Tag: Taro Daniel

ATP Tour wrap: Karatsev stuns Djokovic in enormous Serbia Open upset

NOVAK Djokovic was not only the sentimental favourite in his home tournament of the Serbia Open, but the raging one as well, as only one other Top 20 player was at the event with the world number one. Unfortunately he ran into a Russian rank in the form of world number 28, Aslan Karatsev whose 2021 form could be an incredible movie.

The 27-year-old Russian came into 2021 with an ATP Tour record of 3-10 across his entire career, but soon caught the eyes – and hearts – of the world with a stunning run to the semi-finals at the Australian Open. In just three months, he had not only tripled his total ATP Tour wins, but balanced the ledger and moved ahead to a 17-14 record heading into the ATP 250 Serbia Open.

Having lost to Djokovic in the Australian Open semi-final, Karatsev had to pull out every trick in the book to kept powering away at the world number one’s wall, to win in a whopping three hours and 25 minutes. The Russian’s win was the longest match of the season in a non-Grand Slam event, and he managed to save 23 of the 28 break point opportunities created by Djokovic to win 7-5 4-6 6-4 at the stadium named after his opponent, the Novak Tennis Centre.

“It was a long, tough match [against a] tough opponent,” Karatsev said post-match. “You have to put [in] like 200 per cent to beat this guy, it’s like playing against a wall. And he also made some good shots. “He doesn’t give you any free points. “He always makes you play and you have to be always there because once you miss a couple of shots, he just takes it very quickly. “That’s how I lost the second set.”

For the world number one, it was a disappointing result and knew it meant he missed on a potential third trophy at the event.

“You never like losing at home, that is for sure. It is disappointing. I don’t feel so great now but, at the same time, I have to congratulate Karatsev who played very bravely,” Djokovic said post-match. “Whenever he needed to come up with the best shots, he did. Congratulations to him. [It was an] awesome performance from his side.”

Now Karatsev will face second seed Matteo Berrettini for the title after the Italian ended the run of Japanese lucky loser Taro Daniel in three sets. Berrettini had some incredibly one-sided sets either side of a tight tiebreaker to put away his opponent, 6-1 6-7 6-0. The match lasted two hours and seven minutes, with the Italian second seed serving up 10 aces and winning 79 and 60 per cent of his first and second serves. For Daniel, it was a gallant run to the semi-finals after losing in qualifying, but the world number 126’s luck eventually ran out.

In Barcelona, for all the anticipation and upsets, the two semi-finals went fairly one way as the top two seeds booked their spots in the ATP 500 event. Tournament favourite Rafael Nadal is now one win away from his twelfth title at the event, downing sixth seed compatriot Pablo Carreno Busta 6-3 6-2. The world number three will face Greek star Stefanos Tsitsipas, who knocked off Italian young gun Jannik Sinner in a similarly one-way result, 6-3 6-3.

SERBIA OPEN SEMI-FINALS RESULTS:

[3] Aslan Karatsev (RUS) defeated [1] Novak Djokovic (SRB) 7-5 4-6 6-4
[2] Matteo Berrettini (ITA) defeated [LL] Taro Daniel (JPN) 6-1 6-7 6-0

BARCELONA OPEN SEMI-FINALS RESULTS:

[1] Rafael Nadal (ESP) defeated [6] Pablo Carreno Busta (ESP) 6-3 6-2
[2] Stefanos Tsitsipas (GRE) defeated [11] Jannik Sinner (ITA) 6-3 6-3

Picture credit: Pedja Milosavljevic/AFP via Getty Images

ATP Tour wrap: Sinner topples Rublev to set up exciting semis

ITALIAN young gun Jannik Sinner has booked his spot in the 2021 Barcelona Open ATP 500 event after defeating the red-hot Andrey Rublev in straight sets. Rublev has been huge at ATP 500 events over the past 18 months, claiming four titles at the level, but it was Sinner who stepped up to knock off the third seed Russian 6-2 7-6 and make his way into the semi-finals.

It was far from his own way, with Sinner needing one hour and 36 minutes to claim victory, including going deep in the second set tiebreaker to salute 8-6 in a nail-biter. Sinner won 63 and 61 per cent of his first and second serves respectively off a 59 per cent clip. Rublev managed the 66 per cent off his first serve, but only 44 per cent off his second, broken three times to one during the match.

“I am trying to get better every week,” Sinner said post-match. “He has played many, many matches already this year and I tried to play my tennis. It was difficult to finish it off. I had three break points at 5-5 [in the second set], which I could not convert, but I’m pleased to win in the end. I am getting more experience in every tournament I play.”

Sinner becomes the youngest Barcelona semi-finalist since 2005 as an 18-year-old Rafael Nadal went on to win the first of his 11 titles. Next up is Stefanos Tsitsipas after the second seed claimed a 6-3 6-3 triumph over Canadian 10th seed Felix Auger-Aliassime to make it eight unbeaten matches – and 14 consecutive sets – on Tour.

“I think my hard efforts paid off,” Tsitsipas said post-match. “I wouldn’t say it was the best start, but I managed to win my serve from 0/40 down [in the second game]. That got me into the match and that helped me to break him at the end. I didn’t panic, but I knew what I was doing. It feels good to be able to play the way I am. I really hope the winning streak continues.”

The other semi-final will be an all-Spanish affair with top seed Rafael Nadal and sixth seed Pablo Carreno Busta making it through in very different circumstances. After struggling through back-to-back three-set wins, Nadal breezed past Great Britain’s Cameron Norrie 6-1 6-4, while Carreno Busta needed the three sets to shake off fourth seed Diego Schwartzman in the match of the day. Carreno Busta won 6-4 3-6 7-5.

