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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Dominic Thiem reaches his first quarter final at the Australian Open

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Dominic Thiem eased past Gael Monfils 6-2 6-4 6-4 after 1 hour and 50 minutes on the Rod Laver Arena in Melbourne to reach the quarter final at the Australian Open. Thiem has extended his winning streak to 6-0 in his head-to-head matches against Monfils.

 

He fought back from two sets to one down to beat Australia’s Alex Bolt in the second round, but he won eight of his past nine sets to advance to the quarter finals.

Thiem got two breaks in the first set and never faced a single break point in the entire match. The Austrian player converted his fourth break point after three deuces, as Monfils missed a backhand volley wide. Thiem started the third set with an early break in the first game, as Monfils hit an inside-out forehand wide from the middle of the court wide. Thiem won his next service games and held his final game at love.

Thiem will face Rafael Nadal in a re-match of last year’s Roland Garros final.

“I think that I played my best match so far at this year’s Australian Open. It’s a very good feeling. The score looks way easier than the match was. I think I was lucky to make an early break in each set and I was managing to hold my serve well. I am so happy because I am in the quarter final here for the first time”, said Thiem.

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Alexander Zverev tops Andrey Rublev to set Australian Open quarter final against Stan Wawrinka

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Alexander Zverev beat his friend Andrey Rublev 6-4 6-4 6-4 in one hour and 37 minutes to reach the quarter final at the Australian Open for the first time in his career and his third at Grand Slam level.

 

Zverev broke serve once in each set. The German player has not dropped a set at this year’s edition of the Australian Open.

Zverev ended Rublev’s 15-match winning streak. Rublev had not lost a match since October, winning four matches at the Davis Cup last November and back-to-back titles in Doha and Adelaide.

In the opening set Zverev earned his first break at 3-3, as Rublev hit a forehand into the net. He held his serve to consolidate the break and wrapped up the first set after 29 minutes, when Rublev hit a crosscourt backhand wide.

Zverev started the second set with an immediate break in the first game of the second set and closed it out with a hold at love with an ace after 29 minutes.

Zverev broke serve for the third time in the match in the ninth game of the third set to take a 5-4, when Rublev made a groundstroke error, and sealed the win with a forehand volley.

“It feels amazing. I played some great matches against some great opponents. This is Andrey’s first loss of the season, having won two tournaments and getting through to the fourth round with unbelievable tennis. I have known Andrey since we were ten years old. I think he will be top 15, top 10 very soon. I am just happy and I hope I can continue”,said Zverev.

Zverev will face Stan Wawrinka in the quarter final. The German star beat Wawrinka twice in their previous two head-to-head matches in St. Petersburg 2016 and Miami 2017.

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Stan Wawrinka edges Danil Medvedev in a five-set thriller to reach the quarter final at the Australian Open

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Three-time Grand Slam champion Stan Wawrinka reached the quarter final at the Australian Open for the fifth time in his career with a 6-2 2-6 4-6 7-6 (7-2) 6-2 win over fourth seed and 2019 US Open finalist Danil Medvedev after 3 hours and 25 minutes. Wawrinka qualified for the last eight for the first time since 2017.

 

Wawrinka earned his first break in the fourth game, when Medvedev sent his backhand long. Wawrinka did not convert two more break points in the sixth game before breaking for the second time at love to close out the opening set 6-2 after 32 minutes. Wawrinka won 85% of his first serve points and hit 16 winners to 8 unforced errors in the opening set.

Medvedev broke in the third game of the second set to open up a 3-1 lead, when Wawrinka netted his forehand. The Russian player clinched the second set with three service winners at 5-2 to level the score.

Medvedev broke serve in the seventh game of the third set after a backhand error from Wawrinka and closed out the set with a service winner in the 10th game.

Wawrinka wasted a break point in the fourth game of the fourth set. Both players traded service holds en route to the tie-break. Wawrinka earned an immediate mini-break to open up a 3-0 lead in the tie-break. The former Australian Open champion hit a half-volley winner to cruise to a 5-2 lead and converted his first set point, when Medvedev netted a backhand in the ninth point.

Wawrinka broke Medvedev at 15 in the first game of the fifth set and saved three break points at 2-1. Wawrinka went up a double break in the seventh game and forced an error from Medvedev to wrap up the match, as he was serving for the win in the eighth game.

Wawrinka set up a quarter final against Alexander Zverev, who beat Andrey Rublev 6-4 6-4 6-4. Zverev beat Wawrinka twice in their two head-to-head matches in St. Petersburg 2016 and Miami 2017.

“That was an amazing match and an amazing atmosphere. It was really tough to play against Danil. It was really tough to play against Danil. I had to raise my level in the fourth and fifth sets. The level was super high and the atmosphere is something special here in Australia. I am finding solutions. I was losing a bit of confidence in the second and third sets, and was fighting against myself to play my game. I had to fight, stay positive and I am happy with the result”,said Wawrinka.

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