DOHA/QTF, January 12, 2021
Former World No. 12 Viktor Troicki is one step away from reaching the main draw of the 2021 Australian Open after dispatching US-American Ulises Blanch, 22, in straight-sets 7-5, 6-3 on Tuesday in the second round of the men’s qualifying event held at the Khalifa International Tennis & Squash Complex in Doha, Qatar.
The 34-year-old Serbian, who won the inaugural ATP Cup in 2020, becoming the first player in history to win all three major team competitions (Davis Cup in 2010 and World Team Cup in 2009 and 2012), defeated his opponent in 94 minutes. Troicki won 89 per cent of first serves and 65 per cent of the second in a highly-entertaining encounter as he booked his ticket against Germany’s Cedrik-Marcel Stebe in tomorrow’s final round match.
Stebe, ranked World No. 126, had ended the run of wild card entry Rinky Hijikata of Australia, winning 6-4, 6-2 on Court A earlier in the day.
Should Troicki, a quarterfinalist at the 2008 French Open, overcome the 30-year-old German on Wednesday, it would be his 12th appearance in Melbourne since 2008. He had only missed the first Grand Slam of the year in 2014 while serving a doping ban.
In the other action, Australian wild card Dane Sweeny received a walkover from No. 4 seed Denis Kudla from the United States to meet Ukraine’s Sergiy Stakhovsky, who defeated Australia’s Jason Kubler 7-6(4), 6-4.
A fourth Australian Open appearance is looking very likely for the No.5-seed Taro Daniel of Japan after the 27-year-old Florida resident knocked out German Maximilian Marterer, ranked World No. 209, 6-3, 6-4. With the win, Daniel secured a final round ticket against fast-serving Elias Ymer of Sweden, who rallied past 27th-seeded Marc-Andrea Huesler of Switzerland 1-6, 6-3, 6-2.
Seventh-seed Damir Džumhur, who made it into the third round in Melbourne in 2014 and 2018, eased past Germany’s Julian Lenz 6-2, 6-2 in one hour and eight minutes. Lenz broke his opponent’s serve only once, while the Bosnian player, on the other hand, managed to do it five times.
Dzumhur, Bosnia and Herzegovina’s No. 1 player, achieved 60 per cent of first serves, committed two double faults and won 18 service points on his way to victory.
The 28-year-old Bosnian, ranked 118, is set to face Belgian Kimmer Coppejans, who defeated the 31-seeded Egyptian Mohamed Safwat in straight-sets.
Meanwhile, some upsets were recorded with three seeded players – Slovenia’s Blaz Rola (seeded 32), Lorenzo Giustino of Italy (29th seed), and Spain’s Carlos Taberner (22nd seed) – crashing out of the tournament.
While Rola suffered a 2-6, 7-6(4), 3-6 defeat from the hands of Frenchman Mathias Bourgue, Giustino and Taberner were defeated in straight-sets by Croatia’s Borna Gojo and Dustin Brown of Germany respectively.
— #AusOpen (@AustralianOpen) January 12, 2021
The tournament’s second-seed Hugo Dellien of Bolivia withstood a second set rally from 232-ranked Andrew Harris of Australia to seal a 6-4, 7-6(6) win in two hours and three minutes on Court A to book a final round clash against Spain’s young gun and No. 21 seed Carlos Alcaraz.
Tomorrow’s clash between the pair promises to be one of the major highlights of the four-day tournament as the 17-year-old Spaniard, ranked World No.141, has been in splendid form over the past year. He won three ATP Challenger titles in 2020, and was voted the ATP Tour’s Newcomer of the Year.