Tag: Yoshihito Nishioka

ATP Tour wrap: French fall as Sinnik survives thriller to advance at Roland Garros

IT was a forgettable day for the French fans in Paris, as all six French representatives were bundled out of the 2021 Roland Garros ATP draw in the first round on day two. In a day that was largely favourable to seeds – with eight of the 10 seeds in action grabbing wins – there were still some thrilling contests, none more so than Italian young gun Jannik Sinner‘s five-set win over France’s Pierre Hugues-Herbert.

Sinner fell two sets to one down after winning the first one easily, before bouncing back to win in five sets, 6-1 4-6 6-7 7-5 6-4 to advance through to the Round of 64. The match lasted three hours and 32 minutes, as both players showed their talents at the net, with 24 per cent of the total points won there. Sinner won 61 per cent of his approach shots, whilst Herbert won 58 per cent, in a real epic battle. The Italian hit 15 less winners than his opponent (43-58), but had a whopping 26 less unforced errors (36-62) in a more conservative, but consistent performance. Herbert’s ability to control his serve (13 aces to five) was what kept him in it, but in the end, it was the mistakes that cost him and set Sinner into the next round.

Perhaps the biggest choke of the day went to American Frances Tiafoe, who was two sets to love up and in control against compatriot Steve Johnson. The more experienced kept toiling away though, and won the next three sets easily, dominating the fourth and fifth sets to win in three hours and 11 minutes, 6-7 3-6 6-4 6-2 6-1. Johnson hit 49 winners to 46 and 41 unforced errors to 47, marginally ahead in each statistical category, though breaking nine times to five was the difference in the latter stages of the match. Also needing five sets to win was American Tommy Paul, who survived an almighty fightback from Australian wildcard Christopher O’Connell to win 6-2 6-4 4-6 4-6 10-8 in three hours and 33 minutes. Paul hit six more winners (47-41) and had 10 less unforced errors (40-50), whilst winning an impressive 76 per cent of both his first serve points, and net points won to hold off the determined Australian and book himself a Round of 64 spot.

In terms of upsets, just two seeds fell on day two of the competition, with 13th seed David Goffin and 26th seed Lorenzo Sonego both exiting the Grand Slam. Sonego’s compatriot, Italian Lorenzo Musetti continued his great rise over the past 12 months to obliterate Goffin in the first set, before holding out in two more tight sets to win 6-0 7-5 7-6. The match lasted two hours and 18 minutes, with the sloppy Goffin hitting a whopping 48 unforced errors to Musetti’s 27, and while Goffin was more clinical at the net (79 to 64 per cent success), and hit more winners (37-23), Musetti posted a 71 per cent serving efficiency and first serve winning rate. Big serving South African Lloyd Harris might not have had his usual numbers off the aces (6-5), but still did enough to take care of Sonego in straight sets, 7-5 6-4 6-4 in an identical time to the other upset, two hours and 18 minutes. Harris did hit 40 winners to 31, and he won 75 and 69 per cent off his first and second serve respectively – losing just 24 points – to Sonego’s 66 and 58 per cent, to advance through to the next stage.

The other eight seeds in action all advanced, with eighth seed Roger Federer making his return to the Grand Slam circuit, posting a straight sets win over Uzbekistan qualifier Denis Istomin. The 6-2 6-4 6-3 victory in one hour and 33 minutes was the quickest of the ATP Tour matches, giving the Swiss Maestro an eye-catching start to the clay tournament. Federer was absolutely exquisite as he hit 48 winners to 18, and won 79 per cent of his points at the net compared to Istomin’s 43 per cent. He produced eight aces and only dropped 13 points on serve for the entire match, breaking five times from 13 chances and never conceding a break point opportunity in a clinical victory. Fellow top 10 seed Daniil Medvedev also advanced in straight sets, putting away a tough first round opponent in Alexander Bublik, 6-3 6-3 7-5. Fellow seeds, Casper Ruud and Nikoloz Basilashvili needed four sets to overcome their opponents Benoit Paire and Dusan Lajovic, whilst American trio seeded 30th, 31st and 32nd in Taylor Fritz, John Isner and Reilly Opelka, all advanced through to the Round of 64 with straight sets wins.

Unfortunately for France, it was not a great day, with Australian Open finalist Jo-Wilfried Tsonga bundled out in four sets against Japan’s Yoshihito Nishioka. The Japanese talent won 6-4 6-2 3-6 7-6 to advance through to the Round of 64 in two hours and 52 minutes, winning the fourth set tiebreaker 7-5 in a match which almost went to five sets. Tsonga was far from disgraced upon his return, producing 19 aces to two, and hitting 61 winners to 21, but his power was still finding its consistency, whacking 73 unforced errors to 21 which proved costly. The longest match of the day was Jaume Munar‘s four-set come-from-behind victory over Jordan Thompson in four hours and 23 minutes. The Spaniard dropped the first set tiebreaker to the Australian 8-6, before a quicker second set followed, and then the clay court talent won 7-5 in the third set tiebreaker, and with an additional break secured in the win in an epic contest, 6-7 6-1 7-6 6-4. Thompson hit 55 winners to Munar’s 35, but the Spaniard had 28 less unforced errors (50-78), and was more efficient with his serve (75 to 54 per cent), also breaking five times from 23 chances to Thompson’s two from 10.

Fellow Spaniards Pedro Martinez – who defeated most recent title winner Sebastian Korda in straight sets – and Carlo Alcaraz also advanced through to the second round, with Great Britain’s Cameron Norrie, Croatia’s Marin Cilic, Germany’s Dominik Koepfer, Brazil’s Thiago Monteiro, Serbia’s Filip Krajinovic and Italy’s Gianluca Mager all sending wildcards, qualifiers or lucky losers home in the first round. Other winners were Poland’s Kamil Majchrzak and Argentina’s Federico Delbonis who both made their way into the second round at Roland Garros.

