Steve Johnson sets up semi-final meeting with Jack Sock in Auckland after big win over John Isner - UBITENNIS
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Steve Johnson sets up semi-final meeting with Jack Sock in Auckland after big win over John Isner

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Steve Johnson is chasing a second career ATP title after winning in Nottingham last year (Zimbio.com)

Seventh seed Steve Johnson took a big step towards a potential second career title by defeating compatriot John Isner 63 57 76 in the Auckland quarter-finals. 

 

Johnson was in imperious form in the first set, breaking the 6’10 Isner once from four opportunities before closing the door in the set, dropping just two points on his first serve, and five overall in the set for the lead.

Johnson again put pressure on the Isner serve in the second set, though there was a steel in the Isner serve, hitting aces on break points to frustrate Johnson. Meanwhile, Isner was finally gaining some traction in his return games, winning more than half the points against the Johnson serve. Isner was rewarded by stealing the set, breaking in the final game when a tie-break loomed to level affairs.

Johnson’s superb serving of the first set returned in the decider though, dropping just three points, and earning four break points. Time and again Isner’s serve got him out of trouble as the top-ranked American fought to the tie-break. Despite Isner’s strong record in tie-breaks it was Johnson, the stronger player overall who was rewarded winning seven-three.

“Last year I was here and my attitude wasn’t the best, but you live and you learn, you come back and I’m glad I turned it around this year.” – Johnson reflecting his form in Auckland this year versus this time last year.

The win sees Johnson pull with one of Isner in the head-to-head, with Isner’s lead trimmed to four-three, and Johnson has now won their last two meetings after also winning in Washington in 2016.

His opponent in the bottom half of the draw will be Jack Sock, the fourth seed, after he finally got past the veteran Frenchman Jeremy Chardy 57 64 63. Chardy gave a lesson in clutch tennis play in the first set, incredibly saving eleven break points before stealing the only break of the set late on with his only break point.

Sock’s frustration would finally be alleviated in the second, breaking once from six opportunities and saving the single break point on offer in the set.

Chardy’s resolve appeared broken when Sock finally found some consistency in breaking, taking five of the first six games in the decider. Chardy managed to retrieve one of the breaks, but last year’s finalist Sock closed out the win.

The top half of the draw saw the higher ranked players in the two match-ups progress with relative ease.

Eighth seed Marcos Baghdatis took full advantage of the withdrawal of top seed and defending champion Roberto Bautista Agut, beating Jiri Vesely 62 64. The former Australian Open finalist broke twice in the first set and once in the second for a comfortable win that saw Vesely fail to muster even a single break point opportunity.

Joao Sousa ensured that Robin Haase failed to back-up his excellent win over David Ferrer in the second round, comprehensively defeating the Dutchman 63 62 in just under an hour.

Semi-finals: Jack Sock will face Steve Johnson as the favourite. Sock leads the head-to-head two-one and is the higher ranked and seeded player. However, Johnson’s progress so far has been smoother this week, and he won the most recent match between the two, two years ago in Washington DC. My pick – Sock in three sets 

Marcos Baghdatis will be the favourite as the seeded player against Joao Sousa, though there are just eight ranking places between the two. It will be the first tour meeting between the two. My pick – Baghdatis in straight sets.

 

ATP

Updated Entry List For Toronto

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After Washington, the US Open Series will continue with the prestigious Master 1000 event in Canada.

 

Having been played since 1968, the Canadian Master 1000 tournament is one of the most historically significant events on the men’s tennis tour. This year the National Bank Open will take place in Toronto from the 9th to the 15th of August.

The defending champion Rafael Nadal is committed to play the tournament, as well as Daniil Medvedev and Roger Federer, while Novak Djokovic has decided to skip it. All the other top-20 players are in the list, excepting Dominic Thiem and David Goffin. Canada’s Vasek Pospisil and Australia’s Nick Kyrgios have been given a Wild Card for the main draw.

NEWS: The former champion Roger Federer and the home favourite Milos Raonic have withdrawn due to injury. They have been replaced by Sebastian Korda and Jan-Lennard Struff.

NEWS: Alexander Zverev, Matteo Berrettini and Pablo Carreno-Busta have pulled out from the tournament. Jenson Brooksby has received the final Wild-Card for the main draw.


