Roger Federer Faces Istomin Test, Djokovic Gets Qualifier In Australian Open Openers - UBITENNIS
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Roger Federer Faces Istomin Test, Djokovic Gets Qualifier In Australian Open Openers

A series of intriguing first round matches highlights the Melbourne draw.

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The men’s draw for the Australian Open has taken place with some mouth-watering first round clashes looming.

 

Roger Federer will be seeking to win the tournament for a third consecutive year in a row to bring his overall total to a record 21. The 37-year-old enters Melbourne in solid form after winning the Hopman Cup alongside Belinda Bencic. At the tournament in Perth, he scored wins over Stefanos Tsitsipas, Alexander Zverev, Cameron Norrie and Frances Tiafoe.

“I think I was seeking confirmation that my level of play was good in practice. In the off-season I felt great, didn’t miss any sessions.” Federer said about his Hopman Cup performance during the draw presentation.
“When I went to Perth I was feeling good, but you never know if it is going to translate into victories. I played great in singles and doubles.”

Federer will start his campaign this year against Denis Istomin. A former top 40 player who reached the fourth round of the tournament back in 2017 in what was one of his best ever runs in the a grand slam. Should he prevail, Federer will then play a qualifier in the second round followed potentially by Gael Monfils and Stefanos Tsitsipas if the draw goes according to the seeds.

“The moment you find out the draw and see who you will play in the first round, that is when you shift your focus only to that first round.” The six-time champion explained.

World No.1 Novak Djokovic will be hoping to continue his 14-match winning streak in grand slam tournaments when he returns to Melbourne next week. The Serbian kicks-off his campaign against a yet to be confirmed qualifier. Then in the second round there could be an intriguing showdown with France’s Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in what will be a rematch of the 2008 Australian Open final, which Djokovic won. Also lurking in his section could be Denis Shapovalov in the last 32 followed by either David Goffin or Daniil Medvedev.

Both Federer and Djokovic are bidding to win the Australian Open for a seventh time this year. If one of them do so, they would become the most decorated male singles player in the history of the tournament.

After an injury-stricken start to the 2019 season, Rafael Nadal is out to prove that he can still challenge for hard court titles. A favourable draw will see him not play a player ranked inside the top 25 until at least the fourth round. He will open against home favourite James Duckworth, who won the Australian Open wildcard play-offs in December. Should he win, he would then take on either Matthew Ebden or Jan-Lennard Struff. Perhaps one of his biggest tests could be in the form of Alex de Minaur in the third round, however, Nadal dismissed the Australian in straight sets at Wimbledon last year. Also in the Spaniard’s section will be 13th seed Kyle Edmund and 18th seed Diego Schwartzman, who are both potential fourth round opponents.

ATP Finals champion Alexander Zverev opens up against Aljaz Bedene. The German enters that tournament with a duo of injury concerns. He recently withdrew from the World Tennis Challenge in Adelaide due to a hamstring problem. On top of that, he has reportedly suffered a foot injury during a practice session at Melbourne Park.

Tough first round clashes for Raonic, Murray

In the early rounds there could be some fireworks. Milos Raonic, who reached the semi-finals of the Australian Open in 2016, starts against Nick Kyrgios in what could be a marathon match if both players stand firm behind serve. The winner will then play either the formidable Stan Wawrinka or Ernests Gulbis.

Andy Murray, who enters the event with some fitness concerns, starts against Qatar Open champion Roberto Bautista Agut. Murray missed the draw last year due to a hip injury. If either of those players want to reach the second week, they may need to defeat 10th seed Karen Khachanov and Marin Cilic. Cilic opens up against the unpredictable Bernard Tomic.

Edmund, who has a wealth of points to defend following his run to the semi-finals of the tournament 12 months ago, takes on Tomas Berdych in the first round. Berdych was troubled by injury last year, but has shown signs of returning back to top form. Illustrated by his run to the final in Doha last week.

The main draw will get underway on Monday.

Projected fourth round draws

Djokovic Vs Medvedev
Fognini Vs Nishikori
Zverev Vs Raonic
Coric Vs Thiem
Cilic Vs Khachanov
Tsitsipas Vs Federer
Anderson Vs Isner
Edmund Vs Nadal

Full draw

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Alexander Zverev edged past Hugo Dellien to reach the semifinal in Geneva

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World number 5 and 2018 Nitto ATP Finals champion Alexander Zverev battled past Bolivian player Hugo Dellien 7-5 3-6 6-3 to reach the semifinal at the Banque Eric Sturdza Geneva Open. Zverev is still seeking his first title of the year.

 

Dellien earned the first break in the second game to take a 3-0 lead. Zverev converted his fourth break-back chance in the fifth game and held his serve to draw level to 3-3. Zverev saved a set point at 3-5 at 3-5, while Dellien was serving at 40-30.

