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ATP Tour wrap: Italians compete well on Rome Day 2

IT was a successful day of action for home nation hopefuls on Day 2 of proceedings at the ATP 1000 Internazionali BNL d’Italia Masters Open in Rome, as four Italian talents – including three wildcards – reigned supreme and one claimed victory over the only seed of the day.

It was 19-year-old Lorenzo Musetti who claimed a big scalp over top 20 Polish talent Hubert Hurkacz, taking out the first set with ease before the 15th seed was forced to retire early in the second.

“It’s always incredible playing here in Rome,” Musetti said. “It’s a fantastic site here in Foro Italico. Even without a crowd, tonight was really fun.”

Musetti hit 13 winners to two unforced errors in a clean first set before Hurkacz was forced to stop play. He is joined by fellow teen Jannik Sinner and other compatriots Gianluca Mager and Stefano Travaglia in the second round, while Fabio Fognini fell to a resurgent Kei Nishikori in straight sets. Mager scalped top-ranked Australian Alex De Minaur while both Sinner and Travaglia earned bragging rights over Frenchmen Ugo Humbert and Benoit Paire, as the remaining French talent on the day in Adrian Mannarino was outclassed by an unlikely victor in qualifying Bolivian Hugo Dellien who picked up his first ATP Tour level win for the year in the process.

A couple of lucky losers in Yoshihito Nishioka and Aljan Bedene could not maintain their luck when they were both disposed of in speedy encounters, falling to Hungarian Marton Fucsovics and German Jan-Lennard Struff in 56 minutes and 66 minutes, respectively. Taylor Fritz and Aslan Karastev executed excellent straight sets victories and will need to bring that form into their next respective encounters, setting up huge challenges in the second round with matchups set against Novak Djokovic and Daniil Medvedev. Sinner is dealt with the tough draw of clay champion, Rafael Nadal next up.

“I was really frustrated to give away the early break,” Fritz said following his victory over Brit, Daniel Evans. “He played two pretty good points, then I missed two forehands. I thought I was hitting the ball really well right from the beginning. I just told myself not to get too upset about it, as I was playing well. Dan has been playing well lately, beating Novak in Monte-Carlo, so it’s great to get a strong win. I am going to try my best [against Djokovic].”

“We (Djokovic) played twice on clay in 2018, in Monte-Carlo and Madrid,” Fritz explained. “I got beaten pretty bad those two times. I feel better prepared to play him now, after the match in Australia.”

In other games, Argentinian qualifier Federico Delbonis, Croatian Marin Cilic and Chilean Cristian Garin all claimed wins on their opening day.

INTERNAZIONALI BNL D’ITALIA ROUND OF 64 RESULTS: 

[WC] Lorenzo Musetti (ITA) defeated [15] Hubert Hurkacz (POL) 6-4 2-0 RET
Marin Cilic (CRO) defeated Alexander Bublik (KAZ) 4-6 6-2 6-3
[Q] Federico Delbonis (ARG) defeated Karen Khachanov (RUS) 3-6 6-4 6-0
[Q] Hugo Dellien (BOL) defeated Adrian Mannarino (FRA) 2-6 7-5 6-2
Taylor Fritz (USA) defeated Daniel Evans (GBR) 6-3 6-2
Marton Fucsovics (HUN) defeated [LL] Yoshihito Nishioka (JPN) 6-0 6-2
Cristian Garin (CHI) defeated Lloyd Harris (RSA) 7-5 6-2
Aslan Karatsev (RUS) defeated Miomir Kecmanovic (SRB) 7-6 6-4
[WC] Gianluca Mager (ITA) defeated Alex De Minaur (AUS) 6-4 6-3
Kei Nishikori (JPN) defeated Fabio Fognini (ITA) 6-3 6-4
Jannik Sinner (ITA) defeated Ugo Humbert (FRA) 6-2 6-4
Jan Lennard-Struff (GER) defeated [LL] Aljaz Bedene (SLO) 6-3 6-1
[WC] Stefano Travaglia (ITA) defeated Benoit Paire (FRA) 6-4 6-3

Picture credit: Corinne Dubreuil/ATP Tour

ATP Tour wrap: Two of three seeds fall on second day at Madrid

TWO seeds fell on the official second day of competition at the 2021 ATP Mutua Madrid Open in Spain, whilst a couple of qualifiers and a young gun wildcard also proceeded through to the second round.

