We now know our semifinalists from both the women’s and men’s draws at the Aegon Open following a busy day of action at the Nottingham Tennis Centre. Here is a complete roundup of all the singles results on day five.
In the opening quarterfinal of the day Johanna Konta kept her strong run going on home soil with another straight sets win this time over Ashleigh Barty 6-3, 7-5. The top seed’s depth with her groundstrokes in tricky conditions gave her a good start against her Australian opponent, with two breaks of serve helping her take the first set. The world number eight went down a break early in the second set but rallied back and despite having two match points in the 10th game and managed to hang in and secure victory in the 12th. The Brit is looking in great form and is yet to drop a set in the tournament.
The top seed will now face Magdalena Rybarikova in Saturday’s semifinal after she saw off qualifier Kristie Ahn comfortably 6-4, 6-1. Ahn was playing just the eleventh match of her entire career on grass and had not played on the surface until this year. Despite hanging with her opponent for the opening eight games she only won one game thereafter. Rybarikova gained the break and served out the set but fell down a break immediately in the second. The Slovakian responded swiftly to win five games in a row to have the chance to serve for the match. The American had three break back points to keep her slim hopes alive, but Rybarikova did not let her off the hook and wrapped up victory in one hour and 18 minutes.
Lucie Safarova won the best women’s quarterfinal of the day taking down Tsvetana Pironkova in three sets 6-3, 0-6, 6-4. The fifth seed was far the better player in the opening set and broke the Bulgarian’s serve twice to make the perfect start. It was a complete role reversal in the second set and at the beginning of the decider as Pironkova took eight games in a row to go favourite to win the match. Safarova showed her class and fought back brilliantly to take a 4-2 lead in the final set and resisted a comeback from her opponent in the latter stages to advance to the last four.
Lying in wait for her is 20-year-old Donna Vekic after she reached her first semifinal of the year, defeating Maria Sakkari in straight sets 6-2, 6-3. The Croatian made a really fast start in this quarterfinal and raced into a 5-0 lead against her opponent who appeared to be struggling physically. Sakkari hit back and capitalised on a dip in play from the world number 70, but could only take back two games before the former Birmingham finalist secured the opening set. The Greek made the better start in the second set, taking a 2-0 lead, but her higher-ranked opponent hit back to level and then saved a break point to move ahead 3-2. Vekic broke Sakkari once more in the eighth game and closed out the match on her own serve on her third match point.
Second seed Marius Copil has dealt with the pressure of being the highest ranked player in the draw well this week and continued to impress following his straight sets win over Bjorn Fratangelo 7-6(5), 6-4. The Romanian was not broken throughout the match, firing down 13 aces and winning 83% of points behind his first serve on his way to victory.
Third seed Dudi Sela broke British hearts in the final match of the day after he dismissed Lloyd Glasspool 6-2, 7-6(4). Sela took command early on with an immediate break of serve but the Brit had his chances with break point opportunities when down 2-0 and 3-1. Glasspool was unable to capitalise and was punished after being broken again when serving to stay in the set. It was the wildcard who got off to a better start in the second set, breaking in the fifth game but that advantage only lasted one game. Glasspool broke again and served for the set at 5-4, even earning a set point but could not take advantage. Sela came back strongly to secure the win in the tiebreak.
Fourth seed Thomas Fabbiano recovered from a set down to seal a semifinal place, defeating Sergiy Stakhovsky 4-6, 6-2, 7-6(5) in a match which lasted just shy of two hours. In a match which went all the way the Ukrainian hit an amazing 25 aces but still ended up on the losing side against the Italian. What proved to be Stakhovsky’s downfall was his percentage of points won behind his second serve, down at just 38%. Making 79% of his first serves was enough to help Fabbiano get over the line and reach the last four.
Sam Groth is still going strong in Nottingham with his latest victory coming over compatriot John-Patrick Smith 7-6(6), 6-2. Having come through qualifying, Groth only lost two points behind his first serve all match and only faced the one break point which he saved to secure victory in one hour and 16 minutes.
Looking Ahead To Day Six
It will be semifinals day and the action is not to be missed in Nottingham! All four semifinals take place on Centre Court tomorrow starting with Groth v Fabbiano, followed by the women’s semifinals finishing with the men’s doubles final.
It is also worth mentioning that four Brits are still involved in the women’s doubles. The all British pairing of Laura Robson and Jocelyn Rae open up against Heather Watson and her partner Christina Mchale. That match on Court 1 will be followed by Konta and her partner Yanina Wickmayer taking on Monique Adamczak and Storm Sanders from Australia.
