There were mixed emotions for American wildcards in the early matches in the Indian Wells first round. Bjorn Fratangelo managed to score a sensational 6-2, 6-2 win over Bernard Tomic, whilst 6’11 Reilly Opelka suffered a disappointing 6-4, 3-6, 6-1 loss to qualifier Peter Gojowczyk. In a later match, Frances Tiafoe lost in straight sets to the Serbian qualifier Dusan Lajovic 6-3, 6-3.
Fratangelo won a round in Indian Wells last year, defeating Teymuraz Gabashvili, but few would have predicted that he would manage to replicate that effort against Tomic.
Instead, the win was actually more convincing than his win last year, as Fratangelo lost just four games against the Australian. Tomic had lost in the first round of all his events since his third round exit to Dan Evans at the Australian Open, with the Memphis defeat against Darian King particularly damaging. He was also forced to retire against Donald Young in his last event.
Fratangelo dominated the first set, breaking twice and dropping just five points on his own serve, saving the one break point that Tomic created. The second set was closer, even if the score turned out the same as the first. Tomic was able to win fifteen points against the Fratangelo serve. However, it yielded just two break points, and Tomic failed to take either of them. In comparison, Fratangelo earned a respectable two breaks from four opportunities.
Fratangelo will now meet Tomas Berdych in the second round, whom he last met in the 2015 US Open, losing to the Czech in straight sets on that occasion. Berdych is in indifferent form however, so Fratangelo may fancy his chances.
Reilly Opelka could not make it two from two for Americans in the early matches, as the tall teenager went down to German qualifier Peter Gojowczyk.
Opelka suffered from a poor start, broken in the first game after conceding a number of errors. Gojowczyk, was broken in the second, with Opelka aided by three consecutive double-faults. The tall American then held to take the match to a decider.
A near mirror image happened in the third game, as from a comfortable position, consecutive double-faults put Gojowczyk in trouble. The German saved a break point to hold for 2-1, and he did not drop another game. Opelka helped his cause with his own pair of double-faults, and the American was broken again trailing 1-4 as Gojowczyk snuffed out any chance of a comeback, before serving out the win to fifteen.
It was Gojowczyk’s Masters 1000 main draw debut, and he will be delighted with the win, adding at least 25 ATP ranking points to the 16 he earned in qualifying.
Gojowczyk will next face Pablo Carreno Busta in the second round.
Dusan Lajovic got off to a fast start in his first round match with Frances Tuafoe. The Serbian won the first four games at a canter. Tiafoe retrieved one of the breaks to make the scoreline respectable, but could draw level. Tiafoe did at least start the second set well, breaking in the first game. Lajovic immediately won it back, and would break again for a surprising win given the form of the two players coming into this match.
In other Indian Wells news, Roger Federer is not looking any further than his second round meeting with either Stephane Robert or Dudi Sela, despite the focus on who he could meet in the third or fourth rounds.
Dominic Thiem reaches his first quarter final at the Australian Open
Dominic Thiem eased past Gael Monfils 6-2 6-4 6-4 after 1 hour and 50 minutes on the Rod Laver Arena in Melbourne to reach the quarter final at the Australian Open. Thiem has extended his winning streak to 6-0 in his head-to-head matches against Monfils.
He fought back from two sets to one down to beat Australia’s Alex Bolt in the second round, but he won eight of his past nine sets to advance to the quarter finals.
Thiem got two breaks in the first set and never faced a single break point in the entire match. The Austrian player converted his fourth break point after three deuces, as Monfils missed a backhand volley wide. Thiem started the third set with an early break in the first game, as Monfils hit an inside-out forehand wide from the middle of the court wide. Thiem won his next service games and held his final game at love.
Thiem will face Rafael Nadal in a re-match of last year’s Roland Garros final.
“I think that I played my best match so far at this year’s Australian Open. It’s a very good feeling. The score looks way easier than the match was. I think I was lucky to make an early break in each set and I was managing to hold my serve well. I am so happy because I am in the quarter final here for the first time”, said Thiem.
