Kyle Edmund’s excellent week in Marrakech ended in disappointment as he was hammered 6-2 6-2 by Pablo Andujar in the final.
The Brit, who will move up to a career-high of 23 in the world rankings on Monday, beat Jiri Vesely, Radu Albot, Malek Jaziri and Richard Gasquet en route to the championship match.
But the final proved to be one step too far for Edmund, as Andujar outplayed him in every department. The Spaniard, who also won this tournament in 2011 and 2012, served well, rallied superbly and hit several superb winners – especially on his forehand side.
All of that contributed to the emphatic scoreline, which Andujar achieved by breaking his British opponent three times in each set and losing on his own serve just twice in the match.
Edmund unable to fight back
The Spaniard achieved his first break in the opening game after a series of sloppy errors Edmund gifted him three break points. He took the third with a precise forehand into the corner.
The Brit looked nervous as he surrendered the next two games in a flash. He fought back to break in the fourth game, but lost his serve again immediately and Andujar soon wrapped up the set.
As he did in the opener, the Spaniard earned a break in the first game of the second set. He then earned another break in game five to increase the size of Edmund’s task even further.
The Brit briefly raised hopes of an improbable comeback from 6-2 and 4-1 when he got one of the breaks back.
But it was not to be, as Andujar restored his three-game advantage straight away and then held serve under pressure to clinch the victory.
Andujar’s fairytale comeback
The triumph caps a fantastic return to the tour for the Spaniard after three elbow injuries restricted him to just 14 matches since September 2016.
Andujar hit form by winning a Challenger event in Alicante last week and has followed it with his third success in Marrakech to take his run of consecutive victories to ten. He is already up to 154 in the rankings and, if he continues in this vein, he could soon be back in the World’s top 100.
The Spaniard had some kind words for Edmund in his winner’s speech. Addressing the Brit, he said, “I think that you will return to an ATP final, that’s for sure. I’m sure that you will get to not a 250, but a 500 or Masters 1000 event. Congratulations for your career and your potential. I’m sure you and your team will make a great career.”
“Obviously it was not the best day for me. Congratulations to Pablo…he deserved the win today,” said Edmund in his runner-up speech. “For me it was a good tournament, my first final. I think it was my fifth semi-final so it was good to get to the final this week.”
The Brit continued, “It was a great experience for me. I’m always learning and continuing to build on my game. Obviously it wasn’t the result I wanted today, but it’s been a good year so far.”
(VIDEO) Novak Djokovic Makes Tearful Tribute To Mentor Kobe Bryant After Australian Open Win
The world No.2 pays his respect to ‘one of the greatest athletes of all time’ on the Rod Laver Arena.
World No.2 Novak Djokovic shed tears following his quarter-final win over Milos Raonic after paying tribute to NBA legend Kobe Bryant.
The 16-time grand slam champion took to the Rod Laver Arena wearing a green zip-up top. On the top right of his jacket with Bryant’s initial along with the numbers 8 and 24. The jersey numbers Bryant worn throughout his 20-year NBA career with the LA Lakers. A love heart was also placed under the numbers on Djokovic’s top.
“’I don’t know what we could say. It really caught us by surprise.” An emotional Djokovic said during his on-court interview with John McEnroe on Tuesday.
‘He was one of the greatest athletes of all time, he inspired myself and many other people around the world. I had that fortune to have a personal relationship with him over the last 10 years.’
‘When I needed some advice and support, he was there for me. He was my mentor, my friend, it’s just heartbreaking to see what has happened to him and his daughter. It’s unbelievable.’
Bryant was killed on Sunday in a helicopter crash that also claimed the life of his 13-year-old daughter Gianna and seven others. As an athlete, he achieved numerous milestones. Including being named the 2008 NBA Most Valuable Player and two-time NBA Finals MVP. He was also a two-time Olympic gold medallist and played in 18 All Star Games.
Just days before Bryant’s death, Djokovic spoke about their friendship during an interview with ESPN. Praising him for the support he received during his elbow injury and fall in the rankings during 2017 and the start of 2018. Reflecting on the conversations the two have had, he said he received some ‘valuable guidance.’
“Kobe has been one of my mentors,” Djokovic told ESPN. “I’ve had several phone conversations with him and also of course when we see each other live in the past couple of years. When I was going through the injury with my elbow and struggling to mentally and emotionally handle all of these different things that were happening to me and dropping in the Rankings and then having to work my way up, he was one of the people who was really there for me to give me some very valuable advice and guidelines to kind of believe and trust in myself, trust the process that I’ll be back.”
Djokovic will play Roger Federer in the semi-finals of the Australian Open.
The tribute can be watched below (from 00:30 to 01:40)
Dominic Thiem reaches his first quarter final at the Australian Open
Dominic Thiem eased past Gael Monfils 6-2 6-4 6-4 after 1 hour and 50 minutes on the Rod Laver Arena in Melbourne to reach the quarter final at the Australian Open. Thiem has extended his winning streak to 6-0 in his head-to-head matches against Monfils.
He fought back from two sets to one down to beat Australia’s Alex Bolt in the second round, but he won eight of his past nine sets to advance to the quarter finals.
Thiem got two breaks in the first set and never faced a single break point in the entire match. The Austrian player converted his fourth break point after three deuces, as Monfils missed a backhand volley wide. Thiem started the third set with an early break in the first game, as Monfils hit an inside-out forehand wide from the middle of the court wide. Thiem won his next service games and held his final game at love.
Thiem will face Rafael Nadal in a re-match of last year’s Roland Garros final.
“I think that I played my best match so far at this year’s Australian Open. It’s a very good feeling. The score looks way easier than the match was. I think I was lucky to make an early break in each set and I was managing to hold my serve well. I am so happy because I am in the quarter final here for the first time”, said Thiem.
Alexander Zverev tops Andrey Rublev to set Australian Open quarter final against Stan Wawrinka
Alexander Zverev beat his friend Andrey Rublev 6-4 6-4 6-4 in one hour and 37 minutes to reach the quarter final at the Australian Open for the first time in his career and his third at Grand Slam level.
Zverev broke serve once in each set. The German player has not dropped a set at this year’s edition of the Australian Open.
Zverev ended Rublev’s 15-match winning streak. Rublev had not lost a match since October, winning four matches at the Davis Cup last November and back-to-back titles in Doha and Adelaide.
In the opening set Zverev earned his first break at 3-3, as Rublev hit a forehand into the net. He held his serve to consolidate the break and wrapped up the first set after 29 minutes, when Rublev hit a crosscourt backhand wide.
Zverev started the second set with an immediate break in the first game of the second set and closed it out with a hold at love with an ace after 29 minutes.
Zverev broke serve for the third time in the match in the ninth game of the third set to take a 5-4, when Rublev made a groundstroke error, and sealed the win with a forehand volley.
“It feels amazing. I played some great matches against some great opponents. This is Andrey’s first loss of the season, having won two tournaments and getting through to the fourth round with unbelievable tennis. I have known Andrey since we were ten years old. I think he will be top 15, top 10 very soon. I am just happy and I hope I can continue”,said Zverev.
Zverev will face Stan Wawrinka in the quarter final. The German star beat Wawrinka twice in their previous two head-to-head matches in St. Petersburg 2016 and Miami 2017.
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