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.
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.
Stefanos Tsitsipas cruises past Kevin Anderson to reach the third round at the Western and Southern Open in New York
Last year’s ATP Finals champion Stefanos Tsitsipas cruised past two-time Grand Slam finalist Kevin Anderson 6-1 6-3 after 69 minutes to advance to the third round at the Western and Southern Open in New York.
Tsitsipas came into his match against Anderson with a a 2-1 lead in their three previous head-to-head matches in 2018. The young Greek player beat his South African rival in the Round of 16 in Estoril (6-7 6-3 6-3) and in the Rogers Cup semifinal (6-7 6-4 7-6 after saving a match point). Anderson scored his only win in the Round of 16 in Shanghai (6-4 7-6).
“I think the fact that I kept my serve very aggressive and I remained aggressive with my groundstrokes helped a lot and I am pleased that I was able to maintain my game throughout the entire match, the same intensity. It was an excellent first set. It was great”, said Tsitsipas.
Tsitsipas broke four times and fended off three break points he faced. Tsitsipas broke three times in a row to win the first set 6-1. At 2-2 in the second set Tsitsipas went down 0-40 on his serve. Anderson hit a forehand return, but Tsitsipas recovered with a passing shot. Tsitsipas saved three break points to hold his serve at love in the fifth game and broke serve at 15 in the eighth game after Anderson made a double fault.
“The fifth game was crucial. Being able to come back there and maintain the focus that I focus that I needed to be back in the match and not be a break down, that was a very good effort from me. It was my fighting spirit that turned on and my service points there were incredible”, said Tsitsipas. Tsitsipas will face either John Isner or John Millman in the third round.
2020 US Open: ATP Players Presented With Three Options, Decision Time Approaches
The USTA explained their working hypotheses: Cincinnati would come at the expense of the qualifying tournament. All players to be hosted in a hotel at JFK airport
No ground-breaking news were revealed on Wednesday during the conference call organized by the ATP for all its players. Almost 400 members participated to the call, where CEO Andrea Gaudenzi and Chairman Massimo Calvelli presented the various options on the table for the US Open and the Cincinnati Masters 1000.
The newly appointed US Open Tournament Director, Stacey Allaster, was invited to present the three options available:
- The US Open and the Masters 1000 to be played at Flushing Meadows, but this would require the cancellation of the qualifying tournament and the downsizing of the doubles draw to 24 couples;
- The cancellation of Cincinnati with the US Open maintaining the qualifying draw and a full-size doubles event;
- The cancellation of both Cincinnati and the US Open.
The US Open prize money will be maintained at 95% of 2019 levels, which still means an increase over 2018; the cancellation of Cincinnati would result in a 2 million dollar saving for the USTA, and the money would likely be distributed among the players who were not allowed to compete in the qualifying tournament.
All players and allowed entourage will be hosted at the TWA Hotel, located near Terminal 5 at JFK Airport. The hotel, opened in May 2019, has been build repurposing the iconic Eero Saarinen building that was Trans World Airlines’ terminal between 1962 and 2001. All 512 rooms will be occupied by players and staff of the US Open, and the property claims to be the hotel with the biggest gym in the world.
The distance between the hotel and Flushing Meadows would be comparable to the distance from the traditional Manhattan hotels, but obviously the ambiance would be significantly different, since players would most likely be “prisoners” of the TWA hotels during their days off and outside their practice sessions.
It has been revealed that each player would be able to designate up to two members of his staff to accompany him, provided these two members share a room at the TWA hotel and only one of them travels with the player to Flushing Meadows.
Players would now need to evaluate the options and communicate their preference to the USTA. ATP President Gaudenzi confirmed during the call that players unwilling to travel to New York would not be penalized ranking-wise should the tournament go ahead.
A final decision is expected by 15 June.
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