (Buenos Aires, 8-3) and David Goffin (Montpellier, 9-5) also register high in the draw, with the likes of Matteo Berrettini, Denis ShapovalovGael Monfils and Roberto Bautista Agut rounding out the top 11 or so players, pending shuffling from this week’s results. Factor in the explosiveness of the likes of Nick Kyrgios, who is still yet to confirm attendance, and the wealth of Spanish talent currently residing within and around the top 50, and there is so much that could go against the grain here.

Given it is an ATP 1000 event, there is no shortage of talent as players flock to Miami. Even heading down the list to lower ranked players, there are plenty of quality names across the board with in-form and young talent looking to add valuable points to their rankings. Two-time Miami champion Andy Murray is the big name wildcard at the event, joined by teen Carlos Alcaraz, Michael Mmoh, Hugo Gaston and Jack Draper in the main draw.

Heading to the women’s draw, and whilst there is more consistent top talent in the draw, that does not make it any easier to predict with the relatively even WTA Tour boasting a number of players who consistently step up at this level. Australian world number one and reigning 2019 Miami champion Ash Barty is reportedly set to compete after spending an unprecedented year way from the international circuit in 2020, joined by the ever formidable Naomi OsakaSimona HalepSofia Kenin and Elina Svitolina to round out the top five seeds. Also featuring are eight-time champion Serena Williams, who can never be overlooked in an event of this calibre, and a number of developing talents with French Open champion Iga Swiatek (2020) and 2019 US Open winner Bianca Andreescu both set to take the court here. Jennifer BradyKarolina Pliskova and Madison Keys are another few who cannot be dismissed, as are the ever exciting teens Coco Gauff and Amanda Anisimova.

Factor in the evenness and unpredictability of the women’s draw, with realistically any number of the top 20 – or upwards of that – capable of beating anyone on their day, and Miami will have a real battle on its hands. The women’s main draw wildcards include Anna Kalinskaya, Ana Konjuh, Storm Sanders, Katrina Scott, Mayar Sherif, Xiyu Wang and Xinyu Wang, with qualifiers for both the women’s and men’s events set to play out over March 22-23.

ATP Tour wrap: Karatsev wins maiden title; top two seeds book Acapulco final

A MAIDEN title-winner was crowned in Dubai with victory over a qualifier in the final, as the top two seeds in Acapulco made their way through to the final.

Russian wildcard Aslan Karatsev‘s remarkable start to 2021 has continued with the Australian Open semi-finalist claiming his maiden ATP Tour title with victory in the final of the Dubai Tennis Championships. The 27-year-old defeated South African qualifier Lloyd Harris in straight sets 6-3 6-2, to cap off a remarkable week which included four wins against seeds, including second seed Andrey Rublev, and Next Gen Finals past winner Jannik Sinner. Unlike those two matches, Karatsev had this win a little easier, getting up in just 75 minutes.

“I am super happy. It was a tight match. [I was] really nervous,” Karatsev said post-match. “I want to congratulate my opponent for the final [run]. He did a great week… I am happy that I won.”

Karatsev weathered Harris’ eight aces to produce three of his own, whilst saving both break points and breaking his South African opponent three times from eight chances. He controlled play off his first serve, with a whopping 83 per cent success rate off a 62 per cent clip, also winning 50 per cent of his second serve points, compared to Harris’ two of 12. With 27 winners to his name, Karatsev added his name to the history books as a first time winner, the fourth to do so in 2021 in what is really changing of the guard, and also the third Russian to win a title.

“You never know when [success] is coming,” Karatsev said. “I did a good job with my team, with my coach and it has happened now.

“I am really happy with my performance and [I am] really happy with my game. “At the beginning of the year, [I was happy] to play an Australian Open semi-final [and] to show a great level. “After the Australian Open, I kept going, practising hard… I arrived here with more belief than in Doha. “I showed a fantastic week and a good game.”

The title moves Karatsev into world number 27, a remarkable bolt up the order since entering the year at 114th. He will now head to Miami where he will test his hand at his maiden ATP 1000 tournament in a 96-player field.

