Five Unseeded Players To Watch Out For In The Men’s Draw At The Australian Open - UBITENNIS
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Five Unseeded Players To Watch Out For In The Men’s Draw At The Australian Open

Meet the unseeded players hoping to cause a stir at Melbourne Park.

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Whilst the limelight will be on the prestigious Big Three at Melbourne Park, there is a group of underdogs in the men’s draw hoping that they can make their mark. 

 

A mixture of former grand slam finalists and rising stars pose a threat to the higher-ranked players in the men’s draw. Last year the best performance by an unseeded male player was Frances Tiafoe, who reached the quarter-finals. 

Here is a look at five underdogs who could pose a threat. 

Kevin Anderson 

A two-time Grand Slam runner-up, South Africa’s Kevin Anderson is still on the comeback from injury. Missing six months of the 2019 season due to a knee problem. He returned to action earlier this month at the ATP Cup, where he managed to take Novak Djokovic to two tiebreakers before losing his opening match. Following that, he scored victories over Benoit Paire and Christian Garin. 

“My biggest ambition is to get back into top-10. My best ranking is top-5, so I would like to get back there.” Anderson told reporters at the ATP Cup.
“But the two biggest goals is I want to win a Masters series. I feel like that’s something that I’m definitely a good enough tennis player to do that. I’ve put myself in good positions but haven’t quite taken that step. And then, obviously, the grand prize in tennis, a Grand Slam.”

The 33-year-old will open up his campaign against Ilya Ivashka. Then further in the draw, he could take on seeds Taylor Fritz and Dominic Thiem in the following two rounds. He is yet to play Fritz but interestingly holds a winning 7-2 head-to-head advantage over Thiem. 

Anderson is making his 13th appearance in Melbourne. His best run was to the fourth round of the tournament three consecutive times between 2013-2015. Last year he lost in the second round to Frances Tiafoe. 

Casper Ruud

Norway’s top player Casper Ruud has been slowly gathering momentum on the tour in recent weeks. At the ATP Cup, the 21-year-old broke new territory by scoring wins over top 20 players John Isner and Fabio Fognini. The first time in his career he has defeated top 20 opposition. 

“It’s great feedback for me to play three very good matches at the beginning of the year,” Ruud commented about his opening tournament. 
“I think this has been a very good start of the year and not practice but a good way to start before Melbourne.” He added. 

Playing in the Australian Open main draw for only the second time in his career, Ruud will start his campaign against world No.98 Egor Gerasimov. Somebody who has only ever won one main draw match at grand slam level. Should he get through his opening match, the Norweigan could play seventh seed Alexander Zverev. Zverev, who is currently trying to find his form on the court, is yet to win a match in 2020 after suffering three losses at the ATP Cup. 

Marin Cilic 

Whilst he has been far from his best in recent months, nobody should ever dismiss the threat posed by somebody as talented as Marin Cilic. Experiencing a rollercoaster 2019 season marred by injury, the former US Open champion now finds himself ranked 39th in the world. Placing him in danger of exiting the world’s top 40 for the first time since October 2013. Nevertheless, the 2018 runner-up in Melbourne is hoping he can return to his best. 

“I love the conditions (in Australia), I love the heat, the dry heat. That’s always been very beneficial for my game, as well. Hopefully, it’s going to turn out well in the Australian Open, too.” He told reporters on January 2nd. 

Cilic is set for a stern test early on at the Australian Open when he played Corentin Moutet in his opening match. Moutet is one of France’s most promising rising stars and recently reached his maiden ATP final in Doha. Also lurking is his section is Benoit Paire and Roberto Bautista Agut. 

Only once has Cilic lost in the first round of the tournament which was in his debut back in 2007. Heading into this year’s tournament, he has won 29 out of 40 matches played at the tournament. 

Jannik Sinner

The Italian sensation is the youngest player in the top 100 at the age of 18 and has already got the attention of many. Being described by John McEnroe as ‘one of the most talented kids in the last 10 years.’ Sinner broke through on the tour last year by winning Challenger titles in America and Italy. Then in November, he claimed the biggest trophy of his career by triumphing at the Next Gen Finals on home soil. 

Unfortunately for Sinner, he is yet to gain momentum in 2020 after losing his opening matches at two consecutive tournaments. In Canberra, he fell to Finnish world No.104 Emil Ruusuvuori. Then he Auckland he was bowed out by Paire. 

“The season, I didn’t start it as I wanted. We didn’t play so many matches before the Australian Open, so it’s not going to be easy for me. But I think we practiced well. Our off-season, we put in a lot of work so I feel great on-court… I felt here we especially tried to practice with the best guys,” Sinner told atptour.com. “Day after day, I feel better on the court, and we will see. The matches are always a little bit different, but hopefully, I can feel better than the first two matches.”

The Next Gen star will play Max Purcell in the first round. 

Ugo Humbert


After a disappointing start to 2020, France’s Ugo Humbert has found his form at the right time. Losing his second match at a challenger tournament in Canberra as the top seed, he then exceeded expectations at the ASB Classic in Auckland. The 21-year-old claimed his maiden ATP title after scoring a trio of high-profile wins. Getting the better of Denis Shapovalov, John Isner and Paire. Three players he had previously lost to. 

“I don’t know if I realize what I did but I am extremely happy,” Humbert commented on winning his maiden title. “It was tough, really tough, and emotional as well. It was a lot of work, a lot of improvement with my coach, in the pre-season and the months before.”

Humbert is currently ranked 57th in the world but did break into the top 50 last July. Besides his triumph in New Zealand, he has also won six Challenger titles since 2018. 

The Australian Open will be only the sixth grand slam main draw the Frenchman has featured in. He will play home favorite John Milman in the first round. Should he make it through to the last 32 in Melbourne, he could play Roger Federer. 

