Challenger Tour: Defending champion Aljaz Bedene the only seed remaining in Irving, big win for Jared Donaldson - UBITENNIS
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Challenger Tour: Defending champion Aljaz Bedene the only seed remaining in Irving, big win for Jared Donaldson

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Bedene ensured his title defence remains on course with a close win over Frances Tiafoe

Defending champion Aljaz Bedene is now the only seed still standing in the Irving Challenger, though the fourth seed was given a massive scare by young American Frances Tiafoe, eventually prevailing 7-6, 3-6, 7-6.

 

The Briton was forced to go to three sets for the second straight match (Bedene defeated Dmitry Tursunov in three sets in the second round). The British world no. 51 was matched by Tiafoe in the first, as they traded breaks before the higher-ranked player won the tiebreak 7-5. Far from being deterred, Tiafoe took heart from his strong performance, breaking early in the second, and survived a Bedene recovery to level the score at a set apiece. Both men struggled to put their first serves in play, with neither able to average above 50% over the course of the match. It ultimately came down to the fact that Bedene proved marginally better on second serve, allowing the 2015 winner to edge another tiebreak to reach the semi-finals.

His opponent will be another American teen in Jared Donaldson. The right-hander produced a dominant display to defeat fellow young gun Andrey Rublev 6-4, 6-1. Donaldson broke at five-four in the first set, and served out for the lead. Donaldson missed a chance to break in the game of the second set. It would turn out to be the only game that Rublev would win in the second, as Donaldson raced through the next six games without reply. If Donaldson could continue his fine form this week, he could push much closer to the Top 100 with a maximum of 125 points on offer for the winner this week.

Marcel Granollers, a former Top 20 star, dismissed third seed Lukas Rosol in straight sets, 6-4, 6-2. In a match littered with unforced errors from the thirty-year old Czech, Granollers managed to maintain respectable numbers from his side of the court to reach the semi-finals.

His opponent will be either Ivan Dodig, the big-serving Croatian, or Diego Schwartzman, an Argentinian who has proven more at home on clay than on hard-courts.

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Karolina Pliskova gets through to the third round

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Karolina Pliskova beat Laura Siegemund 6-3 6-3 after 86 minutes. Siegemund went up an early break to take a 3-1 lead, but Halep came back by winning five consecutive games to win the first set 6-3.

 

Pliskova earned an early break at the start of the second set and won a long fifth game to come two games away from the win. Siegemund fended off a break point at 1-4 and held a break point in the sixth game. Pliskova fended it off and held on her serve to secure her spot in the third round on her third match point.

“I am not sure if it was really nice tennis today. I think she has a very ugly game for me, so I am never going to feel amazing playing her. I am just happy to be through because this was an ugly match for me. Last time we played was on clay, so I am just happy I am through and hopefully I can feel better in my next round”,said Pliskova.

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Rafael Nadal Looking For More Accuracy After Cruising Past Delbonis

Rafael Nadal has explained where he needs to improve as he continued to impress on his march to the Australian Open third round.

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Rafael Nadal (@AustralianOpen - Twitter)

Rafael Nadal is looking to be more accurate on break points despite cruising past Federico Delbonis 6-3 7-6(4) 6-1 at the Australian Open. 

 

The Spaniard hit 33 winners and broke Delbonis on three occasions as he produced a dominant display to reach the last 32 in Melbourne.

However even though there were many positives for Nadal, the 31 year-old only managed to convert 15% of his break point opportunities which could be concerning heading into the second week.

Speaking after his win today, Nadal told the media that he is constantly looking to be better and will hope to address the issue in the near future, “Well, I think I can do lot of things better,” Nadal claimed.

“I can do things better because of myself. I need to play better. Especially I need to convert the breakpoints. I was not able to check the statistics, but when you are not able to convert no one breakpoint after I don’t know how many chance, of course you are in trouble.

“I have been practicing a little bit better everyday. Of course, on the match situation, is a little bit different. I am confident that I going to play better because every day in the third set I have been able to show a good level of tennis. I need to do it before the next time.”

Obviously there is a cause for concern that Nadal will need a better break point conversion rate in time for the later rounds but it shows how great a champion Nadal is when he sees areas like this for a need to improve.

The 2009 champion will look to improve his return in time for his next match on Saturday when he plays 27th seed and Compatriot Pablo Carreno Busta.

It is a match, Nadal will look to make a statement in ahead of the second week as he looks to make a third final in four years.

Should the Spaniard reach the second week, he could face Nick Kyrgios at the start of the week and the Australian once again showed his public disdain for Nadal by mocking his serve in his four set win over Gilles Simon.

https://twitter.com/doublefault28/status/1220272894183444480

When asked about it in his press conference, the 19-time grand slam champion saw the funny side, “I really don’t care. I am here to play tennis. Honestly, I don’t care at all. If was funny, good. That’s it.”

Should Nadal and Kyrgios face each other it will be the first time since the Spaniard won a high-quality affair at Wimbledon last year in four sets.

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Alexander Zverev Continues Melbourne March After Ousting Gerasimov

Alexander Zverev marched into the last 32 of the Australian Open with a straight sets win over Egor Gerasimov.

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Alexander Zverev (@AustralianOpen - Twitter)

Alexander Zverev defeated Egor Gerasimov 7-6(5) 6-4 7-5 to continue his march at the Australian Open. 

 

The German is surprisingly yet to drop a set after two rounds at this year’s Australian Open as he secured victory over Egor Gerasimov.

It was a solid start to the match from Zverev as he served well and looked to finish the points off at the net in a confident opening set.

However on return the same mistakes reoccurred with a lack of aggression especially becoming apparent as he failed to convert any of the six break points created in the opening few return games.

As for Gerasimov, he recovered in the latter stages of the set to produce more efficient service games as he looked to dominate on first serve.

But a lack of threatening returns meant that no break point opportunities were created for the Belarusian as a tiebreak was needed to separate the two players.

The 7th seed won five of the first six points and the last two points of the tiebreak to edge into a set lead after 51 minutes.

It was more of the same in the second set for Zverev who couldn’t be aggressive enough when it really mattered as he wasted two more break point opportunities.

There was sign of increased confidence for the German as he used a lot of variety in his shots to keep Gerasimov constantly thinking.

In the end Zverev’s pressure paid off as on the tenth break point of the match, he converted and roared to his camp as he sealed the second set.

Despite his good serving, the world number 98 found it difficult to break the rhythm and flow of Zverev during the match as some unforced errors cost him the break in the fourth game.

Some old habits still remain the same for Zverev though as a sloppy service game while serving for the match gave Gerasimov some hope.

But the result was academic at this point and a third break of serve secured another straight sets win as well as a place in the last 32.

Another great match from the German, who has so far avoided dramatic grand slam matches and conserved energy as he looks to make a statement for later on in the tournament.

Next for Zverev will be either Nikoloz Basilashvili or Fernando Verdasco on Saturday, who will provide more firepower for the German to try and contend with.

 

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