ATP Master 1000 Toronto (CAN, Hard), entry list:
OUT Djokovic, Novak (SRB)
Medvedev, Daniil (RUS)
Nadal, Rafael (ESP)
Tsitsipas, Stefanos (GRE)
OUT Zverev, Alexander (GER)
Thiem, Dominic (AUT)
Rublev, Andrey (RUS)
OUT Berrettini, Matteo (ITA)
OUT Federer, Roger (ITA)
Shapovalov, Denis (CAN)
OUT Carreno Busta, Pablo (ESP)
Ruud, Casper (NOR)
Hurkacz, Hubert (POL)
Schwartzman, Diego (ARG)
Auger-Aliassime, Felix (CAN)
Bautista-Agut, Roberto (ESP)
Monfils, Gael (FRA)
De Minaur, Alex (AUS)
Garin, Cristian (CHI)
OUT Goffin, David (BEL)
Dimitrov, Grigor (BUL)
OUT Raonic, Milos (CAN)
Karatsev, Aslan (RUS)
Sinner, Jannik (ITA)
Khachanov, Karen (RUS)
Sonego, Lorenzo (ITA)
Evans, Daniel (GBR)
Humbert, Ugo (FRA)
OUT Wawrinka, Stan (SUI)
Norrie, Cameron (GBR)
Isner, John (USA)
Fognini, Fabio (ITA)
OUT Coric, Borna (CRO)
Davidovich Fokina, Alejandro (ESP)
Opelka, Reilly (USA)
Bublik, Alexander (KAZ)
Basilashvili, Nikoloz (GEO)
Nishikori, Kei (JPN)
(SE)
WC Pospisil, Vasek (CAN)
WC Kyrgios, Nick (AUS)
WC Brooksby, Jenson (USA)
Alternates:
IN Cilic, Marin (CRO)
IN Fritz, Taylor (USA)
IN Ramos-Vinolas, Albert (ESP)
IN Lajovic, Dusan (SRB)
IN Millman, John (AUS)
IN Korda, Sebastian (USA)
IN Struff, Jan-Lennard (GER)

OUT Delbonis, Federico (ARG)
IN Kecmanovic, Miomir (SRB)
IN Harris, Lloyd (RSA)
IN Paire, Benoit (FRA)

Alt.1 Tiafoe, Frances (USA)
Alt.2 Paul, Tommy (USA)
Alt.3 Gasquet, Richard (FRA)
Alt.4 Nishioka, Yoshihito (JPN)
Alt.5 Bedene, Aljaz (SLO)


ATP Master 1000 Toronto, qualifying:
OUT Millman, John (AUS)
OUT Korda, Sebastian (USA)
OUT Struff, Jan-Lennard (GER)

OUT Paire, Benoit (FRA)
OUT Kecmanovic, Miomir (SRB)
OUT Harris, Lloyd (RSA)

Tiafoe, Frances (USA)
Paul, Tommy (USA)
Nishioka, Yoshihito (JPN)
OUT Kyrgios, Nick (AUS)
Koepfer, Dominik (GER)
OUT Pospisil, Vasek (CAN)
Musetti, Lorenzo (ITA)
OUT Thompson, Jordan (AUS)
Giron, Marcos (USA)
OUT Ivashka, Illya (BLR)
OUT Munar, Jaume (ESP)

OUT (RA)
OUT (RA)
OUT (RA)

WC Diez, Steven (CAN)
WC Polansky, Peter (CAN)
WC Schnur, Brayden (CAN)
WC Draxl, Liam (CAN)
Alternates:
IN Popyrin, Alexei (AUS)
IN Duckworth, James (AUS)
IN Ruusuvuori, Emil (FIN)
IN Sandgren, Tennys (USA)
IN Berankis, Ricardas (LTU)
IN Lopez, Feliciano (ESP)
IN Gombos, Norbert (SVK)
IN McDonald, Mackenzie (USA)
OUT Kudla, Denis (USA)
OUT Daniel, Taro (JPN)
IN Bonzi, Benjamin (FRA)
IN Galan, Daniel Elahi (COL)
OUT Sugita, Yuichi (JPN)
IN Seyboth Wild, Thiago (BRA)

OUT Uchiyama, Yasutaka (JPN)
IN Verdasco, Fernando (ESP)
OUT Brooksby, Jenson (USA)
IN Wolf, Jeffrey John (USA)
IN O’Connell, Christopher (AUS)

Alt.1 Nakashima, Brandon (JPN)
OUT Rodionov, Jurij (AUT)
Alt.2 Broady, Liam (GBR)
Alt.3 Soeda, Go (JPN)
Alt.4 Bolt, Alex (AUS)
Alt.5 Cressy, Maxime (USA)
Alt.6 Donskoy, Evgeny (RUS)
Alt.7 Jung, Jason (TPE)
Alt.8 Marchenko, Illya (UKR)
Alt.9 Gomez, Emilio (ECU)
Alt.10 Ymer, Elias (SWE)

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Auger Aliassime overcomes slow start to beat Seppi in Washington

The Canadian looked down and out early in the match but bounced back to avenge a loss he suffered at the French Open in June.

