Friday, 22 June 2018

Federer escapes from Paire - barely

The completion of second round matches in Halle included a tough ride for top seed Roger Federer against unseeded Benoit Paire.

Paire began well, with a good percentage of first serves finding their mark.  However at 3-4, the Frenchman committed successive errors and gave Federer the break.

The Swiss ace served out the set without trouble and led 6-3.

6 aces were handy for Roger.


Two break points created by Federer in the opening game of set two gave no indication of what was to come.

The Paire backhand was pivotal in making Federer uncomfortable in his movement around the court, and not only was Paire’s serve held, but he broke the top seed twice to lead 4-0.

It was close to being 5-0, but Federer managed to break the French serve with a backhand cross court winner and limit the damage to 1-4.

Paire, who in six previous meetings with Federer, had never won a set, held his next two service games, sealing the set 6-3 with an ace.


No breaks of serve in the deciding set, but Paire saved two match points at 5-5 15-40.

In the tie break, Federer initially led with a mini break 3-1.  Paire then took the advantage with the next four points.

At 5-6, Federer saved a match point with a top spin forehand landing on the baseline, but he lost a point on serve to give a second match point to Paire, this time 7-6 and the 48th ranked player to serve.

A forcing backhand return produced an unforced  forehand error from the French racquet and Federer won the remaining points to escape 6-3 3-6 7-6(7).


A quarter final awaits for the nine time winner of this tournament.

Federer will play Australian Matthew Ebden, who defeated Philipp Kohlschreiber (6) 4-6 6-1 6-2

Ebden has, with his performance here, moved up the rankings from 60 to a new career high at this point of 50.  The worst he can finish after the tournament is 52.


Remaining Halle second round matches:

Andreas Seppi defeated wildcard Florian Mayer 6-2 6-4, disappointing German fans wanting their man to win

Seppi will play Borna Coric in the quarter finals 

Borna Coric defeated lucky loser in qualifying Nikoloz Basilashvili 6-4 6-2


London:

Remaining second round matches:

Nick Kyrgios defeated Kyle Edmund (7) 7-6(3) 6-7(5) 6-3, including 32 aces 

He will play Feliciano López in the quarter finals 

Feliciano López was given a walkover by Milos Raonic 

Adrian Mannarino defeated qualifier Julien Benneteau 7-6(4) 6-3 in an all French clash.

He will play Novak Djokovic in the quarter finals 

Wildcard Novak Djokovic defeated Grigor Dimitrov (2) 6-4 6-1 in just over an hour


Birmingham:

Remaining second round matches:

Barbora Strycova upset top seed Garbiñe Muguruza 6-2 6-4, the reigning Wimbledon champion losing the last four games of set two.

Strycova will play Lesia Tsurenko in the quarter finals 

Lesia Tsurenko defeated Daria Kasatkina (6) 1-6 6-3 6-3

Julia Goerges (5) defeated Ash Barty 7-6(6) 6-3 - Barty wasted chances in set one, having had set points with Goerges serving at 5-6, then leading 6-3 in the tie break.  Goerges won the final four points in the tie break and controlled the rest of the match.

The German will play defending champion Petra Kvitova in the quarter finals 

Petra Kvitová (4) defeated the other remaining Aussie Dasha Gavrilova 6-2 6-2


Mallorca:

Remaining second round matches:

Lucie Safarova (7) defeated Vika Azarenka 6-3 6-4

She will play Tatjana Maria in the quarter finals 

Qualifier Ajla Tomljanovic defeated fellow qualifier Rebecca Peterson 6-3 6-3

She will play Anastasija Sevastova in the quarter finals 

Anastasija Sevastova (3) defeated qualifier Antonia Lottner 1-6 6-3 6-1

Qualifier Alison Riske defeated Polona Hercog 3-6 7-5 3-6

She will play Samantha Stosur in the quarter finals 

Thursday, 21 June 2018

Kerber loses to qualifier Riske

As second round matches began in Europe, a few first round matters needed clearing up.


In Halle, lucky loser in qualifying Nikoloz Basilashvili defeated wildcard Rudolf Molleker 6-4 7-6(5)

In Mallorca, qualifier Alison Riske upset Angie Kerber (2) 5-7 6-2 6-1.