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Stefanos Tsitsipas, Gilles Simon and Felix Auger Aliassime reach the the semifinal in Marseille

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Defending champion Stefanos Tsitsipas edged past Vasek Pospisil 7-5 6-3 after 1 hour and 17 minutes to reach the semifinal at the Open 13 Provence in Marseille.

 

Both players stayed neck and neck until 5-5, before Tsitsipas earned his first break, when Pospisil hit a backhand long. The Greek star wrapped up the first set with an ace after 45 minutes.

Tsitsipas claimed his second break at 3-3 with a backhand return and reeled off 10 consecutive points to seal the second set 6-3.

Tsitsipas fired 8 aces and won 26 of his 30 first service points.

“It was not easy. I knew I would have to fight and be dynamic. He plays a very aggressive brand of tennis, so every point has to be treated respectfully. I played with passion and patience, and my fighting spirit, when I am in the right zone. It means good things can happen”, said Tsitsipas.

Gilles Simon cruised through to an upset 6-4 6-0 win over Danil Medvedev to advance to the semifinal. Simon converted five of his six break point chances and lost his serve only once.

The French veteran will take on Felix Auger Aliassime, who beat Egor Gerasimov 7-5 6-2. The young Canadian star broke serve four times and and won 83 % of his first serve points.

Gerasimov earned an early break in the first game to open up a 2-0 lead, but Auger Aliassime came back by winning two consecutive games to win the opening set 7-5. Auger Aliassime converted his fourth break point in the second game to open up a 3-0 lead and sealed the second set with another break in the eighth game.

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Alexander Bublik reaches his third career semifinal with win over Denis Shapovalov in Marseille

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Alexander Bublik reached the third ATP Tour semifinal of his career after beating Canadian Canadian Next Gen player Denis Shapovalov 7-5 4-6 6-3 after 2 hours and 18 minutes at the Open 13 Provence in Marseille.

 

Bublik fended off a total of four break points in the first set, including three chances from 0-40, got the break in the 12th game to close out the first set 7-5, when Shapovalov hit a forehand volley wide at 30-40 after 45 minutes.

Both players traded breaks at the start of the second set. Bublik did not convert three break points at 3-2, when he hit a forehand into the net on his first break point chance. Shapovalov broke serve in the seventh game to take a 4-3 lead with a drop shot and wrapped up the second set with his third ace.

Bublik opened up a 2-0 lead with a break in the second game of the third set. Shapovalov broke straight back in the third game. Bublik got another break lead in the eighth lead at 15, when Shapovalov hit a forehand wide. Bublik sealed the win with a hold at love.

“He is a great player and serve. It was our first match, but I have known him for a very long time. I was happy to break in the first set, then in the second set he was better, and I had my chances in the third and I held on. So I am very happy”,said Bublik.

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Milos Raonic, Steve Johnson, Frances Tiafoe and Ugo Humbert reach the quarter final in Delray Beach

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Milos Raonic hit 11 aces and saved the three break points he faced to beat German Cedrik Marcel Stebe 7-5 6-3 after 1 hour and 36 minutes reaching the quarter final at the Delray Beach, an ATP Tour 250 tournament.

 

Raonic earned a break in each set. Stebe earned a break point in the ninth game with a forehand down the line, but Raonic saved it with a forehand. Raonic faced two more break points in the 11th game, but Raonic saved them with service winners. Raonic earned a break with a forehand down the line winner in the 12th game to close out the first set 7-5. Raonicwon four consecutive points on return to earn a break and closed out the match 6-3 with a hold of serve.

“I got lucky through that first set and then I tried to be a bit more aggressive, create more things and that put a bit more pressure on him. It opened up the match for me a bit more”, said Raonic.

Raonic set up a quarter final against Steve Johnson, who edged past his compatriot Jack Sock 6-4 5-7 6-1 after 2 hours and 5 minutes to reach his first quarter final at ATP Tour level in six months. Johnson came back from losing the second set by racing out to a 5-0 lead.

“This is just one of those tournaments where you feel comfortable coming back every year. It’s great to see Sock back. I thought he played a really good second set and I just got bit of a momentum in the third set”, said Johnson.

French Next Gen player Ugo Humbert edged Miomir Kecmanovic 6-4 7-6 (8-6) after 1 hour and 42 minutes to reach his third quarter final in 2020. Humbert fended off eight of the ten break points he faced and earned three breaks to win the last four games of the first set from 2-4 down. Humbert broke Kecmanovic, as the Serbian player was serving for the second set at 6-5. The Frenchman saved a set point and came back from 5-6 down by winning the final three points of the tie-break to clinch the win after 1 hour and 43 minutes. Humbert has improved his win-loss record this year to 8-3.

“It’s always tough to play against Miomir, because he is a great player. He always plays at a high level. I lost to him last week and I was a little bit stressed before the match, so I am very happy to get the win today. You have to enjoy the victory because it’s not easy every week. Winning in Auckland gave me a lot of confidence. I beat some great players, but I have to continue my improvement every day”,said Humbert.

Humbert will face US player Frances Tiafoe, who battled past Tommy Paul 7-5 7-6 (7-4). Both players stayed neck and neck in the first set until the 11th game when Tiafoe earned a break with a return winner. He served out the set 7-5 with a service winner in the 12th game.

Paul earned a break in the sixth game, but he dropped his serve, while he serving for the set at 5-3. Tiafoe closed out the match with a backhand crosscourt winner at 6-4 in the tie-break.

“It’s never easy playing a good friend. It’s awkward, but I thought it was a pretty good match overall. My forehand was definitely on, so that helped. I am starting to play good tennis again and just competing hard in every match”,said Tiafoe.  

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