Second seeds Raven Klaasen/Michael Venus encountered few problems in a convincing 6-3, 6-3 first-round win over Cristian Garin/Benoit Paire on Tuesday at the Swiss Indoors Basel. Next up for Klaasen/Venus are Ivan Dodig/Filip Polasek, who saved a set point at 5/6 in the first-set tie-break of their 7-6(6), 7-5 victory against Luca Margaroli/Jan-Lennard Struff.
Fourth seeds Jean-Julien Rojer/Horia Tecau held off a determined effort from Nikola Mektic/Franko Skugor to score a 6-3, 6-7(7), 10-5 win. Rojer/Tecau missed two match points at 6/5 and 7/6 in the second-set tie-break, but recovered quickly to set up a quarter-final battle with Jamie Murray/Neal Skupski.
At the Erste Bank Open in Vienna, third seeds Pierre-Hugues Herbert/Nicolas Mahut saved all three break points in their 6-1, 6-4 victory over Grigor Dimitrov/Feliciano Lopez. Awaiting them in the quarter-finals are Andres Molteni/Diego Schwartzman, who took out Dominic Inglot/Austin Krajicek 6-7(5), 6-3, 10-5.
Fourth seeds Rajeev Ram/Joe Salisbury rallied from 2-5 in the second set and saved a set point at 4-5 to defeat Karen Khachanov/Andrey Rublev 6-4, 7-6(4). They’ll play Luke Bambridge/Ben McLachlan for a place in the semi-finals.
Austrian Dominic Thiem started one of his favourite weeks on the ATP Tour with his first win against France’s Jo-Wilfried Tsonga on Tuesday, beating the Frenchman 6-4, 7-6(2) to make the second round of his home Erste Bank Open in Vienna.
Thiem came back from 0/40 down to break Tsonga in the seventh game of the opening set, and the top seed pulled away in the second-set tie-break. The Austrian, who was 0-2 against Tsonga in their FedEx ATP Head2Head series, which included a 2013 Vienna loss, did not face a break point and won 80 per cent (33/41) of his first-serve points.
The 26-year-old has already secured his fourth consecutive trip to the Nitto ATP Finals at The O2 in London, from 10-17 November. Thiem is going for his fifth title of the season, which would be a career-best single-season haul.
He will next meet Fernando Verdasco, who beat Georgian Nikoloz Basilashvili 4-6, 6-2, 6-1. The Spaniard leads his FedEx ATP Head2Head series with Thiem 4-0, which includes a 2017 hard-court matchup at the indoor Rolex Paris Masters.
Third seed Stefanos Tsitsipas continued his top form on Tuesday at the Swiss Indoors Basel, battling to a hard-fought 6-3, 7-6(6) victory in the night session against Spaniard Albert Ramos-Vinolas.
“I knew it was going to be a difficult battle out there. He fought hard and gave me a hard time out there, but I’m satisfied and happy that this match didn’t go longer or to three sets,” Tsitsipas said. “The players that make it into [ATP 500] tournaments are all playing well, so I expect every match to be difficult. You have to fight for everything.”
Tsitsipas has won eight of his past 10 matches. The 21-year-old finished runner-up in Beijing (l. to Thiem) and defeated World No. 1 Novak Djokovic en route to a semi-final finish at the Rolex Shanghai Masters. Those two results helped clinch his maiden appearance at the season-ending Nitto ATP Finals, held at The O2 in London from 10-17 November. Tsitsipas will play Spaniard Pablo Andujar or Lithuanian Ricardas Berankis in the second round.
”I came into the match feeling very relaxed. I went out there to enjoy my game and experiment with a few different things,” Tsitsipas said. “I got some good support from the fans today. There were some Greek flags and people screaming my name, so that was very pleasing.”
The #NextGenATP champion controlled most of the baseline rallies early on in their centre court clash, forcing Ramos-Vinolas to step out of his comfort zone and try to win points at the net. Tsitsipas earned the lone break of the opening set at 3-2 and held his slight advantage to take the early lead.
It appeared that the third seed would coast after he scored another break to lead 3-2 in the second set, but Ramos-Vinolas dug deep and added more pace to his shots. He levelled the match in the next game and continued to prove his resilience by saving two match points at 4/6 in the tie-break. But Tsitsipas hung tough, showing impressive defense at 6/6 to goad Ramos-Vinolas into a forehand error before prevailing in one hour and 34 minutes.
