Prodigies set for match-up in the final round of Australian Open Qualifying as Reilly Opelka and Casper Ruud both win - UBITENNIS
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Prodigies set for match-up in the final round of Australian Open Qualifying as Reilly Opelka and Casper Ruud both win

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Reilly Opelka has made it through to the final round of Qualifying, and will face another junior prodigy in Casper Ruud (Image via Zimbio.com)

A blockbuster final round of qualifying in in the Australian Open is set up as two teenagers prepare to face off for the right to feature in the main draw. Reilly Opelka (19) and Casper Ruud (18) both won their matches to meet on the main tour for the first time after encouraging junior careers.

 

Jan Satral defeats Yasutaka Uchiyama 76 16 97. The Czech backed up his win over twelfth seed Alessandro Giannessi with a tough grinding win over young Japanese Yasutaka Uchiyama. The Czech took a tight first set before crumbling in the second. A tight final set was finally won by Satral nine-seven.

(11) Evgeny Donskoy defeats Matthew Ebden 76 46 62.  Donskoy has not had it easy in his first two rounds of qualifying. After struggling against Dmitry Popko in the first round, Matthew Ebden, who is more known his grass court expertise, gave the eleventh seed a real battle. It was Donskoy who produced the clutch performance in the third set, going up two breaks in the final set.

Noah Rubin defeats (32) Roberto Carballes Baena 64 36 62. Young American Noah Rubin continued his fine start in qualifying as he ground down thirty-second seed Carballes Baena in three sets. Carballes Baena had broken Rubin in his first two service games, but immediately surrendered the advantage back both times, and Rubin pulled away in the first. Carballes Baena won the second but his serve broke down again in the third, another seed out.

Luca Vanni defeats Alexander Sarkissian 36 63 62. Luca Vanni recovered from losing the first set against the in-form American Sarkissian. Sarkissian had beaten the seeded Henri Laaksonen in the first round, but failed to back up his first set display in the this one, winning just five games in the next two sets.

Jurgen Melzer defeats (13) Taro Daniel 63 62. Former Roland Garros semi-finalist Melzer is still alive in qualifying after he defeated thirteenth seed Daniel in comprehensive fashion. Melzer will need to beat twentieth seed Rajeev Ram to make the main draw.

(20) Rajeev Ram defeats Marcelo Arevalo 61 46 86. Ram was in the main draw directly last year, but has seen his ranking fall significantly since winning his second Newport title a few years ago. He had a comfortable start with his match against Arevalo, but was forced to fight hard in the second and third sets, eventually winning an over-time third set.

Blake Mott defeats (14) Tobias Kamke 62 64. Qualifying has been tough for the Aussies so far, with few making it through so far. Blake Mott is one still in with a chance though, after shocking the fourteenth seed in surprising fashion. Mott only dropped six games in the match, as Kamke’s game regressed back to the form that saw him barely win a match in the first half of 2016.

James McGee defeats (30) Vincent Millot 62 64. McGee and most will face off unseeded in their section after they both took down seeds. McGee’s contribution was to beat Millot. Things had not started well as Millot had broken early. McGee quickly settled though, recovering the break, and dropping just five games after losing that first service game.

Alex Bolt defeats Matthias Bachinger 64 76. Alex Bolt was another who recovered from an early deficit to enjoy a straight sets win. Bolt was also down an early break against the German Bachinger. Bolt also recovered, and won a close encounter taking the second seed on a tiebreak to see another Aussie in with a chance of qualifying for the main draw.

(26) Julien Benneteau defeats Guilherme Clezar 75 60. Julien Benneteau is more used to being seeded twenty-sixth in the main draw, not qualifying. The Frenchman has not let that dampen his spirits though, adding Clezar’s name to Milojevic’s in terms of straight sets wins. Clezar is more comfortable on clay, and fell away badly after a close first set.

Reilly Opelka defeats Mitchell Krueger 63 76. Opelka is the joint-tallest player on ATP records, sharing the feat with Ivo Karlovic. Unsurprisingly, Krueger struggled to make inroads against the former Junior Wimbledon winners serve. Opelka broke in the first before using a tiebreak to finish the match in the second set.

Casper Ruud defeats Jonathan Eysseric 63 36 63. Young Norwegian is a highly-rated junior. His best results have to date come on clay however, and he struggled a little with the left-handed Eysseric in the match, as the Frenchman used his confident net coverage to take time away from the teenager. Ruud took advantage of some errors though, breaking in the first when Eysseric hit an errant smash. Ruud will face the 6’11 Reilly Opelka in the final qualifying round, a tantalising prospect.

 

 

 

 

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Sebastian Korda sets up quarter final clash against Ugo Humbert in Halle

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Sebastian Korda came back from one set down to beat Kei Nishikori 2-6 6-3 7-5 at the NOVENTI Open in Halle setting up a quarter final match against Ugo Humbert, who upset Alexander Zverev 7-6 (7-4) 3-6 6-3 in 1 hour and 53 minutes 

 

Both players went on serve with no breaks of serve. Zverev won 84% of his first serve points. Humbert won the first set tie-break when Zverev netted a forehand. 

Zverev converted his first break point at the start of the second set to take a 2-0 lead, when Humbert sent his backhand long. Zverev held on his next service games to claim the second set 6-3. Humbert earned the break in the fourth game of the third set to close out the third set 6-3. 

“I don’t particularly know what I could have done differently. Ugo was serving incredibly well in the first set. We both barely won points on each other’s serve. Then in the third set, I think he found his rhythm from the baseline. He was outplaying me. It is not a great result for me, but I don’t know what I could have done differently”, said Zverev. 