It was qualifier Argentinian Federico Delbonis that overcame 10th seed Pablo Carreno Busta on home soil, dropping the first set to the Spaniard before biting back in the second and retaining control from there on out. The two hour encounter saw Delbonis marginally lead for efficiency on his first and second serve winning rates despite Carreno Busta being cleaner on serve, resulting in the 3-6 6-4 6-3 finish. Meanwhile, South African Lloyd Harris out-hit Grigor Dimitrov, piling on 12 aces to three in the two and a half hour, 6-3 3-6 7-6 contest. The two players could not be split throughout, with the third set tiebreaker showcasing just how tight the matchup was, as both players completed the match winning the same amount of points throughout (104).

The only seed to win on the day was 16th seed Cristian Garin, who ousted a second Spaniard in Fernando Verdasco, while qualifiers Carlos Taberner and Pablo Andujar also fell on home soil, taken down by Italian Fabio Fognini and American Marcos Giron, respectively.

It was not all bad news for Spaniards though, as young gun Carlos Alcaraz proceeds to the second round after disposing of Frenchman Adrian Mannarino in straight sets, 6-4 6-0, to set up a clash with compatriot and clay champion Rafael Nadal in the Round of 32.

“I started the match a little bit nervous,” Alcaraz said. “I tried to play aggressive to get the nerves out and tried to enjoy playing here, in front of a big crowd in Madrid.”

“For me, [to] play against Rafa is a dream come true,” Alcaraz said. “Since I was a kid, I wished to play a match against Rafa and now I will be able to here [on] the Centre Court of La Caja Magica in Madrid. It is a really special match against Rafa.”

Still only 17-years-old – until next week – Alcaraz pulled off 19 forehand winners against Mannarino, and won an impressive 81 per cent of his first serve points to claim victory.

The remaining four matches saw two more French competitors fall to join Mannarino on the sideline, as Dubai champion Aslan Karatsev pulled off a 7-5 6-4 victory over Ugo Humbert while Daniel Evans overcame a fighting Jeremy Chardy in a two hour and 46-minute classic, 7-6 6-7 6-2, piling on 13 aces for one double fault in the process, compared to Chardy’s four for six. The remaining two matches went the way of John Isner and Dominik Koepfer, with plenty of intriguing matchups coming in the coming days.

MUTUA MADRID OPEN ROUND OF 64 RESULTS:

[Q] Federico Delbonis (ARG) defeated [10] Pablo Carreno Busta (ESP) 3-6 6-4 6-3
Lloyd Harris (RSA) defeated [13] Grigor Dimitrov (HUN) 6-3 3-6 7-6
[16] Cristian Garin (CHI) defeated [WC] Fernando Verdasco (ESP) 6-1 6-4
Daniel Evans (GBR) defeated Jeremy Chardy (FRA) 7-6 6-7 6-2
Fabio Fognini (ITA) defeated [Q] Carlos Taberner (ESP) 7-6 2-6 6-3
John Isner (USA) defeated Miomir Kecmanovic (SRB) 6-4 7-6
Aslan Karatsev (RUS) defeated Ugo Humbert (FRA) 7-5 6-4
Dominik Koepfer (GER) defeated Reilly Opelka (USA) 6-4 6-4
[WC] Carlos Alcaraz (ESP) defeated Adrian Mannarino (FRA) 6-4 6-0
[Q] Marcos Giron (USA) defeated [Q] Pablo Andujar (ESP) 6-7 7-6 7-5

ATP Tour wrap: Seeds all advance in Munich and Estoril

IT was a largely predictable day in the ATP 250 events across Europe as all six seeds out on court in Munich and Estoril advanced through to the quarter finals after the Round of 16 matches got underway. The only Top 10 talent in action was top seed Alexander Zverev, with the BMW Open favourites dominating 6-2 6-4 against Lithuania’s Ricardas Berankis to book his spot in the final eight. The match lasted one hour and 27 minutes before the German advanced, putting up six aces and winning 73 per cent of his first serve points.

“I haven’t played much tennis the past few weeks, so I know I’ll need to improve for the next match,” Zverev said post-match. “I’ve had success in the past and I feel good here. I’ve played well in the practice and hopefully I can do better on the match court.”