ROLAND GARROS ROUND OF 128 RESULTS:

[2] Daniil Medvedev (RUS) defeated Alexander Bublik (KAZ) 6-3 6-3 7-5
[8] Roger Federer (SUI) defeated [Q] Denis Istomin (UZB) 6-2 6-4 6-3
Lorenzo Musetti (ITA) defeated [13] David Goffin (BEL) 6-0 7-5 7-6
[15] Casper Ruud (NOR) defeated Benoit Paire (FRA) 5-7 6-2 6-1 7-6
[18] Jannik Sinner (ITA) defeated Pierre Hugues-Herbert (FRA) 6-1 4-6 6-7 7-5 6-4
Lloyd Harris (RSA) defeated [26] Lorenzo Sonego (ITA) 7-5 6-4 6-4
[28] Nikoloz Basilashvili (GEO) defeated Dusan Lajovic (SRB) 6-4 6-3 0-6 6-2
[30] Taylor Fritz (USA) defeated Joao Sousa (POR) 6-4 6-2 6-4
[31] John Isner (USA) defeated Sam Querrey (USA) 7-6 6-3 6-4
[32] Reilly Opelka (USA) defeated Andrej Martin (SLO) 6-3 6-2 6-4
Yoshihito Nishioka (JPN) defeated Jo-Wilfried Tsonga (FRA) 6-4 6-2 3-6 7-6
Marin Cilic (CRO) defeated [WC] Arthur Rinderknech (FRA) 7-6 6-1 6-2
Cameron Norrie (GBR) defeated [Q] Bjorn Fratangelo (USA) 7-5 7-5 6-2
Dominik Koepfer (GER) defeated [WC] Mathias Bourgue (FRA) 6-3 6-3 6-4
Steve Johnson (USA) defeated Frances Tiafoe (USA) 6-7 3-6 6-4 6-2 6-1
[PR] Kamil Majchrzak (POL) defeated [WC] Arthur Cazaux (FRA) 6-4 2-6 6-4 6-4
Thiago Monteiro (BRA) defeated [LL] Francisco Cerundolo (ARG) 6-3 6-4 6-3
Pedro Martinez (ESP) defeated Sebastian Korda (USA) 6-4 6-2 6-2
Filip Krajinovic (SRB) defeated [Q] Maximilian Marterer (GER) 6-4 6-1 7-6
Tommy Paul (USA) defeated [WC] Christopher O’Connell (AUS) 6-2 6-4 4-6 4-6 10-8
Gianluca Mager (ITA) defeated [LL] Peter Gojowczyk (GER) 6-2 3-6 6-4 7-5
Jaume Munar (ESP) defeated Jordan Thompson (AUS) 6-7 6-1 7-6 6-4
[Q] Carlos Alcaraz (ESP) defeated [Q] Bernabe Zapata Miralles (ESP) 6-3 2-6 6-1 7-6
Federico Delbonis (ARG) defeated Radu Albot (MOL) 6-1 2-6 6-0 6-1

Picture credit: Nicolas Gouhier/FFT

ATP Tour wrap: Seeds fall in Parma as Belgrade sees seesawing action

THE two ATP 250 events are heating up as we enter the semi finals stage, following two huge days of quarter finals action at both Parma, Italy and Belgrade, Serbia. At the Emilia-Romagna Open, three of the day’s four seeds fell, while at Belgrade, world number one Novak Djokovic continued his run on home soil.

Djokovic needed just 56 minutes to dispose of Argentinian Federico Coria, with an “ideal performance” setting the tone for the semis. The 6-1 6-0 sweep of Coria came with by winning 71 per cent of the overall points, with the Serbian impressed by his own ability to command control and impose a relentless approach to the match.

“You won’t always want to play like this, it’s not always possible,” Djokovic said. “But I think this definitely helps me feel better on the court. I think everything worked perfectly for me today.”

“It was the first time that I played against Coria and I tried to impose an aggressive style of tennis from the very beginning and not allow him to have too much time to play around,” Djokovic said. “I played a phenomenal second set, really flawless.”

Qualifier Andrej Martin will have a huge ride ahead of him when he takes on Djokovic in the semi finals following an impressive 3-6 6-3 6-4 comeback performance against another Serbian and fifth seed Dusan Lajovic. It was consistency that got the Slovakian over the line in this encounter, however he will need to step up against Djokovic with fans permitted to attend the event late this week.

Meanwhile, a second Argentinian had his ride to the semis made much easier, as eighth seed Federico Delbonis was dealt a walkover from Spanish qualifier Roberto Carballes Baena. Delbonis will take on another Slovakian qualifier in Alex Molcan, after the left-hander took down Fernando Verdasco in just 62 minutes.

At Parma, an all-American semi final is set as sixth seed Tommy Paul and 20-year-old Sebastian Korda go head to head. Both disposed of seeded talent to head into the semi, with the former taking down fourth seed German Jan-Lennard Struff and the latter downing eighth seed Yoshihito Nishioka. Paul  rendered Struff inefficient throughout their encounter, not allowing the German to chance at a break point throughout the 6-2 6-4 contest. Korda registered a 74 per cent winning rate off his first serve to claim victory 6-3 6-3, heading into his first clay semi-final in the process.

“I played a great match. I know he has been playing really good tennis, he reached the semi-final in Lyon [last week],” Korda said post-match. “But it’s my first semi-final on clay and I’m super happy.”

