Kei Nishikori comes back from one set down to clinch his first win in Rotterdam - UBITENNIS
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Kei Nishikori comes back from one set down to clinch his first win in Rotterdam

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Kei Nishikori rallied from one set down to beat Pierre Hugues Herbert 3-6 6-1 6-4 after 2 hours and 11 minutes in his debut at the ABN AMRO World Tennis Tournament in Rotterdam.

 

Herbert got the first break at 15 after saving four break points in a 13-minute seventh game. The Frenchman won eight of the next ten points to claim the opening set 6-3.

Nishikori did not convert two break points in a 15-minute second game of the second set. Nishikori claimed his first break on his second opportunity in the fourth game to take a 3-1 lead. The Japanese player reeled off five consecutive games from 1-1 to cruise through to winning the second set 6-1. Nishikori broke serve in the third game to take a 2-1 lead with two two consecutive forehand winners and closed out the match at deuce with a backhand unforced error from Herbert after saving three break points.

Nishikori now leads 2-0 in his head-to-head matches against Herbert and has extended his win-loss record to 9-1 this season.

“It was not easy, as he was playing good tennis and serving well. I had a little bit of trouble with my return game and I could not convert the important points. I just tried to play steady, as I wasn’t playing bad, and I tried to stay aggressive”,said Nishikori.

Gael Monfils beat 2017 finalist David Goffin 7-6 (7-5) 7-5 after 1 hour and 46 minutes in a clash between two former Rotterdam finalists.

Goffin went up a break in the first and ninth games of the first set, but Monfils broke straight back twice to draw level to 5-5 before winning the tie-break 7-5. Goffin broke serve in the fourth game to open up a 4-1 lead in the second set, but Monfils recovered by winning six of the next seven games with two breaks of serve in the seventh and eleventh games to clinch the second set 7-5. Monfils will face this year’s Sydney finalist Andreas Seppi. The Frenchman leads 3-2 in his head-to-head matches against the Italian veteran, who claimed the win in their past two head-to-head matches.

Dutchman Tallon Griekspoor stunned Karen Khachanov 3-6 6-3 6-2. Khachanov earned his break point in the second game to claim the first set 6-3. Griekspoor converted his third break point chance in the second game to win the second set 6-3. Griekspoor went up a double break in the first and third game to build up a 4-0 lead. Khachanov saved two break points in the seventh game to hold at deuce for 5-2, as he was serving to stay in the match. Griekspoor served out the win on his first match in the eighth game. Griekspoor will take on either this year’s Montpellier champion Jo-Wilfried Tsonga or Italy’s Thomas Fabbiano.

“It’s unbelievable. It’s so nice to play in this court. The evening matches are amazing”, said Griekspoor.

Ernests Gulbis beat Marius Copil 6-2 6-4. Both players did not qualify for the main draw, but they had a second chance to play in Rotterdam as lucky losers. Gulbis dropped just seven points in nine service games and never faced faced a break point. Gulbis converted three of his twelve break points. The Latvian player claimed the first break in the fourth game of the opening set, when Copil made a forehand error. Copil dropped his serve, as he was serving to stay in the set at 2-5. Copil saved three match points at 4-5, before Gulbis closed out the match with a forehand down the line winner. Gulbis will face Nishikori in the second round.

Fernando Verdasco beat Matthew Edben 7-5 6-4 in 86 minutes to secure his spot in the second round, where he will face either Sofia champion Danil Medvedev or Jeremy Chardy.

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Richard Gasquet reaches his first Masters 1000 semifinal since Miami 2013

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Frenchman Richard Gasquet edged past this year’s Wimbledon semifinalist Roberto Bautista Agut 7-6 (7-2) 3-6 6-2 after 2 hours and 12 minutes to reach his first Masters 1000 semifinal since the 2013 Miami Open.

 

 Gasquet missed six months of action after undergoing groin surgery last January.

The French player set up a semfinal against David Goffin, who reached the semifinal after his Japanese opponent Yoshihito Nishioka withdrew from the match due to illness.

The first set went on serve with no break points en route to the tie-break. Bautista Agut hit a backhand wide at 1-2. Gasquet sealed the tie-break when Bautista Agut hit a forehand long.

Bautista Agut earned two breaks of serve in the second set and sealed it, when Gasquet made his third double fault on set point.

Gasquet broke serve with a volley in the third game of the decisive set. The French player went up a double break to race out to 4-1 lead. He saved two break points to hold his serve at deuce before serving out the third set on his first match point.

“I know how tough it was to come back. I know the moments I had at the start of the year, so I just wanted to enjoy, to fight. It is not easy to come back after six months out, but I am here. I am in semis tomorrow”,said Gasquet.

