Adrian Mannarino eases into Noumea semi-finals, Omar Jasika continues fine form in Happy valley
As the first week of the ATP Challengers approaches the business end of the tournaments, only the players in strong form will progress into the semi-finals.
(1) Adrian Mannarino defeats (5) Kenny De Schepper 64 61. The all French affair was dominate by Mannarino, breaking five times in stats that make poor reading for De Schepper. Standing at 6’8, the Frenchman struggles to win many free points on serve, and in fact hit more double faults than aces in this encounter, three aces to five double faults. Mannarino won nearly 50% of points on his opponent’s first serve, and nearly 75% against the second in a complete mismatch.
Alejandro Falla defeats Tristan Lamasine 64 63. A real surprise. Falla may have been a finalist at this event last season, but it was the only time that the Colombian impressed in 2016. with his ranking languishing around no.270 in the world, only a title here will be enough to maybe see Falla get entry into Australian Open qualifying. Lamasine will be disappointed that he was not able to back up his impressive wins against Dennis Novikov and Stefanos Tsitsipas.
Nikola Milojevic defeats (8) Mathias Bourgue 36 76 75. If there is a surprise performer in Noumea this week, then Milojevic certainly is that player. The Serbian already took down Bourgue’s compatriot Quentin Halys, and produced a stunning comeback in the second and third sets to shock the eighth seed. A timely run of form for the twenty-one year old.
(2) Roberto Carballes Baena defeats Adrian Menendez Maceiras 76 36 61. Unseeded Menendez Maceiras put up an excellent fight against his fellow Spaniard, ignoring a ranking disparity of nearly one hundred players to fight hard in the first and second sets. Carballes Baena took control of the first set tiebreak, only dropping the single point, and after losing the second set, cruised through the third.
Happy Valley: Note the Happy Valley Challenger is only now at the quarter-final stage. These match summaries represent the overnight second round matches from the bottom half of the draw.
Omar Jasika defeats Alex Bolt 63 63. The teenager continued his surprising good form. After edging Norbert Gombos in the first round, his win over fellow Australian Bolt was far more convincing. Breaking three times, and not facing a single break point against his own serve, the Aussie who many have claimed has excellent talent may be finally beginning to fulfill it. His ranking will not see him get into Australian Open Qualifying on his own merit, but one or both of these players are likely to be afforded wildcards into qualifying.
(4) Peter Polansky defeats Daniel Brands 76 64. This match was always going to be tight on the scoreboard, owing to Brands massive serve. Despite this, Polansky was still able to break three times in two sets (he surrendered two of his own to keep the scores close. Polansky has done well since returning from injury and is perhaps my second favourite for the title.
(8) Marton Fucsovics defeats Ivan Ivashka 64 63. The eighth seeded Hungarian continues to quietly make his way through to the last eight. A potentially tricky tie against a young opponent who has started to show his talent, very well negotiated.
Bangkok: (Again second round):
(1) Yuichi Sugita defeats Marsel Ilhan 62 64. A good win for the top seed against a former Top 100 opponent. Ilhan’s form had fallen dramatically across 2016, and has not started 2017 much better, soundly beaten by the Japanese.
Jeremy Jahn defeats (6) Di Wu 63 36 64. A seed fall as Jahn, more familiar in the European Futures and occasional Challengers, rose to the occasion to defeat China’s Wu. As things stand, this could represent the single biggest tournament success for Jahn.
Blaz Kavcic defeats Amir Weintraub 64 61. The Slovenian eased into the quarter-finals, defeating the Israeli for the loss of just five games. Weintraub had won a previous meeting in the 2014 Davis Cup over five sets, but was soundly beaten in Thailand.
Christian Garin defeats (2) Denis Istomin 36 64 75. The shock of the draw to date. Istomin has immense pedigree as a former regular inside the Top 100, and looked well placed to reach the quarter-finals after winning the first set. Garin however, though better known for his exploits on clay, rallied to drop his serve just once over the final two sets, shocking the second seed.
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.
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.
Roberto Bautista Agut reaches his second career final in Doha
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.
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
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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