“I’m really good friends with Tommy,” Korda said. “We practise together a lot. It’s going to be a really fun match. He’s been playing great, so hopefully it will be a fun one.”

Jaume Munar and Marco Cecchinato will contest the second semi final, after both commanded proceedings in their respective quarter finals matchups. Munar’s excellent 47-minute victory over fifth seed Richard Gasquet showed just how much the Spaniard is capable of, winning 22 of his 23 first serve points and 100 per cent of his second serve off a 77 per cent clip, 6-1 6-1. Wildcard Cecchinato starred on home soil against lucky loser Norbert Gombos, defeating the Slovakian with seven aces, winning 80 per cent of his first serve points in the process.

EMILIA-ROMAGNA OPEN QUARTER FINALS RESULTS:

[6] Tommy Paul (USA) defeated [4] Jan-Lennard Struff (GER) 6-2 6-4
Jaume Munar (ESP) defeated [5] Richard Gasquet (FRA) 6-1 6-1
Sebastian Korda (USA) defeated [8] Yoshihito Nishioka (JPN) 6-3 6-3
[WC] Marco Cecchinato (ITA) defeated [LL] Norbert Gombos (SVK) 6-3 6-1

BEGRADE OPEN QUARTER FINALS RESULTS:

[1] Novak Djokovic (SRB) defeated Federico Coria (ARG) 6-1 6-0
[Q] Andrej Martin (SVK) defeated [5] Dusan Lajovic (SRB) 3-6 6-3 6-4
[8] Federico Delbonis (ARG) defeated [Q] Roberto Carballes Baena (ESP) W/O
[Q] Alex Molcan (SVK) defeated Fernado Verdasco (ESP) 6-2 6-0

Picture credit: ATP Tour

ATP Tour wrap: Top three seeds bundled out in Parma and Belgrade

WORLD number one Novak Djokovic remains the only top three seed left across the ATP Tour’s two 250 events after the other five players all suffered defeats in both Parma and Belgrade. Just four matches were played in the Serbia Open to complete the Round of 16 matches, whilst all eight second round matches were run and done in the Emilia-Romagna Open after rain delays impacted previous day’s play.

Djokovic is the raging favourite in Belgrade, especially after the second and third seeds both suffered defeats via three-set losses to qualifiers. Spanish qualifier Roberto Carballes Baena knocked off second seed Gael Monfils in a tight contest after a strong start, winning 6-1 3-6 7-6 to advance to the next round. Joining the Spaniard in the quarter finals was Slovenian qualifier Andrej Martin who toppled Georgian third seed Nikoloz Basilashvili in an equally tight encounter after the first set, triumphing 6-1 4-6 7-6. Both third set tiebreakers finished with a 7-4 result.

In other Belgrade Open results, fifth seed Croatian Dusan Lajovic advanced with a 6-3 6-4 win over Frenchman Jeremy Chardy, while eighth seed Federico Delbonis knocked off fellow South American in Brazilian Thiago Monteiro. In an epic contest, the Argentinian escaped with the win, 7-6 3-6 6-4.

Belgrade was not the only tournament where top seeds fell in the second round. The top three seeds all exited in the Emilia-Romagna Open in Parma, Italy in very different ways. Top seed Lorenzo Sonego was taken out of his home tournament by ever-improving American Sebastian Korda in straight sets, 6-1 7-5. Third seed Albert Ramos-Vinolas put up more of a fight against Slovenian lucky loser Norbert Gombos, but still dropped out in three sets, 6-3 6-7 6-2. Second seed Benoit Paire‘s horror past 12 months continued with a disappointing 7-5 3-1 loss having to retire against Spaniard Jaume Munar.

In more predictable results, fourth seed Jan-Lennard Struff had his work cut out for him against a home nation favourite in wildcard Flavio Cobolli, but fought through three sets to win, 6-4 4-6 7-6. Fifth seed Richard Gasquet provided some relief for French tennis fans across the globe with a win against another Italian in qualifier Pedro Martinez 6-3 3-6 6-3, whilst eighth seed Yoshihito Nishioka easily took care of young gun Lorenzo Musetti in a shock straight sets win, 6-3 6-2.

In the remaining two results, the sole Italian winner of the day in wildcard Marco Cecchinato got up courtesy of a 7-5 6-2 win over seventh seed Slovenian Aljaz Bedene, whilst sixth seed United States representative Tommy Paul took down Czech Jiri Vesely in a come-from-behind victory, 6-7 7-6 6-3.

EMILIA-ROMAGNA OPEN ROUND OF 16 RESULTS:

Sebastian Korda (USA) defeated [1] Lorenzo Sonego (ITA) 6-1 7-5
Jaume Munar (ESP) defeated [2] Benoit Paire (FRA) 7-5 3-1 RET
[LL] Norbert Gombos (SLO) defeated [3] Albert Ramos-Vinolas (ESP) 6-3 6-7 6-2
[4] Jan-Lennard Struff (GER) defeated [WC] Flavio Cobolli (ITA) 6-4 4-6 7-6
[5] Richard Gasquet (FRA) defeated [Q] Pedro Martinez (ITA) 6-3 3-6 6-3
[6] Tommy Paul (USA) defeated Jiri Vesely (CZE) 6-7 7-6 6-3
[WC] Marco Cecchinato (ITA) defeated [7] Aljaz Bedene (SLO) 7-5 6-2
[8] Yoshihito Nishioka (JPN) defeated Lorenzo Musetti (ITA) 6-3 6-2

BELGRADE OPEN ROUND OF 16 RESULTS:

[Q] Roberto Carballes Baena (ESP) defeated [2] Gael Monfils (FRA) 6-1 3-6 7-6
[Q] Andrej Martin (SLO) defeated [3] Nikoloz Basilashvili (GEO) 6-1 4-6 7-6
[5] Dusan Lajovic (CRO) defeated Jeremy Chardy (FRA) 6-3 6-4
[8] Federico Delbonis (ARG) defeated Thiago Monteiro (BRA) 7-6 3-6 6-4

Picture credit: ATP Tour

ATP Tour wrap: Djokovic equals fifth-most ATP Tour Open Era wins as seeds clean up at Parma

THE Belgrade and Emilia-Romagna Opens continue, with the former entering the Round of 16 stage while the latter played the remainder of its Round of 32 matches a day behind schedule following rain delays yesterday.