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Second seed Felix Auger Aliassime survived a huge scare in his opening match at the Citi Open in Washington.

The Canadian was on the verge of being upset by the Italian Andreas Seppi but battled back to beat him 2-6, 6-2, 6-2 in one hour and 59 minutes. Blasting a total of 25 winners and nine aces in the win.

 

“In my mind, I wanted to find a way to come back. To get that early break in the second really helped me a lot and I think I served a little bit better and I put more volume and height on my shot,” said Auger-Aliassime. “I was more patient and in the first set I was missing too quickly in the rallies so digging deep physically and mentally allowed me to come back nicely in the match and to finish strong in the third set. I am happy with the way things turned around for me today”.

It was the world number 88 with the better start to the match and after both players held their opening service games he had two chances to get the early break and took a 2-1 lead. After consolidating the break, the Italian set up another breakpoint with a stunning forehand winner, broke again for a 4-1 lead, and served out the first set.

Auger-Aliassime was keen on getting back into the match and wanted to avoid a second straight upset loss to the Italian. After holding serve in the first game of the second set he had two chances to take an early lead and broke for the 2-0 lead with a forehand up the line of his very own on breakpoint. That was enough for him to serve out the second set and send the match into a decisive third set to decide the winner.

It was the Canadian who repeated what he did in the second set holding the opening service game and breaking Seppi’s serve with a sublime passing shot. The Italian responded the next game by breaking right back but failed to consolidate the break as the world number 15 broke again with his powerful backhand winner.

At 5-2, the Auger-Aliassime found himself at match point and it took him five attempts before being able to convert and seal the match. Avenging a loss he suffered at Roland Garros.

After the match in his post-match press conference, the Canadian was asked if he had the loss to Seppi at the French Open in the back of his mind during the match.

” In a way yes of course because we played once and he beat me and as a player, you never want to go down twice in a row against a player but it happens but in my case, I really wanted to find a way to win that match and get revenge just for myself to try and get the win”. he said.

Auger Aliassime will now face the winner of the second-round match between Jenson Brooksby or Frances Tiafoe in the third round.

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Vasek Pospisil survives scare at Citi Open

The Canadian battled back from a set down in what was a tricky opening encounter.

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Vasek Pospisil was pushed to limits by qualifier Emilio Gomez in his opening match at the Citi Open.

The Canadian required three sets to beat the Ecuadorian qualifier 4-6, 6-3, 6-3 after two hours and 11 minutes of play. He hit a total of 10 aces en route to the second round.

 

” It’s always good to get through a tough one and I felt dialed in during the second set,” said Pospisil. “I was a little bit distracted during the first set but I am glad to get match play and getting the win is important so I am happy I got it done”.

The first three games of the opener went on serve and at 2-1 the Canadian had three chances to take an early break but the world number 165 saved all three and held serve. At 3-3, Pospisil played a poor service game and Gomez took full advantage by breaking him at love. That one break of serve was enough for him to serve out the first set.

The Canadian was determined to stay alive in the second and broke the Ecuadorian early to take a 2-0 lead and managed to turn it into a double break for a commanding 4-0 lead. Gomez got one of the breaks back but it wasn’t enough as the world number 61 would serve out the second set to force a decider.

The third set started with three breaks of serve but it was the Canadian that was finally able to hold serve and consolidate a break. That break was enough for him to serve out the match and complete the comeback.

Pospisil will next face the young American Sebastien Korda in the third round who is the 12th seed this week in the American capital.

” It’s going to be a tough one because he is playing some great tennis this year and he is an up and comer and a great player,” he said of Korda. “I will have to play really well to win that one because he is a dangerous player so I will have to serve well and return well”.

Other results

It was a busy day one at the Citi Open being held at Rock Creek Park in Washington, DC with some thrilling matches. Kei Nishikori beat Sam Querrey in straight sets 6-4, 6-3 and Marcus Giron pulled a three-set comeback against Ilya Marchenko 4-6, 6-4, 7-6.

In the battle of the Belorussians, Ilya Ivashka beat Egor Gerasimov in straight sets 7-5, 6-4. Meanwhile, Jenson Brooksby avenged a loss to the South African Kevin Anderson by beating him in straight sets 7-5, 6-3.

Andreas Seppi needed three sets to dispatch Yasutka Uchiyama of Japan 3-6, 7-5, 6-3, Ricardas Berankis beat the American qualifier Mitchell Kreuger in straight sets 7-6, 6-2, and Daniel Elahi Galan beat another American Tommy Paul in straight sets 6-4, 6-3.

Finally, in the last match of the day an American favourite, Jack Sock advanced to round two after his Japanese opponent Yoshito Nishioka was forced to retire due to injury during their match.

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