Second round results:

Halle:

Yuichi Sugita defeated Dominic Thiem (3) 6-2 7-5

He will play Denis Kudla in the quarter finals 

Qualifier Denis Kudla defeated Stefanos Tsitsipas 6-3 6-4

Karen Khachanov defeated Kei Nishikori (7) 6-2 6-2

He will play Roberto Bautista Agut in the quarter finals 

Roberto Bautista Agut (4) defeated Robin Haase 6-4 7-5


London:

Marin Cilic (1) defeated Gilles Müller 4-6 6-3 6-3

He will play Sam Querrey in the quarter finals 

Sam Querrey (5) defeated Stan Wawrinka 7-5 6-7(3) 6-1 in an enthralling contest for at least two sets

Jérémy Chardy defeated Daniil Medvedev 7-6(6) 6-3

He will play Frances Tiafoe in the quarter finals 

Frances Tiafoe defeated Leonardo Mayer 6-4 2-6 6-4


Birmingham:

Magdaléna Rybáriková defeated Kiki Mladenovic 3-6 6-2 6-1

She will play Dalila Jakupovic in the quarter finals 

Qualifier Dalila Jakupovic was ahead of Naomi Osaka (3) 6-3 but the Japanese number one had been clearly struggling with an injury, and despite receiving treatment, Naomi retired before the second set commenced.

Mihaela Buzarnescu defeated Petra Martic 4-6 6-3 6-2

She will play Elina Svitolina in the quarter finals 

Elina Svitolina (2) defeated Alizé Cornet 6-4 6-2


Mallorca:

Caroline Garcia (1) defeated qualifier Johanna Larsson 6-4 6-3

She will play Sofia Kenin in the quarter finals 

Qualifier Sofia Kenin defeated Alison Van Uytvanck 2-6 6-4 6-4

Tatjana Maria defeated Carina Witthöft 7-6(1) 6-3 in an all German clash

She will play the winner of Vika Azarenka and Lucie Safarova (7) in the quarter finals 

Samantha Stosur defeated wildcard Lara Arruabarrena 6-3 6-4

She will play the winner of Polona Hercog and qualifier Alison Riske in the quarter finals 

Wednesday, 20 June 2018

Kyrgios d Murray - but Andy’s back

Across four tournaments there were some great matches but none better than the Andy Murray come back clash against Nick Kyrgios at the Fever-Tree Championships held at Queens Club, London.


In his first hit out on the ATP Tour for about a year, Murray began by holding serve, the opening point a clear winner.

Kyrgios played catch up and it wasn’t easy for him after four games.

Indeed his composure evaporated at that point and good mate Andy continued to play the consistent tennis for which he is renowned.

Kyrgios contributed to his own demise, with two double faults in the sixth game to drop serve, then another on set point.

Murray was ahead 6-2, and had shown for a good part his skills of accurate serve, outstanding defence, speed around the court, and of course good shot selection.


Kyrgios has had some matches in the past when he would let a bad start affect his approach for the remainder of the contest.

Not today however.  The pair exchanged two breaks of serve to send the second set into a tie break, where Kyrgios let a 3-0 lead slip to 4-4 with Murray to serve.  The Australian rallied, winning the final three points and levelling the match at a set apiece.


The decider saw Murray’s movement a llittle less assured, and his service games were threatened each time.  Kyrgios was unable to convert any of his break points until Murray served a double fault at 5-6 and 30-40.

2-6 7-6(4) 7-5 A sad way for a terrific match to end, but Murray should take heart from his performance - extending a quality opponent to two hours thirty nine minutes was excellent and as his good friend Kyrgios said, he only needs more matches under his belt.

For Kyrgios, this was an important victory, his first over Murray, and one in which he displayed a composure and maturity under pressure.


Defending champion Feliciano Lopez defeated David Goffin (4) and Tomas Berdych (8) fell to qualifier Julien Benneteau.

Grigor Dimitrov (2) survived in three sets over Damir Dzumhur, while Kyle Edmund (7) defeated Ryan Harrison and will meet Kyrgios in the second round.


Halle:

Two French seeds were eliminated - Lucas Pouille (5) lost to Stefanos Tsitsipas and Richard Gasquet (8), title winner last week, fell to wildcard Florian Mayer.

Benoit Paire flew the French flag in defiance, dismissing American Steve Johnson in straight sets.

Roger Federer (1) and Philipp Kohlschreiber (6) won through.


Birmingham:

Garbine Muguruza (1) destroyed Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova in 59 minutes, surrendering just three games. She will be joined in the second round by wildcard Elina Svitolina (2), defending champion Petra Kvitová (4), Julia Goerges (5) and Daria Kasatkina (6).  Kasatkina and Svitolina required three sets to advance.

Elise Mertens (7) exited thanks to qualifier Dalila Jakupovic, ranked 113, and CoCo Vandeweghe (8) lost to Petra Martic.