In the Round of 16 in Serbia, Novak Djokovic made it through his first matchup relatively unscathed, escaping a third set against German lucky loser Mats Moraing, 62 7-6(4). The world number one hit three aces and won 71 per cent of his first serve points off a 59 per cent clip, tying with Guillermo Vilas for the fifth most match wins in the Open Era in the process.

“I was twice a break up in the second set so I maybe could have finished out the job earlier, but credit to him for fighting, for playing really well, for playing very courageous, very bold tennis,” Djokovic said.

Fourth seed Adrian Mannarino was not quite as lucky, as he fell to Spaniard Fernando Verdasco 7-6 6-0. The 90 minute encounter saw Verdasco hit four aces and win 70 per cent of his first serve points off a 77 per cent clip. While Mannarino tested Verdasco in the first, he more or less ran out of legs in the second as the Spaniard claimed a bagel second set. Meanwhile, Federico Coria outclassed in-form Uruguayan Pablo Cuevas in just under 75 minutes, winning 83 per cent of his first serve points, while qualifier Alex Molcan blew wildcard Pedja Krstin out of the water with a 6-0 6-0 result and the first double bagel result for the ATP Tour this season.

At the Parma event in Italy, all three seeds reigned supreme with fifth seed Richard Gasquet and seventh seed  Aljaz Bedene not troubled by their respective opposition in qualifier Daniel Altmaier and home hopeful Salvatore Caruso. Whilst eighth seed Yoshihito Nishioka joined his fellow top seeds in the second round, he was certainly tested by American Sam Querrey who took out the early lead, before the Japanese talent commanded the remainder of the proceedings.

Caruso’s five compatriots endured a mixed bag of results, as three more fell but two to the hands of fellow Italians. Wildcard Marco Cecchinato defeated qualifier Raul Brancaccio 6-3 7-6 as in-form Lorenzo Musetti also proceeded, following a come from behind victory over Gianluca Mager.

“I think the Lorenzo of two years ago would not have been able to win this match today for sure after the bad loss of the first set,” Musetti said. “There’s a lot of improvement, we are happy and there is a lot of work to do. We are here to try to go as far as I can and [I] try to do my best.”

“You lost one match, you understand why you lost and you try to do better next time. That’s the goal and that’s the thing that I’m focussing on,” Musetti said. “I think this is the only thing. There is no other way to solve these problems. You just have to understand what you need and try to do your best.”

The remaining Italian in the draw was veteran wildcard Andreas Seppi, who fell to American Sebastian Korda 6-3 6-4.

“I’m excited. It’s another great experience for me. He’s playing some really good tennis,” Korda said post-match. “He made the semi-finals of Rome, which is massive. [I am] looking forward to it and hope that it’s going to be a good match.”

In the remaining matches, lucky loser Norbert Gombos claimed a two hour and 53-minute victory over Finn Emil Ruusuvuori, 7-6(4) 5-7 6-3, while Spanish duo Pedro Martinez and Jaume Munar both won through to the second round, as did Czech Jiri Vesely.

BELGRADE OPEN ROUND OF 16 RESULTS:

[1] Novak Djokovic (SRB) defeated [LL] Mats Moraing (GER) 6-2 7-6
Fernando Verdasco (ESP) defeated [4] Adrian Mannarino (FRA) 7-6 6-0
Federico Coria (ARG) defeated Pablo Cuevas (URU) 6-3 6-2
[Q] Alex Molcan (SLO) defeated [WC] Pedja Krstin (SRB) 6-0 6-0

EMILIA-ROMAGNA OPEN ROUND OF 32 RESULTS:

[5] Richard Gasquet (FRA) defeated [Q] Daniel Altmaier (GER) 6-3 6-3
[7] Aljaz Bedene (SLO) defeated Salvatore Caruso (ITA) 6-4 7-6
[8] Yoshihito Nishioka (JPN) defeated Sam Querrey (USA) 3-6 6-3 7-6
[WC] Marco Cecchinato (ITA) defeated [Q] Raul Brancaccio (ITA) 6-3 7-6
[LL] Norbert Gombos (SVK) defeated Emil Ruusuvuori (FIN) 7-6 5-7 6-3
Sebastian Korda (USA) defeated [WC] Andreas Seppi (ITA) 6-3 6-4
[Q] Pedro Martinez (ESP) defeated Gilles Simon (FRA) 6-0 6-4
Jaume Munar (ESP) defeated [Q] Mikael Ymer (SWE) 6-3 7-6
Lorenzo Musetti (ITA) defeated Gianluca Mager (ITA) 4-6 6-1 6-2
Jiri Vesely (CZE) defeated Steve Johnson (USA) 7-6 6-2

Picture credit: Getty Images

ATP Tour wrap: Shapovalov to face Ruud in Geneva final

TOP three seeds Denis Shapovalov and Casper Ruud are through to the final of the 2021 Gonet Geneva Open following respective straight sets wins in their semi-finals overnight. The second seeded Shapovalov defeated Uruguayan qualifier Pablo Cuevas 6-4 7-5, while Ruud continued his great success on clay with a 6-3 6-2 triumph over Spain’s Pablo Andujar.

