Veterans Stan Wawrinka, Andy Murray and David Ferrer Feature at ATP Eastbourne Steen Kirby, Tennis Atlantic
The ATP Eastbourne 250 is the final warm up before Wimbledon. Here is your look at all the UK grass court action.
Look for Diego Schwartzman to start the tournament off well defeating Roberto Quiroz or Lukas Lacko. Cam Norrie or Daniel Brands should be his quarterfinal opponent with Brands facing Norrie first up, and Jay Clarke or Ryan Harrison to follow. I’ll back Brands to have a strong tournament, the former ATP regular is building his ranking back and has been good on grass this year. Look for Brands over Schwartzman in the quarters.
Gilles Muller or Gilles Simon look to be another of the semifinalists. Muller opens with John Millman while Simon will take on Leonardo Mayer. I’ll back Muller to find form on grass and defeat Millman, Simon and Andreas Seppi, who should defeat Denis Istomin and Marco Cecchinato to reach the quarters.
Kyle Edmund will face off with Stan Wawrinka or Andy Murray in an engaging round 2 matchup. Murray should get past Wawrinka in his second UK comeback match, but I’ll back Edmund to win their round 2 matchup and then I’d expect Alex De Minaur to be the one to emerge from this section. De Minaur is in fantastic form and should defeat Mikhail Kukushkin, Matteo Berrettini or David Ferrer, and Edmund/Murray to reach the semis.
Taylor Fritz vs Denis Shapovalov looks like a great next gen battle in round 2. Fritz should defeat Jared Donaldson to set that up, with Shapovalov winning and reaching the quarters opposite Daniil Medvedev. The Russian should beat Steve Johnson, and Nicolas Jarry or Mischa Zverev to emerge from the section and then beat Shapovalov at that stage.
Daniel Brands and Marius Copil Triumph In Qualifying at Sofia Open Adam Addicott, Tennis Atlantic
The first edition of the Sofia Open saw the surprise exit of the top two seeds in the qualifying draw.
Headlining the field was Japan’s Yūichi Sugita. Ranked 124th in the world, Sugita recently qualified for his maiden Australian Open main draw before suffering a defeat to French 23rd seed Gael Monfils. The 27-year-old kicked off his Bulgarian campaign with a 6-4, 6-1, win over Turkish wildcard Cem İlkel. Awaiting him in the final round was Romania’s Marius Copil. Copil defeated 18-year-old Bulgarian Alexandar Lazarov in straight sets during his first round match.
Copil’s start to 2016 has been far from ideal with him losing two out of his three matches during the Australian swing. Despite the unsatisfactory to the year, Copil proved too problematic for Sugita. The world No.170 fended off three break points to win 6-3, 6-4, after 78 minutes of play.
Following the top seed out of the tournament was Russian second seed Konstantin Kravchuk. At 133rd in the world, Kravchuk is just seven places away from his career best of 126. His opening match was a tricky test against Belgium’s Yannick Mertens. The 30-year-old had a match point to take the win in straight sets, but failed to convert as he eventually edged past the world No.201 6-2, 5-7, 6-2.
There was a bigger test awaiting Kravchuk in the second round, German fifth seed Daniel Brands. Brands has enjoyed an impressive start to 2016 with a semifinal appearance in the Noumea Challenger, followed by reaching the second round of the Australian Open as a qualifier. Despite a promising start by the Russian, the 30-year-old prevailed to Brands. The German recovered from a set down to upset the second seed 4-6,7-6(5),6-4.
Mirza Basic recently became only the second Bosnian man to reach a main draw of a Grand Slam tournament at the Australian Open. In Melbourne he defeated Robin Haase in the first round before succumbing to Tomas Berdych. Basic was able to continue his Melbourne momentum in Bulgaria with a duo of wins. His opening performance against Israel’s Amir Weintraub was mixed. After failing to serve the match out in the final set at 5-4, the Bosnian grabbed another critical break in the following game to seal the win – 6-7(2), 6-3,7-5. Basic’s second round encounter was more straightforward as he eased past 6th seed Farrukh Dustov 6-3, 6-3, to reach the main draw.
