Pablo Cuevas celebrated reaching his first Masters 1000 quarterfinal after defeating last year’s semifinalist David Goffin 6-3, 3-6, 6-3 in Indian Wells. The Uruguayan set up a clash with another first time quarterfinalist in the form of Pablo Carreno Busta, who saw off Dusan Lajovic 6-4, 7-6(5)
Both Cuevas and Carreno Busta made strong starts, needing just the one break of serve to help secure their opening sets respectively. Goffin bounced back against the Uruguayan to force a decider, but the 27th seed made a pivotal breakthrough in the sixth game to help secure victory. Meanwhile the 21st seeded Spaniard squandered an early second set lead against Lajovic but recovered from 5-3 down in the tiebreak to see off the Serb.
Cuevas Shocks Goffin 6-3, 3-6, 6-3
Cuevas looked in complete control of his game early on, capitalising on errors from his Belgian opponent to break the 11th seed to love midway through the set. Holding serve was routine for the 27th seed as he sealed the set with an ace after exactly half an hour.
In the second set the Uruguayan dropped his opening service game after back to back unforced errors. The seventh game saw Goffin under pressure at 30-30 on serve but the 11th seed won a 17 shot rally with an overhead to hold for a 5-2 lead.
When serving for set, a double fault and sprayed forehand left Goffin facing break point. The Belgian saved it with a strong first serve, but sprayed another forehand wide to face a second break point. The 11th seed showed great discipline in the next point, closing with a cross court forehand winner back behind his opponent before a mishit one handed backhand flew long from Cuevas to secure the second set for Goffin 6-3.
Cuevas faced the first pressure which either player had faced on serve in the fifth game of the final set, getting pushed to 30-30. Goffin narrowly missed an attempted backhand cross court winner wide, allowing the Uruguayan to keep his nose in front in the set. After missing that, a couple of errors from the 11th seed left him having to save a break point of his own. His opponent broke down in an extended rally to spurn the chance but earned another opportunity to make a crucial breakthrough. It was a chance which the 27th seed duly took, forcing Goffin into an error to move two games away from a maiden Masters 1000 quarterfinal.
Cuevas closed out the match with a strong second serve, much to his delight as he let out a roar to celebrate a landmark win in the 31-year-old’s career.
Carreno Busta Sees Off Lajovic 6-4, 7-6(5)
In the opening match on Stadium 2 Carreno Busta ended the qualifier Lajovic’s excellent run in the desert. The 21st seed had only played one match prior to this encounter having received a bye in the first round and due to Roberto Bautista Agut’s injury withdrawal in the previous round. By contrast, his opponent had already come through the qualifying and had played six matches, three of which went to three sets.
The huge difference in the two players court time looked to be an important factor early on as Carreno Busta broke in the fifth game. The Spaniard was exceptional when serving, dictating the play after dropping just one point behind his first serve (93%) and only losing one point behind his second serve too (86%). That form allowed him to wrap up a routine first set, which he finished with a forehand winner to take it 6-4.
Lajovic looked a beaten man as he dropped serve in the opening game of the second set. However, that set back spurred him on as the Serb broke back after finding more joy in returning his opponent’s serve, taking three points on the first serve and six points on the second over the course of the set.
After a series of holds Lajovic moved close to forcing a decider at 30-30 on Carreno Busta’s serve when leading 5-4. An attempted cross court backhand pass from the Serb narrowly went wide and the 21st seed was able to escape with the hold.The Spaniard had a half chance of his own in the following game at deuce but missed a guilt edged chance after his attempted forehand cross court winner struck the net.
The second set went into a tiebreak and the match looked set to go the distance following errors from the 21st seed, which saw him squander a 2-0 advantage to quickly find himself 5-3 down. With Lajovic on the verge, Carreno Busta raised his level, nailing a backhand down the line winner to stay in touch before serving strongly to reach match point. The Serb went wide with an attempted slice backhand, securing a quarterfinal spot for the 25-year-old.
Daniil Medvedev Ousts Former Quarter-Finalist Tiafoe, Kyrgios Reigns Supreme At Australian Open
Both players endured a testing start to their campaigns at Melbourne Park.
Two players tipped to fill in the void when the big three of men’s tennis departs from the sport have got off to a winning start at the Australian Open.
US Open runner-up Daniil Medvedev manoeuvred his way past a tricky encounter with Frances Tiafoe. Who reach the last eight of the tournament 12 months ago in what is his best grand slam performance to date. Despite the threat posed, Medvedev held his nerve to prevail 6-3, 4-6, 6-4, 6-2, on the premier Rod Laver Arena. The night-time encounter saw the Russian fired 13 aces and 42 winners past Tiafoe en route to the second round.
“It was a really tough match. I think it was a bit up and down from both of us.” Medvedev said during his on-court interview.
“I’m really happy to win because the first round is never easy. Especially against Frances, who was in the quarters last year.”
