David Goffin survives tough battle with Reilly Opelka to make the second round of the Australian Open - UBITENNIS
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David Goffin survives tough battle with Reilly Opelka to make the second round of the Australian Open

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David Goffin edged past the qualifier in five dramatic sets in Melbourne (Image via Zimbio.com)

Eleventh seed David Goffin survived a long five set encounter with American teenage qualifier Reilly Opelka, edging through 64 46 62 46 64.

 

Opelka had impressed in qualifying, winning all three matches without dropping a set, but the eleventh seed was always going to be a very tough encounter and so it proved.

The American teenager had a played a magnificently intelligent match, focusing on his serve before pushing at exactly the right times to frustrate the Belgian, but fell away late in the fifth with a loose service game that was punished by the seeded player.

Goffin had taken the first set, breaking the 6’11 Opelka serve in the third game, with the set going with serve thereafter.

The second set stayed with serve through the early and middle parts of the set. Former Wimbledon junior champion Opelka was demonstrating surprising mobility for such a tall player, winning a good portion of the medium rallies, as his forehand held Goffin at bay when the serve was returned. It was to be Opelka who stole the set, applying pressure as Goffin attempted to stay in the set at four-five, breaking the Belgian’s serve. Opelka frequently took heavy cuts at the Goffin serve, and his persistence paid off, the break levelling the scores at one set all.

The third set was the most one-sided as Goffin rebounded from the loss of the second set by breaking immediately. He settled quickly with his own serve, denying Opelka any break points, and added some gloss to his side of the scoreboard for the set by adding a second break of serve.

It seemed that Goffin would then go on to take the match, but Opelka’s serving stats unsurprisingly improved dramatically from the third set, limiting Goffin to one missed break point chance. Opelka then mirrored his own efforts from the second set, by putting Goffin under significant pressure with the Belgian serving at four-five.

Opelka created a set point against the Goffin serve with a superb lunging forehand cross court return winner, and he drew a backhand error to level the scores at two sets all.

Opelka was the first to apply serious pressure in the fifth. With Goffin serving at two-three Opelka got to deuce and twice forced break points with impressive forehand winners. Goffin pulled himself out of the hole though, engineering an unbalanced return from Opelka to escape with the final set still on serve.

Though he had escaped at two-three, Goffin was again taken to deuce at three-four, the heavy returning of Opelka continually putting the ATP World Tour finals alternate on the defensive. Again he left with the score level.

Opelka then finally crumbled, a forehand flying long, and another in the net, followed by a double-fault,  resulting in the break of the serve for the pre-match favourite. Goffin would serve for the match after the change of ends.

Goffin ensured he avoided the fate he had suffered with the late breaks of the second and fourth sets, holding to love to secure a win that at certain points in the fifth set had looked distinctly unlikely.

Goffin, having escaped one qualifier, could face another in the second round. He plays either Radek Stepanek, who also qualified, or Dmitry Tursunov.

This match continues a trend of seeds surviving matches that had looked unlikely to force five set thrillers in the first round. Goffin joins the likes of Kei Nishikori, Marin Cilic, Stan Wawrinka, Alexander Zverev, and Viktor Troicki as seeded players on the right side of five-set thrillers so far. In contrast, only one seeded player has fallen in such a scoreline, that being Spain’s Albert Ramos-Vinolas.

 

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Filip Krajinovic To Skip Australian Open If Required To Quarantine For More Than Five Days

The world No.34 says he ‘sees no reason’ why vaccinated players should have to go through a long quarentine in Australia.

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Image via twitter.com/atptour (Alexander Scheuber)

The second highest-ranked Serbian player in men’s tennis says it would be ‘unacceptable’ for organisers of the Australian Open to require players to quarantine for more than a week if they have been fully vaccinated.

 

Filip Krajinovic has become the first player to publicly state that they will not be prepared to travel to Melbourne at the end of this season if they have to go through strict quarantine measures once again. All the players who participated in this year’s Australian Open were required to be quarantined in a designated hotel for 14 days upon arrival in the country. During their stay they were allowed to use training facilities but that was the only time they could leave the premises unless there was an emergency.

There is no final decision regarding the travel requirements for the 2022 tournament but there are concerns that unvaccinated players may not be allowed to enter the country. The Victorian government recently issued a mandate ordering all essential workers to be vaccinated, including athletes. However, the regional government will not have the final say concerning tennis players arriving in the country with the national government being the ones in charge of that decision.

“They are very rigorous there and honestly, if I have to be in quarantine for 14 days after arriving in Melbourne, I will not go to Australia,” Krajinovic told Serbian newspaper Blic.
“I was vaccinated, I did everything in my power to protect myself and the people around me, so I really see no reason to sit there for 14 days in a room.’
“If they (the organisers) say that after arrival I need, say, five days to be in isolation, that’s OK for me, but anything beyond that is unacceptable to me. With the season ending late, I will have 20 days to get ready and go. Charter flights will be organized again and the last one is planned for December 28 for the players and that is the final date when I can go to Australia. I will see what the final decision from Melbourne will be, so I will cut what is the best thing to do.”

