Frances Tiafoe: "I had a lot of fun in Milan" - UBITENNIS
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Frances Tiafoe: “I had a lot of fun in Milan”

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Frances Tiafoe made a winning start to his campaign at the ATP Next Gen Finals in Milan with a 4-1 4-2 2-4 4-3 (12-10) win over Pole Hubert Hurkacz after 1 hour and 22 minutes.

 

Tiafoe hit 11 aces and saved six of the seven break point he faced. The 20-year-old US player hit 29 winners to 18 unforced errors. Hurkacz dropped his serve twice from the seven break points he faced. Tiafoe won the first two sets without dropping his serve. Hurkacz won just 47 % of his first-serve points.

Tiafoe drew the first blood with a break at love in the fourth game when Hurkacz netted a backhand. The 2018 Delray Beach champion saved the break points he faced with his serve in the fifth game to seal the first set 4-1.

Tiafoe dropped two points on serve and earned the break in the fifth game at love before holding serve at love to wrap up the second set 4-2.

Hurkacz saved all five break points he faced in the first and fifth games and broke serve in the sixth game to clinch the third set 4-2.

Tiafoe won the killer point at 1-2 in the fourth set. Hurkacz did not convert two set points at 7-6 and 9-8 before facing the fourth match point at 11-10 in the tie-break, when he faced a double fault. Tiafoe converted his fifth match point with a forehand winner in a dramatic 22-point tie-break.

“The tie-break was very interesting. He just kept coming with heat. He had nerves. I am happy with him. He has had a great year. He was pretty low-ranked. He got in the top 100. He snuck in here winning the Brest Challenger. I played here earlier this year. I knew it was going to be tough and  I came out playing well. With this format things can get close quite quick. Things can be on eone-sided in the first two sets. I came out pretty hot and then. You are never out of the match. You geto ne break. I mean, he serves well. It could easily have been playing a fifth set. He served well and it was good for him. I like the rules. Things were moving quick. The only rule I don’t like is the towel rack, especially we are going pretty quick. I walk pretty slow, so I knew I could not get quite there. I had some time violations. I don’t know what the other guys have said, but I need the ball boys the get the twoel for me, but I am having fun. I don’t know if I am going to win, but I know I am going to play well. For all seven guys who in, we are celebrating a great year, because it was tough to get here and it’s a huge honour to play in this event”, said Tiafoe.   

In the final match of the evening session world number 31 and this year’s Sydney and Washington finalist Alex De Minaur cruised past Italian wild card Liam Caruana 4-1 4-1 4-2 in just 56 minutes. Caruana hit 7 winners to 21 unforced errors and did not convert both the two break points he faced. De Mianur converted four of the ten break points he faced.

Caruana fended off three break points in the first game of the match but De Minaur broke serve at love in the third game. De Minaur reeled off four straight points at 3-1 to seal the opening set after Caruana made a forehand error.

De Minaur fended off a break point at the start of the second set and converted his third break point in the third game to take a 2-1 lead. He hit a service winner on the killer point of the fifth point to wrap up the second set 4-1. The Australian player earned another break in the third game and sealed the win with three service winners.

“It was fun. The whole week I was really looking forward to playing with the new format and it was fun. I actually did not feel too much of a difference. I enjoyed every second out there. The atmosphere was great and I could not think of a better way to start. The court is quick. I could not expect a better start. I trained in Australia and Spain and I learned a lot from both countries”, said De Minaur.  

On Wednesday De Minaur will face Andrey Rublev, who beat Taylor Fritz in five sets. The Aussie player beat his Russian rival in the semifinal in Washington last August. De Minuar would qualify with a win over Rublev in three or four sets.

 

 

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Kei Nishikori recovers from a slow start to beat Taylor Fritz in Barcelona

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Kei Nishikori beat Taylor Fritz 7-5 6-2 after 1 hour and 41 minutes to advance to the second round at the Barcelona Open Banc Sabadell.

 

Kei Nishikori raliied from 1-4 down in the first set to reel off 12 of the next 15 games.

Fritz converted his second break point in the fourth game and held his service game to open up a 4-1 lead. Nishikori broke twice in the seventh and eleventh games to take a 6-5 lead. The Japanese player served out the first set 7-5 at deuce after saving a break point.

Nishikori went up a double break in the third and fifth games to seal the second set 6-2.

Nishikori and Fritz met once before in the 2016 Memphis final, when the Japanese player beat his younger US rival to clinch his fourth consecutive Memphis title.

Nishikori bounced back from his opening round defeat against Pierre Hugues Herbert last week in Monte-Carlo.

Nishikori claimed two consecutive titles in Barcelona in 2014 and 2015 and finished runner-up to Rafael Nadal, who won the Barcelona title 11 times.

The Japanese player will face Canadian 18-year-old Next Gen star Felix Auger Aliassime or Tunisia’s Malek Jaziri.

Jaziri came back from one set to beat Guido Andreozzi 6-7 (3-7) 6-4 6-2 after 2 hours and 42 minutes.

Spanish veteran David Ferrer dropped just 11 points in his service points to ease past Germany’s Misha Zverev 6-3 6-1 after 65 minutes. Ferrer will face Frenchman Lucas Pouille in the second round.