Mallorca:

Opening round success for Caroline Garcia (1), Anastasija Sevastova (3), and Lucie Safarova (7), but the exit gates for Danielle Collins (6), losing to qualifier Rebecca Peterson.

Good to see Vika Azarenka winning, although it was a struggle against lucky loser in qualifying Stefanie Voegele, the match lasting three sets and two hours twenty minutes.

Tuesday, 19 June 2018

More tennis in UK Spain Germany

Four more grass court tournaments this week, and a number of top players taking part, as preparations for Wimbledon become more serious.


The Gerry Weber Open in Halle, Germany (ATP 500 Category)


The Nature Vslley Classic in Birmingham, UK (WTA Premier Category)


The Fever-Tree Championships in London, UK (ATP 500 Category)


The Mallorca Open in Mallorca, Spain (WTA International Category)


Halle:

Roger Federer is too seed and is accompanied by young gun top ten players Sascha Zverev and Dominic Thiem in the draw, together with five in the top thirty making up the rest of the seeds.

Thiem (3), Roberto Bautista Agut (4) and Kei Nishikori (7) are the three seeds to play and win their first round matches on Day One.


Birmingham:

Garbiñe Muguruza is top seed in a field boasting four top ten players, and seven others in the top twenty.

Already, third seed, Karolina Pliskova, has lost her opening round match to last years Wimbledon semi finalist Magdaléna Rybáriková - a tough draw for the Czech player.


London:

Andy Murray makes his return from an extended absence through injury, and the tennis world, UK fans in particular, will be delighted to see him back on court.

He faces up to Nick Kyrgios in the first round so it won’t be an easy comeback match, but compelling nevertheless.

Top seed is Marin Cilic, and there are three other top ten players, plus four in the top twenty, in the strong draw.  Also in the field are Novak Djokovic, Stan Wawrinka and Milos Raonic, all unseeded and presenting a danger to whomever they meet.

The seeds playing on Day One with success were Cilic and Sam Querrey (5), but eliminated was Jack Sock (6), beaten by Daniil Medvedev.


Mallorca:

Top seed is Caroline Garcia, world number six, and top twenty players Angie Kerber and Anastasija Sevastova join her in the draw - the remaining seeds are all in the top fifty.

Of the three seeds playing on Day One, all lost - Anett Kontaveit (4), Aryna Sabalenka (8) and Carla Suarez Navarro (5) who relented to fellow Spaniard Lara Arruabarrena in a  match for the home crowd.

Monday, 18 June 2018

Titles to Barty Federer Gasquet Krunic

Four finals up for grabs, two in the Netherlands, and one in each of Germany and London.


s-Hertogenbosch:

Women’s

In a match lasting just over two hours, the first set went to a tie break, after Kirsten Flipkens and Aleksandra Krunic (7) had each achieved two service breaks - Flipkens from three chances, Krunic from six.

The tie break was one way traffic, the Belgian shutting out Krunic completely to lead 7-6(0).

Both players had high first serve percentages in set two, but it was Krunic who won the better share of points on serve, which reflected in the extra break of serve which she collected.  Th match was levelled 6-7(0) 7-5.


Aleksandra Krunic dominated the deciding set, winning 74% of points on her own serve and 64% of those on the Flipkens delivery.

Two break chances were converted and the title was Russian bound, Krunic winning 6-7(0) 7-5 6-1.


With the title, her first on the WTA Tour, Krunic moves up 16 places in the rankings to 39, a new career high (previously 45)

Once a top 15 player, Flipkens moves back into the top 50 with her performance.

Semi finalist here, Viktoria Kuzmova, is a moves up the rankings from a previous career high of 81 to a new one of 66.


Men’s

Richard Gasquet (2) served his way to a set lead over fellow Frenchman Jérémy Chardy, winning 68% of points on his serve, and breaking twice for 6-3.

The second set was on serve until a double fault in the eighth game from  Gasquet delivered a break point to Chardy.  He converted and served for the set.

Gasquet broke back and won the ultimate tie break to take the title 6-3 7-6(5), the 15th of his career, first since the 2016 European Open in October 2016, and first on grass since his initial titles in Nottingham in 2005 and 2006.


Stuttgart:

In the opening set Roger Federer (1) won all but two points on his first serve, while Milos Raonic (7) won 75% on his.

Raonic has two break chances but both were saved by Federer.

The Swiss ace gathered one opportunity and used it, enabling him to take a set lead 6-4.

No break chances for either player in the second set and a tie break occurred.

