Bautista Agut, Goffin Reach Montpellier Final

Roberto Bautista Agut (photo: Open Sud de France/Facebook)

WASHINGTON, February 28, 2021 (by Michael Dickens)

No. 1 seed Roberto Bautista Agut of Spain and No. 2 seed David Goffin from Belgium advanced to Sunday’s Open Sud de France title match with semifinal victories in Montpellier on Saturday.

For the second straight round, Bautista Agut was solid in winning, this time against German qualifier Peter Gojowczyk 7-5, 6-1 in one hour and 12 minutes. Bautista Agut fired six aces, won 84 percent (31 of 37) of his first serves and saved all three break points he faced. Meanwhile, the Spaniard broke Gojowczyk four times, and won 46 percent of his return points. He outpointed his opponent 66-45.

“I am feeling very good,” Bautista Agut said, quoted by the ATP website. “I like playing here in Montpellier. I like the conditions. … It was a tough beginning [to the year] for me in Australia, but I am very happy that I am in the final and I have a good chance [Sunday].”

Meanwhile, the World No. 15 Goffin reached his first ATP 250 Montpellier final in his third try with a 6-4, 2-6, 6-4 victory over Egor Gerasimov of Belarus in two hours and eight minutes. The win leveled his career head-to-head with Gerasimov at 1-1 after losing to him last year in Marseille. The Belarusian was trying to earn a berth in his second ATP Tour final following Pune last year.

This time, Goffin did so by winning 86 percent (12 of 14) of his first-serve points in the deciding set, which lifted him into his first final since the 2019 Western & Southern Open in Cincinnati, Ohio. Previously, Goffin lost in two other Montpellier semifinals in 2018 and 2020.

During an on-court interview that followed his victory, Goffin said: “I started really well with the early break. I was feeling good during the rallies, I was serving well. … In the second set, he just continued [with his game]. I started to lose the timing a little bit [and went] for my shots a little too early.

“I wasn’t patient. … In the third, I [said to myself], ‘It is a semifinal. Third set. You just have to fight. Try to use your served because it [has been] going well from the start. Stay there and you are going to have an opportunity.’ Finally, I had one, a really good one. I broke him at 3-3 and then, at the end, I focused on my serve. I am happy that I am in a final for the first time here.”

Goffin owns a 3-2 lifetime win-loss record against Bautista Agut.

Sunday’s order of play begins with the doubles final between No. 1 seeds Henri Kontinen of Finland and Edouard Roger-Vasselin of France against Jonathan Erlich of Israel and Andrey Vasilevski of Belarus at 11:30 a.m. (Central European) followed not before 3 p.m. (Central European) by the Bautista Agut/Goffin singles final.

Ramos-Vinolas broke up Argentine party in Cordoba

When No. 5 seed Albert Ramos-Vinolas of Spain beat last year’s Cordoba finalist and this year’s top seed Diego Schwartzman 6-1, 4-6, 6-3 Friday night, it broke up a red clay Argentine party at the Cordoba Open. That’s because Schwartzman was attempting an Argentine home sweep of the semifinal field. Instead, Ramos-Vinolas stunned the World No. 9, his first victory over Schwartzman after five straight losses.

“I’m really happy because it was my first win against him after five losses,” Ramos-Vinolas said, quoted by the ATP Tour website. “I think he’s a great player, and I did a great job to beat him today.”

In Saturday’s semifinals, 335th-ranked qualifier Juan Manuel Cerundolo in his first ATP Tour main draw, reached the final with a 6-4, 4-6, 6-2 win over No. 95 Federico Coria. No. 47 Ramos-Vinolas fought past No. 130 qualifier Facundo Bagnis 7-5, 5-7, 6-3 in the other semifinal.

At age 19, Cerundolo’s triumph made him the youngest Argentine to reach an ATP Tour final since Jose Acasuso, 18, at Buenos Aires in 2001. At that tournament, Acasuso was coached by Juan Manuel’s father, Alejandro Cerundolo. The younger Cerundolo is also the first player to reach a final in his ATP Tour debut since Spain’s Santiago Ventura at Casablanca in 2004.

WTA main draws revealed for Qatar and Lyon

Besides the Adelaide International final, Saturday was a busy day for the WTA as main draws were revealed for the WTA 500 Qatar Total Open in Doha, Qatar, and the WTA 250 Open 6ème Sens Métropole de Lyon in Lyon, France. Qualifying continues over the weekend and main draw competition begins on Monday.

• At Qatar, World No. 5 Elina Svitolina is the No. 1 seed, followed by No. 6 Karolina Pliskova, No. 8 Aryna Sabalenka and No. 10 Petra Kvitova from the Czech Republic. Rounding out the top eight seeds are: No. 11 Kiki Bertens from the Netherlands, No. 12 Belinda Bencic of Switzerland, No. 13 Jennifer Brady from the United States and No. 14 Victoria Azarenka from Belarus. At stake to the winner is $68,570 in prize money and 470 WTA Rankings points.

Seven of eight seeds – including top seed No. 43 Jessica Pegula of the United States – reached the second round of qualifying during Saturday’s opening round. Advancing were: No. 54 Laura Siegemund, No. 63 Barbora Krejcikova, No. 68 Katerina Siniakova, No. 69 Anna Blinkova, No. 75 Kristyna Pliskova and No. 86 Misaki Doi. Only the third seed, No. 60 Patricia Maria Tig, lost.

• At Lyon, World No. 33 Ekaterina Alexandrova of Russia is the No. 1 seed, followed by No. 45 Fiona Ferro of France, No. 46 Caroline Garcia of France and No. 51 Kristina Mladenovic from France. Rounding out the top eight seeds are: No. 58 Alizé Cornet, No. 67 Sorana Cirstea of Romania, No. 73 Paula Badosa of Spain, and No. 78 Arantxa Rus from the Netherlands. At state to the winner is 23,548 euros and 280 WTA Rankings points.

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