Korda reached the first ATP Tour final of his first career at Delray Beach, the quarter final in Miami and won his firts ATP Tour title on clay at the Emilia Romagna Open in Parma. 

Nishikori broke twice in the first set to open up a 4-1 lead. The Japanese player won 67% of his second serve points and saved two break points in the eighth game to close out the first set 6-2 in 31 minutes. Korda broke serve in the sixth game after seven deuces and held serve in another hard-fought game to race out to a 5-2 lead. The US player served out the second set 6-3 to force the match to the third set. 

Nishikori saved three break points in a nine-minute first game. The decider went on serve until the 11th game, when Korda broke Nishikori with a lob. Korda fended off a break point as he served out the match at deuce in the 12th game. “I would say it was good level from both of us. I think I played almost too good in the first set. He then started making more balls and changed his position. He started playing better in the second set.I think the third set could go both ways. I had many chances, but he played good points and he deserved to win as he took risks”, said Korda. 

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Matteo Berrettini beats Andy Murray to reach the quarter finals in his debut at the Queen’s

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Top seed Matteo Berrettini beat former Wimbledon champion Andy Murray 6-3 6-3 after 1 hour and 25 minutes at the cinch Championships to reach the quarter final at the Queen’s Club in London without dropping a set in his debut at this event. 

 

Berrettini won his fourth ATP Tour at the Serbian Open in Belgrade, reaached the final at the Madrid Mutua Open and the quarter final at Roland Garros. 

Murray, who won the Queen’s title five times in 2009, 2011, 2013, 2015 and 2016, has made his come-back from a groin injury with a wild-card in his first ATP Tour level tournament since March. He was seeking his seventh quarter final at the Queen’s tournament and his first since lifting this title in 2016.

Berrettini fended off all three break points and his 28 winners to just seven unforced errors. The Italian top 10 player broke twic in the fifth and ninth games to close out the first set 6-3. He earned an early break in the second game of the second set and held his next service games to close out the second set 6-3. 

“This was really hard. We all know who Andy is, he is a great player and he was always there even until the last point. I am really happy for my performance. I know how tough it is to come back from an injury, so I wish him the best of luck. I played better. I am just happy that he is back. I have worked really hard on my serve in my career since I was a kid. I grew up on clay, so I waas serving more kick serves, but we figured that I had to hit hard like this. Today it worked really well”, said Berrettini. 

Murray is unlikely to play in Eastbourne next week because of the logistics around the tournament bubble. 

“I made some good moves on court but my tennis was not very good. That’s the thing I will need most rather than the movement. There are some slight niggles in the groin and I will have to try and get rid of between now and Wimbledon. I need matches and I need to practise with top players over the next ten days”, said Murray. 

Berrettini set up a quarter final match against British player Daniel Evans, who beat Adrian Mannarino 6-4 7-6 (9-7) in 1 hour and 43 minutes. Evans won 81% of his first serve points and fended off five of the six break points. 

“I am just pleased to come through. I knew that he was good on grass. I knew that it was going to be a difficult match, but I didn’t envision it being that tight and obviously I did not want it that tight either. It was a tough match, mentally more than anything, trying to hold my serve when I was a set down”, said Evans. 

Denis Shapovalov cruised past Feliciano Lopez 6-2 6-3 with two breaks in the sixth and eighth games of the first set and in the fourth game of the second set. 

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Dominic Thiem Signs Up To New Athlete Management Agency Launched By Kosmos

The world No.5 has become the first athlete to ever be represented by Kosmos.

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Dominic Thiem says he is ‘proud’ to be joining a new agency that has been launched by Kosmos which specialises in athlete management.

 

Kosmos, which was founded by Barcelona F.C star Gerard Pique, says their venture is aimed at supporting those in the world of sport. In a statement issued on Thursday, their objective is to provide ‘comprehensive service to athletes where, in addition to representation, commercial and public relations, it will also provide sports, legal and financial advice.’ The new division will be headed by Galo Blanco who is a former player and coach. Blanco previously served as the Competition Director of Kosmos.

“We are very excited about this project. Many people who have been linked to sport for many years and specialise in different key areas in the development of an athlete’s career work at Kosmos. We know what is important for the active player and for their future, because many of us are or have been professional players,” says Gerard Piqué, President of Kosmos.

27-year-old Thiem is the first athlete to have signed up to the agency. Coincidentally the Austrian was co-coached by Blanco on the Tour between 2017-2018. Blanco ended their collaboration in order to focus on the redevelopment of the Davis Cup. Thiem is now coached on the Tour by Nicolas Massu, as well as his father Wolfgang.

“I am very happy that Galo is part of the team again. He has been very close to me and my family, even when he stopped being my coach,” said Thiem.
“The season has not started as I would have liked, I am working very hard to get back to the level of the end of 2020, and adding Galo and the rest of the Kosmos team can bring a lot of positive things.”

Kosmos has become a growingly influential business in tennis since its launch. The company are the financial masterminds behind transforming the Davis Cup and have pledged to invest $3bn into the competition over a 25-year period.

This year’s Davis Cup finals have been spread across three cities in Madrid, Innsbruck and Turin over 11 days. Pique said the decision to use multiple cities is to prevent late-night finishes in the competition which was a problem back in 2019. Two year’s ago, Italy’s clash with the USA concluded at 4am.

“Some of the matches ended very late, so we made the decision to go to other cities and to play in 11 days instead of seven,” he said at the event’s official launch earlier this year. “The event has been evolving, maturing.”

Albert Costa, who is currently the Davis Cup Finals Director, will also take on the role of Competition Director for Kosmos.

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