Challenger Tour: Top seed Donald Young shocked in Happy Valley first round, big win for Omar Jasika - UBITENNIS
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ATP Challenger

Challenger Tour: Top seed Donald Young shocked in Happy Valley first round, big win for Omar Jasika

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Ruben Bemelmans got his 2017 campaign off to a strong start with a win over top seed Donald Young in Happy Valley (Image via ZImbio.com)

In the first day of plenty of match-ups on the Challenger Tour, there were a number of results that defied ranking positions. This is often not too surprising at the beginning of the season, as many players lack match fitness and though they may have trained all off-season, will still be a little rusty.

Noumea:

(5) Kenny De Schepper defeats Jose Hernandez-Fernandez 4-6, 6-3, 6-1. The tall Dutchman De Schepper struggled against a player whose best results almost exclusively come on clay. Though De Schepper is also rather effective on clay, he is more versatile across all surfaces, and it showed here in the last two sets, dropping just four games as the fifth seed avoided an early exit.

Cameron Norrie defeats (3) Duckhee Lee 6-4, 6-4. An excellent win for a young Briton who has gone under the radar somewhat in recent years. Following the successes of Dan Evans, James Ward, and Liam Broady (at times), Norrie at just twenty-one pulled off one of the best wins of his career. Lee, despite moving into the Top 150 at the back end of last year still retains the inconsistency that sees him lose to lowly ranked players at times.

Stefanos Tsitsipas defeats Guilherme Clezar 6-3, 7-5. Not a surprising result. Like Hernandez-Fernandez Clezar best results come on clay, with meagre performances on other surfaces. The eighteen year-old Tsitsipas is predicted to do big things in 2017, and could break into the Top 200 with a couple more wins more wins here.

Tristan Lamasine defeats (6) Dennis Novikov 6-4, 7-6. Novikov continues his miserable run that started in the second half of 2016, where he lost early in many of the American Challengers. Lamasine saved all six break points he faced, and breaking on his single opportunity in the first set.

(8) Matthias Bourgue defeats Mitchell Krueger 6-1 6-4. Well negotiated by Bourgue, as the inconsistent Krueger has the capacity to defeat seeded players when in the mood.

Other results: Nikola Milojevic defeats Andre Ghem 6-3, 6-3. 

Adrian Menendez Macieras defeats (7) Stefano Napolitano 7-6, 6-4.

Happy Valley:

Ruben Bemelmans defeats (1) Donald Young 6-4, 2-6, 7-6. A blow to Donald Young, whose form could soon see him drop out of the Top 100. The Belgian who many will remember for an entertaining match against Andy Murray in the 2015 Davis Cup Final was always the toughest first round match up for the seeds in this event, and so it has proved.

(3) Denis Kudla defeats Uladzimir Ignatik 2-6, 6-4, 6-4. In 2015 Denis Kudla was in the fourth round of Wimbledon having beaten Pablo Cuevas and Alexander Zverev. Now ranked 131, the American struggled in this match. Blown away in the first set, and quickly pegged back after he broke first in the second, the third seed fought hard to defeat his Belorussian opponent.

Omar Jasika defeats (5) Norbert Gombos 6-2, 6-7, 7-5. Arguably the shock of the day on the Challenger Tour. I was critical of Jasika in my profile of Alex De Minaur, but this result is arguably the best of his career. Gombos rebounded from a tough first three quarters of 2016 to win two Challengers late in the year. However, the tall Slovak was ousted here by the young Aussie whose potential has never been doubted, but whose consistency has never seen progress.

(4) Peter Polansky defeats Marc Polmans 6-1 4-6 6-4. The Canadian Polansky has returned from injury to become a solid Challenger player once again, but was tested by the young Aussie.The nineteen year-old took the second set before going down in a tight fourth.

(8) Marton Fucsovics defeats Marcelo Arevalo 6-1 3-6 6-3. I predicted a win for Arevalo here, and though he lost, he gave the eighth seed a tough match. The match hinged on break point conversions, as Fucsovics was able to convert four times from just six chances, an excellent conversion rate.

Matthias Bachinger defeats (2) Joao Souza 6-7, 6-4, 6-3. Unsurprising as Souza is a clay specialist, and though Bachinger has had his injury troubles, his serve is excellent. Souza failed to break from just two chances, winning his set in a tie break. The score could have been far more convincing, as Bachinger only went three for thirteen on break opportunities in the match, though it proved to be enough in the end.

Other results: Uchiyama defeats McGee 6-0 6-4

Gojowczyk defeats Tepavac 6-4 6-4

Coppejans defeats Bublik 3-6 6-2 6-3

Saville defeats Purcell 4-6 6-3 6-3.

Bolt defeats Ito 6-3 6-2.

Brands defeats Mott 7-6 6-7 6-4

Ivashka defeats Satral 6-3 6-4

De Loore defeats Djere 6-2 6-3

 

 

 

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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