Zverev will be difficult to beat at home on the clay, though second seed Casper Ruud would be in with a shot, cruising through his first match in the tournament by taking care of Uruguay’s Pablo Cuevas, 6-3 6-2. Ruud was tough to beat on serve, only dropping nine points – including only two on his second serve – whilst not facing a break point and breaking the Uruguayan three times.

In other results, John Millman knocked off Guido Pella following the Argentinian’s retirement early in the second set. Despite being a set up, Pella dropped the first two games of the second set and was forced to retire in the 75th minute of the match. Meanwhile, Belarusian qualifier Ilya Ivashka knocked off fellow qualifier, United States’ Mackenzie McDonald in three sets, 6-7 6-1 6-2, cruising home to book his spot in the next round against Zverev.

Over in Portugal, it was a good day for the seeds there too, albeit with a few more complications. With the exception of eighth seed Alejandro Davidovich Fokina‘s whitewash of Frenchman Jeremy Chardy 6-1 6-2, the other two seeds needed three sets to overcome their opponents. Third seed Ugo Humbert got up in a tight struggle over Italian Marco Cecchinato 6-4 3-6 6-3, while sixth seed Marin Cilic dropped the first set in a tiebreaker to home nation qualifier, Nuno Borges before coming back to win, 6-7 6-4 6-4. In the other match, South African Kevin Anderson took care of Spanish lucky loser Roberto Carballes Baena in straight sets, 6-3 7-6.

BMW OPEN ROUND OF 16 RESULTS:

[1] Alexander Zverev (GER) defeated [LL] Ricardas Berankis (LTU) 6-2 6-4
[2] Casper Ruud (NOR) defeated Pablo Cuevas (URU) 6-3 6-2
[8] John Millman (AUS) defeated Guido Pella (ARG) 4-6 2-0
[Q] Ilya Ivashka (BLR) defeated [Q] Mackenzie McDonald (USA) 6-7 6-1 6-2

ESTORIL OPEN ROUND OF 16 RESULTS:

[3] Ugo Humbert (FRA) defeated Marco Cecchinato (ITA) 6-4 3-6 6-3
[6] Marin Cilic (CRO) defeated [Q] Nuno Borges (POR) 6-7 6-4 6-4
[8] Alejandro Davidovich Fokina (ESP) defeated Jeremy Chardy (FRA) 6-1 6-2
Kevin Anderson (RSA) [LL] Roberto Carballes Baena (ESP) 6-3 7-6

Picture credit: ATP Tour

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

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

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

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

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

MONTE CARLO MASTERS ROUND OF 64 RESULTS:

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

ATP 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: Basilashvili earns Doha title as top seeds book finals in Marseille and Santiago

NIKOLOZ Basilashvili has claimed his fourth ATP Tour title with a perfect run at the Qatar Open, defeating fifth seed Spaniard Roberto Bautista Agut in straight sets. The Georgian has been in a form slump since the COVID-19 pandemic hit, winning just two of 16 matches heading into the tournament, but he found his feet to storm to a title, 7-6 6-2 including a win over the returning Roger Federer in the quarter finals.

“I am somehow managing to play good in tougher conditions and tougher matches,” Basilashvili said post-match. “This tournament was one of the toughest ATP 250s I have ever seen, probably. We had three Top 10 players. It is interesting [to ask] why I am playing good in the big tournaments and big matches. [It is] surprising. At the same time, [I am] happy.”

Despite only winning one of four matches against Bautista Agut leading into the contest, the Georgian defied history by serving four aces and winning 74 and 63 per cent of his first and second serve points, whilst not facing a break point himself. He capitalised twice against Bautista Agut in the second set, and took control off the Spaniard’s second serve with a 54 per cent success rate.

“[I am] super happy. I was not expecting that but, at the same time, I was working a lot,” said Basilashvili. “I was feeling good on the court. I was playing the last half a year with a lot of stress in my body. I was not able to put 100 per cent on the court in any matches. This week, I somehow found a way to deal with the stressful moments. I am very happy to get through [to the title].”

