Andy Murray looked sharp in his first singles match since Wimbledon, rolling to a straight-sets win over Richard Gasquet at the Western and Southern Open. 

Murray defeated the veteran Frenchman 6-4 6-4 on a rainy opening day in Cincinnati, capitalising on a strong service game to advance. 

Murray had 14 aces to just two double faults and won 81 per cent of points on his first serve while saving four of the five break points he faced. 

A two-time champion at the ATP 1000 event, he will face the winner of Tuesday's match between Alejandro Davidovich Fokina and ninth seed Hubert Hurkacz in the second round. 

Two players who shared a birthday Monday also prevailed on their big day. 

On the day he turned 20, 11th seed Jannik Sinner defeated Federico Delbonis 6-2 7-5, while 10th seed Diego Schwartzman had to work a bit harder on his 28th birthday to down Daneil Evans 6-2 4-6 6-3. 

Elsewhere, 12th seed Felix Auger-Aliassime beat Marton Fucsovics 7-6 (7-0) 6-3, while 14th seed Alex de Minaur rallied to down Filip Krajinovic 0-6 6-4 6-4. 

Fifteenth seed David Goffin fell 6-3 6-3 to Guido Pella in the only seeded upset of the day. 

Other winners Monday included Karen Khachanov, Fabio Fognini, Lloyd Harris, Dominik Koepfer, Benoit Paire, Albert Ramos Vinolas and Mackenzie McDonald. 

Among those set to play their opening matches Tuesday are third seed Alexander Zverev, who will face Harris, and sixth seed Denis Shapovalov, who plays Paire. 

Alex de Minaur is "shattered" to be missing the Tokyo Olympics after he tested positive for COVID-19.

De Minaur was the headline name of Australia's Olympics men's tennis team, alongside Nick Kyrgios.

However, Kyrgios pulled out last week due to a concern over the decision to ban fans from attending events due to a spike in coronavirus cases in Japan.

Now world number 17 De Minaur has joined a list of absentees which already includes Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal, while the woman's tournament will be without Serena Williams and former medallists Victoria Azarenka and Angelique Kerber, who withdrew on Friday.

"We have been advised that Alex de Minaur has had a positive test, as a consequence, Alex, sadly will be unable to join the Australian team," Australia's chef de mission Ian Chesterman said.

"We are very disappointed for Alex and he is shattered at not being able to come. It has been his dream to represent Australia at the Olympic Games since he was a child, but he sent his best wishes for the team."

De Minaur undertook both the mandatory 96-hour and 72-hour PCR tests before departure. However, Australia are confident his positive result will have no impact on the rest of their team.

The 22-year-old was set to take part in his first Games, representing Australia in the singles and doubles.

"No other tennis players have had physical contact with Alex since he left Wimbledon on 5 July, where he tested negative," Chesterman added.

"All other Australian players have tested negative since. We look forward to welcoming those athletes into our team.

"We need to protect this bubble and Alex has been caught up in that system. While we will miss Alex, he understands the reasons why he cannot be with us."

Alex De Minaur claimed the first grass-court title of his career with a hard-fought three-set victory over Lorenzo Sonego in the Viking International final.

De Minaur lost the first set against his Italian opponent, who reached a career-high ranking of 26 earlier this month, but the Australian fought back to prevail 4-6 6-4 7-6 (7-5).

Having forced a decider, it was De Minaur who had the most left in the third-set tie-break, which decided an entertaining contest that lasted two hours and 40 minutes.

It marked De Minaur's second title of 2021 following his success at the Antalya Open back in January.

Prior to Saturday, all four of De Minaur's ATP titles had come on hard courts.

However, an excellent backhand return of a second serve set him up for a forehand smash to clinch a triumph that should give him great confidence heading into Wimbledon.

De Minaur starts his campaign at the All England Club on Monday with a testing opening clash against Sebastian Korda while Sonego faces Pedro Sousa.

Speaking at the presentation, De Minaur paid tribute to Sonego, who recently lost his grandmother.

"Everyone should congratulate Lorenzo for an incredible week. Everyone should be scared of you at Wimbledon next week," said De Minaur.

"It's been a long week, I've played some great tennis, I've managed to pull through a very tough win.

"Hopefully I can keep it going through Wimbledon, I can't wait to go there next week."

Daniil Medvedev reached the first grass-court final of his career as he saw off Pablo Carreno Busta at the Mallorca Championships.

Medvedev, the top seed, had to come from a set down against his Spanish opponent, winning 3-6 6-3 6-2 to tee up a showdown against Sam Querrey.

