Ebden Falls But Can’t Explain Why - UBITENNIS
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Ebden Falls But Can’t Explain Why

Matthew Ebden, a quarterfinalist at Halle in 2018, faced Radu Albot, who was making his tournament debut, in the first round of the Noventi Open. Insights from the players about their exciting three set match were unavailable because of interview restrictions.

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Matthew Ebden (@ATP_Tour - Twitter)

When people who are passionate about tennis learn that I am a tennis journalist, the first comment that is almost always made is – I would love to have your job.

 

More often than not I completely agree. True, there is the pressure of coming up with an interesting story idea then doing the necessary background research in order to produce a story that captivates readers. There are other issues to confront such as the number of words required, along with deadline times. But, overall being a tennis journalist is for the most part, interesting and enjoyable.

Today, it became less so. I decide to write about Matthew Ebden, the 31-year old Australian, who is No. 80 in the rankings. He faced Radu Albot, who is 29 and hails from Moldova. He is ranked No. 41. (Interestingly, both were born in November, Albot on the 11th and Ebden on the 26th.) They had only met once before. Ebden was forced to retire to Albot because of a foot injury, when he trailed 6-0, 3-2 at this year’s Miami Open.

The Noventi Open is a 500 event being played in Halle, Germany. Here, a columnist must send an e-mail to the ATP PR & Marketing people working the championship with a request to interview a player.

I did this asking to speak with Ebden. I explained that I wanted to follow up on the Ubitennis story I wrote last year when he entered the tournament as a Special Exempt and reached the quarterfinals losing 7-6, 7-5 to Roger Federer.

The response I received was – This has to be win only. What seemed worse was that the interview, if he won, needed to be conducted in the “Mixed Zone” not an interview room.  Having written about the game for fifty-years, the answer was bewildering, shocking says it better. The reason given was confusing, because it came from an individual whose job is to be a conduit so media members can have direct access to the player(s) enabling them to better tell a tournament story.

(For those not in the know, the Mixed Zone is a cramped area immediately the behind the court on which the match is played where a sweat dripping player tries to gather his thoughts while a journalist attempts to find a stable spot on a tippy round chest high table to rest his notebook and scribble comments or place a tape recorder.)

As disappointed as I was with the “win only” dictate, I was more disappointed by not being able to talk with Ebden. He is eloquent and thoughtful when he answers questions. As an aside, he enrolled in law/commerce at the University of Western Australia and would have become a lawyer had he not become a successful tennis professional.

Today, he ended up absorbing a 5-7, 6-1, 6-4 defeat in two hours and eight minutes. “Win only” eliminated the opportunity to obtain telling quotes. As a result, “ATP Matchfacts” will have to provide a grasp of what took place. Ebden, one of the few serve and volleyers on the tour, had ten aces and seven double faults. Albot, who scampers around the baseline producing daring shots, had six aces and four double faults.

Slightly more telling was the fact Albot converted five of eighteen break points while Ebden was three of five. In the match, 203 points were played, and the winner collected 105. It is often said, “a point here and point there” determines the outcome of a match. Ebden earned 98 points and a mere seven points made the difference.

Again, I must apologize to Ubitennis readers. Matthew Ebden defines being a “professional” tennis player. It is a shame that the ATP PR & Marketing people behind the scenes at the Noventi Open don’t seem to be as professional.

 

 

 

 

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Fabio Fognini beats Guido Pella in straight sets to reach the fourth round in Melbourne

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Fabio Fognini beat Guido Pella 7-6 (7-0) 6-2 6-3 to reach the fourth round at the Australian Open in Melbourne. The Italian star converted five of his six break points to close out the match after 2 hours and nine minutes.

 

Fognini saved two break points in the first set with a forehand and a backhand and held his serve. The Italian star did not convert a break point in a long seventh game. Both players went on serve to set up a tie-break. Fognini did not drop a single point to cruise through to a 7-0 win.

In the second set Fognini earned a crucial break in the sixth game to take a 4-2 lead. He held his serve on the second deuce after saving a break point. The 2019 Monte-Carlo champion sealed the second set with another break with a forehand return winner.

