TENNIS ATP TOUR – Andy Murray beat Viktor Troicki 6-4 6-3 in 83 minutes to qualify for his 44th final at the Erste Bank ATP 250 Tournament in Vienna where he will face David Ferrer, who battled past German Phillip Kohlschreiber 6-3 2-6 7-6 (7-3). Murray, who received a wild-card from the organizers, will be looking to win his second title of the year after Shenzhen. Diego Sampaolo
Troicki saved a break point early in the first set before Murray converted his third break point chance in the fifth game. Murray faced some trouble only in the following game when he was broken back at 3-2 when he made two double faults. In the ninth game Troicki went up 30-0 but he made a double fault and sent a forehand wide allowing Murray to get the break at 4-all. The Scotsman held his serve to 30 before clinching the first set with 6-4
Murray got a break early in the second set. Troicki saved a break point at 2-5 but he dropped his serve to love in the ninth game.
Ferrer had to fend off five break points in the first set after a perfect week in which he did not drop a serve during the whole tournament. Ferrer got the break in the fourth game to take a 3-1 lead before saving two break points in the sixth game. Ferrer failed to convert two set points at 5-2 but he closed out in the ninth game with 6-3
Kohlschreiber broke serve twice in the fourth and in the eighth games to win the second set with 6-2 and forced the match to the decider. In the third set Ferrer rallied from 2-4 after going down a break. Ferrer broke back to love clawing his way back into the match. Kohlschreiber held serve in the ninth game for 5-4, The third set came down to the tie-break. It went on serve until 2-2 when Ferrer got a mini-break. Ferrer pulled away to 4-2 but Kohlschreiber got the mini-break. However the German made a double fault to go down 3-5 before sending a sending a backhand volley wide. Ferrer won the tie-break 7-3 to reach the 46th final of his career
The Spanish player will be bidding to win his second title of the year in his fourth final of the year.
Murray leads 7-6 in their 13 head-to-head matches but Ferrer won their last clash in three sets in Shanghai.
IF Stockholm Open:
Defending champion Grigor Dimitrov recovered from a 1-4 deficit to overcome Bernard Tomic with 6-3 7-5 to advance to the final at the ATP 250 in Stockholm The young Bulgarian, who beat Ferrer last year, will play the sixth final of his career and the fourth of 2013.
Dimitrov broke serve once and cruised to 3-0 in less than 10 minutes. He did not face any break point in the first set and closed out with 6-3.
Tomic bounced back in the second set pulling away to 4-1 with a break lead but he failed to convert two set points when Dimitrov was serving. Tomic made a double fault when he was serving for the set at 5-3. Dimitrov broke back before getting another break at 5-all. Dimitrov held serve in the 12h game to close out the match.
Dimitrov set up the final against Tomas Berdych who beat Mathias Bachinger 7-6 6-4 in the other semifinal. Bachinger got a break in the seventh game of the first set to take a 4-3 lead. Berdych broke to draw level to 5-5 when Bachinger was serving for the set. Berdych had to fend off a set point before wrapping up the tie-break with 9-7.
Bachinger broke serve in the eighth game but he was broken back to 15 when he was serving for the first set at 5-3. The second set came down to the tie-break. After four mini-breaks Berdych was the first to hold serve at 3-2. The tie-break went on serve until Bachinger earned a set point at 6-5 but Berdych saved it with an ace. Bachinger faced a set point but he won the point to draw level to 7-7. Berdych took the 8-7 edge earning the set point. He hit a forehand winner to close out the tie-break with 9-7.
Berdych got a break in the third game to take a 2-1 lead in the second set. Bachinger converted his third break point chance of the second set to break back for 4-4. Berdych broke again in the following game to edge 5-4 with a forehand winner before closing out on his first match point
Berdych has reached his fifth final of the year and his 24th in his career
Dimitrov leads 3-1 in their four previous matches. The Bulgarian beat Berdych 6-7 6-2 6-2 in their most recent head-to-head match in Rome last May.
“I would like to defend my title every single week. It brings out the best out in you. so it’s a really place to be in”, said Dimitrov
Moscow Kremlin Cup
US Open champion Marin Cilic fought back from a set down to edge last year’s Kremlin Cup finalist Mikhail Kukushkin 4-6 6-3 6-2 to secure his spot on the ATP Finals in London. It was not a easy match for Cilic who went down a set and a break before reaching his fifth final of the year and his 22nd final of his career (he boasts a winning record of 12-9). Kukushkin started well saving all the eight break point chances he faced in the first set.
The Kazakh player broke serve at 4-3 after saving three break points in the first game and two in the fourth game. Cilic did not convert another break point chance in the tenth game and dropped the first set with 4-6.
