2018 ATP Moscow features Home Heroes Daniil Medevev, Karen Khachanov, and Andrey Rublev Steen Kirby, Tennis Atlantic
The 2018 Kremlin Cup ATP 250 primarily features a strong contingent of home Russian players vying for late season ATP success.
Top seed Marco Cecchinato isn’t near his best on hard courts but he did find a bit of form in recent weeks, enough to make him a favorite against either Adrian Mannarino or Evgeny Karlovskiy. Mannarino is in awful form. Benoit Paire looks set to have a good week, his first opponent Mischa Zverev is in a form slump, Egor Gerasimov/Damir Dzumhur aren’t the most difficult round 2 opponents, and Cecchinato in the quarters is a very winnable match.
Filip Krajinovic could find form and put together a good tournament, but I have Mikhail Kukushkin pulling an upset, defeating the Serbian after defeating Evgeny Donskoy in round 1. Pierre-Hugues Herbert is in tremendous form as well, PHH opens with Alexander Bublik, Martin Klizan/Andreas Seppi will follow. I’ll back Kukushkin against Herbert as I feel the Frenchman will run out of gas by the quarterfinals.
Tokyo champion Daniil Medvedev has the inside track to reach the quarters with a win against Dusan Lajovic or Filip Horansky. Jeremy Chardy has a tough match against Denis Istomin first up, and then he’ll face the in-form Aljaz Bedene (or Laslo Djere) in round 2. I’ll take Medvedev over Chardy or Bedene in the quarters.
Andrey Rublev will be hoping that home cooking will help him find form. The young Russian has struggled for large parts of this season, but he gets an out of sorts Nick Kyrgios round 1, and then Malek Jaziri/Mirza Basic await in round 2. I’ll take Jaziri over Rublev, with Karen Khachanov reaching the semifinals with a win against Lukas Rosol/Matteo Berrettini before defeating Jaziri in the quarters.
Alexander Zverev’s Germany and Team USA Surge into Davis Cup Quarterfinals Steen Kirby, Tennis Atlantic
Davis Cup action concluded on Sunday with one major upset and some otherwise interesting action on the weekend, highlighted by Germany upsetting Australia on the road, and Team USA dealing with a tricky road test against Serbia. Here is your full recap.
Despite Thiemo De Bakker’s opening rubber upset of Adrian Mannarino, the French team staved off the upset minded Dutch thanks to a big win from Mannarino against Robin Haase in five sets on Sunday. Richard Gasquet had beaten Haase on Friday, and Haase and Jean-Julien Rojer fell in doubles against Nicolas Mahut and Pierre-Hugues Herbert on Saturday. The defending champions remain alive and face Italy on the road next.
Fabio Fognini won a pair of five set matches, the first over Taro Daniel, and the second over Yuichi Sugita to push Italy through to the quarters. Fognini also won the doubles rubber paired with Simone Bolelli, and Sugita’s win over Andreas Seppi was the only joy for the home Japanese side. The weekend of Davis Cup was likely tiring for Fognini, but perhaps will inspire him on the ATP tour in coming weeks.
Cam Norrie came back from 2 sets down on clay to stun Roberto Bautista Agut, despite having practically no professional experience on the surface. He temporarily gave the underdog Brits hope. Spain didn’t let that hope go much further though, Albert Ramos beat Norrie on Sunday, and Liam Broady on Friday, and Pablo Carreno Busta/Feliciano Lopez beat Dominic Inglot/Jamie Murray in doubles. Spain hosts Germany next.
Alexander Zverev pulled off consecutive gutsy wins against Alex De Minaur (in five sets) and Nick Kyrgios to propel Germany into the quarterfinals. Kyrgios beat J.L. Struff in his other singles match, but a massive result for Struff and his partner Tim Puetz in doubles against Matthew Ebden and John Peers was perhaps what swung the entire tie.
Despite lacking in big name talent, Kazakhstan continues to produce results in the Davis Cup. It was a live rubber sweep for the Kazakh’s, Dmitry Popko and team leader Mikhail Kukushkin beat Henri Laaksonen and Adrian Bodmer in singles, and then Timur Khabibulin and Aleksandr Nedovyesov sealed the tie with a doubles win against Marc-Andrea Huesler/Luca Margaroli. The dead rubbers were split.
Croatia’s Borna Coric scored wins against Canada’s Vasek Pospisil and Denis Shapovalov in singles to send his country into the quarters opposite Kazakhstan. Shapovalov’s victory over Viktor Galovic ended up being of no importance, as Pospisil and Daniel Nestor fell in doubles from 2 sets to love up against Marin Cilic and Ivan Dodig. Playing on the road, and on clay, was too much for Canada.
USA d. Serbia 3-1
Team USA will host Belgium after Sam Querrey, John Isner, and Ryan Harrison/Steve Johnson dominated a weak Serbian side on the road, and on clay. Laslo Djere, Dusan Lajovic, and Miljan Zekic/Nikola Milojevic all went down in defeat. Johnson lost a dead rubber.
The defending finalists were tested by Hungary, but prevailed, Ruben Bemelmans and David Goffin gave the Belgians a 2-0 lead after defeating Marton Fucsovics and Attila Balazs. The Hungarian pair defeated Bemelmans and Joris De Loore in doubles, but Goffin sealed the tie with a win against the rising Fucsovics.
Action outside the world group
Ties in America’s group 1 were set for round 2, Argentina will face Chile, and Brazil will travel to Colombia. In Asia, India faces China and Uzbekistan will take on Pakistan. In Europe it will be Israel traveling to the Czech Republic, Sweden hosting Portugal, Slovakia against Bosnia, and Austria facing Russia.
France and Belgium to Meet in 2017 Davis Cup Final Steen Kirby, Tennis Atlantic
European neighbors France and Belgium will face off in the 2017 Davis Cup final, as the depth of France will contrast with the team spirit of Belgium. The French saw off an outmatched Serbian side in the semifinals 3-1. Pierre-Hugues Herbert and Nicolas Mahut combined to take the doubles rubber, and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga won both his singles rubbers against Laslo Djere and Dusan Lajovic, making Lajovic’s win against Lucas Pouille in the opening rubber a moot point. Belgium had a great Sunday against Australia, winning the final 2 rubbers for a 3-2 victory in the tie. David Goffin and Steve Darcis combined to defeat Nick Kyrgios and Jordan Thompson in the Sunday rubbers, dropping just one set between them. John Peers and Jordan Thompson won the doubles rubber for Australia, Kyrgios beat Darcis on Friday, and Goffin defeated Millman in the opening rubber, as Goffin was the hero of the tie.
