ATP

Rublev stunned by Van de Zandschlup as favourites fall in St Petersburg

By Sports Desk October 29, 2021

Top seed Andrey Rublev crashed out of the St Petersburg Open after a straight-sets defeat by Dutch qualifier Botic van de Zandschulp in the quarter-finals.

A recent US Open quarter-finalist, world number 69 Van de Zandschlup claimed the first top-10 win of his career on Friday.

The 26-year-old also advanced to the semi-finals of an ATP event for the first time.

There, he will face 2011 champion Marin Cilic, who was a 6-4 3-6 6-3 winner over third seed Roberto Bautista Agut.

Denis Shapovalov was another big-name casualty in Russia, the second seed going down 4-6 3-6 against world number 53 Jan-Lennard Struff.

Although, there were better fortunes for fifth seed Taylor Fritz. The Indian Wells semi-finalist is yet to drop a set this week after prevailing 6-4 6-2 against John Millman.

Elsewhere, Matteo Berrettini was the victim of another upset at the Erste Bank Open in Vienna.

The Wimbledon champion went down 1-6 7-6 (7-2) 6-7 (5-7) following a two-hour 40-minute battle with Carlos Alcaraz.

Reaching his first ATP 500 semi-final, the Spanish teenager claimed another big scalp having defeated Stefanos Tsitsipas at Flushing Meadows last month.

However, second seed Alexander Zverev remained on course for a fifth title of the season, as he claimed his 300th tour-level win.

The Australian Open finalist beat Felix Auger-Aliassime 6-4 3-6 6-3, avenging his fourth-round defeat by the Canadian at Wimbledon in July.

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  • Medvedev hails 'logic' of ATP's Wimbledon points decision and smiles at quirk set to see him go to number one Medvedev hails 'logic' of ATP's Wimbledon points decision and smiles at quirk set to see him go to number one

    Daniil Medvedev has given the ATP credit for reaching a "logical" decision to strip Wimbledon of ranking points – and the Russian stands to benefit by going back to number one in the world.

    There would need to be a remarkable turn of events for Novak Djokovic to retain top spot at the end of the short grass-court season, given he has a mountain of points to defend over the next two months and will lose the 2,000 that he earned by winning Wimbledon last year.

    That is the standard total awarded to a grand slam singles champion, with Medvedev earning the same number for his US Open triumph in September.

    The decision by the ATP, which runs the men's professional tour, to effectively punish Wimbledon for its decision to ban Russian and Belarusian players, means the absent Medvedev at least stands to benefit in the rankings given he only has 180 points to lose from the London grand slam.

    Djokovic carried a lead of only 680 points over Medvedev into the French Open, where the Serbian is again defending 2,000 points after beating Stefanos Tsitsipas in last year's final. Medvedev was a quarter-finalist in Paris last year, collecting 360 points.

    Medvedev may yet go top before Wimbledon, but there is a strong chance Djokovic begins his campaign at the All England Club knowing he will be powerless to prevent his number one status sliding away.

    "About the ATP decision, it is not easy to comment, but when I read the FAQ of the ATP, why they made this decision, because they are explaining themselves, they are not just saying, 'Okay, we decided that', I found it very logical what they say at least," Medvedev said.

    "This is what I didn't find in Wimbledon explanations. I'm not saying which decision is right, but at least so far in explaining their decisions, I found ATP just more logical."

    The ATP said its decision, which has been unpopular with many, was reached "purely on the basis of maintaining a level playing field for our players across the season".

    Medvedev began his French Open campaign on Tuesday with a clinical 6-2 6-2 6-2 win against Argentinian Facundo Bagnis, showing no ill effects of recent hernia surgery.

    Smiling, Medvedev said it was "very strange" that he might become the world's top-ranked men's player while exiled from Wimbledon.

    "But I'd be really happy to play Wimbledon. I love Wimbledon," said the 26-year-old, who plans to compete at grass-court events in Germany and the Netherlands in June.

    "I love playing on grass. I will play on grass after Roland Garros. But if I cannot, I'm just going to prepare for the next tournaments and follow what's happening there.

    "There are no points, I become number one, well, great for me. If there are points, I cannot become number one, I'm going to be gutted. It is what it is. I cannot change some decisions, both about ATP and Wimbledon."

