ATP Quito: Thomaz Bellucci comes from behind to defeat Paolo Lorenzi in Ecuador - UBITENNIS
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ATP Quito: Thomaz Bellucci comes from behind to defeat Paolo Lorenzi in Ecuador

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Bellucci is in the first final of the South American clay swing in 2016 (Image via zimbio.com)

Thomaz Bellucci is one of the most accomplished players on a clay court in men’s tennis, and the Brazilian lived up to that pedigree on Saturday in Quito, as he showed excellent resolve to recover from losing the first set to defeat Paolo Lorenzi in three sets 3-6, 6-2, 6-3.

 

Lorenzi was expected to be a tough proposition after the Italian had taken out the top seed Bernard Tomic in the quarter-finals. The sixth seed proved exactly that by taking the first set from the third seed as he was on the right side of three breaks. Lorenzi was serving well, with five aces and above fifty percent on both first and second serve in the first set.

In the second set, Lorenzi’s fine serving came back down to earth, and Bellucci found more and more opportunities. The breaks came and Bellucci tidied up his own service, losing just seven points in total on his serve, with most of them coming in a single game where Lorenzi forced break points. When the Italian failed to take those opportunities, Bellucci ensured he was not handed another. A battle in the final game of the second set, with Lorenzi serving saw Bellucci break for the set, and the advantage of serving first going into the final set.

In the final set the transition from Lorenzi’s dominating play of the first set, to Bellucci’s form of the second set culminated in Bellucci running away with the match in the third. Lorenzi managed average serving numbers, whilst Bellucci lost only two points in the entire set on his serve. The relentless pressure took its toll on Lorenzi and Bellucci secured the break, and the match.

He will face the winner of Victor Estrella-Burgos and Albert Ramos-Vinolas in the final.

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Rafael Nadal is happy to play again after a challenging period

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Rafael Nadal won his first title of the 2022 season at the Melbourne Summer Set with a 7-6 (8-6) 6-3 win over US serve and volleyer Maxime Cressy last week. 

 

Nadal has not played a Grand Slam match since he lost to Novak Djokovic in a five-set semifinal at last year’s Roland Garros. Last he 20-time Grand Slam champion was sidelined by a left foot injury and lost to South Africa’s Lloyd Harris in his last competitive match in 2021 at the Citi Open in Washington. Nadal played just 29 matches and won two ATP titles in Barcelona and Rome. He also reached three quarter finals at the Australian Open, Monte-Carlo and Madrid and the semfinal at Roland Garros. 

“Unfortunately, I have gone through the situation a couple of times in my career, but you never know. The day will arrive that a comeback will be impossible. I just want to try again, no ? I want to give my best. I want to give myself a chance to keep enjoying this beautiful sport, to keep fighting for the things that I have been fighting for the last 16 years. Sometimes it’s difficult when you are going through a lot of physical issues. It’s been a very challenging time for me. The last year and a half with my foot, I have been suffering a lot. I think I hold a positive attitude and the working spirit all the time. That’s probably why I am here today”, said Nadal. 

At last year’s edition of the Australian Open Nadal lost to Stefanos Tsitsipas 6-3 6-2 6-7 (4-7) 4-6 5-7. The Spanish tennis legend will be aiming to win the 21 Grand Slam title of his career. He won the Australian Open in 2009 and finished runner-up four times in 2012, 2014, 2017 and 2019. 

Nadal will start his Australian Open campaign against Marcos Giron, who won the NCAA Division I Championships for UCLA in 2014 and reached the third round at Roland Garros in 2021. 

“When you are coming back from injuries and from a period of time that you are not on the ATP Tour, you need to accept that things are not going to be perfect. That’s the main thing for me, accept that you are sometimes moving a little bit slower, sometimes you are going to miss, sometimes things are not coming that quick and that automatic. You need to think more about how to play, about shots, about technical stuff, but it’s about time. You need to forgive yourself the mistakes and be humble enough to accept the process, accept that sometimes things not going to go that way”, said Nadal. 

Nadal is just happy to be playing again after  very challenging period and admitted that he is not expecting too much from himself. 

