Tag: stefanos tsitsipas

Olympics men’s wraps: Humbert topples Tsitsipas as Nishikori sets up Djoker clash

JUST eight men remain in the hunt for medals at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, following the completion of the Round of 16 matches yesterday. With five of the top six seeds in action, four advanced through to the next round, whilst there was one huge upset, and the home crowd favourite remained alive in the tournament.

Kei Nishikori continued his winning streak at his home event, overcoming an early challenge from Belarusian Ilya Ivashka to win the first set tiebreaker 9-7 before storming to a 6-0 win in the second set. After the first set lasted 82 minutes, the second set bagel was just 39 minutes, as Nishikori dropped just two points on serve and won 31 of the 47 total points. He hit 10 winners to 18 for the match, but had 17 less unforced errors (27-44). The Japanese former Top 5 player now has the toughest ask, up against top seed Novak Djokovic.

The Serbian made light work of 16th seed Alejandro Davidovich Fokina, rolling past the Spaniard in straight sets, 6-3 6-1. The match lasted 83 minutes as Djokovic hit 19 winners – including nine aces – to Davidovich Fokina’s 12. The world number one also had 11 less unforced errors (12-23), and only dropped 12 points on serve for the entire match, facing just two break points and saving both, whilst breaking his opponent four times from nine chances.

The biggest upset of the day belonged to 14th seed Ugo Humbert, as the Frenchman’s scalps in the past 12 months continued to grow, this time knocking off third seed Greek, Stefanos Tsitsipas. It lasted three sets, but Humbert eventually claimed the win, 2-6 7-6 6-2 to advance through to the quarter finals. He needed two hours and 20 minutes, bouncing back from a disappointing first set, to close out the second set tiebreaker 7-4, then claim the win with a 52-minute third set despite the lob-sided scoreline. Tsitsipas’ serving disappeared in the final set, not serving an ace after 10 in he first two sets, and only hitting seven winners outside aces for the match, compared to Humbert’s 22.

In other results, second seed Daniil Medvedev had to fight for it, but overcame 15th seed Fabio Fognini in three sets 6-2 3-6 6-2. The Russian second seed set up a quarter finals clash with sixth seed Pablo Carreno Busta, following the Spaniard’s tight two-set win over German Dominik Koepfer, 7-6 6-3. Meanwhile fourth seed Alexander Zverev took care of Georgian Nikoloz Basilashvili 6-4 7-6, to set up a quarter finals clash with Frenchman, Jeremy Chardy. France joins Russia as the only nation with two medal chances remaining, with 12th seed Karen Khachanov to face Humbert in the other quarter final.

OLYMPICS MEN’S ROUND OF 16 RESULTS:

[1] Novak Djokovic (SRB) defeated [16] Alejandro Davidovich Fokina (ESP) 6-3 6-1
[2] Daniil Medvedev (RUS) defeated [15] Fabio Fognini (ITA) 6-2 3-6 6-2
[14] Ugo Humbert (FRA) defeated [3] Stefanos Tsitsipas (GRE) 2-6 7-6 6-2
[4] Alexander Zverev (GER) defeated Nikoloz Basilashvili (GEO) 6-4 7-6
[6] Pablo Carreno Busta (ESP) defeated Dominik Koepfer (GER) 7-6 6-3
Kei Nishikori (JPN) defeated Ilya Ivashka (BLR) 7-6 6-0

 

Picture credit: ATP Tour

Olympics Men’s wraps: Broady claims huge upset as Tsitsipas keeps it simple

A COUPLE of big exits haunted the men’s Round of 32, following suit with the women’s draw, as seeds continue to fall to lower ranked opposition.

Stefanos Tsitsipas came back with a vengeance to claim a 6-3 6-4 victory over Frances Tiafoe, putting his Wimbledon exit at the hands of the United States representative to the backburner, to overcome the American in 77 minutes. Winning 28 of 31 first serve points, Tsitsipas controlled proceedings and fired 13 winners and nine aces to take out the win.

“There was [a different feel], yeah,” Tsitsipas said. “I enjoyed playing under the closed roof. The court kind of felt quicker, but that didn’t stop me from playing the game I wanted to play.”

“I’m always trying to find to find solutions, find ways to fix my mistakes and get a better outcome – that was the case today,” Tsitsipas explained. “I was able to maintain the high levels of concentration and deliver good tennis in moments where I had to. It was a very-well balanced game, mentally.”