Completing the quartet of Bulgarian qualifiers was Italy’s Thomas Fabbiano. Since reaching the last eight of the ATP Chennai Open at the start of the year, the Italian has suffered early losses during the Australian Open qualifying tournament and at the Manila Challenger. Fabbiano, seeded fourth in the tournament, overcame his recent disappointments to reach the main draw in Sofia. After dismissing Serbia’s Laslo Djere in the first round, the Italian set up an encounter with Marton Fucsovics. The encounter was an easy task for the 2007 French Open boys doubles champion as he won six consecutive games during his 6-4, 6-1, victory.
First round matches for the qualifiers
Q Daniel Brands vs. Q Thomas Fabbiano
Q Mirza Basic vs. Yuki Bhambri
Q Marius Copil vs. Hyeon Chung
All of the qualifiers are capable of making runs given this open field.
Newcomers and Old Faces Shine During 2016 Australian Open Men’s Qualifying Adam Addicott, Tennis Atlantic
The final round of qualifying for the upcoming Australian Open saw sucess for the newcomers to the tour as well as the veterans of the game.
Dan Evans has become the fourth British man in the main draw after completing a dream run in the qualifying tournament. The world No.185 produced the upset of the event in the first round when he defeated top seed Luca Vanni in straight sets. The Brit then almost made an exit in the second round after trailing by a set and 0-3 before battling back to defeat Israel’s Amir Weintraub 5-7, 7-6(4), 6-2. In the final round Evans faced 17th seed Bjorn Fratangelo. The American defeated Canada’s Frank Dancevic and Spain’s Oriol Roca Batalla in his first two matches. The final showdown was a mixed encounter for both men. Evans endured a second set blip against the 2011 French Open boys champion before winning 7-5, 4-6, 6-0 after almost two hours.
Throughout the tournaments Evans has been cheered on by world No.2 Andy Murray. During his second round match Murray was spotted in the crowd cheering him on. The 25-year-old will play in his first Grand Slam main draw since the 2014 Wimbledon Championships. Evans has put his qualifying triumph down to his ability to focus on the sport more.
“It’s nice [qualifying for the main draw],” Evans said. “I worked hard in pre-season in La Manga, even in the summer when I was playing in England in the Futures I was trying to work pretty hard. It was playing tennis and staying professional. “I think that’s the difference, just staying focused on court and staying more interested and focused on just playing tennis rather than all the other stuff, and that’s pretty much what I did.”
Frantagelo also made the main draw as a lucky loser, as he continues to improve his standing on the tennis tour.
23-year-old Slovak Jozef Kovalik have qualified for his first ever Grand Slam main draw after stunning second seed Ruben Bemelmans 6-2, 7-6(7). Kovalik, who hasn’t won a title since 2014, made an impressive start after breaking his Belgian opponent twice in the opening set to take it after 34 minutes on the court. Bemelmans responded at the start of the second set by breaking for a 2-0 lead before Kovalik eventually broke back in the sixth game to level proceedings. With the prospect of reaching the main draw, Kovalik endured a nerve-wracking tiebreaker. After racing to a 6-3 lead, Bemelmans triumphantly battled back to level at 6-6. Despite the late resurgence from his opponent, Kovalik held his nerve by taking the win on his fifth match point.
Tim Smyczek was the highest player to qualify for the main draw. Last year at the Australian Open, the American earned praise following his outstanding performance against Rafael Nadal in the second round. Smyczek took two sets off the 9-time French Open champion before being edged out 7-5 in the final set. During this year’s qualifying, the third seed defeated Brazil’s Jose Pereira and Russia’s Aslan Karatsev in straight sets. In the deciding round, he faced French 29th seed Kenny de Schepper. The Frenchman endured a marathon second round match, defeating Estonia’s Jurgen Zopp 12-10 ion the final set. It was a far from a straightforward final match for Smyczek who overcame Schepper 3-6, 7-5, 6-3. In the final set the world No.108 was a break down before breaking back twice to secure the win.
China’s Di Wu reached his third Australian Open main draw without dropping a set. The 24-year-old is currently ranked 240th in the world and won two Futures titles on the tour last year. In the second round he defeated Italian 26th seed Thomas Fabbiano 6-1, 6-4, to set up a final clash with Belgium Niels Desein. Desein knocked out Colombian fourth seed Alejandro Falla in the second round. Wu encountered little difficulty against Desein as he broke the belgian five times to seal the 6-3, 6-1, victory.
