26th November, 2022

UKPL Finals Week 2022 – Day 5 recap

Day 5 hosted a mixture of the 9-12th and 5-8th round-robin matches. The day started with the 5-8th round-robin match between Harry Wendelken and Joshua Paris. Paris was narrowly beaten yesterday by Billy Harris after seeming to struggle a little with his serve and powerful shots. Wendelken had also just suffered a nail-biting Quarter Final loss to Dan Cox where, although Wendelken advanced to a set and break up, the expertise of Dan Cox shone through and he won at match tie-break. When playing Paris, Wendelken, a simply exceptional youth 6 years Paris’ junior, was striking the ball with immense power and acute precision. The last time these two faced off was another three-setter two weeks prior, where Paris emerged victorious. Both players opened the set steadily, working their way through their own service games and familiarising themselves with the match. Wendelken forced an early break in the 5th game, largely due to Paris’ forehand being slightly too trigger-happy. At the death of the first set, Wendelken then capitalised, grabbing another game against Paris to make the first 6-3. It was a dominant showing by the youngster. The next set involved a few early breaks from both players and the rallies were superb. Ultimately Wendelken came out on top; he won 7-3 in a good tie-break. Paris was playing slightly reserved at points and additionally his weapon of a forehand couldn’t strike lighting as it usually does.

Over on Court 2 the Women’s 9-12th round robin continued with Arina Vasilescu vs Alice Gillan. They both played their service games admirably. Gillan had 3 break opportunities but failed to take any of them, whereas Vasilescu pounced on the only one she got. That lead to her taking the first set 6-3. The next set was fairly routine for Vasilescu; she broke 3 times to conclude the match 6-3, 6-2. A very strong performance by Vasilescu, but she will be ultimately sad to be out of the main draw, having been knocked out through little fault of her own by tough defeats to Maloney and Christie. Nevertheless, she will likely be a very strong candidate for 5th place.

The 9-12th round robin match between George Houghton and Tom Hands began with both serving excellently; both players had a first serve percentage of over 85%. Houghton was the first to break and this singular break point was all he needed to crack the nigh impenetrable defence of Tom Hands. The second set, however, took a different turn. Hands found solace in his second serve and won 70% of the points off it. This allowed him to earn 3 break points against Houghton, one of which he converted. As I always mention, this quality of tennis means that one slip is all you need to lose a set. Next, into the match tie-break, which was a very close affair with Houghton just pipping Hands at the post, securing a 12-10 win. Both players showed a firm resolve but as it stood the more experienced player came out on top. A fascinating match!

Next up was the 9-12th round-robin match between Sean Hodkin and Anton Matusevich. Matusevich came out of the blocks firing, stamping his foot down on the first set. He was thus able to take a set lead of 6-3. Matusevich’s speed and power were the names of the game in this match. He did not let any points go to rest, dealing blow after blow to ensure a first set victory. After a thumping first set, one might have thought that the game was over, but Hodkin’s impressive serving game brought the game to a second set tiebreak. Ultimately, Matusevich brought the game to a close by winning the tie-break 7-2. An imperious showing from the young man.

In other news, Eliz Maloney defeated Andre Lukosiute in a decisive contest. Lukosiute, wielding an injury, just couldn’t stand up to the dominant force that is Eliz Maloney who achieved a dazzling 6-0, 6-3 win. A great win for Maloney, be sure to catch her in action this weekend as she battles for 5th place!

Court 1 next featured Ewan Moore vs Giles Hussey. Both men played outstandingly in their pools, defeating some great competitors. Moore faced Charles Broom in the Quarters losing in straight sets, and Hussey faced Kyle Edmund also losing in straight sets. Although Hussey is 500 ATP rankings higher than Moore, Moore is in form at present and is having a great tournament. The first set was a blood bath, both players had plenty of opportunities to break and failed to capitalise. It was Moore who seemed dominant to begin with but, after a solid defensive effort, Hussey rose from the depths to force a break in the 10th game. The first set concluded 6-4. After some ferocious and fast ground strokes from Moore, he stole the second set 6-3. And so onto another match tiebreak. Moore was able to win all the points off his dynamic serve (7), and also grabbed 3 points off the serve of Hussey. In the end, Moore rounded up the match tiebreak 10-4. A great comeback victory for the 24-year-old!

Lastly, Joanna Garland surmounted the efforts of Danielle Daley showing precisely why she is the highest rated women’s player in the UK Pro League Nottingham Finals Week. A tremendous display from Garland. Katarina Stresnakova also got the better of her opponent Gabriella Knutson 6-0, 6-4. Stresnakova will play Maloney on Sunday for that highly contested 5th spot.