Alexander Zverev tops Andrey Rublev to set Australian Open quarter final against Stan Wawrinka
Alexander Zverev beat his friend Andrey Rublev 6-4 6-4 6-4 in one hour and 37 minutes to reach the quarter final at the Australian Open for the first time in his career and his third at Grand Slam level.
Zverev broke serve once in each set. The German player has not dropped a set at this year’s edition of the Australian Open.
Zverev ended Rublev’s 15-match winning streak. Rublev had not lost a match since October, winning four matches at the Davis Cup last November and back-to-back titles in Doha and Adelaide.
In the opening set Zverev earned his first break at 3-3, as Rublev hit a forehand into the net. He held his serve to consolidate the break and wrapped up the first set after 29 minutes, when Rublev hit a crosscourt backhand wide.
Zverev started the second set with an immediate break in the first game of the second set and closed it out with a hold at love with an ace after 29 minutes.
Zverev broke serve for the third time in the match in the ninth game of the third set to take a 5-4, when Rublev made a groundstroke error, and sealed the win with a forehand volley.
“It feels amazing. I played some great matches against some great opponents. This is Andrey’s first loss of the season, having won two tournaments and getting through to the fourth round with unbelievable tennis. I have known Andrey since we were ten years old. I think he will be top 15, top 10 very soon. I am just happy and I hope I can continue”,said Zverev.
Zverev will face Stan Wawrinka in the quarter final. The German star beat Wawrinka twice in their previous two head-to-head matches in St. Petersburg 2016 and Miami 2017.
Stan Wawrinka edges Danil Medvedev in a five-set thriller to reach the quarter final at the Australian Open
Three-time Grand Slam champion Stan Wawrinka reached the quarter final at the Australian Open for the fifth time in his career with a 6-2 2-6 4-6 7-6 (7-2) 6-2 win over fourth seed and 2019 US Open finalist Danil Medvedev after 3 hours and 25 minutes. Wawrinka qualified for the last eight for the first time since 2017.
Wawrinka earned his first break in the fourth game, when Medvedev sent his backhand long. Wawrinka did not convert two more break points in the sixth game before breaking for the second time at love to close out the opening set 6-2 after 32 minutes. Wawrinka won 85% of his first serve points and hit 16 winners to 8 unforced errors in the opening set.
Medvedev broke in the third game of the second set to open up a 3-1 lead, when Wawrinka netted his forehand. The Russian player clinched the second set with three service winners at 5-2 to level the score.
Medvedev broke serve in the seventh game of the third set after a backhand error from Wawrinka and closed out the set with a service winner in the 10th game.
Wawrinka wasted a break point in the fourth game of the fourth set. Both players traded service holds en route to the tie-break. Wawrinka earned an immediate mini-break to open up a 3-0 lead in the tie-break. The former Australian Open champion hit a half-volley winner to cruise to a 5-2 lead and converted his first set point, when Medvedev netted a backhand in the ninth point.
Wawrinka broke Medvedev at 15 in the first game of the fifth set and saved three break points at 2-1. Wawrinka went up a double break in the seventh game and forced an error from Medvedev to wrap up the match, as he was serving for the win in the eighth game.
Wawrinka set up a quarter final against Alexander Zverev, who beat Andrey Rublev 6-4 6-4 6-4. Zverev beat Wawrinka twice in their two head-to-head matches in St. Petersburg 2016 and Miami 2017.
“That was an amazing match and an amazing atmosphere. It was really tough to play against Danil. It was really tough to play against Danil. I had to raise my level in the fourth and fifth sets. The level was super high and the atmosphere is something special here in Australia. I am finding solutions. I was losing a bit of confidence in the second and third sets, and was fighting against myself to play my game. I had to fight, stay positive and I am happy with the result”,said Wawrinka.
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