MONTE CARLO, April 15, 2019 (by Michael Dickens)
Everything’s coming up 20 for Denis Shapovalov these days. On Monday, the 20th-ranked #NextGenATP star from Canada celebrated his 20th birthday on Court Rainier III at the Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters in Monaco. Unfortunately for Shapovalov, Jan-Lennard Struff of Germany spoiled the birthday party and beat the Canadian, 5-7, 6-3, 6-1. It was the second time this season Struff has come back to win after losing the first set.
The No. 15 seed Shapovalov, who came in with a career-high world ranking that he achieved last month at the Miami Open, faced a quality opponent in the 44th-ranked Struff, who knocked Alexander Zverev out of the BNP Paribas Open at Indian Wells last month. The 28-year-old German has reached the third round at Monte-Carlo each of the past two years and, like Shapovalov, is also enjoying a career-best ranking. As the match wore on, Struff put pressure on Shapovalov’s second serve and finished with 10 more points on returns. He also broke Shapovalov six times and took advantage of 10 double faults by his opponent. Next, Struff will oppose 29th-ranked Grigor Dimitrov in the second round.
— Tennis TV (@TennisTV) 15. April 2019
Elsewhere, No. 10 seed Daniil Medvedev opened the beautiful, sunny (16º Celsius) day on Court Rainier III with an easy 6-1, 6-1 win over No. 50 Joao Sousa of Portugal for his 18th victory of the year, which tied him with Roger Federer for most tour-level wins this season. Medvedev is 18-6 while Federer is 18-2.
“It was a good match. Of course, it is not easy to start the first match on clay,” said Medvedev, as quoted by the ATP Tour website. “You want to see how your practices have been going (and if) they worked out. In this moment I am happy with my performance but looking forward to the next matches because it is only the start.”
The Russian, who reached a career-high ranking of No. 14 at the beginning of the month – and has won four singles title in the last 16 months – looks ready to make a run toward his first ATP Masters 1000 quarterfinal. Next, he faces 45th-ranked Radu Albot of Moldova, who advanced over No. 70 Aljaz Bedene of Slovenia, 6-4, 6-2.
“Radu has done a great first quarter of the year, so (it is) never going to be an easy match. But if I manage to hold my nerves like I did today and play strong and aggressive, I will have my chances,” said Medvedev.
Meanwhile, No. 13 seed Fabio Fognini of Italy came from a set down and 1-4 and rallied for a 4-6, 7-5, 6-4 win over qualifier Andrey Rublev of Russia. The No. 90 Rublev outpointed Fognini 106-105 – including 16 more points on returns – during their two hour and 30 minute battle. However, the Italian never gave up and he had the support of the Court Rainier III crowd. He outpointed Rublev 69-54 on service points and saved 13 of 17 break points.
— Tennis TV (@TennisTV) 15. April 2019
“Fognini played some of his best tennis to come through,” said Tennis Channel analyst Chanda Rubin. “He played well and moved well.”
Next, Fognini will face the winner of Tuesday’s first-round match between 2013 semifinalist Gilles Simon of France, ranked 26th, and No. 120 Alexei Popyrin of Australia.
Also, 24th-ranked Diego Schwartzman of Argentina rebounded over No. 17 seed Kyle Edmund of Great Britain, 4-6, 6-3, 6-1, to advance against the winner of tomorrow’s first-round match between No. 102 Jo-Wilfried Tsonga of France and No. 65 Taylor Fritz of the United States, which leads off play on Court Rainier III.
Finally, 22nd-ranked Roberto Bautista Agut of Spain came from behind and won 11 of the last 12 games to beat 39th-ranked John Millman of Australia, 3-6, 6-1, 6-1. Next up is a second-round match against 11-time Monte-Carlo champion and compatriot Rafael Nadal on Wednesday.
Cecchinato, Goffin advance, Basilashvili upset
Others advancing to the second round were: No. 11 seed Marco Cecchinato of Italy and No. 16 seed David Goffin of Belgium, plus No. 40 Philipp Kohlschreiber of Germany, No. 42 Mikhail Kukushkin of Kazakhstan, No. 50 Martin Klizan of Slovakia, No. 48 Dusan Lajovic of Serbia, No. 61 wild card Jaume Munar of Spain, and No. 37 Marton Fucsovics of Hungary, who upset No. 12 seed Nikolaz Basilashvili of Georgia, 7-5, 3-6, 6-1.
Kohlschreiber’s 6-1, 6-3 win over lucky loser Taro Daniel of Japan, ranked No. 72, earned him a re-match with World No. 1 Novak Djokovic in the second round on Tuesday. Last month, Kohlschreiber upset Djokovic, 6-4, 6-4, at the BNP Paribas Open that snapped an eight-match winning streak by the Serbian.
