Karlovic Downs Dzumhur at Hungarian Open

by John on April 26, 2017

 

Second seed Ivo Karlovic beat Damir Dzumhur of Bosnia and Herzegovina 6-1, 3-6, 6-4 in the second round of the Hungarian Open in Budapest earlier today. The big serving Karlovic, who had lost six of his previous seven matches this year, received an opening round bye. Karlovic improved to 6-7 in 2017 and 2-0 against Dzumhur lifetime. Doctor Ivo served eight aces and had numerous service winners on the red clay of the National Training Center, while being broken just once. Dzumhur, ranked No. 90 in the world, played sluggishly in dropping the opening set, but rallied and gave Karlovic a battle right up until the end. The 24-year-old Bosnian’s biggest claim to fame in his tennis career so far came earlier in the year when he upset world No. 3 Stan Wawrinka in the first round at Dubai. Karlovic parlayed service breaks in the fourth and sixth games of the first set to capture the opener in just 21 minutes. The 6-foot-11 Croatian, having yielded no more than two points in any service game up until the eighth game of the second set, finally cracked then. Karlovic fell behind 0-40 and was broken when Dzumhur cashed his first and only break-point opportunity. A quick hold at love and the Bosnian evened the match at a set apiece. Both players held without any trouble until the 10th game of the final set. Dzumhur, serving to stay in the match at 4-5, fell behind 15-40 and succumbed when Karlovic’s half-volley clipped the net and fell out of reach of the Bosnian’s racket. It was over in one hour and 25 minutes. Karlovic won 75 percent of his first service points and 59 percent of his second. Dzumhur, who served one ace, won 66 percent of his first serves and saved two of five break points. Karlovic will play Aljaz Bedene of Great Britain in the quarterfinals on Friday.

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Top-seeded German Daniel Altmaier rallied from two early breaks to defeat Frenchman Antoine Escoffier 6-4, 6-3 in the final of the Qatar F1 Futures Saturday afternoon. The 18-year-old Altmaier, one of the youngest of the rising NextGen stars, improved to 23-6 on the year, while winning his second title of 2017 and the fifth of his career. Altmaier, ranked a career best No. 288, won the Switzerland F2 Futures in February. Escoffier, No. 551 in the world, had knocked off second seed Albano Olivetti in the opening round and cruised through his first four matches dropping only a set. Saturday was a different story, however, as Escoffier ran into a buzzsaw once the German got untracked. Altmaier, who has a wicked one-handed backhand, couldn’t keep the shot in the court through the first five games, framing some and mistiming others. Escoffier broke the German in the third game, was immediately broken back, but broke again for a 3-2 lead and looked like he was going to go on a roll. At that point Altmaier found his range on the backhand, broke back to level, and proceeded to gain control of the match. Escoffier needed to save three break points to hang on for 4-4, but was broken for the third time in the set serving at 4-5. Altmaier broke for 3-1 in the second set and led 4-1. Escoffier saved three break points in the sixth game for 2-4, but the German held twice more to capture the win in one hour and 13 minutes. Altmaier served seven aces, didn’t double-fault and won 81 percent of his first service points. The German saved one of three break points, Escoffier erased eight of 12.

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Roger Federer tapped the Fountain of Youth once again. The 35-year-old Swiss Maestro defeated longtime rival Rafael Nadal 6-3, 6-4 yesterday afternoon to win the Miami Open and capture the Sunshine Double for the third time. Federer won the BNP Paribas Open at Indian Wells two weeks ago and has now won three tournaments on the year, while posting an ATP Tour best 19-1 record. The Swiss won his previous two Indian Wells-Miami back-to-backs in 2005 and 2006. Federer defeated Nadal in the final of the Australian Open in January and then again en route to the title at Indian Wells, and has won four straight against the Spaniard, improving to 14-23 head-to-head all-time. Prior to this year the two hadn’t met since 2015 when Federer beat the Spaniard in the final at Basel. Sunday’s title was the 91st of Federer’s career. The Swiss served big, hitting five aces and numerous service winners, while winning 87 percent of his first service points. Federer won two of nine break points and erased all four on his own serve, capturing a service break in each set. His winners to unforced errors ratio was superb at 29/19. Sunday’s conditions on Key Biscayne were quite testing, with 85 degree temperatures and heavy air (75 percent humidity), and just a light breeze. Play was sloppy at the start as Federer needed to save two break points in the opening game, and one in the fifth and another in the seventh before dialing in on his serve. Those were the only sniffs at a break Nadal would get the rest of the day. Federer failed to capitalize on five break point chances himself ( two in the fourth game and one in the sixth) before breaking through in the eighth game on the third of three break point opportunities. After eight straight holds in the second set, Federer captured the crucial break to go up 5-4. When Nadal sailed a return long in the next game, it was over after one hour and 34 minutes of play. “I think it was a close match,” Federer said. “Maybe if you didn’t see the match and you were sitting somewhere around the world and you see the score you’re thinking it was straightforward with couple breaks and that was it. That’s not the full story. I thought he had his chances in the first and in the second. It was close. I think on the big points today I was just a little bit better. Why, I have no explanation. I just think it fell that way today.” Nadal, who hit 15 winners and committed 23 unforced errors, agreed with Federer’s assessment of the match. “I think that I was close,” the Spaniard said. “I think I was close enough to win the first set. It was not my day. It is true that when somebody is coming with that dynamic like him that he’s winning a lot, all the things are going your way.”