Teenager Nicola Kuhn from Spain edged past Argentina’s Federico Delbonis 7-6 (7-3) 4-6 6-2 after 2 hours and 30 minutes scoring the biggest win of his career.

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Matteo Berrettini beats Mikhail Kukushkin in Budapest

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Italy’s Matteo Berrettini claimed his first win on clay this season with a 6-4 6-4 victory over Mikhail Kukushkin in the opening round of the Hungarian Open.

 

The first set started with four breaks of serve in the first five games, as Berrettini built up a 4-1 lead. Kukushkin pulled back one of the three breaks in the sixth game for 2-4. Berrettini held his final two games at love to claim the first set 6-4.

Berrettini went up a double break in the first and fifth games to open up a 5-1 lead. The Italian player wasted his first match point. Kukushkin got one break back and saved another match point to hold his service game to win his third consecutive game for 4-5, but Berrettini served out the win at love in the 10th game.

Berrettini set up a second round against Aljaz Bedene, who came back from a double break down in the opening set to beat Bernard Tomic 7-6 (7-3) 6-3.

Radu Albot from Moldova broke serve twice in each set to seal a 7-5 6-4 win over Sergiy Stakhovsky on his fourth match point after 1 hour and 41 minutes setting up a second round against Filip Krajnovic, who edged Andreas Seppi 6-2 6-7 (3-7) 7-5 after wasting four match points in the second set.

Marco Cecchinato has pulled out of the Hungarian Open and will not defend the title he won last year.

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Fernando Verdasco wins all-Spanish clash against Feliciano Lopez in Barcelona first round

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Fernando Verdasco beat Feliciano Lopez 6-4 6-3 in 81 minutes at the Barcelona Open Banc Sabadell.

 

Former Barcelona champion Verdasco, who won this tournament in 2010, improved his win-loss record against his compatriot to 6-5 in their 11 head-to-head matches.

Verdasco claimed his only break point at love to close out the first set 6-4. Lopez got his first break at deuce in the opening game of the second set. Verdasco won four consecutive breaks from 2-3 down with two breaks to wrap up the second set 6-3. Verdasco will face Grigor Dimitrov in the second round.

Taylor Fritz won an all-American first round clash against giant Reilly Opelka 6-3 6-4 after just 55 minutes In the match between two US rising stars Fritz never faced a break point and converted one break point in each set from the four chances he created to cruise into the second round.

Fritz earned the only break in the fifth game of the first set at 15 to take a 3-2 lead after Opelka made a volley error in the fifth game. Fritz hit three service winners in the ninth game to seal the opening set 6-3.

Fritz went up a set and a break in the third game of the second set with a forehand winner. He hit a forehand winner to close out the match, as he was serving for the match at 5-4.

Diego Schwartzman came back from one set down to beat Yoshihito Nishioka 4-6 6-4 6-2.

Nishioka converted his fourth break point in the first game, but Schwartzman broke back in the fourth game to draw level to 2-2. After a trade of breaks in the sixth and seventh games Nishioka saved saved three break points to hold his serve in the eighth game. The Japanese player converted his fifth break point after a double fault from Schwartzman in the ninth game. Nishioka served out the first set at love.

Both players traded breaks twice in the second set en route to drawing level to 4-4. Schwartzman broke serve in the 10th game to close out the second set 6-4. Schwartman reeled off four consecutive games from 2-2 with two breaks of serve to win the third set.

Schwartman was playing his third match in Barcelona because he had to play the qualifying round. He forgot to sign before the tournament deadline.

Argentina’s Leonardo Mayer battled past Marius Copil 6-3 6-7 (3-7) 7-5 after two hours and 36 minutes to score his ninth match win of the season.

Mayer earned his first break to race out to a 3-0 lead and saved four break points at 3-1. He held his final two service games to close out the second set 6-3. Both players saved a total of four break points in the second set to hold their service games en route to the tie-break. Copil earned three mini-breaks to claim the tie-break 7-3 forcing the match to the third set. Mayer got the only break at love in the 12th game to seal the third set 7-5.

German Jan-Lennard Struff cruised past Hugo Dellien 6-3 6-1 after just 51 minutes. Struff saved all three break points and dropped 14 points in 8 service games. He broke once in the fourth game of the first set and three times in a row to seal the win.

Jaume Munar came back from one set down to beat Portuguese qualifier Pedro Souza 2-6 6-4 6-0 setting up a second round match against US Frances Tiafoe. Sousa got four of the six breaks to win the first set 6-4. The second set went on serve until the 10th game, when Munar got his first break on his third chance to close out the second set 6-4. The Spaniard broke three times to take a bagel win in the third set.

Mackenzie McDonald saw off Japan’s Taro Daniel 6-2 6-2 in just 57 minutes. Mackenzie converted four of hi sten break points and dropped nine points in eight service games. He won the final four games of the first set from 2-2 with two breaks to close out the first set 6-2. He got two more breaks in the third and eighth games to wrap up the match with with a forehand crosscourt winner.

Hungary’s Marton Fucsovics cruised past Denis Kudla 6-4 6-1. The Hungarian player saved two break points he faced and converted four of his nine break points.

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