In the World Group Playoffs, young gun Denis Shapovalov led Canada to a 3-2 win over India, Marton Fucsovics led Hungary to a 3-1 upset of Russia, Yuichi Sugita got a pair of wins to help Japan beat Brazil 3-1, Cedrik-Marcel Stebe and Jan-Lennard Struff led a depleted Germany to a 3-2 win over Portugal, veteran Marco Chiudinelli starred for Switzerland as they defeated Belarus 3-2, Marin Cilic won two singles rubbers and the doubles rubber to help Croatia defeat Colombia 4-1. Holland and Kazahkstan were the upset victors in the playoffs. The Dutch led by Robin Haase won the doubles rubber and the last two singles rubbers for a 3-2 win over the Czech Republic. Thiemo De Bakker defeated Lukas Rosol in the decisive 5th rubber. Mikhail Kukushkin was a double victor for the Kazakh’s against Argentina in a 3-2 win.
South Africa, Sweden, Barbados, and Pakistan reached Group 1 for 2018 in their respective regions.
2017 ATP Los Cabos Preview and Predictions Steen Kirby, Tennis Atlantic
The ATP is back again in Mexico, for the 250 in Los Cabos. Here is your full preview with predictions.
Abierto Mexicano De Tenis Mifel Presentado Por Cinemex
ATP World Tour 250
July 31-August 5, 2017
Los Cabos, Mexico
Prize Money: $637,395
Top 4 seeds (who all receive first round byes) (ATP ranking in parentheses)
1: Tomas Berdych (14)
2: Sam Querrey (24)
3: Albert Ramos-Vinolas (23)
4: Feliciano Lopez (28)
For a 250, Los Cabos has attracted a solid field.
Coming off the Wimbledon semifinals, Tomas Berdych should dispatch Akira Santillan or Konstantin Kravchuk, and then do the same against Adrian Mannarino in the quarters. Mannarino opens with Jason Jung, Tatsuma Ito or Bjorn Fratangelo will follow.
Albert Ramos is the #3 seed, but he’s not good on hard courts usually. I have Mikhail Kukushkin building on the momentum he built at the challenger level and defeating both Taylor Fritz and Ramos to reach the quarterfinals. Canadian Peter Polansky is 12-3 since Wimbledon, he should beat Yasutaka Uchiyama for the second week in a row, then upset Thanasi Kokkinakis, who hasn’t yet reached his best level since returning to the tour from injury. Kokkinakis will be favored over a struggling Frances Tiafoe. Kukushkin is my pick to reach the semifinals from this weak section.
Sam Querrey should build off his great showing at Wimbledon to defeat Evan King or local wild card Manuel Sanchez. Blaz Kavcic just won a challenger title and should have the inside track against Vincent Millot, Fernando Verdasco should be solid enough on hard courts to defeat Ernesto Escobedo, who is in poor form, and then Kavcic, before falling to Querrey.
Feliciano Lopez has struggled this season, but he should beat Dennis Novikov or recent Newport finalist Matt Ebden. I have Ivo Karlovic defeating Quentin Halys, and then Damir Dzumhur or Taro Daniel. Karlovic should serve his way into the semifinals over Lopez in what would be an entertaining quarterfinal.
Dark Horse: Mikhail Kukushkin
In a weak section, Kukushkin should make a run into the quarterfinals, where he will at least have a punchers chance against Berdych.
Semis Berdych d. Kukushkin
Querrey d. Karlovic
The top 2 seeds should face off in the final, I’ll back Querrey’s form to win another ATP title in Mexico, but it could go either way.
Andy Murray nearly did it alone for team GB in Birmingham. The British #1 demolished Taro Daniel on Friday, then teamed with his brother Jamie to handle the Japanese doubles team of Yasutaka Uchiyama and Yoshihito Nishioka on Saturday. Kei Nishikori had beaten Dan Evans in a competitive three set contest on Friday to force competitive action on Saturday, but he would need to get past Murray to force a live fifth rubber.
Murray quickly build a two set lead, at which point Nishikori had his back against the wall. Kei forced a fifth set with improved play, but after five breaks of serve in the final set, Murray served the match out to win the tie. The fifth rubber was then canceled as Birmingham native Dan Evans was only needed once. Next for the defending champion Brits is team Serbia on the road.
Serbia d. Kazakhstan 3-2
Serbia had a top 20 doubles player,the world #1 singles player Novak Djokovic, and top 30 player Viktor Troicki on their squad. On paper, they should have swept at Kazakh team playing on the road without a top 50 player. When it came to the actual matches, the result ended up being quite different. Djokovic started the tie with a routine win over challenger veteran Aleksandr Nedovyesov in straight sets, but team leader Mikhail Kukushkin steadied his team and upset Viktor Troicki in straight sets to even the tie at 1-1 on Friday.
Andrey Golubev and Nedovyesov then combined to stun Djokovic and Nenad Zimonjic for the biggest win of their career in doubles. Even more shockingly, the Golubev/Nedovyesov tandem got the job done in straight sets, as Djokovic was well off his game.
Facing elimination, Djokovic went up against Kukushkin in an all out war for the first three sets. Kukushkin won the first set in a tiebreak, lost the second set tiebreak, and then came back to win the third set, putting Serbia just a set away from elimination. Djokovic upped his game at that point however, overcoming any injury or rust he may be carrying to win the final two sets 6-3 6-2 and force a live fifth rubber.
Called on for the third time in the tie, Nedovyesov lost in straight sets to Troicki, who shook off his poor showing on Friday to erase any doubts of a Kazakh miracle win. Serbia still has some great players, but they won’t be able to afford to play so poorly against team GB in the quarterfinals. Meanwhile, you have to admire the fight and warrior’s heart of the underdog Kazakh team.
Italy d. Switzerland 5-0
On indoor clay, Italy proved too much for a lowly ranked Swiss team. Marco Chiudinelli gave it his all in the opening tie, only to lose in a long fifth set to Paolo Lorenzi, a true dirtballing warrior. Andreas Seppi then finished off Henri Laaksonen in four competitive sets to give Italy a 2-0 lead.
In the final live rubber, Seppi and Simone Bolelli dominated an exhausted Chiudinelli/Laaksonen in straight sets to win the tie. In the dead rubbers, Lorenzi beat Davis Cup débutante Antoine Bellier, and Marco Cecchinato beat Adrien Bossel, both in straight sets. Italy will host Argentina in the quarterfinals.
Argentina d. Poland 3-2 (3-1 on live rubbers)
This tie was live on Sunday, but the Poles simply lacked the talent to defeat Argentina, even with the crowd behind them. The experienced Leonardo Mayer defeated Hubert Hurkacz, and Guido Pella defeated Michal Przysiezny in straight sets on Friday to give Argentina 2-0 lead. Poland then called on their veterans Marcin Matkowski and Lukasz Kubot to keep the tie alive, and they did so, defeating Carlos Berlocq and Renzo Olivo in four sets.
