Andrey Rublev starts his 2020 campaign with a straight-set win over Mikhail Kukushkin in Doha - UBITENNIS
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Andrey Rublev starts his 2020 campaign with a straight-set win over Mikhail Kukushkin in Doha

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Andrey Rublev started his 2020 ATP season with a 6-4 6-2 win over Mikhail Kukushkin in the second round at the Qatar Exxon Mobil Open.

 

Rublev, who reached the final in Doha in 2018, converted on four of his nine break points and was broken once. Rublev converted his fourth break point at deuce to take a 3-2 lead. Kukushkin broke back in the eighth game to draw level to 4-4. Rublev earned his second break at 15 in the ninth game to clinch the first set 6-4. The young Russian player broke twice in a row in the third and fifth games to win the second set 6-2.

Rublev reached a career-high of world number 22 and earned a nomination for the ATP Comeback Player of the Year. He won the hometown tournament in Mosco and reached the final in Hamburg.

“I am really happy that I could win in straight sets. Both of us were not really feeling the ball as normally we can feel, so it was more about mental. It was the first match of the season. I was a little bit nervous, but in the end I am happy that I accepted this and I focused more on the things for how I can with the game that I have today. I am happy with the performance”, said Rublev.

 Rublev will face Pierre Hugues Herbert, who cruised past number 5 seed Laslo Djere.

Serbian Next Gen player Miomir Kecmanovic edged Jo-Wilfried Tsonga 7-6 (11-9) 6-1. Tsonga did not convert three set points in the tie-break of the first set. Kecmanovic reeled off five consecutive games from 1-1 to win the second set 6-1. Kecmanovic will face Marton Fucsovics, who cruised past Turkish wild card Cern Ilkel.

“It was definitely one of my better wins. I have had some exciting wins last year. To start the year off with such a big name, it’s definitely motivating me and giving me a lot more confidence to keep going”,said Kecmanovic.

Fernando Verdasco edged Filip Krajinovic 7-5 4-6 6-0. Verdasco sealed the first set 7-5 with his only break in the 12th game. Krajnovic saved a total of seven break points before breaking serve in the ninth game to win the second set 6-4. The Serbian player broke three times in a row to cruise through to a bagel win in third set.

Verdasco set up a match against French Next Gen player Corentin Moutet, who battled past Milos Raonic 7-6 (7-4) 7-6 (7-4). The first set went on serve en route to the tie-break, where Moutet got two mini-breaks to edge Raonic 7-4. Raonic broke serve at deuce in the 11th game to take a 6-5 lead. Raonic broke straight back at love forcing the match to the tie-break. Raonic took a 4-3 lead but Moutet won four consecutive points to take the tie-break 7-4.

 

 

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Canada Daily Preview: The Williams Sisters Return to Action, Plus Andy Murray Faces Taylor Fritz

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Serena Williams this past week in Toronto (twitter.com/NBOtoronto)

The Canadian Open is a unique ATP Masters/WTA 1000 combined event on the tennis calendar, as the men and women alternate between two different cities each year.  In 2022, the WTA tournament is in Toronto, while the ATP tournament is in Montreal.

 

The WTA singles draw is loaded, featuring 26 of the top 27 players in the world.  It includes world No.1 Iga Swiatek, Wimbledon champion Elena Rybakina, defending champion Camila Giorgi, Naomi Osaka, Venus and Serena Williams, and Canada’s own Leylah Fernandez and Bianca Andreescu

“The Big Three” are absent in Montreal, but plenty of top names are present.  They include world No.1 and defending champion Daniil Medvedev, Carlos Alcaraz, Stefanos Tsitsipas, Andy Murray, Stan Wawrinka, and Canadians Felix Auger-Aliassime and Denis Shapovalov

Monday’s WTA schedule in Toronto is tremendous, boasting 39 Major singles titles (Serena, Venus, Halep, Kvitova, Ostapenko, Stephens, Kenin, Krejcikova, Rybakina), plus Leylah Fernandez.  Montreal’s Order of Play includes Stan Wawrinka and Denis Shapovalov, plus a blockbuster first round encounter between Andy Murray and Taylor Fritz.