• The No. 1 seeds in doubles, Pierre-Hugues Herbert and Nicolas Mahut, both of France, were upset in the first round by Robin Haase and Wesley Koolhof, both from the Netherlands, 7-6 (4), 7-6 (2). Also, the Djokovic brothers from Serbia, Novak and Marco, lost to No. 4 seeds Juan Sebastian Cabal and Robert Farrah, both of Colombia, 6-1, 6-3, while the Zverev Brothers of Germany – Alexander and Mischa – scored a come-from-behind 4-6, 6-4, 10-7 win over wild cards Romain Arneodo of Monaco and Frenchman Hugo Nys.
• With Denis Shapovalov turning 20 years-old today, there are now just two teenagers remaining in the ATP Top 100: No. 33 Felix Auger-Aliassime (18 years-old) of Canada, and No. 91 Miamir Kecmanovic (19 years-old) of Serbia. The wild card Auger-Aliassime plays his first-round match against No. 79 qualifier Juan Ignacio Londero of Argentina on Tuesday. Kecmanovic lost in the first round of Monte-Carlo qualifying to No. 116 Elias Ymer of Sweden, 6-1, 6-3.
• Play resumes Tuesday with three seeds playing on Court Rainier III, including No. 7 seed Marin Cilic versus Guido Pella of Argentina, No. 1 seed Novak Djokovic against Philipp Kohlschreiber of Germany, and No. 11 seed Marco Cecchinato of Italy facing Stan Wawrinka of Switzerland. Other seeded players in action include: No. 8 seed Karen Khachanov and No. 9 seed Borna Coric.
What they’re saying
• World No. 5 Dominic Thiem, who won his first Masters 1000 title last month at Indian Wells and reached last year’s final at Roland Garros, as quoted by the ATP Tour website: “I expect a lot, of course, like in every clay-court season … (There are) only strong tournaments and, especially here, the draw is a joke. It is so strong. In general, the level of men’s tennis is pretty high at the moment. I think everybody has to be ‘full power on’ from the first point of every match, myself as well. That is what I will try [to do] and I hope good things are coming in this clay-court season.”
More Thiem: Asked about “King of Clay” Rafael Nadal, he said, “I think that as long as Rafa is playing, he will always be the top favourite for any clay-court title, but I think there are more serious challenges to him than the in past years. Sascha (Zverev is) always (a threat) and Novak is back on the top of his game and, I hope, me. There are the really young guys like Felix, I think he likes clay a lot. He played amazing in Miami and [there are] also other very young guys like Stefanos and Shapovalov. There are many challenges for Rafa.”
First round singles
Philipp Kohlschreiber d. LL-Taro Daniel, 6-1, 6-3
Diego Schwartzman d. No. 17 Kyle Edmund, 4-6, 6-3, 6-1
No. 10 Daniil Medvedev d. Joao Sousa, 6-1, 6-1
Radu Albot d. Q-Aljaz Bedene, 6-4, 6-2
Mikhail Kukushkin d. Jeremy Chardy, 6-3, 6-4
Martin Klizan d. Q-Federico Delbonis, 7-6 (3), 7-5
Dusan Lajovic d. Malek Jaziri, 6-4, 6-4
No. 10 David Goffin d. Q-Guido Andreozzi, 6-1, 6-4
Marton Fucsovics d. No. 12 Nikoloz Basilashvili, 7-5, 3-6, 6-1
Q-Lorenzo Sonego d. Andreas Seppi, 7-6 (4), 6-4
WC-Jaime Munar d. W-Lucas Catarina, 6-0, 6-3
No. 13 Fabio Fognini d. Q-Andrey Rublev, 4-6, 7-5, 6-4
No. 11 Marco Cecchinato d. Damir Dzumhur, 4-0, retired
Jan-Lennard Struff d. No. 15 Denis Shapovalov, 5-7, 6-3, 6-1
Roberto Bautista Agut d. John Millman, 3-6, 6-1, 6-1
First round doubles
Robin Haase-Wesley Koolhof d. No. 1 Pierre-Hugues Herbert/Nicolas Mahut, 7-6 (4), 7-6 (2)
Alexander Zverev-Mischa Zverev d. WC-Romain Arneodo/Hugo Nys, 4-6, 6-4, 10-7
Ivan Dodig-Edouard Roger-Vaseline d. Laslo Djere-Division Sharan, 6-2, 6-1
No. 6 Henri Kontinen-John Peers d. Grigor Dimitrov-Stan Wawrinka, 7-6 (6), 6-3
No. 4 Juan Sebastian Cabal-Robert Farrah d. Mario Djokovic-Novak Djokovic, 6-1, 6-3