Shapovalov needed one hour and 42 minutes to knock off Cuevas in straight sets, serving eight aces to four, and winning 75 per cent of his first serve points off a 67 per cent clip. Both players tried to take advantage off their opponents’ second serve, with Shapovalov breaking four times from 10 chances, and Cuevas twice from five chances.

“I do enjoy faster tennis, but [clay] is not really just an adjustment, I just have to be a little bit more patient and play a little bit safer or smarter perhaps,” Shapovalov said post-match. “You have to actually almost like play chess and and construct the points.”

After finding out Ruud was his opponent for the Geneva Open final, Shapovalov said he was looking forward to the first official ATP Tour head-to-head clash, though they were familiar with each other.

“I know Casper very well,” Shapovalov said. “We played in the juniors together and we go way back. He’s improved a lot. He’s playing at a really high level the past couple of weeks, the past couple of months. So it’s going to be a fun battle tomorrow.”

Ruud was even more efficient, scoring the strong win over Andujar in just one hour and 19 minutes. Serving at a 69 per cent efficiency, Ruud won 79 and 69 per cent of his points on serve – only dropping 10 in total – whilst Andujar was 56 per cent off both though a 73 per cent clip. In the end, Ruud broke four times from nine break point opportunities, without ever having to face a break point chance himself.

“Denis has also been playing very good on the surface recently and took [Rafael] Nadal to his knees last week in Rome and had match points,” Ruud said post-match of his chances against Shapovalov. “And I was watching the match. He was playing very well and has been playing well here as well.”

Meanwhile over in Lyon, three of the four quarter finals were completed following rain delays in the previous days. Second seed Stefanos Tsitsipas cruised through with a strong win over Japan’s Yoshihito Nishioka, setting up a semi-final clash with Italian young gun Lorenzo Musetti. The teenager knocked off Slovenia’s Aljaz Bedene to secure the spot in the final four. Meanwhile Karen Khachanov took care of Richard Gasquet in a tight two-setter 6-4 7-6, and will now await the winner of Great Britain’s Cameron Norrie and French lucky loser Arthur Rinderknecht who play first-up today and then double up with the semi-final at night.

GONET GENEVA OPEN SEMI-FINALS RESULTS:

[2] Denis Shapovalov (CAN) defeated [Q] Pablo Cuevas (URU) 6-4 7-5
[3] Casper Ruud (NOR) defeated Pablo Andujar (ESP) 6-3 6-2

OPEN PARC AUVERGNE-RHONE-ALPES QUARTER FINALS RESULTS:

[2] Stefanos Tsitsipas (GRE) defeated Yoshihito Nishioka (JPN) 6-3 6-4
[8] Karen Khachanov (RUS) defeated Richard Gasquet (FRA) 6-1 7-6
Lorenzo Musetti (ITA) defeated Aljaz Bedene (SLO) 6-3 7-6

Picture credit: Fabrice Coffrini/AFP via Getty Images

ATP Tour wrap: Norrie claims Thiem scalp as Shapovalov and Cuevas go two from two for the day

IT was another huge day on clay in both Switzerland and France as both the Geneva Open and Lyon Open played out the Round of 16, whilst Geneva also saw the quarter finals completed.

It took an impressive effort, but two from three of the Round of 16 victors at Geneva made their way through two matches in the one day to head into the semi finals. Denis Shapovalov continued his solid form, first outclassing qualifier Marco Cecchinato in a 6-7 7-5 6-1 matchup, before backing it up with a 6-4 6-4 win over fellow Round of 16 winner in Laslo Djere. Djere was also tested in his Round of 16 matchup and could not compare against a tough Shapovalov effort following an Italian three setter of his own against sixth seed Fabio Fognini, only able to claim the ‘W’ over one seed for the day.

“I definitely think I played amazing today,” Shapovalov said. “Obviously a very tough day playing two matches, but super happy to get the win and super excited to be in the semi-finals.”

Shapovalov will take on qualifier Pablo Cuevas in the semis, after the Uruguayan also won both of his matches on the day, first ending teen wildcard Arthur Cazaux‘s run with a 6-2 6-4 victory and then downing fourth seed Grigor Dimitrov 7-6 6-3.

“We’ve only played once before on hard courts and he beat me there,” Shapovalov said about Cuevas. “He’s an amazing clay-court player, so it will definitely be a tough battle ahead of me.”

The other semi-final will comprise of third seed Norwegian Casper Ruud and Spaniard Pablo Cuevas, after both players came from behind to claim three set victories over Dominik Koepfer and Dominic Stephan Stricker, respectively.

“It was a tough match. Dominik played very well in the first set, I think. He answered me with great backhands when I tried to play heavy down to his backhand corner,” Ruud said. “I think I was able to find a way today and I was happy with the way I was playing in the second and third sets.”

At Lyon, it was a different story entirely with just the Round of 16 playing and a whopping four seeds falling at the hurdle. The biggest of the lot saw Cameron Norrie claim his maiden top five victory over Dominic Thiem, with the returning Austrian unable to compete with the firing Brit in a shaky 6-3 6-2 clash.

“I’m so pleased to win today, it’s the biggest win of my career and my highest-ranked win,” Norrie said post-match. “It’s such a beautiful day in Lyon… I couldn’t be happier to get the win today and to get another match on the clay before Roland Garros.”

