Taylor Fritz highlights Columbus draw in US challenger - UBITENNIS
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ATP Challenger

Taylor Fritz highlights Columbus draw in US challenger

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Fritz, recently named the ATP Star of Tomorrow Award winner, is the top seed in Columbus (Zimbio.com)

A lone Top 100 name features in a Challenger draw that is very much concerned with ranking improvements ahead of the Australian Open in January 2017. Taylor Fritz is perhaps the only name in the draw who can feel secure in the knowledge that he will feature in the Australian Open for certain as others look to push their claims to reach the main draw or even the qualifying draw.

Fritz starts with Ohio state Danish Davis Cup Player Mikael Torpegaard, who will look to win on home soil again after he beat Benjamin Becker in the first Challenger tournament held in Columbus earlier this year. With a ranking that belies the threat he could pose to Fritz given his win earlier this season, this could be the match of the round.

With his ranking down at No.146, it is unlikely that Stefan Kozlov will be able to move up sharply enough to make the main draw of the Australian Open. That being said, Kozlov still has a lot to play for. This draw is surprisingly devoid of Top 100 ranked players (Fritz being the only exception). Kozlov can thus look forward to solidifying a good ranking to put himself as high in seeding as possible for the qualifying tournament in Melbourne. He starts against Jose Statham and is potentially Taylor Fritz’s semi-final opponent.

Rajeev Ram (2rd seed) and Henri Laaksonen (3rd seed), fresh off defending his Champaign challenger, will have similar aspirations. They are seeded to meet in the semi-finals though Tennys Sandgren and Mitchell Krueger, both of whom have work to do to secure their places in the qualifying tournament as things stand, could be potential problems. Austin Krajicek has even more need for a good tournament. Currently outside the Top 250 he needs to look at least getting through to the quarter-finals if he is to move up sufficiently. There are no events next week.

Prediction for the title: Taylor Fritz is the biggest name and it is very hard to look past him as winner. If there was to be a surprise victor I might suggest Tennys Sandgren who has had a good recent run, and with the out-of-form Rajeev Ram as the highest seed in his section could well fancy his chances this week.

ATP Challenger

Danielle Collins beats Caroline Garcia to reach the second semifinal of her career in Miami

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Danielle Collins beat Caroline Garcia 6-3 6-2 in 80 minutes to reach her second semifinal at the Miami Open. Collins became the first qualifier to reach the semifinal in the history of this tournament. 

Collins achieved her third win against a seeded player in five matches over the past seven days. 

Collins dropped just 11 points in nine service games against Garcia and hit 22 winners to Garcia’s 12. 

Collins earned a break in the eighth game and held serve to seal the first set 6-3. The US player broke serve in the third game of the second set and never looked back to close out the match in 1 hout and 19 minutes. 

Collins has extended her record to 4-0 in her head-to-head matches against Garcia and has not lost a set to her French opponent. 

Collins set up a semifinal match against the winner of Wednesday night’s match between Jessica Pegula and Elena Alexandrova, who beat world number one player Iga Swiatek in the fourth round.  

Collins won two WTA titles in Palermo and San José in 2021 but she has not reached a WTA Tour level final since losing to Ashleigh Barty in Melbourne in 2022. 

“I think Caroline Garcia comes out here and fights her butt off. She hits some really strong shots. I don’t think the set scores are a reflection of how close the match really is”, said Collins. 

Garcia beat Naomi Osaka and Coco Gauff to reach the quarter finals in Miami for the first time in her career. The French player was troubled by an injury to her right shoulder and received treatment early in the second set. 

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ATP Challenger

Dominic Thiem To Return At Marbella Challenger, Joins Wawrinka In Stacked Field

Dominic Thiem will be joining Stan Wawrinka in making his return to action at the Marbella challenger next week.

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Stan Wawrinka and Dominic Thiem (@SK_Tennis - Twitter)

Dominic Thiem will finally make his return to the ATP tour at the Marbella challenger next week.

The Austrian hasn’t played a tennis match since retiring at the grass court event in Mallorca last June due to a wrist injury.

Despite being scheduled to play at the Australian Open and at the Indian Wells-Miami swing, Thiem had to postpone his return as he wasn’t quite ready to compete in matches.

However now Thiem has decided to return as he will begin his clay court swing next week at the Marbella Challenger.

The former Roland Garros finalist took to Instagram to announce the news as he looks to climb back up the rankings.

The world number 50 will face tough competition with former Roland Garros champion Stan Wawrinka also making his comeback at the event in Spain next week.

At the blockbuster event there will also be the likes of Holger Rune, Pablo Cuevas, Jaume Munar and Lucas Pouille competing.

The winner of the event will receive 125 ranking points but much more importantly for Thiem and Wawrinka much needed match practice ahead of a busy European clay-court swing.

Thiem will be the top seed while Wawrinka will be unseeded with their being a possibility of the two heavyweights meeting in the opening round.

Play will start on Monday with Jaume Munar being the defending champion.

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ATP Challenger

Roberto Bautista Agut reaches his second career final in Doha

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Roberto Bautista Agut reached the second final of his career at the Qatar Exxon Mobil with a 6-3 6-3 win over defending champion Andrey Rublev. 

Bautista Agut broke serve in the fourth game with a forehand winner to open up a 3-1 lead and held on his next service games to close out the first set 6-3 after 29 minutes. 

The Spaniard started the second set with an early break. Rublev broke straight back in the second game and won his next two service games to take a 3-2 lead. Bautista Agut saved two break points to hold serve before getting two consecutive breaks to claim the second set 6-3. 

Rublev was playing his first match this week after two walkovers. The Russian player claimed the ABN AMRO World Tennis Tournament in Rotterdam last week. 

“It was very difficult to play tennis today, with the windy conditions, but I put a lot of pressure on his second serve and played really good tennis. I played a long match yesterday against Dominic Thiem, but I felt fresh and I had a lot of power on the court. This is one of my favourite tournaments. I played one of my best matches here in Qatar two years ago, and I hope I can win one more match tomorrow”, said Bautista Agut.

Bautista Agut set up a final against Nikoloz Basilashvili, who beat Taylor Fritz 7-6 (7-3) 6-1. 

Basilashvili, who beat Roger Federer in the quarter final, rallied from one break down to win the tie-break of the first set 7-3. The Georgian player broke twice in the second and sixth games to close out the second set 6-1.  “To reach the final means a lot. I am playing well and I am relaxed. It’s great to play in front of a crowd and a nice atmosphere”, said Basilshvili. 

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