Mayer then defeated Przysiezny from a set down to win the tie, with Hurkacz winning his first Davis Cup rubber over Olivo in a dead fifth rubber. Argentina will travel to Italy for their next tie.
The Caribbean paradise of Guadeloupe saw the French tricolore waved proudly as a loaded French team dominated a weakened Canadian one without dropping a set. Gael Monfils demolished Frank Dancevic, and Gilles Simon outdueled Vasek Pospisil on clay to take a 2-0 lead on Friday. Richard Gasquet and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga then defeated Pospisil and Philip Bester to win the doubles rubber and capture the tie. Gasquet beat Bester in the dead fourth rubber, and Dancevic retired in the dead fifth rubber. France will next travel to the Czech Republic with a great chance to win the Davis Cup.
An injury to Tomas Berdych resulted in this tie going to a live fifth rubber, but young gun Alexander Zverev was the weak link for team Germany at home. Philipp Kohlschreiber lead the way for Germany, winning an opening fifth set match against Lukas Rosol. Berdych then fired back with a tough five set win over Zverev, who put his heart and soul into the match. Berdych and veteran Radek Stepanek won the doubles in straight sets over Kohlschreiber and veteran Philipp Petzschner.
In the live fourth rubber, Kohlschreiber won the first two sets over Berdych, who then promptly retired with an injury. That thrust Zverev into the spotlight against Rosol, but the big hitting Czech demolished him 6-2 6-3 6-1. Zverev was never really into the match, even though it should have been more competitive. The Czech Republic will host France next.
The unretirement of Lleyton Hewitt wasn’t enough to save Australia on grass against team USA in a battle between two of tennis’ historical giants. John Isner was the hero for team USA as the big server won matches over Sam Groth in straights on Friday, and Bernard Tomic in four sets on Sunday to clinch the tie. Isner had a surprisingly great return game on grass.
Tomic beat Jack Sock in four sets on Friday, and the Bryan Brothers beat John Peers, and Aussie captain Lleyton Hewitt in the doubles tie, though it went five sets, and Hewitt played quite well for a (just) retired player. Despite the leadership of Hewitt, the Australian team had a running spat all weekend about whether young gun Nick Kyrgios was fit enough to play and should have helped his country out. A frustrated Bernard Tomic accused Kyrgios of faking an injury in the match against Isner.
With the result, team USA will host Croatia in the quarterfinals.
Croatia d. Belgium 3-2
The young Borna Coric won a live fifth rubber to send Croatia into the quarterfinals of the World Group, and end the hopes of Belgium to reach the Davis Cup final once more. Coric lost his five set contest with David Goffin on Friday, though he battled to the end from 2 sets to love down. Marin Cilic beat Kimmer Coppejans in straight sets on Friday though to even the tie at 1-1.
Ivan Dodig and Franko Skugor then got the job done for Croatia over Ruben Bemelmans and Goffin. Goffin scored a minor upset over Cilic to force a live fifth rubber. With Bemelmans injured, Coppejans was called on again, and that was when Coric won in straight sets to send Croatia through.
Action outside the World Group
Wins for Ecuador and Chile in Americas Group 1 one set them up for battles with Brazil and Colombia respectively for a spot in the World Group Playoffs. India will face Korea, and China will face Uzbekistan in the final round of Asia’s Group 1. In Europe/Africa Group 1, Romania beat Slovenia, Dominic Thiem and Austria handled Portugal, Russia beat Sweden, and Hungary slipped past Israel. Romania hosts Spain, Ukraine hosts Austria, Russia hosts the Netherlands, and Hungary hosts Slovakia for spots in the World Group playoffs.
In notable Europe/Africa group 2 ties, Bosnia’s Mirza Basic won an 18-16 fourth set tiebreak and went on to lead his nation to a win over Malek Jaziri and Tunisia. Marsel Ilhan won twice to give Turkey a win over Bulgaria in a battle of neighbors in Ankara, Turkey.
Surprise Success for Sarkissian and Marterer at ATP Sydney Qualifying Adam Addicott, Tennis Atlantic
A series of shocks occurred during the qualifying competition at the Apia International Open in Sydney after only two seeded players managed to reach the main draw.
Top seed and Former French Open semifinalist Ernests Gulbis continued his poor start to the year with a shock first round loss to world No. 198 Alexander Sarkissian. The 25-year-old American clinched his first Challenger title in South Korea last year. Sarkissian dropped his serve only once as he took the match 6-3, 7-5. It is now the second consecutive week that Gulbis has failed to qualify for a main draw of a tournament.
Awaiting Sarkissian in the final round was Poland’s Lukasz Kubot. Kubot, who is currently ranked 29th in the doubles, defeated home player Blade Fong 6-1, 6-2, in his first match. The Polish player was no match for Sarkissian as the world No.198 broke his opponent four times to win 6-3, 6-3, to book his place in the main draw.
Maximilian Marterer recovered from the brink of defeat before stunning Bosnian eighth seed Damir Dzumhur. The German trailed 2-5 in the final set before winning 7-5, 1-6, 7-6(2), after an hour and 58 minutes. The German was on course for a showdown with second seed Sergiy Stakhovsky, however, he was stunned by Australian wildcard Aleksandar Vukic 3-6,6-3,6-4.
In the battle of the underdogs it was Marterer who was triumphant after he edged out Vukic 6-1, 7-6(7). The 20-year-old German is yet to win a main draw match on the ATP World Tour with a win-loss of only 0-2.
The highest seed to reach the main draw was Kazakh third seed Mikhail Kukushkin. The world No.65 endured a tiring opening match against Matt Reid, lasting over two hours, winning 6-7(2), 6-4, 7-6(5). His reward was a clash against Spanish clay court specialist Íñigo Cervantes. Last year Cervantes won three Challenger titles on clay. The final round was another grueling encounter for Kukushkin, who had to save three match points during the final set. After dropping the opening set, Kukushkin produced gutsy play to win 3-6, 6-4, 7-6(6).
Completing the qualifying was French Veteran Nicolas Mahut.The 33-year-old kicked-off his campaign with a 6-1, 6-3, win over Italy’s Marco Cecchinato. Next up for Mahut was sixth seed Dusan Lajovic. Lajovic enjoyed a straight sets win over wildcard Mayez Elrich in his first match. The final clash was a chance for Mahut to get revenge after falling to the Serbian at last year’s Paris Open. The Frenchman grabbed his revenge after clinching the win 7-6(4), 3-6, 6-2.
Mahut has a considerable h2h edge over his first round opponent Adrian Mannarino, Sarkissian faces veteran Simone Bolelli, Marterer faces Pablo Cuevas, and Kukushkin has a tough test against the seeded Jeremy Chardy.