Meanwhile over in Serbia, Novak Djokovic did not hold back against friend Miomir Kemanovic, dismissing the eighth seed Serbian in straight sets. The world number one claimed a 6-1 6-3 quarter finals victory to book his spot in the semis, in what was a largely predictable day of action. Second seed Matteo Berrettini defeated fifth seed Serbian Filip Krajinovic in straight sets 6-4 6-4, while third seed Aslan Karatsev knocked off Italian qualifier Gianluca Mager, 6-3 6-4. The biggest upset and run of the tournament is lucky loser Taro Daniel who came from behind to knock off Argentinian Federico Delbonis and book his spot in the final four with a 4-6 6-1 7-5 win.

BARCELONA OPEN QUARTER FINALS RESULTS:

[1] Rafael Nadal (ESP) defeated Cameron Norrie (GBR) 6-1 6-4
[2] Stefanos Tsitsipas (GER) defeated [10] Felix Auger-Aliassime (CAN) 6-3 6-3
[11] Jannik Sinner (ITA) defeated [3] Andrey Rublev (RUS) 6-2 7-6
[6] Pablo Carreno Busta (ESP) defeated [4] Diego Schwartzman (ARG) 6-4 3-6 7-5

SERBIA OPEN QUARTER FINALS:

[1] Novak Djokovic (SRB) defeated [8] Miomir Kecmanovic (SRB) 6-1 6-3
[2] Matteo Berrettini (ITA) defeated [5] Filip Krajinovic (SRB) 6-4 6-4
[3] Aslan Karatsev (RUS) defeated [Q] Gianluca Mager (ITA) 6-3 6-4
[LL] Taro Daniel (JPN) defeated Federico Delbonis (ARG) 4-6 6-1 7-5

Picture credit: ATP Tour

ATP Tour wrap: Nadal escapes against Nishikori as seeds advance in Barcelona

ONLY one unseeded players – Cameron Norrie – remains in the 2021 Barcelona Open ATP 500 event, after the Round of 16 yielded largely predictable results. Three of the top eight seeds were ousted in the third round, by five of the top six booked their place in the quarter finals.

Top seed Rafael Nadal again needed three sets, this time against Japan’s Kei Nishikori, with the 11-time winner trouncing his opponent 6-0 in the opening set, before the two-time Barcelona winner hit back. Nishikori won the second set 6-2, before the number one seed once again got on top to win in three sets, 6-0 2-6 6-2. The world number three had to grind out the win with Nishikori playing his usual-defensive gamestyle that wears down opponents. Nadal has no issues digging deep though, and in the end, just the three winners to Nishikori cost him, and edged Nadal to a 12-2 record in their head-to-head.

“I think I played much better than yesterday; that’s a very important thing for me,” Nadal said post-match. “The level of positive energy [was] higher, so [I’m] very satisfied.”

Nadal will now face the unseeded Norrie who managed to also dominate eighth seed David Goffin early, winning the first set 6-0. Goffin hit back to lead 5-3 in the second, before the Belgian was forced to retire with a right leg injury. In the sole head-to-head clash between the pair, Nadal defeated Norrie a couple of months back in the fourth round of the Australian Open.

Meanwhile 10th seed Felix Auger-Aliassime ousted compatriot Denis Shapovalov in a massive straight sets win. Auger-Aliassime won 6-2 6-3 to book his spot in the quarter finals, in just 89 minutes. The Canadian up-and-comer was phenomenal in his approach, having also knocked Shapovalov out of this year’s Australian Open, dominated on serve.

“I was happy with my level today,” Auger-Aliassime said post-match. “It’s never easy to play against him and it’s great to have won in straight sets. The next match won’t be easy, a tough challenge.”

The Canadian will now face second seed Stefanos Tsitsipas, who fought past 14th seed Australian Alex de Minaur, 7-5 6-3. The Greek needed one hours and 24 minutes to post the win, breaking three times to one, and winning 76 per cent of his first serve points off a 70 per cent clip, with five aces. He won 69 per cent of his service points, and 35 per cent of his return points in an impressive display.

“I was playing close to the lines so that was definitely difficult,” Tsitsipas said. “He’s a good competitor; he always puts out his best game. I think running and getting an extra ball back is actually his biggest strength so that’s what makes him very difficult to play against.”

Tsitsipas said he was looking forward to playing the 10th seed Canadian, who was in good form and ever-improving, a challenge the Greek star was ready for coming into the Barcelona Open quarter finals.

“I’ve never played him (Auger-Aliassime) on clay,” Tsitsipas said. “He’s someone that has done very well in recent years and [he’s] playing at the top of his form right now. I’m looking forward to the next battle, to the next difficulty that’s set, and can’t wait to compete against Felix.”

In other results, third seed Andrey Rublev posted a three-set hard-fought win over Albert Ramos-Vinolas 6-4 6-7 6-4, and fourth seed Diego Schwartzman cruised through with a 6-4 6-3 triumph over France’s Corentin Moutet. Sixth seed Pablo Carreno Busta ended the run of his Spanish compatriot and qualifier Bernabe Zapata Miralles 6-3 6-4, with 11th seed Jannik Sinner also making his way into the quarter finals with a 7-6 6-2 victory over Spains’s Roberto Bautista Agut.

In Serbia, the remaining four Round of 16 matches were completed, with third seed Aslan Karatsev the sole successful seed on the day. He had to fight off a match point against Slovenia’s Aljaz Bedene before winning 6-3 4-6 7-6, while the news was not as positive for fourth seed Dusan Lajovic, with the Serbian going down in three sets to Argentinian Federico Delbonis, 6-3 2-6 6-4. In other results, a couple of Australians fell with seventh seed John Millman losing out to Japanese lucky loser Tarro Daniel in three sets 3-6 6-2 6-3, while Alexei Popyrin fell at the hands of Italian qualifier, Gianluca Mager.

