Tennis - ATP World Tour
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#NextGenATP American Brandon Nakashima continued to turn heads with his all-court game on Wednesday at the Delray Beach Open by VITACOST.com. The 18-year-old wild card, competing in his debut ATP Tour event, raced past British qualifier Cameron Norrie 7-5, 6-2 to reach the quarter-finals.
”I always knew that I had the game to compete with these high-level pros. I just had to have the right opportunities,” Nakashima said. “I was just hoping to play a good first-round match here, but after winning these two matches, I have a lot of confidence in my game now… Hopefully I can keep it going.”
Former Wimbledon champion Pat Cash, Nakashima’s newly appointed coach, watched in the stands as the teenager used powerful groundstrokes to stay on top of Norrie in their rallies. With Norrie serving at 5-6 in the opening set, the wild card cracked a 95mph forehand winner to earn two set points and then laced a backhand passing shot to grab the early advantage.
The San Diego native continued to raise his level as Norrie became visibly frustrated. He dropped just six points on serve in the second set and converted both break points to prevail in one hour and 22 minutes. He is the youngest quarter-finalist at this event since an 18-year-old Kei Nishikori took the title in 2008 and the fourth-youngest in tournament history.
Awaiting him in the next round is Japanese Yoshihito Nishioka, who eased past American qualifier Noah Rubin 6-1, 6-2. Nishioka only lost seven points on serve (32/39) and didn’t offer Rubin a break point.
”He’s obviously had a really good career so far and has had a lot of great wins,” Nakashima said. “I’m just excited to play and am looking forward to a good match tomorrow.”[ATP APP]
Fourth seed Reilly Opelka put in a flawless serving display to dismiss Mackenzie McDonald 6-3, 6-4. The 22-year-old has yet to drop serve this week and has fired 37 aces across his first two rounds.
"I'm trying to get better in every department. The serve doesn't do it. You've got to have more than that," Opelka said. "I like playing here. I live not far at all from here, so being able to sleep in my own bed and feel like I'm at home for once is nice."
Next up for Opelka is South Korean Soonwoo Kwon, who outlasted American wild card Ryan Harrison in a thrilling 6-4, 3-6, 7-6(0) battle. Kwon let slip two match points with Harrison serving at 4-5 in the final set, but recovered to prevail in two hours and 39 minutes. The 22-year-old is through to his third quarter-final this month, having also reached the last eight in Pune and New York.
[WATCH LIVE 3]
Third seeds Marcel Granollers and Horacio Zeballos made a statement in their first-round match on Wednesday at the Rio Open presented by Claro, breaking Juan Ignacio Londero and Albert Ramos-Vinolas five times for a comfortable 6-3, 6-2 victory. Last year's US Open finalists will take on Maximo Gonzalez and Fabrice Martin in the next round.
Roman Jebavy and Igor Zelenay rallied to defeat Marcelo Demoliner and Matwe Middelkoop 5-7, 6-3, 10-8. They'll now turn to their attention to a quarter-final clash with second seeds Lukasz Kubot and Marcelo Melo.[ATP APP]
At the Open 13 Provence, Wesley Koolhof and Nikola Mektic needed 73 minutes to move past Pune finalists Jonathon Erlich and Andrei Vasilevski 6-3, 7-5. The second seeds will face Frederik Nielsen and Tim Puetz for a place in the championship match in Marseille.
Nielsen and Puetz converted four of eight break points to beat Rohan Bopanna and Denis Shapovalov 7-5, 6-7(3), 10-8. After failing to convert match point at 5-4 in the second set, Nielsen and Puetz rallied from 4/7 down in the Match Tie-break to reach the semi-finals.
Jurgen Melzer and Edouard Roger-Vasselin also advanced, beating Hubert Hurkacz and Gilles Simon 7-6(5), 6-4. The fourth seeds will meet Nicolas Mahut and Vasek Pospisil in the quarter-finals. Mahut and Pospisil saved six of seven break points to defeat French wild cards Arthur Cazaux and Harold Mayot 7-5, 6-1.
At the Delray Beach Open by VITACOST.com, Marcelo Arevalo and Jonny O’Mara defeated third seeds Marcus Daniell and Philipp Oswald for the second straight week. Adding to their success at last week’s New York Open, Arevalo and O’Mara broke serve on four occasions to claim a 6-4, 6-2 victory after 67 minutes.
Arevalo and O’Mara will meet face wild cards Christian Harrison and Dennis Novikov in the quarter-finals. The American pairing won 82 per cent of first-serve points (31/38) to defeat Dominic Inglot and Robert Lindstedt 6-4, 6-4.
Divij Sharan and Artem Sitak booked a quarter-final clash against top seeds Bob Bryan and Mike Bryan. Sharan and Sitak recovered from a set down to beat Andre Goransson and Ugo Humbert 5-7, 6-4, 10-7. Five-time champions Bob Bryan and Mike Bryan advanced to the quarter-finals via walkover.
Taylor Fritz and Tommy Paul wrapped up first-round doubles action in Delray Beach by battling past Miomir Kecmanovic/Ante Pavic 7-6(5), 7-5.
[WATCH LIVE 3]
With exciting tournament innovations and passionate fans, qualifying for the Next Gen ATP Finals is a major goal for all 21-and-under players.
But the appeal of competing in Milan is not only defined by experiences at the five-day event itself, with the number of success stories from previous tournament qualifiers continuing to grow. Two months after winning the event, both 2017 champion Hyeon Chung and 2018 titlist Stefanos Tsitsipas advanced to the semi-finals at the Australian Open.
This year, the class of 2019 has already found success at ATP Tour events. Ugo Humbert and Casper Ruud, who competed in separate groups in Milan last year, are the only men to have lifted maiden ATP Tour singles trophies in 2020. For the third straight year, finishing a season in Milan has proven to be an accurate indicator of future success.
“[Playing in Milan gave me] big confidence. It was a goal for me to be in Milan last year,” said Humbert in Auckland. “The year before, I missed it by only one spot. I played against Frances Tiafoe, Mikael Ymer and Jannik Sinner. It was a great experience to play against them.”
Quickly building on his experience in Milan, Humbert captured his first title in his next tour-level event. The 21-year-old defeated three consecutive Top 25 players — #NextGenATP Canadian Denis Shapovalov, John Isner and Benoit Paire — to lift the ASB Classic trophy in his first tour-level championship match.
“I worked hard for [this title] every day and I really wanted it,” said Humbert. “I did five good matches here against really good players, so that was great.”
Last week, Ruud joined Humbert in the 2020 first-time winners’ club with his title run at the Argentina Open. The Norwegian, who earned two Top 20 victories to open the year at the ATP Cup, dropped just one set en route to his maiden ATP Tour crown in Buenos Aires.
"It is what all players look for and dream [about]. I am very happy with my career, although I know that I am still young," said Ruud in Buenos Aires. "Buenos Aires will always be a special place for me. This is my first title."
With the trophy, World No. 34 Ruud also became the highest-ranked Norwegian in FedEx ATP Rankings history by five positions. The previous record holder? Casper’s father and coach, Christian Ruud, who reached the No. 39 spot in 1995.
"I’ve beaten his [FedEx ATP] Ranking and won an ATP Tour title, something he wasn’t able to do… I beat him in two different ways now," said Ruud. "I think now I don’t need to hear the question anymore, will I beat my father? Now I’ve done it, so I have to try to think even better and that I can reach even further."