Challenger Tour: Ryan Harrison survives Kuznetsov battle, Dan Evans defeats rising teenage star in Dallas - UBITENNIS
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Challenger Tour: Ryan Harrison survives Kuznetsov battle, Dan Evans defeats rising teenage star in Dallas

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Ryan Harrison won an unconvincing match against Alex Kuznetsov in Dallas on Monday (Image via Zimbio)

Two men who have been billed as the hopes for American tennis in the past, but have largely failed to live up to expectations in the past met in the first round in Dallas on Monday.

 

Ryan Harrison and Alex Kuznetsov have both been charged with being the new hope for American tennis, but with both now languishing with rankings outside the Top 100, have failed to meet their potential. The younger man Harrison did eventually prevail 2-6, 7-5, 7-5. The match itself was almost a microcosm of why these two have struggled with their careers to date. Kuznetsov swept the first set thanks to some horrible serving from Harrison. Both men only managed less than fifty percent first serves in play in the first set, but Harrison was making the Kuznetsov second serve look like that of Pete Sampras by hacking away.

The second set started in a similar vein, as Harrison easily surrendered another break to the now-veteran Kuznetsov. But the more experienced player has issues of his own, and his play deteriorated within sight of the finish line as Harrison returned to serve immediately. It seemed the two might be destined for a tie-break but Harrison, encouraged by his near escape, pressed hard at six-five and was rewarded with the break.

The final set was chaotic, with Harrison racing out to a four-one lead. He had break points for five-one, but Kuznetsov held, and then Harrison lost out when attempting to reach five-two, Kuznetsov determinedly fighting through a tough deuce game for Harrison, finally breaking to level again. Kuznetsov surrendered his serve yet again though, and Harrison looked to have the match sewn up at 40-15 and two match points. Incredibly, he allowed Kuznetsov back in, but the man now ranked outside the top 300 let Harrison off the hook, as Harrison was able to break as Kuznetsov attempted to send the match to a tiebreak.

Other matches in Dallas saw Bjorn Fratangelo defeat the severely out-of-form Jared Donaldson in straight sets, 6-3, 6-4. Dan Evans of Great Britain managed to recover from the loss of the first set to Russian teenager Andrey Rublev,  eventually winning 5-7, 6-4, 6-3.  Sixth seed Tatsumo Ito edged Denys Molchanov 6-2, 6-7, 7-6, Benjamin Becker defeated South African wildcard Jean Andersen 6-4, 6-3, and defending champion Tim Smyczek beat alternate Mitchell Krueger 6-4, 6-3.

Selected matches and picks for Tuesday (in bold):

Kyle Edmund gets his campaign started against American Sekou Bangoura, and with the American only in the draw courtesy of a wildcard, it is unlikely the second seed will have too many problems.

James McGee faces Dennis Novikov in an interesting clash. Novikov has been trying to break the 150-100 ranking area he’s been stuck in for a while now, but McGee has a good record on American hardcourts, and will be a tough proposition

Clay Thompson and Ernesto Escobedo are both young Americans in the main draw, Thompson through qualifying, and Escobedo by virtue of a wildcard. Thompson has a huge serve, but Escobedo is the more experienced challenger player, and I expect the teenager to win.

 

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David Goffin Out Of Wimbledon Following Halle Accident

It has been reported that the unfortunate injury he suffered is ‘more serious’ than a sprain.

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David Goffin has been forced to withdraw from Wimbledon after suffering an ankle injury during the Noventi Open earlier this week.

 

The former top 10 player was taking on Corentin Moutet in Halle where he slipped on the grass and subsequently hurt his right ankle. Forcing the Belgian to retire from the match at the start of the third set. Providing an update on Goffin’s health, agent Martin Roux said he is unsure how long he will be absent from the Tour for.

“Yes, David has officially withdrawn from Wimbledon following his ankle injury in Halle. For the moment we do not know more about the exact duration of unavailability, ” Roux told lesoir.be. “He is of course disappointed to miss a Grand Slam tournament, especially since he had recovered well on grass before his injury. “

Elaborating further, Roux confirmed Goffin’s injury is ‘more serious’ than a sprain and tests are ongoing to assess the extent of the damage which has been caused to the ankle. It is not the first time he has suffered a freak accident on the court. During the 2018 Rotterdam Open he hurt his eye after a tennis ball rebounded into his face, forcing him to pull out of Marseille and Indian Wells that year.