DUBAI TENNIS CHAMPIONSHIPS FINAL RESULT:

[WC] Aslan Karatsev (RUS) defeated [Q] Lloyd Harris (RSA) 6-3 6-2

 

Despite a number of upsets over the course of the tournament, the two top ranked players in Acapulco reached the Abierto Mexicano final. Greek star Stefanos Tsitsipas and German Alexander Zverev both booked their spots in the decider with straight sets wins over their lower ranked opponents to advance through to tonights’ final.

Tsitsipas won 6-1 6-3 over Italian teenager Lorenzo Musetti in one hour and 19 minutes, only serving the two aces, but winning 22 of 26 first serve points, then capitalising with more than half of his second serve points (52 per cent), compared to Musetti’s 56 and 41 per cent. The Greek top seed also did not face a break point, and broke four times from eight chances against the 19-year-old during the dominant win.

“Matches like this are really important and I’m happy to be playing well,” Tsitsipas said post-match. “Acapulco has been treating me really well and the fans have been giving me love and support. We’ll definitely see a lot from Lorenzo in the future, he has a wonderful one-handed backhand and creates lots of opportunities. He showed his level this week.”

In the other semi-final, Zverev was too good for a determined Dominik Koepfer, with the all-German battle lasting two hours and nine minutes before Zverev got up, 6-4 7-6, including a 7-5 second set tiebreaker. The second seed only served the three aces – the same as Koepfer, but had seven less double faults (1-8), whilst converting 71 per cent of his first serve points and 54 per cent of his second serve points. Koepfer was solid with 59 and 53 per cent respectively, but could only break Zverev twice, whilst the second seed broke his lower ranked compatriot three times during the two-hour and nine-minute match.

“He’s (Koepfer) a very tough player to play right now. He won some incredible matches,” Zverev said post-match. “Beating [Milos] Raonic on a hard court the way that he did is very tough. I think he showed that he is somebody who can play extremely well on this level. Today, honestly, I thought I played a not bad match and he gave me a tough time.”

Tsitsipas holds a 5-1 record over Zverev, and in fact has won the last five battles – including three straight-set wins over the German – when they have faced off. Zverev will be hoping to wind back to the clock to 2018 when he last defeated Tsitsipas in order to cause an upset in the final.

“I am really looking forward to the final,” Tsitsipas said. “Sascha is someone I’ve played against in the past and it’s never easy. We’re both really hungry and we’re both very competitive.”

ABIERTO MEXICANO SEMI-FINALS RESULTS:

[1] Stefanos Tsitsipas (GRE) defeated [Q] Lorenzo Musetti (ITA) 6-1 6-3
[2] Alexander Zverev (GER) defeated Dominik Koepfer (GER) 6-4 7-6

 

Picture credit: Francois Nel/Getty Images

ATP Tour wrap: Karatsev and Harris stun seeds for Dubai final as Musetti reaches Acapulco semis

STUNNING upsets in both Dubai and Acapulco have set up some huge semis and quarter finals respectively, with two of the top three ranked players in Dubai out in penultimate stage of the tournament.

Russian wildcard Aslan Karatsev‘s season just keeps getting better and better with the 27-year-old excitement machine stunning highly ranked compatriot Andrey Rublev, by ending his 23-game winning streak at ATP 500 events in Dubai overnight. Karatsev won 6-2 4-6 6-4 in the semi-final clash to move into his first ever ATP 500 final on debut in the tournament. By defeating the second seed, Karatsev won against a fourth straight seed in the tournament, showing he can match it with anyone on any given day and makes you wonder how he could have he could have only won three ATP Tour matches prior to 2021.

Prior to the Australian Open, Karatsev was ranked 114th in the world with a 3-10 ATP Tour record, but three tournaments later and he is up to 14-12 and potentially on the verge of his maiden ATP title. He reached the final in two hours and 12 minutes on court against Rublev, serving seven aces to five, and winning 78 per cent of his first serve points. He also created a whopping 16 break point opportunities – taking four of them, to Rublev’s two of our, defeating the Russian who had met every challenge set of him at ATP 500 events in the past 12 months. The Russian wildcard hit a whopping 41 winners during the match to be the first wildcard player through to the final in 24 years.

“It was a really tight match [against a] tough opponent,” Karatsev said post-match. “It was an unbelievable performance [from Andrey]. He didn’t lose a match at an ATP 500 in [one year]. Everything was decided in one or two points, I feel happy.”

