Australian Open Qualifying: Radek Stepanek is the top seed, with a large American contingent in action - UBITENNIS
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Australian Open Qualifying: Radek Stepanek is the top seed, with a large American contingent in action

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Radek Stepanek is the top seed in Australian Open Qualifying (Image via Zimbio.com)

The qualifying draw for the Men’s Australian Open qualifying is out, and there are some interesting match-ups up and down the draw.

 

American loyalties may be tested as Tim Smyczek and Frances Tiafoe are scheduled to meet in the qualifying round if they win their first two matches, and the same situation faces Stefan Kozlov and Ernesto Escobedo. Top seed Radek Stepanek has the difficult Norbert Gombos in his section, whilst Julien Benneteau will face last week’s Noumea runner-up Nikola Milojevic in his first round. Fifth seed Nicolas Kicker has a tough match-up against South Korean prodigy Duckhee Lee in perhaps the pick of the first round matches. Teymuraz Gabashvili has the young Norwegian Casper Ruud, but I’m predicting a win for the veteran as Ruud’s results to date on hard courts have not the standards that he has set on clay. Bradley Klahn makes an appearance in the draw, facing thirty-first seed Thomas Fabbiano. Klahn made a few respectable runs at Challengers towards the end of last year, after nearly two years out with injuries.

Top Quarter: (Picks in bold).

(1) Radek Stepanek vs Sekou Bangoura

Matteo Donati vs Blaz Kavcic

John-Patrick Smith vs Agustin Velotti

Kenny de Schepper vs (27) Norbert Gombos 

(2) Frances Tiafoe vs Marco Cecchinato

Steven Diez vs Yannick Reuter

Pedro Sousa vs Mohammed Safwat

Jordi Samper-Montana vs (25) Tim Smyczek

(3) Jozef Kovalik vs Marco Trungelliti

Peter Gojowczyk vs Saketh Myneni

Daniel Brands vs Adrian Menendez Maceiras

Ruben Bemelmans vs (29) Go Soeda

(4) Yuichi Sugita vs Marc Polmans

Max Purcell vs Andrey Rublev

Lorenzo Giustino vs Mirza Basic

Tristan Lamasine vs (22) Peter Polansky

Second Quarter:

(5) Nicolas Kicker vs Duckhee Lee

Marton Fucsovics vs Bradley Mousley

Kimmer Coppejans vs Tennys Sandgren

Alexander Bublik vs (17) Arthur De Greef

(6) Bjorn Fratangelo vs Grega Zemlja 

Gavin Van Peperzeel vs Stefanos Tsitsipas 

Hiroki Moriya vs Harry Bourchier

Uladzimir Ignatik vs (19) Vasek Pospisil 

(7) Stefan Kozlov vs Yuki Bhambri

Pedja Krstin vs Zdenek Kolar

Daniel Masur vs Tatsuma Ito

Maximilian Marterer vs (21) Ernesto Escobedo

(8) Benjamin Becker vs Miljan Zekic

Maverick Banes vs Di Wu

Ivan Dodig vs Amir Weintraub

Laslo Djere vs (24) Andrej Martin

Third Quarter:

(9) Joao Souza vs Andre Ghem

Yuya Kibi vs Brian Baker 

Elias Ymer vs Akira Santillan

Bradley Klahn vs (31) Thomas Fabbiano

(10) Lukas Lacko vs Jeremy Jahn

Enrique Lopez-Perez vs Maximo Gonzalez

Jose Hernandez-Fernandez vs Dmitry Popko

Matthew Ebden vs Andrey Golubev

Noah Rubin vs Cedrik-Marcel Stebe

Marinko Matosevic vs (32) Roberto Carballes Baena

(12) Alessandro Giannessi vs Jan Satral

Yasutaka Uchiyama vs Marko Tepavac

Federico Gaio vs Luca Vanni

Alexander Sarkissian vs (23) Henri Laaksonen

Final Quarter:

(13) Taro Daniel vs Aldin Setkic

Jurgen Melzer vs Joris De Loore 

Scott Jones vs Marcelo Arevalo

Illya Ivashka vs (20) Rajeev Ram

(14) Tobias Kamke vs Dennis Novikov

Alexander Kudryavtsev vs Blake Mott

Matja Pecotic vs James McGee

Riccardo Bellotti vs (30) Vincent Millot

(15) Marius Copil vs Alex Bolt

Matthias Bachinger vs Franko Skugor

Kristjian Mesaros vs Guilherme Clezar 

Nikola Milojevic vs (26) Julien Benneteau

(16) Marco Chiudinelli vs Mitchell Krueger 

Reilly Opelka vs Stefano Napolitano

Mathias Bourgue vs Jonathan Eysseric

Casper Ruud vs (28) Teymuraz Gabashvili

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Richard Gasquet reaches his first Masters 1000 semifinal since Miami 2013

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Frenchman Richard Gasquet edged past this year’s Wimbledon semifinalist Roberto Bautista Agut 7-6 (7-2) 3-6 6-2 after 2 hours and 12 minutes to reach his first Masters 1000 semifinal since the 2013 Miami Open.

 

 Gasquet missed six months of action after undergoing groin surgery last January.