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Qualifier Maxime Tabatruong saved two match points in the second set and rallied from a break down in the third to upset fellow Frenchman Albano Olivetti 4-6, 7-6 (5), 6-4 in the final of the France F7 Futures in Villers-les-Nancy Sunday afternoon. Tabatruong improved to 14-8 on the year, while evening his record to 1-1 against the fifth-seeded Olivetti. The title was the third of the 27-year-old qualifier’s career, all on the Futures circuit. Tabatruong played tenacious tennis throughout the 2-hour and 31-minute contest, never backing down and pressuring Olivetti’s serve relentlessly. The big-serving Olivetti blasted 23 aces and saved 12 of 14 break points, but contributed to his demise with 15 double faults. Tabatruong had four aces and double-faulted five times. Despite serving up nine of his double faults in the first set, Olivetti won the opener with a lone break, that coming in the 10th game. Olivetti needed to save five break points in the first game and four in the seventh to hold serve throughout. Both players held serve six times each to force a tiebreaker in the second set, although Tabatruong, with nerves of steel, had to save two match points at 4-5 to keep the contest going. Olivetti suffered the lone mini-break in the tie-break serving at 5-6 to knot the match at a set apiece. Tabatruong dropped serve in the opening game of the third set and trailed 3-1 and 4-2. Olivetti, serving at 4-3 and having held 14 straight times despite needing to erase 12 break points to do so, appeared poised to serve it out and seal the win. It was not to be. Tabatruong broke at love in the 8th game and at 15 in the 10th to complete the stunning upset. Olivetti dropped to 9-8 on the year with the disappointing loss.

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Belgian David Goffin withstood the heavy artillery of #NextGen star Karen Khachanov to defeat the 20-year-old Russian 3-6, 6-4, 6-3 in a spirited second-round matchup at the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells yesterday. The 11th-seeded Goffin went toe-to-toe with the big-hitting Khachanov and eventually wore down the 6-foot-6 Russian with his quickness and superb ball striking. Khachanov’s youthful exuberance at times betrayed him with indecision and poor shot selection, but his big serving and powerful ground game gave Goffin all he could handle. Goffin, ranked No. 12 in the world, will next play 22nd seed Albert Ramos -Vinolas of Spain in the third round. The Belgian broke Khachanov to open the match on a hot desert afternoon, but was broken back in the fourth game to level things at 2-2. Khachanov would break again for a 4-2 lead, but the tenacious Goffin fought back with breaks in the seventh and ninth games and then saved two break points in the 10th to take the opening set. The Russian, after saving four break points in the first game of the second set, pulled himself together and held serve with ease the rest of the set. His break of Goffin’s serve in the fourth game was all he needed to even the match at a set apiece. Both held serve through the first four games of the third set, before Khachanov captured what looked to be a decisive break in the fifth game. Goffin had gallantly fought off four break points in the game but succumbed on the fifth and things looked ominous for the Belgian. The dogged Goffin dug in once more, broke in the ensuing game and again in the eighth before serving it out. Khachanov had nine aces to four for Goffin and won 78 percent of his first serves. Goffin won 68 percent of his first deliveries, but topped the Russian on second serves, winning 50 percent of the points to 33 percent for Khachanov. Goffin saved seven of 11 break points, Khachanov nine of 14.

