Dominic Thiem edges Benoit Paire in four sets to reach the fourth round in the Australian Open - UBITENNIS
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Dominic Thiem edges Benoit Paire in four sets to reach the fourth round in the Australian Open

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Thiem is the first Austrian since Jurgen Melzer to reach the fourth round at the Australian Open (Zimbio.com)

Austrian eighth seed Dominic Thiem moved into the fourth round of the Australian Open after he edged mercurial Frenchman Benoit Paire 61 46 64 64 early on Saturday.

Thiem had dropped a set in each of his two rounds against Jan-Lennard Struff and Jordan Thompson respectively, and continued the trend in his match with the Frenchman.

Thiem came out and started strongly, breaking Paire in his first service game, and then holding for a three-love lead. Paire at least got on the board, but Thiem added a second break for a one-sided first set.

Paire rarely plays a match against a big player without finding at least some form, and so it proved it the second, the Frenchman improving to take care of matters on his own serve, and then break late in the set to level the scores.

However, Thiem’s backhand kicked into gear in the third all it took was for the Frenchman to go absent in one service game, and the Austrian led by two-sets-to-one. Thiem broke in the first game of the fourth, when Paire played an ill-advised drop shot into the net. Paire showed some mettle though, rattling off the next three games, looking to force a fifth and deciding set. Thiem’s retrieved the break, but immediately handed it back yet again, with a poor smash off of a relatively short defensive shot from Paire contributing to a poor game from the Austrian.

Paire just could not keep his consistency either though, and Thiem was once again back on serve. It was the Austrian who then broke again, to serve for the match. He helped Paire back into the game at deuce, but eventually sealed the win when Paire could only push a service return into the tramlines.

Thiem betters his result from last year, where he went out in third round. For Paire, he earns eighty points because he had lost in the first round last year.

Thiem will face David Goffin in the fourth round after the Belgian sealed a little piece of history. The eleventh seed defeated the 6’11 Ivo Karlovic 63 62 64, giving a master-class in how to break a big-server regularly. The win was rather easier than Goffin’s five-set marathon in the first round against American qualifier Reilly Opelka, who is also 6’11. Goffin becomes the first player to defeat both these players in the same grand slam tournament.

Though Karlovic had won his second round in straight sets, he had played a first round match against Horacio Zeballos that had lasted more than five hours, and it could easily have had an effect on the thirty-eight year-old twentieth seed. Reaching the third round represents a good effort for the big-serving veteran.

Goffin owns a narrow head-to-head lead against Thiem, leading 4-3, including a four-set win against the Austrian in the Australian Open last year in the third round. Thiem levelled the head-to-head in grand slam tournaments by winning at Roland Garros, also in four, en route to his first grand slam semi-final.

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Karen Khachanov wins his career title in Doha

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Karen Khachanov beat Czech Next Gen Jakub Mesnik 7-6 (14-12) 6-4 to clinch his the sixth title of his career and the first of his career. Khachanov did not drop a set during this week. 

Khachanov saved four set points in the first set before hitting a forehand return to seal the first set on his fourth set point. 

Khachanov broke serve in the opening game of the second set. The Russian player did not face a break point in the whole match and won 83% of his first serve points. 

Khachanov claimed his first ATP title since Zhuhai last September. 

“Every title is a special one. Every time, you want to win. We play around 22 tournaments per season and at the end of the day, you compete every week. For sure here in Doha here in Doha it is one of the nicest trophies”, said Khachanov. 

Mesnik made a major breakthrough this week beating Alejandro Davidovich Fokina and three former Doha champions Andy Murray, Andrey Rublev and Gael Monfils en route to his first tour level final. Mesnik is projected to a career-high number 87 in the ATP Ranking. He is currently in the lead in the ATP Race to Jeddah. 

“For sure this week will be unforgettable for me. From the beginning, I did not even get to the tournament on my own ranking. I had to use the Next Gen spot, so I tried to enjoy every moment on the court. I did not expect that I will go through to the final. I am really happy with my performance”, said Mesnik. 

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Jasmine Paolini wins the first WTA 1000 title of her career in Dubai

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Jasmine Paolini came back from one set down to beat qualifier Anna kalinskaya 4-6 7-5 7-5 in 2 hours and 13 minutes in the final of the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships. 