37-year-old Radek Stepanek defeated two seeded players to reach his 13th consecutive Australian Open main draw. The Czech knocked out German fifth seed Jan-Lennard Struff 6-4, 6-4, in the second round. Awaiting Stefanek in the final round was former world No.70 Alejandro Gonzalez. Gonzalez battled his way to the third round after a two three-set wins over Henri Laaksonen and wildcard Marinko Matosevic. Stepanek proved too strong for the 24th seed sealing the 6-3, 6-1, win after 75 minutes.
The Australian Open is a special place for Bosnian tennis. In 2014 Damir Džumhur became the first Bosnian player to play in a Grand Slam draw at the Melbourne tournament. Now Mirza Basic has become the second player from his country to play in a Grand Slam main draw. In Basic’s final match he played India’s Saketh Myneni. The world No.137 was on course to clinch the final set with a 5-2 advantage before Myneni clawed his way back to 5-5. Despite the Indian comeback, Basic broke his opponent for the third time in the match to win 3-6, 6-4, 8-6.
Ryan Harrison saved four match points during the second set to battle past Aleksandr Nedovyesov 6-7 (8), 7-6(6), 6-3. During the tiring encounter, which lasted two hours and 40 minutes, Harrison got a stronghold in the match after racing to 3-0 in the final set. The lead was enough for him to secure the match. The 23-year-old will play in the main draw for the sixth consecutive year. Harrison has a main draw win-loss of 1-5 going into this year’s tournament. His only main draw win in Melbourne against Andrey Kuznetsov in 2013.
German world No.224 Peter Gojowczyk booked his place in the main draw without facing a seeded player. The German produced an impressive second round win over American teenage world No.177 Francis Tiafoe. Next up for the German was Russia’s Alexander Kudryavtsev. The Russian stunned 8th seed Go Soeda in his second round match. Playing Kudryavtsev, Gojowczyk produced a mixed performance. After losing the opening set, the German held a 5-1 lead in the second set before losing four consecutive games. Nevertheless, the world No.224 managed to overcome his difficulties to win 3-6,7-6(3), 6-2.
One of the most promising young players on the ATP Tour, Taylor Fritz, booked his place in the main draw after battling past Mischa Zverev 6-3, 6-7(5), 6-4. The 18-year-old was on course to losing the match after going behind 0-4 in the final set before impressive winning six consecutive games to reach his maiden Australian Open main draw. Since winning the US Open boys title last year, Fritz has a win-loss record of 25-4. After staging the epic comeback, Fritz spoke of his delight.
“It feels great, what an amazing way to do it,” Fritz laughed. “I was playing solid and then so many times I was asking myself: ‘What do I do?’ There were so many points where I thought I didn’t think I could possibly play better and he beat on them.“I told myself keep competing and not to give up and if he could keep doing what he was doing then that was too good and I’ve got to give it to him.
“I got on top. I started playing really well, got a lot of momentum on my side, was getting really pumped up and was able to finish it.”
Daniel Brands has reached his first Grand Slam main draw since the 2014 French Open after outplaying James McGee 7-6(1), 6-4. Brands have been ranked as high as 51st in the world in 2013 but has been troubled by the effects of mononucleosis in recent years. The recent trouble resulted in him dropping outside of the top 400 last year. Fourtnastely for the 28-year-old, he ended 2015 on a positive note by reaching the quarterfinals of the Valencia Open as a qualifier.
In the battle of the Frenchmen, Pierre-Hughes Herbert edged out Edouard Roger-Vasselin 6-3,1-6,9-7. Hebert is known best for his performance in the doubles after winning the US Open title last year with Nicolas Mahut. Prior to his triumph over Roger-Vasselin, Herbert produced earlier wins over 20th seed Gastao Elias and Marco Chiudinelli. Herbert is currently ranked 167th in the world and last year as a qualifier he reached the final of the Winston-Salem Open, losing to Kevin Anderson.
There was double joy for Japanese tennis. 12th seed Yuichi Sugita had to endure three three-set matches to move into the main draw in Melbourne. After wins over Ante Pavic and Yannick Martens, the Sugita outlasted American 32nd seed Dennis Novikov (6-4,4-6,6-3). Meanwhile Tatsuma Ito struggled past Spain’s Adrian Menendez-Maceiras. He clinched the victory after breaking in the final game of the match to win 6-4,1-6,6-4 after an hour and 44 minutes. The double Japanese victory means that there will five Japanese players in the main draw of the Australian Open for the first time in 41 years.