Medvedev, who turns 24 next month, has been labelled as one of potential players who can end the reign of Roger Federer and Co by winning a grand slam title this season. Last year he claimed 59 wins on the ATP Tour, which was more than any other player. During his breakthrough season he clinched his first two Masters titles as well as a duo of ATP 250 events.
Despite his victory, the world No.4 was far from contempt when it came to his latest performance. Medvedev dropped serve at least once in every set played and also leaked 35 errors. The same amount of mistakes as Tiafoe.
“There were many moments during the match where I felt I was getting momentum and then he came back.” He reflected.
“I think I can do many things better, but for the first round it’s a big win and I’m really happy.’
“I didn’t like my serve today to be honest. But hopefully I can do better in the next round, otherwise I will be in trouble.”
Kyrgios Topples Italian rival
Taking to the court at the same time as Medvedev, Nick Kyrgios also experienced a tricky start to his title bid in Melbourne. Seeded 23rd in the draw this year, the home favourite roared his way to a 6-2, 7-6(3), 7-6(1), win over Italy’s Lorenzo Sonego. Claiming his fourth tour win of the season following his trio of singles victories at the ATP Cup earlier this month.
“I was just excited to get out here. It has been a pretty emotional couple of months for all of us,’ Kyrgios commented in reference to the ongoing bushfire crisis in Australia.
“I just wanted to come out here and put on a good performance.”
Kyrgios has been one of the driving forces behind Tennis Australia’s series of fundraisers to support the bushfire appeal. He has pledged to donate $200 for every ace he produces during the Australian Open. Working out at $2800 from his latest match along after firing 14 past Sonego. Overall, Kyrgios won an impressive 87% of his first service points during the 135-minute clash.
“I feel good. I’m not looking ahead in the draw at all.” Kyrgios stated.
“Everyone can play in the draw, they are all capable. So I’m just going to take it one match at a time.” He added.
During his on-court interview, John McEnroe make an unexpected announcement. The former world No.1 has said he will donate $1000 for every set Kyrgios wins in the remainder of the tournament to the bushfire appeal. Prompting a huge cheer from the crowd.
Both Medvedev and Kyrgios will play their second round matches on Thursday.
Ernests Gulbis upsets Felix Auger Aliassime to advance to the second round in Melbourne
World number 256 Ernests Gulbis upset Canadian Next Gen star Felix Auger Aliassime 7-5 4-6 7-6 (7-4) 6-4 to reach the second round at the Australian Open at Melbourne Park.
Auger Aliassime was the second Canadian Next Gen player to lose in the first round at this year’s edition of the Australian Open after his compatriot Denis Shapovalov was defeated by Hungary’s Marton Fucsovics on Monday.
Auger Aliassime started the 2020 season with just one win in four matches at the ATP Cup, but he reached the semifinal in Adelaide last week, losing to eventual champion Andrey Rublev in three sets.
Auger Aliassime earned the first game in the ninth game at 30 to take a 5-4 lead, but Gulbis broke twice in the 10th and 12th game to win the first set 7-5. In the second set Auger Aliassime saved three break points in both the eighth and tenth games and broke in the ninth game at deuce to seal the second set 6-4.
In the third set Auger Aliassime saved four break points to hold his serve at deuce in the fourth game to draw level to 2-2. Gulbis fended off a break point in the fifth and eleventh games before winning the tie-break 7-4.
Gulbis earned an early break in the first game of the opening set. Auger Aliassime broke back in the third game and held his serve at deuce to draw level to 2-2 after saving two break points. Gulbis broke for the second time in the fifth game and held his next service games to close out the fourth set 6-4.
“Every time you come to Australia the main goal is the Aussie Open, so it’s not good. That’s what the result show, but at the same time I am staying calm and positive because I feel I am not far from playing well and winning matches”,said Felix Auger Aliassime.
Dominic Thiem beats Adrian Mannarino to reach the second round in Melbourne for the fifth consecutive year
Fifth seed and last year’s Roland Garros finalist Dominic Thiem beat Adrian Mannarino 6-3 7-5 6-2 to extend his winning record in his head-to-head against the French player to 8-0. The Austrian player hit 36 winners to 34 unforced errors. Thiem set up a second round match against either Albert Ramos Vinolas or Australian wild card Alex Bolt.
Thiem earned the first break in the fourth game to open up a 3-1 lead. Mannarino fended off two break points in the eighth game while he was serving at 2-5, but Thiem sealed the first set 6-3 on his third set point after a 27-shot rally.
Thiem went up a set and a break in the fifth game to take a 3-2 lead, but Mannarino pulled the break back to draw level to 4-4, as Thiem sent a forehand long. Thiem got his second break in the 11th game to take a 6-5 lead after a 28-shot rally and reeled off 12 of the last 14 points to clinch the second set 7-5.
Thiem started the third set with an early break and won 16 of the first 20 points to seal the win after 2 hours and 21 minutes. The 2019 ATP Finals runner-up reached the Australian Open second round for the fifth consecutive year.
Thiem leads 2-1 in his three head-to-head matches against Ramos Vinolas, but the Spaniard won their only clash on hard-court in Chengdu four years ago.
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