It was seventh seed Hubert Hurkacz and 11th seed Aslan Karatsev that fell at the second hurdle, both going down in tough three-setters despite clinching back the second set apiece. While Karatsev went down to 68th-ranked Frenchman Jeremy Chardy, for Brit Liam Broady, it was a huge victory over Hurkacz as the world number 143 claimed a monumental 7-5 3-6 6-3 win, outlasting Hurkacz’s 16 aces and hitting 18 winners for 16 unforced errors to Hurkacz’s 28.

“It’s obviously a career-best win at a career-high moment, representing GB at the Olympics. It couldn’t have gone better,” Broady said.

“I think it helped watching Hubert a lot over the last few years – I watched him a lot last night. The team put together a few clips for me of him playing against lefties, to sort of get a rough idea of how he plays, and that helped a lot with being more comfortable out there.

“It’s quite a difficult situation for him – he probably has no idea how I play. No fault of his own, obviously, just not many people watch the Challengers.

“I don’t think anyone expects very much of me and that works well for me. Over the last year and a half, I’ve started to put a few results together and started to build stable foundations within my tennis off the court, and that’s starting to pay off this year.”

Meanwhile 14th seed Ugo Humbert joined Chardy on the winners list with a tough three-set victory over Marcos Giron, as both Kei Nishikori and Ilya Ivashka earned three-set wins over fellow unseeded opposition. Eighth seed Diego Schwartzman and 12th seed Karen Khachanov took out the remaining two Round of 16 spots with straight sets wins over Tomas Machac and James Duckworth, respectively.

OLYMPICS ROUND OF 32 RESULTS:

[3] Stefanos Tsitsipas (GRE) defeated Frances Tiafoe (USA) 6-3 6-4
Liam Broady (GBR) defeated [7] Hubert Hurkacz (POL) 7-5 3-6 6-3
[8] Diego Schwartzman (ARG) defeated Tomas Machac (CZE) 6-4 7-5
Jeremy Chardy (FRA) defeated [11] Aslan Karatsev (ROC) 7-5 4-6 6-3
[12] Karen Khachanov (ROC) defeated James Duckworth (AUS) 7-5 6-1
[14] Ugo Humbert (FRA) defeated Miomir Kecmanovic (SRB) 4-6 7-6 7-5
Kei Nishikori (JPN) defeated Marcos Giron (USA) 7-6 3-6 6-1
Ilya Ivashka (BLR) defeated Mikhail Kukushkin (KAZ) 6-7 6-3 6-3

 

Picture credit: Kopatsch/Sato/Sidorjak

Olympics Men’s wraps: Upsets make a stir as Tsitsipas makes history and Nishikori wins on home turf

THE second day of Tokyo 2020 men’s tennis action saw plenty of intrigue as a trio of top 10 seeds fell at the first hurdle in the game of games.

Possibly the biggest upset of the day came from Australian Max Purcell, who was a late entry following Andy Murray‘s late withdrawal and Alex De Minaur‘s positive COVID-19 test. While the world number 190 did not have a heap of preparation, he made the most of his Olympics debut, storming away with a 6-4 7-6(2) victory over ninth seed Canadian Felix Auger-Aliassime in just under two hours. With more forced (23-17) and unforced errors (12-5), Auger-Aliassime just could not contend with the fired up Australian.

“I went on court just before 3pm and I found out [I was playing] just before 11am, so I had about four hours’ [notice],” Purcell said. “But the whole time I’ve been here I’ve been itching to play singles, so I’m always ready.”

Japanese hometown hero Kei Nishikori caused a stir with an upset of Russian Andrey Rublev – competing for the Russian Olympic Committee (ROC) – earning his highest ranked victory since 2018. The Japanese bronze medallist in Rio has suffered a string of injuries and resulting shaky form, but showed no signs of that in his 6-3 6-4 sweep of the fifth seed, hitting just 10 unforced errors throughout.

“It’s been a while [since] I’ve been playing like this,” Nishikori said. “I was struggling playing Top-10 players the last couple of months, or maybe all this year. This is the first time I’m playing a very solid match, so I’m happy of course beating Rublev, but also happy with my tennis today.”

“It’s good to be playing at home, especially this site,” he said. “I’ve been playing here a lot – sometimes it feels like home, though with no spectators it’s tough. But I have to enjoy playing here – I know many people are watching on TV, so I just have to focus on what I have to do on the court.”

