Struff Moves Into Cagliari Quarter-finals

© Giampiero Sposito

Fifth seed Jan-Lennard Struff beats qualifier Liam Broady on Wednesday for a place in the Cagliari quarter-finals.

Basilashvili saves five match points against qualifier Kovalik

Fifth seed Jan-Lennard Struff booked his place in the Sardegna Open quarter-finals on Wednesday by beating British qualifier Liam Broady 6-4, 6-2 in 81 minutes. The German, who improves to a 7-7 record on the 2021 season, saved five match points in his first-round win over Portugal’s Joao Sousa on Tuesday.

Struff will next play fourth-seeded Georgian Nikoloz Basilashvili, last month’s Qatar ExxonMobil Open titlist (d. Bautista Agut). Basilashvili saved five match points at 4-5 in the deciding set of a 4-6, 6-4, 7-5 victory over qualifier Jozef Kovalik of Slovakia in three hours.

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Elsewhere, Slovenian Aljaz Bedene needed just under two hours to beat Egor Gerasimov of Belarus 6-4, 7-6(5). The pair met in February, with Gerasimov winning their Open Sud de France second-round clash 6-4, 7-6(4). Bedene now challenges second-seeded American Taylor Fritz or Slovakia’s Andrej Martin.

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Italians Stun Top Seeds Melo & Rojer In Cagliari

Italians Lorenzo Sonego and Andrea Vavassori earned a big victory on Tuesday in Cagliari when they upset top seeds Marcelo Melo and Jean-Julien Rojer 6-3, 3-6, 10-6 to reach the second round of the Sardegna Open.

Melo and Rojer own 64 tour-level doubles trophies between them, but they were unable to navigate past the home favourites. Sonego and Vavassori battled through the Match Tie-break to set a clash against countrymen Andrea Pellegrino and Giulio Zeppieri, who eliminated Nikoloz Basilashvili and Andre Begemann 7-6(6), 1-6, 10-7.

Matteo Berrettini and his younger brother, Jacopo Berrettini, made the most of their tour-level doubles team debut in the last match of the day, clawing past Argentines Guillermo Duran and Guido Pella 5-7, 6-4, 10-8 to reach the second round. Jacopo, who is 22, is currently the No. 402 player in the FedEx ATP Doubles Rankings, and he had never previously played an ATP Tour match in singles or doubles. But the Berrettini brothers fought through, saving eight of the 10 break points they faced.

In the other doubles match of the day in Italy, Americans Taylor Fritz and Tommy Paul ousted Roman Jebavy and Igor Zelenay 2-6, 6-3, 10-8.

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Delray Beach Champs Advance In Marbella
Ariel Behar and Gonzalo Escobar, who lifted the trophy in Delray Beach earlier this year, beat fourth seeds Luke Saville and John-Patrick Smith 6-1, 5-7, 12-10 to reach the second round of the AnyTech 365 Andalucia Open in Marbella. Tomislav Brkic and Nikola Cacic, who were victorious in Buenos Aires, eliminated Sander Arends and David Pel 1-6, 6-0, 10-5.

Other teams that advanced in Spain on Tuesday were Santiago Gonzalez/Miguel Angel Reyes-Varela and Hugo Nys/Tim Puetz. Both pairs made it through Match Tie-breaks.

Musetti In A Hurry, Wins In 53 Minutes

#NextGenATP Italian Lorenzo Musetti completed a masterclass on Tuesday at the Sardegna Open, sweeping past Dennis Novak of Austria 6-0, 6-1 in just 53 minutes.

The 19-year-old won the first 10 games of the match and completed his 11th victory in 16 matches (including ATP Challengers) this year with a forehand lob. The World No. 90 won 18 of 25 first-service points in windy conditions in Cagliari and now plays top-seeded Briton Daniel Evans.

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Last month, Musetti reached his second ATP Tour semi-final as a qualifier at the Abierto Mexicano Telcel presentado por HSBC, where he recorded his first victory over a Top 10 opponent, Diego Schwartzman. He lost to No. 5-ranked Stefanos Tsitsipas in the Acapulco semi-finals.

Earlier in the day, fifth-seeded German Jan-Lennard Struff saved five match points to overcome Joao Sousa of Portugal 1-6, 6-1, 7-5 in two hours and seven minutes. Struff, who saved three match points at 2-5 down in the deciding set and at 4-5, 15/40, now faces British qualifier Liam Broady.

