ATP

Tsitsipas threepeat hopes scuppered by Herbert in Marseille

By Sports Desk March 12, 2021

Stefanos Tsitsipas saw his hopes of a hat-trick of titles at the Open 13 Provence ended by a shock quarter-final defeat on Friday.

The second seed was upset by French world number 93 Pierre-Hugues Herbert, as the doubles expert scored a 6-7 (6-8) 6-4 6-2 win.

Herbert had won only one singles match on tour in 2021 before this week, but Kei Nishikori and Cameron Norrie fell to the 29-year-old in the early rounds before he stunned world number five Tsitsipas.

It was a first career win in singles over a player ranked in the world's top five for Herbert, and he said: "It has been an incredible week for me so far, especially this match."

Quoted on the ATP website, Herbert added: "I knew I was going to have to play an amazing match to have a chance to win and I managed to do that. I am really happy about the way I played. I am so happy to be in the semi-finals here."

A French finalist is guaranteed as Herbert will face compatriot Ugo Humbert in the semi-finals on Saturday.

Humbert beat another Frenchman, world number 138 Arthur Rinderknech, in a tight contest, saving a match point and coming through 4-6 7-5 7-6 (7-4) in two hours and 36 minutes.

Russian top seed Daniil Medvedev chased off the threat of Jannik Sinner at this indoor event for the second year running, securing a 6-2 6-4 success against the Italian teenager.

Their only two career meetings have come in Marseille, and Medvedev bossed this encounter, taking three of his five break chances and holding serve throughout.

He will face Australian Matthew Ebden in the final four after the world number 287 earned an eye-catching 4-6 6-4 6-2 win over Russian third seed Karen Khachanov, who was champion in 2018 in Marseille.

At the Qatar Open, Nikoloz Basilashvili backed up his three-set win over Roger Federer by reaching the final of the tournament.

The Georgian scored a 7-6 (7-3) 6-1 semi-final victory over American Taylor Fritz in a clash of two unseeded players.

Basilashvili will tackle Spain's Roberto Bautista Agut for the title on Saturday after the fifth seed ousted Russian third seed Andrey Rublev.

A 6-3 6-3 win for Bautista Agut nudged the man from Castellon de la Plana into a 3-2 career head-to-head lead over his Muscovite opponent.

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    Ash Barty can still get better but she will not win the US Open unless a change that is out of her hands is made, according to coach Craig Tyzzer.

    Barty became the first local in 44 years to win the Australian Open, beating Danielle Collins 6-3 7-6 (7-2) in the final on Saturday.

    The 25-year-old dealt with the pressure and expectation in Melbourne to win her third grand slam title.

    But Tyzzer said there was still growth left in Barty, who came from 5-1 down in the second set against Collins.

    "There's still areas we continue to work on still, she's got to get better at. I'm not going to tell what you they are because that's giving away a few too many secrets. But there's still room for improvement," he told a news conference.

    "I think what she's done really well is just she's enjoyed it. She's been really composed and enjoyed playing. Like tonight, we knew what the challenges were going to be, like Danielle can just blow you off the court at times. So she was looking forward to that challenge, 'Okay, how do I figure out how to beat this girl who can just hit you into the corners and hurt you every time you drop it short?'

    "I think for her that's the best part. She's enjoying playing, enjoying the challenges. There's still areas we'll work on with her game. I probably don't have to do too much with her serve now. It seems to be working really well.

    "But, yeah, you're always looking for areas to get better."

    Barty is the second active women's player to have won a grand slam on all three surfaces, joining Serena Williams.

    But Barty's chances of completing a career Grand Slam by winning the US Open rely on something out of her control – changing the balls.

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    "Even in Cincinnati when they use the US Open ball outside she could actually get some loft out of the court, but the ball itself is so light. It was the only tournament last year and really for two years where she uses a gut racquet, but I had to change her to a poly just to get any sort of control of the ball.

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  • Australian Open: Doubles delight for Kyrgios and Kokkinakis as Special Ks take title Australian Open: Doubles delight for Kyrgios and Kokkinakis as Special Ks take title

    Nick Kyrgios and Thanaki Kokkinakis completed their Melbourne mission as they were crowned Australian Open doubles champions on Rod Laver Arena.

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    With one break of serve in each set, Kyrgios and Kokkinakis held firm behind their own games as the singles specialists showcased their precocious skills on the doubles court.

    Kyrgios served for the win in style, firing two aces in a row before Kokkinakis put away a volley on match point.

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    His redoubtable talent has not been backed up by the trophies many expected him to win, and he will have turned 27 by the time the next major, the French Open, begins in late May.

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    They were the wildest of wildcards, with Kyrgios criticised by Michael Venus, a New Zealander left in his wake in the quarter-finals, for his showboating style and geeing up of the crowd.

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    Australia Day was on Wednesday, but Saturday felt like an extended celebration.

  • Australian Open: How champion Barty turned second set around Australian Open: How champion Barty turned second set around

    Ash Barty was staring at a nervy deciding set in the Australian Open final before she turned the second on its head to end the locals' drought.

    Barty became the first local Australian Open singles champion in 44 years by beating Danielle Collins 6-3 7-6 (7-2) on Saturday.

    Such a scoreline looked unlikely when Barty fell 5-1 behind in the second set in front of an electric Rod Laver Arena crowd.

    But, as she had all tournament despite the pressure and expectations, Barty stayed calm. She turned it around, riding a wave of momentum to seal victory in straight sets.

    From Collins' 5-1 lead, Barty hit 13 winners and just four unforced errors. Collins was three and nine respectively. But what really hurt the American was making just three of 12 first serves in the two games she was broken in.

    Stats Perform takes a closer look at what happened, with Collins two points away from forcing a third set on three separate occasions.

    Collins serving at 6-3 1-5
    Barty had served two double faults in the previous game to open the door widely to Collins. After the American missed a first serve, a loud cheer from the crowd was met by a disapproving finger wag from Barty, who followed that up with a forehand winner. Still, Collins found herself two points from the set at 30-30. But she sent a backhand well long before Barty forced another error with a powerful return. Collins made one of six first serves in the game.

    Barty serving at 6-3 2-5
    Barty raced into a 40-0 lead and, while Collins won the next two points, a long forehand helped her hold, putting pressure on the American.

    Collins serving at 6-3 3-5
    Collins again found herself two points from the set, leading 30-0. The response from Barty was phenomenal. Barty crushed a forehand return winner down the line before another forehand winner caught the back of the line to draw the game level at 30-30. Another big forehand return set up break point before Collins netted a backhand.

    Barty serving at 6-3 4-5
    Barty recovered from 0-15 to hold, with two big serves doing the damage, and Collins' momentum was well and truly gone.

    Collins serving at 6-3 5-5
    On the back of making four of five first serves, Collins steadied to end Barty's run of four straight games.

    Barty serving at 6-3 5-6
    For the third time, Collins found herself two points away from winning the set, with Barty in a 15-30 hole. But Barty came up big, delivering three consecutive unreturnable serves to force a tie-break.

    Tie-break
    Collins started the tie-break with a forehand that flew well long then returned a serve well long to fall 2-0 behind. That freed Barty up, the Australian crushing back-to-back winners, including a great smash, to open up a 4-0 lead she would not relinquish. Collins put a backhand return off a Barty second serve halfway up the net to fall 5-1 behind. A forehand cross-court passing shot winner sealed Barty's victory.

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