Karatsev now faces South African qualifier Lloyd Harris who has had a stunning tournament himself, most recently knocking off third seed Denis Shapovalov in three epic sets, 6-7 6-4 7-6 to advance through to the final. The last tiebreaker went to 8-6 and could have gone either way, but the big-serving South African got it done in two hoursand 41 minutes. He served 12 aces to eight, and won 80 and 53 per cent of his first and second serve points compared to Shapovalov’s 75 and 47 per cent.

Much like Karatsev, Harris is also yet to claim an ATP Tour title, with the 24-year-old in his maiden final. The winner of the match will join Daniel Evans, Alexei Popyrin and Juan Manuel Cerundolo as first-time winners in 2021. A win to Karatsev would see him reach the Top 30 in a remarkable start to the year, while Harris would enter the Top 50.

DUBAI TENNIS CHAMPIONSHIPS SEMI-FINALS RESULTS:

[WC] Aslan Karatsev (RUS) defeated [2] Andrey Rublev (RUS) 6-2 4-6 6-4
[Q] Lloyd Harris (RSA) defeated [3] Denis Shapovalov (CAN) 6-7 6-4 7-6

 

Italian teenager Lorenzo Musetti has booked his spot in the Abierto Mexicano ATP 500 event after an impressive win over fifth seed Grigor Dimitrov. The 19-year-old defeated the Bulgarian 6-4 7-6, making his way into the final four in two hours and nine minutes. There was not much between the players, with Musetti breaking three times to two, but creating 14 break point opportunities to really put pressure on his more experienced opponent. In the end it just came down to crucial moments, with Dimitrov’s inconsistency on serve, and Musetti’s determination that played a role in the result.

“It’s incredible really. I didn’t expect this,” Musetti said post-match. “Today I think I played the best match in my life. Grigor is an incredible opponent, a great fighter. “Even today, I had a lot of match points and was really difficult for my coach.”

In other results, the top two seeds advanced through to the semis, with Stefanos Tsitsipas defeated seventh seed Felix Auger-Aliassime in three sets, 7-5 4-6 6-3. The Greek number one seed needed two hours and three minutes to shake off the young Canadian, winning 76 per cent of his first serve points off a 70 per cent clip, also breaking three times to two throughout the match. There was not much between the players, and in the end, it was the final set break that helped the tournament favourite secure his spot.

For second seed Alexander Zverev, it was much easier, walking through to the semi-finals after eighth seed Norwegian Casper Ruud pulled out. Zverev will be joined by compatriot Dominik Koepfer in the final four, after the latter defeated Great Britain’s Cameron Norrie in straight sets, 7-5 6-4 to advance through. The Germans will now face off to see which one is the last one standing, while Tsitsipas and Musetti will challenge each other in the second semi-final of the day.

ABIERTO MEXICANO QUARTER FINALS RESULTS:

[1] Stefanos Tsitsipas (GRE) defeated [7] Felix Auger-Aliassime (CAN) 7-5 4-6 6-3
[2] Alexander Zverev (GER) defeated [8] Casper Ruud (NOR) W/O
[Q] Lorenzo Musetti (ITA) defeated [5] Grigor Dimitrov (BUL) 6-4 7-6
Dominik Koepfer (GER) defeated Cameron Norrie (GBR) 7-5 6-4

 

Picture credit: ATP Tour

ATP Tour wrap: Qualifiers continue runs in Dubai and Acapulco

THE two ATP 500 events in Dubai and Acapulco provided some surprising upsets, as well as some come-from-behind wins as we recap the day’s action.

The top two remaining seeds continued their straight-sets run into the semi-finals, joining the two surprise packets in the semi-finals of the 2021 ATP Dubai Tennis Championships. Second seed Andrey Rublev and third seed Denis Shapovalov continued their dominant form to reach the final four, while Russian wildcard Aslan Karatsev and South African qualifier Lloyd Harris continued their respective runs into the semis.

The top ranked Rublev has been near unbeatable at ATP 500 level of late, and his consecutive run – which includes three titles – extended to 23. He defeated Hungarian Marton Fucsovics in straight sets 7-5 6-2, repeating the effort from their head-to-head at the most recent ATP 500 event in Rotterdam. The second seed will now lock horns with compatriot Karatsev who paved his way through to the semis with a come-from-behind win over young gun Jannik Sinner.

