Frances Tiafoe battles back from the brink to sink Edmund - UBITENNIS
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Frances Tiafoe battles back from the brink to sink Edmund

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Frances Tiafoe fought his way back from the brink of defeat to move into the third round of the Miami Open with a 7-6(4) 4-6 7-6(5) win over Kyle Edmund, lasting 2 hours and 25 minutes under the blazing Miami sun here in Key Biscayne.

 

It was the first career meeting between the two, and although the British no.1, seeded 22, was the slight favourite, it was apparent from the start that this was going to be a slug-fest to savour.

Miami Open 2018 - Day 6

The two players, together with Juan Martin Del Potro, possess the biggest forehands in the game today, and both used their considerable weapons from the back of the court to hold serve comfortably throughout the first set until Tiafoe serving at 5-6 found himself at set point down. A huge first serve into the body brought the score to deuce, and the american held moments later to force a tiebreak.

Edmund was the first to wilt under pressure in the breaker with two unforced errors to gift his grateful opponent two set points. The american was swift to punish him with an emphatic 136mph ace up the centre to close out the set to howls of approval from the home fans.

The quality of the tennis did not diminish in the second set as Edmund continued to put Tiafoe under pressure on his serve. Although the american managed to save a break point in his opening service game, he dropped his next service game with a forehand approach into the net. It proved to be decisive as Edmund served out the set to love, 6-4, with a 113mph ace out wide.

Going into the final set, it seemed as if the momentum was with the young Brit as he broke a tiring Tiafoe for a second time in the match, to move ahead 3-2. However, Tiafoe was far from done, and to chants of “Let’s go Frances!”, the american found a second wind in the nick of time as Edmund sought to serve out the match at 5-4. Having fought to get a break point when the Brit’s nerve betrayed him with an unforced error on the backhand, Tiafoe broke back when Edmund netted an awkward backhand volley off a Tiafoe dink. The crowd erupted in delight and a fist pumping Tiafoe ran to his chair having held for 6-5 in the very next game.

Although Edmund was able to hold for the tie break, Tiafoe raced into a commanding 6-1 lead with an almost unassailable 5 match points. Edmund rallied bravely to save the first four, but he was powerless to do anything about a 119mph bomb up the centre, Tiafoe’s 15th ace, to clinch the match to the delight of the raucous home crowd who had witnessed a truly great Houdini escape by the young american.

“Just make the return, make him play”, Tiafoe said in response to a question about his mindset at break point 4-5 in the final set. “Try to put him in an awkward position and I did. I was lucky to win the game.”

Having won his maiden title at Delray Beach a few weeks ago with a clutch of three set wins over the likes of Del Potro, Hyeon Chung and Denis Shapovalov, it was clear that the confidence from those victories helped him to get over the line here in Miami, together with his improved serve.

“Delray Beach taught me a lot. I beat some quality players back-to-back-to-back, which I’ve never done before. I’ve played so many matches matches in my career so far where I played unbelievable, but come up short. Now I’m feeling really comfortable when it gets tight. I actually embrace it. I want it. It’s fun for me. I’m just trying to ride this wave as long as I can.”

Tiafoe’s improved serve was a huge factor today; 15 aces to Edmund’s 7 and he got 71% of first serves into court, winning 78% of the points off it.

“My serve was terrible last year. Yeah, I’m serving good. Done a lot of work on it. Did some tweaks on it in the off-season. I felt I was serving terrible in Australia. Before New York 250, I tweaked it again. Feeling good since. I’ve been staying on it. Yeah, probably the best I ever served in my life.”

As for Edmund, looking back at the closing stages of the match, the British no.1 was not sure that there was much he could have done differently; “That’s tennis”, he said philosophically. “He broke me. It happens. I didn’t do too much wrong. I played reasonably well. A lot better than in Indian Wells. I need to keep working to get my fitness back.”

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Fabio Fognini Hits Out At ‘Inexplicable’ Disqualification From Barcelona Open

The world No.27 has protested his innocence after losing his temper over a call made by an official.

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Italy’s Fabio Fognini describes the decision to kick him out of the Barcelona Open on Wednesday as a ‘shock’ and has vowed to look further into the matter.

 

The 33-year-old was taking on Spanish qualifier Bernabe Zapata Miralles in the second round of the tournament where he was trailing the match 0-6, 4-4. After losing his temper, the world No.27 is said to have been verbally abusive towards a lines official and was subsequently defaulted from the match for his behaviour. The incident occurred over a line call decision which Fognini didn’t agree with.

On court, he tried to protest his innocence by telling the umpire ‘I didn’t say anything’ but it failed to overturn the decision. Leaving Fognini fuming as he broke his racket on purpose.

Speaking to reporters afterwards, the Italian continued to protest his innocence in the match and said he would ‘investigate’ the matter. It is unclear what he is referring to but players are allowed to make an appeal against any fine if they feel it is unjust.

“I’m really surprised with the ATP, especially the chair umpire and the supervisor, because I was here to play tennis, I was here to fight in the match, and even if I was losing, doesn’t matter,” he said. “But what they did to me was something inexplicable, so I’m going to investigate it, but nothing more, I paid for something that I didn’t do, that’s the first and clearest thing that everybody has to know.”

Zapata Miralles said he was initially unaware of what was going on in his clash with Fognini as he was focusing on closing out the match. Barcelona is only the seventh ATP main draw he has played in so far in his career.

