Alexander Zverev, Dominic Thiem Progress As Defending Champion Querrey Exits Acapulco - UBITENNIS
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Alexander Zverev, Dominic Thiem Progress As Defending Champion Querrey Exits Acapulco

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Alexander Zverev (zimbio.com)

As the highest ranked player left in the draw following Rafael Nadal’s withdrawal, Alexander Zverev has got off to a strong start at the Mexican Open in Acapulco.

 

The world No.5 required 80 minutes to defeat America’s MacKenzie McDonald 6-3, 7-5, in his first round match. Zverev, who is yet to reach the quarter-final of a tournament this season, fired seven aces without dropping his serve once throughout the encounter. The German didn’t have it all his own way as he only managed to convert two of his ten break point opportunities.

Awaiting the 20-year-old in the next round will be Thanasi Kokkinakis. The Australian wildcard dropped just four points behind his first serve as he eased past Alexander Bublik 6-4, 6-3, in just over an hour. The main draw win is Kokkinakis’ first on the ATP World Tour this year.

Second seed Dominic Thiem suffered a scare in his opening match. Taking on British world No.113 Cameron Norrie, the Austrian battled to a 6-3, 5-7, 7-5, win. Thiem had a chance to seal the victory in straight sets, but failed to serve it out whilst leading 6-3, 5-4.

“Yeah very tough match. Should have been over earlier in the second set but didn’t close it out very well,” Thiem told atpworldtour.com. “It went over three sets and ended up a pretty big drama at the end, I would say.
“I was 5-4, 30-15 and then I made some easy forehand mistakes to lose a little bit of my confidence. It shouldn’t’ happen but yeah, what can I do now? The main thing is that I won and that’s all I care about.”

Thiem is now set to take on Canada’s Denis Shapovalov in what will be their first tour meeting. Shapovalov battled his way past a lacklustre Kei Nishikori 6-7 (3), 6-3, 6-1. The Japanese player is on the comeback from a wrist injury and admitted after the match that he is still yet to reach full fitness.

“I played sloppily in key situations,” said 28-year-old Nishikori. “I’m not in 100 percent condition yet. The heat didn’t help and I didn’t feel physically fit. In the third set my serves weren’t landing in and he played better in the end.”

American seeds fall

2017 champion Sam Querrey fell at the first hurdle after crashing out to Matthew Ebden 6-3, 1-6, 7-6(5). The American seventh seed struggled with his second serve as he won only 15 out of 39 points. Querrey was a break up in the deciding set, but was unable to close the match out. It is the third tournament this season where he has gone out in the first round after Auckland and Delray Beach.

Another American casualty was Jack Sock, who continues to struggle on the tour. Since making his debut at the ATP World Tour Finals in London, the 25-year-old has only won one match. His latest loss was at the hands of compatriot Ernesto Escobedo, who triumph 7-5, 7-6(3). Escobedo will face Next Gen star Hyeon Chung next.

Finally. Juan Martin del Potro thrashed Mischa Zverev 6-1, 6-2, in just 61 minutes.

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Stan Wawrinka Parts Way With Long-Time Coach Norman

Stan the man is on the look out for a new coach for the first time in almost a decade.

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It is the end of an era for three-time Grand Slam champion Stan Wawrinka after he announced his split from coach Magnus Norman.

 

The former world No.3 confirmed on Monday that the two have decided to end their collaboration with ‘mutual consent’ following eight years working together on the Tour. Norman was last with Wawrinka at the Italian Open last week where the Swiss player lost his opening match to rising star Lorenzo Musetti. It is unclear as to exactly when the decision was made.

“After 8 great years together Magnus Norman and I have decided to part ways by mutual consent. We have had an amazingly strong, enjoyable and hugely successful partnership. We reached the height of this sport together and I want to thank him for helping me win everything that I could ever dream of winning,” Wawrinka said in a statement posted on Instagram.

44-year-old Norman is a former world No.2 player himself who reached the final of the French Open back in 2000. During his coaching career, he guided Wawrinka to various milestones in his career that includes 13 ATP titles with three of those being at Grand Slam level. The Swede has also been recognized by the ATP for his work with Wawrinka after winning the inaugural Coach of the Year award back in 2016.