Murray, Hewitt, and Rublev Star in Weekend Davis Cup Action Steen Kirby, Tennis Atlantic
The Davis Cup had some exciting ties over the weekend as young guns, veterans, and a few top players starred in the action worldwide. Here is a recap of everything worth noting that went down.
Australia, Great Britain, Belgium and Argentina Advance From World Group Quarterfinals
The most anticipated tie of the weekend was between team GB and France at London Queen’s club on grass, and it did not disappoint as an emotional Andy Murray single handedly carried his team to a 3-1 victory in the tie. Murray had a part in all three of the needed wins for the players sporting the Union Jack, he beat Jo-Wilfried Tsonga with ease on Friday, won a crucial doubles point with his brother Jamie in 4 sets on Saturday, and then closed out the tie with a win against Gilles Simon after dropping the first set. Simply put, the French team didn’t perform up to the level needed to defeat Murray, as their depth couldn’t beat the British star power.
James Ward lost the other rubber to Simon on Friday as he couldn’t repeat his Davis Cup heroics of previous ties.
The next opponent for the British will be their Commonwealth partners Australia, as the green and gold clawed back from 0-2 down on Friday against Kazakhstan and relied on the steady veteran presence of Lleyton Hewitt to push them into the semis. The Aussie young guns Thanasi Kokkinakis and Nick Kyrgios both played poorly with the pressure on Friday, Kokkinakis failed to win a set against the veteran Mikhail Kukushkin on grass, while Kyrgios lost a 4 setter to Aleksandr Nedovyesov, and stated after that he wasn’t sure he wanted to be there playing DC.
Aussie captain Wally Masur, and Captain in waiting Lleyton Hewitt seemed to take that statement to heart, as Hewitt stepped up himself in his final year as a pro player. The veteran took part in the doubles rubber with the big serving Sam Groth and won it over Nedovyesov and Andrey Golubev, and then Groth beat Kukushkin in four sets, and Hewitt closed out Nedovyesov in straights to win the tie. He’s struggled all year in singles, but in what could have been his final Davis Cup match, Hewitt played fantastic, and proved why he’s one of the most tenacious battlers the game will ever see.
GB vs. Australia could well be something special with Hewitt, Murray, the Aussie young guns with a chance to redeem themselves, and a pro British crowd filling the stands in the UK as they look for a spot in the Davis Cup final.
The fatally weakened teams of Serbia and Canada both slumped to defeat against Argentina and Belgium respectively, Team Serbia lacked Novak Djokovic and on the road in Argentina on clay they clearly struggled without his talent and leadership. Leonardo Mayer and Federico Delbonis scored singles wins on Friday over Filip Krajinovic and Viktor Troicki, Delbonis’ win coming from two sets to love down, and then on Saturday Mayer and Carlos Berlocq clinched the tie with a routine win over Troicki/Nenad Zimonjic. The dead rubbers resulting in the tie ending 4-1.
Team Canada was without their injured stars Vasek Pospisil and Milos Raonic and without their big serving, they were whitewashed 5-0 by an undersized Belgian team on clay in Belgium. The Canadian team was uncomfortable on the slow surface, as Steve Darcis beat veteran journeyman Frank Dancevic in four sets,and David Goffin rolled young gun Filip Peliwo in straights. The tie was then clinched by Ruben Bemelmans/Kimmer Coppejans who beat the veteran rock of Daniel Nestor, and Adil Shamasdin in the doubles tie. Coppejans and Darcis beat Dancevic and Peliwo in the dead rubbers to complete the rout.
Argentina will travel to Belgium in an interesting tie that will decide the other finalist spot.
Russia, India among teams with chance at 2016 World Group Participation
Group 1 ties also took place across the globe and the biggest story was Russia toppling a B-list Spanish Armada to book their spot in the world group playoffs. The Spanish team, led by veteran Tommy Robredo, got off to a good start on indoor hard on the Pacific coast city of Vladivostok far on the Asian side of Russia. Robredo beat young gun Andrey Rublev in straights, making Rublev extremely flustered, and Pablo Andujar beat Karen Khachanov also in straights for a 2-0 lead. However it was clear the Russians had more team unity and spirit, while the Spanish, with turmoil in their federation and a recent change in coaches, couldn’t seal the deal. Evgeny Donskoy and Konstantin Kravchuk beat Marc Lopez/David Marrero, one of the top doubles teams in the world in a shocking five set Saturday upset. On Sunday Donskoy upset Robredo in 4 sets, and then Rublev was the hero, winning a surprisingly routine 5th rubber over Andujar. After some time in the wilderness, Russia, a nation with a strong history in tennis, is close to returning to the top tier of the Davis Cup, while Spain will spend another year away from the spotlight.
Also advancing from Europe’s group 1 are the Netherlands, Poland, and Slovakia. The Dutch upset Austria on the road and on clay, as Dominic Thiem choked away a ton of break points to hand Thiemo De Bakker an opening rubber win in five sets, and though Andreas Haider-Maurer steadied the ship with a win over Robin Haase to make the tie 1-1, Haase and Jean-Julien Rojer won the doubles over Jurgen Melzer/Oliver Marach, and then Haase beat a disoriented Thiem in straights to clinch. The tie ended 3-2 as the Austrians won the dead rubber, but all the same it was a surprisingly clutch performance from a Dutch team made up of well known headcases, while the young gun Thiem failed under pressure and now has a lot to think about.
The Poles won 3-1 over Ukraine, their team had more depth and it showed on indoor hard in Poland. Alex Dolgopolov of Ukraine won the opening rubber over Jerzy Janowicz in straights, but Michal Przysiezny scored a minor upset in straights over Sergiy Stakhovsky, Lukasz Kubot and Marcin Matkowski beat Dolgopolov and Denys Molchanov in double, and Janowicz closed out the tie with a four set win over Stakhovsky.
Slovakia went 1-0 down on the road against Romania on clay,as Marius Copil beat Norbert Gombos in a thrilling 12-10 5th set tiebreak, but then they rolled off three consecutive rubber wins to clinch the tie between the two former Eastern Bloc nations. Martin Klizan beat Adrian Ungur and Copil in singles, and in between Andrej Martin/Igor Zelejnay upset Florin Mergea/Horia Tecau, a top 5 doubles team, to win the pivotal doubles rubber, as the tie again ended 3-2 with a Romanian dead rubber win.
