Stefan Kozlov edges Tennys Sandgren for the Columbus title, Luca Vanni defeats young wildcard for Andria win - UBITENNIS
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Stefan Kozlov edges Tennys Sandgren for the Columbus title, Luca Vanni defeats young wildcard for Andria win

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Stefan Kozlov will finish 2016 ranked in the Top 150, and looks well placed for an assault on the Top 100 in 2017(Zimbio.com)

The young Macedonia-born American Stefan Kozlov edged compatriot Tennys Sandgren in the final Challenger of the American hard-court season. The eighteen-year old recovered from a slip in the second set to win 6-1, 2-6, 6-2.

 

Kozlov enjoyed a strong week, winning all of his matches en route to the final in straight sets. He defeated the likes of Jose Statham, Dominik Koepfer, Kevin King and Sam Barry with some ease. Kozlov’s run to the final was made easier as Barry enjoyed a shock quarter-final win over top seed Taylor Fritz. Seventh seed Austin Krajicek, who was in Kozlov’s quarter, lost in the first round to Christian Harrison. As a result, Barry was Kolzov’s toughest match-up in the top half,  though there was ranking gap of more than one hundred places between the two.

Tennys Sandgren also had some luck, as the second seed, Rajeev Ram, was instead replaced by the lucky loser Luke Bambride after Ram’s withdrawal due to tendinitis. Sandgren nevertheless survivied a tough match with Cameron Norrie in the quarters, before overcoming third seed and Champaign titlist Henri Laaksonen in three sets.

Kozlov allowed Sandgren into the final as his level dropped in the secon, surrendering two breaks of serve. The younger man regained his composure in the decider though, breaking twice himself to earn ninety ranking points that will aid his quest to feature in the main draw of the 2017 Australian Open. Sandgren may move into the Top 200 as a result of his runner-up display.

Andria: Luca Vanni took advantage of a number of shocks to win the title in Italy, though it was a close thing against twenty-year old wildcard Matteo Berrettini 5-7, 6-0, 6-3.

Berrettini had accounted for second seed Marco Chiudinelli, former World no. 5 Tommy Robredo and Egor Gerasimov on his way to the final. Vanni though, finally played himself into form, dispatching Aldin Setkic and top seed Sergiy Stakhovsky in impressive fashion. Berrettini has this week announced himself as a big server. The twenty year-old  stands at 6’4, and uses his impressive size well, hitting double figures in aces in each of his matches this week, as well as posting a high first serve winning percentage.

Berrettini ran out of steam in the final. After securing a late break in the first set, the wildcard won just three more games as Vanni finished the match well on top

Player of the week: Matteo Berrettini: The Italian scored highly impressive wins on his way to the final, and duly paid back the Andria organisers for his wildcard, a great effort.

ATP Challenger

Andy Murray defeated in the final of the Biella Challenger

The former world number was runner-up to the Ukrainian Ilya Marchenko. Both will feature in next week’s event in the same location

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Andy Murray - ATP Challenger Biella 2021 (Credit: Felice Calabrò)

Andy Murray suffered a surprising defeat in the final of this week’s tournament in Biella. Playing his second Challenger event in 16 years (the other one occurred in Mallorca in 2019 when, limping on a battered hip, he lost against Matteo Viola in the eighth of finals). Before today’s runner-up finish, he had played twice against his opponent, Illya Marchenko from Ukraine (N.212 in the ATP Rankings), both times at the Australian Open, in 2011 and 2017 respectively, winning both times.

 

But it was the Ukrainian who got off to a flying start, while the Scotsman looked a bit cumbersome and immediately lost his serve, giving a nice boost of confidence to his opponent, who broke his serve once more in the fifth game, taking a 4-1 lead. Murray couldn’t control his changes of pace, while Marchenko was pretty much spotless. The 6-2 score in his favour was the logical consequence, as confirmed by the numbers, which saw him win 83% of points on his first serve (against a meagre 53% for Murray), with no break points allowed.

In the first game of the second set, Marchenko immediately leapt ahead, breaking the Brit’s serve and even earning a chance for a 3-0 lead. Murray managed to stay close and started to play in a more conservative way, with great humility, in an attempt to reduce the number of unforced errors. Murray saved a match point at 3-5 with his second serve, exploiting Marchenko’s clumsiness with the backhand, but couldn’t do the same on the return, conceding defeat at the third match point. must defend with the second. Luckily for him, Marchenko is a bit clumsy in his preparation steps and puts up a not particularly difficult backhand. The former world number one will try to exact revenge in the same location starting tomorrow, as a Challenger 125 will take place once more in Biella, with players like Lorenzo Musetti (the seventh seed), Alejandro Davidovich Fokina (ATP N.54) and Sebastian Korda (N.88).

Report by Massimo Gaiba; edited by Tommaso Villa

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ATP announces five-week ATP Challenger calendar for 2021

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The ATP has issued a five-week schedule for the start of the 2021 ATP Challenger Tour, which is scheduled to launch on 18th January with a 125-event in Istanbul. The Turkish city celebrates its 31st consecutive year on the Challenger Tour.

 

Turkey will host three consecutive tournaments at the start of the season. Istanbul will host a hard court tournament from 18th January. The tour will move to the seaside town of Antalya, the venue of two clay tournaments on 25th January 2021 and 1st February 2021. 

The week of 25 Januray will be the first of back-to-back Challenger events in Antalya and an indoor hard-court tournament in the French town of Quimper. 

France will host two more indoor tournaments, the 125-level tournament in Orleans (1 February) and the 28th edition of Cherbourg (8 February). 

Cherbourg will be held in the same week as hard-court tournaments in Biella in Italy and Potchefstroom in South Africa. Biella will also host a 125-level tournament in the following week on 15 February. Potchefstroom will host a second consecutive tournament on 15 February. Challenger-level tournaments will feature 32 singles players and qualifying draws with 16 players. 

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Stefanos Tsitsipas cruises past Kevin Anderson to reach the third round at the Western and Southern Open in New York

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Last year’s ATP Finals champion Stefanos Tsitsipas cruised past two-time Grand Slam finalist Kevin Anderson 6-1 6-3 after 69 minutes to advance to the third round at the Western and Southern Open in New York. 

 

Tsitsipas came into his match against Anderson with a a 2-1 lead in their three previous head-to-head matches in 2018. The young Greek player beat his South African rival in the Round of 16 in Estoril (6-7 6-3 6-3) and in the Rogers Cup semifinal (6-7 6-4 7-6 after saving a match point). Anderson scored his only win in the Round of 16 in Shanghai (6-4 7-6). 

“I think the fact that I kept my serve very aggressive and I remained aggressive with my groundstrokes helped a lot and I am pleased that I was able to maintain my game throughout the entire match, the same intensity. It was an excellent first set. It was great”, said Tsitsipas. 

Tsitsipas broke four times and fended off three break points he faced. Tsitsipas broke three times in a row to win the first set 6-1. At 2-2 in the second set Tsitsipas went down 0-40 on his serve. Anderson hit a forehand return, but Tsitsipas recovered with a passing shot. Tsitsipas saved three break points to hold his serve at love in the fifth game and broke serve at 15 in the eighth game after Anderson made a double fault. 

“The fifth game was crucial. Being able to come back there and maintain the focus that I focus that I needed to be back in the match and not be a break down, that was a very good effort from me. It was my fighting spirit that turned on and my service points there were incredible”, said Tsitsipas. Tsitsipas will face either John Isner or John Millman in the third round. 

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