“He’s been a great coach, friend and mentor and will always be a dear friend,” Wawrinka said in a tribute.
“I want to publicly thank him for all his hard work, dedication and commitment in making me a better player over the years. Winning three grand slams have been a life changing experience for me and I could not have done that without him. I wish him all the best in his next chapter in his life.”

The announcement from the world No.17 comes a week before the French Open starts. Wawrinka has been training on the clay for the past few weeks after deciding against travelling to North America to play in the US Open. Instead, he played in a couple Challenger events and won a trophy in Prague last month. Overall, he has achieved a win-loss record of 15-3 so far in 2020.

It is unclear as to who will be replacing Norman in Wawrinka’s team.

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Novak Djokovic Survives Krajinovic Battle To Seal Last Eight Berth In Rome

Novak Djokovic reached an 85th Masters 1000 Quarter-Final in Rome.

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Novak Djokovic (@ATPTour - Twitter)

Novak Djokovic survived a tough battle in Rome to beat Filip Krajinovic 7-6(7) 6-3 to reach the last eight.

 

Although the World Number one got the victory, it was a tough battle as he fought his compatriot for a place in the Quarter-Finals.

Breaks were shared to start the match as Krajinovic brought his fearless game to the top seed.

Djokovic created a total of ten break points, with only one executed as Krajinovic saved two set points in the tenth game to hold for 5-5.

After two comfortable holds, a tiebreak settled the winner of the first set as Djokovic was having a hard time to contain Krajinovic’s power.

The world number one battled from 3-0 down to edge the tiebreak 9-7 and win the opening set in 88 minutes.

Once Djokovic had survived the Krajinovic stormed, he took control and went into another gear as a break of serve in the third game was all that was needed to seal his place in the quarter-finals.

Winning 47% of his 2nd return points was key as Djokovic reaches his 85th Masters 1000 Quarter-Final of his career.

Next for Djokovic will be either talented teen sensation Lorenzo Musetti or Dominik Koepfer.

In other results today, Denis Shapovalov and Grigor Dimitrov set a last eight showdown after tight three set wins.

Shapovalov edged out Ugo Humbert 6-7(5) 6-1 6-4 while Dimitrov defeated Jannik Sinner 4-6 6-4 6-4 in a tough match.

There were also third round wins for Casper Ruud and Matteo Berrettini.

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Rafael Nadal Missing Fan Support Despite Emphatic Win At Italian Open

The 19-time Grand Slam winner reacts to his latest win 200 days after his last.

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Rafael Nadal (image via https://twitter.com/InteBNLdItalia)

The absence of a crowd at this year’s Italian Masters has been branded as ‘not beautiful’ by Rafael Nadal following his opening match on Wednesday.

 

The world No.2 raced to a 6-1, 6-1, triumph over US Open semi-finalist Pablo Carreno Busta in what was his first competitive match of any sort since March 1st. Despite his lengthy break from the Tour, Nadal showed little rust as he dropped only eight points behind his serve and broke the world No.18 five times overall. The latest victory is Nadal’s 62nd in Rome and he has only won more matches at four other tournaments.

“Of course I have to improve things. The things that I have to improve, the only way to improve is to keep practising with the right attitude, the right intensity and to spend hours in competition matches,” he said afterwards.
“Today has been a positive start for me,”
Nadal later added.

Choosing to skip the New York bubble due to concerns related to the COVID-19 pandemic, Nadal is still getting used to the concept of playing without the crowds. Something many of his rivals has already had experience of. The Italian Open had originally hoped to allow fans to enter its grounds before the local authorities ruled against it over concerns it could trigger an outbreak of the Coronavirus.

“It’s Not beautiful the feeling of playing without the spectators because the energy of the fans is impossible to describe. But for me, at least, today has been a very positive comeback,” Nadal assessed.

It is a case of wait and see as to how the Spaniard will fare in the coming days given his recent lack of match play compared to his rivals such as Dominic Thiem and Novak Djokovic. Fortunately for Nadal, he is playing on the clay which is a surface which he has won more ATP titles on than any other player in the Open Era. As for the upcoming French Open, will a lack of play in recent weeks be problematic for him?

“I don’t think so, no. If Roland Garros was this week, maybe yes. Roland Garros is two weeks away.” He concluded.

Nadal will next play either Milos Raonic or Dusan Lajovic who will play their second round match on Thursday.

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