Tenth seed Gael Monfils was another to fall in the opening round, after famously delaying his – and now wife Elina Monfils – honeymoon to compete in Tokyo. The Frenchman put up a fight but was unable to steal away momentum despite snatching the second set off Belarusian Ilya Ivashka, eventually going down 6-4 4-6 7-5. Elsewhere, a couple of other seeds were put through their paces as third seed Stefanos Tsitsipas overcame Philipp Kohlschreiber 6-3 3-6 6-3 to earn Greece its first Olympic singles winner since Augustos Zerlandis in Paris in 1924, while another Japanese talent in Yoshihito Nishioka stole away the opening set from 12th seed Karen Khachanov, before eventually going down 3-6 6-1 6-2.

“Stats are important,” Tsitsipas said. “It’s a good thing to know that this happened. I’m a person that’s optimistic and I’m a person that wants more. It is an honour. It’s a big move for Greece. “It’s a big move for this sport in Greece as well and there’s joy in doing that.”

Of the remaining winners, seeds Alexander ZverevHubert Hurkacz and Diego Schwartzman led the winners list, as a couple of Americans in Frances Tiafoe and Marcos Giron joined the crew, and another Australian in James Duckworth earned a second round berth. Schwartzman’s compatriots in Federico CoriaFacundo Bagnis and Francisco Cerundolo were all unlucky in the opening round, going down to Mikhail KukushkinDominik Koepfer and Liam Broady, respectively, as Czech Tomas Machac and Colombian Daniel Elahi Galan rounded out the day two winners list.

OLYMPICS ROUND OF 64 RESULTS:

[3] Stefanos Tsitsipas (GRE) defeated Philipp Kohlschreiber (GER) 6-3 3-6 6-3
[4] Alexander Zverev (GER) defeated Yen-Hsun Lu (TPE) 6-1 6-3
Kei Nishikori (JPN) defeated [5] Andrey Rublev (ROC) 6-3 6-4
[7] Hubert Hurkacz (POL) defeated Luke Saville (AUS) 6-2 6-4
[8] Diego Schwartzman (ARG) defeated Juan Pablo Varillas (PER) 7-5 6-4
Max Purcell (AUS) defeated [9] Felix Auger-Aliassime (CAN) 6-4 7-6
Ilya Ivashka (BLR) defeated [10] Gael Monfils (FRA) 6-4 4-6 7-5
[12] Karen Khachanov (ROC) defeated Yoshihito Nishioka (JPN) 3-6 6-1 6-2
Frances Tiafoe (USA) defeated Soonwoo Kwon (KOR) 6-3 6-2
Marcos Giron (USA) defeated Norbert Gombos (SVK) 7-6 3-6 6-2
Tomas Machac (CZE) defeated Joao Sousa (POR) 6-7 6-4 6-4
Mikhail Kukushkin (KAZ) defeated Federico Coria (ARG) 7-6 7-5
Dominik Koepfer (GER) defeated Facundo Bagnis (ARG) 3-6 6-3 7-5
Liam Broady (GBR) defeated Francisco Cerundolo (ARG) 7-5 6-7 6-2
James Duckworth (AUS) defeated Lukas Klein (SVK) 5-7 6-3 7-6
Daniel Elahi Galan (COL) defeated Mohamed Safwat (EGY) 7-5 6-1

 

Picture credit: ITF

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

HAMBURG EUROPEAN OPEN QUARTER FINALS RESULTS:

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

HALL OF FAME OPEN QUARTER FINALS RESULTS:

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

NORDEA OPEN QUARTER FINALS RESULTS:

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

 

Picture credit: ATP Tour

ATP Tour wrap: Players heating up heading into quarter finals   

WORLD number 4 Stefanos Tsitsipas had a good return to the court overnight progressing to the quarter finals at the Hamburg European Open, defeating German Dominik Koepfer in straight sets.

Having lost to American Frances Tiafoe in a disappointing first round exit at Wimbledon, the top ranked Greek was a little shaky early when he dropped the first serve of the match, however he was able to regain his composure to win a first set tie-break.

Koepfer fought hard throughout the match and led 3-2 in the second set before Tsitsipas broke serve twice to close out the set and win the tie 7-6 (7-2) 6-3. The match lasted one hour and 44 minutes in what was gruelling contest according to the top ranked seed.

“I think it’s fair to say that things were tricky today. I had an opponent who was willing to fight and give his best performance out there today.”

“Things worked out for me. At the end of the first set and towards the second set I think I started loosening up, and I felt more flexible in my game,” Tsitsipas said during his post-match interview on-court.

Tsitsipas will face Filip Krajinovic after the Serbian knocked out another German in Philipp Kohlschreiber during an intense three set battle. Krajinovic won 73 per cent of his first-service points (47/64) to defeat the wildcard 7-5, 4-6, 6-3 in two hours and 25 minutes.