Norrie won a whopping 91 per cent of points off his first serve off a 73 per cent clip, showcasing just what he is capable of in the 65 minute victory.

“I’m moving well and I’ve played a lot of matches [on clay],” Norrie said. “I’m feeling good on my feet and hitting my forehand well and serving well. I’m looking forward to the next match, it’s going to be a tricky one as both those guys are great players.”

“It was a huge disappointment just now. Just also a big, I would stay, step backwards after promising tournaments in Madrid and Rome. I don’t really know why,” Thiem said. “I was preparing well here, practising well and just didn’t find any rhythm, any strokes. Don’t really know what happened.

“It’s not good for the confidence. To be honest, the way I played today, I was expecting that more to come in Madrid because I hadn’t played for so long,” Thiem said. “But now I was back in the match rhythm and actually hoping for good tennis. I don’t know what to say or what to think. That’s why I need to analyse it and just need to work hard for Roland Garros and [I am] hoping for the best there.”

Thiem is joined on the sidelines by third, fifth and sixth seeds in Diego SchwartzmanGael Monfils and Jannik Sinner, with the former and latter downed by hometown hopefuls in Richard Gasquet and Arthur Rinderknech on home soil, while Monfils was downed by Japanese left-hander Yoshihito Nishioka. The only winning seed for the day was Stefanos Tsitsipas, with the second seed Greek overcoming American Tommy Paul with ease in 75 minutes, 6-1 6-4, becoming the first player to rack up 30 wins for the season thus far in the process.

“I [took] control of the match from early on, and after that I didn’t let go,” Tsitsipas said post-match. “I had a few opportunities in the second set to go up a double break and I missed a shot that I felt like I shouldn’t have missed. But [overall] I was playing good tennis today. I was able to move him around the court and find angles, press with my forehand. It wasn’t my best day on serve, but I found solutions when things proved difficult.”

GONET GENEVA OPEN ROUND OF 16 RESULTS:

[2] Denis Shapovalov (CAN) defeated [Q] Marco Cecchinato (ITA) 6-7 7-5 6-1
Laslo Djere (SRB) defeated [6] Fabio Fognini (ITA) 6-3 6-7 6-1
[Q] Pablo Cuevas (URU) defeated [WC] Arthur Cazaux (FRA) 6-2 6-4

GONET GENEVA OPEN QUARTER FINALS RESULTS:

[2] Denis Shapovalov (CAN) defeated Laslo Djere (SRB) 6-4 6-4
[3] Casper Ruud (NOR) defeated Dominik Koepfer (GER) 2-6 6-1 6-4
[Q] Pablo Cuevas (URU) defeated [4] Grigor Dimitrov (BUL) 7-6 6-3
Pablo Andujar (ESP) defeated [WC] Dominic Stephan Stricker (SUI) 4-6 6-4 6-4

OPEN PARC AUVERGNE-RHONE-ALPES LYON ROUND OF 16 RESULTS:

Cameron Norrie (GBR) defeated [1] Dominic Thiem (AUT) 6-3 6-2
[2] Stefanos Tsitsipas (GRE) defeated Tommy Paul (USA) 6-1 6-4
Richard Gasquet (FRA) defeated [3] Diego Schwartzman (ARG) 6-3 7-5
Yoshihito Nishioka (JPN) defeated [5] Gael Monfils (FRA) 4-6 6-3 7-6
[LL] Arthur Rinderknech (FRA) defeated [6] Jannik Sinner (ITA) 6-7 6-2 7-5

Picture credit: Getty Images

ATP Tour wrap: Geneva and Lyon events begin

TWO ATP 250 events have begun this week, with tournaments in Geneva and Lyon shaping up with their respective Round of 32. Four matches played out at both events on the opening day, with six of the seven French competitors falling across the two tournaments on a huge first day in both Switzerland and France.

At Geneva, Dominik Koepfer and Arthur Cazaux were the two big winners of the day disposing of French seeded duo, Benoit Paire and Adrian Mannarino. Koepfer may have lost the first set but that did not stop him from testing out-of-form seventh seed Paire, with a better service efficiency paying off despite hitting six double faults for three aces. While Paire won 82 per cent of his first serve points (60/73), Koepfer’s 66/98 off a 67 per cent clip paid off as he backed it up with a marginally better 51 per cent win rate off his second serve in the 6-7(8) 7-6(5) 6-4 contest. Koepfer saved a whopping 17 break points of Paire’s 19 chances, showcasing his strong defensive game to remain on top of the contest.

Meanwhile, teen French wildcard Cazaux took the court for his first ATP Tour-level match and claimed his first win in one fell swoop, with a 6-3 6-7 6-3 sweep of compatriot Mannarino. He required just under two and a half hours to defeat the eighth seed, hitting 10 aces and showing immense control to come back from the 6-7(5) second set to take out the victory.

“It’s something very great. It’s a big win for me today. It’s the biggest win of my life,” Cazaux said. “I’m so grateful and I hope to continue in this tournament.”

Overall, Cazaux won 72 per cent of his service points off a 60 per cent clip, and whilst his return could do with some improving, it was at a greater efficiency than his experienced opposition who failed to adjust to the 18-year-old’s exciting style of play, which included a ‘tweener’ during the second set.

“When I hit the shot, I didn’t think about nothing. I had my back to the net and I just hit the shot. I didn’t ask any questions in my head,” Cazaux said. “It was a big shot. I’m so happy I hit this shot.”