 

 

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Danil Medvedev cruises past Jan-Lennard Struff to set up an all Russian quarter final against Andrey Rublev

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Ninth seed Danil Medvedev cruised past Jan-Lennard Struff 6-3 6-1 in 66 minutes to reach the quarter final at the Western and Southern Open in Cincinnati.

 

Medvedev committed just 12 unforced errors and won 18 of Struff’s 25 second serve points.

 Medvedev broke twice in the second and eighth games to win the first set 6-2. The young Russian player got two consecutive breaks in the second and fourth games to race out to a 4-0 lead and held his service game at deuce after saving a break point in the fifth game. Struff held his serve to get his first game on the scoreboard, but Medvedev sealed the win on his first match point. The Russian player has improved his head-to-head record to 3-0 againt Struff.

Medvedev has won 11 of his past 13 matches during the North American hard-court season. He has a solid 41-16 record this season. He finished runner in two consecutive finals to Nick Kyrgios at Washington and to Rafael Nadal in Montreal.  In the quarter final the Russian star will face his compatriot Andrey Rublev, who upset Roger Federer 6-3 6-4.

Recent Wimbledon semifinalist Roberto Bautista Agut cruised past Miomir Kecmanovic 6-1 6-2 in just under an hour setting up a quarter final against Richard Gasquet, who beat Diego Schwartzman 7-6 (8-6) 6-3.

Japanese qualifier Yoshihito Nishioka beat Australian player Alex De Minaur 7-5 6-4 in 83 minutes with one break in each set. Nishioka rallied from 4-6 down in the tie-break of the first set to edge Adrian Mannarino 7-6 (8-6) 6-2 in 1 hour and 37 minutes.

“It was a great match and I got better as it went on. I am feeling sharp. I am feeling great now and I am looking forward to the quarter finals of a Masters 1000. I have nothing to lose”, said Goffin.

 

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Roger Federer Crashes Out Of Cincinnati Masters

The seven-time champion has suffered a blow to his preparations for the US Open.

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World No.3 Roger Federer has been knocked out of the Western and Southern Open in Cincinnati after falling in straight sets to Russia’s Andrey Rublev.

 

The 20-time grand slam champion struggled to find his range as he was overwhelmed by his fearless opponent during the 6-3, 6-4, loss. Despite the huge disparity in experience between the two, 21-year-old Rublev managed to dominate the majority of rallies with the help of some heavy hitting. Producing 17 winners to six unforced errors, compared to Federer’s tally of 19 and 20.

“I respect him a lot, I respect all the top players a lot, but today when I was going to court I was going there to win.” Rublev said during an interview with Amazon Prime.
“I was not going (to the match) to enjoy. I was going to fight, try to win and do my best.”

Rublev’s shock win saw the underdog outdo the Swiss maestro in almost every area of the match. Winning the most first serves (85% to 63%), second serves (57% to 63) and a bigger majority of points at the net (5/6 to 7/19). Breaking him twice in the opening set and once in the second. The Russian, who is 70th in the world, is the lowest ranked player to defeat Federer on the tour since Thanassi Kokkinakis at the 2018 Miami Open.

The loss leaves a mark on Federer’s impressive record in Cincinnati, which he has won a record seven times. It is the first time he has failed to reach the quarter-final stage since losing to Ivo Karlovic in the third round back in 2008.

“He was playing well. I was maybe struggling especially on the offensive, because overall I didn’t think I was feeling the ball badly.” Federer reflected during his press conference. “It’s just, you know, sort of fast-court conditions and when you sometimes then can’t rely on that serve to go or on the one-two punch, which I didn’t think was excellent today from my side, you need an opponent that maybe lets you get by some tougher moments, but he didn’t do that.”
“He was super clean. Defense, offense, serving well. Didn’t give me anything. He was everywhere. So it was tough for me, but excellent match by him. I was impressed.”

Rublev now has a meeting with compatriot Daniil Medvedev in what will be his first quarter-final at Masters level. Medvedev has reached the final of tournaments in Washington and at the Rogers Cup since Wimbledon. He is yet to drop a set this week and brushed aside Jan-Lennard Struff 6-2, 6-1, in his third round match.

“It’s going to be an interesting match for Russia.” Rublev previewed. “It will be a tough match for me because the way he plays. Nobody likes to play him.”
“I lost to him in a Challenger a few years ago, so it’s going to be interesting tomorrow.” He added.

The latest victory is only Rublev’s second over a top five player in his career. His first was against Dominic Thiem at the German Open last month.

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