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

Focus

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

Avatar

Published

on

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.

Focus

Internazionali d’Italia Daily Preview: Italians Take Center Stage on Monday

Avatar

Published

on

Foro Italico is the home of the Italian Open (twitter.com/InteBNLdItalia)

For the second week in a row, a combined ATP Masters 1000/WTA 1000 event will be staged.  The men’s singles draw features nine of the world’s top 10, with Novak Djokovic returning to competition after skipping last week’s Madrid Open.  The women’s singles draw includes eight of the WTA top 10, with Serena Williams making her 2021 clay court debut.

 

A day after Italian No.1 Matteo Berrettini was the runner-up in Madrid, many of Rome’s most interesting matchups involve Italian men playing in their home country.  Italian No.2 Jannik Sinner made his first impression in the sport two years ago at this event, when as a wild card ranked 263rd in the world, he upset Steve Johnson in front of a raucous crowd.  Now Sinner is ranked inside the top 20, and on Monday faces France’s Ugo Humbert for the first time.  Italian No.3 Fabio Fognini won a Masters event two years ago in Monte-Carlo, and will play a four-time Masters finalist, Kei Nishikori.  Also, 19-year-old Italian Lorenzo Musetti made a thrilling run at this event when it was held last September, coming through qualifying the defeat both Nishikori and Stan Wawrinka.  He’ll take on a newly-anointed Masters champion, Hubert Hurkacz.

On the women’s side, two-time Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova, reigning Roland Garros champion Iga Swiatek, and teenage phenom Coco Gauff will all play their first round matches.  And the women’s Italian No.1, Camila Giorgi, will do battle with recent Guadalajara champion, Sara Sorribes Tormo.

Throughout the tournament, this preview will analyze the day’s two most prominent matches, while highlighting the other notable matches on the schedule.  Monday’s play begins at 10:00am local time.

Fabio Fognini vs. Kei Nishikori – Second on Grand Stand Arena

Nishikori is 2-1 against Fognini, and 1-0 on clay.  They haven’t played in over four years, and Kei’s clay victory came at the 2016 Madrid Open.  In Rome, Fognini actually has a losing record in his career.  Like many players, he struggles under the pressure of competing on home turf.  Nishikori has performed well in Rome, reaching the quarterfinals or better four of the last six years.  Since the tour restart last summer, both men have extremely similar records: Fognini is 12-14, and Nishikori is 11-13.

But Kei’s form has been consistently improving since missing a full year of action.  His last three losses have all come at the hands of top players: Stefanos Tsitsipas, Rafael Nadal, and Sascha Zverev.  Fognini meanwhile has been as unpredictable as ever, even getting defaulted last month in Barcelona for verbal abuse while playing the 147th-ranked player in the world.  Based on recent form, and the country this match is being played in, Nishikori should be favored.

Hubert Hurkacz (15) vs. Lorenzo Musetti (WC) – Not before 7:00pm on Grand Stand Arena

It was only five weeks ago when 24-year-old Hurkacz won the biggest tournament of his career, defeating four top 20 players on his way to the Miami Open title.  Since leaving Miami and transitioning to clay, he’s just 1-2, and he’s a meager 4-5 on this surface since last season.  But it was eight months ago at this event where he earned an impressive win over one of 2020’s best performers, Andrey Rublev. 

That was the same week as Musetti’s breakout run in this city.  The very next week in Forli, Italy, Lorenzo won a Challenger title on clay.  After reaching two further Challenger finals to start 2021, he advanced to the semifinals of Acapulco, upsetting Diego Schwartzman, Frances Tiafoe, and Grigor Dimitrov.  Unlike his fellow countryman Fognini, Musetti seems to embrace playing in Italy.  Considering Hurkacz is suffering from a Miami hangover, and considering Musetti’s formidable one-handed backhand, I wouldn’t be surprised to see the Italian teenager pull off another upset in Rome.

Other Notable Matches on Monday:

Jannik Sinner vs. Ugo Humbert – Sinner was the runner-up of the Miami Open in March, and reached the semifinals of Barcelona a few weeks ago.  Humbert won two ATP titles in 2020, but is only 7-9 in 2021.

Petra Kvitova (11) vs. Magda Linette – Kvitova is a three-time champion in Madrid, yet is 7-7 lifetime in Rome.  Linette is just 1-4 this year, as she underwent knee surgery in January.  Both of their prior encounters went to Kvitova in straight sets, though they’ve never played on clay.

Iga Swiatek (15) vs. Alison Riske – Swiatek has won nine of her last 10 matches on clay, dating back to her French Open title last fall.  The only loss came last week at the hands of world No.1 Ash Barty.  This is a rematch from the same round in Madrid, a match where Iga easily prevailed 6-1, 6-1.

Yulia Putintseva vs. Coco Gauff – Putintseva reached the quarterfinals of this event last year, with wins over top 10 seeds Petra Martic and Elena Rybakina.  This is only Gauff’s tenth career tour-level match on clay, though she advanced to the quarterfinals in Charleston last month.  This is their first head-to-head meeting.

Sara Sorribes Tormo vs. Camila Giorgi – Giorgi is just 4-4 on the year, and her only main draw win at this event came seven years ago.  But she did defeat Sorribes Tormo last November on a hard court in Linz.  The 24-year-old Spaniard is an impressive 15-6 in 2021.

Alexader Bublik vs. Marin Cilic – Bublik just surpassed Cilic in the rankings with his run to the Madrid quarterfinals, debuting inside the top 40.  They met at this same event last September, when Cilic won 6-4 in the third.

Monday’s full Order of Play is here.

