Felix Auger-Aliassime was forced to do double duty at Melbourne Park on Friday as he battled into the last four of the Murray River Open.
Due to the recent 24-hour pause in tennis taking place in Melbourne Park following a positive COVID-19 test, the world No.21 had to play two matches to make up for loss time as organisers aim to finish the tournament in time for the Australian Open. Auger-Aliassime survived a tough three-set encounter with Egor Gerasimov before his clash with Jiri Vesely came to an unfortunate end.
Gerasimov starts strong
In his first match of the day Auger-Aliassime came from behind to prevail 3-6, 6-3, 7-6(6). The first six games of the match were pretty routine as both players did a good job holding serve and we saw a lot of quick games and it looked like it was going to be a tricky match to win.
At 4-3 Gerasimov earned the first breakpoint of the match forcing the error from his Canadian opponent and would get the first break as Auger Aliassime made two consecutive errors sending a return into the net for a 5-3 lead.
Gerasimov would serve out the first set to take it 6-3 and was one set away from pulling off quite an upset vs the world number 21.
The Canadian responds
The Montreal native responded right away at the beginning of the second set after holding his opening service game broke the Belorussian serve with a sick return winner to take an early 2-0 lead. From there each player held serve and the Monte Carlo resident served out the second set to take it 6-3.
The third set was a back and forth battle and you honestly couldn’t tell who was going to win this match. Auger Aliassime got the first chance to break at 1-1 and managed to get the early break to take a 2-1 lead.
The break of serve didn’t last long as the Belarusian responded in the very next game breaking the Canadian on his fourth break point of the game after the number three seed managed to save the first three Gerasimov pulled off an amazing passing shot to go back on serve at 2-2.
Once again from there both players did a good job holding serve and at 6-5 Gerasimov had his first match point but Auger Aliassime managed to save it and held serve to force a tiebreaker to decide the match.
The Canadian won the first point of the breaker on the Belarusian’s serve but gave the break right back the very next point when he served an untimely double fault.
After that it was Gerasimov turn to break as Auger Aliassime made another unforced error to give his opponent the 2-1 lead but squandered it the very next point as he sent a ball long.
It seemed both players were struggling at this point to hold their own serve and were playing a better return game. At 4-3 the world number 21 got the crucial break with a stunning passing shot for a winner to take a 5-3 lead.
The Belorussian managed to hold his serve and at 5-4 the Canadian had a chance to serve it out but sent a ball into the net and we were tied up at 5 but Auger Aliassime would manage to make up for it winning the next point to set up another match point.
Once again he would give the break right back and at 6-6 he didn’t give up and the Montreal native won a great rally to set up another match point. This time he made no mistake winning the match with a big smash to take it.
Felix handles Vesely
A couple hours after a hard fought three set win Felix Auger Aliassime was back on court to face Jiri Vesely of the Czech Republic for a spot in the semi finals.
The first set was pretty routine for both players as they both held serve for the first six games of the match. The Canadian at 3-3 earned three chances to break but the Czech was up to the task of saving them with his serve.
The first set went to a tiebreak and that’s where the number three seed turned up the tempo winning the breaker 7-3. After losing the first set Vesely decided to retire sending the Canadian into the semi finals.
In that semi final he will either face Correntin Moutet or Grigor Dimitrov while in the other quarter final matches Stan Wawrinka withdrew from his match against Jeremy Chardy with an injury he suffered in his win with Alex Bolt.
Grigor Dimitrov Blames Poor Monte Carlo Performance On ‘Big Infection’
The 29-year-old reveals the reason behind his error-stricken performance at the Monte Carlo Country Club on Thursday.
Bulgaria’s Grigor Dimitrov said he simply ‘didn’t play’ in his latest match at the Monte Carlo Masters after winning just two games against Rafael Nadal.
The world No.17 fell 6-1, 6-1, to the 20-time Grand Slam champion in less than an hour on Thursday. He won 48% of his first service points and 32% of his second, as he hit 32 unforced errors. A dismal performance from Dimitrov who had beaten Jan-Lennard Struff and Jeremy Chardy earlier in the tournament.
Whilst it was never going to be easy playing somebody of Nadal’s calibre, Dimitrov has revealed that he had been troubled by an issue away from the court. He has been suffering from a ‘big infection’ in his tooth which has had an impact on his preparation for the match.
“I’ve been struggling with a massive tooth problem for the past four or five days,” he said. “I have a big infection in my tooth. It’s been hard. I haven’t been able to sleep well or eat well or anything like that.’
“I was bearing it for a while this whole week.”
It is another case of bad luck for Dimitrov on the Tour this season. At the Australian Open he reached the quarter-finals in what was his best Grand Slam performance since the 2019 US Open. However, in his last eight showdown with Russia’s Aslan Karatsev he was hindered by a back injury.
“It’s straight to the doctor’s, unfortunately,” he commented on his tooth. “Very, very unpleasant moment. It is what it is.’
