Rain Halts Monica Puig’s Dream Run In Sydney - UBITENNIS
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Rain Halts Monica Puig’s Dream Run In Sydney

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Thursday misery as rain falls at the Apia International (image via @sydneytennis)

Puerto Rican qualifier Monica Puig kicked-off her semifinal encounter against Belinda Bencic in impressive fashion before it was disrupted by rain.

 

At the rain-stricken Apia International in Sydney, Puig began her encounter again Bencic late in the evening. The world No.94 was by far the sharpest player at the start of the match. Bencic struggled in her two opening service games, winning just 36% (5/14) of her service points. The slow start by the Swiss player allowed Puig to race to a commanding 4-0 lead before the rain started to fell once again.

Due to the rain still falling at 22:00 local time, organizers confirmed that both semi-final matches will be cancelled until Friday morning.

In the other semifinal encounter, top seed Simona Halep managed to spend 39 minutes on the court against Svetlana Kuznetsova. During their brief encounter there were four exchanges of breaks between both players (two each). Trailing 3-4, Halep battled back by winning two straight games to edge ahead 5-4 before proceedings was postponed.

Halep is bidding to win her first ever WTA title in Australia ahead of next week’s Australian Open.

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Dominic Thiem edges Vitaliy Sachko to reach the second round in Vienna

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This year’s US Open champion Dominic Thiem had to dig deep to beat Vitaliy Sachko 6-4 7-5 in front of his home fans to reach the second round at the Erste Bank Open in Vienna. Thiem has improved his career win-loss record to 14-8 in Vienna.

 

Thiem went up a double break to race out to a 5-1 lead. Sachko pulled both breaks back to win three consecutive games for 4-5. Thiem broke for the third time in the tenth game to win the first set 6-4. 

Sachko broke Thiem’s serve for third consecutive time to take a 1-0 lead in the second set. Thiem broke twice in a row to build up a 4-1 lead. Sachko broke serve for the fourth time, but Thiem converted his second break point at deuce in the 12th game to close out the second set 7-5. 

“I wanted to present myself well in front of the home crowd and to find the right match intensity. The high match intensity was not easy and he was playing well, especially from the moment I was up 5-1 up in the first set. From that moment on, I thought it was a pretty close and decent match. I am very happy with how I found a pretty good intensity towards the end of the match”, said Thiem. 

Thiem set up a second round match against Christian Garin, who battled past Stan Wawrinka 6-4 6-7 (9-11) 6-3. Garin saved all five break points he faced to clinch his 18th win of the match. 

Garin won the first set with a break in the third game to take a 2-1 lead. In the second set Wawrinka saved three set points at 5-4 before winning the tie-break 9-7 on the eighth set point forcing the match to the tie-break. Garin got the decisive break in the second game to win the third set 6-3. 

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Jiri Vesely saves five set points to beat Tennys Sandgren in Nur Sultan

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Czech Republic’s Jiri Vesely fended off all five set points (including one at 6-7 in the tie-break of the second set) in his 6-4 7-6 (9-7) win over Tennys Sandgren to reach the second round at the Astana Open in Nur Sultan (Kazakhstan). Vesely faced five break points, but he never dropped his serve. 

 

Vesely converted his second break point in the seventh game to take a 4-3 lead and saved two break points to hold serve in the next game to seal the first set 6-4. 

In the second set Sandgren saved two break points to hold serve in the third game at deuce for 2-1. Vesely fended off two break points in the sixth game to draw level to 3-3. Both players held their next service games en route to the tie-break. Vesely earned his first match point at 6-5, but Sandgren saved it with a backhand pass before earning a set point at 7-6. Vesely fended it off with a great serve and created a second match point. He converted it to clinch the tie-break 9-7. 

Vesely advanced to the quarter finals at the Sardinia Open. 

“It was a very tough match, as Tennys has had very good results on hard court. He was a tough opponent for the first round, but I have been feeling good. I just focused on my serve and waited for my chance. The surface is pretty fast, so it’s difficult to return and I waited for one or two chances in the tie-break. I was a little bit lucky at the end”, said Vesely. 

Vesely set up a second round match against Belarusian Egor Gerasimov, who edged Lloyd Harris 6-3 3-6 7-6 (7-3). 

Yuichi Sugita fended off seven of the ten points he faced in his 6-1 5-7 6-4 win over Damir Dzumhur after 2 hours and 7 minutes setting up a second round match against Adrian Mannarino. Sugita broke twice in a row to win the first set 6-1. Sugita went up a set and a break in the fifth game to take a 3-2 lead. Dzumhur broke back in the eighth game to draw level to 4-4. Sugita won the final three games thanks to a break in the 11th game to seal the second set 7-5. Sugita broke serve in the first game of the third set. Dzumhur broke serve in the fourth game to draw level to 2-2, Sugita sealed the win with a break in the fifth game.  