Dellien needed one break in the fourth game to win the second set 6-3. Zverev held serve in the third game at the seventh deuce after seven deuces to take a 2-1 lead. The German player got the decisive break in the fourth game and held his serve at love to build up a 4-1 lead. Zverev never looked back to win the third set 6-3.

“I played very aggressive in the important moments. I was very aggressive also in break points down, This is finally something I was looking for in the last few weeks. I think today I showed it”, said Zverev.

Radu Albot came back from 2-4 down to beat Damir Dzumhur 6-3 7-5. Albot went up a double break in the third and fifth games to open up a 4-1 lead. Dzumhur pulled one break back in the sixth game for 2-4, but Albot broke for the third time on her third break point chance to win the first set 6-3.

Dzumhur went up an early break in the first game of the second set. Albot broke back in the eight game to draw level to 4-4 and sealed the win with his second break in the 10th game.

Albot will take on Nicolas Jarry, who dropped just four of his first service points to defeat Taro Daniel 6-1 7-5.

 

 

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Nikoloz Basilashvili sets up Lyon semifinal against Felix Auger Aliassime

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Four-time ATP Tour finalist Nikoloz Basilashvili secured his spot in the semifinal where he will face Felix Auger Aliassime in Lyon

 

Basilashvili came back from an early break down to beat Jo-Wilfried Tsonga 6-4 6-4 in the quarter final of the Parc Auvergne Rhone Alpes Lyon.

Tsonga got an early break in the second game to take a 2-0 lead, but Basilashvili recovered from the early start by breaking serve twice in the third and seventh games to take a 4-3 lead. The Georgian player held his final two service games at 30 to close out the opening set 6-4.

Basilashvili needed only a break in the third game of the second set to clinch the second set 6-4 to reach his first semifinal since winning the China Open in 2018.

Basilashvili set up a semifinal clash against this year’s Rio de Janeiro finalist and Miami Open champion Felix Auger Aliassime, who edged Steve Johnson 6-4 2-6 6-4. Auger Aliassime got a break of serve in the third game to clinch the opening set 6-4. Johnson bounced back by breaking twice in the second and eighth game to claim the second set 6-2. Auger Aliassime went up a double break in the third and fifth games to build up a 5-2 lead, but Johnson pulled one break back in the eighth game, when the 18-year-old player was serving for the match. Auger Aliassime served out for the match 6-4 in the 10th game.

Benoit Paire battled past Denis Shapovalov 6-3 4-6 7-6 (7-4) in 1 hour and 55 minutes. Paire broke serve twice in the fifth and ninth games to seal the opening set 6-3. Shapovalov claimed his only break in the fifth game to win the second set 6-4. Paire saved a total of three break points in the first and third games. Both players held on their service games en route to the tie-break. Paire reeled off the final three points from 4-4 to claim the tie-break 7-4.

Taylor Fritz fought back from one set down to beat Roberto Bautista Agut 6-7 (6-8) 6-3 6-4 after two hours and five minutes. Bautista Agut fended off one set point at 5-6 to take the tie-break of the opening set. Fritz fought back to open up a 3-0 lead with a break in the second game to claim the second set 6-4. The US player earned the decisive break in he ninth game to secure his spot in his first semifinal since the 2018 Chengdu Open.

 

 

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Tomas Berdych to Miss French Open For The First Time Since 2003

It will be the third grand slam the former top 10 player has missed within the past 12 months.

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Tomas Berdych (photo by chryslène caillaud)

Former Wimbledon runner-up Tomas Berdych will not play any clay court tournaments in 2019 after withdrawing from the upcoming French Open.

 

The 33-year-old has been absent from the tour since his first round loss to Feliciano Lopez in Indian Wells. Berdych has been hampered by issues within his back in recent weeks. He has been hoping to be fit in time for Roland Garros, but made a decision to withdraw from the event on Wednesday.

“I am not 100% ready to play the way I want and need to be competitive on the courts I love so much,” Berdych wrote on social media.
“I came to Paris and I had to take a tough decision and want another few days to fully recover and be ready for the grass season.”
“I love this tournament so much but I have to make sure not to further injure myself,” he added.

The Czech had played at the tournament every year since making his debut back in 2004. However, the French Open is his worst performing grand slam in terms of wins. So far in his career, Berdych has won 25 out of 40 matches played at the French Open. His stand out performance occurred in 2010 when he reached the semi-finals before losing to Sweden’s Robin Soderling.

It is not the first time back issues have forced Berdych out of action. In 2017 he was advised by doctors to end his season early due to persistent ‘back pain.’ He was also forced to skip both Wimbledon and the US Open due to the same problem.

Berdych, who last won a title at the 2016 Shenzhen Open, has played six tournaments so far this year. His best result occurred in January with a run to the final of the Qatar Open. He also reached the fourth round of the Australian Open and was a semi-finalist in Montpellier.

As a result of his absence, Berdych is currently ranked 100th in the world rankings. He will be replaced in the French Open draw by a lucky loser.

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