Fernando Verdasco doesn't back up shock win in a day with few surprises in Melbourne - UBITENNIS
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Fernando Verdasco doesn’t back up shock win in a day with few surprises in Melbourne

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Few things can frustrate a tennis fan more than seeing a player that pulls off a huge shock not back it up in the following round. Fernando Verdasco falling to Dudi Sela in the second round of the Australian Open suggests that his victory over Rafa Nadal is more down to the off-par performance of the latter than the well-doing of the former.

 

Verdasco’s approach against Nadal was like a gambler placing his chips on red or black at the roulette table. Victory or defeat, winner or unforced error, all depending on where the ball falls. 90 winners and 91 unforced errors are proof of the risks the Madrid-born player took against the Majorcan. Against Sela it was 56 winners to 63 unforced errors and this time the ball didn’t land on Verdasco’s colour. The Israeli took the clash 4-6, 6-3, 6-3, 7-6 and makes the most of Nadal’s draw as he is presented with a tremendous opportunity of making inroads at the Australian Open.

 

That same opportunity has fallen into the hands of Andrey Kuznetsov, who meets Sela in the third round after upsetting 30th seed Jeremy Chardy in straight sets. The Russian only won eight more points than his opponent in total but he came out on top when it mattered and he now has the chance of reaching a grand slam fourth round for the first time.

Gael Monfils overcame fellow Frenchmen Nicolas Mahut, on his 34th birthday, in straight sets and will face another compatriot in the shape of Stephane Robert, who defeated Rajeev Ram. The American, just like Verdasco, couldn’t back up a surprise win against Kevin Anderson.

Milos Raonic set up a third round meeting with Viktor Troicki after overcoming Tommy Robredo and Tim Smyczek in straight sets respectively. And just below them in the draw, the big upset of the day was produced by Lukas Rosol -who knows a thing or two about surprises- who put Jack Sock to the sword 7-6, 7-6, 6-3. The American was clearly hampered by his bruising first round encounter with Taylor Harry Fritz and an illness he was overcoming which forced him to retire in the final of Auckland.

“The illness was pretty unfortunate timing for myself coming into the Australian Open, I was disappointed I couldn’t be 100%. But it’s not an excuse, because once I got out there I was feeling pretty good. Today was just his day“, admitted a gallant Sock.

On a day of gold and green tears, as Australia and the world of tennis bid farewell to one of the sport’s toughest competitors and brightest stars of the last twenty years, John Millman provided the locals with some joy as he overcame huge serving Gilles Muller in five sets on the day that will always be remembered as the day Lleyton Hewitt hung up his racket. The Queenslander made the third round of a Grand Slam for the first time with a 4-6, 6-4, 6-2, 4-6, 7-5 win.

“It’s a massive thing for someone like myself who has really only spent a year in the top 100. I managed to turn the tables around today when I was being outplayed at the start of the match. I had to dig deep today and change things up and find a way and I managed to”, said Millman about his breakthrough win, and he also had words for Hewitt: “He’s set the benchmark for Australian men’s tennis for a long time. He’s had a lot of hurdles along the way It hasn’t been smooth sailing for him. I have a lot of respect for him. I’m glad he’s going to have a big part in men’s tennis in the future”.

Millman now faces a player he grew up with, Bernard Tomic, who capped off the night’s action with a gruelling four set win over Simone Bolelli. “It kind of sucks we have to play each other. But if it’s meant to be it’s meant to be. I’m happy to be playing John, he had a very good win against Gilles so congratulations to him”.

Other second round results today included:

Steve Johnson d. Thomaz Bellucci 6-3, 6-3, 6-2

Feliciano Lopez d. Guido Pella 7-6, 6-7. 7-6, 6-7, 6-4

John Isner d. Marcel Granollers 6-3, 7-6, 7-6

Joao Sousa d. Santiago Giraldo 6-3, 7-5, 3-6, 6-1

 

 

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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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