“I have really great connection with Marton and we are good friends on Tour. I have a huge respect for him. All the matches that we’ve played each other were drama matches,” Rublev said post-match. “We just smiled because we always have tough matches against each other. It’s not easy to play each other. “It’s always long rallies, it’s always tough points and in the end we just smiled.”

Karatsev dropped the first set to the Italian 16th seed in a tiebreaker 7-5, but found his groove in the final two sets to win 6-7 6-3 6-2 in the longest match of the day at two hours and 29 minutes. Sinner served up 10 aces against the Australian Open semi-finalist, but Karatsev was more consistent upon return, breaking five times to two and winning 79 and 50 per cent of his first and second serve points.

“It was tough at the beginning as he is a really talented guy,” Karatsev said post-match. “In the tie-break I was a little unlucky. I felt more comfortable in the second set and knew how to play against him.”

Meanwhile third seed Shapovalov was able to get past Frenchman Jeremy Chardy in another quarter final, defeating his opponent 7-5 6-4. The Canadian has also not dropped a set in Dubai and was able to book a date with Harris in the semi-finals following the big-serving South African’s victory over Kei Nishikori. It is Harris’ second win over a Grand Slam champion, having defeated Dominic Thiem in the Round of 32. This time he had to fight all the way in three sets, defeating the Japanese veteran, 6-1 3-6 6-3.

“It was a tough match as Jeremy was serving and playing well,” Shapovalov said post-match. “I am really happy that I was able to convert the break points. It helps to play three straight sets matches and I feel fresh and ready to go.”

Karatsev has shuffled up four places in the ATP Tour world rankings, going above both Nishikori and Fucsovics into number 38 in the world, while Harris is now also at a career-high of 64th following a 17-spot rise. Rublev is slowly closing the gap on the Top 7, while Shapovalov has leapfrogged Roberto Bautista Agut who fell in the Round of 16 at Acapulco.

DUBAI TENNIS CHAMPIONSHIPS QUARTER FINALS RESULTS:

[2] Andrey Rublev (RUS) defeated Marton Fucsovics (HUN) 7-5 6-2
[3] Denis Shapovalov (CAN) defeated Jeremy Chardy (FRA) 7-5 6-4
[WC] Aslan Karatsev (RUS) defeated [16] Jannik Sinner (ITA) 6-7 6-3 6-2
[Q] Lloyd Harris (RSA) defeated Kei Nishikori (JPN) 6-1 3-6 6-3

 

Five of the seven seeds in the Abierto Mexicano ATP 500 event made their way through to the last eight in what was largely a one-sided day of action. Six of the eight matches were done in just two sets, with no more than 19 games played in each of those. The two three-set matches featured the remaining qualifiers with the results going both ways.

Italian teenager Lorenzo Musetti booked his spot in the quarter finals with a come-from-behind win over United States’ Frances Tiafoe 2-6 6-3 7-6, including a dominant 7-1 final set tiebreaker. He joined eighth seed Casper Ruud in there who had a similarly tough time shaking off Dutch qualifier Tallon Griekspoor in three sets, 4-6 6-3 7-6. Ruud won the deciding tiebreaker 7-3 in a match that lasted two hours and 23 minutes, which was 21 minutes less than the Musetti-Tiafoe clash.

All the other results were straightforward, though not always as you would expect, with German Dominik Koepfer and Brit Cameron Norrie being two other unseeded players to reach the Acapulco quarter finals. Koepfer upset fourth seed Canadian Milos Raonic 6-4 6-2, while Norrie took down Italian sixth seed Fabio Fognini, 6-4 6-3. It was better news for another Canadian in seventh seed Felix Auger-Aliassime who defeated United States’ wildcard Sebastian Korda 6-3 6-4.

Korda joined John Isner on the list of outs, following the big-serving American’s demise at the hands of top seed Stefanos Tsitsipas. The Greek talent won 6-3 6-2 to breeze through to the last eight, as did second seed Alexander Zverev and fifth seed Grigor Dimitov. The pair proved too strong for Serbian duo Laslo Djere and Miomir Kecmanovic respectively, defeating them both in straight sets respectively.

