Albot Advances To Singapore Semis

Radu Albot (photo: Singapore Tennis Open)

SINGAPORE, February 26, 2021

Radu Albot caused the upset of the day in the quarterfinals of the Singapore Tennis Open by knocking out top seed Adrian Mannarino of France 6-3, 6-4. The World No. 76 from Moldova improved his win-loss record in 2021 to 5-3, including a victory over  Roberto Bautista Agut en route to the third round of the Australian Open.

Mannario had no answers to Albot’s aggressive play on Friday despite a second set comeback from 5-1 down, saving five match points along the way to force the No. 6 seed to serve out the match at 5-4 after one hour and 35 minutes.

“When I had the lead with a double break, (5-1) I was thinking about holding serve which was very important,” said Albot. “I was pretty sure I wasn’t going to lose the match…I lost one serve but I kept my cool and I think I served well in the last game…I was aggressive with my serves. There wasn’t much going on in my head, I just kept it simple and did the right things in the right time.”

Up next for Albot in Singapore will be Alexander Bublik from Kazakhstan, who cruised past Japan’s Yoshihito Nishioka, 6-3, 6-2 in 73 minutes.

“I am happy with my performance today. Yoshihito isn’t an easy opponent especially with the indoor courts being very slow. He gave me some trouble and had 9 break points and I was lucky enough to serve it all out. I’m just happy to be in the semi-finals to try to continue my game until the end,” Bublik said.

Cilic fights past Kwon

In other action, third seed Marin Cilic fended off an inspired Soonwoo Kwon of South Korea, who was seeking his first ever semi-final on the ATP Tour. The 32-year-old Croatian started the match strong, firing a total of six aces and winning the opening set. Kwon bounced back in the second, making an impressive 85 per cent of first serves to level the score at a set a piece.

Cilic remained cool under pressure in the third, serving three aces at 4-5 to stay in the match and level the score in the decider. The World No. 44 then took three attempts to break Kwon at 6-5 to set himself up to serve for the match, closing it out in three set, 6-2, 2-6, 7-5. Cilic is looking to win his ninth ATP Tour title on indoor hard courts this week.

“Throughout the match I think I played great tennis, my level of play was really good and at the beginning of the second set I felt I was playing a little bit better but then I had a poor serving game where I made a few mistakes on my serve and he (Kwon) too advantage of that,” said Cilic.

“I think that the third set was solid from the both of us, it was a great match and it went to the end…And at 5 all, I kept my focus and felt that I was going to get my chance. There were a few break opportunities that I couldn’t convert but then in the third one it was a great return. I felt that when the game was at 6-5, I had to focus really well in the last game. And that would give me a huge advantage to win the match.”

Popyrin reaches first semi-final on the ATP Tour

Cilic will next take on Alexei Popyrin, who emerged victorious from the all-Australian affair with wild card entry Matthew Ebden, winning 6-4, 7-6(7).

The first set was an evenly matched affair with both players holding serve till the ninth game, where Popyrin converted the sole break point of the set to lead in the first quarter final contest of the day. Both players went toe to toe in the second, holding serve throughout the set till the tie-break where the 21-year old saved two set points, and eventually prevailed to secure victory in one hour and 25 minutes.

“Ebden played well, I came here today knowing it was going to be a tough match…And you know for the second set I just tried to focus on my serve game and try to win my service game as easily as possible and try to break him but he served well in the second set and we took it to a tie break. I played a few clutch points and got the win,” said Popyrin, who is now through to his first ever ATP Tour level semi-final.

“I feel good. I’m going to take it one match at a time and not get ahead of myself going into my first ATP semi-finals. I’m proud of that, and all the hard work that I have put in during pre-season is paying off and the way I have started the year, hopefully I can keep playing like that for the rest of the year and who knows where I’ll end up.”

Full list of Results from Day 5 of the Singapore Tennis Open

Men’s Singles – Quarterfinals
[6] R. Albot (MDA) d [1] A. Mannarino (FRA) 63 64
[3] M. Cilic (CRO) d [8] S. Kwon (KOR) 62 26 75
[4] A. Bublik (KAZ) d [5] Y. Nishioka (JPN) 63 62
A. Popyrin (AUS) d [WC] M. Ebden (AUS) 64 76(7)

Men’s Doubles – Semifinals

[1] S. Gille (BEL) / J. Vliegen (BEL) d [3] L. Bambridge (GBR) / D. Inglot (GBR) 64 64
[4] M. Ebden (AUS) / J. Smith (AUS) d R. Galloway (USA) / A. Lawson (USA) 64 36 10-5