Veteran Frenchman Stephane Robert reached his third consecutive main draw in Melbourne after recovering from a set to defeat Karen Khachanov 4-6, 6-4, 6-2. Earlier on in the tournament the 35-year-old produced a straight sets win over 28th seed Igor Sijsling. One of the best moments in Robert’s career occurred at the 2014 Australian Open when he reached the fourth round as a lucky loser.
Argentina’s Marco Trungelliti was handed a placed in the main draw after his opponent Bai Yan, retired. The Argentinian was leading 6-4,6-7(8), 3-0, before Yan called it quits. Incredibly, it is the 11th time that Yan has retired from a singles match within the past 12 months. The 25-year-old Argentinian will now play in his first ever Grand Slam main draw. Trungelliti has won seven Futures titles in his career and reached the final of the Bangkok challenger last September.
Completing the qualifiers in another Argentine, Renzo Olivo. Olivo kicked-off his qualifying bid with a first round win over Swedish 25th seed Elias Ymer. The 23-year-old then edged out Benjamin Mitchell in the second round to set up a showdown with Vincent Millot. Millot upset Australian 16th seed John-Patrick Smith in his second round match. The Frenchman was no match for Olivo, who overcame some late resistance to win 6-2, 6-4.
Disaster For Seeded players As Zverev, Brands, Daniel Move Into Valencia Main Draw Adam Addicott, Tennis Atlantic
There were shocks aplenty during the qualifying draw of the Valencia Open as none of the eight seeded players successfully qualified for the main draw of the ATP 250 event, which is headlined by David Ferrer and Feliciano Lopez.
World No.54 and top seed Federico Delbonis suffered a heavy defeat in the first round of the draw against Germany’s Mischa Zverev. The Argentine was knocked out 6-2, 6-0 by Zverev after 58 minutes. After crushing the top seed, the German played Spanish world No.453 Mario Vilella Martinez. Martinez, who has won three Futures title this year, produced a more competitive match but still lost in straight sets to Zverev 6-4, 6-3. In the final round, he faced another unseeded player, Japan’s Yuichi Sugita. Sugita recovered from a set and a break down to defeat 7th seed Jan-Lennard Struff in his second round match (2-6, 6-3,6-4). The German continued his impressive form against the Japanese player by winning eight out of the last nine games of the match to seal his place in the main draw, winning 6-4, 6-1. Valencia is the fourth consecutive tournament where Zverev has successfully qualified for the main draw.
Joining Zverev will be fellow countryman Daniel Brands, who upset two seeded players to reach his first ATP main draw for 12 months. The German is currently ranked 170th in the world and has won two titles this year, one Challenger and one Future tournament. After dropping two games in his opening match against Spanish wild card Bernabe Zapata Miralles, he faced third seed Thanasi Kokkinakis. The 19-year-old Australian was blown away by Brands as the German unexpectedly took the match with little difficulty 6-3, 6-1. Kokkinakis is the highest ranked player Brands has beaten on the ATP World Tour since David Ferrer in the second round of the 2014 Qatar Open. The 28-year-old was able to back up the impressive scalp by defeating 8th seed Albert Montanes in the final round 6-3, 6-2 to progress to the main draw.
Poland’s Michal Przysiezny qualified for his second ATP main draw of the year without dropping a set. The world No.167 was given an easier route into the main draw when the only seeded player in his section, America’s Rajeev Ram, lost in the second round to Frenchman Quentin Halys. Przysiezny defeated two Spanish players (Javier Marti and Carlos Taberner) in straight sets during his first two rounds to set up a showdown with Hayls. The 19-year-old was tough competition for the Polish player during the first set as Przysiezny successfully fended off four out of five break points to claim the set after coming through a close tie-break. After claiming the crucial opening tiebreaker, the Pole eased himself to win 7-6 (6), 6-2, after 83 minutes on the court.
Completing the quartet of qualifiers is Japan’s Taro Daniel. The 22-year-old is currently ranked 120th in the world (12 places below his career best) and has won two Challenger titles this year. During his first two matches Daniel dropped only three games. In his first round he lead Laslo Djere 6-0,4-0, before the Serbian retired and then defeated Spain’s Marc Giner 6-0, 6-3. In the final he faced Slovakia’s Norbert Gombos, who defeated 6th seed Íñigo Cervantes in the first round. Despite trailing in the early part of both sets, Daniel battled back to edge past Gombos 6-4, 6-3.