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Querrey Shocks Nadal to Win Mexican Open

by John on March 5, 2017

Sam Querrey stunned No. 2 seed Rafael Nadal 6-3, 7-6 (3) in the final of the Mexican Open at Acapulco last night in a brilliant display of heavy-hitting tennis. The 29-year-old American’s first win in five tries against Nadal ended the Spaniard’s 14-match win streak at Acapulco, where he had won the title in 2005 and 2013. Querrey knocked off four Top 20 players en route to hoisting the championship trophy, beating No. 11-ranked David Goffin in the second round, No. 9 Dominic Thiem in the quarterfinals and No. 17 Nick Kyrgios in the semifinals. Nadal was ranked No. 6 coming into the tournament. Querrey had gone 0-7 against Top 20 players since beating Novak Djokovic in the third round of Wimbledon last year. The 40th-ranked American’s bazooka-like serve and power from the back of the court proved too much for Nadal to handle. “After the match against Goffin, I knew I could go far here if I continued to play at that level,” Querrey said. “My forehand and backhand were great and my serve bailed me out of trouble when I needed it.” Routine service holds prevailed through the first seven games of the match, before Querrey broke at love in the eighth. A forehand winner on Querrey’s second set point sealed the opener for the American. Nadal, as he usually does when his back is against the wall, dug in and began to pressure Querrey’s serve with some regularity from the outset of the second set. The Spaniard forced five break-point opportunities in the eighth game, but Querrey erased them all, including three with aces. Four more holds led to a tiebreaker. Nadal blinked first, suffering mini-breaks on the eighth and ninth points, allowing Querrey to serve it out. The 6-foot-6 jumped for joy in celebration after one hour and 34 minutes of power-packed action. “It’s definitely a tournament that I’m going to remember for the rest of my life,” Querrey said. “It’s just one of those weeks where I got in the zone and everything was working for me. I hope I can have more like this.” Querrey served 19 aces and won 81 percent of the points on his first service. He saved six of six break points, while Nadal defended one of two. “I played under a lot of pressure because of his serve and baseline game. They were really fantastic and very aggressive,” Nadal said. “He left me with very few options, and the few I had he also played good. I have to congratulate him.”

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Frenchman Lucas Pouille rallied to defeat rising NextGen star Daniil Medvedev of Russia 4-6, 6-1, 6-4 in the quarterfinals of the Open 13 Marseille in the first match of the evening on Friday. Pouille, seeded No. 4, withstood the firepower of the 21-year-old Russian in the opening set and turned things around by finding his range in the second. The third set was a tossup until the No. 17-ranked Frenchman broke Medvedev in the ninth game. Pouille, 23, had a breakthrough season last year, beating Juan Martin del Potro in the third round at Wimbledon, knocking off Rafael Nadal in the fourth round at the U.S. Open and winning his first ATP Tour title at Metz in September. He posted a 34-22 record on the tour and saw his ranking jump from No. 78 at beginning of the year to a career-high No. 15 at the end. Medvedev came out blasting away and had Pouille on his heels most of the first set. The Frenchman did serve nine aces in the opener and that saved him from being broken in all but one of his five service games. Medvedev, however, was winning most of the rallies with his flat, laser-like ground strokes. The Russian started misfiring at the beginning of the second set and had to back off going for broke on most everything he hit. He gave his shots more margin over the net and that in turn gave Pouile more time. Pouille feasted on the opportunity, dialed in and raced to a 5-0 lead. Medvedev held once and Pouille served it out to take the set in just 21 minutes. Both served well in the final set, but Pouille a little better. The Frenchman never faced a break point, while Medvedev looked at four. Medvedev erased one in the seventh game, and the first two of three in the ninth but not the fatal third. Pouille sealed the win when Medvedev overcooked a forehand return long. The Frenchman served 15 aces on the day, won 89 percent of his first service points and saved one of two break points. Medvedev had 10 aces and won 74 percent of the points on his first serve. The Russian save four of seven break points. Pouille will face fellow Frenchman Richard Gasquet in the semifinals tomorrow.

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The King of Quito did it again. Victor Estrella Burgos of the Dominican Republic pulled off a dramatic three-peat at the Ecuador Open in Quito Sunday afternoon, saving a match point and defeating No. 3 seed Paolo Lorenzi 6-7 (2), 7-5, 7-6 (6) in the final. The 5-foot-8 Dominican dynamo improved to 15-0 in Quito and became the only ATP Tour player to win at least three titles in one event and nowhere else. Estrella Burgos beat Feliciano Lopez in a third-set tiebreaker to triumph in 2015, and defeated Thomaz Bellucci in a tight three-set final in 2016. The 36-year-old Estrella Burgos almost didn’t make it past the second round this week, surviving 39 aces and saving three match points against top seed Ivo Karlovic before prevailing in a third-set tiebreaker. “It’s a great achievement for me to win three titles here,” Estrella Burgos said. “The recipe for my success here will be revealed when I retire [laughing], but for sure I’ll come back here next year. I’ll play in Quito every year until I retire.“ Indeed there certainly is something about Quito’s 9,350-foot elevation and red clay courts that Estrella Burgos takes a fancy to. He plays a brand of fearless and aggressive tennis in the Ecuadorian capital like no place else. Neither player faced a break point in the opening set as both served superbly, forcing a tiebreaker. Lorenzi, a 35-year-old Italian, ran off six straight points from 1-2 with mini-breaks on the sixth and seventh points to take the set in 45 minutes. Feeding off his momentum, Lorenzi captured a break to start the second set and jumped out to a 3-1 lead, giving every indication that he might run away with the match. Estrella Burgos clawed his way back with a break to even the score at 4-4, and then broke again up 6-5 to level the match at a set apiece. The Dominican drew first blood in the final set, breaking in the sixth game for a 4-2 lead. Lorenzi broke back in the ensuing game, and then five straight holds forced another tiebreaker. The two traded mini-breaks on the sixth and eighth points, keeping the tie-break on serve. Estrella Burgos saved a match point serving at 5-6 and then won the final two points for the win. “Without any doubt, this final has been the toughest,” Estrella Burgos said of his three in Quito. “Paolo doesn’t give away anything because he is a great fighter.” Lorenzi had 17 aces to four for Estrella Burgos, and won 88 percent of his first serves compared to 79 percent for the Dominican. Estrella bettered his opponent on second serves, winning 63 percent of his second offerings to 47 percent for the Italian. Estrella Burgos, ranked No. 156 starting the week, is projected to move back inside the Top 100 Monday.

