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Defending Champion Gilles Muller Leads Exodus of Seeds in Hertogenbosch

Robin Haase and Yuichi Sugita also fell to lesser opponents.



2017 winner Gilles Muller lost his opening match in Hertogenbosch on Wednesday, joining a pair of other seeded players in second round defeat.

The 35-year-old from Luxembourg fell in straight sets, 6-3, 7-5, to Matthew Ebden, shortly after home favorite Robin Haase crashed out 6-3, 7-5 to Bernard Tomic.

Neither defeat was shocking, however. Muller has struggled mightily this season and entered the week with four consecutive losses; the No. 3 seed was even relegated to an outside court against the Australian. Ebden looked the more comfortable throughout, winning all but five points on Muller’s second serve and saving four of five break points.

He took advantage of one poor game from Muller in the first set, serving it out at love to edge in front. Ebden then survived a marathon final four game stretch that included three breaks and nine break points, eventually converting his second match point.

No. 5 seed Haase, meanwhile, ran into trouble against a player more suited to grass. The Dutchman dictated a handful of long rallies early in the match, but began to fade after dropping his serve at 2-3. Tomic, who made a strong 70 percent of first serves, had little trouble seeing out his one-set advantage.

The wheels came off for a listless Haase after he was broken to open the second set. Tomic comfortably served his way through several service games, but suddenly struggled to find his first serve at 4-3, and Haase took full advantage of his first break point to level the proceedings.

It would be short-lived, though, as Tomic rattled off four straight points in a brilliant return effort two days later, then forced Haase to miss a forehand slice on match point.

“I played well and I needed to play well, because he plays really good tennis here,” Tomic said. “I was happy to win today.”

The qualifier Tomic will meet Fernando Verdasco, the only seeded player to win on Wednesday, in the quarterfinals, after the Spaniard saw off Daniil Medvedev 6-4, 6-1. Medvedev started strongly, breaking at love in the opening game, but Verdasco fought back three games later and weathered three break points in an ensuing marathon game.

Pressure from the 34-year-old forced Medvedev into a double fault on the second set point, giving Verdasco a lead and derailing his opponent. The Russian won just eight points in the second set, saved no break points and put just 44 percent of first serves in play.

“I’m very happy with the way I finally finished the match,” Verdasco said. “For the first match of the season (on) grass, I can be happy.”

Seventh seed Yuichi Sugita also joined the parade of defeated favorites, falling 7-5, 4-6, 6-4 to Marius Copil of Romania. That sets up an all-unseeded quarterfinal between Ebden and Copil.

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Jan Lennard Struff and Taylor Fritz reach the second round in Winston Salem



Jan-Lennard Struff beat this year’s Roland Garros semifinalist Marco Cecchinato from Italy 6-3 6-4 in 1 hour and 8 minutes.

Struff broke serve once in each set and saved both break points he faced in the fourth game of the second set. He won two matches on hard court at the same tournament for the first time this season.

In the first set Struff earned a break point in the fourth game and broke Cecchinato to open up a 4-2 lead. The German player held serve on his second deuce to close out the opening set 6-3 in just under 40 minutes, when he was serving for the set in the ninth game. Cecchinato did not convert two break points at 2-1 in the second set. Both players went on serve in the next games until 4-4 when Struff got the break before holding serve at love in the next game to reach the round of 16.

US Next Gen player Taylor Fritz beat Malek Jaziri 6-1 6-4 in 63 minutes in their second head-to-head match in Winston Salem. Fritz, who reached the quarter finals in Winston Salem one year ago, saved all the six break points and converted three of his nine break points. Fritz saved four break points in the first game and converted the fourth break point in the second game, when Jaziri netted a backhand. Fritz got a double break, when Jaziri sent a backhand slice long. The US player closed out the first set with a volley winner in 25 minutes.