Roberto Bautista Agut reaches his second career final in Doha
Roberto Bautista Agut reached the second final of his career at the Qatar Exxon Mobil with a 6-3 6-3 win over defending champion Andrey Rublev.
Bautista Agut broke serve in the fourth game with a forehand winner to open up a 3-1 lead and held on his next service games to close out the first set 6-3 after 29 minutes.
The Spaniard started the second set with an early break. Rublev broke straight back in the second game and won his next two service games to take a 3-2 lead. Bautista Agut saved two break points to hold serve before getting two consecutive breaks to claim the second set 6-3.
Rublev was playing his first match this week after two walkovers. The Russian player claimed the ABN AMRO World Tennis Tournament in Rotterdam last week.
“It was very difficult to play tennis today, with the windy conditions, but I put a lot of pressure on his second serve and played really good tennis. I played a long match yesterday against Dominic Thiem, but I felt fresh and I had a lot of power on the court. This is one of my favourite tournaments. I played one of my best matches here in Qatar two years ago, and I hope I can win one more match tomorrow”, said Bautista Agut.
Bautista Agut set up a final against Nikoloz Basilashvili, who beat Taylor Fritz 7-6 (7-3) 6-1.
Basilashvili, who beat Roger Federer in the quarter final, rallied from one break down to win the tie-break of the first set 7-3. The Georgian player broke twice in the second and sixth games to close out the second set 6-1. “To reach the final means a lot. I am playing well and I am relaxed. It’s great to play in front of a crowd and a nice atmosphere”, said Basilshvili.
Andy Murray defeated in the final of the Biella Challenger
The former world number was runner-up to the Ukrainian Ilya Marchenko. Both will feature in next week’s event in the same location
Andy Murray suffered a surprising defeat in the final of this week’s tournament in Biella. Playing his second Challenger event in 16 years (the other one occurred in Mallorca in 2019 when, limping on a battered hip, he lost against Matteo Viola in the eighth of finals). Before today’s runner-up finish, he had played twice against his opponent, Illya Marchenko from Ukraine (N.212 in the ATP Rankings), both times at the Australian Open, in 2011 and 2017 respectively, winning both times.
But it was the Ukrainian who got off to a flying start, while the Scotsman looked a bit cumbersome and immediately lost his serve, giving a nice boost of confidence to his opponent, who broke his serve once more in the fifth game, taking a 4-1 lead. Murray couldn’t control his changes of pace, while Marchenko was pretty much spotless. The 6-2 score in his favour was the logical consequence, as confirmed by the numbers, which saw him win 83% of points on his first serve (against a meagre 53% for Murray), with no break points allowed.
In the first game of the second set, Marchenko immediately leapt ahead, breaking the Brit’s serve and even earning a chance for a 3-0 lead. Murray managed to stay close and started to play in a more conservative way, with great humility, in an attempt to reduce the number of unforced errors. Murray saved a match point at 3-5 with his second serve, exploiting Marchenko’s clumsiness with the backhand, but couldn’t do the same on the return, conceding defeat at the third match point. must defend with the second. Luckily for him, Marchenko is a bit clumsy in his preparation steps and puts up a not particularly difficult backhand. The former world number one will try to exact revenge in the same location starting tomorrow, as a Challenger 125 will take place once more in Biella, with players like Lorenzo Musetti (the seventh seed), Alejandro Davidovich Fokina (ATP N.54) and Sebastian Korda (N.88).
Report by Massimo Gaiba; edited by Tommaso Villa
ATP announces five-week ATP Challenger calendar for 2021
The ATP has issued a five-week schedule for the start of the 2021 ATP Challenger Tour, which is scheduled to launch on 18th January with a 125-event in Istanbul. The Turkish city celebrates its 31st consecutive year on the Challenger Tour.
Turkey will host three consecutive tournaments at the start of the season. Istanbul will host a hard court tournament from 18th January. The tour will move to the seaside town of Antalya, the venue of two clay tournaments on 25th January 2021 and 1st February 2021.
The week of 25 Januray will be the first of back-to-back Challenger events in Antalya and an indoor hard-court tournament in the French town of Quimper.
France will host two more indoor tournaments, the 125-level tournament in Orleans (1 February) and the 28th edition of Cherbourg (8 February).
Cherbourg will be held in the same week as hard-court tournaments in Biella in Italy and Potchefstroom in South Africa. Biella will also host a 125-level tournament in the following week on 15 February. Potchefstroom will host a second consecutive tournament on 15 February. Challenger-level tournaments will feature 32 singles players and qualifying draws with 16 players.
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