Kukushkin looked to be cruising to a surprising win when he got another break. Cilic broke straight back to claw his way into the match. Cilic broke in the eighth game en route to winning the second set with 6-3. He reeled off five consecutive games from 3-3 in the second set to build up a 2-0 lead in the third set. Cilic broke again in the seventh game for 5-2. He held serve to 30 to close out the match and qualify for his fifth final of the year.
The Croatian player will face Roberto Bautista Agut who overcame Ernests Gulbis with a double 6-4. Cilic is the third Croatian player to qualify for the end-of-year ATP Finals or Masters Cup after Goran Ivanisevic (five times) and Ivan Ljubicic (2006)
Bautista Agut will play his third final of the year on three different surfaces after winning in Stuttgart on clay and s’Hertogenbosch on grass. Gulbis saved two break points at 2-2 before dropping serve in the seventh game. Bautista Agut did not face any troubles and closed out the first set with 6-4.
At 2-2 Gulbis saved two break points in the second set which went on serve until 3-3. Bautista Agut broke again in the seventh game as in the first set. The Spanish player faced the first break point of the match at 4-3 in the second set when he made a double fault but he saved it when Gulbis made a fault on his second serve.
In the Combined WTA Tournament at the Kremlin Cup Anastasya Pavlyuchenkova cruised past Czech qualifier and first-time WTA semifinalist Katerina Siniakov with a double 6-2. Pavlyuchenkova will play her third WTA Premier final after Brisbane 2013 and Paris Indoor 2014. Pavlyuchenkova will try to become the fourth Russian player to win in the home tournament after Anastasya Myskina (twice Kremlin Cup champion in 2003 and 2004), Anna Chaktvetadze (2006) and Elena Dementieva (2007).
Pavlyuchenkova will face Irina Camelia Begu from Romania who battled past Lucie Safarova in three sets with 7-6 1-6 6-3. Begu converted only one of her 14 break point chances in the 8th game of the match before serving out for the match. Begu crowned an impressive week in which she knocked out two top-20 players Ekaterina Makarova and Lucie Safarova. She will play her first WTA Premier Final.
Andrey Rublev: “I don’t expect anything from myself in Melbourne”
Russian 22-year-old rising star Andrey Rublev started the 2020 season on a high note winning back-to-back titles in Doha and Adelaide. He beat French Next Gen player Corentin Moutet in the final of the Doha Qatar Exxon Mobil Open in the first week of the new year and repeated the feat by beating South African rising star Lloyd Harris in Adelaide.
Rublev has extended his winning streak to 12 matches, including 8 wins in the first two weeks of the 2020 season. He won the Doha title without dropping a set during the week. In Adelaide the Moscow native had to dig deep to beat Felix Auger Aliassime 7-6 (7-5) 6-7 (7-9) 6-4 in a hard-fought semifinal match. With the Doha-Adelaide double Rublev became the first player to win back-to-back titles in the first two weeks of the season since 2004, when Slovakia’s Dominik Hrbaty won two consecutive trophies in Adelaide and Auckland.
Rublev picked up where he left off in 2019, when he won the Kremlin Cup in his hometown Moscow beating Adrian Mannarino in the final and finished runner-up to Nikoloz Basilashvili in the Hamburg final. The player coached by Fernando Vicente scored the biggest win of his career when he beat Roger Federer in Cincinnati to reach his first Masters 1000 quarter final before losing to eventual champion Danil Medvedev. At the US Open he beat Stefanos Tsitsipas and Nick Kyrgios en route to reaching the fourth round at the US Open before losing to eventual semifinalist Matteo Berrettini.
“I was not thinking about this statistic, but it’s an amazing feeling. I am really happy. I hope I keep working. I hope I keep improving, and we’ll see what’s going to happen”, said Rublev.
Rublev will open his Australian Open campaign against local favourite Christopher O’Connell in the first round. The Russian player is projected to play against David Goffin in a potential third round match, Alexander Zverev in the fourth round and Danil Medvedev in the quarter final.
Rublev, who has never advanced from the third round at the Australian Open, has no expectations for the first Grand Slam of the season.
“I am not waiting anything from myself in Melbourne. The only thing is that I want to fight and I believe well on court in my first match. Then we will see. I don’t think I am invincible, but for sure I am more confident in what I do after two titles in a row. I am working to be more consistent, to be more mentally strong. This is what we were working for and I am happy that these two weeks went this way. I got two titles. It’s amazing. I never had this before”, said Rublev.