The world number two has won 10 ATP Tour titles, but they have all come on hard courts.

"I know that I can play well on grass," said Medvedev, who followed up a quarter-final run at Roland Garros with a first-round defeat to Jan-Lennard Struff at the Halle Open.

"Unfortunately we don't have that many tournaments, only one ATP 500 and one grand slam. It's going to be a special feeling [if I] win my first title on grass.

"I still don't have one on clay, even if I have one final. Adding these titles, especially on different surfaces, can help your confidence and it’s just a great thing for your career."

 

World number 13 Carreno Busta had looked sharp in successive straight-set wins en route to the semi-finals, and started Friday's encounter in good form.

He had not dropped serve across the first four sets of his campaign in Mallorca and extended that streak by saving three break points in the opening set.

However, Medvedev – who has been drawn in the same half as Roger Federer at Wimbledon – rallied and served out the one-hour, 56-minute victory with an ace.

Querrey, meanwhile, will be going for his first ATP Tour title since 2017 after he cruised to a 6-4 6-3 win over unseeded Adrian Mannarino.

Another player who is hunting for his first Tour triumph on grass is Alex de Minaur, who defeated Soon Woo Kwon 6-3 7-6 (7-2) to progress to the Viking International final.

The world number 18 has won four hard-court titles and will go up against Lorenzo Sonego for the crown in Eastbourne.

Sonego beat De Minaur's compatriot Max Purcell 6-1 3-6 6-1. The Italian triumphed at the Sardegna Open in April.

Matteo Berrettini continued his impressive charge at the Queen's Club Championships as he booked a place in the final against Cameron Norrie.

Top seed Berrettini, ranked nine in the world, has not dropped a set all week.

His impressive run has seen him defeat home hopes Andy Murray and Dan Evans, with one more Briton in the shape of Norrie left to see off in his bid for glory.

Berrettini ensured he will be in the final by claiming a 6-4 6-4 triumph over fourth seed Alex de Minaur in the semi-final on Saturday.

The Italian dropped just four of his 36 points on first-serve and sent down eight aces, with De Minaur only able to force one break point in the entire contest, which he did not take.

"[Making the final] was the goal of the week and now I have one more step," said Berrettini.

"It is a great achievement, especially for the history of this tournament. I am really happy because to beat Alex, I had to play my best tennis."

Berrettini has four tour titles to his name, though this would be his first at ATP 500 level or above.

Victory would also represent the biggest win of Norrie's career – he has lost each of his three previous finals, all at ATP 250 level.

Norrie impressively eliminated Denis Shapovalov to reach the showpiece, beating the Canadian 7-5 6-3.

Shapovalov had earlier finished off a 6-3 6-4 quarter-final win over Frances Tiafoe, a match that could not be completed on Friday due to fading light.

But the second seed could not muster up another victory against a fresher Norrie.

At the Halle Open, Andrey Rublev reached his eighth final since the start of 2020, though his first on a grass court.

Rublev dropped his first set of the week but ultimately prevailed with a 6-1 3-6 6-3 semi-final victory over Nikoloz Basilashvili.

The Russian has won his last four finals at ATP 500 level and will seek a fifth on Sunday.

"It's my first final on grass and in Halle," he said. "I think I can play on every surface and I will try my best again.

"I had good opportunities to break Basilashvili in the second set, some quite easy forehands and I stressed a little showing my emotions. 

"I then came back and stayed calm, until the last game. But I won."

Rublev will take on unseeded Ugo Humbert, who held his nerve to edge a thriller against Felix Auger-Aliassime, winning 6-4 3-6 7-6 (7-5).

Humbert beat Alexander Zverev earlier in the week and has had to win a deciding set in all four rounds, while the beaten Auger-Aliassime had previously seen off Roger Federer as part of a dramatic event.

Frenchman Humbert won each of his first two career finals, which both took place last year in ATP 250 events.

Top seed Matteo Berrettini has his sights set on the Queen's Club Championships title after beating Dan Evans in the quarter-finals.

After a delay of more than four hours because of rain in London, Berrettini overcame Evans 7-6 (7-5) 6-3 to reach his third ATP grass-court semi-final.

The Italian hit 13 aces and won 81 per cent of his first-serve points against Evans to set up a last-four clash with Alex de Minaur. 

Berrettini improved his win-loss record to 24-6 for the season and laid out his ambition to walk away from the tournament with the trophy.

"I didn't serve that well, but I was returning well and I just played better in the last few points of the tie-break," he said.