In Asia’s group 1 Uzbekistan and India were winners, as expected. Denis Istomin carried his Uzbek team with a doubles rubber win partnering with Farrukh Dustov, and two singles wins over South Korea, as Hyeon Chung, the young gun leading the Korean team, came down injured in the 4th and decisive rubber. India beat New Zealand despite the best efforts of Michael Venus and company, Somdev Devvarman recovered from a five set loss from two sets up on Friday in singles, and beat Marcus Daniell on Sunday, while Yuki Bhambri was key as he scored two singles wins over Jose Statham and Venus, his routine win over Venus in a live fifth rubber.
In the America’s group 1 on clay, Colombia slipped past Uruguay 3-2, and the Dominican Republic slipped past Ecuador 3-1(3-2). Alejandro Gonzalez went a key 2-0 in singles as Pablo Cuevas’s Uruguay came up just short. Pablo and his brother Martin played all the matches for Uruguay, winning the doubles rubber and the 4th rubber (P. Cuevas d. Giraldo) to force a live fifth rubber from 2-0 down at the start of Saturday, but Gonzalez closed out Martin for the win. Victor Estrella did what Andy Murray and Denis Istomin did, carrying the load for the DR even at his age as they beat a weak Ecuador team that lacked any sort of top player. Estrella won the 1st, and 4th rubbers, along with the doubles rubber.
Results from Group 2 as Dimitrov and Sousa star in wins
Chile blanked Mexico 5-0 in the Americas’ group 2, Pakistan will face Taiwan in the 3rd round of round 2 in Asia, and in Europe it will be Portugal vs. Belarus and Hungary vs. Bulgaria. Of note, Grigor Dimitrov played for Bulgaria this weekend (they won 5-0 over Luxembourg) and Joao Sousa ensured the Fins lost 4-1, they were led by veteran Jarkko Nieminen.
Serve and Volleyer Groth Reaches Quarters @MercedesCup ATP Stuttgart 2015 Andreas Thiele for Tennis Atlantic
Groth volleys into quarters (photo credit: Andreas Thiele)
Wednesday in Stuttgart wasn’t as windy as the previous main draw days, yet almost as cold as we had yesterday, maybe a bit warmer. However, conditions weren’t relevant for the first time at this tournament and many players didn’t want to forfeit their chance to have some good practice on the practice courts.
Almost every player was practicing today, even those who lost their matches in singles and doubles. Grass season recently started and not everyone feels comfortable with the grass. Dominic Thiem for example practiced a lot with Lukas Rosol who was also his doubles partner. They were joking a lot and talked about tennis, while working on their forehands. Thiem’s forehand looks a bit better, backhand was a bit worrying though. Thiem really didn’t look happy with his progress at the beginning, but he cheered up with every backhand cross which went on the line. I reckon Rosol is a bit injured, since he didn’t move as well. Dustin Brown and Gilles Simon also practiced in front of fans. Just like Rosol and Thiem they laughed a lot and put on a show with some great shots.
Dreddy and Gillou (photo credit: Andreas Thiele)
Next to them on the same court were Alejandro Falla and Mikhail Kukushkin training, though the Colombian got defeated by Sugita on Sunday. Falla worked on sharpening his game on grass and his backhand got more effective now, he really displayed a much better tennis than he did on the weekend. Especially his backhand slice looks pretty good. Kukushkin on the other side wasn’t as inspiring as the Colombian and appeared frustrated.
Rafael Nadal was practicing today and expected his second doubles match. Unfortunately Robert Farah had wrist problems and had to call off (wish you a speedy recovery). His forehand was looking very solid with depth and power. However, his backhand didn’t improve a lot and he needs time to fix it.. He looked very pleased about his training and smiled, he really enjoys the grass-practice in Stuttgart. Francisco Roig looked happy too, as he watched Rafa’s down-the-line forehands land in again and again. Still, one has to admit the conditions made the grass courts very slow and the grass here doesn’t have a low bounce.
Marin Cilic got the biggest court to train on, Court 1! He hit many backhands at practice, trying to fix the shot that bedeviled him in doubles. His cross-court forehand looked to be a strong weapon, but he wasn’t clicking on down the line shots.
Cilic on the practice courts (photo credit: Andreas Thiele)
Wednesday Second Round Matches
Alexander Zverev was up in the first match against Viktor Troicki on Center Court and I’m certain that a member of his team watched Troicki’s match yesterday. Zverev employed a strategy more suited to clay than grass, but his gameplan was to stay in rallies and to attack Viktor’s flaws (his almost careless shot selection and his poor groundies). Though the scoreline would indicate otherwise, Viktor didn’t play great Tuesday against Borna Coric hitting many forehand unforced errors, so it wasn’t a bad idea to be more defensive for your second grass match ever if you’re Zverev.
Problem was his shots lacked depth and Troicki was able to dictate the rallies like he wanted. Zverev started very bad in the first set losing his serve and having many problems on his second serve. He didn’t find his rhythm at first, and by the time he did, the first set was in the books in favor of Troicki. Second set started similar, problems holding his serve and lost his service again. Troicki hit the balls very well and moved quickly on grass. He was very often at the net, Zverev almost never and he got too passive during rallies, the Serb toyed with him playing the balls back and forth. The young German couldn’t always yield an advantage of his serve today to be more competitive. Troicki served a bit better and returned very much better than Zverev who had problems anticipating the Troicki serve.
Troicki had a very good depth today, hence Zverev the younger had to move very often on the baseline and slipped and fell quite often. After a while Troicki lost his focus and was inattentive, he started to prefer the worst option and his shot selection was awful. He lost his two match points in the breaker due to this, and lost the second set with a stab volley right into the net. Once again, in the third set, Zverev had many problems with his serves as he didn’t aim to hit a winner and let Troicki dictate the game. This match was full of very long rallies, seemed to be more a clay event than a grass match in reality. Zverev failed to break Troicki again, and the Serb served it out though with some silly UEs 6-3 6-7 6-3.
Gael Monfils routined Andreas Haider-Maurer 7-6(6), 7-6(5), a typical scoreline for a match on grass. Both served very well in the first set, Monfils couldn’t convert the first break point at the first game thanks to an ace the Austrian hit and Haider-Maurer couldn’t convert his break point (which was a set point too) because of a very strong forehand cross winner Monfils hit. Breaker had to decide the first set and the Austrian had a very rare problem: His two foot faults cost him greatly as he double faulted twice. Monfils couldn’t hold the edge with the first mini-break, but converted his next set point on his serve. Second set started like the first one with lots of service winners due too good serves. The Frenchman lost again his concentration and couldn’t break the Austrian. He put up on a show to amuse the crowd after he started to return well. Haider-Maurer had more problems returning, so Monfils didn’t have many problems with his serve apart from a service game. Just like Zverev before Haider-Maurer, a dirtballer, played like on clay, very defensive and cautious. He wasn’t as often at the net with serve-and-volley as Monfils was, but when he decided to take over the rally, he went forward and won it. In contrast to his rival who tried many hot shots and serve-and-volleys, some of them enchanting the crowd.