Despite losing in the final round, Gombos will play in the final after being awarded a lucky loser spot.
First round matches
Q Daniel Brands – Nick Kyrgios – First meeting
Q Taro Daniel – Q Michal Przysiezny – First meeting
Q Mischa Zverev – Thomaz Bellucci – Bellucci has beaten Zverev back in 2012 in the first round of qualifying at the ATP Nice Open.
LL Norbert Gombos – Benoit Paire – Second meeting of 2015. Gombos beat Paire in straight sets in the final of the ATP Cherbourg Challenger.
2015 ATP Stuttgart Day 1 Qualifying Report Andreas Thiele for Tennis Atlantic
Day 1 at the 2015 Mercedes Cup (photo credit: Andreas Thiele)
The first ATP grass tournament takes place in Stuttgart and begins at the first June weekend just like the ATP tournament in ‘s-Hertogenbosch. First of all, welcome to Stuttgart! The city of the eternally lasting building lots, cranes form the skyline here and political demonstrations fill the streets.
Far away from the noise of the city, the whole tennis complex Weißenhof is behind small forests on a mountain. ATP Stuttgart’s tennis tournament, after its official sponsor called Mercedes Cup, was held for the first time in 1898. Hence it is very famous for its tradition and is popular among tennis professionals because of the friendly atmosphere and the good organization. Though the surface was traditionally clay, this year they changed it to grass as another preparation tournament for Wimbledon to have a more stellar field. It worked, as Cilic, Monfils, and Rafa Nadal are confirmed to play.
Qualifying Day 1
It was a very hot day, the hottest after quite a while here in Germany, so fitness and stamina were very important. However, a lot of matches demonstrated many players, even ball kids couldn’t handle the heat. Robin Kern for example, who was 0-6 and 0-4 down, gave up and could barely move due to a minor injury, sending Jan Choinski into the second round.
A lot of matches were played between Germans at the first qualifying round, one of them was the opening match between Peter Gojowczyk and Andreas Beck. Both players have good resumes and it should have been a good match, but unfortunately it wasn’t. Gojowczyk was dominant in the points and his serve was strong. Beck created just one break point chance, while Gojowczyk broke him twice and he could have broken him even more than that. However, these two breaks decided the whole match. Beck struggled with many service games, in contrast to Gojowczyk. So Gojowczyk won the match deservedly 7-5, 6-4 and he remains a favorite to reach the main draw.
Dustin Brown played right after Gojowczyk likewise on the Mercedes Court, the second biggest court here, and didn’t have any problem against Sebastian Sachs. The young German is outside of the top 2000 currently and hadn’t any chance to threaten Brown’s next victory on his beloved grass (6-2, 6-1). Germany’s new Davis Cup member Brown didn’t display his best tennis, though his groundstrokes were constantly good and he hit some great winners. His serve-and-volley was very sharp today and he has very good chances to get one of the qualifiers spot apart from some inattentive unforced errors.
Brown won his first match at a picturesque venue (photo credit Andreas Thiele)
Way more hairsbreadth was Filip Krajinovic’s victory. As today’s top-match between the first seed and an in-form Daniel Brands featured highlights as expected. Brands won the first tiebreaker in clutch fashion, though he served for the set at 5-4 and wasn’t clutch there. He was more often at the net and hit some great volleys, while Krajinovic was too passive at the deciding moments and stood on the baseline. Both played very well in the second set, too. Service games were held with ease, just Brands had a few problems with his last service game in this set. Both played some great Serve-and-Volleys and both hit many aces. A typical good grass-tennis match, details decided the second set’s tiebreak.
Brands destroyed his hopes of winning the set with a Double fault at 5-5 and Krajinovic could win his first set with a cross forehand winner after his opponent’s short shot. The tension rose from there, Brands broke Krajinovic’s serve after a very long and intense rally with a beautiful forehand-volley right to the baseline’s corner, just to get re-broken because of so many forehand UEs. Brands was obviously very disappointed and couldn’t raise his level. Krajinovic broke Brands’ hard fought service game (four times deuce) and end the game with a service winner (6-7(3), 7-6(5), 7-5). Brands got very disappointed by this match he almost won and walked as fast as he could back to the players’ restaurant.