BARCELONA OPEN ROUND OF 16 RESULTS:

[1] Rafael Nadal (ESP) defeated Kei Nishikori (JPN) 6-0 2-6 6-2
[2] Stefanos Tsitsipas (GRE) defeated [14] Alex de Minaur (AUS) 7-5 6-3
[3] Andrey Rublev (RUS) defeated Albert Ramos-Vinolas (ESP) 6-4 6-7 6-4
[4] Diego Schwartzman (ARG) defeated Corentin Moutet (FRA) 6-4 6-3
[11] Jannik Sinner (ITA) defeated [5] Roberto Bautista Agut (ESP) 7-6 6-2
[6] Pablo Carreno Busta (ESP) defeated [Q] Bernabe Zapata Miralles (ESP) 6-3 6-4
[10] Felix Auger-Aliassime (CAN) defeated [7] Denis Shapovalov (CAN) 6-2 6-3
Cameron Norrie (GBR) defeated [8] David Goffin (BEL) 6-0 3-5 RET

SERBIA OPEN ROUND OF 16 RESULTS:

[3] Aslan Karatsev (RUS) defeated Aljaz Bedene (SLO) 6-3 4-6 7-6
Federico Delbonis (ARG) defeated [4] Dusan Lajovic (SRB) 6-3 2-6 6-4
[LL] Taro Daniel (JPN) defeated [7] John Millman (AUS) 3-6 6-2 6-3
[Q] Gianluca Mager (ITA) defeated Alexei Popyrin (AUS) 7-5 6-2

Picture credit: ATP Tour

ATP Tour wrap: Norrie continues red-hot form in Barcelona

GREAT Britain’s Cameron Norrie has continued his ripping form of late, taking another big scalp in 12th seed Karen Khachanov at the Barcelona Open. Clashing in the Round of 32, Norrie advanced in a tough three-set contest, winning 6-4 3-6 6-3 to advance through to the third round and be the only confirmed unseeded player in the Round of 16 at this stage. With the remaining 11 matches still to go, there are plenty of chances for more unseeded players to join him, but Norrie has the extra day’s rest to prepare for the next match.

In recent weeks, Norrie has claimed some big scalps in Italian Fabio Fognini and Bulgarian Grigor Dimitrov, and now has his third Top 20 win in as many weeks, advancing through to the next stage of the tournament. The Brit was the lowest ranked winner on the day, with four other seeds all booking their spots with straight sets wins. Roberto Bautista Agut was the top ranked player out on court, with the fifth seed defeating compatriot Pablo Andujar 6-4 6-0, joining seventh seed Denis Shapovalov, eighth seed David Goffin and 11th seed Jannik Sinner in the Round of 16.

The remaining Round of 64 matches were also completed in Barcelona, though it was not all good news for Spanish fans. Despite Albert Ramos-Vinolas securing a come-from-behind win over Danish qualifier Holger Vitus Nodskov Rune 6-7 7-1 7-6, three of his compatriots all fell. Young gun wildcard Carlos Alcaraz went down to Frances Tiafoe in straight sets, veteran Feliciano Lopez lost out to another rising young gun in Italian Lorenzo Musetti, while Alejandro Davidovich Fokina exited despite a strong first set, losing to Kazakhstan’s Alexander Bublik, 2-6 7-5 6-2. In the other two matches, Australia’s Jordan Thompson defeated France’s Richard Gasquet 7-6 3-6 7-6, and Gasquet’s compatriot Corentin Moutet won against German Dominik Koepfer, 7-5 6-2.

Meanwhile over in Serbia, the two home nation seeds had a mixed day out on court against qualifiers. Eighth seed Miomir Kecmanovic needed two tiebreakers to separate himself from Argentinian Facundo Bagnis, while ninth seed Laslo Djere went down to Italian Gianluca Mager, 6-4 6-3. French qualifier Arthur Rindeknecht made his way through to the season round against Argentina’s Juan Ignacio Londero, as Japan’s Taro Daniel won the battle of the lucky losers with Portugal’s Joao Sousa. Other winners included Australian Alexei Popyrin, Slovenia’s Aljaz Bedene, South Korea’s Soonwoo Kwon and Argentina’s Federico Delbonis.

BARCELONA OPEN ROUND OF 32 RESULTS:

[5] Roberto Bautista Agut (ESP) defeated Pablo Andujar (ESP) 6-4 6-0
[7] Denis Shapovalov (CAN) defeated Jeremy Chardy (FRA) 6-3 7-5
[8] David Goffin (BEL) defeated Pierre-Hugues Herbert (FRA) 6-2 6-4
[11] Jannik Sinner (ITA) defeated Egor Gerasimov (BLR) 6-3 6-2
Cameron Norrie (GBR) defeated [12] Karen Khachanov (RUS) 6-4 3-6 6-3

BARCELONA OPEN ROUND OF 64 RESULTS:

Albert Ramos-Vinolas (ESP) defeated [Q] Holger Vitus Nodskov Rune (DEN) 6-7 6-1 7-6
[WC] Lorenzo Musetti (ITA) defeated Feliciano Lopez (ESP) 6-4 6-3
Frances Tiafoe (USA) defeated [WC] Carlos Alcaraz (ESP) 6-4 7-6
Jordan Thompson (AUS) defeated Richard Gasquet (FRA) 7-6 4-6 7-6
Alexander Bublik (KAZ) defeated Alejandro Davidovich Fokina (ESP) 2-6 7-5 6-2
Corentin Moutet (FRA) defeated Dominik Koepfer (GER) 7-5 6-2