Fellow Serbian Laslo Djere joins Krajinovic in the quarters after defeating Brazilian qualifier Thiago Seyboth Wild in straight sets. Nikoloz Basilashvili was handed a walkover against Sebastian Baez after the Argentinian was ruled out after testing positive to COVID-19.

In Sweden, Round of 16 action was underway for the Nordea open and unfortunately for Aussie John Millman he bowed out in a disappointing result against Frenchman Arthur Rinderknech. The qualifier defeated the fourth seeded Millman in three sets (6-3 3-6 6-3) and is looking at a quarter-final match up with Yannick Hanfmann who also caused an upset in a straight sets victory over seventh seed Jiri Vesely.

Federico Coria was victorious in three sets over Italian Marco Cecchinato. Coria will now face Cristian Garin in the final eight after the second seeded Chilean won 6-3 6-3 against Spaniard Pedro Martinez.

Over in the USA, the Hall of Fame Open continued in Newport with three locals winning through to the quarter finals. Maxime Cressy defeated fellow American and second seeded Sam Querrey 6-4 2-6 6-2, while countrymen Jenson Brooksby and Denis Kudla also battled it out over three sets. 20-year-old Brooksby came out on top as he aims to prove himself as a tough competitor on the ATP tour. Wildcard Jack Sock defeated number three seed Yoshihito Nishioka in an easy 6-2 6-3 win.

Kazakhstani Alexander Bublik, who is the number one seed at the tournament, had a close encounter with 42-year-old wildcard Ivo Karlovic, eventually overrunning his opponent in the third set to win 7-6 (7-5) 4-6 6-1. As Bublik said himself the match was a battle of “server against server”, with Bublik serving 22 aces to the Croatian’s 21.

The World No. 37 will now face Chinese Taipei’s Jason Jung who caused a big upset over local Tennys Sandgren, winning 6-2 6-2 in a demolition. Jung did not concede any of his service games and he won 82 per cent (32/39) of his first serve points.

In other results, seventh seed Jordan Thompson and eighth seed Kevin Anderson both won in straight set victories over Yuichi Sugita, and Sebastian Ofner respectively. While Peter Gojowczyk caused an upset over World No. 61 Vasek Pospisil, winning 6-3 6-3.

 

HAMBURG EUROPEAN OPEN ROUND OF 16 RESULTS:

[1] [WC] Stefanos Tsitsipas (GRE) defeated Dominik Koepfer (GER) 7-6 (7-2) 6-3
[3] Nikoloz Basilashvili (GEO) defeated [LL] Sebastian Baez (ARG) W/O
[6] Filip Krajinovic (SRB) defeated [WC] Philipp Kohlschreiber (GER) 7-5 4-6 6-3
Laslo Djere (SRB) defeated [Q] Thiago Seyboth Wild (BRA) 7-6 (7-1) 6-1

NORDEA OPEN ROUND OF 16 RESULTS:

Yannick Hanfmann (GER) defeated [7] Jiri Vesely (CZE) 6-4 6-3
[2] Cristian Garin (CHL) defeated Pedro Martinez (ESP) 6-3 6-3
[Q] Arthur Rinderknech (FRA) defeated [4] John Millman (AUS) 6-3 3-6 6-3
Federico Coria (ARG) defeated Marco Cecchinato (ITA) 4-6 6-4 6-3

HALL OF FAME OPEN ROUND OF 16 RESULTS:

Maxime Cressy (USA) defeated [2] Sam Querrey (USA) 6-4 2-6 6-2
[1] Alexander Bublik (KAZ) defeated [WC] Ivo Karlovic (CRO) 7-6 (7-5) 4-6 6-1
[WC] Jack Sock (USA) defeated [3] Yoshihito Nishioka (JAP) 6-2 6-3
Peter Gojowczyk (GER) defeated [4] Vasek Pospisil (CAN) 6-3 6-3
Jason Jung (TPE) defeated [5] Tennys Sandgren (USA) 6-2 6-2
[7] Jordan Thompson (AUS) defeated Yuichi Sugita 6-0 6-2
[8] [WC] Kevin Anderson (RSA) defeated [Q] Sebastian Ofner (AUT) 7-5 7-6 (7-3)
Jenson Brooksby (USA) defeated Denis Kudla (USA) 6-3 4-6 7-5

Photo credit: REUTERS/Cathrin Mueller

ATP Tour wrap: Korda eliminates Evans, joins illustrious group

UNITED States young gun Sebastian Korda has joined an illustrious group by winning through to the fourth round at both Roland Garros and now Wimbledon prior to his 21st birthday. The 20-year-old defeated Daniel Evans, 6-3 3-6 6-3 6-4 in two hours and 24 minutes to advance to the Round of 16 and join a group of Novak Djokovic, Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, Stefanos Tsitsipas, Marin Cilic, Tomas Berdych and Lleyton Hewitt as other players to achieve the feat.

