There was a lot of matches going on today in Eastbourne due to rain washing out yesterdays play but unfortunately the rain came again and only half the matches ended up being completed. My feature match going into the day was Novak Djokovic v Vasek Pospisil which was the first match out on Centre.
In Antalya, Paolo Lorenzi lost his eleventh consecutive match on grass as he went out to Radu Albot in a comfortable 6-3, 6-4 win. Lorenzi isn’t able to bend well on the grass and he wasn’t able to make that change for this match today and with Albot returning very well, there wasn’t much Lorenzi could do. The two exchanged breaks at the beginning of the first set and then towards the end of the set Albot got another break before he served out the opener. Albot has a very flat game and it’s great to see him having some success, by reaching the quarterfinals of an ATP event, at the age of 27. The two exchanged breaks once more at the start of the second set but, like the first, Albot got another break at the end of the set before the Moldavian served it out competently. This is one of Radu Albot’s biggest wins and, like many of the other lower ranked players in this tournament, it is a big opportunity for him to go deeper in the tournament to a final or even a first career title.
My feature match in Eastbourne saw Novak Djokovic successfully complete his first grass match of the season with a 6-4, 6-3 victory over Vasek Pospisil. Djokovic didn’t play great but it was a very solid performance from the Serbian to handle Pospisil’s heavy and powerful serving. The start of the first set was very tight but eventually Pospisil got nervous towards the end of it and Djokovic broke to take the first set. When Pospisil came back out he wasn’t as energised as he was in the first set and it looked like he didn’t really believe that he could actually win anymore. He still put in a reasonable effort but Djokovic was too much for him as the Novak broke early and didn’t let go of that break. Djokovic was serving especially well today and if he starts to get back the skip in his step this week in Eastbourne he would come back into the shortlist for Wimbledon. This is a very important week for Djokovic because there isn’t a lot of top players at the event and a final or a title here would give him a great deal of much needed confidence after a disappointing half of the year according to his standards.
Another interesting thing that happened in Antalya was Daniel Altmaier winning his second ever ATP main draw match with a very tight 6-3, 3-6, 7-6(7-5) victory over the home favourite Marsel Ilan. This was just Altmaier’s second ever ATP match win and both of his wins have ended in third-set tiebreakers. This match wasn’t the highest level of tennis but it was still very entertaining due to the high stakes and tensity of the encounter. Altmaier’s serve was unbreakable in the first set and eventually his relentless backhand returns became to much for Ilhan as he eventually broke and took the set. Altmaier went up an early break in the second set but after Ilhan got the set back on serve he went on a run which saw him get another break and take the opener. Ilhan went up a break twice in the decider and he even served for the match when he was 5-4 up but Altmaier managed to break back with times and eventually force a tiebreaker. Altmaier went up 5-1 quickly in the tiebreaker but after climbing up to that lead he seemed to tense up. Ilhan managed to crawl his way back up to 6-5 when Altmaier claimed one final point to clinch the match. This would have been a heartbreaker for the Turkish crowd but it is great that this young German managed to make an ATP quarterfinal for the first time.
The other very intriguing match in Eastbourne saw Svetlana Kuznetsova take out the in-form Mona Barthel 4-6, 7-5, 6-2 after coming very close to losing the match in straight sets. This was such a high quality match with both women playing great tennis but in the end it came down to Barthel being tired by the beginning of the third set. There were a lot of break points in the first set and it came down to playing the important points well, which Barthel clearly did better on this occasion. Barthel looked fantastic at the start of the second set as she went up an early break but as the set wore on you could see her movement starting to get worse and Kuznetsova’s serving was only getting better. The Russian broke back to level it and then she got another break at 5-5 before she served out the set. The writing was on the wall for the decider as Barthel looked exhausted and Kuznetsova was playing great so it wasn’t a surprise that Barthel didn’t break serve once and got broken twice on the way to losing the match. This is another great win for Kuznetsova as she attempts to build up her grass court confidence before Wimbledon