Andreas Seppi edged past Aslan Karatsev 6-3 1-6 6-3 after 1 hour and 58 minutes. Seppi converted his fourth break point to open a 3-0 lead in the third set. Karatsev broke serve in the fifth game, but Seppi broke for the second time to build up a 5-2 lead. The Italian player saved a break-back point and sealed the win on the second match point.  

Emil Ruusuvuori cruised past Kazakhstani wild card Timofey Skatov 6-2 6-0 to secure his spot in the second round, where he will face Australia’s Jordan Thompson. 

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Novak Djokovic digs deep to beat Filip Krajinovic in all-Serbian clash in Vienna

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Novak Djokovic beat Filip Krajinovic 7-6 (8-6) 6-3 after 1 hour and 58 minutes at the Erste Bank Open in Vienna to score his 38th win in 40 matches this year. 

 

Djokovic lost serve twice in the first set and was forced to save a set point at 5-6. 

Djokovic converted on four of his eleven break points and dropped serve twice. The Serbian player hit 23 winners to 15 unforced errors compared to Krajnovic’s ratio of 16 winners to 14 unforced errors. 

In the opening set which featured four break points Djokovic saved two break points and held serve with a service winner. The world number 1 player held serve with an ace and earned the first break with a volley winner in the fourth game to open up a 3-1 lead. Krajonovic broke back at 15 in the fifth game, as Djokovic netted a forehand, and held serve to draw level to 3-3. 

Djokovic wasted a game point in the seventh game and dropped his serve when Krajinovic hit a backhand down the line winner. Krajinovic fended off two break points, as he was serving at 4-3, and held serve with an ace. 

Krajinovic was just two points away from the set on return in the ninth game. Djokovic held serve at deuce with a service winner before breaking serve at 15 in the 10th game to draw level to 5-5. Both players held serve in the 11th and 12th game to set up a tie-break. Krajinovic created a set point with a smash winner at 5-5. Djokovic fended it off and reeled off three consecutive points to close out 8-6 after 71 minutes when Krajinovic made a forehand error. 

Krajinovic held serve in the first game of the second set with a backhand winner. Djokovic drew level to 1-1, when Krajnovic hit his forehand into the net. Krajinovic saved three break points to hold serve with a service winner, when he was 1-3 down. 

Djokovic saved a break point with a smash winner, as he was serving at 3-2 and held his serve with an unreturned serve. Krajinovic saved a break point in the seventh game and held serve after three drop shots from Djokovic.  

Djokovic hit a forehand down the line winner to open up a 5-3 lead forcing Krajinovic to serve to stay in the match. Krajinovic fended off a match point with a service winner, but Djokovic sealed the win on his second chance to secure his spot in the second round. 

Djokovic now leads 2-1 in his three head-to-head matches against Krajinovic. 

“I was lucky in the first set. We are good friends. We train a lot together and it is never easy to play someone that you are very close to. He is a very nice guy and I have known him since he was young. I followed him. I tried to be there as a friend, as a mentor. We go back a long way. We practised a few times together before coming to Vienna. The draw was draw tough for us to face each other, but there is always extra pressure and importance to a match when you play someone that you know very well. In the first set, I think he was the better player. He was serving for the first set and I was lucky. He missed a smash at 6-6 in the tie-break. A few points here and there can change the momentum of the match. In the second set I stepped it up, I played better and I am just pleased with the way I finished the match”, said Djokovic. 

Djokovic was playing his first match since the final at the French Open, where he lost to Rafael Nadal. The 2020 Australian Open champion set up a second round match against Borna Coric. Djokovic beat Coric 6-3 6-4 in their most recent head-to-head clash in the 2018 Shanghai Masters 1000 final. 

Grigor Dimitrov beat Karen Khachanov 7-6 (8-6) 6-3 in a very competitive first round match 

Khachanov got the first break in the fourth game to take a 3-1 lead. Dimitrov broke straight back in the fifth game and held his next service game to draw level to 3-3. Both players held on their next service games en route to the tie-break. 

Dimitrov got the first mini-break to open up a 3-0 lead in the tie-break. Khachanov broke back to draw level to 3-3. Khachanov saved a set point at 6-5 on his serve, but Dimitrov held his nerve and earned another mini-break on the second point to win the opening set 8-6. 

Dimitrov broke twice in the second and six games to build up a 5-1 lead. Khachanov pulled one break back at love to close the gap to 3-5. Dimitrov served out the match to love in the ninth game shattering Khachanov’s hopes of qualifying for the ATP Finals in London. 

Dimitrov will face either Stefanos Tsitsipas or Jan Lennard Struff. Tsitsipas recently beat Dimitrov 6-3 7-6 6-2 in the fourth round at this year’s Roland Garros. 

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