Monfils won in two tiebreaks (photo credit: Andreas Thiele)
Furthermore, both had problems volleying, since Haider-Maurer waits for these net approaches to pass Monfils and the Austrian went forward after a very harmless shot. Many volleys landed at the net. Gael played very well when he needed to and had an eye on the clear space for the winners. However, breaker had to decide the second set again and the Austrian led with a mini-break, but gifted it right back to Monfils. Then he again committed the first UE to lose his serve after a good return while the Austrian played serve-and-volley. Monfils closed the match of course with an ace. Monfils has promised his fitness trainer the new Mercedes-Benz car if he wins the title.
Against Feliciano Lopez, a grass court expert, big serving Aussie Sam Groth notched a huge win. After losing a service game in the first set in routine fashion, he didn’t lose another service game. His match would have been easier if he converted all the volleys and smash opportunities that Lopez offered up. Both were serving fantastically without any big problems they couldn’t handle. Lopez began suddenly to play less slice and more top-spin which helped the Australian a lot and his returns became less hazardous. The Spaniard lost his confidence as the match continued, whereupon Groth gained more confidence in his groundgame which got more threatening as the games went by. Lopez’ surprising slice shots vanished Groth’s rhythm during the second set and so it got very difficult to break him. The Spaniard’s usual return position was a few meters behind the baseline, His distance was even farther away from that line returning in the 2nd set.
This wasn’t the best approach against Groth, as Flopez’s passivity in the second set resulted in a losing result unlike in the first. When Lopez failed to get amazing return winners he was going for, Groth didn’t have any problem with his serve-and-volley to win the points on serve. Lopez hit slice and topspin body shots at Groth when the Australian went forward, but Lopez couldn’t repeat this strategy to success execution wise. The second set tiebreaker seemed to be very even for a long time, but after a very good return on the line and a long slice rally Groth hit a miraculous and lucky bh slice in front of Lopez’ feet. Furthermore the ball had a rare bounce, rendering it unreachable. Groth served fantastically well and Lopez didn’t have the ghost of a chance to break him. The third set tiebreaker was more of a nailbiter than even the second set tiebreak, and after Groth’s incredible forehand on the line Lopez’ backhand slice reached the net. Groth served it out without problems and won the match after losing first set 3-6 7-6(5) 7-6(6).
Philipp Kohlschreiber posted another routine win in round 2, defeating Jerzy Janowicz 6-4, 6-4. Kohli played very well today and Janowicz couldn’t keep up the level he had in his match against Brown. Kohlschreiber moved very well and anticipated Janowicz’ shot selection well. As a contrast to the Pole, Kohli served with accuracy not just power. Kohlschreiber often played the ball in to stay in the rally, expecting an UE from Janowicz and JJ had no clue how to handle this approach. It was a very one-sided match as Kohlschreiber dominated the whole match and didn’t lose the control of it. Janowicz didn’t have his serve today, so his groundies were even worse, as he didn’t have much confidence during the match. He had a very negative body language as well.
Kohli served well (photo credit: Andreas Thiele)
The German did everything right: He stood a few meters behind the baseline to return weak Janowicz serves, and pulled surprising returns out of his hat. Jerzy, who moved poorly on the day, struggled with the fact Kohli didn’t give him a chance to gather rhythm. Kohli was able to trigger forehand and baseline shanks out of Janowicz. The Bavarian counter attacked with his power, very clever shot-selection and very good movement. A big quarterfinal match with Gael Monfils will be next for him.
2015 ATP Stuttgart and Den Bosch Previews and Predictions Steen Kirby, Tennis Atlantic
The grass season begins anew for 2015 with a pair of 250 level events. Stuttgart is switching to grass from clay this year, and Den Bosch in the Netherlands is a joint ATP/WTA event again this year. After a spring on the dirt, ATP World Tour stars will feel the blades of green grass under their feet. Stay tuned to Tennis Atlantic for on-site ATP Stuttgart coverage all week.
ATP World Tour 250
June 8-June 14, 2015
Prize Money: € 574,965
Top 4 seeds (who all receive first round byes) (ATP ranking in parentheses)
1: Rafael Nadal (10)
2: Marin Cilic (9)
3: Feliciano Lopez (14)
4: Gael Monfils (16)
Stuttgart switching to grass gave them a stronger field than usual, Nadal is the top seed because he was ranked higher than Cilic at the time the seeds were drawn, though that has changed now with the new rankings. The seed cutoff is 28, as this is a strong field for a 250.
Rosol has a h2h win on grass in this matchup, Queen’s 2012, but that was a three set match. Rosol comes off a third round showing in Paris, while Baghdatis won a round at the grass Manchester challenger. Both of these guys are solid on the green stuff, as Rosol famously ball bashed to beat Nadal on this surface, and Baghdatis with his aggressive ball striking has shown his prowess before as well. I’d give Rosol a slight edge to advance with his power, but this one probably goes three sets again.
(WC)Tommy Haas vs. Mikhail Kukushkin
Tommy Haas is making his return from shoulder surgery one year since he last played a match on the ATP tour. The 37 year old remains an ageless wonder, and it was surprising after he elected to come back after another injury, in a career marked by injuries, rather than retiring. On home soil, and on grass, a surface his all court game is well suited for, he should feel comfortable, but one has to wonder how much he has left in the tank at this point in his career, coming off an injury. Kukushkin is struggling mightily, and has for most of the season, so he’s a beatable round 1 opponent.
Brown has a 2-1 h2h over the higher ranked Janowicz and he qualified without dropping set here, well recognized as a solid grass court player, as he beat Rafa Nadal on this surface in Halle previously. Janowicz, a former Wimbledon semifinalist has been struggling this season, but he will look to grass to kickstart his game. This should be a close match, but I’m going with Brown in an upset victory.
Stakhovsky with his serve and volley game can be lethal on grass, as his famous Wimbledon win over Roger Federer proved, Groth comes off of a title in the Manchester challenger, and with his massive serve, he’s likewise a dangerous player on a quick surface. This is their first meeting, and it’s a hard match to pick, I give Groth a slight edge to advance.
Rafael Nadal, struggling this season by his standards, will open with the winner of Baghdatis/Rosol in what could be a tricky opening round test on the heels of his quarterfinal defeat at the French Open. Nadal’s worst surface is grass, and he hasn’t played well on it since 2011. Rafa has a strong h2h record, including a grass win over Baghdatis (06 Wimbledon semis), while he is 1-1 on grass against Rosol, losing to at Wimbledon 2012, but winning in four sets in 2014 at the same venue. Rosol is likely to be a tougher opponent, but either way I could well see Nadal losing that, the winner is likely to face the Bernard Tomic/Tommy Haas winner in the quarterfinals. Haas/Kukushkin will face Tomic or JL Struff. Tomic is an excellent grass court player who was having a great season before he hit clay, his worst surface. I expect grass to be a rebound for him as he should beat Struff, Haase, and then Nadal to reach the semis. Nadal is not trustworthy on grass right now if you ask me, and Haas is just coming off of injury, so Tomic doesn’t seem like that bold of a pick to me.
