ATP Sofia Preview: Grigor Dimitrov highlights home event, injured Kohlschreiber withdraws - UBITENNIS
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ATP Sofia Preview: Grigor Dimitrov highlights home event, injured Kohlschreiber withdraws

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Home fans will no doubt be hoping for a good run from the Bulgarian third seed Grigor Dimitrov (Zimbio.com)

Grigor Dimitrov is arguably the main reason that Bulgaria now has a place on the ATP World Tour, with the Australian Open semi-finalist adding exposure to a country with a limited tennis background in the men’s game.

 

The Bulgarian headlines the tournament that also sees Dominic Thiem, Roberto Bautista Agut and David Goffin participate, in an impressive draw considering there are competing events in Quito and Montpellier.

Draw: (My picks highlighted in bold)

(1) Dominic Thiem – Bye

Nikoloz Basilashvili vs Adrian Mannarino

Marco Chiudinelli vs Qualifier

Andrey Kuznetsov vs (8) Martin Klizan

(3) Grigor Dimitrov – Bye

(PR) Jerzy Janowicz vs Dudi Sela

Robin Haase vs (WC) Dimitar Kuzmanov

(WC) Cem Ikel vs (9) Viktor Troicki

(5) Gilles Muller vs Qualifier

Qualifier vs Qualifier

Bye – Roberto Bautista Agut

(7) Marcos Baghdatis vs Steve Darcis 

Damir Dzumhur vs Andreas Seppi

(WC) Alexandar Lazarov vs Radu Albot

Bye – (2) David Goffin

  • I have yet to select winners in the matches with Qualifiers, as with the identities of some of the players yet to be determined, it would be unfair to speculate. I will note however, that Marco Chiudinelli is in especially poor form so the qualifier that draws him may well have a very good chance.

The tournament draw will Dimitrov need to likely overcome top seed Dominic Thiem if he is to reach the final, whilst Roberto Bautista Agut and David Goffin highlight the bottom half of the draw.

Viktor Troicki moves into a seeding position after Philipp Kohlschreiber withdrew with a back injury. Kohlschreiber had played a tough five-set match with Steve Darcis in the Davis Cup and could be feeling the effects still.

That is way I have gone with Darcis to beat seventh seed Baghdatis, as the Belgian’s stunning wins over Kohlschreiber and Alexander Zverev in the Davis Cup, along with a good run in Australia, all point to career-best form for the thirty-two year old.

Similarly, Andrey Kuznetsov is a good shout to beat Martin Klizan, as Klizan has played few matches in the last four months due to injury. He did take Stan Wawrinka to five sets in the first round of the Australian Open, but Kuznetsov did the same with Kei Nishikori.

Jerzy Janowicz is a tough one to call, but he played well in the Quimper Challenger, taking a set from eventual winner Adrian Mannarino in the quarters so I fancy his chances against Dudi Sela.

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Liam Broady On Why He Wore Rainbow Laces During His Australian Open Match

Following his first round defeat, the Brit spoke about why he believes it is important to speak out in support of the LGBT community.

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Image via https://twitter.com/the_LTA/status/

It is sometimes the small gestures which go a long way and Liam Broady showed that during his first round match at the Australian Open.

 

Taking to the John Cain Arena for his night-time clash against Nick Kyrgios, the qualifier embarked upon a situation he had never experienced before with a boisterous crowd cheering on their home player. At times the atmosphere resembled that a football match with fans drinking beer and chanting Christiano Roinaldo’s ‘siu’ celebration. The reason as to why they were doing that particular chant was unclear.

Broady ended up falling 6-4, 6-4, 6-3, to Kyrgios who will next play the formidable Daniil Medvedev. Throughout the match the world No.128 was wearing rainbow laces and he did so for a special reason.

“I just kind of wanted to send the support. I know obviously within men’s tennis — is it a taboo? I don’t think it’s really a taboo, but I’ve seen questions before about why there aren’t any openly gay men on the tour, and I just wanted to kind of voice my support in that kind of general area,” Broady explained during his press conference.
“And the LGBTQ community, I mean, a lot of those guys have given me a lot of support throughout my career and have been there since day one, so I kind of wanted to give a thank you in my own sort of way.”

The Rainbow Laces initiative was created by LGBT charity Stonewall and initially marketed specifically towards football’s Premier League before later expanding into other sports. The idea is to get players to wear rainbow laces in order to raise awareness of LGBT representation within sport.

https://twitter.com/the_LTA/status/1483379917337534465

Tennis is renowned for having some of the most formidable LGBT athletes over the years with the likes of pioneers such as Billie Jean King and Martina Navratilova who were among some of the first to speak openly about their sexuality. However, on the men’s Tour it is somewhat different. There are currently no openly gay players and only a small handful in the past. Although most of those players, such as Brian Vahaly, came out after retiring from the sport.