"After that, I felt more confident. The conditions were really tough, windy and cold, so I took time to adapt a little bit. I am pretty happy with my performance.

"The court condition was really good. I expected slippery conditions, but it was like yesterday.

"I came here to win the tournament, that is my goal. Now I am two steps away. I am happy with the way I am playing, and my mental attitude is really good."

Up next for Berrettini is Australian De Minaur, who came from behind to defeat Marin Cilic 3-6 6-3 6-4.

The 22-year-old won 73 per cent (22/30) of his second-serve points and saved six of the seven break points he faced as he moved to 16-12 for the season.

In the battle of the British players, Cameron Norrie beat Jack Draper 6-3 6-3, while Denis Shapovalov was leading Frances Tiafoe 6-3 when their match was suspended due to fading light. They will resume on Saturday.

At the Halle Open, Andrey Rublev reached his sixth ATP Tour semi-final of the year thanks to a 7-6 (7-4) 6-2 win over 2011 champion Philipp Kohlschreiber.

"I am happy with my performance to reach the semi-finals for the first time," Rublev said. "The first set was really tough. He was 3-0 up in the tie-break and I came back, which was the key.

"After the first set, I think he mentally went down and I was pumped up. I hit a couple of good returns in the first game of the second set."

Russian Rublev will face Nikoloz Basilashvili in the last four after the Georgian defeated Lloyd Harris 6-4 7-6 (7-5). 

In the day's other quarter-finals, Felix Auger-Aliassime beat Marcos Giron 6-3 6-2 and Ugo Humbert overcame Sebastian Korda 6-2 6-7 (5-7) 6-4.

Alex de Minaur's tough run of form continued as he let a set lead slip to lose to Jeremy Chardy at the Dubai Tennis Championships on Monday.

De Minaur, the ninth seed in Dubai, won his first tournament of 2021 in Antalya in January.

However, the Australian's results since then have rapidly declined and his latest loss - 2-6 6-3 6-4 to Chardy - means he is 3-5 since his title in Turkey.

De Minaur seized his first two break points against Chardy, yet the next four came and went while his opponent proved clinical, taking his only two opportunities and snatching victory.

The Frenchman, who reached the semi-finals in Antalya and again at an ATP 250 event in Melbourne prior to the Australian Open, said: "I've played good since the beginning of the year.

"It is always easier to play when you are confident. If you play a bad set, it is never finished. I stayed focused and tried to find a solution."

It was not a successful start to the week for De Minaur's compatriots either, as John Millman was among three other Aussies to crash out.

Christopher O'Connell missed the chance to set up a meeting with Dominic Thiem as Lloyd Harris advanced, and qualifier Emil Ruusuvuori saw off Jordan Thompson ahead of facing Andrey Rublev.

Marton Fucsovics was back in action after handing a walkover to Rublev, the same man who had previously beaten him to the Rotterdam Open title, in Qatar last week.

He defeated Vasek Pospisil in three sets, while there was a milestone win for Richard Gasquet, another man unable to line up against Rublev in Doha.

A 6-4 6-2 win over Marco Cecchinato was his 550th on the ATP Tour, making him only the sixth active player to that mark after the 'big four' of Roger Federer (1,243), Rafael Nadal (1,008), Novak Djokovic (943) and Andy Murray (677) and Spain's Fernando Verdasco (552).

"I am feeling great here," Gasquet said. "I know this court well. I played well last year. It is a fast court. I like to play on it.

"It is important to serve well and it was a great match. I started well, feeling confident and winning the first set, and then I played better in the second set."

Rafael Nadal was able to offer a positive update on his fitness after easing into the second week at the Australian Open.

The 20-time grand slam champion is playing in his first tournament since November's ATP Finals and faced a battle to make the Melbourne major due to a back problem.

But Nadal has made the fourth round without dropping a set, seeing off Cameron Norrie 7-5 6-2 7-5 on Saturday.

"I did things well, [then there are] things that I need to improve. Something normal," the Spaniard said. "But, yes, happy, of course. Second week, straight sets. Can't complain."
 

PAIN RELIEF AT LAST FOR RAFA

Nadal might have been similarly dominant in his prior matches but revealed after beating Norrie he is only now feeling fitter.

"No, the back was not getting better each day; it was getting better today," he said. "But today is better, yeah, the first day I feel an improvement, and that's the most important thing for me today, more than any other thing.

"Of course, I was not serving my normal serve for the last 15 days. Today is the first day that I started to serve again my normal serve.

"But yesterday I didn't practice, so today was just warming up with the new, normal movement.