4 seed Gael Monfils will open with Andreas Haider-Maurer or Max Marterer a 19 year old German wild card. Marterer will have a shot at a win if he can play on grass, as AHM is a clay courter, either way, Monfils should cruise into the quarters, but he will get a tough opponent there. Philipp Kohlschreiber routined Alex Dolgopolov today, and he will face the Janowicz/Brown winner. All three of these guys are dangerous on grass and given given Kohli has a 2-0 h2h over Brown, I have him facing Monfils in the quarters. Kohlschreiber has a poor h2h against Monfils overall, but one of his two wins came on grass, meaning this meeting should be exciting if it takes place. Monfils has been in pretty good form as of late, and I’m going with him to advance to the semis.
Marin Cilic will open with either Peter Gojowczyk or Matthias Bachinger in the opening round, both Germans enter via qualifying, Bachinger was a lucky loser, and Gojowczyk qualified without dropping a set. Gojo has always been a talented underachiever in my mind but Cilic, who is improving in form and reached the second week at the French, will be a strong favorite to reach the quarters. There he probably faces the Benjamin Becker/Andreas Seppi winner. 7 seed Dominic Thiem is the seed, and opens with qualifier Mischa Zverev. Thiem is extremely inexperienced on grass, and prefers clay, thus the veteran Zverev will have a shot in that one. Becker is an excellent grass court veteran, while Seppi’s all court game can be dangerous as well, I’m going with Becker to beat Seppi, and Zverev to reach the quarters, where he will likely fall to Cilic.
3 seed Feliciano Lopez, who had a remarkable season on grass last year and is at his best on the surface opens with the Groth/Stakhovsky winner, a difficult task. Lopez has been in very poor form on clay, and he’ll be under pressure to preserve ranking points now, I still think he wins that match, and beats Viktor Troicki or Borna Coric in the quarterfinals. Wild card Alex Zverev, the younger brother of Mischa and an ATP young gun more suited for clay, opens with qualifier Mate Pavic. Look for Pavic to beat Zverev, and Troicki to slip past the inexperienced young gun Coric on grass, then beat Pavic to reach the quarters.
The German with American ties, Becker, reached a grass court final last year in Den Bosch (a tournament he won in 2009), and if he can get past Seppi, Cilic could slip up in the quarters, and he could upset him as well for a spot in the semis. He’s not the only possible dark horse in the draw, but with his good serve and quality baseline game, the crafty veteran could impress.
Semis: Monfils d. Tomic Cilic d. Lopez
Tomic vs. Monfils could go either way, I’m going with Monfils based off of form though, Tomic winning this title wouldn’t surprise me. Cilic has a h2h win on grass over Lopez, his form is better, and he’s done better on fast surface h2h meetings.
It’s been a slow road back for Cilic, and Monfils has struggled to stay healthy as well. I’m finally comfortable picking Cilic to perform like the top 10 player he is capable of as he seems fit, and the rust is starting to fade. Look for him to win in Stuttgart this week.
ATP World Tour 250*
s-Hertogenbosch, The Netherlands
June 8-June 14, 2015
Prize Money: € 537,050
*denotes joint ATP/WTA event
Top 4 seeds (who all receive first round byes) (ATP ranking in parentheses)
1: Jo-Wilfried Tsonga*/(5) Ivo Karlovic (27)
2: David Goffin (15)
3: Roberto Bautista Agut (21)
4: Guillermo Garcia-Lopez (34)
*Top seed Tsonga pulled out after a run to the French Open semis, thus the 5 seed Ivo Karlovic becomes the 1 seed in terms of the draw.
Den Bosch isn’t as strong of a field as Stuttgart, but it’s not bad for a 250, the lack of a top 10 player makes this an open draw.
First round matchups to watch:
(WC)Lleyton Hewitt vs. (Q)Nicolas Mahut
A pair of veterans who are retiring soon, Mahut, the champion of this tournament in 2013, qualified with relative ease and he’s a solid grass court player with his serve and volley skills, while Hewitt is of course a legend who counterpunches at his best on grass, though he has played an extremely light schedule so far this year. These players met in the 2013 Newport final on grass, and Mahut prevailed in three sets, prior to that Hewitt won a pair of h2h meetings on other surfaces. It’s a tough pick in regards to the winner of this, Mahut has played more recently, and Hewitt is in serious decline at this point in his career, thus I’m going with Nico, likely in three sets.
(6)Adrian Mannarino vs. Rendy Lu
Mannarino’s versatile game is well suited for fast surfaces like grass, while Lu is a steady flat hitting baseliner who excels on fast surfaces, especially hard courts. Mannarino beat Lu this year in three sets at Delray Beach, and as the higher ranked player, he should be the favorite, having performed well on hard courts this year, that said, Lu can rise to the occasion at times though he lacks weaponry, and this should be a good match. I have Mannarino winning it.
The big serving Karlovic will face Ricardas Berankis or Tatsuma Ito in round 2, Ito qualified with ease, so I’d expect him to win that round 1 match, before falling to Karlovic who has been struggling mightily for a while, but should find some form on grass. 7 seed Fernando Verdasco should be the favorite in the top section, he opens with dirtballer Daniel Gimeno-Traver and I’d also expect him to get past Robin Haase, who beat Blaz Kavcic in straights today. Haase beat Verdasco at Wimbledon 2011, but he’s not exactly a top player these days, plus he tends to struggle on home soil under pressure. Verdasco has lost twice to Karlovic on grass, but given recent form, this time I’m picking him to advance to the semis.
Defending champion Roberto Bautista Agut will get a tough R2 match against Hewitt/Mahut, if Mahut advances, RBA should still have an edge, as he beat him in Den Bosch last year (in 3 sets). RBA hasn’t been a world beater as of late but I favor him to reach the quarters. The Mannarino/Lu winner should also reach the quarters, unless Benoit Paire or Marco Chiudinelli, one of the qualifiers, is a surprise. Chiudinelli qualified in just his second tournament of 2015, while Paire has limited abilities on grass, though his form has been improved as of late. I have Mannarino over Paire, and then RBA over Mannarino for a spot in the semis.