Paolini rallied from one break down in each of the second and third sets to clinch he the second WTA Tour title of her career and her first trophy at WTA 1000 level. Paolini has become the third Italian player to win a WTA 1000 title following in the footsteps of Flavia Pennetta in Indian Wells in 2014 and Camila Giorgi in Montreal 2021. 

Kalinskaya earned an early break in the first game of the opening set. Paolini broke back in the fifth and sixth games. 

Kalinskaya broke serve in the ninth game to take a 5-4 lead with a passing winner and closed out the first set at 15. 

Kalinskaya broke Paolini with a return winner in the opening game to build up a 6-4 3-1 lead. Paolini slammed a return winner to break back for 3-3. Paolini forced and error on set point with a crosscourt backhand to break serve in the 12th game. 

The third set started with three consecutive breaks. Kalinskaya broke for the second time in the third game and held at 15 with an ace in the sixth game to take a 4-2 lead.  Paolini broke back in the 10th game  to draw level to 5-5 when Kalinskaya was serving for the match. 

Paolini earned three championships point at 6-5 after Kalinskaya made a double fault. 

Paolini drew a long error from Kalinskaya on the first match point. 

Paolini wo 60% of her first serve points.

Paolini beat Kalinskaya in Portoroz in 2021 en route to winning the first WTA title of her career. The Italian player played in three more finals in Cluj Napoca, Palermo and Monastir, but she lost all of them. Kalinskaya beat Paolini in the Round of 16 at last January’s Australian Open. 

Paolini has become the second Italian player to win the Dubai title after Sara Erraini claimed this trophy in 2016. The Italian player is projected to move into the top 15 in the WTA Ranking. 

“I am really happy how I managed to come back. It’s unbelievable. I don’t know. I am just so happy. I am proud of all the work I made this year. It’s not easy to bring this work in the match sometimes. I am playing good tennis. I played well at the end of the last season I started the season well with the second week at the Australian Open. Now I try to be more relaxed on court, to try to think more what I have to do, to be more present every point. I think it works. It’s not going to be every week like this, but I am going to do my best”, said Paolini during the post match press conference. 

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Jordan Thompson needs seven match points to upset Alexander Zverev in the Los Cabos semifinal

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Jordan Thompson converted on his seventh match points to upset top seed Alexander Zverev 7-5 4-6 7-6 (7-2) in a thrilling 3-hour and 40-minute at the Mifel Tennis Open by Telcel in Los Cabos. The match finished after 1 a.m. 

Thompson set up a final against Casper Ruud in Saturday’s final. The Australian player fought back from 0-6 0-3 down before saving three match points against Alex Michelsen in the quarter final. 

Thompson won the first set, which featured five break points. Zverev earned the first break to open up a 2-0 lead. Thompson saved four break points in the third game before breaking serve to love to draw level to 2-2. Both players traded breaks in the fifth and sixth games to draw level to 3-3. Thompson broke serve for the third game in the 12th game to win the first set 7-5. Zverev earned a break in the fifth set to take a 3-2 lead and did not face any break point to win the second set 6-4. Both players went on serve until the 10th game, when Thompson earned five break points which doubled as match points at 6-5. Zverev saved them to hold serve after seven deuces. Thompson won six consecutive points from 0-1 down to take a 6-1 lead in the tie-break and sealed the win on his seventh match point. 

“It does not feel effective. It was over three and a half hours. It was just a great match and I just competed until the end. I am pretty tired”, said Thompson. 

Casper Ruud beat defending champion Stefanos Tsitsipas 6-4 7-6 (7-4). Ruud saved five set points in the second set. Ruud did not drop a point on his first serve and broke serve in  the seventh game to win the first set 6-4. 

Ruud came back from 0-40 down to save three set points at 4-5. The Norwegian player rallied from 15-40 to fend off two more set points in the 12th game. Ruud raced out to a 4-0 lead in the tie-break with two mini-breaks.  Tsitsipas won three consecutive points from 1-5 down to claw his way back to 4-5. Ruud sealed the tie-break 6-4 on his first match point. 

“It was a really close match, especially in the second set. I was fortunate to save a few set points and hold him off. I was just a bit lucky, and in the tie-break I played really well from the beginning, so I am very happy with the win”, said Ruud. 

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