Successful run for Taylor Fritz, but disappointment for one major seed in Australian Open Qualifying - UBITENNIS
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Successful run for Taylor Fritz, but disappointment for one major seed in Australian Open Qualifying

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Fritz produced a remarkable comeback in the decider against Mischa Zverev (Image via examiner.com)

American’s next hope for the future has qualified for a grand slam event for the first time. Taylor Fritz produced an excellent display to defeat the big-serving Mischa Zverev 6-3, 6-7, 6-4. The young American threw away a lead in the second set tiebreak, before going down 0-4 in the final set. Incredibly, Fritz then won six consecutive games to stun Zverev and qualify. Despite the success for Fritz there were one or two shocks to be found.

The most major of these was the defeat for second seed Ruben Bemelmans at the hands of the unseeded Jozef Kovalik. The Czech player dominate his higher-ranked Belgian opponent, breaking twice from six opportunities in the opener. The second set was a much closer affair, with only a break apiece en route to a tiebreak. Again, this proved close, with Bemelmans having a set point to take it to a decider. Kovalik however saved it, and proceeded to win three of the next four points to take his place in the main draw.

The defeat for Bemelmans and the loss in the first round for Luca Vanni meant that Tim Smyczek (3) was the highest-ranked player still in with a chance of qualification. Fortunately for the American he achieved the target, staging a comeback win against Frenchman Kenny De Schepper (29) 3-6, 7-5, 6-3, completing the victory in two hours eleven minutes.

Dan Evans defeated another seed following his win over Luca Vanni (1) in the first round. Bjorn Fratangelo (17) was his victim this time, with the American falling apart in the final set of the 7-5, 4-6, 6-0 win for the Brit. Fratangelo has now also made the main draw as a lucky loser following the withdrawal of Yen-Hsun Lu.

There was more good news for the American contingent, as Ryan Harrison (19) managed to win the final two sets of his three set victory over Aleksandr Nedovyesov 6-7, 7-6, 6-3.  Veteran Radek Stepanek pulled off the “shock” win over Alejandro Gonzalez 6-3, 6-1. 2015 was the first time since 2002 that Stepanek had not featured in the main draw of the Australian Open, but he will take part this year as a result of his win.

In comparison, Mirza Basic (22) will take part in his first Australian Open main draw at the age of twenty-four. Basic had fallen in the first round of qualifying in both 2014 and 2013, but defeated Saketh Myneni of India 3-6, 6-4 8-6 for his first appearance.

Qualifying was also surprising for the emergence of two Argentinians. Marco Trungelliti and Renzo Olivo are more recognisable for their exploits on the South American Challenger swing on clay, but Trungelliti benefited from the retirement of Chinese opponent Yan Bai. Trungelliti had been leading 6-4, 6-7, 3-0 at the time. Olivo’s progress was a little more straight-forward, defeating unheralded Frenchman Vincent Millot 6-2, 6-4.

Despite the defeats for the French and Chinese above, men from those countries did progress from qualifying. Congratulations to Stephane Robert, who defeated Karen Khachanov 1-6, 6-4, 6-2, and Pierre-Hugues Herbert who defeated compatriot Edouard Roger-Vasselin (11) 6-3, 1-6, 9-7. Di Wu ensured his participation with a 6-3, 6-1 win over Niels Desein.

There was disappointment for Alexander Kudryavtsev, as he failed to build on his victory over Go Soeda (8) from the second round. He was defeated by in-form German Peter Gojowczyk 3-6, 7-6, 6-2. Gojowczyk qualifies for only his sixth main draw appearance at a grand slam, and his first since the 2015 Australian Open.

Other results:

Tatsumo Ito (13) defs Adrian Menendez-Maceiras 6-4, 1-6, 6-4.

Yuichi Sugita (12) defs. Dennis Novikov 6-4, 4-6, 6-3.

Daniel Brands (30) defs James McGee 7-6, 6-4.

Opponents for Qualifiers in Main Draw (Q)

Jiri Vesely vs (Q) Renzo Olivo.

Pablo Andujar vs (Q) Pierre-Hugues Herbert.

Victor Estrella Burgos vs (Q) Daniel Brands.

Austin Krajicek vs (Q) Di Wu.

(Q) Jozek Kovalik vs (Q) Marco Trungelliti.

Robin Haase vs (Q) Mirza Basic

(Q) Ryan Harrison vs Andrey Kuznetsov

Gael Monfils (23) vs (Q) Yuichi Sugita

(Q) Stephane Robert vs (LL) Bjorn Fratangelo

Daniel Gimeno-Traver vs (Q) Tim Smyczek

Jack Sock (25) vs (Q) Taylor Fritz

(Q) Tatsumo Ito vs (Q) Radek Stepanek

David Ferrer (8) vs (Q) Peter Gojowczyk

Feliciano Lopez (18) vs (Q) Dan Evans

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Jannik Sinner reaches his second consecutive semifinal in Monte-Carlo

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Second seed Jannik Sinner battled past Holger Rune 6-4 6-7 (6-8) 6-3 after 2 hours and 41 minutes to reach his second consecutive semifinal at the Monte-Carlo Rolex Masters. Sinner becomes the only player to reach the semifinals at all three Masters 1000 tournaments this season. 

Sinner has drawn level to 2-2 in his four head-to-head matches against Rune. 

Sinner has improved to 14-2 against top 10 opponents since last September. 

Sinner set up a semifinal clash against 2021 and 2022 Monte-Carlo champion Stefanos Tsitsipas, who beat Karen Khachanov 6-4 6-2 in the quarter final. Tsitsipas has a career win-loss record of 18-3 in Monte-Carlo. 

