Denis Shapovalov beat qualifier Rikardas Berankis 6-3 6-4 in 1 hour and 12 minutes in their first head-to-head match of their career to clinch his 8th win of the season. The Canadian teenager, who is the youngest player in the top 100, dropped just 14 points in 10 service games, but he won only 47 % of the first serve points and had seven double faults. He won 88 % of his first serve points and won eight of his nine points at the net. Berankis converted his only break point he created in the second set. Shapovalov won 40 % of the return points and converted three of his six break points.
Shapovalov rallied from 3-4 down in the second set by reeling off 12 of the next 13 points to close out the match. He converted on his third break point in the sixth game to open up a 4-2 lead in the first set. He held his next service games and wrapped up the set with a crosscourt backhand winner in the ninth game after 34 minutes. Shapovalov got his second break of the match in the third game of the second set, after Berankis hit a backhand wide. The Canadian wasted a 40-15 lead to drop his serve for the first time in the match with a double fault. Both players held serve in the next four games before Shapovalov earned the break at love in the ninth game after Berankis made another backhand error. He closed out the match with a service winner to secure his spot in the second round, where he will face Pablo Cuevas, who received a first-roudn bye.
Danil Medvedev beat Steve Johnson 7-6 (7-0) 6-4 after 1 hour and 25 minutes to clinch his first Masters 1000 win. The young Russian player beat Johnson for the third time after winning his first two head-to-head matches against the US player in 2017. Johnson broke once, but Medvedev converted two of his five break points. The US player survived four deuces to avoid break points in the third game. The first set went on serve until the tie-break when Medvedev got three mini-breaks. He hit an ace to close out the tie-break 7-0 after 47 minutes. Medvedev got the first break of the second set in the fourth game. Johnson won 12 consecutive points in the second set and broke serve in the seventh game with a forehand return winner to draw level to 4-4. Medvedev sealed the second set in the 10th game, when Johnson sent a backhand long as he was serving to stay in the match.
Last week’s Acapulco semifinalist Jared Donaldson beat Evan King 6-1 4-6 6-4 in 2 hours and 7 minutes to clinch his 14th Masters 1000 win and the first at Indian Wells. King broke only once to win the second set 6-4 but Donaldson converted three of his five break points. The young US player got a double break in the second and sixth games to cruise to a 6-1 win in the opening set. King fended off a break point at 4-4 in the second set before breaking Donaldson at love in the 10th game to win the second set 6-4 forcing the match to the third set. Donaldson got an early break at the start of the third set and held his service games after saving a break point in the 10th game to secure his spot in the Round of 64.
Greek Next Gen player Stefanos Tsitsipas beat Radu Albot 7-6 (7-2) 6-2 setting up an interesting match against Dominic Thiem in the second round. Tsitsipas got an immediate break in the first game. Albot broke back on his third opportunity to draw level to 2-2. Tsitsipas has to save four break points (three in the eighth game and the 12th game). Both players held their service games setting up a tie-break where Tsitsipas cruised to a 7-2 win. After a trade of breaks in the first two games Tsitsipas got two consecutive breaks in the sixth and eighth games to seal the second set 6-2.
Fernando Verdasco beat Guido Pella 6-2 1-6 6-2 to set up a Round of 64 match against Grigor Dimitrov.
Federico Delbonis beat Ryan Harrison 2-6 6-4 7-5 in two hours and 24 minutes setting up a second round match against World Number 1 and 20-time Grand Slam champion Roger Federer. The Argentine saved two match points, while he was serving at 4-5 in the third set.
Nikoloz Basilashvili survives scare in Sardinia
The third day of the Italian 250 event saw a trio of seeded players secure their places in the quarter-finals.
A strong Mediterranean wind was not enough to blow away Nikoloz Basilashvili at the Sardegna Open as he came through a tense 3-setter against Slovakian qualifier Jozef Kovalik.
The fourth seed’s typically aggressive style at times threatened to prove his undoing in Cagliari. A topsy-turvy encounter in blustery conditions was ultimately defined by the marathon tenth game in the deciding set, Kovalik missing five match points as his opponent’s serve just about held firm. Basilashvili then immediately broke himself, going on to complete a 4-6, 6-4, 7-5, victory.
He will take on Jan-Lennard Struff in the quarter-finals. The fifth seed overpowered Britain’s Liam Broady 6-4 6-2, a much-improved performance from the German after his nervy first-round slugfest with Joao Sousa.