“I just stayed calm in the biggest moments as much as I could,” Korda said post-match. “I tried to stay relaxed and keep playing attacking tennis, that’s what I do. I’m really proud of myself for that today.”

“[It’s] a big achievement. A year ago, I was 220 in the world and I’m here in the fourth round at Wimbledon. It’s incredible. I have my family to thank, my coaches and everybody around me.”

Korda produced 13 aces against Evans, also winning 58 per cent of his second serve points, and breaking five times to three despite one less break point opportunity. He smashed 51 winners tp 21 across the four sets, though also hit 43 unforced errors to 18. In winning, Korda advanced through to the fourth round to take on 25th seed Karen Khachanov.

The Russian defeated giant-killer Frances Tiafoe in straight sets, 6-3 6-4 6-4. Khachanov won in an hour and 46 minutes, hitting 29 winners to 26 and only 22 unforced errors to 24, also serving 13 aces and winning 77 per cent of his net points. He joined compatriot fifth seed Andrey Rublev in the Round of 16, following Rublev’s four-set win over 26th seeded Italian Fabio Fognini.

Rublev won 6-3 5-7 6-4 6-2 in just under three hours to earn a spot in the fourth round. The Russian hit 13 aces to the Italian’s eight, and despite having seven less winners (36-43), had 15 less unforced errors (28-43). Rublev also broke five times to Fognini’s twice, and won 73 and 53 per cent of his first and second serve points compared to the Italian’s 66 and 41 per cent.

Top seed Djokovic had no troubles until the third set, saving a set point against American Denis Kudla to win 9-7 in the third for an overall win of 6-4 6-3 7-6 in two hours and 17 minutes. The tournament favourite hit 34 winners to 30 and had 28 unforced errors to 35, only dropping six points off his first serve in a dominant overall effort. In victory, Djokovic became the first ATP Tour player to win at least 75 matches at each of the Grand Slam events.

“I had to slow down the pace in the game because he was really handling the flat ball well from the back of the court. He has really good balance,” Djokovic said post-match. “I think his backhand and forehand as well are pretty flat. He moves around pretty well on the grass-court surface. He’s a really good player.”

The last remaining British hope in wildcard Andy Murray was eliminated in the third round, with the two-time Grand Slam winner bundled out by an impressive Denis Shapovalov. The Canadian 10th seed won 6-4 6-2 6-2 in two hours and 17 minutes to end Murray’s run at his home Grand Slam and roll into the fourth round. He hit 45 winners to Murray’s 16, and served up 13 aces, winning 71 and 57 per cent of his first and second serve points, breaking six times and looking strong off the return and at the net.

“Honestly, I told him at the net that he’s my hero,” Shapovalov said of Murray in his post-match speech. “Achievements aside, what he’s been able to do in the sport to come back with an injury like this, to be playing the tennis that he’s playing, moving the way he’s moving… I said after his second match it was truly like ‘vintage Andy’ and so much fun to see as a fan.

“The first set we played today was super, super intense, I had to really, really give it my all. After that, I was able to maintain the level as he dropped a little bit. But still, it’s incredible what he’s done to reach the third round like this. Obviously he’s just starting back up, so it’s going to be amazing to see what he can do.”

In other results, Hungarian Marton Fucsovics took out ninth seed Diego Schwartzman in fourth sets to join Korda as the only other unseeded player in the top half of the draw. Fucsovics won 6-3 6-3 6-7 6-4 to advance through to the Round of 16. Meanwhile eighth seed Roberto Bautista Agut knocked off German Dominik Koepfer in straight sets 7-5 6-1 7-6, whilst 17th seed Cristian Garin set up a Round of 16 head-to-head with Djokovic after getting past Spaniard Pedro Martinez, 6-4 6-3 4-6 6-4.