American Reilly Opelka came out on top in a 7-6(5), 7-6(10) serving duel with Chilean Cristian Garin. There were no breaks in the match, but Opelka saved set points at 6/7 and 8/9 in the second-set tie-break before converting on his fourth match point. He finished the day with 27 aces and 98 per cent (51/52) of first-serve points won to even his FedEx ATP Head2Head series with Garin at 1-1. Opelka awaits sixth-seeded Belgian David Goffin or Croatian Marin Cilic in the second round.
Hyeon Chung earned a confidence boosting victory on Tuesday to hand Milos Raonic his second straight first-round exit at the Erste Bank Open.
The 23-year-old South Korean worked his way to a 6-4, 7-5 victory over one hour and 44 minutes, withstanding a late comeback from Raonic in the second set.
The South Korean won the inaugural 2017 Next Gen ATP Finals title in Milan, but was sidelined this year for six months due to a back injury and returned in July. With his sixth tour-level victory of 2019, Chung will now play Andrey Rublev or Felix Auger-Aliassime in the Vienna second round.
World No. 139 Chung broke Raonic’s serve in the opening games of each set – both times courtesy of Raonic forehand errors. Chung led 4-2 in the second set, before Raonic won three consecutive games — moving Chung around the court to break to love in the eighth game.
Raonic could not convert one set point on Chung’s serve at 5-4, Ad-Out, when Chung hit a forehand approach winner. Raonic lost 10 of the next 14 points.
Elsewhere, France’s Gilles Simon knocked out Spain’s 2004 champion Feliciano Lopez 6-4, 6-3 in one hour and 34 minutes to set up a clash against Aljaz Bedene, who struck 14 aces and won 28 of 29 first-service points in a 6-4, 6-4 win over seventh seed Guido Pella of Argentina.
The third time was the charm for Taylor Fritz against Alexander Zverev at the Swiss Indoors Basel. The American picked up his maiden win over the second-seeded German with a convincing 7-6(7), 6-4 performance to reach the second round.
Both players won 41 points in the opening set, but it was Fritz’s inspired run in the tie-break that gave him the early lead. Zverev held a 4/0 lead, but the American clawed back and produced an outstanding reflex volley for set point at 6/5. The second seed erased it with a forehand winner and earned his own set point at 7/6, but Fritz evened the score with an overhead smash. The 21-year-old followed up with a big forehand and an ace for a commanding advantage.
Zverev’s form dipped slightly at the start of the second set and Fritz capitalised on the opportunity. He earned the lone break of the match at 1-1 and cracked a backhand winner to close out play after one hour and 25 minutes.
The victory gave Fritz his third Top 10 win of the year and fourth overall. He’s produced his best year on Tour this season, clinching his maiden ATP Tour title in Eastbourne (d. Querrey) and finishing runner-up in Atlanta (l. to De Minaur) and Los Cabos (l. to Schwartzman). The American will now look for another first-time win against #NextGenATP Aussie Alex de Minaur, who he trails 0-2 in their FedEx ATP Head2Head series.
Zverev was seeking a big week to bolster his chances at qualifying to defend his title at the season-ending Nitto ATP Finals, held at The O2 in London from 10-17 November. The German is in seventh place in the ATP Race to London with 2,855 points and holds a 410-point lead over ninth-placed Roberto Bautista Agut. The Spaniard begins his Basel campaign in the night session against last year’s runner-up, Marius Copil of Romania.
Moldovan Radu Albot rallied for a 2-6, 6-3, 6-4 win over Serbian Dusan Lajovic. The 29-year-old’s reward is a second-round clash with top seed and nine-time Basel champion Roger Federer, who has won his past 21 matches at this event.
Deciding-Set Dominic: Where Thiem Has Improved In 2019
ATPTour.com uses the FedEx ATP Performance Zone to examine deciding-set performance
The world’s best are battling hard for one of the two remaining spots at the Nitto ATP Finals, and the competition will be as intense as ever at this week’s Erste Bank Open and Swiss Indoors Basel, both of which are ATP 500 events. That means that deciding sets will be pivotal with places in London still up for grabs.
