Dominic Thiem Makes A Winning Start In Vienna As Rivals Struggle Through - UBITENNIS
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Dominic Thiem Makes A Winning Start In Vienna As Rivals Struggle Through

The French Open finalist is bidding to win his first ATP title on Austrian soil this week.

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Home favourite Dominic Thiem has kicked-off his campaign at this year’s Erste Bank Open with a hard fought 7-5, 7-6(4), win over Ruben Bemelmans in the first round.

 

Thiem, who is yet to progress beyond the quarter-finals at the tournament in Vienna, withstood some fierce play produced by the world No.134. In both sets Bemelmans succumbed at the closing stages. During the opening set, Thiem converted his fifth set point to break whilst his opponent was serving behind 6-5. That was the only time in the match where the Austrian managed to break his opponents serve.

Despite holding the 7-5 advantage, Thiem was pushed all the way to a tiebreak in the second set. But once again Bemelmans crumbled at the crucial moment, producing back-to-back unforced errors to send the top seed into the second round. Throughout the encounter, Thiem won 72% of his first service points as he produced seven aces.

“He was able to play freely and took a lot of self-confidence from qualifying – he actually played only one bad game – the one prior to 7: 5 in the first set.” Thiem said of Bemelmans during an interview with orf.at.
“The first match is always difficult, especially here in Vienna. It was an extremely cool atmosphere. Without the fans, I might have lost the second set and the match.” He added.

As well as the chance of lifting his first ATP title on home soil, this week is also pivotal for Thiem’s chances of qualifying for the ATP World Tour Finals next month. He is currently positioned in the eighth and final qualifying spot with a 515-point lead over his nearest threat John Isner.

Isner, who is seeded fourth in the tournament, required more than two hours to come through his opening match against Great Britain’s Cameron Norrie. The Wimbledon semi-finalist fired 16 aces and was unbroken throughout the entire match as he prevailed 6-7(1), 6-4, 7-6(7).

Isner will play either Gael Monfils or Steve Johnson next.

Japan’s Kei Nishikori was also forced to battle hard during his first round match against America’s Frances Tiafoe. The world No.9 held his nerve to close out the match 7-6(3), 5-7, 6-2, after failing to serve it out in the second set. In total he converted three out of his seven break point opportunities.

“I was a little bit down after losing the second set because from 5-4, I lost three games in a row,” Nishikori told Tennis TV. “It wasn’t easy mentally. I had to rebuild again my confidence.”

Nishikori could overtake Isner in the ATP Race to London this week depending on how the two players perform in Vienna. To do so, he needs one of the following three scenarios to occur :-

– Nishikori reaches semi-finals and Isner loses in round two
– Nishikori reaches the final and Isner doesn’t
– Nishikori beats Isner in the final

The former US Open finalist could next take on Karen Khachanov, who won the Kremlin Cup last week. Khachanov will play wild card Denis Novak in the first round on Wednesday.

Elsewhere at the tournament, Fabio Fognini downed Damir Dzumhur 6-4, 6-3, and Lucas Pouille defeated Philipp Kohlschreiber 6-4, 6-7(5), 6-4.

 

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Stefanos Tsitsipas, Gilles Simon and Felix Auger Aliassime reach the the semifinal in Marseille

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Defending champion Stefanos Tsitsipas edged past Vasek Pospisil 7-5 6-3 after 1 hour and 17 minutes to reach the semifinal at the Open 13 Provence in Marseille.

 

Both players stayed neck and neck until 5-5, before Tsitsipas earned his first break, when Pospisil hit a backhand long. The Greek star wrapped up the first set with an ace after 45 minutes.

Tsitsipas claimed his second break at 3-3 with a backhand return and reeled off 10 consecutive points to seal the second set 6-3.

Tsitsipas fired 8 aces and won 26 of his 30 first service points.

“It was not easy. I knew I would have to fight and be dynamic. He plays a very aggressive brand of tennis, so every point has to be treated respectfully. I played with passion and patience, and my fighting spirit, when I am in the right zone. It means good things can happen”, said Tsitsipas.

Gilles Simon cruised through to an upset 6-4 6-0 win over Danil Medvedev to advance to the semifinal. Simon converted five of his six break point chances and lost his serve only once.

The French veteran will take on Felix Auger Aliassime, who beat Egor Gerasimov 7-5 6-2. The young Canadian star broke serve four times and and won 83 % of his first serve points.