Each day, this preview will analyze the two most intriguing matchups, while highlighting other notable matches on the schedule.  Monday’s play gets underway at 11:00am local time in Toronto, and 12:00pm in Montreal.  But with thunderstorms forecast throughout the day in both cities, it could be a challenging day for fans and players alike.


Nuria Parrizas Diaz (Q) vs. Serena Williams (SR) – Second on Centre Court

It is quite odd to see both Venus and Serena Williams unranked, yet neither currently possesses a ranking over a year since their last singles victories.  Serena’s three-set, over three-hour loss in the first round of Wimbledon was her first match in a full year.  Obviously eager for match play three weeks ahead of the US Open, she’s looking for her first win since last year’s Roland Garros.  Her opponent is a 31-year-old from Spain who reached a career-high ranking of No.45 this season.  Diaz won 51 matches at all levels in 2021, and reached the third round of this year’s Australian Open.  While she’s certainly not a pushover, this a rather kind first round draw for Serena in a WTA 1000 tournament.  It should serve as a good indication of Serena’s current level a month after her Wimbledon loss to Harmony Tan.


Andy Murray (WC) vs. Taylor Fritz (10) – Not Before 2:00pm on Court Central

This is a first-time meeting between the three-time Slam champion and this year’s victor in Indian Wells.  It’s been a dramatic year for Fritz, as that Masters 1000 title was the biggest of his career.  But after defeating an injured Rafael Nadal in that final, Nadal would avenge that loss in the quarterfinals of Wimbledon, where Taylor lost a heartbreaker in a fifth-set tiebreak.  And this past week in Washington, Fritz retired down 4-1 in the third set to Dan Evans, as he was suffering in the extreme heat.  Murray also experienced disappointing losses at those same two events.  At Wimbledon, he was defeated in four sets by John Isner, a player he was previously 8-0 against.  And in Washington, Andy lost a three-hour battle to Mikael Ymer.  Currently ranked 50th in the world, Murray would love to improve his ranking and earn a victory over a top 15 player.  But Fritz is the much more in-form player, with 31 wins in 2022, and is the favorite to prevail.


Other Notable Matches on Monday:

Elena Rybakina vs. Marie Bouzkova (Q) – The freshly-crowned Wimbledon champion is 0-1 since that life-changing feat, losing to Daria Kasatkina last week in San Jose.  Bouzkova also had her best Slam run at last month’s Wimbledon, when she reached the quarterfinals.  Rybakina leads their head-to-head 2-0.

Stan Wawrinka (PR) vs. Emil Ruusuvuori – Wawrinka is just 3-6 since returning from two left foot surgeries.  Ruusuvuori earned impressive victories this past week in Washington over Mackie McDonald and Hubi Hurkacz.

Barbora Krejcikova vs. Karolina Pliskova (14) – Krejcikova has been struggling in singles since returning from an arm injury at Roland Garros, but earned her fifth Major title in doubles at Wimbledon.  Similarly, Pliskova is only 10-12 this season after suffering a hand injury in December.  Yet Pliskova is 3-0 against Krejcikova.

Sloane Stephens vs. Sofia Kenin – This is a battle of Major champions, though neither of them arrive in strong form.  Despite a quarterfinal run in Paris, Stephens has a losing record on the year.  And Kenin is on a seven-match losing streak, as an injury forced her to miss much of this season. 

Denis Shapovalov vs. Alex de Minaur – Shapovalov is on a terrible streak of his own, having lost eight of his last nine matches.  De Minaur is coming off a title run in Atlanta last month.  And the Australian has claimed both of their previous meetings at tour level.

Storm Sanders (Q) vs. Leylah Fernandez (13) – This will be Leylah’s first match since a stress fracture left her foot immobilized in a boot for weeks following the French Open.  Sanders is an accomplished doubles player who is ranked 279th in the world in singles. 

Jil Teichmann vs. Venus Williams (WC) – After returning to competition in mixed doubles at Wimbledon, this is Venus’ first time playing singles since last August.  That’s the same month Teichmann was a surprise finalist in Cincinnati.


