Sinner Streak Ends With Montpellier Loss

Jannik Sinner (photo: Open Sud de France/Facebook)

WASHINGTON, February 25, 2021 (by Michael Dickens)

Aljaz Bedene has become the first player outside the Top 10 to defeat Jannik Sinner indoors in the past year. On Wednesday, the 31-year-old Slovenian hit 14 aces and controlled the net during a final-set tie-break to beat the 34th-ranked Italian rising star, 3-6, 6-2, 7-6 (3), during the first round of the ATP 250 Open Sud de France in Montpellier.

“In the first set, [Sinner] was the better player… Afterwards, I became more aggressive and was making less mistakes. I think that decided it,” the 60th-ranked Bedene said during an on-court interview after his win. “On the important points, I was there. I didn’t lose my focus.”

The fifth-seeded Sinner came into the tournament with a 10-match indoor winning streak against players outside the Top 10, which went all the way back to a quarterfinal setback to Pablo Carreño Busta at the ABN AMRO World Tennis Tournament in Rotterdam in February 2020.

Elsewhere at the Sud de France Arena, No. 6 seed Ugo Humbert from France came back from 2-5 down in the second set and saved three match points at 3-5 and beat 160th-ranked qualifier Tallon Griekspoor of the Netherlands, 6-7 (4), 7-6 (5), 7-6 (5), in two hours and 50 minutes to reach Friday’s quarterfinals. Humbert is trying to continue a tradition of French champions in Montpellier, a tournament in which eight of the last 10 title winners have been by French players.

“I thought about the match with Kyrgios [where I had] two match points,” said Humbert during an on-court interview after his hard-fought victory Wednesday, recalling his match against Nick Kyrgios at the Australian Open earlier this month in which he failed to convert two match points against the mercurial Australian. “I told myself, ‘You can do it.’ I am super happy for that.”

Also, No. 7 seed Lorenzo Sonego of Italy advanced to his first quarterfinal after defeating NextGen ATP rising American star Sebastian Korda. Sonego converted three of five break points against the 92nd-ranked Korda en route to his 74-minute victory. The American from Florida was unable to sustain the momentum from his first-round upset of Jo-Wilfried Tsonga on Monday evening.

Finally, No. 2 seed David Goffin of Belgium needed two hours and 33 minutes to beat No. 125 Benjamin Bonzi of France, 4-6, 6-4, 7-5. The World No. 15 snapped a three-match losing streak by saving 14 of 19 break points and breaking Bonzi’s serve six times to move into the quarterfinals against Sonego.

“This is what I needed, a fight like this to finish with the win no matter what,” said Goffin during an on-court interview. “I was fighting from the start until the end and I’m happy that finally I won a good fight.”

Other Wednesday winners: Alejandro Davidovich Fokina, who beat fellow Spaniard Bernard Zapatero Miralles, 7-6 (3), 5-7, 6-2 to advance against No. 4 seed Hubert Hurkacz of Poland; and French qualifier Gregoire Barrere, who defeated Nikolaz Basilashvili from Georgia, 6-4, 6-4 to advance against top seed Roberto Bautista Agut of Spain.

Super-saver win for Paire in Cordoba

No. 2 seed Benoit Paire saved eight of eight break points he faced – all of them in the second set – en route to his 6-2, 6-4 victory over Nicolas Jarry of Chile, which advanced the 29th-ranked Frenchman to the quarterfinals at the ATP 250 Cordoba Open on red clay in Argentina on Wednesday evening. Paire improved his career head-to-head against Jarry to 4-0.

“I’m really happy because I didn’t make too many doubles faults,” Paire said, quoted by the ATP website. “I saw I was number one at the Australian Open with only one match and 23 double faults, so really happy to save it.” Paire limited his double-fault output to four against the 1,165th-ranked Jarry.

Paire will face No. 95 Federico Coria of Argentina, who reached his second ATP Tour-level quarterfinal with a 1-6, 6-2, 6-4 win over No. 135 Francisco Cerundolo of Argentina, who had won 23 of his last 26 matches at all levels. Last year, Cerundolo won three ATP Challenger titles, which equaled Carlos Alcaraz.

Elsewhere, No. 128 Jozef Kovalik defeated 265th-ranked Chilean qualifier Marcelo Tomas Barrios Vera, 4-6, 6-2, 6-3, to advance against 130th-ranked Argentine qualifier Facundo Bagnis who beat No. 8 seed Federico Delbonis of Argentina, 6-4, 7-5.

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Barty pulls out of Qatar Total Open; could miss Dubai, too

World No. 1 Ashleigh Barty has pulled out of next week’s WTA 500 Qatar Total Open in Doha, citing a left leg injury. The announcement was made by the Qatar Total Open on Wednesday.

“Unfortunately, I have withdrawn from the Qatar Open with a left leg injury. I wish the tournament a safe and successful event and hope to play there next year. I look forward to competing again in Miami in a few weeks’ time,” said Barty.

Based on Barty’s statement, it appears she will skip playing the following week in the WTA 1000 Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships, too. During her press conference that followed her second-round loss to Danielle Collins at the WTA’s Adelaide International in Adelaide, Australia, Wednesday evening, Barty explained:

“We sit down like we always do at the end of a match, after a tournament, and sit down and look at what’s next. And then I’ll have that discussion with my team in the next day or so, to work out as best as we can what we do moving forward. Obviously, it’s an ever-changing world that we’re living in now, it can change quite dramatically quite quickly. So, I think we’ll sit down and do what’s best for us and know that that’s kind of the right decision for us.”

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