Gerasimov earned an early break in the first game to open up a 2-0 lead, but Auger Aliassime came back by winning two consecutive games to win the opening set 7-5. Auger Aliassime converted his fourth break point in the second game to open up a 3-0 lead and sealed the second set with another break in the eighth game.

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Alexander Bublik reaches his third career semifinal with win over Denis Shapovalov in Marseille

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Alexander Bublik reached the third ATP Tour semifinal of his career after beating Canadian Canadian Next Gen player Denis Shapovalov 7-5 4-6 6-3 after 2 hours and 18 minutes at the Open 13 Provence in Marseille.

 

Bublik fended off a total of four break points in the first set, including three chances from 0-40, got the break in the 12th game to close out the first set 7-5, when Shapovalov hit a forehand volley wide at 30-40 after 45 minutes.

Both players traded breaks at the start of the second set. Bublik did not convert three break points at 3-2, when he hit a forehand into the net on his first break point chance. Shapovalov broke serve in the seventh game to take a 4-3 lead with a drop shot and wrapped up the second set with his third ace.

Bublik opened up a 2-0 lead with a break in the second game of the third set. Shapovalov broke straight back in the third game. Bublik got another break lead in the eighth lead at 15, when Shapovalov hit a forehand wide. Bublik sealed the win with a hold at love.

“He is a great player and serve. It was our first match, but I have known him for a very long time. I was happy to break in the first set, then in the second set he was better, and I had my chances in the third and I held on. So I am very happy”,said Bublik.

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Milos Raonic, Steve Johnson, Frances Tiafoe and Ugo Humbert reach the quarter final in Delray Beach

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Milos Raonic hit 11 aces and saved the three break points he faced to beat German Cedrik Marcel Stebe 7-5 6-3 after 1 hour and 36 minutes reaching the quarter final at the Delray Beach, an ATP Tour 250 tournament.

 

Raonic earned a break in each set. Stebe earned a break point in the ninth game with a forehand down the line, but Raonic saved it with a forehand. Raonic faced two more break points in the 11th game, but Raonic saved them with service winners. Raonic earned a break with a forehand down the line winner in the 12th game to close out the first set 7-5. Raonicwon four consecutive points on return to earn a break and closed out the match 6-3 with a hold of serve.

“I got lucky through that first set and then I tried to be a bit more aggressive, create more things and that put a bit more pressure on him. It opened up the match for me a bit more”, said Raonic.

Raonic set up a quarter final against Steve Johnson, who edged past his compatriot Jack Sock 6-4 5-7 6-1 after 2 hours and 5 minutes to reach his first quarter final at ATP Tour level in six months. Johnson came back from losing the second set by racing out to a 5-0 lead.

“This is just one of those tournaments where you feel comfortable coming back every year. It’s great to see Sock back. I thought he played a really good second set and I just got bit of a momentum in the third set”, said Johnson.

French Next Gen player Ugo Humbert edged Miomir Kecmanovic 6-4 7-6 (8-6) after 1 hour and 42 minutes to reach his third quarter final in 2020. Humbert fended off eight of the ten break points he faced and earned three breaks to win the last four games of the first set from 2-4 down. Humbert broke Kecmanovic, as the Serbian player was serving for the second set at 6-5. The Frenchman saved a set point and came back from 5-6 down by winning the final three points of the tie-break to clinch the win after 1 hour and 43 minutes. Humbert has improved his win-loss record this year to 8-3.

“It’s always tough to play against Miomir, because he is a great player. He always plays at a high level. I lost to him last week and I was a little bit stressed before the match, so I am very happy to get the win today. You have to enjoy the victory because it’s not easy every week. Winning in Auckland gave me a lot of confidence. I beat some great players, but I have to continue my improvement every day”,said Humbert.

Humbert will face US player Frances Tiafoe, who battled past Tommy Paul 7-5 7-6 (7-4). Both players stayed neck and neck in the first set until the 11th game when Tiafoe earned a break with a return winner. He served out the set 7-5 with a service winner in the 12th game.

Paul earned a break in the sixth game, but he dropped his serve, while he serving for the set at 5-3. Tiafoe closed out the match with a backhand crosscourt winner at 6-4 in the tie-break.

“It’s never easy playing a good friend. It’s awkward, but I thought it was a pretty good match overall. My forehand was definitely on, so that helped. I am starting to play good tennis again and just competing hard in every match”,said Tiafoe.  

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