Serbian qualifier Filip Krajinovic upset John Isner 6-4 6-7 (2-7) 7-6 (7-5) after 2 hours and 27 minutes to reach the first Masters 1000 final of his career in Paris Bercy at the age of 25.
Krajinovic entered the French tournament with just one match win at Masters 1000 level. The number 77 player has become the lowest ranked player to reach a Masters 1000 final World number 191 Andrei Pavel in 2003 and the first qualifier to advance to the final in this category since Jerzy Janowicz in Paris Bercy 2012.
Kraijnovic came into the semifinal after beating Yuichi Sugita, Sam Querrey and Nicolas Mahut and took advantage of a walkover after Rafa Nadal was forced to withdraw from the semifinal due to a knee injury. Isner reached the semifinal after winning three-set matches against Diego Schwartzman, Grigor Dimitrov and Juan Martin Del Potro.
Krajinovic made just four unforced errors in the first set, but he saved three break points and converted his only break point in the fifth game to take a 3-2 lead, as Isner hit a forehand volley into the net. The young Serbian hit consecutive backhand winners down the line to hold at love for 5-3. He held at love for the second consecutive service game to close out the first set, when Isner sent a forehand into the net after 32 minutes.
In a fifth deuce game Krajinovic hit a forehand wide. Isner came through to hold serve with a backhand volley for 3-2. The US player hit an ace to hold, as he was serving at 4-4.
Both players went on serve with no break points until the tie-break. Isner started the tie-break with ace down the middle and raced out to a 5-0 lead. Krajinovic got his first point on the scoreboard with a second serve ace down the middle. Isner hit two consecutive aces to cruise through to a 7-2 win in the tie-break to force the match to the third set.
Krajinovic saved a break point in the first game of the third set. He came through a tough five-deuce ninth game to hold serve for 5-4. Isner held serve at 15 to force the decider to the tie-break, where Krajinovic reeled off five of the final six points from 2-4 to take a 7-5 win.
Isner got a mini-break on the first point, as Krajinovic made an unforced error. Isner fired his 30th ace to raced out to a 3-0 lead. Krajinovic hit his 12th ace on the fifth point to claw his way back to 2-3. Isner held a 4-2 lead in the tie-break of the final set and was just three points from reaching his second consecutive final in Paris Bercy. Krajinovic got back the mini-break for 3-4, as Isner made a half-volley error. Krajinovic won the next two points to take a 5-4 with backhand down the line and a forehand error from Isner. Krajinovic hit a forehand return to earn a match point and closed out the match with a forehand into the corner.
The Serbian rising star dropped to his knees and kissed the court in joy. His euphoric coach ripped off his shirt to celebrate the incredible win.
Krajinovic, who was ranked world number 234 at the start of the season, will climb to at least number 33 next week, when the the new ATP Rankings will be released.
“The emotions are amazing. When I served for the match my hand was shaking. It was tough to control the emotions. It was the best day in my life but the tournament is not over yet”, said Krajinovic.
Isner fired 91 aces during this week but it was not enough to reach the final. He needed to win the title in Paris Bercy to secure the final qualifying spot for London. Only Jack Sock can overtake Pablo Carreno Busta in eighth place in the ATP Race to London, if he wins in Paris Bercy.
“It was very disappointing. I had an opportunity here to do some things I have never done before. I have been very close in tournaments, especially in Masters events. I just haven’t broken through. This one is going to sting because I knew I was the highest ranked player in the semifinals”, said Isner.
Felix Auger-Aliassime Survives Australian Open Marathon
For a second time this week the Canadian was pushed but managed to win a tough four-set match against his Spanish opponent.
Felix Auger-Aliassime booked his spot in the third round of the Australian Open after beating Alejandro Davidovich Fokina 7-6, 6-7, 7-6, 7-6 in a match that lasted four hours and 20 minutes.
The Montreal native hit 58 winners and served 28 aces while Davidovich Fokina hit 51 unforced errors. It is the second time the 21-year-old has reached the last 32 in Melbourne Park in what is his third appearence.
The first game of the match was a nervy one for the world number nine as it lasted six minutes and it involved him saving two breakpoints before being able to hold serve. The opener stayed on serve until 2-2 when the Fokina came up with an impressive passing shot to set up two more chances for the first break of serve of the match and this time managed to convert. Three games later the Canadian fought back and broke right back to go back on serve.
It was a tiebreak which decided the first set. The Montreal native jumped out to a 3-0 lead before the Spaniard came back again to win the next four points but the Canadian responded again winning three straight points to take the breaker 7-4 and the first set.
The second set was another impressive performance on serve by both players and once again was decided by a back and forth breaker that this time was won by Davidovich Fokina to level the match.