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Australian Omar Jasika beat Dmitry Popko 6-3, 7-5 in the first round of the Launceston Challenger in Tasmania Tuesday morning. It was the second meeting between the NextGen ATP rising stars in five days and featured some serious baseline bashing. Jasika, fresh off his maiden ATP Challenger title at Burnie on Saturday, had defeated Popko in the semifinals on Friday en route to the title match. With his weekend exploits, the 19-year-old Jasika moved up to No. 4 in the Race to Milan, the inaugural NextGen ATP Finals scheduled in November for the world’s top 21-and-under singles players. It’s been a super start of the year for the left-handed Jasika, who also was a finalist at the Happy Valley Challenger the first week in January. Tuesday’s battle was played almost exclusively from the baseline and Jasika proved to be the steadier and more tenacious of the two. The young Australian, ranked No. 258 in the world, never faced a break point in the opening set and parlayed his own break in the fourth game to take the set with relative ease in 32 minutes. Popko, a 20-year-old Russian playing for Kazakhstan and ranked No. 204, ratcheted up the pressure to start the second set, pressing Jasika to love-30 on his serve in the second game for just the first time in the match. Jasika would hold, but needed to save three break points in both the sixth and eighth games to keep his head above water. Eventually, though, in the baseline rallies, Jasika would wear Popko down, tempting the Kazakh to go for too much and then miss. The Australian forced his first and only break point chance of the second set with Popko serving at 5-5. Jasika cashed the opportunity and served out the match, sealing it with a forehand winner on his first match point. Over and done in one hour and 28 minutes. Jasika landed 78 percent of his first serves and won 69 percent of those points. Each player served three aces. The Australian saved six of six break points, Popko two of four. Jasika will take on American Mitchell Krueger in the second round on Wednesday.

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Veteran doubles specialist Rajeev Ram spotted NextGen rising star Reilly Opelka 13 years and seven inches of height and still came out on top in a second round matchup at the Dallas Challenger late last night. The 32-year-old Ram edged past Opelka, 19, 7-6 (4), 7-6 (1) to earn a spot in tonight’s quarterfinals against No. 2 seed Taylor Fritz. Ram, seeded No. 7, was a smooth operator all evening, serving and volleying well and blunting the 6-foot-11 Opelka’s power with deft touch and superb placement. Although the score would indicate an extremely tight match, the contest wasn’t as close as it would appear. Ram, who has won 10 ATP Tour doubles titles and 27 on the Challenger circuit, totaled 16 more points (82-66) and was never in trouble in either tiebreaker. The 6-foot-4 American also has two Tour singles titles on his resume, both on the grass at Newport. Opelka was one of three up-and-coming 19-year-old Americans in the draw, Fritz and Frances Tiafoe being the others. Ram struck first in the opening set, breaking in the third game and cruising to a 3-1 lead. Opelka answered with a break of his own in the eighth and then both held twice to force a tiebreaker. With Opelka serving at 4-4, and neither having dropped a point on serve, the towering Michigan native crowded the net only to have Ram lift a superb lob over his head for the mini-break. Two strong serves from Ram and he had the opening set in his pocket. There were no breaks of serve and no break point opportunities afforded in the second set, but the tiebreaker was vastly different from the first set. Ram captured three mini-breaks and held throughout to take it easily. It was over in one hour and 29 minutes. Ram won 91 percent of his first service points and 62 percent of his second, while saving two of three break points. He only lost 14 points on his serve, while hitting six aces. Opelka had 12 aces and saved one of two break points.

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