STO 6th seed Radu Albot clings on to victory, after surviving a scare from doubles specialist, John-Patrick Smith!
By Lynelle Lim
On Day 2 at the Singapore Tennis Open, Australian qualifier, John-Patrick Smith ranked #306, took on the 6th seed of the tournament, Radu Albot of Moldova (ranked #76). Competing on centre court at the OCBC Arena, both 32-year-olds, seek a spot in the round of 16.
Smith, who served in the opening game, held serve from 0-30 down and looked to have an encouraging start. However, the 6th seed who did not seem troubled at all, held his own serve comfortably to love. Albot, whose game plan was to make Smith play many balls, quickly took the lead after he broke his opponent in the next game, no thanks to few poor forehand errors from the latter. Not taking advantage of the lead, the Moldovan played a sloppy game and failed to hold serve.
Both players had a similar game plan which was to move the ball around the court with a variety of shots that included some slices and volleys. Smith looked to be trying too hard as he kept pulling his forehands wide, and that took a lot of pressure off Albot. The Australian who started to get frustrated midway through the first set, lost his concentration and failed to execute his well-planned points. The Moldovan who was at ease while returning the Australian’s lefty serve, found himself up 5-2 with a double break and swiftly closed out the first set 6-2 in just under 30 minutes. With 64% points won on his first serve, the 6th seed took the first set in the bag without having to do much, as Smith only won 33% of points on his first serve, which tells the story of a straightforward opening set.
The Australian did well to get off to a strong start to hold serve and took the first game of the 2nd set. Albot, who seemed to have lost a bit of focus, found himself three break points down, but quickly got himself out of that situation by playing consecutive steady points with good trajectory and depth. Both players then held their respective serves to love and levelled the match at 2-2 in the second set.
Smith who started playing with more discipline on his shots, turned things around in a jiffy and found himself 5-2 up. The qualifier who was outplayed in the first set, showed dominance and took the second set 6-3. Smith made a huge improvement on his serve and won 82% of points on his first serve and 100% on his second serve, while the Moldovan dropped his level and won 61% of points on his first serve. The Australian played well-controlled yet aggressive tennis and definitely played better than his rank to have closed out the second set uncomplicatedly.
Pushing each other into a deciding set for a spot in the next round, the 6th seed held serve on the first game with solid serves and groundstrokes. Albot saw that upping his intensity paid off as he broke Smith’s serve and took the lead, early in the decider. Hitting the ball with much more conviction and putting his opponent on the run, he speedily went up 4-1 after winning a key game at 3-1 and found himself saving four break points. The 6th seed took the double break after a lengthy rally and was one step closer to the finish line as he went on to serve out the match. Albot then wrapped up the match in 28 minutes after he held to love and won the match in style with a big serve out wide, followed by a forehand swing volley. Final score was 6-2, 3-6, 6-1
The Moldovan showed why he was the favourite for the match and the more experienced player in singles, as he played assertive tennis with good clearance over the net on the key points. The 32 year old will be awaiting either James Duckworth of Australia or Yannick Hanfmann of Germany, in the next round.
(Edited by Raj Kumar)
Lynelle Lim is a full-time tennis player and part of the national Team Singapore setup. She’s represented the Republic in various prestigious and renowned events such as the Federation Cup, WTA Future Stars, as well as the 2019 SEA Games. At the age of 13, she made the decision to take a route less familiar because she had an extremely strong desire to become a competitive tennis player. And today, Lynelle feels proud and fortunate to say that tennis has given her a great deal, and it’s taught her so much more than she could ever imagine. Aged 20 and watching the game from a different perspective, she’s looking forward to writing about the Singapore Tennis Open, featuring world class players from the Men’s ATP Tour!
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