A double fault contributed by Raonic at 3-4 signalled his demise, and Federer confirmed this by wrapping up the next two points and winning his second Stuttgart title 6-4 7-6(3).


In doing so, he reclaimed the number one world ranking and will probably be seeded one for Wimbledon.

Raonic has moved up four spots to 31 in the rankings and that should secure a seeding at Wimbledon, although he would have been given one anyway, as the organisers for this Grand Slam tournament give seedings based on rankings plus performances on grass - Raonic has been a Wimbledon finalist, semi finalist and quarter finalist previously.


Nottingham:

Ash Barty (1) had slightly the better of the opening set against Johanna Konta (4), converting one of two break chances in the sixth game, and saving the one opportunity given Konta in the very next game.

Barty served out the set to lead 6-3.

At 0-1, Barty saved two break points in set two before two aces sealed the game and 1-1.

Konta saved a break point to hold and Barty saved three to do the same and 2-2 was achieved.

At 3-3 Barty wasted two break chances with poor shots and Konta held firm to not only lead 4-3 but break serve and continue her resurgence to win the set 6-3.


Barty was now the one being hunted as Konta had found the shots to worry the Australian.  However at the start of set three Barty returned to her first set form, breaking serve to lead 3-1, then consolidating for 4-1.

Konta struck back and took the next three games to level at 4-4.

The match, which had so many twists was on a knifes edge now.

Barty had 40-15 but let herself down with a double fault and deuce.

A few deuces didn’t seem to faze the Aussie as she held her nerve and serve and lead 5-4.


Disappointed with the umpire in the previous game, Konta let it affect her, losing the first three points on her serve, and giving those as match points to the top seed.  She saved one but a passing shot with Konta sprawling at the net gave Barty her second career title, and first on grass  6-3 3-6 6-4.

With the title, Ash moves back to her career high ranking of 16.

Sunday, 17 June 2018

Barty and Konta: Nottingham finalists

Semi final day on the grass courts of Europe as we continue to count down the days to Wimbledon.


s-Hertogenbosch:

Women’s

Aleksandra Krunic (7) defeated CoCo Vandeweghe (1)

CoCo started as expected, serving seven aces in the opening set and never facing a break point with 74% of points won on first serve.

Krunic was punished on her initial delivery, capturing only 41% of points.

Converting two of her seven break opportunities, it was a standard set won by the American 6-2. 13 unforced errors did little to help the Serbian player.


Thereafter things became far different - it was a tennis match decided with two tie breaks.

How Krunic turned around her fortunes was amazing, considering Vandeweghe led with a break 4-2 in the second set.  The top seed dropped just two points in her first three service games and appeared certain to progress to another final here and battle for a third Libema Open trophy.


However Aleksandra created a break back point with a lob winner which is particularly good considering the height of Vandeweghe.  The break came, but two more break points needed to be saved by Krunic at 4-4 before the subsequent tie break.

Three thrilling backhand winners sealed the tie break 7-6(4) for Krunic, sending the match into a deciding third set, and obviously annoying Vandeweghe who had wasted her chances.


The pair exchanged breaks of serve for 3-3, but another chance evaded Vandeweghe in the tenth game as she held match point for the second time.  Krunic saved it and the tie break eventuated once more.

Vandeweghe was all over the place and Krunic won the breaker easily, suffering the loss of a mere point.


The upset win 2-6 7-6(4) 7-6(1) for Aleksandra Krunic sees her in the second final of her WTA career, the first being the Guangzhou Open last year, where she lost to Shuai Zhang.


She will this time play Kirsten Flipkens in the final

Kirsten Flipkens defeated Viktoria Kuzmova 7-5 6-7(7) 6-4

Flipkens had four match points in set two, but all were saved.

Kuzmova then broke Flipkens in the decider and served three love games in succession to lead 4-2.

However her run stopped then and the Belgian won the rest to reach her first final since 2016, where she defeated Johanna Larsson in the Korean Open.


Flipkens and Krunic have played each other once before, in a Fed Cup match in 2016, where Crunic prevailed.


Men’s

Richard Gasquet (2) defeated qualifier Bernard Tomic 6-4 6-7(6) 6-2

He will play Jeremy Chardy in the final

Jeremy Chardy defeated another Aussie Matthew Ebden 6-4 7-5

The all French final has Richard Gasquet leading 4-1 in the head to head battle, the pair having already met twice in 2018.

Chardy had his first win over Gasquet in the Miami Masters 1000 on a hard court, and Gasquet won in the Monte Carlo Masters 1000 on a clay court.  This is the first time they have played an ATP match on grass, and the first final against each other.


