Bublik Cruises Into Phoenix Challenger QFs

Halys downs eighth seed Ruusuvuori
March 18, 2023
Alexander Bublik in action Friday at the 2023 Phoenix Challenger.
Mary Grace Grabill
Alexander Bublik in action Friday at the 2023 Phoenix Challenger. By Grant Thompson

Fourth seed Alexander Bublik wasted no time Friday at the Arizona Tennis Classic to advance to the quarter-finals of the Challenger 175 event.

The 25-year-old needed just 53 minutes to defeat China’s Zhang Zhizhen 6-1, 6-2. Bublik backed up his heavy first delivery with a strong return performance, capturing 14 of 19 points off Zhang’s second serve.

The Kazakh, who saved all four break points faced Friday, will next seek to avenge his previous two losses (‘18 Budapest, ‘21 St. Petersburg) to Jan-Lennard Struff when he meets the German in the Phoenix Challenger quarter-finals. The qualifier Struff also cruised Friday, downing Thanasi Kokkinakis 6-3, 6-3.

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In front of a packed stadium at the Phoenix Country Club, top seed Matteo Berrettini moved past Aussie qualifier Aleksandar Vukic 7-5, 7-6(5). The Italian will next face Alexander Shevchenko, who won the Tenerife Challenger-1 earlier this year. Shevchenko advanced through qualifying in Phoenix and took out Gael Monfils and Marc-Andrea Huesler to make the last eight.

Three seeded players were upset Friday, including Frenchman Richard Gasquet, who fell to American Aleksandar Kovacevic 6-2, 3-6, 6-4. Kovacevic, 24, will rise into the Top 100 of the Pepperstone ATP Live Rankings should he defeat Quentin Halys tomorrow.

The Frenchman Halys scored an upset of his own by taking down World No. 59 Emil Ruusuvuori 3-6, 6-3, 6-4. Alexei Popyrin also advanced Friday when he downed seventh seed Mikael Ymer 6-2, 6-2.

Nuno Borges moved to a perfect 7-0 season record at the Challenger level by defeating Roman Safiullin. The Portuguese No. 1 backed up his highest-ranked win, which he earned Tuesday night by defeating second seed Diego Schwartzman.

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Because of rain earlier this week, Saturday’s action in Phoenix will feature quarter-final matches in the morning and the semi-finals after suitable rest.

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