Jared Donaldson faces Francis Tiafoe in Australian Open Qualifying, tough draw for Britain's Dan Evans - UBITENNIS
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Jared Donaldson faces Francis Tiafoe in Australian Open Qualifying, tough draw for Britain’s Dan Evans

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Jared Donaldson has been handed a big test in the form of compatriot Francis Tiafoe (Image via itftennis.com)

The Australian Open is set to begin tomorrow, though it is not a draw filled with names like Roger Federer, or Novak Djokovic. Instead, the Australian Open Qualifying event is starting. Here the names are a mixture of young talent, on their way up, players trying to have mid-career success, or veterans trying to stay in the games as long as possible. Some names like Radek Stepanek, and Dustin Brown will be familiar. Others like Duckhee Lee, Taylor Fritz, and Oliver Anderson might just become familiar.

 

The toughest draw in Australian Open Qualifying probably belongs to twenty-first seed Jared Donaldson. As a seeded player, he was entitled to believe that he would receive a favourable draw for at least the first two rounds. What he got instead was nightmare first round as he faces another young American star in Francis Tiafoe.

Qualifying top seed Luca Vanni faces an unpredictable match against Britain’s Dan Evans. Evans actually leads the head-t0-head having won the inaugural meeting at a futures event six years ago. That also took place on a hard-court. The third-round seed for Vanni or Evans is Bjorn Fratangelo, who must likely defeat teenage sensation Duckhee Lee in round two.

Third seed Tim Smyczek, who successfully qualified last year before losing to Nadal in the second round, have a favourable draw, with Kenny de Schepper the biggest name in his section. Likewise fourth seed Alejandro Falla, who might have to face recent ATP quarter-finalist Thomas Fabbiano in the third-round.

Fifth seed Jan Lenard-Struff’s section includes Tour veteran Radek Stepanek, Marinko Matosevic, and Alejandro Gonzalez. Sixth seed Lukas Lacko could face Mirza Basic, who enjoyed a strong finish to 2015.

Seventh seed Marsel Ilhan has a tough draw, with Aleksander Nedovyesov, Aldin Setkic and Ryan Harrison making stiff competition. Eighth seed Go Soeda must face the likes of Maximillian Marterer, Alexander Kudryavtsev, and likely the winner of the Tiafoe/Donaldson clash to progress.

Beginning with the bottom half of the draw, Michael Berrer, who reversed a career retirement decision last year, starts against Tristan Lamasine. All eyes will be on his second-round match though, as that could include Taylor Fritz, who starts against Hiroki Moriya. Norbert Gombos has a tricky path to meeting either Berrer or Fritz, as he has to face the winner of Mischa Zverev or Andrea Arnaboldi’s encounter, if he beats Roberto Marcora.

Tenth seed Radu Albot starts against Jan Mertl, and could face German Daniel Brands in the third round. Three Frenchman feature in that section. Eleventh seed Edouard Roger-Vasselin starts with Zhe Li of China, and his projected seed for the final round, Gastao Elias, has a very tough start against Pierre-Hugues Herbert.

Yuichi Sugita and Dennis Novikov make up the final seeds of the third quarter, with Ante Pavic and James Ward, who starts against Peter Polansky, also featuring.

Tatsumo Ito has a nice draw, as his seeded third-round opponent Andre Ghem, is more suited to clay events than hard-courts. However, Oliver Anderson, who recently defeated Dennis Novikov and Tim Smyczek also features here.

Kimmer Coppejans and Igor Sijsling have some tough matches to negotiate if they are to meet in the final round. Alex Bolt, Karen Khachanov, and Grega Zemlja are all names capable of springing a shock.

Dustin Brown and Konstantin Kravchuck have a good chance of meeting, as the only name in their section likely to cause trouble is Andrey Golubev.

The final section sees home hope John-Patrick Smith start against Michael Linzer. He could eventually face young Swede Elias Ymer, who plays Renzo Olivo first.

Selected first-round matches with predictions in bold

(1) Luca Vanni vs Dan Evans

(3) Tim Smyczek vs Jose Pereira

Henri Laaksonen vs (24) Alejandro Gonzalez

Francis Tiafoe vs (21) Jared Donaldson

Taylor Fritz vs Hiroki Moriya

Pierre-Hugues Herbert vs (20) Gastao Elias

(12) Yuichi Sugita vs Ante Pavic

James Ward vs Peter Polansky

(13) Tatsumo Ito vs Marton Fucsovics

 

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Fabio Fognini Hits Out At ‘Inexplicable’ Disqualification From Barcelona Open

The world No.27 has protested his innocence after losing his temper over a call made by an official.

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Italy’s Fabio Fognini describes the decision to kick him out of the Barcelona Open on Wednesday as a ‘shock’ and has vowed to look further into the matter.

 

The 33-year-old was taking on Spanish qualifier Bernabe Zapata Miralles in the second round of the tournament where he was trailing the match 0-6, 4-4. After losing his temper, the world No.27 is said to have been verbally abusive towards a lines official and was subsequently defaulted from the match for his behaviour. The incident occurred over a line call decision which Fognini didn’t agree with.

On court, he tried to protest his innocence by telling the umpire ‘I didn’t say anything’ but it failed to overturn the decision. Leaving Fognini fuming as he broke his racket on purpose.

Speaking to reporters afterwards, the Italian continued to protest his innocence in the match and said he would ‘investigate’ the matter. It is unclear what he is referring to but players are allowed to make an appeal against any fine if they feel it is unjust.

“I’m really surprised with the ATP, especially the chair umpire and the supervisor, because I was here to play tennis, I was here to fight in the match, and even if I was losing, doesn’t matter,” he said. “But what they did to me was something inexplicable, so I’m going to investigate it, but nothing more, I paid for something that I didn’t do, that’s the first and clearest thing that everybody has to know.”

