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Felix Takes Out Rublev in Rotterdam

  • Posted: Feb 12, 2022

Felix Takes Out Rublev in Rotterdam

Canadian to meet Tsitsipas in championship match

Felix Auger-Aliassime is one step close to finally capturing his maiden tour-level title after an impressive comeback win over defending champion Andrey Rublev at the ABN Amro World Tennis Tournament in Rotterdam.

The third seed seemed under pressure for much of the semi-final clash before accelerating to a 6-7(5), 6-4, 6-2 win on Saturday evening.

“It was a close second set,” said Auger-Aliassime after the match. “I played one really strong game, finished it off well on my serve and then after the third started I felt really good physically, felt like I was able to put pressure on him and move him around, and then things got better and better.”

There are just two places between World No. 7 Rublev and No. 9 Auger-Aliassime in the ATP Rankings and a tight encounter reflected that. But the Canadian found a way to raise his game at big moments to secure his first win over the Russian.

“It’s always a great feeling, it’s kind of a little milestone when you beat a player that you’ve always lost to before, especially top players and I think it shows I’ve improved my game, I’m a more complete player.

“Again today I served well when I needed to. I came up with some good shots, especially at the end of the second set. I really needed to stick in there and give myself a chance and then to finish the way I did against a player like Andrey was great. The third set was one of my best this week.”


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Rublev came into the semi-finals having not dropped serve in his opening three matches in Rotterdam. and he showed real composure under pressure to maintain that record in the first set. He recovered from 0/40 down in both the sixth and 12th games as Auger-Aliassime was unable to convert.

After saving a fourth set point to level at 6-6 with a stunning backhand down the line, Rublev then enjoyed a fast start to the tie-break, surging to a 3/0 lead. Auger-Aliassime was able to peg it back to 5/5, but then struck a backhand into the net to gift Rublev his first set point, an opportunity the Russian gratefully accepted.

Rublev seemed in control but once Auger-Aliassime recovered from 0/40 to level at 3-3 in the second set, there was a clear shift in momentum. The Russian missed an easy forehand to finally surrender his serve in Rotterdam as the Canadian broke for 5-4 before holding to level up proceedings.

The sudden turnaround seemed to affect Rublev’s concentration. The Russian saved break points in his opening service game of the decider, but could not repeat the trick in either the third or fifth games of the set, as Auger-Aliassime found consistency in his groundstrokes.

The young Canadian went on to seal an impressive victory in two hours and 21 minutes, having blasted 41 winners, including 11 aces.

His opponent in the championship match will be World No. 4 Stefanos Tsitsipas. The Greek overcame a scare before ending the dream run of Czech qualifier Jiri Lehecka with a 4-6, 6-4, 6-2 win earlier on Saturday. Tsitsipas leads Auger-Aliassime 5-2 in their ATP Head2Head series 5-2.

Auger-Aliassime holds a 0-8 record in tour-level finals, but will do everything he can to break his duck on Sunday. “Hopefully all the stars are aligned,” he said, “but for my part I just need to play with no regrets, bring my best intensity and focus, give it my all and we’ll see what the outcome is, but I’m confident I can pull this through.”

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Ruud Powers into Buenos Aires Final

  • Posted: Feb 12, 2022

Casper Ruud has settled in quickly on the clay in 2022.

The World No. 8 produced a clinical display to defeat home hope Federico Delbonis 6-3, 6-3 in the semi-finals of the Argentina Open on Saturday. The top seed won through in one hours, 39 minutes to improve his match record in Buenos Aires to 8-0.

Ruud and Delbonis were tied 1-1 in their ATP Head2Head series prior to the match, but Ruud has come a long way since he lost their first encounter in Sao Paulo in 2017, now the holder of six tour-level titles.


After an early exchange of breaks in the first set, Ruud broke again for 5-3 as his strong hitting from the baseline overwhelmed Delbonis.

Delbonis had reached the semi-finals in Buenos Aires in 2018 but never looked likely to better than run as the Norwegian remained business-like throughout. The home crowd did their best to lift the Argentine but Ruud showed no let-up as he won 72 per cent (44/61) points behind his first serve.

Ruud will take on either second seed Diego Schwartzman or third seed Lorenzo Sonego in Sunday’s final. The Norwegian has never lost to Italian Sonego in three previous meetings but trails home favourite Schwartzman 5-2 in their ATP Head2Head series.

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Tsitsipas Survives Lehecka Scare, Reaches Final In Rotterdam

  • Posted: Feb 12, 2022

With his back against the wall, top seed Stefanos Tsitsipas found a way on Saturday to reach the final at the ABN Amro World Tennis Tournament.