SERBIA OPEN ROUND OF 32 RESULTS:

[8] Miomir Kecmanovic (SRB) defeated [Q] Facundo Bagnis (ARG) 7-6 7-6
[Q] Gianluca Mager (ITA) defeated [9] Laslo Djere (SRB) 6-4 6-3
Federico Delbonis (ARG) defeated Ricardas Berankis (LTU) 6-4 3-6 6-1
Aljaz Bedene (SLO) defeated Sebastian Korda (USA) 7-5 1-6 7-6
Soonwoo Kwon (KOR) defeated [LL] Roberto Carballes Baena (ESP) 6-3 7-5
[LL] Taro Daniel (JPN) defeated [LL] Joao Sousa (POR) 7-5 6-3
Alexei Popyrin (AUS) defeated [Q] Francisco Cerundolo (ARG) 4-6 7-6 7-6
[Q] Arthur Rinderknech (FRA) defeated Juan Ignacio Londero (ARG) 6-1 7-5

ATP 250 wraps: Humbert saves match points as Popyrin win ensures all-Australian quarter final

THERE were some huge results across the ATP Tour’s three tournaments played in France, Argentina and Singapore, as we wrap up the day’s action below.

Ugo Humbert overcame multiple match points to put away Dutch qualifier Tallon Griekspoor in a thrilling match of the day in the Open Sud de France at Monypellier. In three nail-biting tiebreakers, Humbert lost the first one 7-4, then backed up with 7-5 and 7-5 in the final two tiebreakers, but it was Humbert’s fighting spirit looking down and out midway through the second set that shone through. The Frenchman was 7-6 5-2 down and had to fight off three match points in the ninth game to fight off the 160th ranked Griekspoor.

In a match that lasted two hours and 50 minutes, Humbert served one more ace (10-9) and two less double faults (2-4) as well as a superior 83 to 74 per cent first serve points success rate. In the end just seven points separated the players, with Humbert converting one of two break points in that second set, and saving eight of nine in a terrific defensive effort throughout the match.

“It was tough today. [Griekspoor] played at a great level,” Humbert said post-match. “I tried to stay combative. It was tough. [We played] three tie-breaks and I am super happy to win this match.”

Also having a fight on his hands, second seed Belgian David Goffin survived a thriller against French wildcard Benjamin Bonzi. Goffin has not been in the greatest form of late, but showed equal fighting spirit to come from a set down to win in three. The Belgian crucially broke the Frenchman in the eleventh game of the deciding set to successfully serve for the match, 4-6 6-4 7-5 after saving a break point in the final game.

Seventh seed Lorenzo Sonego made his way into the quarter finals with a straight sets win over American Sebastian Korda. The Italian had an easier time of it than his fellow seeds, getting up 6-3 6-2 to book his spot in the final eight.

Meanwhile in other results, the remaining three Round of 32 matches were completed with a couple of upsets. Slovenian Aljaz Bedene upset Italian young gun Jannik Sinner in a come-from-behind win 6-7 7-6 7-6, and French qualifier Gregoire Barrere set Georgian Top 40 talent Nikoloz Basilashvili packing in straight sets, 6-4 6-4. In the other first round match, Spaniard Alejandro Davidovich Fokina had to navigate three sets to knock off compatriot and qualifier, Berabe Zapata Miralles 7-6 5-7 6-2.

OPEN SUD DE FRANCE ROUND OF 16:

[6] Ugo Humbert (FRA) defeated [Q] Tallon Griekspoor (NED) 6-7 7-6 7-6
[7] Lorenzo Sonego (ITA) defeated Sebastian Korda (USA) 6-3 6-2
[2] David Goffin (BEL) defeated [WC] Benjamin Bonzi (FRA) 4-6 6-4 7-5

OPEN SUD DE FRANCE ROUND OF 32:

Aljaz Bedene (SLO) defeated [5] Jannik Sinner (ITA) 3-6 6-2 7-6
Alejandro Davidovich Fokina (ESP) defeated [Q] Berabe Zapata Miralles (ESP) 7-6 5-7 6-2
[Q] Gregoire Barrere (FRA) defeated Nikoloz Basilashvili (GEO) 6-4 6-4

 

The first four players are through to the quarter finals in Singapore, with three seeds joining Australian Alexei Popyrin in the final eight. Thanks to Popyrin winning, it has guaranteed an Australian will make the semi-finals, with the other two remaining Aussies – second seed John Millman and wildcard Matthew Ebden – facing off later today to take on Popyrin in the quarter finals.

Popyrin fought hard to overcome Bulgarian wildcard Adrian Andreev, 6-1 5-7 6-3 to book his spot in the quarter finals. Also making their way into the last eight were a trio of seeds, with the third, fourth and fifth seeds all winning. Third seed Marin Cilic accounted for Japan’s Taro Daniel 7-5 6-4, while fourth seed Alexander Bublik and fifth seed Yoshihito Nishioka brushed aside Turkish qualifier Altug Celikbilek and American Maxime Cressy in straight sets respectively.

The last of the Round of 32 matches were also completed yesterday, with eighth seed Soonwoo Kwon surviving a thriller against United States qualifier, Thai-Son Kwiatkowski 4-6 6-3 6-4 to move into the second round. In the other results, Ebden defeated Indian Yuli Bhambri in straight sets 6-3 7-6, while Italian Roberto Marcora earned a date with top seed Adrian Mannarino later today after taking care of Latvian Ernests Gulbis, 7-5 6-4.

