The Grass Season Begins in Stuttgart - UBITENNIS
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The Grass Season Begins in Stuttgart

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TENNIS – The ATP Mercedes Cup in Stuttgart is held for the first time on grass after being played on clay until 2014. The tournament made surface change as well as moved the date to June instead of July so as to coincide with the start of the grass court season in preparation for Wimbledon, the 3rd major of the year. The first edition of this tournament was held in 1898 but Mercedes Benz assumed the title sponsor from 1979. Diego Sampaolo

 

The top-seed of the tournament is Rafa Nadal who won in Stuttgart in 2005 and 2007 when the tournament was held on clay. He will play Marcos Baghdatis in his first match. The other top seeds are Marin Cilic (2), Feliciano Lopez (3), Gael Monfils (4), Bernard Tomic (5) and Philipp Kohlschreiber (6). Tomic is set to play local favourite, Tommy Haas who had been sidelined by injury for monts.

Monfils, who reached the 4th round at the Roland Garros where he lost against Roger Federer, edged past Andreas Haider-Maurer 7-6(6) 7-6(5) in a match without any breaks of serve. In the 1st set Haider-Maurer did not convert a set point at 5-4 on the Monfils serve.  The Austrian player got a mini-break lead but Monfils closed out on his 2nd set point at 8-6. Monfils failed to convert a break point at 1-0, while Haider-Maurer again could not take advantage of a break point at 4-4. Therefore another tiebreaker was needed to decide the set. Monfils once again won the breaker and the match on his 2nd set point.

In the quarterfinal Monfils will take on Kohlschreiber who beat former Wimbledon semifinalist Jerzy Janowicz 6-4 6-4. Monfils leads 9-2 in his head-to-head matches against Kohlschreiber but the German beat the Frenchman on grass in Halle four years ago. Sam Groth fought back from a set down to upset the 3rd seed Lopez who is a very competent grass court player with 3-6 7-6(5) 7-6(6) scoreline. Groth won 100% of his first service points in the 2nd set and 91% in the 3rd set. In a match where there were just two break points (one for each player) and only 1 break, Groth won the second set tie-break with 7-5 before clinching the third set with 8-6 on his second match point.

Groth will face Viktor Troicki (8) who edged past young German Aleksander Zverev with 6-3 6-7(6) 6-3. Zverev lost the 1st set and trailed 1-3 in the 2nd set. Zverev broke serve in the 2nd set before forcing it to the tie-break. Zverev saved two match points before winning the tie-break with 8-6 to force the match to a 3rd set. Troicki took control of the match in the third set where he won with 6-3. Troicki converted 3/9 break point chances and won 75% of his first serve points.

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Fabio Fognini beats Guido Pella in straight sets to reach the fourth round in Melbourne

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Fabio Fognini beat Guido Pella 7-6 (7-0) 6-2 6-3 to reach the fourth round at the Australian Open in Melbourne. The Italian star converted five of his six break points to close out the match after 2 hours and nine minutes.

 

Fognini saved two break points in the first set with a forehand and a backhand and held his serve. The Italian star did not convert a break point in a long seventh game. Both players went on serve to set up a tie-break. Fognini did not drop a single point to cruise through to a 7-0 win.

In the second set Fognini earned a crucial break in the sixth game to take a 4-2 lead. He held his serve on the second deuce after saving a break point. The 2019 Monte-Carlo champion sealed the second set with another break with a forehand return winner.

Fognini earned a break lead in the fourth game of the decisive set. Pella broke straight back in the fifth game. Both traded breaks again in the sixth and seventh games. Fognini broke for the third time and converted his second match point with a serve up the T.

He is also the 12th player to come back from two sets down at all four Grand Slam tournaments.

With his five-set victories over Reilly Opelka and Jordan Thompson in the first two matches Fognini made history on Wednesday when the “Come-back king” became the first player to win back-to-back Australian Open matches in final set tie-breaks.

“I am so happy to be in the fourth round again in Australia. Now it’s time to recover. I played a really solid game against a really tough opponent. I am happy with the performance”, said Fognini.

Fognini set up a fourth round match against 2018 Australian Open quarter finalist Tennys Sandgren, who beat Sam Querrey 6-4 6-4 6-4 after 1 hour and 52 minutes. Sandgren fended off nine break points and converted just 2 of his 14 break point chances. Two years ago Sandgen beat Stan Wawrinka and Dominic Thiem en route to reaching his first quarter final at a Grand Slam event.

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Marin Cilic prevails over Roberto Bautista Agut in five-set thriller in Melbourne

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Marin Cilic overcame Spain’s Roberto Bautista Agut 6-7 (3-7) 6-4 6-0 5-7 6-3 after 4 hours and 10 minutes to score his first top 10 win since the 2018 US Open, when he beat David Goffin.

 

Cilic fought back from losing the first set at the tie-break, but he bounced back in the second set by breaking serve in the ninth game, when Bautista Agut made a forehand error. Cilic held on his serve to win the second set 6-4 to draw level to 1-1.

Cilic cruised through to a bagel win in the third set. The Croatian player got an early break in the fourth set to open up a 3-1 lead. Bautista Agut broke back in the sixth game to draw level to 3-3. Cilic did not convert a break point chance at 5-5. Bautista Agut earned the break at 6-5 to force the match to the fifth set.

Cilic broke serve in the opening game of the fifth set with a forehand winner, but he did not convert a break point at 4-2. He broke for the seventh time in the match in Bautista Agut’s next service game to clinch a thrilling win, as Bautista Agut fired a backhand into the net.

Cilic took a re-match against the Spanish player, who won their previous head-to-head clash at the 2019 Australian Open in five sets.

“I had an incredible patch. It was a surreal level. Every ball I was hitting was going in. It was coming off my raquet incredibly well. I knew Roberto would always fight and he pushed me all the way in the fourth set”, said Cilic.

 

 

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Karen Khachanov edges Mikael Ymer in marathon match in Melbourne

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Karen Khachanov battled past Mikael Ymer 6-2 2-6 6-4 3-6 7-6 (10-8) in a marathon match after 4 hours and 14 minutes.

 

Ymer broke serve twice in the second and fourth games of the fourth set to open up a 4-1 lead. Khachanov broke back in the seventh game, but Ymer broke for the third time to take the fourth set 6-3.

Khachanov broke serve in the sixth game to take a 4-2, but he was broken back in the next game.

Khachanov was not able to serve out the match at 5-3 in the fifth set before trailing 6-8 in the decisive match tie-break. Khachanov came back by winning four consecutive points to clinch a thrilling win.

Australia’s Alexei Popyrin beat Spain’s Jaume Munar 6-2 7-6 (7-5) 6-2 after 2 hours and 4 minutes setting up a third round match against Danil Medvedev. Popyrin broke twice in each of the first and third sets and saved all four break point chances.

Taylor Fritz came back from two sets down to beat Kevin Anderson 4-6 6-7 (5-7) 7-6 (7-4) 6-2 6-2. Anderson was leading by two sets and 4-2 in the third set, but Fritz broke back before winning the third set at the tie-break. Fritz cruised through the fourth and fifth sets. Fritz will face Dominic Thiem in the third round.

“That was huge for me. He played a really tough five setter just the other day and then obviously coming back. Going back to back five setters is going to be tougher for him than usual. I felt fresh, so I just told myself that I have to keep running”,said Fritz.

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