Zapata Miralles said he was initially unaware of what was going on in his clash with Fognini as he was focusing on closing out the match. Barcelona is only the seventh ATP main draw he has played in so far in his career.

“I was on the other side of the court, I wasn’t listening to be honest,” Tennis Majors quoted the 24-year-old as saying afterwards. “When I saw the referee on the court, I asked the umpire what’s going on. But I was focused on my work on the court, I was thinking on the next point, the next game, on things I had to focus on.”

Fognini has never previously been defaulted from a tennis match but he is no stranger to controversy. At the 2017 US Open he was fined $24,000 for insulting a female chair umpire and at the 2019 Wimbledon Championships he was heard saying ‘I wish a bomb would explode on this club.’ He later apologised for his remarks.

Zapata Miralles will play compatriot Pablo Carreno Busta in the third round.

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Matteo Berrettini beats Marco Cecchinato in all-Italian match in Belgrade

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Number 2 seed Matteo Berrettini beat Marco Cecchinato 6-4 6-3 after 1 hour and 21 minutes in an all-Italian match to advance to the quarter finals at the Serbia Open in Belgrade. 

 

Berrettini broke serve three times and saved all three break points he faced showing that he is returning to his best form after an abdominal injury, which forced him ahead of his fourth-round match at the Australian Open. 

Berrettini saved three break points in the fourth game before earning his first break at 30 in the fifth game to take a 3-2 lead. Berrettini dropped just five points in his final three service games to win the first set 6-4. 

Berrettini went up a set and a break at 15 and never looked back in his next service games. He sealed the match 6-3 with his third break in the ninth game. 

This year Berrettini earned three top 15 wins to lead Italy to the ATP Cup in Melbourne. Last week he lost his opening match against Alejandro Davidovich Fokina in the Monte-Carlo Rolex Masters. 

“Confidence is something that goes away, it comes back. For sure I know that is my level. I know that I can play that kind of tennis. I work hard to be there, to be in good shape. It was obviously a shame. I work hard to be there, to be in good shape. It obviously was a shame. I was sad about my injury, but I know that I can play well on clay, on grass and on hard-court”, said Berrettini. 

Berrettini set up a match against Serbia’s Filip Krajnovic, who eased past Nikola Milojevic 6-1 6-1. Berretini defeated Krajinovic in their only previous head-to-head match in the Budapest final in 2019. 

“It’s going to be very tough. He is top 10, he is a huge champion. He is very tough to play against. I played him once in the final of an ATP Tour event and he beat me, so I know how to play. It’s going to be very tricky, very tough, but I will give my best playing on my court. We see how it goes”, said Krajinovic. 

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Felix Auger Aliassime battles back to beat Lorenzo Musetti in Barcelona

Felix Auger-Aliassime reached the third round in Barcelona, where he will meet Denis Shapovalov.

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Felix Auger-Aliassime (@BATennisCom - Twitter)

The Canadian needed three sets and over two hours to get the win and set up a third round encounter with his good friend Denis Shapovalov.

 

Felix Auger Aliassime needed two hours and five minutes to beat the Italian Lorenzo Musetti 4-6, 6-3, 6-0 hitting nine aces in the win and setting up his next match with fellow Canadian Denis Shapovalov.

“It’s not always easy, to be honest, now I’m sitting here, I am happy that I won but things were difficult at some point in the match, I was facing breakpoints in the second set again and things got tight so trying to stay calm, trying to find solutions that was the main goal, I mean there was some ups and downs but in the end, I’m happy with the way the match ended, sometimes your not playing your best tennis but you gotta believe and have courage and fight through”.

The Italian got off to a great start earning a breakpoint in the opening game of the match but the Montreal native was able to save it and hold serve. At 1-1, the world number 20 was under pressure once again but hung in to save the breakpoint.

The Canadian got his first breakpoint of the match at 2-1 but this time it was the Italian who would do a good job of saving it. The very next game the world number 87 went back to work trying to get the early break and this time he was able to pull it off with a superb lob to take a 3-2 lead.

He would serve out the first set to take it 6-4 and a comeback was required if the Canadian didn’t want to be upset at the hands of the Italian.

The world number 87 kept it going in the beginning of the second set earning more breakpoints in the opening game but the Canadian would save both and hold serve.

The very next game the number 10 seed would set up two breakpoints with a stunning forehand winner and would break for the first time in the match to take a 2-0 lead.

The next game the Canadian struggled on serve and the Italian earned two more breakpoints and broke right back to go back on serve. At 3-2 the Montreal native would have another chance to break but the world number 87 would save it again.

At 4-3 the Italian started to get tight and the world number 20 earned three more chances to break and this time would break through to take a 5-3 lead and serve out the second set to send it into a decider.

Clearly the momentum was with the Canadian and he would earn three more breakpoints in the opening service game of the third set and broke to take a 1-0 lead.

After consolidating the break he would earn three more breakpoints and break once more to go up a double break. At the changeover Musetti called for the trainer and took a medical timeout to have work on his lower back.

The Canadian didn’t give in and after holding serve once again he would earn more breakpoints and break one more time and would serve out the match to win the decider with a 6-0 bagel.

As mentioned this win sets up a match with Denis Shapovalov on Thursday with both players meeting a total of four times and each player has two wins.

After the match Auger Aliassime spoke about the matchup and gave Ubitennis his thoughts.

“I feel like we played quite a lot lately and the past year so It’s always a challenge to play him, hopefully, I can play a good match, we can have a great battle but it’s always a tough task so I’ll try to rest and get ready as good as I can for the match tomorrow”.

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