SINGAPORE OPEN ROUND OF 16:

[3] Marin Cilic (CRO) defeated Taro Daniel (JPN) 7-5 6-4
[4] Alexander Bublik (KAZ) defeated [Q] Altug Celikbilek (TUR) 6-2 6-2
[5] Yoshihito Nishioka (JPN) defeated Maxime Cressy (USA) 6-4 6-2
Alexei Popyrin (AUS) defeated [WC] Adrian Andreev (BUL) 6-1 5-7 6-3

SINGAPORE OPEN ROUND OF 32:

[8] Soonwoo Kwon (KOR) defeated [Q] Thai-Son Kwiatkowski (USA) 4-6 6-3 6-4
Roberto Marcora (ITA) defeated Ernests Gulbis (LAT) 7-5 6-4
[WC] Matthew Ebden (AUS) defeated [PR] Yuli Bhambri (IND) 6-3 7-6

 

There were plenty of fans who went home happy from the Cordoba Open, with six of the nine winners on the opening day coming from Argentina. The three other winners did not knock off an Argentinian either, so the maximum amount of talent from the host nation advanced through to the Round of 16, which allowed a minimum of two Argentinians to reach the quarter finals after setting up all-Argentinian Round of 16 matches.

Federico Coria caused the upset of the day, bundling out sixth seed German Dominik Koepfer in straight sets, 6-1 6-4. He advanced through to the next round to face compatriot and wildcard, Francisco Cerundolo. The 135th ranked Cerundolo upstaged Italian Gianluca Mager, coming back from a set down to win, 6-7 6-1 6-4.

Facundo Bagnis will get plenty of experience against his fellow Argentinians, having defeated wildcard Nicolas Kicker in straight sets in the first round, and will face eighth seed Federico Delbonis in the Round of 16. The qualifier defeated Kicker 6-1 6-4 to set up the Delbonis meeting, with the seed knocking off Portugal’s Pedro Sousa for the Round of 16 spot.

Another qualifier to advance through to the Round of 16 was Juan Manuel Cerundolo who toppled Brazilian young gun Thiago Seyboth Wild. Winning in two eight sets 7-5 7-6, Cerundolo will now have the tough task of taking on third seed Serbian Miomir Kecmanovic who had a bye in the opening round. Meanwhile Tomas Martin Etcheverry booked his Round of 16 spot with an upset win over Slovenia’s Andrej Martin, 6-3 7-6 and will take on Albert Ramos-Vinolas in the next match.

Other winners on the day was Thiago Monteiro who won through thanks to a straight sets victory over compatriot and lucky loser, Brazilian Joao Menezes, 6-3 6-3. Italian Marco Cecchinato advanced through to take on top seed Diego Schwartzman with a 6-2 4-6 6-1 win over Bolivian Hugo Dellien, while Robert Carballes Baena was too strong for Joao Sousa, winning 6-3 6-1 and the Spaniard will now take on Monteiro in the next round.

CORDOBA OPEN ROUND OF 32:

Federico Coria (ARG) defeated [6] Dominik Koepfer (GER) 6-1 6-4
[7] Thiago Monteiro (BRA) defeated [LL] Joao Menezes (BRA) 6-3 6-3
[8] Federico Delbonis (ARG) defeated Pedro Sousa (POR) 6-4 6-4
Marco Cecchinato (ITA) defeated Hugo Dellien (BOL) 6-2 4-6 6-1
Roberto Carballes Baena (ESP) defeated Joao Sousa (POR) 6-3 6-1
[Q] Facundo Bagnis (ARG) defeated [WC] Nicolas Kicker (ARG) 6-1 6-4
[Q] Tomas Martin Etcheverry (ARG) defeated Andrej Martin (SLO) 6-3 7-6
[WC] Francisco Cerundolo (ARG) defeated Gianluca Mager (ITA) 6-7 6-1 6-4
[Q] Juan Manuel Cerundolo (ARG) defeated Thiago Seyboth Wild (BRA) 7-5 7-6

Picture credit: ATP Tour

ATP 250s wraps: Tsonga beaten on return as Popyrin claims win in Singapore

GRAND SLAM finalist Jo-Wilfried Tsonga made his long-awaited return to the ATP Tour at the Open Sud de France in Montpellier yesterday, though it did not go plan. The former Top 10 talent was easily beaten by American Sebastian Korda in the first round of the ATP 250 event.

The match lasted just 72 minutes with Korda claiming the spoils, 6-4 6-2, dominating on serve and only dropping eight points in total, saving both of his opponent’s break point opportunities. Tsonga was far from his best, but getting through the match was the key, still winning 69 per cent of his first serve points, and serving five aces throughout the match. He saved three of six break points, but ultimately could not do enough against a player who has built form over the past 12 months.

It was better news for sixth seed Ugo Humbert, whose rise up the ATP Rankings continues following his straight sets win over Slovakian Norbert Gombos. Humbert won 6-4 7-6 in 78 minutes, slamming home 18 aces and winning 88 per cent of his first serve points off an elite 79 per cent efficiency to never give his opponent a chance. In Gombos’ defence, he held up well, actually breaking Humbert once from two chances, while the Frenchman broke him from both his opportunities. Overall the class of Humbert stood out and he advanced to the Round of 16.

In the final match played on day one of the main draw event, seventh seed Lorenzo Sonego battled past young Frenchman Hugo Gaston. The Italian won 6-3 6-7 6-1, holding his nerve in the third set after dropping the second set tiebreaker 9-7, to win in two hours and 19 minutes. He served seven aces and broke six times from 12 chances, while only being broken three times himself.

