ATP Tour midweek update: Tsitsipas sent packing amidst stunning upsets

THE goods were delivered over in Russia for the St. Petersburg Open. From 16 names to eight, the competition is so far anyone’s game, as a number of top seeded players were sent packing following shock losses.

Fourth-seed Aslan Karatsev’s demise came as a result of a brutal defeat by Australian John Millman. The world number 57 stepped up another level in the 77 minutes of play, winning 81 per cent of his first-serve points and saving four out of four break points to claim a victory. It had all begun to fall in place for Millman who grabbed the first advantage during the match when he broke Karatsev in the fourth game of the first set and gained a 3-1 lead. By the second set, the 32-year-old surged ahead to topple the 2021 Kremlin Cup winner, helping him advance through to the quarterfinals thanks to an impressive 6-3 6-2 result.

Andrey Rublev is in contention to defend his St.Petersburg title after knocking out Ilya Ivashka in straight sets 6-4 6-4. It was an intense battle with Ivashka’s aggression clear during the matchup, but wasn’t enough to stop the force of Rublev, who hit 10 aces and won 84 per cent of his first-serve points in the gruelling battle that lasted one hour and 29 minutes. The home favourite Rublev saved all seven breakpoints, with the recent win marking his third appearance in a quarterfinal this year.

Croatia’s Marin Cilic is finding his feet in Russia as he ousted hometown hopeful Karen Khachanov 6-4 6-7 6-4, in the match that lasted two hours and 30 minutes. Cilic endured pressure put on him by number six seed Khachanov, who was aggressive in his game. Despite being down 1-4 in the deciding set, Cilic stormed through the final five games to take out the win. A big upset stemmed from the interesting matchup between Germany’s Jan-Lennard Struff and number seven seeded Kazakh Alexander Bublik. Bublik fell short of the win against a fired-up 31-year-old Struff in straight sets, 6-4 6-3. Meanwhile, American Taylor Fritz had a birthday to remember after securing a place in the quarterfinal with a win against compatriot Tommy Paul. The 24-year-old remained calm in a stellar performance saving three out of four break points to defeat the 54th ranked Paul 7-6 6-4 in one hour and 34 minutes. Denis Shapovalov, Roberto Bautista Agut and Botic Van de Zandschulp also took out wins in Russia.

Off the back of his title win in Antwerp last week, Italian Jannik Sinner’s red-hot form continued in the Erste Bank Open. Sinner produced a stellar win over Austrian wildcard Dennis Novak. It took just one hour and 16 minutes for the Italian powerhouse to bring down Novak in straight sets 6-4 6-2. Sinner won 76 per cent of his first serve points and saved six out of six break points. The latest win extends his indoor winning streak to 10 matches and sets him up for a showdown against the eighth-ranked Casper Ruud in the upcoming quarterfinal. In a thrilling two hour and 36-minute clash, Cameron Norrie’s quest to the ATP Finals is up in the air after he was taken down by Canadian Felix Auger-Aliassime 2-6 7-6 6-4. The 21-year-old fought hard, making an impressive comeback after Norrie failed to capitalise on a 1-5 lead in the second-set tiebreak. Auger-Aliassime kept focus to save the second match point on Norrie’s serve, before surging through with a win as a result of a successful serve-forehand combo. The match that saw Auger-Aliassime mark his first win in a Vienna appearance saw the Canadian rising talent impress with 13 aces and won 82 per cent of first service points.

Joining Auger-Aliassime on the winning list is American Frances Tiafoe who ignited the tournaments biggest upset so far after defeating number one seed Stefanos Tsitsipas. The opening set was won by Greece’s Tsitsipas and looked to be a cruisey win for the Greek star as he led 3-0 in the final set. But in a surprise turn of events, Tiafoe found the motivation and powered through to win five games straight, stunning the French Open finalist and capped off an exciting match with a 3-6 6-3 6-4 win. In the one hour and 49 minutes duration, Tiafoe saved three out of five break points and won 71 per cent of his service points.

Australian hopeful Alex de Minaur was eliminated from his Vienna campaign after a loss to number two seed Alexander Zverev 6-2 3-6. Diego Schwartzman fought off Frenchman Gael Monfils, whilst Casper Ruud flew the flag high for Norway following his win against Italian Lorenzo Sonego.

[1] Andrey Rublev (RUS) defeated Ilya Ivashka (BLR) 6-4 6-4
[2] Dennis Shapovalov (CAN) defeated Pablo Andujar (ESP) 2-6 6-3 6-0
[3] Roberto Bautista Agut (ESP) defeated Mackenzie McDonald (USA) 6-3 6-2
John Millman (AUS) defeated [4] Aslan Karatsev (RUS) 6-3 6-2
[5] Taylor Fritz (USA) defeated Tommy Paul (USA) 7-6 6-4
Marin Cilic (CRO) defeated [6] Karen Khachanov (RUS) 6-4 6-7 6-4
Jan-Lennard Struff (GER) defeated [7] Alexander Bublik 6-4 6-3
Botic Van de Zandschulp (NED) defeated [8] Sebastian Korda (USA) 6-2 7-5

Frances Tiafoe (USA) defeated [1] Stefanos Tsitsipas (GRE) 3-6 6-3 6-4
[2] Alexander Zverev (GER) defeated Alex de Minaur (AUS) 6-2 3-6
[4] Casper Rudd (NOR) defeated Lorenzo Sonego (ITA) 7-5 4-6 6-4
[6] Felix Auger-Aliassime (CAN) defeated Cameron Norrie (GBR) 2-6 7-6 6-4
[7] Jannik Sinner (ITA) defeated Dennis Novak (AUT) 6-4 6-2
[8] Diego Schwartzman (ARG) defeated Gael Monfils (FRA) 7-6 4-6 6-2

Picture credit:  Bildagentur Zolles

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