WIMBLEDON ROUND OF 32 RESULTS:

[1] Novak Djokovic (SRB) defeated Denis Kudla (USA) 6-4 6-3 7-6
[5] Andrey Rublev (RUS) defeated [26] Fabio Fognini (ITA) 6-3 5-7 6-4 6-2
[8] Roberto Bautista Agut (ESP) defeated Dominik Koepfer (GER) 7-5 6-1 7-6
Marton Fucsovics (HUN) defeated [9] Diego Schwartzman (ARG) 6-3 6-3 6-7 6-4
[10] Denis Shapovalov (CAN) defeated Andy Murray (GBR) 6-4 6-2 6-2
[17] Cristian Garin (CHI) defeated Pedro Martinez (ESP) 6-4 6-3 4-6 6-4
Sebastian Korda (USA) defeated [22] Daniel Evans (GBR) 6-3 3-6 6-3 6-4
[25] Karen Khachanov (RUS) defeated Frances Tiafoe (USA) 6-3 6-4 6-4

Picture credit: ATP Tour

ATP Tour wrap: Tiafoe stuns Tsitsipas in opening round of Wimbledon

THERE were no shortage of upsets in the men’s draw of Wimbledon on day one, but few were more eyebrow raising than powerful American, Frances Tiafoe‘s stunning straight sets upset of third seed Stefanos Tsitsipas. The Greek star was seen as one of world number one Novak Djokovic‘s biggest threats – if not the biggest threat – but the world number four is now out of the grass court Grand Slam at the first chance.

Winning 6-4 6-4 6-3, Tiafoe took two hours and two minutes to stun the third seed, given just a 19 per cent chance to win by the IBM Power Rankings. The American proved the stats wrong as he hit eight more winners (43-35) whilst not conceding any more unforced errors (22-22), and saved all seven break points. In turn, he broke his opponent four times, weathering the 15 aces Tsitsipas put down. Tiafoe also won 67 per cent of his second serve points.

“These are matches I actually love,” Tiafoe said post-match. “I play great tennis against high-calibre players. “I’ve beaten high-calibre players. “The minimum I want to do is at least give myself a chance to win. “I did.

“I woke up this morning like, ‘Yeah, I’m beating Stefanos.’ “It happened. “I think believing it when nobody else does is so big.”

It was a little simpler for Djokovic, taking the same amount of time – two hours – to defeat teenage Brit Jack Draper. Talking about IBM Power Ranking percentages, Draper was given a one per cent chance of winning, but that did not stop the world 253 stunning the top seed on Centre Court, taking out the first set 6-4. As if spurred into action, Djokovic went to a gear few have, and blew the youngster off the court, 6-1 6-2 6-2 in the final three sets to secure the win. The Serbian served 25 aces for only one double fault, broke six times to one and only dropped 14 points on his serve for the entire match.

“He definitely deserves a round of applause,” Djokovic said post-match. “He’s a youngster, only 19. “[I] hadn’t seen him play too much prior to the Queen’s tournament, [where] he played pretty well and won a couple of matches against higher-ranked players. “Walking onto Wimbledon’s Centre Court for him for the first time, I think he has done extremely well. “He carried himself very maturely on the court. I think he behaved well, he backed himself, he believed that he could come back, and he deserves credit for that. “I wish him all the best for the rest of his career.”

The other big result was local hope Andy Murray returning to the singles action on Centre Court, battling hard to overcome 24th seed Georgian, Nikoloz Basilashvili. The Brit veteran and two-time Wimbledon champion won 6-4 6-3 5-7 6-3 to book his spot in the second round. It was his first Wimbledon singles appearance since 2017, and only his sixth ATP Tour match this season. He was one of two Brits to advance to the second round thus far, joining Liam Broady – who ousted Italian Marco Cecchinato – in the Round of 64.

From the other seeded games, fifth seed Andrey Rublev, his compatriot 25th seed Karen Khachanov, and eighth seed Roberto Bautista Agut all advanced in four sets, whilst the news was not as promising for young gun Jannik Sinner. The 19th seed bowed out after winning the first set, but losing the next three, to Hungarian Marton Fucsovics. He was one of another two seeds to exit the tournament on opening day, with 27th seed Reilly Opelka losing in straight sets to German Dominik Koepfer, and 30th seed Alejandro Davidovich Fokina bowing out at the hands of American qualifier Denis Kudla.

In other results, Kevin Anderson, Vasek Pospisil, Andreas Seppi and Jiri Vesely all won their first round matches, in a throwback to a past era for the veterans. Also making it through were Serbian Miomir Kecmanovic, and Spaniard Pedro Martinez, both getting up to lock in a second round spot.