The remaining two matches saw straight sets victories go to Spaniard Pablo Andujar and American Tennys Sandgren, with the former downing Australian Jordan Thompson in less than 90 minutes, while the latter required an hour and 47 minutes to take down Italian Salvatore Caruso.

At Lyon, none of the home nation’s talent headed through to the second round in a disastrous and rainy day of action, as three of the four winners only required two sets to proceed. The quickest win of the day went to Aljaz Bedene, as the Slovenian downed former top 10 veteran, Gilles Simon. Bedene won 84 per cent of his service points in a classy 6-2 6-3 win, whilst also winning 48 per cent on return and converting four break points in a one-sided one hour and 16 minute contest.

Pierre-Hugues Herbert had a strong start against American Sebastian Korda but fell away in the second, registering nine double faults throughout as Korda cleaned up on serve, winning 78 per cent of his first serve points to claim the 7-6(5) 6-4 victory. Cameron Norrie registered a similarly solid win 7-5 6-3 in just over 90 minutes, utilising Corentin Moutet‘s shaky second serve to his advantage to win 49 per cent of his return points to go with a serviceable 60 per cent service game winning rate.

The remaining matchup saw Yoshihito Nishioka claim victory in Lyon’s only three-setter for the day, overcoming Ugo Humbert 3-6 6-3 6-4 after a shaky start. While Humbert was solid on serve, winning 70 per cent of his first serve points (37/53) off a 64 per cent clip (53/83), Nishioka pipped him at the post winning 43 points of a possible 66, despite a lower percentage efficiency on both to claim the ascendancy and ultimately the victory. The Japanese 25-year-old saved 12 break points from Humbert’s 15 chances and converted four of nine, eventually winning 51 per cent of the overall points (95 to Humbert’s 92) in a tough, yet even, clash.

GONET GENEVA OPEN ROUND OF 32 RESULTS: 

Dominik Koepfer (GER) defeated [7] Benoit Paire (FRA) 6-7 7-6 6-4
[WC] Arthur Cazaux (FRA) defeated [8] Adrian Mannarino (FRA) 6-3 6-7 6-3
Pablo Andujar (ESP) defeated Jordan Thompson (AUS) 6-0 6-4
Tennys Sandgren (USA) defeated Salvatore Caruso (ITA) 6-3 6-4

OPEN PARC AUVERGNE-RHONE-ALPES LYON ROUND OF 32 RESULTS:

Aljaz Bedene (SLO) defeated Gilles Simon (FRA) 6-2 6-3
Cameron Norrie (GBR) defeated Corentin Moutet (FRA) 7-5 6-3
Sebastian Korda (USA) defeated Pierre-Hugues Herbert (FRA) 7-6 6-4
Yoshihito Nishioka (JPN) defeated Ugo Humbert (FRA) 3-6 6-3 6-4

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: Popyrin upsets Sinner as Nadal smashes heir apparent

AUSTRALIAN rising star Alexei Popyrin has knocked off his Italian counterpart in straight sets, defeating Next-Gen ATP Finals winner Jannik Sinner, 7-6 6-2 at the Madrid Masters 1000. In a day of huge results, Popyrin booked his spot in the Round of 16 with the upset over the 14th seed, in a match that lasted 95 minutes. After winning the first set in a tiebreaker 7-5, Popyrin stormed away with some crucial breaks in the second set to win it well.

“I think it was to stay level-headed after I got broken in the first game. “We had a tactic that I tried to implement in the first game. “I couldn’t quite get my aim. But I knew I would have chances, like most do. “I just had to capitalise on them when they came,” Popyrin said post-match. “That’s what I did, I guess… I have had a pretty good record in tie-breaks this year. “I felt confident going into the tie-break. “I just tried to stay level-headed.”

The Australian won 75 per cent of his first serve points, putting down eight aces to Sinners’ none, and breaking him four times, whilst saving three of five break point opportunities himself. He advances through to the Round of 16 at the ATP Masters 1000 event to play the toughest opponent you can on this surface – King of Clay Rafael Nadal. The number one seeds destroyed the player many believe to be his heir apparent in teenager Carlos Alcaraz.

“He has a lot of potential. He’s young and [a] good guy,” Nadal said post-match. “He already has a great level of tennis today, but I really believe that he’s going to be a fantastic player in the near future.

“I wish him all the very best. [As a] Spanish player and Spanish [tennis] fan, I really believe that we need somebody like him, and it’s great to have him here.”

The birthday boy – turning 18-years-old on the day of the loss was no match for the raging Nadal, who continued his ridiculous winning streak on clay with a 6-1 6-2 victory. Nadal won in just 78 minutes on court, only dropping five points off his first serve, and attacking Alcaraz’s serve with a massive 63 per cent success rate. In what was ultimately one-sided traffic the whole way through, the teenager got a lesson in what it takes to be the best, winning just 27 points for the match (33 per cent) and watching poetry in motion.

On facing Popyrin in the Round of 16, Nadal said he was looking forward to the challenge and had liked what he had seen from the Australian who had some big weapons he would need to be ready for in the clash.

“He has a huge serve, great forehand, young… Another tough opponent. But here we are in Masters 1000, so we can’t expect another thing,” Nadal said. “I hope to be ready to play well. That’s what I am going to need every single day if I want to have chances to keep playing. Tomorrow is another tough battle. I hope to be ready.”