“At least I’m glad it happened on a home soil so I can go see my dentist and figure this problem as soon as possible.Hopefully it’s not too serious and I’ll be able to come back as soon as possible.”
Speaking in his press conference, Nadal said he ‘felt sorry’ for his opponent who ‘played a bad match.’ During the match the world No.3 wasn’t aware of Dimitrov’s problem but was told about it afterwards.
“I wish him all the best. He’s a great guy, a good friend. I just hope the situation is to improve as soon as possible,” he said.
Nadal, who is seeking a record 12th title in Monte Carlo, will play Russia’s Andrey Rublev next.
Dan Evans Fires Back At ‘No Manners’ Musetti
30-year-old Evans says he is not happy with recent comments the Italian has said about him.
British No.1 Dan Evans has branded fellow player Lorenzo Musetti ‘disrespectful’ after recording the most high-profile win of his career at the Monte Carlo Masters on Thursday.
The world No.33 stunned Novak Djokovic 6-4, 7-5, in what is his first ever win over a member of the prestigious Big Three. A trio that consists of Djokovic, Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer. What is even more remarkable is that Evan’s victory took place on the clay. A surface which he hadn’t won a Tour match on since 2017 prior to this week.
Speaking to reporters following his win over the world No.1, Evans was questioned about what was the difference between his match against Musetti last week and his performance in Monte Carlo. Prompting the Brit to hit out at the Italian who is dubbed as one of the rising stars of the Tour.
“How he spoke last week was embarrassing,” Evans said. “Let’s not talk about Musetti in my press conference.
“Last week he said some things in the Italian press about me that was disrespectful.
Musetti, if he apologises, I will answer. He’s a good tennis player, but he’s got no manners.”
The fallout between the two started last week after Musetti won their match at the Sardegna Open. Saving four match points in the final tiebreaker en route to the victory. Afterwards, the 19-year-old accused his rival of disrespecting him on the court.
“There are respectful experienced players on the court,” he said. “Others like Evans, they try to use my youth to (win) matches.
“But it’s all experience for me. Evans disrespected me. I don’t want to be treated like a young man.”
Whilst the two tennis players are unlikely to be friends anytime soon, Evans did praise the recent performance of his rival. Musetti is the youngest player in the top 100 on the men’s Tour and is one of only two players aged 19. The other is compatriot Jannik Sinner.
“He played very well last week. I wasn’t good enough. I didn’t take the match points. It’s just tennis. Yeah, he could do with learning some manners.” He concluded.
Evans is through to the quarter-finals of a Masters 1000 tournament for the first time in his career. Awaiting him in the next round is 11th seed David Goffin who defeated Alexander Zverev in his third round match.
New Setback Forces Dominic Thiem Out Of Belgrade
The Austrian tennis star has written a blog post on his website titled ‘my knee hurts!”
Dominic’s Thiem’s return to the Tour has been postponed for a second time due to a physical problem which he recently visited a doctor about.
The US Open champion has confirmed that he is currently suffering from pain in his knee and has decided to pull out of next week’s Belgrade Open. An ATP 250 event which will be headlined by world No.1 Novak Djokovic. It is unclear as to what kind of injury Thiem is suffering from or when the pain started. Earlier this year he confirmed that he had been suffering from a long-standing foot issue which gives him intermittent pain. Although there is no indication that these are linked in anyway.
“2021 just doesn’t want to get going. Unfortunately I will have to cancel my start at next week’s tournament in Novak Djokovic’s hometown Belgrade,” Thiem wrote in a statement. “My knee hurts and I went to see a doctor. It is not a big issue but I need to take care of it. I am definitely not fit enough to play next week.”
Earlier this month Thiem delayed his expected return to the Tour at this week’s Monte Carlo Masters because he was ‘not 100% yet.’ In a blog post on his website the Austrian admitted that he had ‘a lot of work to do’ and ‘tough weeks’ ahead. Thiem hasn’t played a match since the Dubai Tennis Championships after deciding to take a break from the sport in order to reset himself.
The hope for the world No.4 is that he will be back on track and ready to play at the Madrid Open which will begin on April 30th with the ultimate goal remaining to be back to full fitness at the French Open. Thiem’s most successful Grand Slam where he has reached finals in 2018 and 2019.
“I want to be completely fit at the beginning of May and play proper tennis,” he states.
“There is something positive, though: Coach Nicolas Massu arrived in Austria yesterday, we are going to continue my program even though at the moment we have to be careful. In the meantime I have also been working on my physical fitness with sports scientist Mike Reinprecht.’
“There is no doubt, the big goal till the summer are the French Open – in Paris I must be at my best.”
So far this season Thiem has only won back-to-back matches in one out of four tournaments played. Doing so at the Australian Open where he reached the fourth round before losing to Grigor Dimitrov. Since then he has suffered second round losses in Doha and Dubai. His win-loss record for 2021 currently stands at 5-4.
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