Rune did not convert a break point in the fourth game of the first set. Sinner earned the only break of the opening set in the fifth game to take a 3-2 lead. Neither player earned a single break point in the next games. Sinner held on his next service games and served out the first set with a hold at love. 

Rune recovered from 0-40 to hold for 3-2. The Danish player fended off three break points at 6-5 to hold serve at deuce. Sinner earned two set points at 6-4 in the tie-break, but Rune fired a winner to start a four-point streak to clinch the tie-break 8-6. 

Rune held his second break point at 2-2 30-40, but Sinner saved it before winning 12 of the final 15 points to win the third set 6-3 improving his win-loss record to 25-1 this season. “It took a lot to win this match. Playing against Rune is never easy, especially on this kind of occasion, so I am very happy that I won today but mostly about the level I gave. I raised it today a little bit. It was more physical, there were more rallies today. My general feelings were better, so I am very excited about tomorrow’s match. Even I lose today, I learn again, so I am very happy about today. It has been  a very tough match. I am very happy about the win”, said Sinner.

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Injury Heartbreak Motivates Australia In Billie Jean King Cup Tie With Mexico

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SEVILLE, SPAIN - NOVEMBER 09: Storm Hunter of Team Australia reacts during the Billie Jean King Cup Finals group stage match between Australia and Kazakhstan at Estadio de La Cartuja on November 09, 2023 in Seville, Spain. (Photo by Fran Santiago/Getty Images for ITF)

The captain of the Australian Billie Jean King Cup team says they are supporting one of their top players after she suffered a serious injury on the eve of their latest tie. 

Storm Hunter, who is currently ranked No.3 in the world for doubles, has suffered a ruptured Achilles tendon whilst training at a practice session on Thursday with her teammates. The severity of the injury means she will almost certainly be forced to pull out of this summer’s Olympic Games where she would have been a medal contender, as well as both the French Open and Wimbledon. Hunter has already won a WTA 1000 title this season in Dubai and was also runner-up in Indian Wells. In both of those tournaments, she was partnering Kateřina Siniaková. 

“Unfortunately yesterday in our last practice before the tie, I went down and scans last night confirmed that I have ruptured my Achilles tendon,” said Hunter.
“I am devastated and heartbroken, but incredibly grateful to be around the team and I know I have a great group of people around me that will help me get back on the court as soon as possible.
“Thank you everyone so much everyone for your messages of support and love. I’m excited to stay for the tie and support our Aussie girls.”

According to the Australian press, team captain Sam Stosur said Hunter’s teammates are ‘rallying behind‘ her and “wishing her the very, very best and the quickest recovery possible.”

As a result of the injury, Daria Saville was brought in to play in her country’s singles match on the opening day of their tie against Mexico on Friday. The world No.94 was in top form as she charged to a comprehensive 6-1, 6-0, win over Marcela Zacarias in less than an hour. 

“Yesterday was a pretty tough day for all of us, pretty emotional,” said Saville who has undergone surgery on her Achilles in the past. 
“It’s so nice to have Stormy here supporting us. Not long ago that kind of happened to me … so we’re giving Stormy a lot of love. 
“I felt like I was pretty determined and clearly that showed.”

Despite the blow, Australia is on the verge of beating Mexico. In the other singles match on the opening day, Arina Rodionova came back from a set down to beat Giuliana Olmos 3-6, 6-3, 6-1. With a 2-0 lead, they only need one more win to clinch the tie. 

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Great Britain is looking to avenge defeat against France in Billie Jean King Cup tie

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France and Great Britain have drawn together once again after a thrilling Billie Jean King Qualifier tie last year.

France will take on Great Britain for the fifth time in Billie Jean King Cup. In their most recent clash France beat Great Britain 3-1 in a tight Qualifier one year ago on an indoor hard court in their first tie since 1981. Caroline Garcia and Alizé Cornet won their singles matches against Katie Boulter and Harriet Dart. 

Great Britain is looking to avenge last year’s result. 

The French team features Caroline Garcia, Karoline Mladenovic, Clara Burel and Diane Perry in a mix of experienced and young players. French captain Julien Benneteau was part of the Davis Cup-winning team in 2017. Benneteau is one of the select players to have beaten Roger Federer, Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal. 

Benneteau was named Billie Jean King Cup captain in 2018 and led France to victory against Australia in the Final in 2019. 

France was narrowly defeated by Italy in the group stages at the 2023 Billie Jean King Cup Finals in Seville. 

Great Britain won their Play-Off tie against Sweden. Katie Boulter scored two thrilling singles wins. 

British captain Anne Keothavong, who won 22 matches during her playing career in the Billie Jean King Cup, has named world number 28 Katie Boulter, Harriet Dart, Heather Watson and 2021 US Open champion Emma Raducanu. 

Raducanu will make only her second appearance in the British team at this event. She missed most of the 2023 season after undergoing surgery on both wrists and her ankle. 

Boulter and Raducanu have been selected to play singles. 

Boulter will play against Diane Perry in the opening match. Raducanu will take on Garcia in the second match. 

Bolulter has a good chance to qualify for the Olympic Games at Paris Roland Garros. The British player, who won the San Diego Open this year, has not played a professional match on clay. Both the Billie Jean King Cup tie at the Chaudron Le Portel and the Olympic Games will be held on this surface. 

“The Olympics is always something I wanted to play as a kid and that is certainly a priority. I will be playing if I can, and I am looking forward to being a part of something which isn’t only tennis. I am sure it would be an experience I won’t forget”, said Boulter. 

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