Australia’s John Millman needed three hours and 14 minutes to beat Federico Coria of Argentina 7-6(5), 3-6, 6-3 for a place in the second round against Serbia’s Laslo Djere.

Marco Cecchinato recorded just his second victory of the season by beating fellow Italian Thomas Fabbiano 6-4, 4-6, 6-3 in two hours and 21 minutes. Cecchinato, who reached his fourth ATP Tour final in October 2020 in Sardinia (l. to Djere), will now challenge Yannick Hanfmann of Germany.

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Bedene Dashes #NextGenATP Italian's Hopes In Cagliari

Aljaz Bedene lost his serve five times on Monday and was not physically at his best, but the Slovenian found a way to outlast #NextGenATP Italian Giulio Zeppieri 1-6, 7-5, 7-6(3) to reach the second round of the Sardegna Open.

Bedene trailed 0-3 in the deciding set, but he locked down from the baseline and forced his 19-year-old opponent to finish him off. Zeppieri let slip his advantage and his chance at a maiden tour-level win with unforced errors.

Four-time ATP Tour finalist Bedene has enjoyed success in Italy before, winning seven ATP Challenger Tour titles in the country. He will next play Belarusian Egor Gerasimov, who eliminated seventh seed Guido Pella 6-4, 6-0.

In other action, German Yannick Hanfmann upset eighth seed Tommy Paul 7-6(8), 5-7, 6-3 after two hours and 56 minutes. The 29-year-old is a two-time ATP Tour finalist, with both of those championship matches coming on clay. 

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Italians Advance In Doubles
Second seeds Simone Bolelli and Andres Molteni, of Italy and Argentina, respectively, defeated Americans Nathaniel Lammons and Jackson Withrow 7-5, 6-4 in the first round of the doubles draw. Also advancing were Italians Marco Cecchinato and Stefano Travaglia, who ousted fourth seeds Lloyd Glasspool and Jonny O’Mara 3-6, 6-3, 14-12.

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Musetti: ‘I Think I Will Surprise On Clay’

In his opening two ATP Tour events of the 2021 season, Lorenzo Musetti advanced to his maiden ATP 500 semi-final in Acapulco and reached the third round on his Miami tournament debut.

The #NextGenATP Italian, who cracked the Top 100 in the FedEx ATP Rankings for the first time last month, is now ready to continue his rise on clay. Musetti burst onto the scene at home on the red dirt last season, when he stunned Stan Wawrinka and Kei Nishikori in consecutive matches to earn his first tour-level victories en route to the third round in Rome. The 19-year-old returns to Italy this week to face Dennis Novak in his opening match at the Sardegna Open in Cagliari.

“When we were practising these [past few] days, I felt the ball so good and I have good feelings,” said Musetti. “I think it is going to be really nice and I think I will surprise [others] in the clay season. I am really looking forward to playing on clay.”

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Musetti’s run in Rome was the start of an impressive month at home. Then 18, he followed up his ATP Masters 1000 debut appearance with his maiden ATP Challenger Tour title in Forli and he also reached his maiden ATP Tour semi-final in Sardinia. This week’s ATP 250 tournament, held in the capital of Sardinia, has not only brought back memories of his successful run at Forte Village in 2020, it has also provided him with a clear goal.

“I really enjoy playing here,” said Musetti. “It is a really nice club. It is always sunny… I am really looking forward to playing here in Sardinia and I will try to [achieve] the best result I can. In Sardinia last year, I did good [and made] the semi-finals. I will try to do the same or better.”

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Scouting Report: Alcaraz & Musetti In Action In Marbella & Cagliari

Musetti enters the clay season in a strong position in the ATP Race To Milan. The youngest member of the Top 100 is currently in the fourth qualification place for a spot at the Next Gen ATP Finals, which will be held in Milan from 9-13 November. Musetti only trails Miami runner-up Jannik Sinner, Delray Beach finalist Sebastian Korda and seven-time ATP Tour finalist Felix Auger-Aliassime in the standings.

“It [would] mean a lot to play in Milan. My goal now is to play at the highest level that I can with the tournaments on the ATP Tour and then, at the end of the season, we will try to play the Next Gen ATP Finals, try to win it,” said Musetti. “In Italy, we now have a lot of tournaments and a lot of achievements. I am really looking forward to playing every tournament in Italy that I can.”

Scouting Report: Alcaraz & Musetti In Action In Marbella & Cagliari

Two ATP 250 events on single-year licenses will be contested this week on clay in Europe. Daniel Evans and a slew of Italians will lead the way at the Sardegna Open in Cagliari, and Pablo Carreno Busta will try to triumph on home soil at the AnyTech365 Andalucia Open In Marbella. looks at five things you should know before each event.