Both players went on serve in the first six games of the second set before Jaziri fended off a break point in the seventh game with a service winner. Fritz saved two break points to draw level to 4-4, before breaking serve at 15 in the ninth game to serve out for the match. The US Next Gen player closed out the match in the 10th game to set up a second round match against Filip Krajnovic.

Fritz will make an attempt to reach his second semifinal of the season after Houston.

Tommy Paul never faced a break point to beat Laslo Djere 6-3 7-6 (7-4).

Jaume Munar battled past Brayden Schnur 7-6 (7-5) 7-6 (7-1) setting up a second round match against last year’s ATP Next Gen runner-up Andrey Rublev.


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Danil Medvedev, Jan Lennard Struff and Andreas Seppi start their campaign with a win in Winston Salem



Danil Medvedev beat Mirza Basic 6-4 6-4 to get off to a winning start in Winston Salem in 1 hour and 16 minutes. The 22-year-old Russian player earned a late break in each set to seal his spot in the second round.

Both players traded breaks in the second and third games. After six holds of serve Medvedev got a crucial break in the 10th game to win the opening set 6-4.

Medvedev broke Mirza in the second and fourth games to race out to a 5-0 lead and fended off two break points in the fifth game. Basic got one break back in the eighth game and saved two match points on her serve in the next game.

In the ninth game Basic got another break in the ninth game to claw his way back to 4-5. He brought up two game points for 5-5 but Medvedev won four consecutive points to earn the decisive break to seal the win. Medvedev recently reached the Round of 16 at the Masters 1000 tournament in Toronto.

Jan Lennard Struff beat Benoit Paire 7-6 6-3 after 1 hour and 11 minutes to score his 14th win of the season. The German player converted all his four break points and won just 41 percent of his second serve points.

Struff fended off two of the four break points he faced. Both players traded breaks in the sixth and seventh games before Struff fended off another break point in the ninth game to send the match to the tie-break. The German earned a single mini-break to win the tie-break 7-5.

Both players traded breaks in the third and fourth games before Struff won the last four games with a double break in the seventh and ninth games to close out the match setting up a second round match against this year’s Roland Garros semifinalist Marco Cecchinato.

Andreas Seppi saw off Joao Sousa 7-5 6-4 in one hour and 23 minutes. The Italian veteran saved a break point in the 10th game before sealin the first set with his only break at deuce in the next game. The Italian player needed one break in the third game to close out the second set 6-4.

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Jamie Murray and Bruno Soares lift their maiden Masters 1000 title in Cincinnati



Jamie Murray and Bruno Soares claimed their maiden ATP Masters 1000 title in Cincinnati after coming back from one set down to beat Juan Sebastian Cabal and Robert Farah 4-6 6-3 10-6.

The British and Brazilian team opened up a 3-1 lead, but they did not convert four break points. Cabal and Farah turned around the set by winning five of the next six points to take a 6-4 lead.

Murray and Soares fought back in the second set by breaking serve at 2-2, when Soares mishit a forehand lob return and cruised to a 6-3 win to force a match tie-break.

Cabal and Farah raced out to a 4-2 lead in the tie-break, but Murray and Soares bounced back by winning 8 of the next ten points to win the match tie-break. Murray hit a forehand swinging volley to earn three match points. Murray and Soares converted their first opportunity, when Farah hit a forehand long.

Murray and Soares have won eight ATP Tour titles, including two Grand Slam titles at the Australian Open and at the US Open in 2016, but they had never celebrated a title at Masters 1000 title. Earlier this year they defended their title in Acapulco and lifted their second title of the year in Washington.

“For me to win my first Masters 1000 is obviously really exciting. It was an awesome week for us. To win the matches that we did against all top teams that are probably going to play in London. We played really good in the important moments, kept it together well” said Jaime Murray.

“It means a lot. That’s what we play tennis for, to win the big ones. We are playing great. We have been playing great since we got to Washington and I am extremely happy with everything. It was a first title for us at a Masters 1000 event, hopefully we could get many more”, said Soares.

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