Carreno Busta into the semi-finals with nail-biting victory over Anderson - UBITENNIS
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Carreno Busta into the semi-finals with nail-biting victory over Anderson

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Pablo Carreno Busta threw his racket into the air in relief as well as celebration after seeing off his longtime nemesis Kevin Anderson, 6-4 5-7 7-6(6) to move into the semi-finals of the Miami Open today on Crandon Park Stadium court.

 

Miami Open 2018 - Day 11

The 16th seeded Spaniard came into the match with a 0-4 head to head record against the tall South African, with the last defeat taking place just two weeks ago at Indian Wells 4-6 6-3 7-6(6). This time he would not be denied, fighting off a match point in the final set tiebreak having already squandered two in the second set an hour or so earlier.

Carreno Busta took the opening set in 43 minutes by breaking the 6th seeded Anderson in the seventh game to love with a running forehand pass up the line which the lunging South African was unable to control on the backhand volley, and then closing out the set 6-4 on serve with an ace up the centre.

Although Anderson went ahead 2-0 in the second set, courtesy of a double fault on break point by the Spaniard, he dropped his serve immediately when Carreno Busta set up two break points by ripping a forehand cross court pass and converting two points later when Anderson netted a backhand.

With the momentum firmly in his favour, the Spaniard broke again to go ahead 3-2; nailing a backhand up the line into the open court on break point.

It looked as if a comfortable straight sets victory for the Spaniard was going to be a formality as he served 6-4 5-4 40-15, but the stubborn South African was having none of it as he saved both match points in quick succession. A forehand cross court pass followed by a backhand return up the line that had Carreno Busta in all kinds of trouble as his forehand, hit off balance, sent the ball sailing over the baseline brought the score back to deuce. Anderson set up break point with a forehand cross court winner, and the Spaniard’s mishit forehand found the net to bring the score to 5-5.

With Anderson holding comfortably for 6-5, the tension in the serving arm of the nervous Spaniard was palpable as he served two double faults to lose the 53 minute set, 7-5.

Games went with serve in the final set, with the only break point coming at 4-4 on the Anderson serve, set up with an amazing sliced forehand cross court pass played at full stretch by Carreno Busta, followed by a backhand cross court pass. The South African extricated himself with a service winner on break point and held for 5-4 with an ace.

Going into the final set breaker, there was little to choose between the two, but it was Anderson who got the first mini break to go ahead 2-1, but with cries of “Vamos Pablo!” ringing in his ears, the Spaniard hit straight back, turning around a 3-5 deficit with a run of two points for 5-5. However, when his backhand went long to hand Anderson a match point, thoughts of Indian Wells must have come flooding back.

On match point, Anderson got the short return, but hit his forehand long to the delight of the Carreno Busta fans. The Spaniard set up his third match point with a backhand volley winner, and clinched the match when Anderson’s mishit backhand return found the first row.

“Last time I lost to him 7-6 in the final set and today I started playing really good, returning good and serving good, being very aggressive”, Carreno Busta said. “When I served for the match in the second set at 40-15, he played some very good points; passing shots and returning really good, hitting winners with his forehand, and after that it was a very tough moment for me to lose the second set. But I continued fighting on court and at the end of the match I saved a match point and finally I won. I’m very happy with the victory because it’s very important to me to get this victory against him and also to be in the semi-finals.”

The Spaniard owed the victory as much to his fighting spirit as to the support he received from his fans on the stadium court. “When I lost the second set, I was feeling a little bit tired at the beginning of the final set”, he said. “It was the crowd who started to shout “Vamos Pablo!” and at 3-3 I started to believe in myself again, in my game, and I think 50 percent of the victory is because of them.”

The stats show that there was very little to choose between them, with Carreno Busta winning one more point (106/211) than Anderson (105/211). His break point conversion rate was less impressive however,  (3/10) 30% compared to Anderson (3/4) 75%. Anderson won hands down in the ace department with 14 unreturnables against just 6 from the Spaniard.

 

 

 

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Fabio Fognini wins epic five-set match against Jordan Thompson

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Fabio Fognini battled past local favourite Jordan Thompson 7-6 (7-4) 6-1 3-6 4-6 7-6 in an epic five set match to score his five-set win at this year’s edition of the Australian Open.

 

The first set went on serve in the first five games. Fognini earned the first game in the sixth game, but Thompson broke back to draw level to 4-4. Fognini won the tie-break 7-4 after saving two set points in the 10th game.

Fognini earned an early break in the second game of the second set with a forehand passing shot. The Italian star went up a double break at 15 to race out to a 4-0 lead and closed out the second set 6-1 on his second set point.

Thompson saved two break points in the first game of the third set before breaking serve in the second game to open up a 3-0 lead. The Australian player saved a break point at deuce in the ninth game and held his serve to win the third set 6-3.

Both players went on serve with no break points in the first four games of the fourth set. Thompson converted his only break point in the fifth game and held his serve at 15 to open up a 4-2 lead. The home player did not look back in the next games to win the fourth set 6-4 forcing the match to the fifth set.

