Challenger Tour: Three seeds crash out of Santo Domingo on Monday, no shocks on Tuesday - UBITENNIS
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Challenger Tour: Three seeds crash out of Santo Domingo on Monday, no shocks on Tuesday

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Jose Hernandez-Fernandez pulled off a big shock on Monday

The Dominican Republic Challenger in Santo Domingo saw three of the four seeds in action Monday depart from the draw defeated.

 

The biggest shock of the day saw Italian Alessandro Giannessi destroy the woefully out-of-form second seed Horacio Zeballos 6-1, 6-3 for a win that took just over sixty-one minutes.

That may have been the highest ranked seed to depart, but the match of the day belonged to a home favourite. Jose Hernandez-Fernandez, born and raised in Santo Domingo, defeated sixth seed and clay specialist Alejandro Gonzalez 7-6, 4-6, 6-3. The match featured twelve breaks of serve, six apiece. Both men struggled in the opening set, trading three breaks before Hernandez-Fernandez took advantage of errors from Gonzalez in the tiebreak. Gonzalez though, roared back and secured an early break in the second. Hernandez-Fernandez managed to retrieve it, but was broken again at four-all. A quick service hold from Gonzalez would see the seeded player become the favourite on paper once more. But the home crowd rallied Hernandez-Fernandez, and it would be he that struck first in the decider. Gonzalez’s firsts serve win percentage dropped below forty percent and he was broken early. This time it was  who Gonzalez rallied, breaking back, but Hernandez-Fernandez immediately re-took the lead and managed to hold serve for the rest of the set to seal his passage to the third round.

Andre Ghem was the final seeded casualty on the first day, as the Brazilian veteran was upset by Frenchman Maxime Chazal 6-7, 6-4, 6-4. Gerald Melzer, the third seed, was the only one to escape the carnage, as he edged out wildcard Nicolas Jarry 7-6, 6-3.

Moving to Tuesday, there were far fewer shocks to be found. Roberto Carballes Baena (4), Andrej Martin (5), and Joao Souza (8) all made it through unscathed, though Souza did endure a tough three-set battle against Giovanni Lapentti eventually winning 6-4, 5-7, 6-4.

Qualifier Roberto Quiroz, who had saved match points in the final qualification round against former Top 30 player Victor Hanescu, continued his run by defeating wildcard Emilio Gomez 6-1, 4-6, 6-3. Quiroz is currently ranked outside the Top 1000.

Jozef Kovalik negotiated a potentially tricky opponent in qualifier Pere Riba 7-5, 7-6 and Calvin Hemery beat Jonathan Eysseric in an all French affair 6-4, 6-2. Other winners across the first round were Nicolas Kicker, Gianluca Naso, Franko Skugor, and Guido Andreozzi.

Wednesday (Second Round) Predictions:

Victor Estrella Burgos vs Gonzalo Lama (1st rd): This match to be completed on Wednesday due to Estrella-Burgos’ title run in Quito. Burgos is not only the top seed at this his home event, but is probably one of the best twenty players in the world on clay. Lama has little chance. Winner: Estrella Burgos in straight sets

Gerald Melzer vs Guido Andreozzi: This is perhaps the match of the day, as Gerald Melzer is just one week removed from his career high ranking of No. 120. Andreozzi though, is one of the toughest unseeded players in this draw, and also beat Melzer for the loss of just three games in their only previous career meeting four years ago. Winner: Melzer in three sets.

Jose Hernandez-Fernandez vs Nicolas Kicker: The home favourite is up against an in-form opponent in Argentine Nicolas Kicker. Hernandez-Fernandez will need to harness the support he received from the crowd if he is to conjure up another upset. Winner: Kicker in three sets.

Franko Skugor vs Alessandro Giannessi: Perhaps the most unheralded names in the second round, both nonetheless had excellent round one wins. Skugor defeated the evergreen Ruben Ramirez-Hidalgo, a fomer ATP runner-up on clay, and Giannessi beat a poor Horacio Zeballos. Skugor has a little more experience at this level than the Italian, so I’m would expect Skugor to win this. Winner Skugor in straight sets.

 

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Emma Raducanu Crowned Action Woman Of The Year

The US Open champion has received another accolade in recognition of her season on the Tour.

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Emma Raducanu reacts to her win during a Women's Singles quarterfinal match at the 2021 US Open, Wednesday, Sep. 8, 2021 in Flushing, NY. (Pete Staples/USTA)

Emma Raducanu’s breakthrough season has ended on a high note after she received a top honour on Monday evening.

 

The 19-year-old has been named BT Sport Action Woman of the year following a public vote which took place. The annual awards celebrates ‘the achievements of brilliant and inspiring female athletes’ and started back in 2013. Past athletes to win the award include sprinter Dina Asher-Smith and England footballer Jodie Williams.

“I just wanted to say a massive thank you for voting me as your Action Woman of the Year and I’d really like to congratulate all the other amazing nominees on their incredible achievements over the last 12 months,” Raducanu said in a video published on Monday.
“For me to win this achievement is an absolute honour, so I just wanted to say thank you and hope you’re all having a brilliant evening. I’ll see you soon.”

Raducanu made headlines earlier this year by stunning the field to win the US Open in what was only her second appearance in the main draw of a Grand Slam. The Brit became the first qualifier to ever win the title and didn’t drop a single set in 10 matches played. Players she defeated in New York include Belinda Bencic and Maria Sakkari. She is the first British woman to win a major title since Virginia Wade back in 1977.

The rising star didn’t make her WTA Tour main draw debut until this year’s Nottingham Open. She also reached the fourth round of Wimbledon and was the finalist at a WTA 125 tournament in Chicago. However, she suffered a slight dip in her results after the US Open by winning only two out of five matches played across three tournaments.