QATAR OPEN FINAL RESULT:

Nikoloz Basilashvili (GEO) defeated [5] Roberto Bautista Agut (ESP) 7-6 6-2

 

The stage is set for top seed Daniil Medvedev to take on the crowd at Marseille when the Russian faces off against unseeded Frenchman, Pierre-Hugues Herbert in the final today. Medvedev was able to overcome a sore Matthew Ebden to win 6-4 3-0 as the Australian qualifier retired, whilst Herbert toppled compatriot Ugo Humbert in a huge upset to reach the final.

Unfortunately for Ebden, despite pushing Medvedev throughout the contest, he finally called it quits when down 15-40 in the fourth game of the second set, having reached the semi-finals as the lowest ranked player in history, at 287th in the world. Medvedev was on the back foot in the first set, saving three break points before breaking in the ninth game and then it was the first to five consecutive games prior to the retirement.

“Before this [injury], it was a close match. He was getting close to breaking me at 0/40 [in the first set], so really unfortunate to end the match like this. I knew that even with an injury I had to just continue playing, trying to win,” Medvedev said post-match. “You cannot give easy points just because he’s injured. “So I am really sorry for him, hopefully he can recover fast and it’s nothing serious.”

Meanwhile Herbert booked his spot in the final, dominating the fourth seed Humbert, winning 6-3 6-2 in just 65 minutes without facing a break point. Herbert is yet to win an ATP Tour singles title in his career, with the 29-year-old a successful doubles player wit hGrand Slam titles under his belt. Now ranked 93rd in the world, the Frenchman will be a huge underdog in the match, but will be hoping to deny Medvedev a title at Marseille in the number one seed’s third attempt at the tournament.

OPEN 13 PROVENCE SEMI-FINALS RESULTS:

[1] Daniil Medvedev (RUS) defeated [Q] Matthew Ebden (AUS) 6-4 3-0 RET
Pierre-Hugues Herbert (FRA) defeated [4] Ugo Humbert (FRA) 6-3 6-2

 

Top seed Cristian Garin booked his spot in the Chile Open final and will be the clear home court favourite after defeating Colombian Daniel Elahi Galan in straight sets. Garin won 6-4 6-3 in an hour and 23 minutes on court to make his way into his home nation’s final. Garin served eight aces and won 29 of 36 first serve points to take control in the match over his Colombian opponent, only being broken once, whilst breaking his opponent four times, including three times in the second set.

Meanwhile in the all-Argentinian semi-final, Facundo Bagnis outlasted eighth seed Federico Delbonis in a tight two-set encounter, 7-5 6-3. The match went an hour and 43 minutes with Bagnis serving seven aces to two, and winning 82 and 54 per cent of his first and second serve points to Delbonis’ 67 and 32 per cent respectively. He broke three times to one, picking up a couple of extra crucial breaks to claim the victory and advance through to the Chile Open final.

CHILE OPEN SEMI-FINALS RESULTS:

[1] Cristian Garin (CHI) vs. Daniel Elahi Galan (COL)
Facundo Bagnis (ARG) defeated [8] Federico Delbonis (ARG) 7-5 6-3

 

Picture credit: Mohamed Farag/Getty Images

ATP Tour Wrap: Bautista Agut and Basilashvili head to the Qatar decider

THREE ATP 250 events continued overnight, with the final four competing in Qatar and final eight competing in Marseille and Chile. Some major upsets have caused chaos in all three tournaments.

In Qatar, fifth seed Roberto Bautista Agut defeated third seed Andrey Rublev 6-3 6-3 to make his 18th ATP singles final. The Spaniard, who took down top seed Dominic Thiem in the quarter-final, continued his winning form by striking the ball well and controlling the court from the baseline. He took the first set in just 29 minutes and, although Rublev took a 3-2 lead in the second, Bautista Agut did not allow the Russian to win another game from there. Rublev’s loss means that all top four seeds in Qatar have failed to make the final. Bautista Agut will instead take on world number 42 Nikoloz Basilashvili, who took care of American Taylor Fritz 7-6 6-1 in his semi-final. It has been a brilliant run for Basilashvili in Doha, as he also achieved the upset of the tournament in the quarter-finals with a three-set victory over the returning Roger Federer. He will attempt to claim his fourth ATP title and second hard court title tomorrow morning.