The results set up some blockbuster quarter finals, with Tsitsipas and Auger-Aliassime being the pick of the bunch. The other all-seeded quarter final between Ruud and Zverev is highly anticipated, whilst Musetti takes on Dimitrov, and Norrie faces Koepfer.

ABIERTO MEXICANO ROUND OF 16 RESULTS:

[1] Stefanos Tsitsipas (GRE) defeated John Isner (USA) 6-3 6-2
[2] Alexander Zverev (GER) defeated Laslo Djere (SRB) 6-4 6-3
Dominik Koepfer (GER) defeated [4] Milos Raonic (CAN) 6-4 6-2
[5] Grigor Dimitrov (BUL) defeated Miomir Kecmanovic (SRB) 6-4 6-2
Cameron Norrie (GBR) defeated [6] Fabio Fognini (ITA) 6-4 6-3
[7] Felix Auger-Aliassime (CAN) defeated [WC] Sebastian Korda (USA) 6-3 6-4
[8] Casper Ruud (NOR) defeated [Q] Tallon Griekspoor (NED) 4-6 6-3 7-6
[Q] Lorenzo Musetti (ITA) defeated Frances Tiafoe (USA) 2-6 6-3 7-6

ATP Tour wrap: Seeds begin to fall in Dubai, as Musetti upsets Schwartzman in Acapulco

IT was a horror day for the seeds in Dubai’s ATP 500 event, but not so bad for the ones at Acapulco, though one diminutive Argentinian Top 10 talent fell to an Italian qualifier.

Unseeded players at the Dubai Tennis Championships began to get their revenge on the seed’s who dominated the previous day’s play, with every possible unseeded player making their way through to the quarter finals at the ATP 500 event. The only unseeded player to lose out was Slovenia’s Aljaz Bedene, who went down to fellow unseeded talent Kei Nishikori who won in straight sets, 6-4 6-4 to advance to the final eight in the tournament.

The big wins were qualifier Lloyd Harris and wildcard Aslan Karatsev who advanced through to the quarter finals thanks to hard-fought victories in their respective matches. The South African Harris defeated 14th seed Serbian Filip Krajinovic in two tight sets 7-6 6-4, overcoming the first set tiebreaker 7-5 before holding up well under pressure in the second set to secure the win. Australian Open semi-finalist Karatsev won through with a come-from-behind three-set win over 17th seed Lorenzo Sonego, 3-6 6-3 6-4.

Other unseeded players to advance through were Frenchman Jeremy Chardy and Hungarian Marton Fucsovics. Chardy toppled Russian eighth seed Karen Khachanov 6-7 6-4 6-4 in an epic battle throughout two hours and 36 minutes, while Fucsovics defeated 11th seed Serbian Dusan Lajovic to advance to the next round of the tournament. Khachanov was the second highest ranked player to bow out in the Round of 16, as fourth seed Roberto Bautista Agut went down to Italian teenager Jannik Sinner, 6-4 3-6 7-5 in another epic contest that lasted two hours and 24 minutes and saw Sinner serve 16 aces throughout the match.

“Roberto is an incredible player, very solid,” Sinner said post-match. “It was very tough, not going for too much or striking the ball too slow. I am looking for these kind of tough matches in order to improve. I am happy to have won and can play one more match here tomorrow. I tried to control my emotions as much as possible, which helped me a lot.”

It was a lot more straight forward for the other two seeds who advanced, with second seed Andrey Rublev and third seed Denis Shapovalov having no issues moving through to the quarter finals. Rublev defeated 15th seed American Taylor Fritz 6-3 6-1 to book his place in the final eight, while Shapovalov took out 13th seed Pole Hubert Hurkacz 6-4 6-3.

The quarter final take place today with Shapovalov and Chardy up first, followed by Karatsev and Sinner in the other afternoon match. At night, Harris and Nishikori lock horns, followed by Fucsovics and Rublev in the late game. Chardy and Sinner will also have to double-up during the day with doubles quarter finals as well later in the afternoon.