Ugo Humbert claims the first title of his career after winning all-French final against Benoit Paire in Auckland
Twenty-one year-old Ugo Humbert beat Benoit Paire 7-6 (7-2) 3-6 7-6 (7-5) after 2 hours and 34 minutes in the all-French final of the ASB Classic in Auckland to claim the first title of his career.
Humbert has become the first French player to win the Auckland tournament. He enjoyed a great week beating Denis Shapovalov and John Isner en route to reaching the final.
Humbert earned the first break of the match in the second game after a double fault from Paire and held his serve with a service winner in the next game to open up a 3-0 lead. Paire broke back in the fifth game with a backand return winner. Humbert broke serve again in the sixth game to take a 4-2 lead. Paire broke back in the seventh game to claw his way back to 3-4. Humbert earned three set points, when Paire was serving at 5-6. Humbert reeled off five consecutive points from 2-2 to claim the tie-break with three mini-break after a forehand error from Paire.
Paire fended off three break points in the third game of the second set before breaking serve in the fourth game after a double fault from Humbert. Paire saved a break point at 5-3 with an ace and closed out the second set with a backhand down the line winner.
Humbert earned an early break in the second game of the decider with a backhand crosscourt passing shot, before saving three break points at 4-2. Paire hit three consecutive backhand winners, as Humbert was serving for the match at 5-3 30-0. Paire got the crucial break in the next point, when Humbert sent a forehand long. Paire saved a championship point with a backhand volley winner in the 10th game. Paire held his serve with a backhand volley winner to draw level to 5-5. Paire rallied from 0-30 down in the 12th game to force the decisive set to the tie-break.
Humbert earned a mini-break on the sixth point with a forehand return to take a 4-2 lead and earned three championship points at 6-3. Humbert sealed the win on his third chance when Paire sent a backhand wide after 2 hours and 35 minutes.
“It’s a tournament of revenge because I have lost to four of five players I played this week. It’s a great improvement for me and I could not dream of a beginning for the season”, said Humbert.
Roger Federer Plays Down Air Quality Concerns Ahead Of Australian Open
Roger Federer has rejected concerns that air quality will affect the Australian Open ahead of his first round match on Monday.
Roger Federer has rejected the idea that air quality concerns will be a factor at this year’s Australian Open.
Recently air quality has been fairly unsafe as a recent result of the Australian bushfires that have impacted many parts of the country.
Melbourne has been one of the cities that has been impacted the most with many animals, firefighters and civilians suffering.
As the Australian Open approaches, it has also affected the first grand slam of the year with many players in qualifying suffering on Tuesday and Wednesday with conditions being deemed unsafe to compete in.
This has raised concerns about the tournament itself, which starts on Monday and one player that has been criticised in his lack of action is Roger Federer.
The 20 time grand slam champion is on the ATP Players Council and today he broke his silence, insisting that the air quality shouldn’t be a factor at this year’s Australian Open, “No, I don’t worry. From what we were told yesterday in the player meeting, the Olympic Games and other competitions have the numbers set at 300. Ours is set at 200,” Federer told the media on Saturday.
“From that standpoint, I think we’re moving in a very safe range. We’re not here for six months straight at over 200, 300, you know. That’s when maybe effects really become bad. No, I don’t worry too much, to be honest. I worry more for everybody else who is in the fire, in the smoke. Also we can stay indoors all day, quickly go out and play, go back in again. It’s not like we’re stuck outside at all times.
“I think communication is key from the tournament to the people, to the media, to the fans, to the players, because you do hear it’s not safe to be outside, keep your pets inside, close your windows. You have court calls, then you look at the haze and everything, it doesn’t look good. I think we’re going to get through it and it should be fine. It shouldn’t move, no.”
Conditions are expected to get safer in time for the first week of the grand slam as rain has hit the latter stages of the past week in Melbourne.
Although Federer has played down concerns of the air quality causing harm to the players, it is still is a cause for concern amongst tournament directors if the conditions played a part in the second week.
As for Federer, he starts his Australian Open campaign against Steve Johnson on Monday and is taking the tournament one match at a time, “I got to really make sure I get out of the gates quick,” Federer said.
“Practice has been going well. Had plenty of time to pace myself and do all the things I had to do to get ready. I hope it’s enough. I know it’s a super long road to victory. That’s why I got to take it one match at a time. My expectations are quite low. No, I’m excited to play Steve. He’s a good guy. I think with his old-school playing – big forehand, slice backhand, good serve – I think it’s going to be a nice match for me, as well.”
The Swiss will be looking for his 7th Australian Open title in Melbourne and his third in four years but will have to play Novak Djokovic before the final. The match with Johnson will be third on Rod Laver Arena on Monday after Naomi Osaka and Serena Williams play their matches.
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