In Marseille, 2021 Australian Open finalist Daniil Medvedev raced past Jannik Sinner 6-2 6-4 as he chases his tenth ATP title. In tomorrow’s semi-finals, Australian Matt Ebden will attempt to curtail him after causing a major upset against Karen Khachanov 4-6 6-2 6-2. Speaking of major upsets, Pierre-Hughes Herbert shocked reigning champion and Greek superstar Stefanos Tsitsipas with a 6-7 6-4 6-2 victory. Herbert will face fellow Frenchman Ugo Humbert next, as he advanced with a three-set win over qualifier Arthur Rinderknech.

Facundo Bagnis was the big winner in Chile, taking down fourth seed Laslo Djere 4-6 6-3 6-3. Top seed Cristian Garin was too good for qualifier Juan Pablo Varillas with a 6-4 6-4 victory, while eighth seed Federico Delbonis and Spaniard Daniel Elahi Galan won their respective clashes in straight sets.

QATAR OPEN SEMI-FINAL RESULTS:
[5] Roberto Bautista Agut (ESP) defeated [3] Andrey Rublev (RUS) 6-3 6-3
Nikoloz Basilashvili (GEO) defeated Taylor Fritz (USA) 7-6 6-1

Bautista Agut made 78 per cent of his first serves and won 94 per cent of points on Rublev’s second serve in his victory. He will be going for his tenth ATP title tomorrow and said that he is hoping for the best in the decider. “This court and tournament is one of my favourites,” Bautista Agut said. “I played one of my best matches here in Qatar two years ago, and I hope I can win one more match tomorrow.”

Given that 29-year-old Basilashvili entered the tournament on a five-match losing streak, his success at the tournament has been quite surprising. If Basilashvili defeats Bautista Agut tomorrow, he will win his first ATP title since the 2019 Hamburg European Open. He talked about his fantastic form after the match. “To reach the final means a lot,” Basilashvili said after the win. “I am playing well and I am relaxed, it’s great to play in front of a crowd and a nice atmosphere.”

OPEN 13 PROVENCE QUARTER-FINAL RESULTS:

[1] Daniil Medvedev (RUS) defeated [5] Jannik Sinner (ITA) 6-2 6-4
Pierre-Hughes Herbert (FRA) defeated [2] Stefanos Tsitsipas (GRE) 6-7 6-4 6-2
[Q] Matt Ebden (AUS) defeated [3] Karen Khachanov (RUS) 4-6 6-4 6-2
[4] Ugo Humbert (FRA) defeated [Q] Arthur Rinderknech (FRA) 4-6 7-5 7-6

Medvedev was far too good for Sinner, winning 80 per cent of points on serve and facing just one break point for the match. The Russian is closing in on his tenth ATP title and said that he is pleased with his position at the tournament. “[It is my] first time here in the semi-finals in Marseille, even if it is my fourth time playing here and third time in the main draw,” Medvedev said. “I am really happy about it, hopefully I can go further.” Ebden, currently ranked number 287 in the world, is the lowest-ranked semi-finalist in tournament history. Despite his strong form, he will have a tough time getting past Medvedev.

Unseeded Frenchman Herbert’s triumph was his first ever win against a top five player, a statistic that he was surprisingly unaware of. “I didn’t know this was the first top five [player] that I beat,” Herbert said in his on-court interview. “It has been an incredible week for me so far, especially this match. I knew I was going to have to play an amazing match to have a chance to win and I managed to do that. I am really happy about the way I played and I am so happy to be in the semi-finals here.” 

As the 2019 and 2020 Marseille Open champion, Tsitsipas’ loss was highly unexpected. While he was disappointed with his own performance, Tsitsipas credited his opponent after the match. “I didn’t deserve to win today,” Tsitsipas said. “He showed a great quality out on the court to persevere and win that match, [his victory was] very well earned. Too bad for me.”

