ATP

Garin joined by Argentine pair in Santiago semis

By Sports Desk March 12, 2021

Cristian Garin continued his quest for Chile Open glory as another upset in the other half of the draw paired two Argentinians in the semi-finals.

Top seed Garin is aiming to win an ATP Tour event on home soil for the first time in Santiago.

The 24-year-old was made to work by Peruvian qualifier Juan Pablo Varillas in the last eight on Friday, but he prevailed 6-4 6-4.

Garin was broken first in either set yet responded instantly on each occasion.

"I would love to be able to do something important in this tournament," the Chilean said. "It is special and I hope I can continue to win.

"I am playing better, in a semi-final and I am excited to do better, but I prefer to go step by step, game by game."

Daniel Elahi Galan is up next, while the highest remaining seed besides Garin is Argentina's Federico Delbonis, the number eight.

That is because Facundo Bagnis set up a meeting with his compatriot by defeating fourth seed Laslo Djere.

Bagnis, who had already claimed the scalp of fifth seed Frances Tiafoe, dropped the first set but recovered to advance 4-6 6-3 6-3 at the ATP 250 tournament.

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    Federico Delbonis and Laslo Djere crashed out of the Generali Open in the first round on Tuesday.

    Fifth seed Delbonis and sixth seed Djere were the highest-ranked players in action on day two, but both fell to surprise defeats.

    Delbonis, a recent semi-finalist at the Hamburg European Open, was convincingly beaten 6-2 6-4 by Arthur Rinderknech.

    Frenchman Rinderknech fired down 10 aces and was only broken once in the contest.

    Djere, meanwhile, put up more of a fight but ultimately succumbed to Daniel Altmaier, who won 4-6 6-3 6-3 in a battle lasting two hours and 10 minutes.

    World number 50 Djere had also made the semi-finals in Hamburg and followed that up with another run to the last four at the Swiss Open Gstaad.

    But his run of form came to an end as German Altmaier – who himself enjoyed a semi-final run in Croatia last week – booked a last-16 tie meeting with Marco Cecchinato after breaking Djere on six occasions.

    Cecchinato had beaten Radu Albot in straight sets to reach the next round while qualifier Jozef Kovalik saw off Jaume Munar with a 6-4 6-4 victory.

    The top four seeds, including number one Casper Ruud, will begin their campaigns at the ATP 250 event in Kitzbuhel on Wednesday.

  • Tokyo Olympics: Nishikori shocked by Osaka exit but vows to keep his focus Tokyo Olympics: Nishikori shocked by Osaka exit but vows to keep his focus

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    Japan's two standard-setters in tennis are at opposite ends of their careers, with Nishikori seemingly in a slow decline and Osaka expected to add significantly to her four grand slams.

    But the focus on the Japanese public looks set to switch to Nishikori for the rest of the tennis, after he reached the last-16 stage with a 7-6 (7-5) 3-6 6-1 win over American Marcos Giron on Tuesday.

    Former world number four Nishikori and Ben McLachlan are through to the doubles quarter-finals too, which may be a likelier route to a medal.

    Nishikori already has a bronze to his name from the 2016 Games, where he beat Rafael Nadal in the third-place match.

    When asked whether he felt expectations shifting from Osaka on to his shoulders, after she lost to Marketa Vondrousova, Nishikori said: "Not really. I just need to focus on what I have to do on the court.

    "It's very sad, of course, that Naomi lost and a surprise. But I knew she had a lot of pressure, this is her first time in the Olympics and I know it's not easy.

    "I didn't see her match today, so I cannot say much."

    Should Nishikori, now down at 69th in the rankings, beat Ilya Ivashka of Belarus on Wednesday, that could set up a quarter-final against hot favourite Novak Djokovic.


    REVENGE FOR VILLAGE FAN TSITSIPAS

    It was a weary Stefanos Tsitsipas who was pummelled in the first round of Wimbledon by Frances Tiafoe last month. On Tuesday, a more predictable outcome manifested as Greece's great hope scored a 6-3 6-4 victory over his American opponent.

    That loss in London came barely a fortnight after Tsitsipas suffered a heartbreaking loss to Djokovic in the French Open final, from two sets up, and he was succinct with his verdict about what was different this time.

    "Concentration and attention levels," was the Tsitsipas assessment.

    Next for him is a testing third-round tussle with French shot-maker Ugo Humbert, and Tsitsipas will want to hang around, having been charmed by the Olympic Village experience after so long in the tennis bubble.

    "It's a different contrast, it's a different approach completely," Tsitsipas said. "I've made friendships, connected with some other athletes. It's nice to be able to experience something like this. I find the Olympics are really a nice sports event.

    "I met a big tennis enthusiast from India. He's doing shooting and we became good friends. I met some of the other Greek athletes, table tennis players, and rowers from different countries."