In today’s action, there are plenty more Frenchman on show, with Lucas Pouille taking on compatriot and wildcard Benjamin Bonzi, while Gilles Simon faces Austrian Dennis Novak. The match of the day could be either British wildcard and Grand Slam winner Andy Murray taking on Belarusian Egor Gerasimov, or Swede Mikael Ymer locking horns with Jiri Vesely.

OPEN SUD DE FRANCE ROUND OF 32 RESULTS:

[6] Ugo Humbert (FRA) defeated Norbert Gombos (SVK) 6-4 7-6
[7] Lorenzo Sonego (ITA) defeated [WC] Hugo Gaston (FRA) 6-3 6-7 6-1
Sebastian Korda (USA) defeated Jo-Wilfried Tsonga (FRA) 6-4 6-2

Five first round matches were completed in Singapore, with a mixed bag for the two seeds on court. Fifth seed Japanese counter puncher Yoshihito Nishioka defeated improving American Michael Mmoh 6-2 3-6 6-3, while seventh seed South African Lloyd Harris went down in three sets to Bulgarian wildcard Adrian Andreev.

Nishioka needed almost two hours to defeat Mmoh, surviving 11 aces to bring up 10 break point opportunities, albeit only taking three. It was two more than Mmoh who broke once in the second set, but could not do it again in the match. Meanwhile Andreev took two hours and 19 minutes to knock off the fast-serving Harris, not needing to serve and ace and even holding off 12 of 15 break point chances for the South African to win 1-6 6-3 6-4. The Bulgarian bounced back from a disappointing first set to post the impressive win over the developing Harris.

Andreev now takes on Australian Alexei Popyrin who knocked off American qualifier, Christopher Eubanks in two tiebreakers, 7-6 7-6, both of which were 7-5 tiebreakers. The match lasted one hour and 46 minutes, with Popyrin powering home 15 aces and saving 10 of 11 break points in a remarkable feat. He won 72 per cent of his first serve points, and also only broke Eubanks once, holding firm in the crucial tiebreakers to claim a narrow straight sets win.

In other Singapore results, United States’ Maxime Cressy became his nation’s sole winner on the day, downing Chinese Taipei’s Jason Jung in straight sets 7-6 6-2, while Japan’s Taro Daniel joined compatriot Nishioka in the second round after a tight three-set win over India’s Ramkumar Ramanathan, 6-3 6-7 6-3.

In today’s action, three Australians are out on court, with Marc Polmans up first against Japan’s Yasutaka Uchiyama. Following that match, qualifier John-Patrick Smith has to find a way to upstage sixth seed Macedonian Radu Albot, before James Duckworth takes to the court at night against German, Yannick Hanfmann.

SINGAPORE ROUND OF 32 RESULTS:

[5] Yoshihito Nishioka (JPN) defeated Michael Mmoh (USA) 6-2 3-6 6-3
[WC] Adrian Andreev (BUL) defeated [7] Lloyd Harris (RSA) 1-6 6-3 6-4
Maxime Cressy (USA) defeated Jason Jung (TAI) 7-6 6-2
Taro Daniel (JPN) defeated Ramkumar Ramanathan (IND) 6-3 6-7 6-3
Alexei Popyrin (AUS) defeated [Q] Christopher Eubanks (USA) 7-6 7-6

At the time of publishing, none of the day one matches had been completed in Cordoba, with the Argentinian tournament finishing off the third round of qualifying earlier in the day. The night session featured two Round of 32 matches which will be covered in tomorrow’s wrap, with Colombian Daniel Elahi Galan facing Slovakian Jozef Kovalik, followed by Spaniard Jaume Munar taking on Chilean wildcard Nicolas Jarry.

Picture credit: ATP Tour

2021 ATP 250 previews: Montpellier, Cordoba and Singapore

THREE ATP Tour 250 events will take off immediately after the Australian Open this weekend, with a number of mid-tier talents gaining some extra match practice following disappointing exits from the Australian Open. The top ranked player across the three tournaments is Diego Schwartzman (ninth) at Cordoba, while Roberto Bautista Agut (13th) is top seed in Montpellier, and Frenchman Adrian Mannarino (36th) leads a lower-ranked field in Singapore.

CORDOBA:

Schwartzman is the standout candidate on the clay tournament and honestly he should put this one in the bank without too much trouble. His nearest rival is 29th ranked Frenchman Benoit Paire, who has opted for Spain rather than his home nation at Montpellier. Paire is in a career slump since reaching the Auckland final 13 months ago, and will struggle up against a ton of clay court regulars.

Miomir Kecmanovic and Guido Pella round out the top five, with 46th ranked Albert Ramos-Vinolas the other Top 50 player in the draw. This tournament looms as one where, if Schwartzman pulls out or has a shocker, could be spread across any number of players. Thiago Monteiro is one who has been in good form, the likes of Marco Cecchinato and Juan Ignacio Londero can never be discounted on clay, and even rising Spaniard Jaume Munar is a chance.

The number one alternative at the time of publishing was Thiago Seyboth Wild who has all the talent if he can harness it, and genuinely could grab a Top 100 spot with a good run here. Spanish talents and South Americans make up the majority of the draw, with only half a dozen automatic entries from Europe, and none from the United States or Asia/Oceania.

MONTPELLIER:

Bautista Agut was aggravated at the Australian Open organisation, and now he returns to France in a reverse-Paire rather than going to his home nation in Spain. He and 15th ranked David Goffin – who both suffered disappointing shock losses at the Grand Slam – will be the clear standouts in a tournament that has the highest quality of the three by a fair way. Goffin should be the favourite still, but there are plenty in the running.