CHILE OPEN QUARTER-FINAL RESULTS:

[1] Cristian Garin (CHI) defeated [Q] Juan Pablo Varillas (PER) 6-4 6-4
Facundo Bagnis (ARG) defeated [4] Laslo Djere (SRB) 4-6 6-3 6-3
[8] Federico Delbonis (ARG) defeated [Q] Holger Vitus Nodskov Rune (DEN) 6-3 6-3
Daniel Elahi Galan (COL) defeated Roberto Carballes Baena (ESP) 7-6 6-3

In Chile’s first ATP tournament since 2014, hometown favourite Garin is firming as the clear favourite to win the title. He saved six of the eight break points against him to get past Pablo Varillas. Garin was also far more efficient on his first serve, serving at 71 per cent in comparison to Pablo Varillas’ 48 per cent. He said after the match that he feels a sense of pride representing his country at the tournament. “I would love to be able to do something important in this tournament,” Garin said. It is special and I hope I can continue to win. I am playing better, in a semi-final and I am excited to do better. But I prefer to go step by step, game by game.”

For more tennis news, follow Tom Cheesman on Twitter.

 

ATP Tour wrap: Roger returns to a win as top five seeds advance in Doha

THREE tournaments across the globe saw Round of 16 matches completed in Doha, Marseille and Santiago, including the return of a legend as we wrap up the day’s work on the ATP Tour.

Roger Federer was the man everyone was watching in Doha, as the Swiss Grand Slam winner made his successful return from injury to post a solid victory over Great Britain’s Daniel Evans. It was far from complete, only just surviving a first set tiebreaker and then dropping the second set, but Federer came away with the three set win. 7-6 3-6 7-5 in two hours and 24 minutes. He served up 13 aces and won 79 per cent of his first serve points, and showed enough to suggest he will be building in the coming weeks.

“It feels good to be back,” Federer said post-match. “I am happy to be standing here regardless of if I won or lost, but obviously winning feels better. It was a good match. Dan played a good match too. He has been a wonderful training partner as well. Over the past two weeks, we played over 20 sets and it went on [tonight].”

Federer joined fellow top five seeds through to the quarter finals in Dominic Thiem, Andrey Rublev, Denis Shapovalov and Roberto Bautista Agut who all advanced into the final eight. Thiem had the biggest fight of the lot, coming back from a set down to shake off Russian wildcard and Australian Open semi-finalist Aslan Karatsev, 6-7 6-3 6-2. Shapovalov got the better of Canadian compatriot Vasek Pospisil again 7-5 6-4, while Bautista Agut defeated Kazakhstan’s Alexander Bublik 6-4 6-3, and Rublev waltzed through to the quarter finals following opponent Richard Gasquet‘s withdrawal pre-match.

In the other results, Taylor Fritz put in the biggest upset of the day, defeating sixth seed Belgian David Goffin 6-1 5-7 7-6. The other two unseeded players to advance through were Nikoloz Basilashvili and Marton Fucsovics. Basilashvili toppled Tunisian wildcard Malek Jaziri in straight sets 6-2 6-2, while Fucsovics had to work a bit harder to shake off South African qualifier Lloyd Harris in three, 4-6 7-6 6-2.

Fritz takes on Shapovalov up first tomorrow, with Rublev and Fucsovics completing the day session at Doha. Federer and Basilashvili open the night session, with the completion of the evening being Thiem and Bautista Agut in a blockbuster head-to-head.

QATAR OPEN ROUND OF 16 RESULTS:

[1] Dominic Thiem (AUT) defeated [WC] Aslan Karatsev (RUS) 6-7 6-3 6-2
[2] Roger Federer (SUI) defeated Daniel Evans (GBR) 7-6 3-6 7-5
[3] Andrey Rublev (RUS) defeated Richard Gasquet (FRA) W/O
[4] Denis Shapovalov (CAN) defeated Vasek Pospisil (CAN) 7-5 6-4
[5] Roberto Bautista Agut (ESP) defeated Alexander Bublik (KAZ) 6-4 6-3
Taylor Fritz (USA) defeated [6] David Goffin (BEL) 6-1 5-7 7-6
Nikoloz Basilashvili (GEO) defeated [WV] Malek Jaziri (TUN) 6-2 6-2
Marton Fucsovics (HUN) defeated [Q] Lloyd Harris (RSA) 4-6 7-6 6-2

 

Six matches were completed in Marseille overnight, as the first four quarter finalists were decided, and the Round of 32 remaining two matches done and dusted. In those first round contests, Belarusian Egor Gerasimov destroyed German Yannick Hanfmann 6-2 6-0, while Great Britain’s Cameron Norrie advanced through in a tough one over French qualifier Constant Lestienne, 6-4 6-7 6-3.