Fognini earned a break lead in the fourth game of the decisive set. Pella broke straight back in the fifth game. Both traded breaks again in the sixth and seventh games. Fognini broke for the third time and converted his second match point with a serve up the T.

He is also the 12th player to come back from two sets down at all four Grand Slam tournaments.

With his five-set victories over Reilly Opelka and Jordan Thompson in the first two matches Fognini made history on Wednesday when the “Come-back king” became the first player to win back-to-back Australian Open matches in final set tie-breaks.

“I am so happy to be in the fourth round again in Australia. Now it’s time to recover. I played a really solid game against a really tough opponent. I am happy with the performance”, said Fognini.

Fognini set up a fourth round match against 2018 Australian Open quarter finalist Tennys Sandgren, who beat Sam Querrey 6-4 6-4 6-4 after 1 hour and 52 minutes. Sandgren fended off nine break points and converted just 2 of his 14 break point chances. Two years ago Sandgen beat Stan Wawrinka and Dominic Thiem en route to reaching his first quarter final at a Grand Slam event.

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Marin Cilic prevails over Roberto Bautista Agut in five-set thriller in Melbourne

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Marin Cilic overcame Spain’s Roberto Bautista Agut 6-7 (3-7) 6-4 6-0 5-7 6-3 after 4 hours and 10 minutes to score his first top 10 win since the 2018 US Open, when he beat David Goffin.

 

Cilic fought back from losing the first set at the tie-break, but he bounced back in the second set by breaking serve in the ninth game, when Bautista Agut made a forehand error. Cilic held on his serve to win the second set 6-4 to draw level to 1-1.

Cilic cruised through to a bagel win in the third set. The Croatian player got an early break in the fourth set to open up a 3-1 lead. Bautista Agut broke back in the sixth game to draw level to 3-3. Cilic did not convert a break point chance at 5-5. Bautista Agut earned the break at 6-5 to force the match to the fifth set.

Cilic broke serve in the opening game of the fifth set with a forehand winner, but he did not convert a break point at 4-2. He broke for the seventh time in the match in Bautista Agut’s next service game to clinch a thrilling win, as Bautista Agut fired a backhand into the net.

Cilic took a re-match against the Spanish player, who won their previous head-to-head clash at the 2019 Australian Open in five sets.

“I had an incredible patch. It was a surreal level. Every ball I was hitting was going in. It was coming off my raquet incredibly well. I knew Roberto would always fight and he pushed me all the way in the fourth set”, said Cilic.

 

 

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Karen Khachanov edges Mikael Ymer in marathon match in Melbourne

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Karen Khachanov battled past Mikael Ymer 6-2 2-6 6-4 3-6 7-6 (10-8) in a marathon match after 4 hours and 14 minutes.

 

Ymer broke serve twice in the second and fourth games of the fourth set to open up a 4-1 lead. Khachanov broke back in the seventh game, but Ymer broke for the third time to take the fourth set 6-3.

Khachanov broke serve in the sixth game to take a 4-2, but he was broken back in the next game.

Khachanov was not able to serve out the match at 5-3 in the fifth set before trailing 6-8 in the decisive match tie-break. Khachanov came back by winning four consecutive points to clinch a thrilling win.

Australia’s Alexei Popyrin beat Spain’s Jaume Munar 6-2 7-6 (7-5) 6-2 after 2 hours and 4 minutes setting up a third round match against Danil Medvedev. Popyrin broke twice in each of the first and third sets and saved all four break point chances.

Taylor Fritz came back from two sets down to beat Kevin Anderson 4-6 6-7 (5-7) 7-6 (7-4) 6-2 6-2. Anderson was leading by two sets and 4-2 in the third set, but Fritz broke back before winning the third set at the tie-break. Fritz cruised through the fourth and fifth sets. Fritz will face Dominic Thiem in the third round.

“That was huge for me. He played a really tough five setter just the other day and then obviously coming back. Going back to back five setters is going to be tougher for him than usual. I felt fresh, so I just told myself that I have to keep running”,said Fritz.

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