"So, of course, I didn't serve bad, but I can do better, I think. And I'm looking forward to doing it better. It has been an important victory for me.

"The biggest victory is the back is better for the first day. That's the most important thing."

Nadal will face Fabio Fognini next after he ended Australia's interest in the home grand slam with a 6-4 6-3 6-4 victory over Alex De Minaur, the host nation's final hope.

"It's one of those matches," an impressed De Minaur said. "You're out there leaving it all out there, but you can just feel that he's playing at another level."
 

MOODY MEDVEDEV MAKES AMENDS

There are three Russian men in the last 16 for the first time in Melbourne in the Open Era, but the country's biggest name survived a major scare.

Daniil Medvedev was cruising after taking the first two sets against Filip Krajinovic, only to drop the next two and engage in an angry back-and-forth with coach Gilles Cervara.

Cervara eventually left Medvedev's box as the fourth seed trailed 4-1 in the fourth set and did not return, but the 25-year-old recovered to get the job done in dominant fashion, a 6-3 6-3 4-6 3-6 6-0 victor.

Medvedev, with Mackenzie McDonald next, said of the incident with Cervara: "He said just before leaving that he's sure I'm going to win the match, but he's going to leave to let me be more calm.

"Sometimes maybe I will disagree but this time for sure it was a good thing to do.

"Today it helped, and definitely we're going to talk about it a little bit, but there is not a big deal."

Andrey Rublev joined Medvedev and compatriot Aslan Karatsev in the fourth round as he improved to 7-0 for the year with a three-set defeat of Feliciano Lopez. He will play Casper Ruud.
 

HISTORY CHANNEL OVER CHAMP

Defending champion Novak Djokovic's struggles with injury on Friday might have intrigued much of the tennis public, but Stefanos Tsitsipas was not overly concerned.

The fifth seed, who breezed past Mikael Ymer, did not watch the match and revealed he has little interest in keeping up with the exploits of his rivals.

"I might watch [Djokovic and Nadal] a little bit on TV if it happens that the TV is on or the right channel is on," he said. "Otherwise I just switch to History Channel.

"Definitely not tennis history. I think I have enough of tennis being in here every single day."

Tsitsipas will next play Matteo Berrettini, who is enjoying his best run at the Australian Open and saw off a side complaint to advance in three sets by edging Karen Khachanov, another Russian, in a trio of tie-breakers.

Rafael Nadal was able to ease through to the third round of the Australian Open on Thursday, thanks in part to the help of YouTube.

The Spaniard looked in impressive form as he swept aside Michael Mmoh 6-1 6-4 6-2 in the evening session at Melbourne Park, with perhaps the biggest hinderance for Nadal caused by a rowdy spectator who was eventually escorted out of Rod Laver Arena.

Having come through qualifying, Mmoh had rallied to stun Viktor Troicki in the opening round. However, he never threatened a stunning upset of the 2009 champion, who will next face Cameron Norrie.

Meanwhile, Daniil Medvedev marked his birthday with a routine win of his own, the in-form Russian stretching his unbeaten run to 16 matches to suggest he is a serious contender for the title.

Stefanos Tsitsipas found life a little tougher in his outing but while the Greek survived the scare to move on in the main draw, fellow seeds Borna Coric and Lorenzo Sonego were knocked out.


NO VIDEO NASTY FOR NADAL

Ever the consummate professional, Nadal revealed he did his research online to find out more about second-round foe Mmoh, who had to get through three qualifying rounds just to make the main draw.

The world number 177 managed more aces than the 2009 champion but failed to create a break-point opportunity in a contest that lasted one hour and 47 minutes. Like the fan who disturbed play by shouting and making gestures towards Nadal as he served for the second set, Mmoh perhaps knew he was heading for the exit.

"I always have a lot of respect for every opponent. Yesterday, I was watching some videos of him on YouTube, trying to know a little bit more about him," Nadal said in his on-court interview after the match.

"Every day when you go onto the court, anything can happen - you can win, you can lose. You need to be ready to accept both things."

Norrie is next for the 34-year-old, the Briton defeating qualifier Roman Safiullin in four sets.


NO TIME TO CELEBRATE FOR MEDVEDEV

While Roberto Carballes Baena offered some resistance in the second set, Medvedev provided a further demonstration of his obvious talent with a 6-2 7-5 6-1 thrashing of the Spaniard.

The fourth seed from Russia was on court for one hour and 44 minutes but insisted afterwards his focus will now switch to his next opponent - Filip Krajinovic - rather than celebrating turning 25.

