ATP St. Petersburg: Opelka Stuns Medvedev; Shapovalov, Rublev Advance to Quarterfinals, Tournament Issues Release on Querrey Incident
By Max Gao
(October 15, 2020) ST. PETERSBURG, RUSSIA (VIRTUALLY) — With the last six quarterfinal spots all up for grabs at the St. Petersburg Open, No. 1 seed Daniil Medvedev was the only top seed to fall on Thursday, while the likes of Denis Shapovalov, Andrey Rublev and Karen Khachanov all booked their place in the last eight.
Opelka Rallies to Upset Defending Champion Medvedev
In the only upset of the day, big-serving American Reilly Opelka rallied from a set down to dismantle top seed and defending champion Daniil Medvedev, 2-6, 7-5, 6-4, in an hour and 55 minutes.
Having won their previous two meetings in third-set tiebreakers, Medvedev started with a clear sense of purpose, winning all of his first serve points (10/10) and dropping just two points behind his second serve (6/8) to win the opening set in 33 minutes.
With the match staying on serve in the second set, Medvedev and Opelka exchanged easy holds, with Opelka saving a crucial break point at 3-all to keep his nose in front during the whole set. In the end, the American’s persistence would pay off, as he earned a crucial break at the end of the second set to force a decider.
Opelka quickly found himself under pressure once again in the final set, but to his credit, he was able to fight his way out of trouble, saving a total of four break points to keep the pressure on the No. 1 seed. After struggling to win return points throughout the set, the 23-year-old American took advantage of a few uncharacteristic unforced errors from Medvedev in the 10th game and hit a huge crosscourt forehand winner on match point to seal the biggest victory of his career.
“It was ugly for the first set-and-a-half,” Opelka assessed in his post-match interview. “I felt like I barely won any points on his serve, but part of that is just because of my opponent. Daniil is an absolute nightmare to play, especially for a guy like me because he just runs every ball down.”
“It is always a tough match, playing one of the best players in the world in general, but especially at [his] home [tournament]. [It is] a great win for me.”
After struggling to win matches in the last month, Opelka has strung together a couple of hard-fought, three-set wins to advance to the quarterfinals. With wins over Medvedev and Croatian qualifier Nino Serdarusic in the first two rounds, the young American will now face the No. 7 seed and last year’s runner-up, Borna Coric. Despite a couple of blips on his serve in the second set, the World No. 27 looked in control during his solid 6-3, 7-5 win over Russian wild card Roman Safiullin.
In their only meeting at the Western & Southern Open last year, Opelka came from a set down to upset Coric, who was ranked No. 13 at the time, 4-6, 6-3, 7-5.
Canadians Shapovalov, Raonic Advance Easily; Home Favorites Khachanov, Rublev Survive Scares
Earlier in the day on the Centre Court, No. 2 seed Denis Shapovalov continued his bid for his first ATP Tour title of the season with a dominant 6-1, 6-4 win over Ilya Ivashka. With a spot in the Nitto ATP Finals also within reach this month, Shapovalov looked mightily impressive during his 66-minute win over the Belarusian, serving eight aces, breaking three times and saving all five break points on his own serve.
In the quarterfinals, the World No. 12 will face No. 5 seed Stan Wawrinka for the third time, having split their first two meetings. Shapovalov won their first meeting at the Rakuten Japan Open in Tokyo in 2018, but Wawrinka won their more recent indoor meeting at the ABN AMRO World Tennis Tournament in Rotterdam in 2019.
“Wawrinka is a very tough opponent. I think he is in very good shape now. He played two difficult matches in this tournament,” Shapovalov said in Russian during his press conference. “It is especially difficult to play against him when he feels confident. I think tomorrow will be a difficult match, but I think that I am also in good shape, and I also played very well in two matches here.”
Later in the day, No. 6 seed Milos Raonic also needed just 66 minutes to join Shapovalov in the quarterfinals, defeating Alexander Bublik, 6-3, 6-2. The former World No. 3 served nine aces, broke three times and saved all four break points that he faced in the contest. In the last eight, Raonic will now face No. 4 seed Karen Khachanov, who survived a scare against countryman Aslan Karatsev.