In other results, fifth seed Alexander Zverev strolled past Kei Nishikori to set up a Round of 16 clash with Brit Daniel Evans, following the latter’s come-from-behind win over Australian John Millman. American John Isner upset ninth seed Roberto Bautista Agut in the Spaniard’s home country, 6-4 6-7 7-6 in a match that went down to the wire of two hours and 23 minutes. The other seed to fall was Diego Schwartzman, with the seventh seed Argentinian knocked out by Russian Aslan Karatsev 2-6 6-4 6-1, while clay court specialist Casper Ruud won through to have a crack against fourth seed Stefanos Tsitsipas who destroyed Benoit Paire. Other winners were 16th seed Cristian Garin and Argentinian qualifier Federico Delbonis.

MADRID OPEN ROUND OF 32 RESULTS:

[1] Rafael Nadal (ESP) defeated [WC] Carlos Alcaraz 6-1 6-2
[2] Daniil Medvedev (RUS) defeated Alejandro Davidovich Fokina (ESP) 4-6 6-4 6-2
[4] Stefanos Tsitsipas (GRE) defeated Benoit Paire (FRA) 6-1 6-2
[5] Alexander Zverev (GER) defeated Kei Nishikori (JPN) 6-3 6-2
Aslan Karatsev (RUS) defeated [7] Diego Schwartzman (ARG) 2-6 6-4 6-1
John Isner (USA) defeated [9] Roberto Bautista Agut (ESP) 6-4 6-7 7-6
[Q] Alexei Popyrin (AUS) defeated [14] Jannik Sinner (ITA) 7-6 6-2
[16] Cristian Garin (CHI) defeated Dominik Koepfer (GER) 6-3 6-4
Casper Ruud (NOR) defeated [LL] Yoshihito Nishioka (JPN) 6-1 6-2
Daniel Evans (GBR) defeated John Millman (AUS) 6-7 6-2 6-3
[Q] Federico Delbonis (ARG) defeated Albert Ramos-Vinolas (ESP) 7-6 6-3

Picture credit: ATP Tour

ATP Miami Open 1000: Popyrin and Duckworth book second round spots

THE first matches of the Miami Open 1000 took place overnight, with the winners advancing through to the second round of the major tournament. Whilst no seeds are in action in the Round of 128, there were still plenty of talented up-and-comers out on the hard courts.

Rising Australian Alexei Popyrin continued his good form coming off a maiden title a few weeks back to post a straight sets win over Spaniard Feliciano Lopez, 6-4 7-6. He made it to the second round with fellow Aussie James Duckworth, with a 6-2 4-6 6-4 win against German qualifier Mischa Zverev. France also had a couple of representatives through to the next round with wildcard Hugo Gaston, and Pierre-Hugues Herbert both advancing through to the Round of 64.

“It was a very difficult match,” Popyrin said post-match. “Feli is a very tough player. He has an unbelievable serve, so when I had my chances to break I was putting all of my focus on the break points. There was no rhythm in the match, so not many rallies, but I am happy with the way I was mentally. There were a couple of shaky moments here and there, but I hung in to win.”

The news was a mixed bag for the American hopefuls, with three winners and three losers on day one of the main draw, and one to come at the time of publishing. Marcos Giron knocked off compatriot Tommy Paul in straight sets 7-6 6-4 in the all-United States battle, whilst qualifiers Mackenzie McDonald and Ernesto Escobedo both advanced, against Italian qualifier Paolo Lorenzi and Canadian veteran Vasek Pospisil respectively. Meanwhile German Yannick Hanfmann got the better of Steve Johnson, whilst Chinese Taipei’s Yen-Hsun Lu defeated Sam Querrey, both in straight sets.

In other results, Cameron Norrie had to fight off a determined Yoshihito Nishioka in three sets, 6-1 3-6 7-5, while Serbian Laslo Djere also needed the full three sets to defeat Czech Jiri Vesely, 6-3 5-7 6-1. Other winners on day one of the main draw were Swede Mikael Ymer, Lithuanian Ricardas Berankis, South African Lloyd Harris and Emil Ruusuvuori.

At the time of publishing, Frances Tiafoe and Stefano Travaglia were still on court deciding their first round match.

MIAMI OPEN 1000 ROUND OF 128 RESULTS:

[PR] Yen-Hsun Lu (TAI) defeated Sam Querrey (USA) 6-3 6-4
Yannick Hanfmann (GER) defeated Steve Johnson (USA) 7-5 6-2
Alexei Popyrin (AUS) defeated Feliciano Lopez (ESP) 6-4 7-6
Marcos Giron (USA) defeated Tommy Paul (USA) 7-6 6-4
Cameron Norrie (GBR) defeated Yoshihito Nishioka (JPB) 6-1 3-6 7-5
[WC] Hugo Gaston (FRA) defeated Dominik Koepfer (GER) 6-1 6-4
Pierre-Hugues Herbert (FRA) defeated Pedro Sousa (POR) 6-1 6-3
Mikael Ymer (SWE) defeated [Q] Alejandro Tabilo (CHI) 6-3 6-1
[Q] Ernesto Escobedo (USA) defeated [Q] Paolo Lorenzi (ITA) 6-3 6-2
James Duckworth (AUS) defeated [Q] Mischa Zverev (GER) 6-2 4-6 6-4
[Q] Mackenzie McDonald (USA) defeated Vasek Pospisil (CAN) 6-3 4-6 6-3
Ricardas Berankis (LTU) defeated [LL] Federico Gaio (ITA) 7-6 6-2
Lloyd Harris (RSA) defeated [Q] Emilio Nava (USA) 6-4 7-6
Laslo Djere (SRB) defeated Jiri Vesely (CZE) 6-3 5-7 6-1
Emil Ruusuvuori (FIN) defeated [WC] Carlos Alcaraz (ESP) 6-4 2-6 7-5

Frances Tiafoe (USA) vs Stefano Travaglia (ITA)

Picture credit: ATP Tour