Fognini started the fifth set with a hold at love. The fifth set went on serve with no break points until the eighth game when Fognini earned the first break point of the set, but Thompson saved it at deuce to draw level to 4-4. Fognini earned his first match point at 5-4 with a forehand down the line. Thompson saved it with a big ace down the middle.

Thompson fended off another match point with a forehand down the line before holding serve after five deuces to draw level to 5-5. Fognini earned two consecutive match points, but Thompson saved them to force a super tie-break. Thompson made a forehand error at 1-1, but Fognini  double faulted. Fognini took a 7-3 lead after two unforced errors from Thomson. Fognini sealed the fifth set 10-4 with a backhand down the line after 4 hours and 5 minutes. Fognini will face Argentina’s Guido Pella.

“It was a good fight. It was amazing. It’s perfect. I feel good. I am tired for sure. I was two sets to zero in front. He was playing better, he was serving unbelievable. I had 75 match points, and it is more sweat, because it is tood easy winning in three sets”, joked Fognini.

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Marin Cilic takes the Match tie-break to beat Benoit Paire in Melbourne

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Marin Cilic battled past Benoit Paire 6-2 6-7 (8-10) 3-6 6-1 7-6 (10-3) in the match tie-break after 3 hours and 33 minutes in windy conditions to advance to the third round at the Australian Open. Paire won 82 % of his first serve points, but he made 51 unforced errors.

 

Cilic broke three times in a row to seal the opening set 6-2. Paire rallied from 3-5 down to win the tie-break 10-8. Paire earned a break of serve at deuce in the eighth game to win the third set 6-3. Cilic broke twice in the second and sixth games to win the fourth set 6-1.

Each player saved a break point in the fifth set, but they held on their service games en route to reaching the the match tie-break, where Cilic sealed the win 10-3.

Cilic booked his spot in the third-round, where he will face Spain’s Roberto Bautista Agut, who came back from one set down to beat Michael Mmoh 5-7 6-2 6-4 6-1 after 2 hours and 44 minutes. The match was moved to the Melbourne Arena after it was interrupted by rain, when Mmoh was leading 2-1 in the fourth set.

Last year’s Australian Open semifinalist Stefanos Tsitsipas reached the third round, when Phillip Kohlschreiber pulled out of the match due to a muscle injury. Tsitsipas set up a third round match against Milos Raonic, who converted each of his four break points to beat Cristian Garin 6-3 6-4 6-2.

Hungary’s Marton Fucsovics beat last year’s Next Gen ATP Finals champion Jannik Sinner 6-4 6-4 6-3 after 2 hours and 16 minutes. Fucsovics earned his first break in the third game to take a 2-1 lead. Sinner broke back in the sixth game to draw level to 3-3, but Fucsovics earned another break in the next game to take the opening set 6-4. Fucsovics went up an early break in the first game of the second set, but Sinner broke straight back. Sinner dropped his serve at love in the seventh game to lose the second set 6-4. Sinner went up a 2-0 lead with an early break. Fucsovics broke straight back in the third game to claw his way back to 1-2. Fucsovics broke serve in the seventh game to take a 4-3 lead and sealed the win in the ninth game on his first match point.

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Tennys Sandgren battles past Matteo Berrettini in five sets to reach the third round at the Australian Open

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Tennys Sandgren stunned number 8 seed and 2019 US Open semifinalist Matteo Berrettini 7-6 (9-7) 6-4 4-6 2-6 7-5 to reach the third round at the Australian Open in Melbourne. The Tennessee player achieved the best result of his career two years ago, when he beat two top 10 players to reach the quarter final at the 2017 Australian Open.

 

Both players held on their service games throughout the first set en route to the tie-break. Sandgren saved a set point at 5-6 with a forehand. The US player earned a set point at 7-6, but Berrettini fended it off with a big forehand. Sandgren got the tie-break after an error from Berrettini at 7-7.

Sandgren went up a break at 2-2 and held on his service games to seal the second set 6-4 earning a two-set lead. Berrettini forced an error from Sandgren at 5-4 to earn the break and seal the third set.

Berrettini went up a double break to win the fourth set 6-2 forcing the match to the decisive set. The Italian player earned three break points, when Sandgren was serving at 3-4. The US player saved them to hold serve. Sandgren broke serve at 5-5, when Berrettini sent a forehand into the net and sealed the win with a strong first serve.

“It’s a top 10 win at a Slam, so it’s up there for sure. I was injured for most of the Fall. I tore a ligament and got a stress fracture in my toe. After the US Open I played one week in Asia and then I was done. I had five to six weeks where I did not have any points to defend and could have pushed higher in the rankings but I could not play. I felt I played in spurts last year. I had some good weeks at Slams. I like these tournaments a lot. Sometimes you can get lost a little bit when you are playing 30 or 35 weeks a year. I feel my game comes together in these weeks”, said Sandgren.

Sandgren set up a third round match against his compatriot Sam Querrey, who edged past Ricardas Berankis 7-6 (7-2) 4-6 6-4 6-4. Querrey hit 26 aces and won 87 % of his first serve points. Querrey reached the quarter final at Wimbledon and the semifinal in Eastbourne.

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