WIMBLEDON ROUND OF 128 RESULTS:

[1] Novak Djokovic (SRB) defeated [WC] Jack Draper (GBR) 4-6 6-1 6-2 6-2
Frances Tiafoe (USA) defeated [3] Stefanos Tsitsipas (GRE) 6-4 6-4 6-3
[5] Andrey Rublev (RUS) defeated Federico Delbonis (ARG) 4-6 6-4 6-1 6-2
[8] Roberto Bautista Agut (ESP) defeated John Millman (AUS) 6-2 3-6 6-3 7-6
Marton Fucsovics (HUN) defeated [19] Jannik Sinner (ITA) 5-7 6-3 7-5 6-3
[WC] Andy Murray (GBR) defeated [24] Nikoloz Basilashvili (GEO) 6-4 6-3 5-7 6-3
[25] Karen Khachanov (RUS) defeated [Q] Mackenzie McDonald (USA) 3-6 6-3 5-7 6-3
Dominik Koepfer (GER) defeated [27] Reilly Opelka (USA) 6-4 7-6 6-2
[Q] Denis Kudla (USA) defeated [30] Alejandro Davidovich Fokina (ESP) 5-7 4-6 7-6 6-3 6-3
Kevin Anderson (RSA) defeated [Q] Marcelo Tomas Barrios Vera (CHI) 6-7 6-4 6-4 7-6
[WC] Liam Broady (GBR) defeated Marco Cecchinato (ITA) 6-3 6-4 6-0
Miomir Kecmanovic (SRB) defeated Facundo Bagnis (ARG) 6-3 6-4 6-0
Pedro Martinez (ESP) defeated Stefano Travaglia (ITA) 6-3 2-6 6-4 6-4
Vasek Pospisil (CAN) defeated Roberto Carballes Baena (ESP) 6-3 6-3 6-3
Andreas Seppi (ITA) defeated Joao Sousa (POR) 4-6 6-4 7-5 6-2
Jiri Vesely (CZE) defeated Yannick Hanfmann (GER) 6-1 7-5 7-6

Picture credit: ATP Tour

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

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

WOMEN’S:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

First round matches to watch:

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

MEN’S:

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

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

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

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

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

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

First round matches to watch:

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

 

Picture credit: Michael Regan/Getty Images

ATP Tour wrap: Djokovic clinches second Roland Garros title

NOVAK Djokovic has claimed his 19th Grand Slam title overnight, turning around an early deficit to Stefanos Tsitsipas to win the 2021 Roland Garros trophy. While his 22-year-old Greek opposition got off to a flying start to capture the first two sets, the world number one fired up from then on to win the remaining three comfortably to come away with the 6-7 2-6 6-3 6-2 6-4 victory in four hours and 11 minutes.

In the process, Djokovic became the first man in the Open Era to win all four majors twice – and third man to do so overall – with his maiden Roland Garros title coming in 2016, before Rafael Nadal swept the next four years. Djokovic overcame the champion Spaniard in the semi-finals, dealing him only his third ever loss at the event.

“Of course, I am thrilled and I’m very proud of this achievement. I think part of the history of the sport that I love with all my heart is always something that is very inspiring and very fulfilling for me,” Djokovic said. “I couldn’t be happier and more satisfied with this kind of scenario in the last 48 hours. “Probably ranks at the top three all-time achievements and experiences that I had in my professional tennis career.

“Going through a four-and-a-half battle with Rafa on his court, then bouncing back after not practicing yesterday, just coming in today with as much as recharged batteries and energy regained to fight another battle of four-and-a-half hours against Tsitsipas, who is playing in his first Grand Slam final.”

Tsitsipas’ hot start was led by an 18-winner first set and just two unforced errors in the second, before the world number one picked up the pace. From then on, Djokovic controlled proceedings and despite trailing in winners (56-61), he claimed a 78 per cent win rate off his first serve and won 40 per cent off the receive on his way to victory.

“[I left] the court, as it was the case against Musetti (Lorenzo Musetti) in the fourth round when I was two sets down, and came back as a different player,” Djokovic said. “Just refreshed, [and I] managed to make a break, early break in the third. “After that, I felt like I got into his head. “I feel like I started swinging through the ball better. “The momentum was on my side, it shifted. “There was no looking back from that moment.”

Tsitsipas will reach a career-high number four ranking this week, telling media that he has faith in his game despite losing his maiden Grand Slam appearance.

“I believe, yes, I’m able to play for titles like this. Despite my loss today, I have faith in my game. I very much believe I can get to that point very soon. I was close today,” insisted Tsitsipas. “It’s very sad because it was a good opportunity. “I was playing good. “I was feeling good.” Yeah, I lost an opportunity to do something better today. “But I think with the same attitude and if I don’t downgrade myself, I see no reason for me not to be holding that trophy one day.”

