Sitak gets insight into top-level singles
New Zealand doubles specialist Artem Sitak has lost in the first round at the ASB Classic, going down to Frenchman Jeremy Chardy 6-4 6-2.
The first set was tight, with Chardy trying to target Sitak’s backhand, not realising it was one of his great strengths.
But Sitak was broken at 3-3 in the opening set and later at 3-5 had to save two set points, one of them coming with a second serve ace. However, two games later the set was Chardy’s.
The start of second set was tight again. However, the more experienced singles player, Chardy was able to play just a bit better and got two breaks later in the set.
‘‘I had a lot of fun there,’’ Sitak said afterwards. ‘‘It was really cool to play against a player of his high calibre. I don’t think I’ve ever played a singles match against a guy who plays that fast and big.
‘‘It was fun to see that and I could see why he was top 30. He’s now 70 in the world, but he can easily get back up there.’’
It was something of a surprise that Sitak got to play in the main draw of the Classic, but he played an outstanding match to beat Finn Tearney 6-2 6-0 in the final of the NZ Champs before Christmas and he certainly didn’t disgrace himself against Chardy.
‘‘I had no expectations at all,’’ he said. ‘‘I just wanted to play well, have fun and hopefully engage and please the crowd. I think I didn’t play as well as I could have, but he didn’t give me a chance to play well. He was hitting really fast and taking every ball on the rise and all I did out there was run side to side.
‘‘I couldn’t do anything to pressure him, except for my serve. I think I served well in the first set.’’
Sitak’s chances of winning a match at the Classic will be stronger on Wednesday when he and Nicholas Monroe from USA take on Kiwi Michael Venus and Robert Lindstedt from Sweden in the last match of the evening session. Sitak and Monroe reached the semifinal of the ATP event in Chennai last week.
Earlier, Marcos Baghdatis has won his first match in Auckland, 11 years after his first attempt to do so.
The Cypriot, who got to the final of the Australian Open in 2006, lit up Centre Court on Tuesday night, beating Adrian Mannarino from France 6-4 6-4.
It was by far the best match over the week and a half of tennis in Auckland and Baghdatis has instantly become a crowd favourite. He came to Auckland in 2006 and lost in the first round on court two, then in 2014 he was back and lost first up on the Grandstand court.
Fifth-seed Albert RamosVinolas was dumped out in the first round by Portugal’s Joao Sousa, 6-1, 7-5. Three Australian tennis players have been found guilty of corruption by the sport’s international integrity watchdog, only days after another promising junior was charged with match fixing.
A Tennis Integrity Unit investigation also revealed that the only confirmed criminal case of match fixing in Australia was significantly wider than was first thought, raising further questions about the conduct of the nation’s young tennis players.
The TIU confirmed in a statement that Nick Lindahl, Brandon Walkin and Isaac Frost were all found to have committed corruption offences in relation to a match at a tournament in Toowoomba in 2013.
Lindahl, 28, was banned for seven years and fined US$35,000 (NZ$50,000) for his role in the fix, which occurred at a Futures tournament in Toowoomba in September, 2013.
Walkin, 22, was hit with a sixmonth suspension, suspended for six months, and Frost, 28, with a year suspension, which he has already served.
Lindahl and another former player, Matthew Fox, are the only people to have faced criminal charges in connection with the fixed match. Both were convicted. A coach and another player, Adam Feeney, were also linked to the case, but they were never charged.
The involvement of Walkin and Frost, neither of whom had been highly-ranked but who regularly played in tournaments in Australia and internationally, indicates that at least five players were aware of Lindahl’s match fixing.
It was revealed last week that Oliver Anderson, the reigning Australian Open boys champion, had been charged by Victoria Police with match fixing offences in relation to a tournament in Traralgon last October.
It is understood Anderson was approached to drop the opening set of his first-round match at the tournament.
Artem Sitak of New Zealand plays a shot against Jeremy Chardy of France at the ASB Classic last night.