“David told me that it was more serious than a minor sprain, after exams in Belgium.”Roux added. “The ankle has not yet deflated (stopped swelling). David realizes that ice and bandages won’t be enough to play. The ligaments must be affected in one way or another. The idea is to do new exams at the end of the week in order to then have a healing protocol, especially since after Wimbledon the Olympic Games will arrive quickly. These are now his next goals. “

The 30-year-old has achieved a win-loss record of 14-13 so far in 2021 and won his fifth ATP title in Montpellier. He has also reached the semi-finals in Antalya and quarter-finals in Monte Carlo. However, recently Goffin has struggled on the Tour with Halle being the fifth tournament in a row where he has failed to win back-to-back matches.

Goffin is currently ranked 13th in the world.

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Dominic Thiem Follows Nadal In Olympic Games Snub

The world No.5 says his decision is related to his performance on the Tour so far this season.

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Dominic Thiem training at the 2021 Lyon Open (photographer Sammy Dancyger - Owned by Sport Plus Conseil - GM Sports Consulting)

Austria’s Dominic Thiem has pulled out of the Olympic Games in order to focus on his title defence at the US Open later this year.

 

The 27-year-old issued a statement on Thursday saying he was ‘not ready’ to play in Tokyo following what has been a roller-coaster start to the season. Thiem enters Wimbledon with a win-loss record of 9-8 and recently lost in the first round of the French Open. His best results so far this year were reaching the last 16 of the Australian Open and the semi-finals of the Madrid Open.

“Hi everybody, I have some sad news to share with you all. After talking with my team and analysing the situation I have taken the very difficult decision to withdraw from competing in the Tokyo Olympics,” the 27-year-old Austrian wrote on Twitter.
“For me, like all athletes, taking part in the Olympics and representing my country is a huge honour and that makes this decision even tougher.
“However, 2021 did not start as expected and I don’t feel ready to play my best in Tokyo.
“My goal is to work hard the coming weeks, give my best at Wimbledon and keep training and hopefully defend my US Open title.”

Thiem, who also skipped the 2016 Olympics, had previously said that his views on the multi-sport event have changed over recent time. During one interview with Tennis Deutschland he said it would be a ‘dream’ to play at the Olympics and he would ‘definitely play’ at the event if he had the chance to. Thiem is coached on the Tour by Nicolas Massu who won a gold medal back in 2004.

The world No.5 says he hopes to be able to play at the 2024 Olympic Games in Paris where the tennis tournament will be held at Roland Garros. The same venue as the French Open.

On the same day as Thiem’s announcement on Thursday, Rafael Nadal was another player to confirm he would not be travelling to Tokyo, as well as Wimbledon, in order to recover from the clay season. The Spaniard said he wants to take a break from the Tour in order to preserve his body and prolong his career on the Tour.

The Olympic tennis event will take place between July 24th – August 1st. Andy Murray is the defending champion in the men’s tournament.

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Sebastian Korda sets up quarter final clash against Ugo Humbert in Halle

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Sebastian Korda came back from one set down to beat Kei Nishikori 2-6 6-3 7-5 at the NOVENTI Open in Halle setting up a quarter final match against Ugo Humbert, who upset Alexander Zverev 7-6 (7-4) 3-6 6-3 in 1 hour and 53 minutes 

 

Both players went on serve with no breaks of serve. Zverev won 84% of his first serve points. Humbert won the first set tie-break when Zverev netted a forehand. 

Zverev converted his first break point at the start of the second set to take a 2-0 lead, when Humbert sent his backhand long. Zverev held on his next service games to claim the second set 6-3. Humbert earned the break in the fourth game of the third set to close out the third set 6-3. 

“I don’t particularly know what I could have done differently. Ugo was serving incredibly well in the first set. We both barely won points on each other’s serve. Then in the third set, I think he found his rhythm from the baseline. He was outplaying me. It is not a great result for me, but I don’t know what I could have done differently”, said Zverev. 

Korda reached the first ATP Tour final of his first career at Delray Beach, the quarter final in Miami and won his firts ATP Tour title on clay at the Emilia Romagna Open in Parma. 

Nishikori broke twice in the first set to open up a 4-1 lead. The Japanese player won 67% of his second serve points and saved two break points in the eighth game to close out the first set 6-2 in 31 minutes. Korda broke serve in the sixth game after seven deuces and held serve in another hard-fought game to race out to a 5-2 lead. The US player served out the second set 6-3 to force the match to the third set. 

Nishikori saved three break points in a nine-minute first game. The decider went on serve until the 11th game, when Korda broke Nishikori with a lob. Korda fended off a break point as he served out the match at deuce in the 12th game. “I would say it was good level from both of us. I think I played almost too good in the first set. He then started making more balls and changed his position. He started playing better in the second set.I think the third set could go both ways. I had many chances, but he played good points and he deserved to win as he took risks”, said Korda. 

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