One player whose deciding-set efforts in 2019 have helped him secure a spot at the season finale is Dominic Thiem, the top seed in Vienna. The Austrian star had only emerged victorious in 60 per cent of his tour-level deciding sets prior to the season. But excelling in that department this year has helped Thiem craft one of his most well-rounded seasons to date.
View FedEx ATP Performance Zone
Thiem has won 10 of his 12 deciding sets in 2019, a success rate of more than 83 per cent. That leads the ATP Tour in 2019 for players who have contested at least 10 deciding sets.
2019 Leaders – Deciding Sets Won
1. Dominic Thiem
2. Andrey Rublev
3. Alexander Bublik
4. Laslo Djere
5. Cristian Garin
*(at least 10 deciding sets played) What is most glaring is when those deciding sets have come. Thiem has gone to a deciding set in four tour-level semi-finals, emerging victorious three times. He also went to a deciding set in two championship matches, clinching the title on both occasions. In those title clashes alone — at the BNP Paribas Open and the China Open — he could have earned 600 fewer ATP Ranking points with losses.
The players directly behind him have also enjoyed the best seasons of their careers. Andrey Rublev (78.6%), Alexander Bublik (76.9%), Laslo Djere (72.7%) and Cristian Garin (71.4%) have all reached their career-high ATP Ranking in 2019, and they occupy the second through fifth spots in rate of deciding sets won this season.
The five active players with the best all-time winning percentages in deciding sets are not inside the Top 10 this year. Kei Nishikori (60%), Novak Djokovic (50%), Rafael Nadal (66.7%), Andy Murray and Juan Martin del Potro lead their peers in this FedEx ATP Performance Zone. Nadal has only played six deciding sets this year, going 4-2 in those matches. Both Murray and Del Potro have played less than 10 deciding sets, mostly because they have missed time due to injury.
Career Leaders – Deciding Sets Won (Active Players)
1. Kei Nishikori
2. Novak Djokovic
3. Rafael Nadal
4. Andy Murray
5. Juan Martin del Potro
The only player currently in the Top 8 of the ATP Race To London who has not won at least half of his deciding sets this year is Stefanos Tsitsipas, who has triumphed in 47.8 per cent of those matches (11-12). The Greek has still managed to reach a career-high ATP Ranking of No. 5.
Did You Know? Thiem won his first ATP Tour title on home soil earlier this year in Kitzbuhel. He has never made it past the quarter-finals in Vienna.
Five Things To Know About Ruud, Who’s Headed To Milan
Norwegian set to make his Milan debut
Casper Ruud can check qualifying for the Next Gen ATP Finals in Milan off his 2019 goals list. The 20-year-old Norwegian is set to make his debut at the 21-and-under event, to be held 5-9 November at the Allianz Cloud. Here are five things to know about the right-hander.
1. Tennis is in the family. Casper Ruud has been playing tennis since he was four years old, when his father, Christian, introduced him to the sport. Christian Ruud played on the ATP Tour, reaching No. 39 in the ATP Rankings, making the 1995 Bastad final and playing in the fourth round of the 1997 Australian Open. Christian also coaches and travels with Casper full-time on Tour now.
“I know that he cares about me and he wants everything in the best way for me. So, of course, he’s been a really big part of my success and my team, ever since I was little,” Casper said.
2. They are Norway’s first tennis family.
Christian is coaching Casper and his records are pushing his son. Christian is the most accomplished tennis player from Norway, a country known more for its winter sports, such as skiing.
Christian, for instance, is the highest-ranked Norwegian player in ATP Rankings history (since 1973). But Casper is close to catching his dad in some regards. While Casper, with a career-high ATP Ranking of No. 54, is still 15 spots away from tying his dad’s mark, Casper made the Houston final in April, matching his father’s title match appearance in Bastad.
“I’m from a small tennis country, and I don’t have too many people to look up to in my home country, except for him. He’s the only one who knows how it’s been and how the life on the Tour is. I think it’s been a huge advantage, even though I’m from Norway, to have my father so close to me and helping me with my tennis,” Casper said.