Krajinovic won the match of the day (photo credit: Andreas Thiele)
Another one who has to be mentioned here is Matthias Bachinger who surprised me a lot with his tennis. He defeated Somdev Devvarman 6-2, 7-5. Bachinger was very dominant in the first set, not giving Devvarman many opportunities and especially his forehand troubled the Indian too much. Bachinger held his service games with ease after he lost his first one in the first set. However, Devvarman lost three times his serve in the first set and didn’t have any clue how to stop the German. Bachinger’s key was his fitness: He moved very well on the baseline, he could defend a lot of dangerous shots and could combine it with good volleys and even better serves. The second set featured longer rallies (a bit rare for grass) and Devvarman was at least on eye-level with the German. Though he lost his first service game, Devvarman could raise his level to break the Bavarian again.
Devvarman played more offensively and was more often at the net with his superior volley game. Bachinger struggled with Devvarman getting better and better, had many problems to hold his last service, but managed to win it with some impressive passing shots. As everyone expected a tiebreaker, Devvarman suddenly lost the control of the game, had some mishits. 30 all, Devvarman served very well, hit a very good forehand down-the-line Bachinger barely reached, hit a forehand-volley to the other side, but the German reached the ball running very fast and won the match with an overwhelming backhand-dtl-passing shot, amazing. Facing the matchpoint Bachinger returned Devvarman’s second serve with a beautiful backhand down-the-line-winner to end the match.
Michael Berrer defeated Frank Dancevic in a very close match 6-7 (7), 6-0, 7-6 (3). Dancevic hit many great shots and his forehand worked today quite well, his problem was the inconsistency. He explained his loss due to lack of grass matches, just started to train at the same day on grass and stated Berrer served too well. He’s right, especially in the second set Berrer served very well after a short rain delay during the second set and Dancevic made mistakes you normally don’t do if you know how to play on this surface. Still, the Canadian raised his level again, could compete on a high level and called Berrer out, but the hometown boy was too clutch especially in the tiebreaker and had even opportunities to close the match earlier.
The veteran Berrer eased into Q R2 (photo credit: Andreas Thiele)
Mischa Zverev had to play against Tim Puetz and Sascha’s older brother managed to win the match after he lost the first set 4-6, 6-1, 6-4. Tim Puetz didn’t play very well in the first set, though Zverev couldn’t do better. Right after Tim lost his first serve in the second set (0-2), it began to rain and that helped Mischa. Zverev hit winners after intensive rallies (especially cross) and Serve-and-Volley worked in contrary to the first set, when he hit some unforced errors. “Grass courts are fine and well-prepared” he told me after the match and “the [weather-]conditions here were fair for us”. Talked about his next opponent, Grega Zemlja, he emphasized he really looks forward to it, as “it will be the first meeting and [I] never played him”. A self-confident Zverev could certainly beat Zemlja who won in two close sets against Farrukh Dustov 7-6 7-5.
The last match I watched, that was moved to another court was between Nikoloz Basilashvili and Alejandro Falla. I only caught the third set in full, but it was already enough! A roller-coaster. The Colombian seemed to have everything under control in the match, but the Georgian discovered the power he has in his forehand and broke Falla’s service game while he served very poorly. In the third set it was a match on eye-level, some great net approaches and some fantastic winners; one of them was a very long and intensive rally, Falla played as a leftie with angles and Basilashvili couldn’t leave the backhand-side till the Colombian hit a beautiful down-the-line forehand winner after a too short bh-shot to the middle of the court.
Everything was fine for Alejandro, but he suddenly lost his serve again at 4 all due to a poor backhand error. Those who stood behind his wife (just like I did), witnessed the meltdown the Falla-clan had. Thanks God they said, Basilashvili couldn’t hold the game, as he served for the match and Falla broke him to love after three genuine unforced errors and a double fault. Falla held his serve, Basilashvili had even game point when serving, but a fh dtl-ue, a double fault and a forehand into the net sealed his fate. Falla didn’t even earn his match point, but I have to say it was very windy and not easy to play. Problem was Basilashvili still tried to overpower the Colombian with his forehand; it often worked, but at the end didn’t. This match would be the classical definition of a choke. Falla’s wife didn’t care and vamosed her husband over and over, Falla’s coach was just relieved.