The four Open 13 Provence Round of 16 matches saw all three seeds on court book their spots in the quarter finals, and it was further bad news for the home nation. While fourth seed Ugo Humbert made his way through to the final eight, it was at the expense of compatriot Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, while wildcard Hugo Gaston also fell, going down to fifth seed Jannik Sinner in straight sets. Continuing the theme of straight sets results, third seed Karen Khachanov knocked off American Mackenzie McDonald 7-6 6-4, while Australian qualifier Matthew Ebden stunned Finnish young gun Emil Ruusuvuori, 6-2 6-2.

The remaining four Round of 16 matches take place today, with Norrie challenging Frenchman Pierre-Hugues Herbert, and Gerasimov stepping up against top seed Daniil Medvedev. In the other games, two more home nation heroes enter the court, as qualifier Arthur Rinderknech will test himself against seventh seed Spaniard Alejandro Davidovich Fokina, while Lucas Pouille has an even stiffer test, up against second seed Greek Stefanos Tsitsipas.

OPEN 13 PROVENCE ROUND OF 16 RESULTS:

[3] Karen Khachanov (RUS) defeated [PR] Mackenzie McDonald (USA) 7-6 6-4
[4] Ugo Humbert (FRA) defeated Jo-Wilfried Tsonga (FRA) 6-3 6-4
[5] Jannik Sinner (ITA) defeated [WC] Hugo Gaston (FRA) 6-4 6-1
[Q] Matthew Ebden (AUS) defeated Emil Ruusuvuori (FIN) 6-2 6-2

ROUND OF 32 RESULTS:

Cameron Norrie (GBR) defeated [Q] Constant Lestienne (FRA) 6-4 6-7 6-3
Egor Gerasimov (BLR) defeated Yannick Hanfmann (GER) 6-2 6-0

 

At the time of publishing, three Round of 16 matches were completed, with two of the three seeds in action making it through to the quarter finals. Fourth seed Serbian Laslo Djere took out Portugal’s Pedro Sousa in a three set battle 5-7 7-5 6-3, while eighth seed Argentinian Federico Delbonis easily accounted for Slovenian Andrej Martin 6-0 6-3.

Fellow Argentinian Facundo Bagnis provided the upset of the day against fifth seed Frances Tiafoe, defeating the American through two tiebreakers, which were 7-3 7-2 for a final result of 7-6 7-6. The final match of the day was between second seed Frenchman Benoit Paire and Danish qualifier Holger Vitus Nodskov Rune for a spot in the quarter finals.

In tomorrow’s matches, the remaining four Round of 16 games take place. Top seed Cristian Garin takes on compatriot, Chilean wildcard Alejandro Tabilo. In other fixtures, third seed Pablo Andujar faces Colombian Daniel Elahi Galan, fellow Spaniard Roberto Carballes Baena locks horns with Argentinian wildcard and Cordoba Open winner Juan Manuel Cerundolo, while another Argentinian in seventh seed Federico Coria goes head to head with Austrian qualifier Juan Pablo Varillas.

CHILE OPEN ROUND OF 16 RESULTS:

[2] Benoit Paire (FRA) vs. [Q] Holger Vitus Nodskov Rune (DEN)
[4] Laslo Djere (SRB) defeated Pedro Sousa (POR) 5-7 7-5 6-3
Facundo Bagnis (ARG) defeated [5] Frances Tiafoe (USA) 7-6 7-6
[8] Federico Delbonis (ARG) defeated Andrej Martin (SLO) 6-0 6-3

 

Picture credit: Mohamed Farag/Getty Images

ATP Tour wraps: Seeds prevail in tight contests on Day 2 at Rotterdam, Buenos Aires

DAY 2 at both the Rotterdam and Buenos Aires ATP tournaments saw plenty of tight encounters, as seeds reigned supreme for the most part but were certainly challenged as they did so.

At Rotterdam, second seed Stefanos Tsitsipas was made to work for his victory over world number 76 Egor Gerasimov, as the Belarusian used everything in his arsenal in the 7-6 7-5 encounter. Taken to just under two hours on court, Tsitsipas marginally controlled his return games (31 per cent to 27 per cent) which led to the win and saved ix of eight break points to command victory. Fourth seed Russian Andrey Rublev came away relatively unscathed in comparison, defeating qualifier Marcos Giron 7-6 6-3, whilst the remaining seed in Stan Wawrinka was not quite as fortunate, disposed of in straight sets by Rublev’s compatriot Karen Khachanov 6-4 7-5.