Watch Uncovered: Ruud Following In His Father’s Footsteps
3. He has learned from his breakout run in 2017.
Casper was only 17, but at the 2017 Rio Open presented by Claro, he already seemed destined for big things. Ruud, in just his third tour-level event, sprinted to the Rio semi-finals, winning his first three ATP Tour matches at the 500-level event.
He became the youngest semi-finalist on the ATP World Tour since Borna Coric in Basel 2014 and the lowest-ranked player to make a 500-level semi-final since Alexander Zverev (No. 285) in Hamburg in 2014.
Ruud, rightfully, felt happy about his achievement. But, looking back on it, he admits to feeling a little too pleased with the one-week performance.
“I was maybe a bit too happy with playing good that week… I wasn’t maybe greedy enough to go for many good weeks in a row,” Ruud said. “Of course, you can be happy and proud over some good wins, but there’s always another match, and usually the day after, if you win. You always have to be ready and greedy to get that win.”
More About Ruud Like Father, Like Son: Casper Makes His Mark Why Greed Is Good For Ruud Federer. Ruud Face Off In Paris
4. He faced Roger Federer in Roland Garros, and the Swiss admitted a weakness ahead of their matchup.
Ruud was playing in his first third round at a Grand Slam, and Federer, who has been on Tour since 1998, conceded a pre-match advantage to the #NextGenATP Norwegian.
“I know probably more about his dad than about him. Even though I never played him, the father,” Federer said. “I know that [Casper has] improved a lot in recent years, and I think he plays very well on the clay. Again, I haven’t seen him play a whole lot. But for any 20-year-old to be on the big stage, playing a top guy, on a centre court, that’s what you dream of.”
Christian Ruud ended his career at 2001 Roland Garros, the eighth Slam Federer played, and Dad had to have been proud of his son’s efforts against Federer. Casper had a set point in the third set before falling 6-3, 6-1, 7-6(8).
5. He will make his Milan debut.
For two years, Ruud has been eying the Next Gen ATP Finals in Milan. But this year, he’ll make his debut and get to play alongside the game’s best 21-and-under players. “This year is kind of the first year where I felt like I’ve been really steady throughout many tournaments and many weeks in a row,” he said. “I’m really happy, but I’m also greedy and trying to go for more.”
Fognini & Bautista Agut Boost London Bids With Basel Victories
Gasquet advances on Tuesday
Fifth-seeded Italian Fabio Fognini continued to make his case for a maiden appearance at the season-ending Nitto ATP Finals, cruising past his opening test on Tuesday at the Swiss Indoors Basel against #NextGenATP Aussie Alexei Popyrin 6-2, 6-4.
”Tennis has started to change again with these young guys who are amazing on their first and second serves,” Fognini said. “But I’m happy because I’m 32 and still winning against some of them.”
Fognini racked up nine break points and converted five, in addition to winning 74 per cent of his first-serve points (29/39) to advance in one hour and 18 minutes. He’ll play a Serbian in the next round, either Stockholm runner-up Filip Krajinovic or Laslo Djere.
Fognini is currently 11th in the ATP Race to London with 2,235 points and trails eighth-placed Italian Matteo Berrettini by 290 points. The winner in Basel will pick up an additional 500 points and that could catapult him into one of the two remaining qualifying spots up for grabs. Berrettini is competing this week at the Erste Bank Open in Vienna.
Fourth seed Roberto Bautista Agut also looks to clinch a debut appearance at The O2 in London from 10-17 November. He took an encouraging step towards that goal with a 6-4, 7-5 win over Romanian Marius Copil, last year’s runner-up at this event.
Bautista Agut weathered 16 aces from the Romanian and continued to apply pressure with his returns, racking up 11 break points throughout the match. He scored the lone break in each set and finished the night with a tidy 28 winners to 24 unforced errors. The Spaniard is in ninth place in the ATP Race to London (2,485) and trails Berrettini by a mere 40 points.
Next up for Bautista Agut is Richard Gasquet, who weathered a late surge from Argentine Juan Ignacio Londero to advance 6-1, 7-6(4). The Frenchman, a two-time semi-finalist in Basel (2012 & 2015), picked up his first win over Londero (1-2) in their FedEx ATP Head2Head series. All three of their clashes have taken place this year.