Draws: Cagliari | Marbella

1) Lorenzo Squared:
Two Lorenzo’s — Lorenzo Sonego and Lorenzo Musetti — will lead Italian hopes at the Sardegna Open. Although Sonego has not received nearly as much attention as Musetti and Jannik Sinner, the 25-year-old has proven himself a tough foe on clay. He reached the Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters quarter-finals in 2019 and won the Antalya title later that year.

Musetti, the youngest player in the Top 100 of the FedEx ATP Rankings, has taken the ATP Tour by storm with runs to the Acapulco semi-finals and the Miami third round. The #NextGenATP star will open against Austrian Dennis Novak.

2) Excellent Evans: Daniel Evans has proven himself one of the trickiest opponents on Tour with his all-court game, which features plenty of variety in spins and pace. Will that prove the case on the Cagliari clay? The Brit is the top seed at the ATP 250 tournament, where he will play Musetti or Novak in the second round. Earlier this season, Evans earned maiden glory at the Murray River Open in Melbourne. He also reached the doubles final last week in Miami alongside Neal Skupski

3) American Charge: Two of the eight seeds in the singles draw are from the United States: second seed Taylor Fritz and eighth seed Tommy Paul, who are close friends. Fritz will play Andrej Martin or Jiri Vesely in his opener, as he tries to pick up on clay where he left off at Roland Garros last year. In Paris, he made the third round. Paul, who pushed Dominic Thiem to four sets at the clay-court major in 2019, will play Yannick Hanfmann.

4) Clay Stars: Other players to watch include fourth seed Nikoloz Basilashvili, who has won two ATP 500 titles on clay (both in Hamburg), seventh seed Guido Pella, 2018 Roland Garros semi-finalist Marco Cecchinato and big-hitting fifth seed Jan-Lennard Struff. Gilles Simon, who will play home favourite Stefano Travaglia, is the only former Top 10 player in the field.

5) Melo/Rojer Search For Form, Berrettini Brothers In Action: Veterans Marcelo Melo and Jean-Julien Rojer are the top seeds in the Cagliari doubles draw. They will try to find their form in Italy after losing three of their first four matches as a team. Although Matteo Berrettini is not playing singles this week, he will compete in the doubles field alongside his brother, Jacopo Berrettini.

1) PCB Title Hunting:
The top seed in Marbella is Pablo Carreno Busta, whose lone clay-court title came in Estoril in 2017. The Spaniard earned two victories for his country in this year’s ATP Cup and made the third round of the Australian Open. Now Carreno Busta, who will open against a qualifier, will try to surge to his fifth ATP Tour title and his first on home soil.

2) Fabulous Fabio: Few players strike the ball as cleanly as Fabio Fognini, and the second seed will try to show some of that this week at this ATP 250. The Italian, who will start his run against Jaume Munar or a qualifier, has enjoyed success in Spain before. In 2015, Fognini upset Rafael Nadal in Barcelona. He also lifted the Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters trophy in 2019.

3) #NextGenATP Stars To Watch: The #NextGenATP will try to make an impact in Marbella with wild cards Carlos Alcaraz and Holger Rune. Alcaraz continues his climb towards the Top 100 of the FedEx ATP Rankings after a strong start to the season, in which he beat World No. 14 David Goffin at the Great Ocean Road Open before making the second round of the Australian Open. The 17-year-old, who begins his tournament against a qualifier, might face 39-year-old countryman Feliciano Lopez in the second round.

Holger Vitus Nodskov Rune, another 17-year-old wild card, qualified in Santiago, where he made the quarter-finals. Rune will try to upset seventh seed Soonwoo Kwon.

4) Ruud On Clay: Casper Ruud, armed with his devastating forehand, has won 65 per cent of his tour-level matches on clay. The Norwegian, seeded third this week, will try to continue excelling on the surface in Marbella, where he will play third seed Gianluca Mager or Mikhail Kukushkin in the second round. Mager has found form at this venue, where the Italian won an ATP Challenger Tour title on Sunday.

5) Belgians The Top Seeds: The top seeds in the doubles draw are Belgians Sander Gille and Joran Vliegen. The longtime partners have won five ATP Tour titles together since the start of 2019, and they will try to add a sixth in Spain. Their first-round opponents will be home favourites David Marrero Adrian Menendez-Maceiras.