Aside from having two Top 20 players, as well as an additional two Top 30 players in Dusan Lajovic and Hubert Hurkacz, there is an abundance of youth, and returning experience that has signed up for the Montpellier event. Jannik Sinner and Ugo Humbert who are arguably the two most exciting Next Gen talents in the world are seeded, as are Lorenzo Sonego – most famously known for his upset of Novak Djokovic last year – and German Jan-Lennard Struff who ran into form at the ATP Cup.

The likes of Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Andy Murray have been named amongst the candidates to play, like fans have teleported back to the mid 2000s. Both will be returning from injury if they take to the court, amongst a host of Frenchman entered. Richard Gasquet, Gilles Simon and Lucas Pouille are all in, with Nikoloz Basilashvili and Jiri Vesely also amongst the automatic entries.

SINGAPORE:

The weakest of the three draws by a fair margin, the lowest automatic entry comes in at 187th in the world. To be fair, it is former Top 10 player Ernests Gulbis, but the Latvian is far from his glory days of a decade ago. He still has the most titles of anyone in the draw however, with some real solid competitors, though a lack of top-end talent has to be said.

Singapore could mark a rematch between Frenchman Mannarino and Australian John Millman from last year, which saw the Australian win his first ever ATP Tour title at the Astana Open. They are the standouts for the Asian event, with Marin Cilic and Alexander Bublik rounding out the four seeds. The eighth highest ranked player is Soonwoo Kwon (97th), with fair talents Yoshihito Nishioka, Radu Albot and Lloyd Harris the other seeds.

The unseeded players have some potential, with Michael Mmoh showing good form at Melbourne Park, and Alexei Popyrin and James Duckworth always dangerous. Japanese duo Yasutaka Uchiyama and Taro Daniel join Nishioka at the event, though Mannarino and Millman are clearly the standouts to take home the ATP 250 event trophy.

Picture credit: Getty Images

Czech teenager stuns Cilic on debut in Sofia Open upset

IN the last match of the day at the Sofia Open, Czech teenager Jonas Forejtek has caused a boilover win, defeating Croatian top 50 player Marin Cilic. The eighth seed hardly knew what hit him as the 32-year-old was belted in just 66 minutes by the 19-year-old who won 6-3 6-2.

Remarkably, Forejtek is ranked 399th in the world and was on debut for the ATP Tour, having only won Davis Cup matches in the past against players outside the top 200. Mostly travelling the ITF and Challenger circuits, Forejtek has won just $30,000 USD which is a far shout from Cilic’s illustrious $28.3 million USD and 18 career ATP Tour titles.

The Croatian looked out of sorts, serving just two aces and winning only 33 per cent of his points off his second serve, and only producing an efficiency of 55 per cent to begin with, while Forejtek broke Cilic four times during the match, serving two aces himself but only dropping six points off his first serve making it tricky for the Croatian. He will have to recover quickly from his first ever ATP Tour win with a match against either Roberto Carballes Baena or Richard Gasquet in the second round.

The other seed to fall in an upset loss at Sofia was Nikoloz Basilashvili who went down to Swiss lucky loser, Marc-Andrea Huesler. The loss, which does not come as a shock at all considering the only thing the Georgian has won this side of the COVID-19 break is the worst win-loss record of any ATP Tour player. Peaking at 27th in the world after the Davis Cup in March, Basilashvili has lost nine straight matches – that is 0-9 since the Tour returned – and all bar two have been players ranked outside the top 20.

To Huesler’s credit, he started strong with an easy first set win before Basilashvili kicked into gear, but the Swiss talent held his nerve in a tight final set to win 6-1 4-6 7-6, including an 8-6 third set tiebreak to advance through to the next round. Huesler was hard to contain on serve, producing 22 aces for only three double faults, winning 80 and 64 per cent of his first and second serve points. The world number 149 moves on to play the winner of Next-Gen young gun Jannik Sinner or Hungary’s Marton Fucsovics.

In-form Frenchman Adrian Mannarino was able to hold off determined Slovenian Martin Klizan, but did not have it much easier with the fifth seed winning 3-6 6-1 7-5 in a come-from-behind win that lasted two hours and 10 minutes. Mannarino served 10 aces and won 74 and 54 per cent of his first and second serve points, only marginally higher than Klizan’s 73 and 50 per cent respectively.

Also through to the second round in a third set tiebreaker win was Canadian Vasek Pospisil who joined compatriots and top two seeds, Denis Shapovalov and Felix Auger-Aliassime in the Round of 16. Pospisil held off Ukrainian Ilya Marchenko 6-2 5-7 7-6, including a 7-5 tiebreaker in the decider to advance through to the next round. He served eight aces and won 79 per cent of his first serve points, also saving eight of 10 break point opportunities. He broke his opponent three times, but it all came down to the final set tiebreaker before he could emerge victorious.

In other results, Belarusian Egor Gerasimov needed three sets to defeat Serbian qualifier Viktor Troicki, as did Italian Salvatore Caruso over Bulgarian Dimitar Kuzmanov with the latter playing in front of home fans. In the final match for the day, Russian qualifier Aslan Karatsev continued his recent solid form to defeat fellow qualifier, Japan’s Taro Daniel 7-6 6-1 to book a spot in the Round of 16.

Form shows in New York as stacked qualifying draw gets underway

IT was a huge first day at the traditional Cincinnati Masters – moved to New York for COVID-19 reasons in the lead up to the United States – with the Western & Southern Open’s qualifying taking place in the women’s and men’s draws.