  • French Open: Shapovalov slates ATP's Wimbledon points decision as Pliskova reveals WTA stars can't agree French Open: Shapovalov slates ATP's Wimbledon points decision as Pliskova reveals WTA stars can't agree

    Denis Shapovalov has attacked Wimbledon and the ATP for the decisions that have led to fears of players skipping the grass-court grand slam.

    Canadian left-hander Shapovalov enjoyed a run to the semi-finals at the All England Club last year, eventually losing to Novak Djokovic, but he will lose all his points and be unable to defend them at the 2022 tournament.

    The season's third major will not have any ranking points after the ATP and WTA, which run the men's and women's tours, respectively, effectively decided to punish the grand slam's organisers for banning Russian and Belarusian players.

    Naomi Osaka has said she is unsure about playing in London on that basis, as she wants to play events where there are points available following a slide on the WTA list, and there are concerns others may also give it a miss. A number of players have voiced concern that prize money could be slashed too.

    Shapovalov, who addressed the matter after a shock first-round loss to Denmark's Holger Rune at the French Open on Tuesday, said he did not agree with the banning of players or the subsequent points decision.

    "I completely understand the politics and the situation they're in. But if you have a tennis tournament that's supposed to have the best athletes in the world, it shouldn't matter where you're from," Shapovalov said.

    "I also don't agree with the ATP to take out all the points. The most guys it's affecting are the guys in the top rankings."

    Referring to last year's semi-finalists in the men's singles, Shapovalov, who beat Andy Murray on the way to the last four, said: "Obviously Novak [Djokovic], me, Hubi [Hubert Hurkacz], [Matteo] Berrettini, who is not playing here, we're going to drop a lot.

    "I think they could have gone with it a different way, maybe keep 50 per cent like they have in the past or some kind of fairness."

    Karolina Pliskova lost to Ash Barty in the women's final at Wimbledon last year, and the Czech described the WTA's move to strip points from Wimbledon as a "super tough and unfair and bad decision".

    She will play Wimbledon, which starts on June 27, because she feels it is a tournament she can win, and at the age of 30 she is determined to take every opportunity going to land a maiden grand slam. She could become champion this year but, because last year's Wimbledon ranking points will fall off, plunge down the rankings at the same time.

    Intriguingly, Pliskova said leading WTA stars could not agree what action tour chiefs should take about points.

    "We had a group of WhatsApp chat [between] top 10 players and these 10 girls could not agree on the same thing," Pliskova said. "Some girls were for no points, some were for 50 per cent, to keep just 50 per cent from last year, some were for like all the points. So it is what it is."

    Latvian Jelena Ostapenko, who won the French Open in 2017 and reached the Wimbledon semi-finals a year later, suspects there could yet be a twist in the saga to come.

    Ostapenko said: "There are of course a lot of rumours and talks, but I think maybe they are going to change their mind. I'm not sure about points. But I think a lot of things may happen within the next week or two weeks.

    "That's my personal opinion. Maybe I'm wrong. If there are no points, I'm not really sure what I'm going to do.

    "I feel like it's a little bit unfair to play the tournament when there are no points and you can win the tournament and then you don't move one spot up in the ranking."

  • French Open: 'The memories from last year are fresh in my mind' – Djokovic feels strong in title defence French Open: 'The memories from last year are fresh in my mind' – Djokovic feels strong in title defence

    Novak Djokovic found his footing after the first set to cruise past Yoshihito Nishioka 6-3 6-1 6-0 in Monday's opening round, and said he feels good returning to Roland Garros after winning the French Open in 2021.

    It was a relatively close opening set of the tournament for Djokovic, as Nishioka created three break-point opportunities compared to the Serb's two, but Djokovic was able to save all three, while capitalising on one of his own.

    Overall for the first set, Djokovic won 55 per cent of the total points, and that number climbed the longer the match went on. He won 63 per cent of the points in the second set, and 67 per cent in the third.

    Speaking with the media after his match, Djokovic was excited to be back on clay as he seeks his third French Open crown – the only grand slam he has not won at least three times.

    "I have to be pleased with the match," he said. "I struggled to adapt in the first set. 

    "He is a very quick player. The first set was close, but I cruised through the second and third.

    "I always expect the highest for myself, but it was a very good start. I have been feeling well on clay in the past few weeks. 

    "I am happy to be back. The memories from last year are fresh in my mind."

    In the second round, Djokovic will play the winner between Alex Molcan and Federia Coria.

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