Tennis - ATP World Tour
Headline News - powered by FeedBurner
Spaniard Fernando Verdasco suffered a disappointing second-round loss at the US Open against Hyeon Chung, letting slip a 6-1, 6-2 lead and also failing to convert a match point in the fifth set. But the Spaniard wiped away those memories on Monday, defeating Belgian Steve Darcis 6-2, 6-2 to reach the second round of the Moselle Open.
The fifth seed began this ATP 250 tennis tournament with just a 1-2 record at the event. The last time Verdasco competed in Metz, four years ago, he lost against then-18-year-old Alexander Zverev.
But the veteran lefty faced few problems against Darcis, saving the only break point he faced and winning 64 per cent of his second-serve return points in his 69-minute triumph. Verdasco leads Darcis 4-0 in their FedEx ATP Head2Head series, winning all nine sets they have played.
Verdasco will next face 2017 Rolex Paris Masters finalist Filip Krajinovic, who beat Peter Gojowczyk 7-5, 6-4 after one hour and 24 minutes. It was an impressive win for the Serbian considering Gojowczyk claimed his lone ATP Tour crown in Metz two years ago.
A Frenchman is through to the second round, as wild card Antoine Hoang ousted German Cedrik-Marcel Stebe 6-2, 6-3 in one hour and 11 minutes. The 23-year-old will next face sixth seed Hubert Hurkacz or countryman Gregoire Barrere.
Second-Seeded Doubles Tandem Eliminated
Robert Lindstedt and Jan-Lennard Struff upset second seeds Luke Bambridge and Ben McLachlan 6-4, 7-6(15) to reach the second round in the doubles draw. Bambridge and McLachlan were carrying strong form into this tournament, their first since reaching the US Open quarter-finals. Lindstedt and Struff are competing together for the first time.
Nine years ago, Mikhail Kukushkin won his lone ATP Tour title in St. Petersburg. And on Monday, the Kazakh got off to a strong start at the St. Petersburg Open with a 6-3, 7-6(4) victory over #NextGenATP Italian Jannik Sinner.
The sixth seed’s one-hour, 40-minute triumph against the wild card was not as straightforward as the scoreline suggests. Sinner, who turned 18 last month, battled hard to recover from a break down on two occasions in the second set, ultimately earning a set point at 5-4 to force a decider.
But Kukushkin was undeterred, saving nine of the 11 break points he faced to advance to the second round. The World No. 57 will next face former Top 10 player Janko Tipsarevic or lucky loser Damir Dzumhur.
Sinner was trying to earn the biggest victory of his career by ATP Ranking. The Italian has earned all three of his tour-level wins in 2019, and he is at a career-high World No. 127.
In the other main draw singles match of the day, seventh seed Adrian Mannarino beat Italian Stefano Travaglia 7-5, 6-2 after one hour and 19 minutes. The Frenchman lifted his maiden ATP Tour trophy earlier this year in ’s-Hertogenbosch.
Top Seeds Move On In Doubles
Nikola Mektic and Franko Skugor, the top doubles seeds in St. Petersburg, eased past Ricardas Berankis and Tipsarevic 6-3, 6-4 after 62 minutes. The Croats, who triumphed together at the Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters this year, won 52 per cent of their first-serve return points.
One way to evaluate second-serve performance is to examine how many points you win. The more the merrier. Another way is to look at how many points you don’t lose through the self-inflicted wound of a double fault. Less is always best.
An Infosys ATP Beyond The Numbers analysis of double faults as a percentage of second serve points lost from the current Top 20 in 2019 identifies a hidden weapon that Stan Wawrinka has used to surge back to the elite level of our sport.
Wawrinka entered the 2018 US Open with an ATP Ranking of No. 101. He left the 2019 US Open back inside the Top 20, with second-serve performance a big key to his comeback.
In the past 52 weeks, Wawrinka is ranked seventh on the ATP Tour in second-serve points won, at 55.4 per cent. But if you dig a little deeper, you find a hidden metric where he is head and shoulders above any other player in the Top 20.
The first part of the analysis is to only examine the second-serve points Wawrinka has lost in 2019 before uncovering how many of them were double faults. It is by far the fewest of the current Top 20. Wawrinka’s double faults only account for 11.5 per cent (85/740) of his second-serve points lost, which is well below the Top 20 average of 22.3 per cent, or about one out of every five second serve points. In this analysis, the lower the percentage the better.
The leading five players of the current Top 20 that hit the least amount of double faults per points lost on second serve are below.
1. Stan Wawrinka = 11.5% (85 double faults/740 second-serve points lost)
2. Roberto Bautista Agut = 14.6% (91/625)
3. Roger Federer = 15.2% (89/586)
4. Matteo Berrettini = 16.3% (121/743)
5. Stefanos Tsitsipas = 16.5% (137/832)
Essentially, these five players “score own goals” the least with double faults when losing a second-serve point. On the other end of the spectrum, there were three Top 20 players that crossed the 25 per cent barrier, meaning that at least one out of every four second serve points they have lost so far in 2019 was a double fault. Those players are:
• Alexander Zverev = 40.9% (342/837)
• Nikoloz Basilashvili = 30.9% (261/844)
• Gael Monfils = 27.7% (172/622)
Double faults will always be a necessary evil in our sport, with some players employing a more aggressive strategy of going for more on second serves and absorbing some double faults in the process of finding their highest win percentage.
Wawrinka’s unique serve motion, with two arms high in the air early in the serve motion, may arguably not be the simplest technique to teach young players. But the impressive end result of only losing about one out of approximately 10 second-serve points with a double fault is a goal players at all levels of our game should be trying to emulate.