“I don’t know, he left the court after two sets to love down, I don’t know what happened there, but he came back to me like a different player suddenly. I have no idea. He played really well. He gave me no space,” Tsitsipas said. “It’s different. “It’s all about endurance, if you can keep your level there for longer periods of time, then of course that’s what is needed in a Grand Slam. “I played two good sets. “I wouldn’t call them incredible. “I just played really well. “It wasn’t enough. “That’s a Grand Slam for you. “It’s the way it is.”

“It’s a difficult journey, it takes a lot of work every day… I hope to be back next year to put on a good show again.”

“Knowing him and his team, he’s going to come out of this much stronger,” Djokovic said of Tsitsipas.

ROLAND GARROS FINAL RESULTS:

[1] Novak Djokovic (SRB) defeated [5] Stefanos Tsitsipas (GRE) 6-7 2-6 6-3 6-2 6-4

Picture credit: Nicolas Gouhier/FFT

ATP Tour wrap: Djokovic and Tsitsipas make history to reach Roland Garros final

NOVAK Djokovic and Stefanos Tsitsipas will face off in the 2021 Roland Garros final after winning their remarkable semi-finals overnight. In two matches fit for the semi-final stage, the world number one Djokovic found a way to overcome the King of Clay, Rafael Nadal in more than four hours on court, whilst Tsitsipas survived a late comeback from Alexander Zverev to win in five sets on Court Philippe-Chatrier.

Djokovic knew he had to be at his best against a man who held a 105-2 record in the Paris Grand Slam, and whilst he was one of those losses, the difficulty of beating the 13-time winner was sky high. But, Djokovic fought through a set down and a tight four-set match to win 3-6 6-3 7-6 6-2 in four hours and 11 minutes to reach another Grand Slam final.

“It was for sure the most beautiful match I’ve played here in Paris,” Djokovic said post-match. “You tell yourself there is no pressure. “But there is a lot of pressure, trust me.”

For a world number one it is hard to exceed some of the tennis the Serbian has played over his career, but it was one of his most impressive performances to-date against the greatest ever clay courter. He hit 50 winners to 48, and only had the 37 unforced errors to 55 in a reliable performance.

While Nadal had an extra point for his first serve percentage, the Serbian won both his first (65 to 59 per cent) and second serve (50 to 40 per cent) points. He also stepped up to win more receiving points (47-41 per cent) and break eight times from 22 chances to Nadal’s six from 16.

The result got one back on the head-to-head with Nadal still holding a comfortable 7-2 record at Roland Garros, but put Djokovic in the box seat to become only the third player in the Open era to win at least two Grand Slams at each of the four majors. But first, he has to overcome the player he beat in last year’s Roland Garros semi-finals, fifth seed Tsitsipas.

The Greek talent battled his way past Zverev in an epic five-set contest, racing to a two sets to love lead with back-to-back 6-3 successes, before dropping the next two sets 6-4. He steadied to win the decider 6-3 to win in five sets in three hours and 37 minutes on court, and secure a place in his maiden Grand Slam final.

Tsitsipas became the first ever Greek Grand Slam finalist, being the more conservative of the duo with less winners (36-45) but also less unforced errors (43-47). He had more success at the net (73 to 66 per cent) and managed to create separation when facing his opponents’ second serve with a 52 to 40 per cent success rate.

“All I can think of is my roots, where I came from. I came from a really small place outside Athens,” Tsitsipas said post-match. “My dream was to play here. “My dream was to play in the big stage of Roland Garros one day. “I would have never thought I would.

“It is very important for me to do my job well enough to have recognition back in my country, but not only that, I’m very happy that Greece is part of the tennis community more now.

“I’m very happy that me and Maria [Sakkari] have been doing a great job so far, elevating the sport and keeping the hopes of Greek tennis alive.”

Not only does Tsitsipas become the first ever Greek into a Grand Slam final by making his maiden major final, but also becomes the youngest Roland Garros finalist since Nadal in 2008. It was his fourth semi-finals appearance at the French Open, but the first where he was victorious. Now he has to try and stop 18-time Grand Slam winner Novak Djokovic on Sunday.

ROLAND GARROS SEMI-FINALS RESULTS:

[1] Novak Djokovic (SRB) defeated [3] Rafael Nadal (ESP) 3-6 6-3 7-6 6-2
[5] Stefanos Tsitsipas (GRE) defeated [6] Alexander Zverev (GER) 6-3 6-3 4-6 4-6 6-3

Photo credit: Philippe Montigny/FFT