Continue Reading

ATP

Felix Auger Aliassime Goes The Distance To Win First Match In Rome

The Canadian was pushed to three sets in his opening match by Filip Krajinovic.

Avatar

Published

on

Felix Auger-Aliassime is into the second round of the BNL D’ Italia Masters in Rome after beating his Serbian opponent Filip Krajinovic in three gruelling sets 6-3, 6-7, 6-4.

 

The marathon encounter saw the Canadian hit 45 winners and 12 aces en route to victory. Avenging his loss to Krajinovic at the same tournament last year. His win-loss for the season now stands at 13-8.

” It’s always a tough match against him and I was happy I was able to win today,” the world No.20 said afterwards.

It was Krajinovic who got off to a fast start earning a breakpoint on the Montreal natives opening service game of the match and broke to take an early 1-0 lead. The Canadian responded at 2-1 earning his first two breakpoints of the match and breaking with a solid forehand winner to get the break back and go back on serve. At 3-2 the world number 20 had a chance to take the lead but it was saved by the world number 36. Nevertheless, he would go on to break for a 5-3 lead before serving out the match.

Auger-Aliassime started the second set with confidence and broke the Serb’s opening service game. It stayed on serve until the world number 20 was serving for the win when he ended up getting broken to level the set at five. The very next game the Montreal native had three looks at a breakpoint but again was denied and the second set would be decided by a tiebreaker.

The tiebreaker stayed on serve until 4-4 when Auger Aliassime managed to get the crucial break but squandered it the following point and gave his Serbian opponent a chance to serve it out which he did following a double fault.

The third and decisive set was a roller-coaster with the Canadian holding his opening service game and than having three more breakpoints which he would convert to take another early 2-0 lead. Krajinovic would respond once again earning a breakpoint the following game and getting the break back to go back on serve until 3-3 when the Serb had his first chance to take a lead in the third set but the Canadian would come up with a huge point to save it.

The next game Auger-Aliassime would have a look at another breakpoint and this time would convert to take a 5-3 and serve for the match but struggled to close it out and the world number 36 broke serve once again.

With the Serb serving to stay in the match the Canadian increased his game to another level and managed to earn two match points. Sealing his first match win in Rome with a huge forehand winner down the line.

After the match in his post match press conference Auger Aliassime spoke about how he was able to overcome the adversity of having two chances to serve it out.

” You have to believe and be resilient at times, I wanted to win badly so I dug deep and I found a way so I am happy that I was able to find a way with all the circumstances,” he said.

Auger Aliassime will next face the number eight seed at the tournament Diego Schwartzman. The Argentine currently has a 1-0 lead in their head-to-head with their last meeting coming last October in Cologne, Germany on a indoor hard court.

Continue Reading

Focus

Madrid Open Daily Preview: Sascha Zverev Plays Matteo Berrettini for the Men’s Championship

Avatar

Published

on

Italian No.1 Matteo Berrettini, on Saturday in Madrid (twitter.com/MutuaMadridOpen)

Three years ago in Madrid, Sascha Zverev won this event, defeating Dominic Thiem in the final.  That was Zverev’s third Masters 1000 title, all earned within one year.  Sascha’s results at Majors have progressed since that time, though Sascha is yet to achieve his fourth Masters title, despite reaching three further finals.  The 24-year-old German has not dropped a set this week, which includes noteworthy back-to-back victories over the two best clay court players of the last five years: Rafael Nadal and Dominic Thiem.

 

Three years ago in Gstaad, Matteo Berrettini won his first ATP title, and his first of three on clay.  The 25-year-old Italian has claimed a total of four 250-level titles, including one just two weeks ago in Belgrade.  But this marks Berrettini’s first time advancing to the final of an event outside the 250 Series, though he notably reached the semifinals of the 2019 US Open.  Matteo has taken eight of nine sets played this week, and came back from a set and a break down in the quarterfinals against Cristian Garin, winning the last 11 games of that match.

Sascha Zverev (5) vs. Matteo Berrettini (8) – Not Before 6:30pm

Zverev leads their head-to-head 2-1, though they’ve split their two clay court encounters.  At the 2018 Rome Masters, Zverev prevailed.  A year later at the same event, Berrettini prevailed.  Their only other meeting took place at the 2019 Shanghai Masters, which went to Sascha.  All three of their matches have been decided in straight sets.

Including his victories this week over Nadal and Thiem, Zverev is now on a three-match winning streak against top 10 opposition, ending a streak of five consecutive losses against the top 10.  Berrettini has only played two matches against the top 10 since the 2019 ATP Finals, as injuries have forced him to miss significant time from the tour.  Despite that, he’s now 16-3 this season, and currently on an eight-match win streak.

Zverev certainly has the experience edge in matches of this caliber, and has a bit more variety in his ground game, specifically his backhand.  Berrettini will look to dictate play with his powerful forehand.  Both players are capable of racking up a high ace tally, though Sascha’s second serve can be a recurring weakness.  While we’ve had two consecutive Masters events with first-time 1000-level champions crowned, Zverev should be favored to win his fourth Masters title, and his second in Madrid.

Nikola Mektic and Mate Pavic (2) vs. Marcel Granollers and Horacio Zeballos (3) – 3:30pm

The men’s doubles championship will also be decided on Sunday.  Mektic and Pavic are 32-3 in 2021, and looking to win their sixth title of the season.  A few weeks ago in the Monte-Carlo semifinals, they defeated Granollers and Zeballos in a deciding set tiebreak.

Sunday’s full Order of Play is here.

Continue Reading
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement

Trending