"There's no time to celebrate my birthday in a tournament. I got presents from my wife, but I'll soon look to my next match," he said. "If I'd have lost, I probably would go and celebrate, but I won so I can't now."

Krajinovic defeated Pablo Andujar 6-2 5-7 6-1 6-4 to progress. He was triumphant in the only previous meeting with Medvedev on the ATP Tour, winning in straight sets when they went up against each other at Indian Wells in 2019.


TSITSIPAS FIGHTS LIKE LION, LOPEZ EXTENDS SLAM STREAK

Tsitsipas was stretched to the limit but came out on top against Thanasi Kokkinakis 6-7 (5-7) 6-4 6-1 6-7 (5-7) 6-4 in a gruelling encounter.

Tsitsipas - who reached his maiden grand slam semi-final at the Australian Open two years ago - rallied from a set down to eventually see off Kokkinakis after four hours and 32 minutes.

Local hope Kokkinakis was playing his first major since the 2019 US Open and threatened a huge upset against the fifth seed.

"Great match towards the very end, and I fought like a lion," said Tsitsipas, who next meets Mikael Ymer. "I fought like a real warrior out there, and it was an amazing ending with lots of emotion and great spirits."

In his 75th consecutive grand slam, 39-year-old Feliciano Lopez came from two sets down to top 31st seed Sonego 5-7 3-6 6-3 7-5 6-4.

Fabio Fognini was involved in a thrilling five-setter against Salvatore Caruso, which ended with the pair engaging in a tense verbal exchange that led to security intervening.

Rafael Nadal sailed into the second round of the Australian Open on day two before backing "humble" fellow Spaniard Carlos Alcaraz to have a "great career" following his maiden grand slam win.

Nadal cruised to a 6-3 6-4 6-1 victory over Laslo Djere on Rod Laver Arena on Tuesday and will face Michael Mmoh in round two.

The Spanish great's compatriot Alcaraz won his first major match at Melbourne Park, seeing off fellow qualifier Botic Van de Zandschulp 6-1 6-4 6-4.

Murcia native Alcaraz has been billed by Nadal's uncle and former coach, Toni Nadal, as his nephew's "natural replacement" and the 20-time grand slam champion says the 17-year-old has all the ingredients to have a great career.

The second seed said: "He's very good. He's very young. He has everything to improve in the future with his age.

"He already is where he is, and he has a lot of great things on his game. I really believe that he will have a great future because he's a good guy, humble, hard worker. He has a lot of positive things."

Daniil Medvedev outclassed Vasek Pospisil 6-2 6-2 6-4, while Stefanos Tsitsipas eased past Gilles Simon 6-1 6-2 6-1, but fellow seed David Goffin lost a five-set marathon with Alexei Popyrin.

 

Nadal happy to 'survive' 

Nadal missed the ATP Cup before starting his quest for a record 21st grand slam title at Melbourne Park due to muscle tightness in his back.

He was simply happy to clear the first hurdle on the second day of the tournament.

"I needed to survive today and that's what I did. I just tried to be focused all the time, tried to get through," he said.

"For me personally, [I'm] happy to be through to the second round. I did I think a good job today. Straight sets, that's what I did."

 

Tennys disgruntled over 'joke' of preparation

American Tennys Sandgren was among over 70 players who were locked down in a hotel for a fortnight before the tournament due to positive COVID-19 test on their flight to Australia.

Sandgren made no secret of his displeasure over the restrictions he was forced to adhere to and let his feelings be known again after the two-time quarter-finalist lost 7-5 6-1 6-1 to Alex de Minaur on John Cain Arena.

He said: "How would you imagine prepping for a hot kind of muggy day, three-out-of-five sets against a player like that, that calibre, when you can't play tennis? You can't go outside? You can't. It's impossible. It's impossible.

"So I played last week's event [the Great Ocean Road Open], which probably wasn't a good idea. It wasn't hot, it was very mild conditions, and I played two hard three-set matches and I've never been more sore in my life after the second round, and I took two days off because I couldn't walk, and then I hit a couple times before today. I mean, it's just kind of a joke of preparation. But yeah. What are you going to do?"

 

Alcaraz escaping social media hype

Big things are expected of teenager Alcaraz and there was more hype over his potential after an impressive first-round win.

Alcaraz just wants to do his own thing and show why the likes of Rafael and Toni Nadal speak so highly of him.

"So I try to be focus on me, not on the social media, to play my game, play in front of my team, to my team, to me, my family," he said.

"I try to, yeah, to be a part of the social media and don't hear the comparison with Rafa. Yeah, I try to do this."

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