Kei Nishikori wins opening match against Reilly Opelka in Dubai - UBITENNIS
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Kei Nishikori wins opening match against Reilly Opelka in Dubai

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Former US Open finalist Kei Nishikori came back from one set down to beat Reilly Opelka 3-6 6-3 6-4 becoming the first player to reach the second round at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships. 

 

Opelka got the first break of the match in the eighth game to take a 5-3 lead and served out the first set to love. Nishikori broke serve in the fourth game of the second set to take a 3-1 lead, but he suffered a right ankle problem and needed it to be strapped. Nishikori saved a break point to hold serve at deuce in the seventh game and served out the second set on his first opportunity. 

Nishikori earned the crucial break, as Opelka double faulted in the seventh game of the third set. Nishikori will face David Goffin in the second round. The Japanese player won all his previous three head-to-head matches against his Belgian rival. 

“I played a very solid match today. I tried to focus on my first service game because I knew there would not be many chances on my return game. I tried to make my first serve and I think I did quite enough. I surprised myself how I returned on break points”, said Nishikori. 

This year’s Australian Open semifinalist Aslan Karatsev saved five of the seven break points he faced en route to his 6-4 6-4 win over Egor Gerasimov. Karatsev started the match with an immediate break, but Gerasimov converted his second break-back point to draw level to 1-1. Karatsev continued the streak of three conseutive breaks in the third game to take a 2-1 lead. Karatsev saved a break point to hold serve in the sixth game and won his next service games and served out the first set on this third set point in the 10th game. Karatsev will play against Daniel Evans in the second round. 

Gerasimov saved three break points to hold serve in a five-deuce first game. Gerasimov converted his second break point to open up a 2-0 lead. Gerasimov broke straight back on his third opportunity and held his serve in the fourth game to draw level to 2-2. Karatsev earned the decisive break in the seventh game at deuce to take a 4-3 lead and served out the second set 6-4 after saving two break points. 

Alexander Bublik edged past Yoshihito Nishioka 6-4 7-6 (7-4). The Kazakh player claimed the first set 6-4 with his only break in the opening game. Both players traded breaks in the first two games of the second set and held their next service games en route to the tie-break. Bublik earned two mini-break in the tie-break to open up a 6-1 lead earning five match points. Nishioka saved three match points but Bublik converted his fourth chance to claim the tie-break 7-4. 

Jeremy Chardy battled past Albert Ramos Vinolas 6-3 3-6 6-4. Chardy converted his third break point to take a 2-0 lead in the first game. Ramos Vinolas broke straight back in the third game, but Chardy earned his second break to take a 2-1 lead. The Frenchman saved two break points to serve out the first set 6-4 a four-deuce 10th game. The second set started with a trade of breaks in the first two game. Ramos Vinolas converted his fourth break point at deuce to win the second set 6-3. The decider went on serve until the 10th game when Chardy got the decisive break to seal the third set 6-4. 

Alexei Popyrin overcame Dennis Novak 7-6 (7-3) 7-5. Novak got the first break in the 11th game at love earning a set point a 6-5, but Popyrin broke straight back sending the first set to tie-break. Popyrin won the tie-break 7-3 with two mini-breaks. The second set went on serve until the ninth game when Popyrin got a break at 15 to take a 5-4 lead earning a chance to serve for the match. Novak broke straight back to draw level to 5-5, but Popyrin converted his fourth break point in the 11th game to claim the second set 7-5. Popyrin will face Karen Khachanov in the second round. Malek Jaziri advanced to the second round after Jo-Wilfried Tsonga withdrew from the match at 3-3 in the opening set.

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Richard Gasquet upsets Danil Medvedev in Geneva

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Richard Gasquet upset Danil Medvedev 6-2 7-6 (7-5) with three breaks of serve in 90 minutes to reach the second round at the Gonet Geneva Open. 

 

Gasquet scored his first win over an opponent ranked in the top 2 since he beat world number 1 Roger Federer at the Monte-Carlo Rolex Masters 2005. 

Medvedev had beaten Gasquet in their only previous head-to-head match at the 2021 US Open en route to his first Grand Slam title. 

Medvedev was playing his first match since Miami in March after undegoing hernia surgery.

Gasquet won six consecutive games from 2-2 in the first set and built up a 6-2 2-0 lead.  

Medveved dropped his serve after three double faults with three double faults. The Russian player broke back in the sixth game to draw level to 3-3 and held serve at love with an ace. 

Medvedev recovered from a mini-break down in the tie-break. Gasquet earned his third mini-break to win the tie-break 7-5. 

The Frenchman will face Kamil Majchrzak, who cruised past Marco Cecchinato 6-2 6-3.

Thanasi Kokkinakis earned his first win on clay in seven years with a 6-4 6-3 win over Fabio Fognini in 1 hour and 28 minutes. 

Kokkinakis went up a break to take a 4-1 lead. Fognini broke back in the seventh game to draw level to 4-4.  Kokkinakis broke serve at love in the tenth game to claim the first set 6-4. 