“I was on the other side of the court, I wasn’t listening to be honest,” Tennis Majors quoted the 24-year-old as saying afterwards. “When I saw the referee on the court, I asked the umpire what’s going on. But I was focused on my work on the court, I was thinking on the next point, the next game, on things I had to focus on.”

Fognini has never previously been defaulted from a tennis match but he is no stranger to controversy. At the 2017 US Open he was fined $24,000 for insulting a female chair umpire and at the 2019 Wimbledon Championships he was heard saying ‘I wish a bomb would explode on this club.’ He later apologised for his remarks.

Zapata Miralles will play compatriot Pablo Carreno Busta in the third round.

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Matteo Berrettini beats Marco Cecchinato in all-Italian match in Belgrade

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Number 2 seed Matteo Berrettini beat Marco Cecchinato 6-4 6-3 after 1 hour and 21 minutes in an all-Italian match to advance to the quarter finals at the Serbia Open in Belgrade. 

 

Berrettini broke serve three times and saved all three break points he faced showing that he is returning to his best form after an abdominal injury, which forced him ahead of his fourth-round match at the Australian Open. 

Berrettini saved three break points in the fourth game before earning his first break at 30 in the fifth game to take a 3-2 lead. Berrettini dropped just five points in his final three service games to win the first set 6-4. 

Berrettini went up a set and a break at 15 and never looked back in his next service games. He sealed the match 6-3 with his third break in the ninth game. 

This year Berrettini earned three top 15 wins to lead Italy to the ATP Cup in Melbourne. Last week he lost his opening match against Alejandro Davidovich Fokina in the Monte-Carlo Rolex Masters. 

“Confidence is something that goes away, it comes back. For sure I know that is my level. I know that I can play that kind of tennis. I work hard to be there, to be in good shape. It was obviously a shame. I work hard to be there, to be in good shape. It obviously was a shame. I was sad about my injury, but I know that I can play well on clay, on grass and on hard-court”, said Berrettini. 

Berrettini set up a match against Serbia’s Filip Krajnovic, who eased past Nikola Milojevic 6-1 6-1. Berretini defeated Krajinovic in their only previous head-to-head match in the Budapest final in 2019. 

“It’s going to be very tough. He is top 10, he is a huge champion. He is very tough to play against. I played him once in the final of an ATP Tour event and he beat me, so I know how to play. It’s going to be very tricky, very tough, but I will give my best playing on my court. We see how it goes”, said Krajinovic. 

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Felix Auger Aliassime battles back to beat Lorenzo Musetti in Barcelona

Felix Auger-Aliassime reached the third round in Barcelona, where he will meet Denis Shapovalov.

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Felix Auger-Aliassime (@BATennisCom - Twitter)

The Canadian needed three sets and over two hours to get the win and set up a third round encounter with his good friend Denis Shapovalov.

 

Felix Auger Aliassime needed two hours and five minutes to beat the Italian Lorenzo Musetti 4-6, 6-3, 6-0 hitting nine aces in the win and setting up his next match with fellow Canadian Denis Shapovalov.

“It’s not always easy, to be honest, now I’m sitting here, I am happy that I won but things were difficult at some point in the match, I was facing breakpoints in the second set again and things got tight so trying to stay calm, trying to find solutions that was the main goal, I mean there was some ups and downs but in the end, I’m happy with the way the match ended, sometimes your not playing your best tennis but you gotta believe and have courage and fight through”.

The Italian got off to a great start earning a breakpoint in the opening game of the match but the Montreal native was able to save it and hold serve. At 1-1, the world number 20 was under pressure once again but hung in to save the breakpoint.

The Canadian got his first breakpoint of the match at 2-1 but this time it was the Italian who would do a good job of saving it. The very next game the world number 87 went back to work trying to get the early break and this time he was able to pull it off with a superb lob to take a 3-2 lead.

He would serve out the first set to take it 6-4 and a comeback was required if the Canadian didn’t want to be upset at the hands of the Italian.

The world number 87 kept it going in the beginning of the second set earning more breakpoints in the opening game but the Canadian would save both and hold serve.

The very next game the number 10 seed would set up two breakpoints with a stunning forehand winner and would break for the first time in the match to take a 2-0 lead.

The next game the Canadian struggled on serve and the Italian earned two more breakpoints and broke right back to go back on serve. At 3-2 the Montreal native would have another chance to break but the world number 87 would save it again.

At 4-3 the Italian started to get tight and the world number 20 earned three more chances to break and this time would break through to take a 5-3 lead and serve out the second set to send it into a decider.

Clearly the momentum was with the Canadian and he would earn three more breakpoints in the opening service game of the third set and broke to take a 1-0 lead.

After consolidating the break he would earn three more breakpoints and break once more to go up a double break. At the changeover Musetti called for the trainer and took a medical timeout to have work on his lower back.

The Canadian didn’t give in and after holding serve once again he would earn more breakpoints and break one more time and would serve out the match to win the decider with a 6-0 bagel.

As mentioned this win sets up a match with Denis Shapovalov on Thursday with both players meeting a total of four times and each player has two wins.

After the match Auger Aliassime spoke about the matchup and gave Ubitennis his thoughts.

“I feel like we played quite a lot lately and the past year so It’s always a challenge to play him, hopefully, I can play a good match, we can have a great battle but it’s always a tough task so I’ll try to rest and get ready as good as I can for the match tomorrow”.

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