Stuttgart:

Milos Raonic (7) defeated Lucas Pouille (2) 6-4 7-6(3)

He will play Roger Federer in the final

Roger Federer (1) defeated Nick Kyrgios (4) 6-7(2) 6-2 7-6(5), the third Aussie to lose in Europe today.

Federer leads Raonic 10-3 in head to head meetings and the last two have been at Wimbledon - Raonic winning in the 2016 semis and Federer returning the favour last year in the quarters 


Nottingham:

Ash Barty (1) defeated Naomi Osaka (3) 6-3 6-4 to reach her second final this year, the other being her loss to Angie Kerber in January in the Sydney International, at last flying the Aussie flag in victory today.

She will play Johanna Konta in the final 

Johanna Konta (4) defeated Donna Vekic (6) 6-2 6-3, revenge for the loss inflicted by Vekic in last years Nottingham final.

Barty and Konta have met twice before, once here last year when Konta won in the quarters, and later in 2017 where Barty prevailed in the Wuhan Open second round.

Saturday, 16 June 2018

Federer to play Kyrgios in Stuttgart semi

Quarter final day in the Netherlands, Germany and England.


s-Hertogenbosch:


Men’s

Jeremy Chardy defeated wildcard Mackenzie McDonald 6-4 4-6 7-6(5)

Chardy, who won the ATP Challenger Tour trophy last week at Surbiton, came from behind 2-4 to force the tie break and win.

He will play Matthew Ebden in the semis 

Matthew Ebden defeated Marius Copil 6-3 6-3, continuing his run of no dropped sets this tournament.

Qualifier Bernard Tomic defeated Fernando Verdasco (4) 6-4 7-6(3)

He will play Richard Gasquet in the semis 

Richard Gasquet (2) defeated wildcard Stefanos Tsitsipas (5) 7-6(2) 7-6(4)


Women’s

Remaining second round matches

Aryna Sabalenka (8) defeated Ajla Tomljanovic 3-6 7-6(5) 6-0

Kirsten Flipkens defeated Kiki Bertens (3) 6-4 6-7(6) 6-1

Qualifier Antonia Lottner defeated Elise Mertens (2) 7-5 6-3

Quarter finals

CoCo Vandeweghe (1) defeated Alison Riske 7-6(6) 3-6 7-6(12)

The top seed saved two match points at 4-6 in the final set tie break, and five more after that.

She will play Aleksandra Krunic in the semis 

Aleksandra Krunic (7) defeated Veronika Kudermetova 6-2 6-2

Kirsten Flipkens defeated Aryna Sabalenka (8) 6-4 6-4

She will play Viktoria Kuzmova in the semis 

Viktoria Kuzmova defeated qualifier Antonia Lottner 6-3 6-2


Stuttgart:

Roger Federer (1) defeated Guido Pella 6-4 6-4

He will play Nick Kyrgios in the semis 

Nick Kyrgios (4) defeated Feliciano Lopez (8) in his quarter final 

The opening set was a serving exhibition from Kyrgios - 8 aces and just one point surrendered on his first serve which found the mark 67% of the time.

Nick required just the one break point which he converted and proceeded to take the set 6-4.

Roles were reversed in set two with Lopez sending down 6 aces to Kyrgios just 5.

Kyrgios served at a terrific 84% first serve accuracy but it was Lopez who won all but two points on his first delivery and faced no break points.

Again only one break point for the set - Lopez gathered it and converted to level things at 4-6 6-3.

Kyrgios steadied himself for the decider, and despite dropping his first serve percentage dramatically, he won 21 of 27 points on his total serves.

Once more only one break point was achieved and Kyrgios managed to find it, having more of the play throughout the set.

The Australian, on a comeback from a nagging injury leaving him out of the clay court season, has looked solid on a surface suiting his game and he will play Roger Federer in the semis.

The winning score was 6-4 3-6 6-3.


Milos Raonic (7) defeated wildcard Tomas Berdych (3) 7-6(2) 7-6(1)

He will play Lucas Pouille in the semis 

Lucas Pouille (2) defeated Denis Istomin 6-4 6-7(5) 6-3


Nottingham:

Ash Barty (1) defeated wildcard Katie Boulter 6-0 6-2 in just under an hour

She will play Naomi Osaka in the semis 

Naomi Osaka (3) defeated Mihaela Buzarnescu (5) 6-4 6-1, winning eight of the last nine games

Johanna Konta (4) defeated Dalila Jakupovic 6-4 6-2

She will play Donna Vekic in the semis 

Donna Vekic (6) defeated Mona Barthel 7-5 6-1