In-form Ivashka in cruise control

23.09.2021    Views: 215
Source: KTF press-service
Courtney Walsh

Ilya Ivashka has continued his surge towards the top 50 with another fine performance in the ATP 250 Astana Open in Nur-Sultan on Wednesday. After claiming a maiden ATP Tour title in Winston-Salem in August, Ivashka is set for another breakthrough in regards to his ranking after reaching the quarterfinals in Kazakhstan. 
Ivashka proved too strong for Kazakhstan wildcard entrant Timofey Skatov when winning their second round match 6-2 6-3 in 1hr 24min. 
«I am feeling pretty good and today I played some really good tennis,» Ivashka said. «Today I improved from the match yesterday, which is a positive thing. It was not an easy match today, at all, despite the score. He was a tough opponent to play and I am happy I am through.» 
Ivashka, who is No.52 on the FedEx ATP Rankings, praised his younger opponent, stating the match was more testing than the score indicated. 
«Now in tennis, anybody can beat anybody and the guy plays really solid, so you have to really work on the point to build the game and try to play aggressive,» Ivashka said. Skatov, a former world No. 1 junior who broke through for his first ATP Tour main draw win this week, said he had learnt that he needs to be more aggressive to consistently compete at this level. 
«I need to be a bigger guy on the court, not a small guy running side to side. I need to have more confidence in myself,» he said. 
«From here I will go straight to Spain to play Challengers. I will try to get as many points and to win as many matches as I can and then we will see. Maybe there is a chance to play in the qualifiers of the Australian Open.» 
Laslo Djere, the seventh seed, also achieved a career breakthrough when reaching the quarterfinals of an ATP Tour event held on hard courts for the first time. The Serbian was stretched to the limit by Italian teenager Lorenzo Musetti when winning 6-4 6-7 (3) 6-4 in a match lasting 2hr 48min. Djere closed out the match on his fourth match point when breaking the serve of his rival. But the seventh seed was disappointed he had failed to close out the match on his own serve in the second set when in a dominant position and again in the decider when leading 5-3. 
«I think just the nerves. I have been struggling lately with holding my serve after I break my opponent over the last few months,» he said. 
«The same thing happened in the third set. It is really annoying. Sometimes I rush. Sometimes I feel that opponents play well in those return games. I will try to improve that in the future. «But overall, I am very happy that I won this match.» 
Defending champion John Millman outlasted Spaniard Jaume Munar 6-4 6-7(5) 7-5 in a compelling 3hr 10min marathon to book his quarter-final ticket. The Australian erased a 4-1 deficit in the third set as world No.71 Munar was battling leg cramps in the closing stages. 
«These long matches aren’t good in my old age I tell you,» joked the 32-year-old, forced to battle from a set down against Dmitry Popko on Tuesday.  
«It was such a physical battle out there. I thought the level was extremely good. I thought I improved from yesterday. 
«Mr Munar is such a tough competitor, his body probably let him down towards the end a bit. I’ve got to tell you mine wasn’t feeling all that great either. Just so happy to extend my stay here.» 
Other winners for the day included Soonwoo Kwon and Emil Ruusuvuori, who both enjoyed successful weekends for their respective nations in Davis Cup action before traveling to Nur-Sultan. Kwon defeated Evgeny Donskoy 6-4 6-3. Ruusuvuori was leading Benjamin Bonzi 6-2 when he withdrew due to illness. 
James Duckworth, fresh from lifting his 12th ATP Challenger title in Istanbul on Sunday, found the answers to dispatch Nur-Sultan native Mikhail Kukushkin 7-6(3), 6-1 to earn a meeting with fourth seed Filip Krajinovic.  
Spaniard Carlos Taberner proved too strong for Ricardas Berankis when successful 7-5 6-4 in another opening round match.

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