ATP Nottingham: Qualifying Day One - Top seed Stephane Robert recovers from a set down, Sam Groth advances
Top seed in qualifying Robert defeats British wildcard Storrie in three sets. Photo: Joshua Coase

Qualifying for the Aegon Open got underway today at Nottingham Tennis Centre, featuring world number 79 Stephane Robert, big serving Sam Groth, American Ernesto Escobedo and four British Wildcards.

In the first match of the day on Court 1, the top seed in qualifying Robert was taking on British Wildcard Ryan James Storrie. The 18-year-old, ranked number 29 in juniors faced a daunting task against the world number 79 but held his own as he bowed in three sets to the Frenchman 6-7(2), 7-5, 6-1.

Super first set from Storrie

Storrie made a bright start to the match, holding his first two service games convincingly before saving a break point with a big first serve in game five. The British wildcard also fell 15-30 down in his following service game but resisted the pressure, closing out the game with a backhand down the line passing shot.

The world number 79 made the crucial breakthrough in the ninth game, securing the break of serve with a forehand cross court winner. The Frenchman threw in a very loose service game to relinquish the break after making four errors, finishing with a double fault to move the score level once more a 5-5.

In the tiebreak which followed Robert double faulted to hand the immediate mini break to the Brit. Storrie continued to play well, heading to the changeover with a 5-1 lead. The junior world number 29 was able to hang on and take the tiebreak 7-2.

18-year-old Storrie held his own out on court against the world number 79. Photo: Joshua Coase
18-year-old Storrie held his own out on court against the world number 79. Photo: Joshua Coase

Robert takes control

The British wildcard had half a chance to break in the fifth game of the second set at 30-30, but Robert hung on stay in front. Storrie faced the first break point in this set in the eighth game but managed to stave off the pressure to draw level.

Serving to stay in the set, Storrie produced his worst service game of the match, double faulting to lose serve to love and drop the set 7-5.

The Frenchman went from strength to strength in the final set, securing the early break in the fourth game, before breaking once again after a long battle on the Brit’s serve. The double break proved to be pivotal as Robert closed out the match 6-7(2), 7-5, 6-1.

Groth moves past Moser

In the final match on Court 1 Groth eased past 39-year-old German Frank Moser in straight sets 6-2, 7-6(3).

Groth came flying out of the blocks, winning all 12 of the opening points to take a 3-0 lead. The 39-year-old German was able to win his first couple of points of the match in his next service game but it was not enough for him to hold onto his serve as he quickly found himself 5-0 down.

Moser was able to get a game on the board, but a hot dog shot from the Australian at 30-15, followed by an ace down the middle was more than enough to wrap up the first set 6-1. Groth dropped just one point on serve in that set, which lasted less than 20 minutes.

Groth dropped just one point on serve in the first set. Photo: Joshua Coase
Groth dropped just one point on serve in the first set. Photo: Joshua Coase

Things kept getting better and better for Groth as he broke Moser in the opening game of the second set courtesy of a cross court forehand pass.

In game five Moser had his back firmly against the wall after a double fault saw him trail 15-40. The German saved both with big first serves and was also able to save a third before holding to stay in contention. The 39-year-old managed to do the same in his following service game, saving four break points to remain just a game behind.

Those missed opportunities came back to bite the Australian as a missed match point at 5-3 then led to Groth dropping serve in the tenth game to go level at 5-5, much to his frustration. Moser was only two points away from taking the second set at deuce on the Australian's serve for the first time but was unable to capitalize.

In the tiebreak Groth was in control from the outset, taking a 3-0 lead and a 5-1 advantage at the change of ends. Having reached the third round at Wimbledon last year, the Australian has a good pedigree on grass and impressed in his straight sets win.

Mixed bag of results for the Brits

17-year-old Jay Clarke fell in straight sets to world number 251 Matthew Barton of Australia 6-4, 7-5, while fellow Brit, world number 307 Lloyd Glasspool missed out in two tiebreak sets against the Czech Michal Konecny 7-6(2), 7-6(5).

Joshua Milton was the British success story of the day in front of the home crowd, ousting Marcelo Arevalo 6-0, 6-4 in just 53 minutes on  Court 2. The Brit looked a bit nervous as he saw his 5-2 lead slip, but finally converted on his seventh match point in the tenth game to secure an excellent victory.

The rest of the results

American Escobedo was second up on Court 1 against the Australian Bradley Mousley. The 19-year-old from Los Angeles took the first set 6-2, but was involved in more of a battle in the second set, missing a break point opportunity in the seventh game. After a series of service holds the players found themselves locked in at 6-6.

In the second set tiebreak the American secured the first mini break to take a 3-1 lead. A double fault relinquished his advantage, but locked in at 3-3 at the change of ends Escobedo never looked back, securing the mini break with a backhand return of serve winner as he took the tiebreak 7-3 to secure a straight sets win.

36-year-old Czech Jan Hernych proved that experience is key as he swept past 21-year-old Ramkumar Ramanathan of India 6-3, 6-1 in a mere 47 minutes. In the other first round qualifying match, Canadian seventh seed Frank Dancevic battled past Croat Ante Pavic 6-4, 6-7(6), 6-3 in one hour and 57 minutes.

Qualifying concludes tomorrow, with play getting underway at 6am ET. Britain's Milton takes on Escobedo on Court 1, Groth faces Dancevic on Court 2, Hernych faces Konecny on court 3 and Robert plays Barton on court 4.