Qualifier Broady, whose strong start to the year has seen him reach a career-high ranking of 152, started well. He broke the fifth seed in the second game, but Struff was able to respond immediately before going on to take the first set 6-4. The Brit faded in the second set, Struff’s superior ranking showing as he overpowered his opponent with some brutal forehands and booming serves. If both men bring their best form, his match-up with Basilashvili on Friday should be an entertaining encounter.
Elsewhere, Aljaz Bedene defeated Egor Gerasimov 6-4, 7-6(5). Fresh from an impressive win over Guido Pella in round one, qualifier Gerasimov would have had high hopes to progress further, facing an opponent ranked only 22 places higher. It looked good for the Belarussian as he edged a break ahead early on, but the ever-reliable Bedene reeled off three games in a row to take the first set. A similarly tight second set looked to be going Gerasimov’s way when he stormed to a 4-0 lead in the tie break, but Bedene once again took charge, winning 7 of the next 8 points to book a spot in the next round.
His opponent there will be second seed Taylor Fritz, who enjoyed a relatively easy ride in the final match of the day. He breezed through the opening set against Andrej Martin 6-2, looking strong in his first outing on clay in 2021. The players traded two breaks each in the second set before Fritz took the tie break 7-4. This week is the first tournament Fritz is playing as American No.1 after recently overtaking John Isner.
Roger Federer Set To Start Clay Campaign In Madrid
The world No.7 will be back on the Tour shortly as he seeks his first title since the 2019 Swiss Indoors.
20-time Grand Slam champion Roger Federer is set to return to competitive tennis later this month after being included in the entry list for a key Masters 1000 tournament.
The former world No.1 is currently down to play the Madrid Open which will start on April 30th and takes place over 10 days. Federer returned to the Tour at the Dubai Tennis Championships last month in what was his first tournament in over a year due to a knee injury which required two operations. In Dubai he reached the quarter-finals before losing to Nikoloz Basilashvili who went on to win the title.
Since then the Swiss maestro has returned to the practice courts to “work his way back out on tour,” according to his agent Tony Godsick. Federer has already confirmed that he will play on the clay this season but admits that it is because he has little choice. The 39-year-old has already stated that his goal is to be in top shape in time for the grass-court swing which starts after the French Open.
“What comes before the grass courts are the clay courts,” Federer told reporters on March 11th. “So I have no choice but to play on clay if I want to play matches.
“The clay could be good or bad for me. I will only know in practice, but I don’t think it’s going to be bad. I assume I will play some clay.”
It isn’t the first time Federer has started his return to the clay in Madrid. In 2019 he played his first match on the surface in almost three years at the tournament after skipping the clay-court season the two previous years.
Also on the Madrid entry list is Federer’s rivals Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal who both missed the Miami Open. Dominic Thiem is also set to play in the tournament after he recently announced a delay to his return to professional tennis because he isn’t ready to compete yet.
The Madrid Open has been largely dominated by the Big Four (including Andy Murray) for more than a decade. Since 2008 only one player outside of the quartet has won the title which was Alexander Zverev back in 2018. Last year’s edition was cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Rafael Nadal Will Be Ready For Start Of Clay Season, Says Doctor
A member of Nadal’s team has issued some encouraging news.
It appears that Rafael Nadal’s recent woes are behind him as he looks to get back on track at next week’s Monte Carlo Masters.
The 34-year-old hasn’t played a tournament since his loss to Stefanos Tsitsipas in the quarter-finals of the Australian Open earlier this year. Throughout the first quarter of the season Nadal has been troubled by a back problem which he first picked up in Melbourne. The injury forced him to pull out of both the Rotterdam Open and Miami Masters. Overall, he has played just five matches so far in 2021.
Nadal will be looking to regain momentum on his beloved clay. A surface which he has won 60 ATP titles on, including a record 13 French Open trophies. According to his doctor, Ángel Ruiz-Cotorro, the world No.3 is ‘training well’ at present.
“He is training well, he is training hard. His goal is clay. First is Monte Carlo and his final goal is Roland Garros. It is clear,” Cotorro told RTVE.
The 20-time Grand Slam champion will be seeking his 12th title in Monte Carlo in what is a tournament record. He has won three out of the four past editions with the only exception being Fabio Fognini who won the title in 2019. Last year’s tournament was axed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Looking further on in the calendar, Nadal is expected to play tournaments in Barcelona, Madrid and Rome before the French Open which is set to start in May. Although it is possible that his commitments could change. A member of the French government has also admitted that it is possible that Roland Garros could be delayed for a second year in a row due to the pandemic but no such change has been formally announced.
So far in his career Nadal has won 86 ATP titles and earned more then $123 million in prize money. He is only the fourth player in the Open Era to have won 1000 or more matches on the men’s Tour.
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