Fognini made two double faults and missed three game points before dropping serve in the second game of the second set. Kokkinakis did not face any break points in his remaining four service games. 

Christopher O’Connell edged past Albert Ramos Vinolas 7-6 (7-5) 6-4 to set up a second round match against Reilly Opelka. 

Paulo Sousa cruised past 2021 semifinalist Pablo Andujar 6-1 6-4. Sousa will face Nikoloz Basilashvili, who was leading 6-4 before Facundo Bagnis retired from the match.

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Former Finalist Marketa Vondrousova To Miss French Open Following Surgery

The Olympic silver medallist will miss a Grand Slam tournament for the first time in two-and-a-half years.

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Image via https://twitter.com/WTA_insider

Czech world No.35 Marketa Vondrousova has pulled out of next week’s French Open after undergoing what she describes as a ‘small surgery.’

 

Vondrousova, who reached the final at Roland Garros back in 2019, underwent a procedure on her left wrist after experiencing recurring pain. She decided to do so following a medical consultation and will be soon going through rehab. It will be the first Grand Slam event she has missed since the 2019 US Open which she also withdrew from due to a wrist injury.

“The last few weeks were not easy, I have been experiencing recurring pain in my wrist,” Vondrousova wrote in an Instagram post published on Monday. “After seeing a couple of doctors I decided to get this small surgery done to be able to play pain-free.”
“Staying positive through the recovery and can’t wait to be back on the court soon,”
she added.

The 22-year-old last played on Tour at the Stuttgart Open where she lost in the first round to Tunisia’s Ons Jabeur. So far this season she has achieved a win-loss record of 13-5 with her best run being to the semi-finals of the Dubai Tennis Championships as a qualifier. Vondrousova also reached the fourth round of the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells and defeated Emma Raducanu in the Billie Jean Cup.

A former junior world No.1, Vondrousova has been ranked as high as 14th in the world. So far in her career, she has won just one WTA title which was back in 2017 at the Lugano Open in Switzerland. However, she has reached the final at another four events with the last being at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games. She has scored a total of six wins over top 10 players.

Another player in doubt for the French Open is defending champion Barbora Krejcikova who hasn’t played a match on the Tour since February. The world No.2 has been sidelined from action due to an elbow injury but remains on the entry list for the Grand Slam which will begin on Sunday.

The French Open draw will take place on Thursday.

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Roger Federer’s Team8 Considering Bid To Buy Cincinnati Masters Rights From USTA

The potential move has gained support from one former world No.1 player who says ‘it is nice to see responsible names’ in the mix to buy the prestigious event.

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Roger Federer Wimbledon 2021
Roger Federer (SUI) playing against Adrian Mannarino (FRA) in the first round of the Gentlemen's Singles on Centre Court at The Championships 2021. Held at The All England Lawn Tennis Club, Wimbledon. Day 2 Tuesday 29/06/2021. Credit: AELTC/Jed Leicester

It is understood that sports and entertainment company Team8 which was co-founded by Roger Federer is looking into potentially submitting an application for ownership of the Cincinnati Masters, according to two sources.

 

Sports business publication Sportico and Steve Weissman from The Tennis Channel have both reported that the business is among a number of interested parties who want to buy the event that is best known as the Western and Southern Open. In February this year it was confirmed that the USTA is selling their 93.8% stake in the tournament for a ‘nine-figure sum.’ It is understood that the organization doesn’t want the event to be relocated from Cincinnati in part of any deal.

“The USTA’s Board of Directors believes now is the right time to explore potential strategic options and alternatives in order to optimize the long-term growth of the tournament and take the tournament to the next level,” the USTA said in a statement published by tennis.com.

The USTA brought the rights to the men’s event back in 2009 for $12.5M and has since spent an additional $65M. Whilst Cincinnati is a combined tournament, the ongoing negotiations only apply to the men’s section. The women’s tournament is overseen by Octagon management.

Neither Federer or a member of Team8 have commented on the reported plans. The company was founded by the 20-time Grand Slam champion and his agent Tony Godsick back in 2013. Since then they have been involved in the creation of the Laver Cup, became a ‘major investor’ in the Universal Tennis system and are a ‘strategic investor and partner’ to On Running.

Should Team8 become the new owners, questions may arise about conflicts of interest with Federer still being an active player on Tour. The 40-year-old is currently sidelined from action due to a knee injury but is aiming to stage a comeback at the Swiss Open later this year. However, former world No.1 Andy Roddick has given his full backing to the possible takeover.

“In the world of tennis, where conflicts of interest know no bounds at all, Roger can do this. He has, obviously, been a great steward for the game and has created an incredible relationship with the fans in the city of Cincinnati. You’d like to see it stay in the tennis family with someone who actually knows and loves our sport.” Roddick told The Tennis Channel.

Federer has won the Cincinnati Masters a record seven times in his career.

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