A couple of compatriots faced off with only one of each nation surviving amongst all-French and all-Australian battles. The results flipped across the two as Jeremy Chardy upset Ugo Humbert in the lone three-setter of the day, whilst Alex de Minaur kept up his great form with a 6-1 6-4 win over John Millman in one hour and 18 minutes, with this the only match of the day that did not feature a seventh game or tiebreaker set. In the remaining matches, another Frenchman fell as Hubert Hukacz disposed of Adrian Mannarino, whilst Borna Coric defeated homegrown wildcard Botic Van de Zandschulp 6-4 7-6.

ROTTERDAM OPEN ROUND OF 32 RESULTS:

[2] Stefanos Tsitsipas (GRE) defeated Egor Gerasimov (BLR) 7-6 7-5
[4] Andrey Rublev (RUS) defeated [Q] Marcos Giron (USA) 7-6 6-3
Karen Khachanov (RUS) defeated [8] Stan Wawrinka (SUI) 6-4 7-5
[Q] Jeremy Chardy (FRA) defeated Ugo Humbert (FRA) 4-6 7-6 7-6
Alex de Minaur (AUS) defeated John Millman (AUS) 6-1 6-4
Hubert Hurkacz (POL) defeated Adrian Mannarino (FRA) 6-3 7-6
Borna Coric (CRO) defeated [WC] Botic Van de Zandschulp (NED) 6-4 7-6

In Buenos Aires, the two seeds were successful although one got a lot more of a wake up call than he probably would have liked, as fifth seed Spaniard Albert Ramos-Vinolas was tested by Danish 17-year-old Holger Vitus Nodskov Rune in the lone three-set encounter of the day. Whilst Rune was eventually disposed of in just under two hours, the wildcard certainly made himself known during his ATP Tour main draw debut, taking out the first set before falling 2-6 6-4 6-3 to the experienced Spaniard. American Frances Tiafoe also reigned supreme, with the eighth seed downing Argentinian Facundo Bagnis in 68 minutes 6-1 6-3, marginally the quickest win of the day, just pipping qualifier Sumit Nagal at the post following the Indian’s 70-minute 6-2 6-0 sweep of Joao Sousa.

With a number of Argentinians competing on home soil, not everyone could go through to the Round of 16 as qualifiers reigned supreme against their experienced foes. Francisco Cerundolo battled hard to overcome compatriot Federico Coria, 6-4 7-5, whilst wildcard Facundo Diaz Acosta could not hold up under pressure from qualifying Spaniard Jaume Munar, going down in the 7-6 6-3 encounter. The remaining matches saw Lukas Klein down Andrey Martin in straight sets, whilst a tight all-Italian battle between Gianluca Mager and Salvatore Caruso saw the former come away with five aces and bragging rights.

One match remains to complete in Argentina, as compatriots Federico Delbonis and 19-year-old Juan Manuel Cerundolo go head-to-head to close out the Round of 32, with Delbonis leading 3-2 in the first set at time of publish.

ARGENTINA OPEN ROUND OF 32 RESULTS:

[5] Albert Ramos-Vinolas (ESP) defeated [WC] Holger Vitus Nodskov Rune (DEN) 2-6 6-4 6-3
[8] Frances Tiafoe (USA) defeated Facundo Bagnis (ARG) 6-1 6-3
[Q] Francisco Cerundolo (ARG) defeated Federico Coria (ARG) 6-4 7-5
[Q] Lukas Klein (SVK) defeated Andrej Martin (SVK) 6-4 6-3
Gianluca Mager (ITA) defeated Salvatore Caruso (ITA) 7-6 6-4
[Q] Jaume Munar (ESP) defeated [WC] Facundo Diaz Acosta (ARG) 7-6 6-3
[Q] Sumit Nagal (IND) defeated Joao Sousa (POR) 6-2 6-0
Federico Delbonis (ARG) v. Juan Manuel Cerundolo (ARG)

Picture credit: ANP