The French player set up a semfinal against David Goffin, who reached the semifinal after his Japanese opponent Yoshihito Nishioka withdrew from the match due to illness.

The first set went on serve with no break points en route to the tie-break. Bautista Agut hit a backhand wide at 1-2. Gasquet sealed the tie-break when Bautista Agut hit a forehand long.

Bautista Agut earned two breaks of serve in the second set and sealed it, when Gasquet made his third double fault on set point.

Gasquet broke serve with a volley in the third game of the decisive set. The French player went up a double break to race out to 4-1 lead. He saved two break points to hold his serve at deuce before serving out the third set on his first match point.

“I know how tough it was to come back. I know the moments I had at the start of the year, so I just wanted to enjoy, to fight. It is not easy to come back after six months out, but I am here. I am in semis tomorrow”,said Gasquet.

 

 

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Danil Medvedev cruises past Jan-Lennard Struff to set up an all Russian quarter final against Andrey Rublev

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Ninth seed Danil Medvedev cruised past Jan-Lennard Struff 6-3 6-1 in 66 minutes to reach the quarter final at the Western and Southern Open in Cincinnati.

 

Medvedev committed just 12 unforced errors and won 18 of Struff’s 25 second serve points.

 Medvedev broke twice in the second and eighth games to win the first set 6-2. The young Russian player got two consecutive breaks in the second and fourth games to race out to a 4-0 lead and held his service game at deuce after saving a break point in the fifth game. Struff held his serve to get his first game on the scoreboard, but Medvedev sealed the win on his first match point. The Russian player has improved his head-to-head record to 3-0 againt Struff.

Medvedev has won 11 of his past 13 matches during the North American hard-court season. He has a solid 41-16 record this season. He finished runner in two consecutive finals to Nick Kyrgios at Washington and to Rafael Nadal in Montreal.  In the quarter final the Russian star will face his compatriot Andrey Rublev, who upset Roger Federer 6-3 6-4.

Recent Wimbledon semifinalist Roberto Bautista Agut cruised past Miomir Kecmanovic 6-1 6-2 in just under an hour setting up a quarter final against Richard Gasquet, who beat Diego Schwartzman 7-6 (8-6) 6-3.

Japanese qualifier Yoshihito Nishioka beat Australian player Alex De Minaur 7-5 6-4 in 83 minutes with one break in each set. Nishioka rallied from 4-6 down in the tie-break of the first set to edge Adrian Mannarino 7-6 (8-6) 6-2 in 1 hour and 37 minutes.

“It was a great match and I got better as it went on. I am feeling sharp. I am feeling great now and I am looking forward to the quarter finals of a Masters 1000. I have nothing to lose”, said Goffin.

 

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Roger Federer Crashes Out Of Cincinnati Masters

The seven-time champion has suffered a blow to his preparations for the US Open.

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World No.3 Roger Federer has been knocked out of the Western and Southern Open in Cincinnati after falling in straight sets to Russia’s Andrey Rublev.

 

The 20-time grand slam champion struggled to find his range as he was overwhelmed by his fearless opponent during the 6-3, 6-4, loss. Despite the huge disparity in experience between the two, 21-year-old Rublev managed to dominate the majority of rallies with the help of some heavy hitting. Producing 17 winners to six unforced errors, compared to Federer’s tally of 19 and 20.

“I respect him a lot, I respect all the top players a lot, but today when I was going to court I was going there to win.” Rublev said during an interview with Amazon Prime.
“I was not going (to the match) to enjoy. I was going to fight, try to win and do my best.”

Rublev’s shock win saw the underdog outdo the Swiss maestro in almost every area of the match. Winning the most first serves (85% to 63%), second serves (57% to 63) and a bigger majority of points at the net (5/6 to 7/19). Breaking him twice in the opening set and once in the second. The Russian, who is 70th in the world, is the lowest ranked player to defeat Federer on the tour since Thanassi Kokkinakis at the 2018 Miami Open.

The loss leaves a mark on Federer’s impressive record in Cincinnati, which he has won a record seven times. It is the first time he has failed to reach the quarter-final stage since losing to Ivo Karlovic in the third round back in 2008.

“He was playing well. I was maybe struggling especially on the offensive, because overall I didn’t think I was feeling the ball badly.” Federer reflected during his press conference. “It’s just, you know, sort of fast-court conditions and when you sometimes then can’t rely on that serve to go or on the one-two punch, which I didn’t think was excellent today from my side, you need an opponent that maybe lets you get by some tougher moments, but he didn’t do that.”
“He was super clean. Defense, offense, serving well. Didn’t give me anything. He was everywhere. So it was tough for me, but excellent match by him. I was impressed.”

Rublev now has a meeting with compatriot Daniil Medvedev in what will be his first quarter-final at Masters level. Medvedev has reached the final of tournaments in Washington and at the Rogers Cup since Wimbledon. He is yet to drop a set this week and brushed aside Jan-Lennard Struff 6-2, 6-1, in his third round match.

“It’s going to be an interesting match for Russia.” Rublev previewed. “It will be a tough match for me because the way he plays. Nobody likes to play him.”
“I lost to him in a Challenger a few years ago, so it’s going to be interesting tomorrow.” He added.

The latest victory is only Rublev’s second over a top five player in his career. His first was against Dominic Thiem at the German Open last month.

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