Basilashvili told me after the match: “I didn’t play well today, made too much errors.” Having the impression he tries to say he did everything wrong he added: “My next step is London (Queen’s), hope it will be better”. Hanging his head when he walked very slowly back to the players’ lounge, he ignored my positive comments on his play. I couldn’t fathom then why he was so disappointed, but being at home I just start to understand why and wish him the best. Match ended 6-4, 3-6, 7-5 for Falla.
Other Round 1 Qualifying Results
Remi Boutillier def. Aslan Karatsev 6-3, 6-4.
Ilija Bozoljac def. Adrien Bossel 3-6, 6-1, 6-2.
Dmitry Zhyrmont def. David Vega hernandez 7-6(1), 7-5.
Yuichi Sugita def. Ante Pavic 7-5, 6-2.
Mate Pavic def. Philipp Petzschner 6-2, 7-6 (6).
Michal Przysiezny def. Vijay Prashanth 6-3, 6-2.
Martin Fischer def. Jimmy Wang 6-2, 6-4.
Monfils, Klizan Withdrawals Mar Exciting Monday of Action at 2015 @bmwopenbyfwuag Marc Imperatori for Tennis Atlantic
Zverev had too much variety for Gombos (photo credit: Marc Imperatori)
The third day of the BMW Open in Munich featured some bad news for the tournament organizers and fans. Title defender Martin Klizan and, just like in 2014, Gael Monfils had to withdraw. However, the rest of the day included good matches, great weather and lots of action on the practice courts.
First up, the final qualifying round was played. On center court Dustin Brown defeated his countryman Nils Langer in a close battle 6-3 4-6 7-6(7). Langer was 6-4 up in the decisive tie-break. When Langer had match point on serve, a bad bounce led to a mishit. Brown then got another mini-break to get a 7-6 lead before he double-faulted on match point. Yet he was able to close this match out when Langer missed a forehand at 7-8. In the post-match interview Brown admitted that he felt nervous due to suffering close losses in recent weeks.
The next match on CC was Mischa Zverev from Germany against the Norbert Gombos from Slovakia. This match really gave you some club tennis feeling. One player was mostly pushing (Zverev) and by pushing I really mean just putting the ball in play without great pace, spin or angle. And the other one (Gombos) went for very big shots but missed way too many. In the first set Gombos hit 8 Double Faults, all in all it was 13 (fitting that he ended the match with one). Some of the second serves were 3-4 meters wide. The final score was 7-6 6-2 in Zverev´s favour. He´s going to play against another German, Jan-Lennard Struff, in his R1 match tomorrow.
On court 1 Radek Stepanek faced Bastian Trinker from Austria. The match included some great points by both players but Trinker´s lack of experience against players of Stepanek´s calibre was obvious. With his ability to deal with fast and slow balls and his constant attempt to put his opponent under pressure, Stepanek was a really bad match-up for the Austrian. Stepanek won 6-2 6-2 and will face Farrukh Dustov from Uzbekistan in R1. Trinker on the other hand benefited from the late withdrawals. Due to getting a lucky loser spot he´ll face Fabio Fognini in R1. Both matches will be played tomorrow.
Trinker had an unorthodox return position against Steps (photo credit: Marc Imperatori)
The next match on this court included two lucky ones: Mikhail Ledovskikh and Gerald Melzer. The latter won 6-3 3-6 7-6(4). Ledovskikh got lucky by receiving a lucky loser spot to face Stakhovsky in R1 while Melzer got lucky by getting drawn in Monfils´ spot which means he got a bye in R1 and automatically qualified for R2.
In the meantime there was also a press conference with highest-ranked German Philipp Kohlschreiber. He was talking about his R1 opponent Jiri Vesely who´s in great shape but could also be tired, and his form, which is good since Indian Wells according to him. Additionally topics discussed by Peppo was the threat of Andy Murray, who is a great addition to the tournament, the tournament itself, which is very important to him. It was the first one he ever played and where he claimed his first ATP title, and about feeling pressure of defending points on clay in the next weeks. Kohlschreiber told that he used to feel lots of pressure when he was younger. Nowadays, he is more relaxed and likes to know that he played well at certain tournaments or seasons in the past.