“I came here just with the clear goal to be back on the tour, that’s the most important thing. Then if I am able to win matches, improving every single day, it’s fantastic. It has been hard at times to keep motivated because of the latest injury. The most important thing is to be healthy, then hold the passion, that sometimes is difficult when you are going through a lot of physical issues”

Last year and a half I have been suffering a lot with my foot. I think I hold the positive attitude and the working spirit all the time. That’s probably why I am here today. In general terms I feel happy. If you tell me that I am going to be in my position today one month ago, of course I will sign without a doubt the paper saying that I will be in this position. I am just enjoying the practices and be back and feel myself again a professional tennis player. I am playing some good tennis. I really believe that I am healthy and if I am able to play weeks in a row on the tour, have more or less a normal calendar, I will have my chances to be in an important position on the tour and give myself chances to keep fighting for important things”.  

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Thanasi Kokkinakis wins his first career title in Adelaide

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Australian star Thanasi Kokkinakis came back from one set down to edge Arthur Rinderknech 6-7 (6-8) 7-6 (7-5) 6-3 in his home city after 2 hours and 38 minutes in the final of the Adelaide International 2. 

 

The match was dominated by serve. Kokkinakis hit 18 aces and won 90% of his first serve points. Neither player was able to earn a single break point or a mini-break until the final point of the first set tie-break, when Rinderknech sealed it as Kokkinakis hit a crosscourt forehand into the net. 

The second set went on serve en route to the tie-break. Rinderknech earned an early mini-break at the start of the second tie-break. Kokkinakis rallied from 0-2 down to take a 5-2 lead with three mini-breaks. Rinderknech pulled one mini-break for 3-5,  but Kokkinakis closed out the tie-break 7-5 on his third set point. 

Kokkinakis earned two breaks in the first and ninth games to seal the third set 6-3.  

Kokkinakis reached a career-high of number 69 at the age of 19-year-old player in 2015. This week he came through a three tie-break match against John Isner in the first round and beat Alexander Vukic in a three-set match in the quarter final and a 2-point tie-break against Marin Clic in the semifinal en route to the final. 

“I would not want to win my first title anywhere else. To my family, friends and coaches, what a ride it’s been. You have seen me at my lowest lows and now the highest high. It’s been a serious journey. For now I am so happy. I have been playing on this court since I was eight or nine years,  old, coming here before school every day. I love this court so much”, said Kokkinakis. 

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Aslan Karatsev claims his third career title after a straight-set win over Andy Murray in Sydney

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Aslan Karatsev beat Andy Murray 6-3 6-2 to seal the third ATP Tour title in his career at the Sydney Tennis Classic. 

 

Karatsev has won three of his four career ATP Tour finals in Dubai, Moscow and Sydney and finished runner-up to Matteo Berrettini in Belgrade in 2021. Last year the Russian player came through the qualifying round to reach the semifinals at the Australian Open on his debut. He reached a career-high World number 15 after winning his second career title in Moscow last October. He beat Lorenzo Sonego and Daniel Evans in three sets to reach the Sydney final this week. 

“First of all, congratulations to Andy. It’s a big effort to come back, to play unbelievable this week. I want to congratulate your team. Thank you very much to my team. We are doing an amazing job. Thank you very much to everybody here for coming to support. It was an unbelievable atmosphere in a difficult situation. It’s a difficult time to make this tournment happen, so thank you to everyone”, said Karatsev. 

Karatsev earned his first break in Murray’s first service game and consolidated it with a hold at love. The world number 20 hit 14 winners to 4 unforced errors in the opening set. 

Karatsev sealed the first set 6-3 with a double break, as Murray made two double faults. 

Karatsev broke Murray for the third time at the start of the second set to take a 2-0 lead. Murray hit an ace in the fourth game to claw his way back to 1-3 and earned his first break points of the match in the fifth game. Karatsev saved five break points in a 13-minute fifth game to hold serve for 4-1. Karatsev made a double fault on his first match point, but he closed out the win on his second opportunity after 91 minutes. Murray reached his first final since October 2019. 

“I would like to congratulate Aslan on a fantastic week. I know he also arrived here late in Australia. He was recovering from Covid, so it’s even more impressive to come back straight away and play at that level. Good job and all the best for the Aussie Open”, said Murray.  

John Peers and and Filip Polasek beat 2015 Australian Open doubles champions Fabio Fognini and Simone Bolelli 7-5 7-5 in the doubles final. Peers won the 24th doubles final of his career. Polasek claimed 17 titles, including last year’s Australian Open trophy with Ivan Dodig. 

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