Earlier this week Victoria’s Sports minister Martin Pakula urged players to be vaccinated because it give them ‘the best opportunity to play in the Australian Open.’ It is expected that if unvaccinated players are allowed to attend, they will be subjected to stricter restrictions. This might include a longer quarantine period upon arrival and limitations of where they can go during their stay.

Last year, all of those players had to do their 14 days of quarantine. Right now there looks like there will be different rules for people who enter this country who are vaccinated as against unvaccinated and I don’t think the tennis will be any exception to that.” Pakula told the Sports Entertainment Network (SEN).
“In terms of what rules apply for people to enter Australia, whether unvaccinated people are allowed in at all, I don’t the answer to that yet. That’s going to be the subject of discussion at national cabinet and among the federal cabinet … those rules are not set by state governments.” He added.

Krajinovic is currently ranked 34th in the world and has a win-loss record this season of 18-18. At the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells he reached the second round before falling in straight sets to Daniil Medvedev. His best run so far this year was at the Hamburg Open where he reached the final.

“When we look at the whole of 2021, I played one final, one semifinal, there were good victories, but also worse results,” the 29-year-old commented.

Krajinovic is currently without a coach but is currently in ‘negotiations’ with somebody without elaborating further about who that person is.

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Alexander Zverev Secures Place In ATP Finals With Indian Wells Win

Zverev will be seeking to win the season-ending extravaganza for the second time in his career.

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Alexander Zverev (GER) Credit: AELTC/Edward Whitaker

Germany’s Alexander Zverev has become the fourth player to officially qualify for the ATP Finals after reaching the third round of the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells.

 

The world No.4 defeated America’s Jenson Brooksby 6-4, 3-6, 6-1, in his second round match on Sunday which pushed him over the points threshold to secure his spot in the end-of-season event. It is the fifth year in a row he has qualified for the ATP Finals which he won back in 2018. He is one of only three German players to ever win the title after Boris Becker and Michael Stich.

This year’s tournament will take place in Turin, Italy for the first time in history after being held at The O2 Arena in London for more than a decade. Only the eight highest ranked players are eligible to play in the round-robin tournament which has on offer up to 1500 rankings points for an undefeated champion.

“My first time in Turin. I’ve been to London four times before. London is obviously very special to me because I won there, as well. I think the stadium is incredible, one of the most special events that we had,” Zverev told reporters on Sunday.
“But I also love playing in Italy. I had great success in Italy. I won my first Masters in Rome. I’m looking forward to being there. I’m looking forward to playing in front of the Italian fans. It’s going to be a great week.”

The 24-year-old approaches the final quarter of this season with four titles already won this year. He has won two Masters 1000 trophies, an ATP 500 event in Mexico and a gold medal in singles at the Tokyo Olympic Games. Zverev, who has recorded seven wins over top 10 players, also reached the semi-finals at both the French Open and US Open.

Zverev joins Novak Djokovic, Daniil Medvedev and Stefanos Tsitsipas as the players who have qualified for the ATP Finals so far. It is the third straight season the quartet has qualified for the event.

This year’s ATP Finals will get underway on November 14th. Medvedev is the defending champion.

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Denis Shapovalov Advances After Pospisil Retires In Indian Wells

The battle of the two Canadians didn’t go as planned…

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Denis Shapovalov (CAN) Credit: AELTC/Edward Whitaker

Vasek Pospisil faced off against his fellow Canadian Denis Shapovalov in the second round of the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells and it was the world number 13 who got the win after the Vernon native pulled out due to an injury whilst trailing 0-3.

 

It was a rough start for Pospisil who seemed to struggle with his serve in the opening game of the match and double-faulted twice in a row to give the early break and Shapovalov had no issues consolidating the break.

Shapovalov continued to apply pressure on the Pospisil serve and after saving two breakpoints the world number 68 pulled up after a serve and stopped play, calling for the trainer. He ended up taking a medical timeout off the court and a couple of minutes later returned to court. Pospisil was broken once again and the following game after a couple of returns decided to call it quits.

” It was pretty awful…and if I’m being honest I am shaking a bit…It really sucks I hope it’s nothing serious…He’s a great guy he’s a real warrior he’s fought back from some injuries surgeries to such a great level.” Shapovalov said of his compatriot.

Shapovalov will face 19th seed Aslan Karatsev in the next round after the Russian thrashed Salvatore Caruso 6-2, 6-0.

In the other results of the day sixth seeed Casper Ruud dominated Roberto Carballes Baena 6-1, 6-2, Roberto Bautista Agut beat the Argentine Guido Pella 7-5, 6-3 and Sebastien Korda won an all American battle with Frances Tiafoe 6-0, 6-4.

Finally, Diego Schwartzman needed three sets to beat another American in Maxime Cressy winning 6-2, 3-6, 7-5.

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