Focusing the attention on the women’s draw, three of the top four seeds in the qualifying were bundled out, as those who impressed at Lexington continued their form. Here’s some of the highlights:

  • Top seed Jil Teichmann smashed Aliona Bolsova 6-2 6-2 in just 62 minutes of play
  • Canadian teenager Leylah Fernandez upset second seed Anna Blinkova 6-1 6-4
  • Liudmila Samsonova took down third seed Lauren Davis rather easily, 6-4 6-1
  • It was a positive day for the Americans with a number of crucial wins including Ann Li, Shelby Rogers, CiCi Bellis, Kristie Ahn, Jessica Pegula, Katie Volynets, Christina McHale and Caroline Dolehide
  • The longest match of the day by far was 12th seed Kristen Flipkens‘ 5-7 7-5 7-6 epic against Ukrainian Katarina Zavatska
  • Just 10 seeds remain out of the 20 that were out on court in a massive day of upsets
  • Teichmann and Rogers and Fernandez and Ahn are among the tantalising round two qualifying matches on display tomorrow

The ATP Tour’s tournament had just as many shocks on day one, with the majority of qualifiers out on court in the Masters 1000 event. Here’s some of the highlights from the day:

  • Ranked outside the top 100, Finn Emil Ruusuvuori took out second seed Frenchman Jeremy Chardy far too easily, 6-0 6-1, in a day of upsets on Court 12, with 17th and 19th seeds, Federico Delbonis and Laslo Djere both bowing out to unseeded Jaume Munar and Marcos Giron
  • Great American hope Brandon Nakashima was no match for 21st seed Hungarian, Marton Fucsovics, losing 6-2 6-4, while it was better news for lowly ranked J.J. Wolf and Mackenzie McDonald who knocked over 11th seed Egor Gerasimov and 24th seed Yuchi Sugita respectively
  • South African Lloyd Harris found his form from January with an upset win over up and coming Swede and 10th seed, Mikael Ymer 7-5 7-5
  • Third seed Pablo Cuevas joined Chardy and Juan Ignacio Londero on the sidelines after a shock loss to unseeded Japanese talent, Yasutaka Uchiyama
  • The first Australian male on court, Jordan Thompson was able to topple American Michael Mmoh
  • Salvatore Caruso defeated ATP Next Gen Finals winner Jannik Sinner in the all-Italian clash late in the day, while top seed Gilles Simon booked a spot in the second round of qualifying with a win over Taro Daniel

The wildcards for the ATP Tour events are impressive with the likes of up and comer, Tommy Paul and Australian Open quarter finalist Tennys Sandgren, as well as Frances Tiafoe and Grand Slam winner Andy Murray – the latter of whom both face off in the Round of 64.

Picture: Getty Images

2020 ATP Marrakech Open fantasy tennis: Kokkinakis gains confidence as seeds advance

IT was business as usual for the four seeds out on court in the ATP Tour’s Marrakech Open on day one with all the top ranked players making it through to the Round of 16. Only one of those seeds took three sets to get the win, and in fact it was the only match of the eight in play that went the full length to decide the winner.

Sixth seed Argentinian, Guido Pella needed the three sets to book a spot in the second round, getting up with a 7-5 4-6 6-2 victory over Japanese qualifier, Taro Daniel. After winning the first set in a tight one, Pella found himself down two breaks against the lower ranked Daniel, and while he could make one back, he could not get the second one and his opponent levelled the match. Pella stepped it up in the third set, getting an important win in Morocco to ensure he made it through to the Round of 16.

It was a bit easier for the three other seeds with second seed Fabio Fognini making light work of talented Brazilian qualifier, Thiago Seyboth Wild. The Brazilian youngster has plenty of potential as he has shown already in 2020 by winning his maiden title, but Fognini was a class above and brushed him aside, 6-2 6-1. Also through to the Round of 16 was fourth seed Pablo Carreno Busta and seventh seed Marin Cilic. Carreno Busta downed compatriot and tournament wildcard, Jaume Munar 6-4 6-1, while Cilic survived a battle with fellow veteran, Frenchman Richard Gasquet, 7-6 6-1.

In the unseeded matches, Australian wildcard Thanasi Kokkinakis’ return to the tour continued with an important 6-4 6-2 win over Pierre-Hugues Herbert to set up a second round clash with Fognini. Also through to the next round was a couple of South Americans in Chilian, Nicolas Jarry, and Brazilian, Thiago Monteiro. They both won their respective matches in straight sets, as did veteran Spaniard, Fernando Verdasco.

Tomorrow’s action is highlighted by a huge first round clash between number one seed and top 10 player, Alexander Zverev taking on Grand Slam finalist, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga. Also taking place is a battle between tricky players, Philipp Kohlschreiber and Feliciano Lopez, while two improvers this year in Marton Fucsovics and Ugo Humbert also lock horns.

ROUND OF 32 RESULTS:

[2] Fabio Fognini (ITA) defeated [Q] Thiago Seyboth Wild (BRA) 6-2 6-1
[4] Pablo Carreno Busta (ESP) defeated [WC] Jaume Munar (ESP) 6-4 6-1
[6] Guido Pella (ARG) defeated [Q] Taro Daniel (JPN) 7-5 4-6 6-2
[7] Marin Cilic (CRO) defeated Richard Gasquet (FRA) 7-6 6-1
Fernando Verdasco (ESP) defeated [Q] Pedro Sousa (POR) 6-2 6-3
Nicolas Jarry (CHI) defeated Juan Ignacio Londero (ARG) 7-5 6-1
Thiago Monteiro (BRA) defeated Andreas Seppi (ITA) 7-5 6-4
[WC] Thanasi Kokkinakis (AUS) defeated Pierre-Hugues Herbert (FRA) 6-4 6-2