Serbia Comes Back To Beat Canada On Day One Of ATP Cup - UBITENNIS
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Serbia Comes Back To Beat Canada On Day One Of ATP Cup

A convincing performance from Milos Raonic failed to stop defending champions Serbia.

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image via https://twitter.com/atptour/

Defending champion Serbia kicked-off their title defence at the ATP Cup with a hard-fought 2-1 win over Canada in Melbourne Park. The tense encounter saw world No.1 Novak Djokovic play a vital role in his teams victory.

 

Raonic breezes by Lajovic

For someone who was stuck in hard quarantine for 14 days you really honestly couldn’t tell because Milos Raonic had no issues at all in his first match of 2021 as he eased to a 6-3, 6-4, win.

He got off to a great start with his massive serve and big forehand while Dusan Lajovic was doing everything he could to stay in the set and hold his serve. The first breakpoint didn’t occur until the seventh game when at 4-3 the Canadian forced the Serb to hit one of his many unforced errors.

Raonic would break as Lajovic would send another ball into the net to take a 5-3 lead and would serve out the first set to take it 6-3.

Into the second set the beginning was pretty similar to the first with both players doing a good job of holding serve. The Thornhill, Ontario native earned two early break points at 1-1 but Lajovic did an even better job saving them.

Raonic would earn an third thanks in large part to his backhand but once again the Serb was hanging on and would eventually hold serve. The Canadian had three more chances to break at 3-3 but was stymied but the number two Serb.

He earned a fourth opportunity when Lajovic sent another ball into the net and would finally get the break when the Serb made a second consecutive error.

Raonic served out the match to take it in 1 hour and 19 minutes to put the defending champs on the brink.

“I think I was sharp. I was there in a lot of return games. I kept putting pressure. I missed a few breakpoint opportunities but I kept sticking around and took care of my serve, which is always important,” Raonic said afterwards.

Djokovic survives Shapovalov

Next up on court were a clash of the the national number ones between Novak Djokovic and Denis Shapovalov with the world No.1 prevailing 7-5, 7-5.

The first set could not have been a tighter affair with both players going at it and it was looking like it was going to be a great match. There wasn’t a single breakpoint until 5-6 with Shapovalov serving to stay in the set and Djokovic managed to have two looks at a set point.

The Canadian would save the first one with a big ace out wide but on the second opportunity, the Belgrade native capitalized forcing the error from the world No.12 to take the first set 7-5.

The second set was much like the first meaning a great battle with Shapovalov looking to send the match into a deciding third set while Djokovic was looking to seal the victory and send the tie into a deciding doubles match.

The Nassau, Bahamas resident was under pressure early from the Serb facing early breakpoints but won a great point with a long rally which the world number one finally lost when he sent a ball wide.

It stayed on serve until 6-5 with the Canadian serving to stay in the match and once again made some untimely unforced errors and gave the world number one a match point.

He would finish the match with a brilliant down the line winner as Shapovalov was attacking the net to take the match and set up a deciding doubles showdown.

“It’s not a doubt that the level’s there. Obviously it wasn’t good enough today.”

Shapovalov

Serbia wins the deciding doubles

In the deciding doubles match it was Milos Raonic joining forces with Denis Shapovalov for Canada taking on the doubles pairing from Serbia of Novak Djokovic and Filip Krajinovic.

Both teams did a good job holding serve and there was no break point until late in the set at 5-5 when the world number one came up with a great winner to set up three break points.

Canada would save the first one but on the second Shapovalov would send a ball into the net to give the break to Serbia for a chance to serve out the first set at 6-5.

Krajinovic did just that doing a great job with his serve and Serbia would take the first set 7-5. Unfortunately during the break Serbia called for the trainer and Krajinovic took a medical timeout to have the trainer work on his back.

The second set was even tighter than the first with Canada looking to force a match tiebreaker while Serbia was looking to close it out. The first breakpoint of the second set came at 3-3 when Djokovic came up with a great forehand winner.

Canada did a good job saving both and both teams managed to hold serve and the second set would be decided by a tiebreaker. The breaker was a total roller-coaster with both teams battling hard.

Serbia won the first three points then Canada would storm back and win the next three putting the breaker back on serve at 3-3. Canada gave up the crucial break at 4-4 when Raonic missed an easy volley and Serbia would serve it out to take the breaker 7-4.

“Filip Krajinovic was the key. The way he played today is phenomenal. He came out very solid returning. He found his serve, great rhythm. Just played some really key shots in the second set when we needed it the most,” said Djokovic.

Both teams will now face Germany with Canada getting the first crack while Serbia will face them later in the week. Only the group winner will advance to the semi finals.

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Nikoloz Basilashvili survives scare in Sardinia

The third day of the Italian 250 event saw a trio of seeded players secure their places in the quarter-finals.

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A strong Mediterranean wind was not enough to blow away Nikoloz Basilashvili at the Sardegna Open as he came through a tense 3-setter against Slovakian qualifier Jozef Kovalik.

 

The fourth seed’s typically aggressive style at times threatened to prove his undoing in Cagliari. A topsy-turvy encounter in blustery conditions was ultimately defined by the marathon tenth game in the deciding set, Kovalik missing five match points as his opponent’s serve just about held firm. Basilashvili then immediately broke himself, going on to complete a 4-6, 6-4, 7-5, victory.