Kohlschreiber spoke with the press today (photo credit: Marc Imperatori)
Afterwards the first main draw matches were played on Centre Court. First, two players who are both rising in the rankings faced off: Victor Estrella Burgos and Viktor Troicki. In the first set there were no breaks of serve, therefore the set was decided in a tie-break. A forehand unforced Error by Troicki gave Estrella Burgos a decisive mini-break to win the set. In the second set both players were very good on serve once again. At 3-3 a commercial side fence was flickering which lead to a 10 minutes break.
Estrella Burgos and Troicki hod to take a break (photo credit: Marc Imperatori)
At 5-4* Troicki served to stay in the match. Hitting two unforced errors and a double fault made him go down 15-40. The first match point was saved by great attacking tennis before he once again hit an unforced error so the Dominican won 7-6 6-4.
During the whole match it was interesting to see how Troicki, who is a very good counter-puncher, had troubles to create his own pace after Estrella´s low slices. Trying this (making Troicki hit slower balls) gave him enough time to run around his backhand to take advantage of his extra-ordinary forehand. That tactic worked pretty well for him and was, in my opinion, the main reason he won the match.
Estrella upset Troicki (photo credit: Marc Imperatori)
The last match of the day was a battle of young (Alexander Zverev) against old (Benjamin Becker). In the first set Becker was playing very aggressive. Zverev couldn´t quite deal with that hence Becker clinched the first set 6-4. In the next set things were completely different. It was a mixture of Zverev getting a better read on Becker´s game and Becker just playing worse (hitting many unforced errors). After 1-1 Zverev won 5 straight games to make it 6-1. After an early break by Zverev, Becker began to slightly up his level again until Zverev broke again in the seventh game of the set. Finally, Zverev won the match 4-6, 6-1, 6-2. His R2 opponent will be either Philipp Kohlschreiber or Jiri Vesely.
Zverev was strong from the back of the court against Becker (photo credit: Marc Imperatori)
Round 1 results:
Victor Estrella Burgos def. Viktor Troicki 7-6(4) 6-4
(WC)Alexander Zverev def. Benjamin Becker 4-6 6-1 6-2
Tomorrow the ten remaining R1 matches as well as well as some doubles matches (including Andy Murray/Rojer) are scheduled. With Mayer vs. Rosol, Kohlschreiber vs. Vesely and Tipsarevic vs. Tomic there are quite some interesting matches to follow.
Quickhit on 2015 ATP Munich Day 2 Qualies Featuring Andy Murray Presser Marc Imperatori for Tennis Atlantic
Murray captivated the press in Munich (photo credit: Marc Imperatori)
When #1 seed Andy Murray was asked about his first impressions of Munich , the one thing that came to his mind were who many people visited the 2015 BMW Open on qualifying sunday. Indeed, the crowd attendance was quite high. In a QR2 match between 2013-semifinalist Daniel Brands and former top 10-player Radek Stepanek there were not enough seats and people even had to stand all around court 1 to watch the match.
The newly-wed Murray will play his first tournament as a husband. He named his marriage, as well as getting some matches under his belt, and trying to win his maiden tournament on the red dirt as the reasons to participate in his first ATP 250 on clay of his career. When asked about his form and playing on the clay in general, Murray underlined that he feels physically very well going into the claycourt season unlike the last years due to troubles in the back and he believes that he won´t have to change his playing style much compared to other surfaces.
In the following question Murray talked about the rankings, especially the Big 3 and even more so about Djokovic. Interestingly, if he had to choose, Murray would rather win a grand slam than reaching No.1 position in the world which seems more reasonable for him anyway since Djokovic looks like he´s going to keep this position for a long time.
After the press conference was finished most matches were finshed, too. The earlier mentioned Brands vs. Stepanek encounter went into a deciding tie-break with Stepanek winning it 8-6 after he gave his first mini-break away with a double fault at 5-3. On center court Dustin Brown came back from a 1-5 in the first set to win it in a tie-break. After Brown broke Stephan Heiss´ serve in the opening game of the second set, both players held their serve without much trouble.
Fan favorite Brown advances to final round qualies (photo credit: Marc Imperatori)
Today the final qualifying rounds are scheduled as well as the first main draw matches (Troicki vs. Estrella Burgos & more) and a press conference with the German No.1 Philipp Kohlschreiber.
Those final round qualifying matches are Dustin Brown vs. Nils Langer, Norbert Gombos vs. Mischa Zverev, Radek Stepanek vs. Bastian Trinker, and Gerald Melzer vs. Mikhail Ledovskikh.