The Greek star battled back to end Czech qualifier Jiri Lehecka’s dream run in Rotterdam, edging the 20-year-old 4-6, 6-4, 6-2 to continue his title pursuit at the ATP 500 event.

“He was really pushing me,” Tsitsipas said. “I did not know what to expect, so I was trying to figure out his patterns and his game. He was playing incredibly well after the first serve, pressing and attacking like I had never seen before. I had to stay in the match and I managed to survive.”

The World No. 4 had dropped just one set en route to the semi-finals. But he was made to work hard against a pumped-up Lehecka, who showed everyone why he had upset World No. 12 Denis Shapovalov on his main-draw debut at the start of the week with an aggressive performance against Tsitsipas.


In a hard-fought match, Tsitsipas found his rhythm as the clash wore on, hammering his heavy topspin groundstrokes with greater depth and consistency in the second and third sets to turn the tables on the Czech and triumph.

Following his one-hour and 53-minute victory, Tsitsipas will now face either third-seeded Canadian Felix Auger-Aliassime or World No. 7 Andrey Rublev in the championship match on Sunday.

It is the first time the top seed has advanced to the final at a tour-level event since June, when he enjoyed a run to his maiden Grand Slam championship match at Roland Garros. If the Greek can capture the crown in Rotterdam, it will also be the first time he has lifted the trophy at an ATP 500 event.

On his main-draw debut, Lehecka enjoyed a dream week in Rotterdam, upsetting Shapovalov, Botic van de Zandschulp and #NextGenATP Italian Lorenzo Musetti. The 20-year-old was the lowest-ranked Rotterdam semi-finalist since then-World No. 225 Omar Camporese reached the last four in 1995.

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Isner Reaches Dallas SFs After 'Best Match All Year'

  • Posted: Feb 12, 2022

A bit of home comfort has helped John Isner kickstart his 2022 season with a pair of wins at the Dallas Open.

Playing in front of friendly crowd near his Dallas residence, the 36-year-old American has won consecutive matches for the first time this season following a 6-4, 6-4 result over Vasek Pospisil on Friday evening. After failing to secure a break of serve in his past 13 sets across four matches, Isner claimed a pair of early breaks to set up a straightforward quarter-final victory.

“It was the best match I’ve played all year, bar none,” Isner said post-match. “There’s no doubt about it.”

The third seed needed three tie-breaks to edge Kevin Anderson in the second round, but was able to avoid repeat drama with an efficient performance on the Southern Methodist University campus. Isner created openings in two return games on the night, and converted in both while going 2/4 on his break opportunities. After not facing a break point against Anderson, he saved the only one he faced on Friday as he served out the opening set.

“I didn’t have many chances, but when I did I capitalised on them,” Isner detailed. “A lot of times when you win a close match like I did in the first round, that kind of releases some of the pressure and you can build on that one. I think I did that tonight.”

After hitting 30 aces in that opening-round marathon, Isner fired 19 in just 10 service games against Pospisil.

Through to his first semi-final since the National Bank Open in Toronto in August, he will face compatriot Reilly Opelka on Saturday.

In a 6-3, 6-4 win over fifth seed Adrian Mannarino, Opelka enjoyed a very similar night to Isner in the Friday nightcap. The second seed also advanced behind a pair of early breaks, and did Isner one better by not facing a break point as he completed an all-American final four in Dallas.

“I served really well tonight, and I think that made him a little bit uncomfortable,” Opelka said in an on-court interview. “When you get this guy in a neutral position, he’s not a fun guy to play, that’s for sure. So going into the match I put a lot of emphasis and energy on my serve.”

Continuing the similarities with his big-serving compatriot, the 24-year-old also won a pair of tie-breaks to get to the quarter-final stage, though he did not need a third set to dismiss Germany’s Cedrik-Marcel Stebe. Opelka’s last deep run was also in Toronto this summer, when he reached the final of the Masters 1000- event. Both Isner and Opelka were beaten by eventual champion Daniil Medvedev in Canada.

In their four ATP Head2Head meetings, Opelka holds a 3-1 edge including the three most recent wins, all in 2019. Of the 13 sets they’ve played, 11 were decided by tie-breaks.

“John and I, we’re no strangers to 7-6 in the third,” Opelka previewed. “It’s going to be a fun match against John. I think the best part about this is we have four Americans in the semis, so you’re guaranteed an all-American final and an American will lift the trophy, which is great.”

Fourth seed Jenson Brooksby will face Marcos Giron in the opposite semi-final. (Read the match report for their quarter-final wins here.)

“It just shows how much we love playing in front of you guys, playing in front of the U.S. crowd,” Opelka added, addressing the packed stands. “Being at home, I wish we had more weeks like this. But we make the most of them while they’re here.”

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