He will take on Jan-Lennard Struff in the quarter-finals. The fifth seed overpowered Britain’s Liam Broady 6-4 6-2, a much-improved performance from the German after his nervy first-round slugfest with Joao Sousa.

Qualifier Broady, whose strong start to the year has seen him reach a career-high ranking of 152, started well. He broke the fifth seed in the second game, but Struff was able to respond immediately before going on to take the first set 6-4. The Brit faded in the second set, Struff’s superior ranking showing as he overpowered his opponent with some brutal forehands and booming serves. If both men bring their best form, his match-up with Basilashvili on Friday should be an entertaining encounter.

https://twitter.com/TennisTV/status/1379725700949770242

Elsewhere, Aljaz Bedene defeated Egor Gerasimov 6-4, 7-6(5). Fresh from an impressive win over Guido Pella in round one, qualifier Gerasimov would have had high hopes to progress further, facing an opponent ranked only 22 places higher. It looked good for the Belarussian as he edged a break ahead early on, but the ever-reliable Bedene reeled off three games in a row to take the first set. A similarly tight second set looked to be going Gerasimov’s way when he stormed to a 4-0 lead in the tie break, but Bedene once again took charge, winning 7 of the next 8 points to book a spot in the next round.

His opponent there will be second seed Taylor Fritz, who enjoyed a relatively easy ride in the final match of the day. He breezed through the opening set against Andrej Martin 6-2, looking strong in his first outing on clay in 2021. The players traded two breaks each in the second set before Fritz took the tie break 7-4. This week is the first tournament Fritz is playing as American No.1 after recently overtaking John Isner.

https://twitter.com/TennisTV/status/1379857536912924675

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Roger Federer Set To Start Clay Campaign In Madrid

The world No.7 will be back on the Tour shortly as he seeks his first title since the 2019 Swiss Indoors.

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20-time Grand Slam champion Roger Federer is set to return to competitive tennis later this month after being included in the entry list for a key Masters 1000 tournament.

 

The former world No.1 is currently down to play the Madrid Open which will start on April 30th and takes place over 10 days. Federer returned to the Tour at the Dubai Tennis Championships last month in what was his first tournament in over a year due to a knee injury which required two operations. In Dubai he reached the quarter-finals before losing to Nikoloz Basilashvili who went on to win the title.

Since then the Swiss maestro has returned to the practice courts to “work his way back out on tour,” according to his agent Tony Godsick. Federer has already confirmed that he will play on the clay this season but admits that it is because he has little choice. The 39-year-old has already stated that his goal is to be in top shape in time for the grass-court swing which starts after the French Open.

“What comes before the grass courts are the clay courts,” Federer told reporters on March 11th. “So I have no choice but to play on clay if I want to play matches.
“The clay could be good or bad for me. I will only know in practice, but I don’t think it’s going to be bad. I assume I will play some clay.”

It isn’t the first time Federer has started his return to the clay in Madrid. In 2019 he played his first match on the surface in almost three years at the tournament after skipping the clay-court season the two previous years.

Also on the Madrid entry list is Federer’s rivals Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal who both missed the Miami Open. Dominic Thiem is also set to play in the tournament after he recently announced a delay to his return to professional tennis because he isn’t ready to compete yet.

The Madrid Open has been largely dominated by the Big Four (including Andy Murray) for more than a decade. Since 2008 only one player outside of the quartet has won the title which was Alexander Zverev back in 2018. Last year’s edition was cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

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Rafael Nadal Will Be Ready For Start Of Clay Season, Says Doctor

A member of Nadal’s team has issued some encouraging news.

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Rafael Nadal (image via twitter.com)

It appears that Rafael Nadal’s recent woes are behind him as he looks to get back on track at next week’s Monte Carlo Masters.

 

The 34-year-old hasn’t played a tournament since his loss to Stefanos Tsitsipas in the quarter-finals of the Australian Open earlier this year. Throughout the first quarter of the season Nadal has been troubled by a back problem which he first picked up in Melbourne. The injury forced him to pull out of both the Rotterdam Open and Miami Masters. Overall, he has played just five matches so far in 2021.

Nadal will be looking to regain momentum on his beloved clay. A surface which he has won 60 ATP titles on, including a record 13 French Open trophies. According to his doctor, Ángel Ruiz-Cotorro, the world No.3 is ‘training well’ at present.

“He is training well, he is training hard. His goal is clay. First is Monte Carlo and his final goal is Roland Garros. It is clear,” Cotorro told RTVE.

The 20-time Grand Slam champion will be seeking his 12th title in Monte Carlo in what is a tournament record. He has won three out of the four past editions with the only exception being Fabio Fognini who won the title in 2019. Last year’s tournament was axed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Looking further on in the calendar, Nadal is expected to play tournaments in Barcelona, Madrid and Rome before the French Open which is set to start in May. Although it is possible that his commitments could change. A member of the French government has also admitted that it is possible that Roland Garros could be delayed for a second year in a row due to the pandemic but no such change has been formally announced.

So far in his career Nadal has won 86 ATP titles and earned more then $123 million in prize money. He is only the fourth player in the Open Era to have won 1000 or more matches on the men’s Tour.

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