The grind that is the European clay court season is now in full swing, as a slate of smaller tournaments on the ATP World Tour are on the schedule this week after the player kicked off their dirt campaigns last week in Monte Carlo. The biggest event this week is the Barcelona Open BancSabadell.
While the King of Clay himself the other big names are in attendance, first round byes mean the fans will have to wait to see the top contenders, there was still lots of tennis to be played in the opening round. The tournament got started today, so here’s what happened on day one at the Barcelona Open.
The tournament was kicked off by one of the tour’s favourite clay court specialists, two time Ecuador Open champion Victor Estrella Burgos. The transition to the European clay was not very smooth for the 35-year-old, but he managed to battle back after dropping the first set to Mikhail Kukushkin, eventually emerging victorious 3-6, 6-2, 6-2. The veteran got off to a slow start, being broken three times in the opening set to fall behind. But he upped his game as the match progressed, grabbing three breaks of his own in the second set while completely shutting down Kukushkin in the decider, saving six break points to hold on for the victory.
Four Spaniards were in action on day one, with two emerging victorious. However, the lone Spaniard to fall was the biggest upset of the day, as Nicolas Almagro, who reached the final and lost an epic in Buenos Aires earlier in the year, was beaten in the first round by Teymuraz Gabashvili. The Spaniard appeared well on his way to victory when he cruised through the opening set. But Gabashvili hung on in the second set and took it in a tiebreak. The Georgian managed to turn the momentum around and dominated the final set, breaking twice and not allowing a single break point against as he claimed victory 1-6, 7-6(3), 6-2.
Inigo Cervantes had little trouble in getting through his opening round match, as he topped Croatian qualifier Franko Skugor in straight sets. Albert Montanes emerged victorious in an all-Spanish affair with Roberto Carballes Baena, as the veteran Montanes did not face a break point against his serve in the straight-sets victory.
The young guns had mixed fates in the opening round, as Alexander Zverev advanced with relative ease while Hyeon Chung was sent packing. Zverev was victorious in an all-German affair, breaking five times for a 6-3, 6-4 win over Jan-Lennard Struff. Chung was unable to get much going on his return game again Malek Jaziri, only breaking once out of three opportunities. His serve was not nearly strong enough, as he only won 55% of both his first and second serve points and was broken three times in the straight sets loss.
In other action, veteran Radek Stepanek advanced in straight sets over Santiago Giraldo. It was a good day for the Russians, as both Evgeny Donskoy and Karen Khachanov claimed victory. The first round will be concluded tomorrow, with a handful of second round matches getting underway.