Monday’s full Order of Play is here.

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Cameron Norrie to face world number one Danil Medvedev in Los Cabos final

Daniil Medvedev will face defending champion Cameron Norrie in the final of Los Cabos.

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Daniil Medvedev (@AbiertoLosCabos - Twitter)

The Brit will look to defend his title against the world number and Russian who also won his semi-final match.

 

This is Elias Laradi reporting live from the Abierto de Tenis Mifel in Los Cabos, Mexico.

It was semifinals day with the world number one facing the number four seed and Serbian Miomir Kecmanovic.

A slow but great recovery from the Russian

Danil Medvedev found himself down an early break in the first set against the Serbian Miomir Kecmanovic but managed to get the break back and force a first-set tiebreaker.

He ended up winning seven points right off the trot, took the first set, and cruised for a 7-6, 6-1 win in one hour and 26 minutes, serving 12 aces and winning 83% of his points off his first serve.

After his match, he spoke about why he felt comfortable in his first time to Los Cabos.

“I like to play on hard court but I honestly think the court is a bit too slow for my liking but it can’t be perfect conditions every week and the match was a very high level and I served better in the first set and tomorrow the key will be to keep this high level”.

Norrie reaches another final in Los Cabos

It took Cameron Norrie five attempts against the Canadian Felix Auger Aliassime before he could get his first win against the world number nine.

It took three sets and two hours and 19 minutes for the number three seed to post a 6-4, 3-6, 6-3 win. The first set stayed on serve until the Brit got the early break at 4-2 and from there served out the first set.

The second set is where the Montreal native started to fight back getting an early break this time to take a 2-0 lead but the number three seed broke right back and leveled the set at 2-2.

At 4-3, the Canadian had another opportunity to get the crucial break and serve out the second set to force a third and he did just that. With the Mexican crowd backing the defending champion he got the crucial break in the third set.

He went on to serve out the match and send the Canadian packing and in his post-match press conference gave credit to his opponent.

“Felix got the better of me the last four meetings so today I wanted the win more than usual and I started great and I was able to finish well and got to sneak in a break early in the third and It felt really good to get through that one.”

Medvedev currently leads their head-to-head 1-0 with their only meeting being played back in 2019 in Shanghai with the current world number one winning easily 6-3, 6-1.

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Auger Aliassime gets by Johnson to reach semis in Los Cabos

The Canadian is through to the final four of the tournament after beating the American in straight sets.

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Felix Auger Aliassime is into the semifinals of the 2022 Abierto De Tenis Mifel after beating the California native Steve Johnson in straight sets 6-4, 7-6 in one hour and 49 minutes.

 

The Canadian serve was on full display as he served 17 aces and only lost one point on his first serve.

“It’s a pretty good stat,” he said when asked about it in his post-match on-court interview. “ I didn’t realize it was that good but I knew it was good and way better than yesterday and I know my serve is a good weapon for me”.

The Montreal native was on the hunt early for the first break of serve in the match and it came in the opening game set up by a mouthwatering passing shot winner.

That one break of serve was enough for the number two seed to take the opening set and is likely on a collision course to face the world number one, Danil Medvedev, in the final on Saturday night.

In the second set once again in back-to-back matches for the world number nine where things got tough and with chances galore for both players who didn’t flinch and the set was decided by a tiebreaker.

Johnson who is an alma mater from USC and played NCAA tennis before turning pro seemed frustrated and out of sorts and the Canadian capitalized on it jumping out to a 6-3 lead and finishing the match in style.

After the match, he was asked about the conditions since his match started a bit later than he did on Wednesday.

It’s nice last night there was a bit of shade to start the match which is never easy but I guess it’s the same for both but it’s still quite humid so I’ll have to recover.”

Auger Aliassime will now face the Brit Cameron Norrie in the semi-finals after he was able to beat the Moldovan Radu Albot in straight sets 6-3, 7-6 in one hour and 52 minutes.

The Canadian will go into that match with a perfect 4-0 record with their most recent meeting earlier in the year in Rotterdam, a tournament the Montreal native won for his first ever ATP title.

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