    BRILLIANT BROADY

    Liam Broady was a late addition to the Olympics draw and is making the most of the opportunity, with the unheralded British left-hander scoring a terrific 7-5 3-6 6-3 second-round win over Wimbledon semi-finalist Hubert Hurkacz.

    Frenchman Jeremy Chardy awaits Broady after beating Russian Olympic Committee's Aslan Karatsev in three sets.

    There were also wins on Tuesday for Karatsev's countryman Karen Khachanov and Argentinian Diego Schwartzman, while Wednesday's programme features the entire third-round line-up, including Djokovic's clash with Spain's Alejandro Davidovich Fokina.

  • Tokyo Olympics: Japan shocked as Osaka defeat opens door Tokyo Olympics: Japan shocked as Osaka defeat opens door

    Naomi Osaka was never preordained to win gold at the Tokyo Olympics but it had felt that way until she ran into Marketa Vondrousova.

    The surprising 6-1 6-4 loss that a lacklustre Osaka suffered on Tuesday could be explained away by the fact the 23-year-old had not played any competitive tennis since pulling out of the French Open at the end of May.

    All the same, it was a major upset as world number 42 Vondrousova took out the highest remaining seed in the draw – the Japanese star who lit the Olympic cauldron on Friday.

    Osaka's exit, after previous shock defeats for top seed Ash Barty and number three Aryna Sabalenka, has raised the prospect of a shock champion, just as occurred five years ago at the Rio Games when Monica Puig of Puerto Rico caused a sensation.

    Now at the quarter-final stage, there is one former grand slam champion left in the field and two finalists at that level, but it really looks like anyone's title.


    VONDROUSOVA SENSES AN OPPORTUNITY

    It was remarkably straightforward for Vondrousova at Ariake Tennis Park, as she cruised through the opening set and soon reeled in Osaka's early break in the second.

    Osaka saved two match points when serving to stay in the contest, but not a third, planting a backhand wide.

    Considering Vondrousova reached the French Open final two years ago, in front of packed grandstands rather than the empty seats in Tokyo, it was no surprise she hesitated when asked whether this win over Osaka was the biggest of her career. It probably doesn't have that cachet, good a win though it was.

    "Of course it's one of the biggest," Vondrousova said.

    "Naomi is a great player, she has so many grand slams, so I knew it would be a tough match. But I'm just very happy with my play. I played amazingly in the first set, and then the second set was really tough. I'm just happy to be through.

    "I think she was struggling a bit with my serving. Also, I use drop-shots very well. I'm just very happy with my game today."

    She faces Spain Paula Badosa next and said: "It's very open now. I think every girl is playing really well. Now it's the quarter-final, so we'll see."


    HAS SVITOLINA'S TIME ARRIVED?

    A fixture in the top 10 over recent seasons, Svitolina has been unable to transfer her regular tour form onto the major stage on a consistent basis.

    Maybe the Olympics will be a platform towards success on that stage, with Svitolina now the highest seed remaining in the draw, at number four. The Ukrainian is also on a high on the personal front, having married French tennis star Gael Monfils shortly before heading to Tokyo.

    Two semi-finals, at Wimbledon and the US Open in 2019, have been her deepest runs in the majors, and this season has been one of diminishing returns, with a fourth-round run in Australia followed by a third-round Roland Garros exit and a round-two loss at Wimbledon.

    Svitolina beat Maria Sakkari of Greece 5-7 6-3 6-4 on Tuesday, setting up a quarter-final against Italian Camila Giorgi who won 6-4 6-2 against Wimbledon runner-up Karolina Pliskova.

    "I don't think I'm a favourite because there are lots of good players here and everyone is quite equal," Svitolina said.


    A MUG SHOT?

    Should Spain's Garbine Muguruza be considered the favourite from this point? With French Open and Wimbledon titles in her trophy room, Muguruza has shown she has what it takes to triumph on a big stage, and a clinical 6-4 6-1 win over Belgian Alison Van Uytvanck on Tuesday was just the job.

    She goes on to face Elena Rybakina of Kazakhstan, who edged past Croatian Donna Vekic.

    Belinda Bencic of Switzerland caused a surprise by ousting the in-form reigning French Open champion Barbora Krejcikova, springing a 1-6 6-2 6-3 win that means there will be no repeat of the Roland Garros final in the quarter-finals.

    That had been on the cards, but Bencic will be the player who takes on Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova for a place in the final four.

    Pavlyuchenkova scored an impressive 6-1 6-3 victory over Sara Sorribes Tormo of Spain, the player who knocked out Barty in round one.

    Russian Olympic Committee's Pavyluchenkova is looking to harness the form that took her to a maiden slam final, describing her Paris run as "a great experience to have".

    "But every week is a new week and this is a new event," said the 30-year-old. "The Olympic Games is a very special event. It's different. It's nothing like the others."

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