DUBAI TENNIS CHAMPIONSHIPS ROUND OF 16 RESULTS:

[2] Andrey Rublev (RUS) defeated [15] Taylor Fritz (USA) 6-3 6-1
[3] Denis Shapovalov (CAN) defeated [13] Hubert Hurkacz (POL) 6-4 6-3
[16] Jannik Sinner (ITA) defeated [4] Roberto Bautista Agut (ESP) 6-4 3-6 7-5
Jeremy Chardy (FRA) defeated [8] Karen Khachanov (RUS) 6-7 6-4 6-4
Marton Fucsovics (HUN) defeated [11] Dusan Lajovic (SRB) 6-1 4-6 6-4
[Q] Lloyd Harris (RSA) defeated [14] Filip Krajinovic (SRB) 7-6 6-4
[WC] Aslan Karatsev (RUS) defeated [17] Lorenzo Sonego (ITA) 3-6 6-3 6-4
Kei Nishikori (JPN) defeated Aljaz Bedene (SLO) 6-4 6-4

 

In Acapulco, the Round of 32 was completed with 10 clashes played out on day two of the main draw matches, in the smaller ATP 500 event. The story of the day was Italian teenager Lorenzo Musetti – who only turned 19 earlier this month – taking down top seed Diego Schwartzman to set himself up for a Top 100 spot at the end of the tournament.

The qualifier won 6-3 2-6 6-4 in two hours and 23 minutes, serving six aces to zero, and winning 66 per cent of his first serve points. Schwartzman was more consistent off his second serve – winning 64 per cent of the points, but Musetti capitalised at the right times, breaking in the final set to claim the win and move through to the Round of 16.

“There is a lot of work, a lot of sacrifice and I think some tears left in my eyes,” Musetti said post-match. “I’m really proud of myself, but now I’m going to work harder and focus on the next days.”

All the other seeds in action advanced through to the next round unscathed, meaning seven of the eight seeds will be there in the Round of 16. Top seed Stefanos Tsitsipas brushed aside Frenchman Benoit Paire 6-3 6-1, whilst fifth seed Bulgarian Grigor Dimitrov spent the least time on court in a 6-4 3-0 win over Adrian Mannarino, as the Frenchman had to retire. Meanwhile other seeds Milos Raonic, Fabio Fognini and Casper Ruud all advanced through to the second round with straight set victories.

In the battle of the unseeded players, Serbia’s Miomir Kecmanovic and Great Britain’s Cameron Norrie both advanced in straight sets, defeating Feliciano Lopez and Stefan Kozlov respectively. In the all-American battle, Frances Tiafoe had some tense moments against up-and-coming qualifier and compatriot Brandon Nakashima, before posting a 6-4 6-7 7-6 victory – with both tiebreakers being 7-5 to respective players – in the longest match of the day with players spending two hours and 47 minutes on court. In the other result, Dutch qualifier Tallon Griekspoor moved through to the Round of 16 with a 7-6 4-6 6-3 victory over United States’ lucky loser Denis Kudla.

There are some ripping contests in today’s action with Musetti now facing off against Tiafoe for a spot in the quarter finals, while Fognini will take on Norrie. On centre court, top seed Tsitsipas will have a blockbuster match against John Isner, while earlier in the evening, American wildcard Sebastian Korda will face seventh seed Canadian Felix Auger-Aliassime, and Serbian Laslo Djere will lock horns with German second seed Alexander Zverev.

ABIERTO MEXICANO ROUND OF 32 RESULTS:

[1] Stefanos Tsitsipas (GRE) defeated Benoit Paire (FRA) 6-3 6-1
[Q] Lorenzo Musetti (ITA) defeated [3] Diego Schwartzman (ARG) 6-3 2-6 6-4
[4] Milos Raonic (CAN) defeated Tommy Paul (USA) 7-6 6-4
[5] Grigor Dimitrov (BUL) defeated Adrian Mannarino (FRA) 6-4 3-0 RET
[6] Fabio Fognini (ITA) defeated Stefano Travaglia (ITA) 7-5 6-2
[8] Casper Ruud (NOR) defeated [SE] Daniel Elahi Galan (COL) 6-4 6-1
Miomir Kecmanovic (SRB) defeated Feliciano Lopez (ESP) 6-4 6-4
Frances Tiafoe (USA) defeated [Q] Brandon Nakashima (USA) 6-4 6-7 7-6
Cameron Norrie (GBR) defeated [Q] Stefan Kozlov (USA) 6-3 6-3
[Q] Tallon Griekspoor (NED) defeated [LL] Denis Kudla (USA) 7-6 4-6 6-3

 

Picture credit: ATP Tour