Raducanu, who is currently sitting at a ranking high of 19th, is preparing for the 2022 season alongside her new coach Torben Beltz who is known for his previous work with Angleique Kerber. She will return to action next week in Abu Dhabi by taking part in an exhibition match against Belinda Bencic at the Mubadala World Tennis Championships.

Torben is a super positive guy and he brings great energy,” Raducanu recently told reporters.
“He’s someone whenever you’re around him you can’t help it because it’s just like infectious. It’s really cool to have that in my team so he’s constantly lifting the mood. I’m really excited to work with him and I’ll get a better chance to get to know him better this off-season and see where it goes.
“We’ve been in communication a lot. I’ve just been doing a lot of fitness, like four to five hours a day training and start my tennis next week, so he’s coming in and we’ll be working hard together during the off-season and into Australia.”

Raducanu has risen up the WTA rankings by more than 300 places since January.

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The Russian Tennis Federation wins the third Davis Cup title

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The Russian Tennis Federation beat Croatia 2-0 to win their third Davis Cup title and their first since 2006 with straight-set wins by top 10 players Andrey Rublev and Danil Medvedev. 

 

World number 5 Andrey Rublev beat world number 279 Borna Gojo 6-4 7-6 (7-5) in 1 hour and 33 minutes to give the Russian Tennis Federation a 1-0 lead over Croatia in the final of the Davis Cup.

Russia equalled Czech Republic and Germany in seventh place in the all-time list of Davis Cup winners. 

Earlier this year Russia had also won the ATP Cup last February. 

Russia could become the fourth team to win both Davis Cup and Billie Jean King Cup titles in the same year after the women’s team claimed the women’s event beating Switzerland 2-0 last month. 

Gojo, who beat Lorenzo Sonego in the quarter final and Dusan Lajovic in the semifinal, saved break points in the first and third games of the first set, before Rublev earned two break points in the seventh game, as Gojo hit two backhands into the net. Rublev forced an error from Gojo with a forehand to break serve for 4-3. Rublev did not face a break point and served out the first set with an ace after 35 minutes. 

The Russian player did not convert his five break points in the first and third games of the second set. 

Rublev took Gojo to deuce at 5-5 but Gojo held with a serve down the middle. Both players went on serve en route to the tie-break. 

Rublev went up a mini-break twice in the tie-break, but Gojo broke back both times and took a 5-4 lead, when Rublev sent a forehand wide and a serve out wide.

Rublev earned two match points with a pass and forehand inside out and converted his first chance when Gojo hit his backhand long. The 24-year-old player did not face a break point and hit 18 winners. 

“It was super tough. There was a lot of pressure on me. Borna was playing ubelievably for the past two weeks. He was amazing today. I will enjoy this moment”,said Rublev. 

Danil Medvedev beat Marin Cilic 7-6 (9-7) 6-2 in the second singles match to give an insurmountable 2-0 lead ending Russia’s 15-year wait. Russia had won their previous titles in 2002 and 2006. 

Neither player was able to break point in a tight first set. Cilic earned a break point on Medvedev’s second serve at 4-3, but he hit a backhand return into the net. 

Cilic took a 4-2 lead when Medvedev sent a forehand wide in the tie-break. Medvedev won four of the next five points to earn a set point on Cilic’s serve. Cilic fended it off with a smash, but he sent a forehand out to face a second set point. Medvedev did not convert it after a double fault. Medvedev earned his third set point 8-7 with a big serve down the middle and converted ita s Cilic made a backhand error. 

Medvedev got his first break of the second set in the fourth game when a forehand from Cilic popped up off the net-cord. Medvedev sealed the second set 6-2 with his second break in the eighth game when a forehand from Cilic fell short. Medvedev won 87% of his first serve points. 

“It feels amazing. I am more happy for the team than myself. We have an amazing team with a great atmosphere and I am just happy to be able to be part of this team to win the points we needed. It was an amazing two weeks. I am really happy”, said Medvedev. 

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Russia sets up Davis Cup final against Croatia

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Top 10 players Danil Medvedev and Andrey Rublev won their singles matches in straight sets to guide the Russian Team Federation to a 2-1 win over Germany sending the Russian Tennis Federation into the final of the Davis Cup in Madrid. The Russian team set up a final against 2018 Davis Cup champions Croatia in the Davis Cup on Sunday.  

 

Rublev eased past Dominik Koepfer 6-4 6-0 after just 49 minutes to give the Russian Team Federation a 1-0 lead. Rublev hit nine aces and converted all his four break points. 

“The difference today was compared to other matches where I was feeling I am winning quite easily. I don’t need to put in much effort, and in the end I was completely relaxed. I was giving up to the other guy”, said Rublev. 

This year’s US Open champion Danil Medvedev sealed Russia’s spot in the final with a 6-4 6-4 win over Jan-Lennard Struff in 66 minutes with a break in each set. Medvedev committed just six unforced errors and saved the only break point he faced. Struff saved two break points before sending his shot into the net to drop his serve. Medvedev held his serve to win the first set 6-4. 

“I am really happy for the team for the team. It has an amazing It won’t be easy against Croatia. They have the best doubles team in the world. We need to try to close it out in singles, but we believe in our guys in doubles”, said Medvedev. 

In the dead rubber Karen Khachanov and Aslan Karatsev won the first set 6-4 with two breaks of serve, but they were not able to convert their two break break points, as Kevin Krawietz and Tim Puetz rallied to win the second set 6-2 with a break in the sixth game. The German team converted their third break point to win the match 4-6 6-2 6-3. 

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