A wild-card entry at this year’s tournament, Karatsev continued his stunning run of form since the resumption of the 2020 season, taking the opening set over the World No. 17 in 54 minutes. With his back against the wall, Khachanov began to serve much better, dropping just 10 points behind his serve (45/55) in the last two sets to earn a hard-fought comeback win in two hours and 16 minutes.
In the other quarterfinal match on Thursday, No. 3 seed Andrey Rublev survived a similar scare against Ugo Humbert, coming from a set down to defeat the Frenchman, 4-6, 6-4, 7-5, in two hours and 33 minutes. After splitting the first two sets, the pair traded easy holds of serve until the 11th game of the decider, when Rublev earned a decisive break at love before serving out the match in style. After breaking into the top 10 this week, the 22-year-old Russian is also looking to qualify for his first Nitto ATP Finals and will strengthen those chances with a deep run this weekend. In the next round, he will face Great Britain’s Cameron Norrie.
Melzer, Roger-Vasselin Advance in Doubles
In doubles action, No. 2 seeds Jurgen Melzer and Edouard Roger-Vasselin moved into the semifinals with a tight 4-6, 6-1, 10-8 win over Russian wild cards Daniil Golubev and Evgenii Tiurnev. They will face the unseeded team of Ben McLachlan and Franko Skugor, who defeated Adrian Mannarino and Fabrice Martin, 7-5, 6-4. In the other semifinal, Bublik and Opelka will meet Marcelo Demoliner and Matwe Middelkoop, who defeated Norrie and Taylor Fritz, 6-4, 6-4.
Quarterfinal Friday at St. Petersburg Features Six Seeded Players
On Friday at the Sibur Arena, Norrie and Rublev will kick things off at 1 p.m., followed by Wawrinka vs. Shapovalov and Opelka vs. Coric. In the night session, Khachanov will meet Raonic and McLachlan/Skugor will face Melzer/Roger-Vasselin for a spot in the doubles final.
Friday’s schedule at the St. Petersburg Open (all quarterfinal matches will be on Centre Court, starting at 1 p.m.):
Khachanov or Karatsev-Bublik or Raonic
— Max Gao (@MaxJGao) October 15, 2020
Max Gao is a freelance Canadian sports and entertainment journalist that is covering this year’s St. Petersburg Open for Tennis Panorama News. Follow all of his reports throughout the week here and follow him on Twitter for live updates and exclusive, behind-the-scenes content from this year’s event: @MaxJGao.
American tennis player Sam Querrey is being accused of leaving Russia despite testing positive for COVID-19 after tournament officials withdrew him from the tournament and asked him to isolate with his family in a hotel room. Querrey and his wife and infant son all tested positive and tournament organizers said that Querrey would not open the door to let a doctor examine them. Querrey apparently left on a private plane on October 13.
The ATP said that it was investigating an incident but did not name a player in the release.
“The ATP is aware of an incident regarding a player’s serious breach of protocol relating to COVID-19 at this week’s St. Petersburg Open.”
“Adhering to health and safety protocols is critical to ensure events take place safely and within the guidelines established by local authorities. Players and their support team members are reminded that breaches of protocol can jeopardize an event’s ability to operate and have repercussions on the rest of the Tour. In accordance with ATP’s Code of Conduct, we are taking this matter extremely seriously and an investigation is underway.”
“The ATP is aware of an incident regarding a player’s serious breach of protocol relating to COVID-19 at this week’s St. Petersburg Open” pic.twitter.com/ZatxI4qym3
— Jon Wertheim (@jon_wertheim) October 14, 2020
The tournament issued the following press release on the matter on Thursday.
Full statement in English from the organizing committee of the St. Petersburg Open about Sam Querrey: pic.twitter.com/k1MTqs2aM0
— Max Gao (@MaxJGao) October 15, 2020