David Goffin will face the winner of Kenny De Schepper/Jurgen Melzer in round 2. De Schepper is a lucky loser, but he still should defeat Melzer, the struggling veteran, and he’ll have a good chance against Goffin as well, given his game isn’t as well built for grass, while De Schepper’s big serve should help him find success. The section above De Schepper/Goffin is interesting, Joao Sousa/Denis Istomin is a toss-up match, while Mikhail Youzhny was formerly good on grass, and will open with qualifier Illya Marchenko who has been in good form as of late. Sousa has been better than Istomin this year, but Istomin has a better record on grass. I have Sousa beating Youzhny in the second round, Youzhny has been in awful form this year, and even with that previous success on grass I don’t see him getting far. Goffin over Sousa is my pick in the quarters, he has a 2-1 h2h edge.
4 seed Guillermo Garcia-Lopez will face Marius Copil, the Romanian wild card defeated Jarkko Nieminen in 3 sets on Monday. GGL should defeat Copil, though he comes off an opening round shock defeat at the French, but the winner of Vasek Pospisil/Gilles Muller could trouble him in the quarters. Pospisil routined the poor playing Marinko Matosevic in straights on Monday, while Muller blitzed Turkish #1 Marsel Ilhan with a bagel. Muller with his big serve is a threat on grass, as he also volleys well, and I see him defeating both Pospisil, and Garcia-Lopez to reach the semis. GGL has been a streaky player but I don’t feel his game is clicking right now.
The veteran serve and volleyer plays some of his best tennis on grass, and he looked strong today in his match. He has a draw that should open up if he can defeat Garcia-Lopez, and he well could win this tournament, as I have him reaching the final at a minimum with wins over Pospisil, Garcia-Lopez, and Goffin.
Semis: Bautista Agut d. Verdasco
Muller d. Goffin
It’s a coin flip between RBA and Verdasco if they meet in the semis, a 1-1 h2h and both have been streaky on grass before, RBA is higher ranked, both have huge forehand, and I’m going with RBA in my own bracket. Muller should defeat Goffin given this is grass.
Going with a non-seed to take the title in Den Bosch, it’s happened previously and RBA lost to Muller in the AO this year. On a slick fast surface, Muller’s serve and volley should be a deadly combination, and I have the veteran winning a title this week.
Rublev, Dodig win Tuesday at ATP Istanbul 2015, Turkish Players Crash Out Ahmet Fevzi Guclu for Tennis Atlantic
Rublev scores another ATP md win (photo credit: Ahmet Fevzi Guclu)
Today at the Istanbul Open, was a day of minor upsets. Mikhail Kukushkin routined his opponent in all Kazakh battle as expected 6-3 6-4, despite coming back from the break down in the second. Alexandr Nedovyesov has nothing to trouble the 6th seed. Turkish WC Cem Ilkel played an okay match, especially in the second. Though, his volleys were poor and his second serves were not working at all. With the home crowd on his side, he kept the score close against a solid clay courter, No:62 Daniel Gimeno-Traver. The Spaniard dominated the first set, but crowd started to push kid, at least to get the second set. Ilkel did well for a time, until he was serving 4-5 down, where he got broken again and lost the match. It was Ilkel’s first ever ATP tour match, so it was still a good showing, with DGT advancing 6-1 7-5.
DGT beat one of the Turkish MD players (photo credit: Ahmet Fevzi Guclu)
Turkish No:1 Marsel Ilhan played a miserable match later in the day, unforced errors were flying off his racket, and he was very impatient with his play, likely partially influenced by the immense pressure of being the home favorite. The Turk was everything but clutch, missing 8 break points in 3 different games. On the other hand, Jarkko Nieminen was not special today, the lefty used his BH slices very well, Ilhan never responded well to these shots. The Flying Finn played deep balls, with a limited number of UEs. His serves were weak, but it was enough for Nieminen to keep the ball in play and wait for an error from Ilhan. A crowd of about 1,000 watched the home favorite slump to a 6-3 6-4 defeat.
The night match on Center Court, was between Andreas Haider-Maurer and Ivan Dodig. TheCroatian revenged his loss in Bucharest, in a meeting where he served extremely well, and took his chances in the key moment of the match. The 5th seed AHM, lacked intensity, and lost fighting spirit after dropping the first set. Dodig played a really solid match and pleased remaining crowd which was reduced after Ilhan lost. The scoreline was 7-5 6-3
Dodig pushed past AHM (photo credit: Ahmet Fevzi Guclu)
On the outside courts, Andrey Rublev was on top of his game against Damir Dzumhur 6-3 6-3, the young Russian executed his game well, with using wonderful forehands as his main weapon. Rublev dominated the match in straight sets, which resulted in Dzumhur grumbling and cursing at himself for its entirety. The Bosnian Dzumhur whined about the court size to chair umpire Mohamed Lahyani, asking his opinion whether could Rafael Nadal play here or not. It was a high tension match with both players exchanging unkind words after a net point. Overall, Rublev was the one who focused on his job, and impressed the crowd with his great performance. The only hiccup he faced, was getting broken after Dzumhur’s Medical timeout, but he answered well in the following game with breaking back. He seemed so promising on clay, though his net game needs improvement.
Other results from today
 Diego Schwartzman (ARG) d [Q] Blaz Kavcic (SLO) 62 61
Jurgen Melzer (AUT) d Steve Darcis (BEL) 52 Retired
Denis Istomin (UZB) d Benoit Paire (FRA) 63 64
[Q] Teymuraz Gabashvili (RUS) d Andrey Kuznetsov (RUS) 76(1) 64
Dusan Lajovic (SRB) d [Q] Thanasi Kokkinakis (AUS) 64 75
We have yet to see a 3 setter in the main draw at the Istanbul Open.
Tomorrow, Day 3 starts with second round matches on Center Court. Mikhail Kukushkin and Gimeno-Traver will face early in the day, which will be also their second meeting this year on clay. The Kazakh will be looking to get the win this time, and even the their H2H. Additionally Austria’s Jurgen Melzer will take on Diego Schwartzman, who beat woeful Blaz Kavcic. The Argentine dirtballer should be the favorite.
In the night session, 4th seed and Sao Paolo semi finalist Santiago Giraldo will be up against Andrey Rublev. This will be the best match of the day, one could say. Given form and ability, that is fair to say Russian has a great chance to make the quarterfinals. Nevertheless, I’d expect an entertaining match which goes to 3rd set. In the last match of the night session, world No:2 Roger Federer will face Jarkko Nieminen, whom he has a clear match-up advantage, as well as the game superiority. Beside their 14-0 H2H, the Finnish never got more than 5 games, in any of their clay meetings. Also Nieminen played really a mediocre match today, which declined the expectations even lower. Federer, though, coming off the shock loss to Monfils in Monte Carlo, will not be tested here until semi finals, if not the final, it seems.