The third frame was much the same as both players kept their level up and not much differentiated the two. This tiebreaker was much more straightforward as the Canadian jumped out to a 5-1 lead before closing out the third set 7-5 and taking two sets to one lead.
The fourth set stayed on serve until 2-1 when the world number 50 had a chance to break and was able to get it for a 3-1 lead before the Canadian was able to break back the following game to go back on serve.
For the fourth time, the set was decided by a tiebreaker and this one was super tight with the Canadian getting the crucial break to take a 4-3 lead and that one break was enough for him to serve it out.
Auger Aliassime will now face Dan Evans in the third round after the Brit was handed a walkover against Frenchman Arthur Rinderknech who pulled out of the match due to injury.
‘Best Feeling I’ve Ever Had’ – Underdog Christopher O’Connell Stuns Schwartzman At Australian Open
Prior to this week the 27-year-old had never won a main draw match at Melbourne Park or beaten a top 20 player.
World No.175 Christopher O’Connell has pulled off a major upset at the Australian Open by knocking out 13th seed Diego Schwartzman.
The 27-year-old wild card had only ever won one match in the main draw of a Grand Slam prior to this year but illustrated the talent that he has with a 7-6, 6-4, 6-4, win over Schwartzman. A player who is currently ranked 162 places above him in the rankings. Against the Argentine he fired a total of 44 winners and won 75% of his first service points on route to claiming his first win over a top 20 player.
“It’s the best feeling I’ve ever had on a tennis court. I’ve been playing tennis since I was four. To have moments like this it’s a dream come true.” O’Connell said during his press conference.
Despite the straightforward score, the match itself was a marathon. The opener alone lasted for almost 90 minutes with the underdog saving three set points whilst down 4-5 before prevailing in the tiebreaker. Then in the following two sets he broke Schwartzman three times in total.
“I knew how crucial that first set was. It was really warming up out there. It was really a battle back and forth. It was crucial to get that first set, especially in the heat,” he said.
A late bloomer on the men’s Tour, the Australian started to make a breakthrough last year by reaching his first quarter-final at the Atlanta Open where he defeated Jannik Sinner. During that year he also reached the final of a French Challenger event before withdrawing due to injury and reached the second round of the US Open.
O’Connell, who has been ranked as high as 111th in the world, credits his coach for helping him reach new milestones in the sport. He is mentored by former player Marinko Matosevic who reached a ranking high of 39th back in 2013 and made more than $2M in prize money during his playing career.
“The process didn’t start yesterday. It’s been happening all of last year,” he stated.
“I’ve been working with Marinko. He’s just really confident with how I want to play tennis now. It’s the first time I’ve really had a one-on-one coach literally every day with me.’
“Marinko was such a great player. All his knowledge of the game, he’s just putting it onto me.”
Next up for O’Connell will be the in-form Maxime Cressy who lost to Rafael Nadal in the final of the Melbourne Summer Set just over a week ago. The American defeated Czech qualifier Tomáš Macháč 6-1, 3-6, 6-1, 7-6(5), in his second round match.
“I knew I had good results in me. It’s just being consistent. I felt today was a consistent match from me,” he reflected.
“But the biggest thing for me is just staying healthy, not having these injuries where I miss two months of tournaments. I nearly missed five or six months last year. I can’t be doing that.’
“The belief is always there, but I just got to make sure my body’s healthy this year. I want to play a full year.”
French Player Tests Positive For COVID-19 Hours After Australian Open Defeat
The world No.40 was preparing to leave the country.
Ugo Humbert is in quarantine after testing positive for COVID-19 following his first round loss at the Australian Open on Tuesday.
Humbert, who was the 29th seed in the men’s draw, is understood to have produced a positive result during a routine procedure players have to conduct before they leave the country. It is unclear as to if he is currently suffering from any symptoms.
Humbert crashed out of the tournament to compatriot Richard Gasquet, who won their match 3-6, 7-6(4), 7-6 (3), 6-3, in three hours and 18 minutes. Gasquet also tested positive for COVID-19 upon arrival in Australia earlier this month but was given the all clear to play at Melbourne Park following a negative test. There was a 15-day period between the 35-year-old announcing on Twitter he had the virus and his first match against Humbert.
“I was tested positive on my exit test yesterday and I’ll stay one more week in isolation in Australia,” Humbert wrote on Instagram.
“Thanks for your support and see you soon.”
The 23-year-old has started his season by winning one out of four matches played. Prior to the Australian Open, he scored one of the biggest wins of his career by defeating Daniil Medvedev at the ATP Cup in the group stages. However, following that victory he suffered losses to Alex de Minaur and Matteo Berrettini.
Tennis Australia is yet to comment on Humbert’s positive test.
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