Around the Tour: Demon hits roadblock as Rublev rolled

AFTER celebrating his second ATP Tour title of the year just two days earlier, Australian Alex de Minaur fell to Italian Lorenzo Musetti in the first round of the Cinch Championships in London. The new world number seven looked to be cruising after the first set with a 6-1 triumph, before Musetti found his rhythm and won in three sets, 1-6 6-4 6-2.

The match lasted two hours and three minutes, with de Minaur looking unbeatable in the first set. He dropped just two points off his first serve, broke four times to one and dominated off Musetti’s second serve with an 86 per cent success rate.

Unfortunately for the Australian, Musetti found enough in the second set to take it out in less convincing style and level the match. Musetti saved all four break points against him, and broke at the opportunity de Minaur gave him to be the difference in the set. It was a hearbreaking result for the Australian who to the end of the second set had only lost three points off his first serve.

Unfortunately his first serve percentage dropped to 48 per cent in the second set which proved an issue. That issue did not get much better in the decider, producing just a 52 per cent clip, and while in total he lost just six points off his first serve, the Australian could not get enough first serves in play to pose a problem, and he won just 27 per cent of his second serve points in the third set.

By contrast, Musetti dropped just seven points on his serve, did not face a break point and converted both his break point opportunities, making it three from three across the last two set. All up, he won 71 per cent of his service point and 48 per cent of his return points in the third set.

The result meant the head-to-head between the pair is now level, with the 22 year-old Italian set to be seeded at Wimbledon, as he is currently ranked 30th in the world. The result was the worst possible one for de Minaur however, with his loss meaning he failed to defend his points at the Queen’s Club from last year, and instead dropped back to ninth in the world behind Casper Ruud and Hubert Hurkacz.

In other results, other ATP Tour title winner last week Jack Draper moved into the second round with a comprehensive 54-minute 6-3 6-2 win over Argentinian Mariano Navone. Americans Taylor Fritz, Tommy Paul, Sebastian Korda and Brandon Nakashima all advanced, though the top ranked United States representative Ben Shelton suffered his second straight grasscourt loss.

Italian Matteo Arnaldi overcame Frenchman Ugo Humbert in a tight three-setter, while British veteran Andy Murray outlasted Aussie qualifier Alexei Popyrin. Fellow Brit, Billy Harris made his way into the second round, as did Chilean Alejandro Tabilo and French qualifier Giovanni Mpetshi Perricard, the latter of whom was responsible for Shelton’s exit.


ATP 500 | Terra Wortmann Open

Over in Halle, new world number one Jannik Sinner kick-started his campaign off with a come-from-behind win against Dutchman Tallon Griekspoor. He dropped the first set in a tiebreaker before winning 6-7 6-3 6-2. In similar circumstances German Alexander Zverev had to work hard to get past compatriot and qualifier Oscar Otte, 6-7 6-3 6-4, while Andrey Rublev actually suffered defeat at the hands of American Marcos Giron, 6-4 7-6.

In other results, Australian qualifier James Duckworth saw off talented Brazilian wildcard Joao Fonseca, though fellow Aussie Max Purcell fell to Alexander Bublik. Other winners on the day were Greek star Stefanos Tsitsipas, American Christopher Eubanks and Frenchman Arthur Fils, all of whom won their respective matches in straight sets.

WTA 500 | Berlin Ladies Open

Six matches played out in Germany for the WTA 500 event, with Chinese rising talent Qinwen Zheng outhitting former number one Naomi Osaka in a two-hour and 10-minute three-set match, 6-4 3-6 6-3. Osaka was one of three wildcards to lose on the day, with German pair Angelique Kerber and Jule Niemeier going down to Linda Noskova and Donna Vekic respectively.

In other results, Russian duo Ekaterina Alexandrova and qualfiier Veronika Kudermetova won through to the Round of 16, the latter beating recent title winner Liudmila Samsonova in three sets, while the former knocked off top ranked Brazilian Beatriz Haddad Maia in 86 minutes. Belarusian multiple Grand Slam winner Victoria Azarenka also rolled Greek Maria Sakkari in straight sets.

WTA 250 | Rothesay Classic

It was a mixed bag of a day for the local British hopes in Birmingham at the sole 250 event taking place at the moment. Unfortunately Katie Boulter was forced to retire after one set unable to continue her red-hot form, allowing Ukrainian Anhelina Kalinina safe passage into the next round. Compatriot Heather Watson went down to Marie Bouzkova, though fellow wildcard Harriet Dart gave the British crowd something to cheer about with a straight sets win over Japanese qualifier, Moyuka Uchijima.

American lucky loser Caroline Dolehide caused the upset of the day with a three-set victory over Czech Karolina Pliskova, 2-6 6-3 7-6. Meanwhile Barbora Krejcikova, Elise Mertens, Yulia Putintseva and Diana Shnaider all stamped their tickets into the second round of the grasscourt event.

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