“I saw that the first openly gay footballer just came out in Australia (Josh Cavallo) a month or two ago. And it’s difficult, right? I mean, it’s a big thing to do and at the end of the day in the 21st century, it’s pretty rubbish that people don’t feel like they can be openly gay. It’s quite sad, really,” Broady continued.
“Hopefully I will help raise awareness for it and if there are people in the locker rooms and you kind of, you don’t want to force them to come out, you know, especially if they don’t want to. It’s their choice.’
“So you just got to try and support in the way you can and just let them know that everything’s okay.”

It is not the first time the 28-year-old has spoken out about LGBT rights. In 2018 he criticized Margaret Court who likened gay-rights activists to Adolf Hitlef in terms of what she claims is ‘propaganda.’ Court has a history of making anti-LGBT remarks despite insisting that she has nothing against gay people.

Broady says he doesn’t personally know of any gay player on the Tour. Although if there was, he assumed that it would be known because the sport is a ‘pretty leaky ship’ when it comes to having private details revealed online.

On Monday the Australian Open will launch their first ever Pride Day at the tournament.

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Andrey Rublev eases through to the second round at the Australian Open

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Four-time Grand Slam quarter finalist Andrey Rublev eased through to the second round with a 6-3 6-2 6-2 win over Gianluca Mager with 31 winners to 13 unforced errors after 1 hours and 24 minutes at the Australian Open on Margaret Court Arena in Melbourne. 

 

Rublev, who reached the quarter final at the Australian Open in 2021, broke seven times and never trailed in any of the three sets. He hit 13 aces and won 81% of his first serve points. Mager hit 10 aces but he made 37 unforced errors. 

Rublev earned his first break in the third game of the opening set. Mager broke back in the fourth game to draw level to 2-2. Rublev earned two consecutive breaks in the seventh and ninth games to close the first set 6-3. Rublev went up a double break in the sixth and eighth games to take a 4-2 lead in the second set. 

Mager earned two break points in the first game of the third set, but Rublev saved them with two big serves. Rublev broke in the fourth game to take a 3-1 lead. Mager earned a break-back point in the next game, but Rublev saved it at deuce before closing out the third set with a double break in the eighth game. 

Rublev was forced to miss the ATP Cup as he was tested positive to Covid-19. The Russian player will face either Ricardas Berankis or Roberto Carballes Baena. 

“Of course I would have preferred to play the ATP Cup, to feel already these emotions, the nerves during the match, to feel this winning feeling. Of course it’s not easy when you are not playing for a couple of weeks and go straight into one of the best tournaments. You feel a bit double pressure because you don’t know how it’s going to be, but this is life. You cannot control it”, said Rublev. 

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Jannik Sinner cruises through to the Australian Open second round with straight-set over Joao Sousa

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Italian star Jannik Sinner edged Portugal’s Joao Sousa 6-4 7-5 6-1 to advance to the second round at the Australian Open on Kia Arena in Melbourne Park. 

 

Sinner earned his first break in the sixth game of the opening set with a backhand down the line winner. Sousa pulled back on serve in the ninth game, as Sinner was serving for the first set at 5-3.  The five-time ATP Tour titlist earned his second break in the tenth game to close out the first set 6-4. 

Sinner went up an early break to take a 2-0 lead, but Sousa broke straight back in the third game after four consecutive unforced errors from Sinner. The Italian 20-year star sealed the second set with his second break in the 12th game. 

The 2019 Next Gen ATP Finals champion broke twice in a row in the fourth and sixth games to cruise through to a 6-1 win the third set. 

Sinner was not entirely happy with his match despite the straight-set win. 

Sinner hit 31 winners to 31 unforced errors. 

“Of course it was not easy for a first round, especially against a player who has played three matches before. Today was also a little bit windy. I tried to get used to the conditions and everything. I think it was a good first round”, said Sinner. 

Sinner ha improved his seasonal record to 4-0 after his three ATP Cup wins. He will face Steve Johnson in the second round. Sinner leads 2-0 in his previous two head-to-head matches in Rome 2019 and Washington 2021. In their first head-to-head match in Rome Sinner rallied from 2-5 down in the third set and saved a match point to beat Johnson 1-6 6-1 7-5. 

Sinner is aiming to reach the Australian Open third round for the first time in three attempts. 

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