Diego Schwartzman, Benoit Paire lead the list of qualifiers into the Monte-Carlo mainstage
Adam Addicott, Tennis Atlantic
This week the worlds best players on the ATP Tour will get their first test on the clay courts in the prestigious Monte-Carlo Masters. The tournament started back in 1897 when Reginald Doherty took the title in three straight sets. Since then the event has transformed into a multi million dollar event with a prize money value of €2,750,000. Over the weekend 28 players have battled against each other to grab a segment of the prize money as well as vital ranking points during the two qualifying rounds.
Heading the field was clay court specialist Diego Schwartzman. Last year the Argentine won four clay court Challenger titles within three months. So far in 2015 world number 62 has failed to progress past the second round of any tournament and will be desperate to pick up some more solid form as the clay court season begins. After dismissing world number 606 Romain Arneodo from Monaco in the first round, he also produced a final round 6-4, 6-4, win against Albert Montanes. After taking the first set, Schwartzman was forced to recover from a break twice in the second set before booking his place into the main draw.
Elias Ymer’s hopes of playing in his first Masters main draw were halted today following a straight sets loss to American Denis Kudla. In the first round Ymer trailed 4-6, 2-3, to second seed Carlos Berlocq before he retired due to an adductor injury while Kudla came from a set down to beat Andrey Golubev. After a close first set, Kudla cruised to a 6-4, 6-0 victory to play in his first ever clay court Masters main draw.
Slovakia’s Norbert Gombos qualified after Denis Istomin retired after only seven games. Gombos knocked out 9th seed Malek Jaziri in the first round. It is unclear in regards to the reason why Istomin retired, however the Uzbek has had some luck on his side as he received a lucky loser spot into the main draw due to Nicolas Almagro pulling out.
Albert Ramos-Vinolas continued his recent consistent form on the tour with a 6-4, 7-5, victory over Robin Haase in a match which lasted nearly two hours. In the first set Haase have 9 separate chances to breaks Romas-Vinolas but failed to do so every time in a match filled of misses opportunities for the Dutchman.
Andrey Kuznetsov overcame a close first set to beat Paul-Henri Mathieu 7-6(4), 6-1. The 24-year-old has only played four Masters main draw matches in his career in which he has only won one of them (Rome 2013). The Russian is currently ranked 91st in the world with his best performance being a quarterfinal appearance at the ATP Happy Valley Challenger in Australia at the start of the year.
In the longest match of the day, French sixth seed Edouard Roger-Vasselin required almost three hours to beat Jan-Lennard Struff. Roger-Vasselin had two opportunities to take the final set 6-4, before the German clawed his way back to force the match into a deciding tie-break. In the tie-break nerves played a key part with seven breaks of serves before Struff edged his way to take the tie-break 8-6. The final score in the Frenchman’s favor was 6-4, 4-6, 7-6(6).
Completing the list of qualifiers is Benoit Paire after he stormed to a 6-1, 6-2, win against Thiemo De Bakker. Despite being ranked 84th in the world Paire has competed in a variety of tournaments which includes Futures, Challenger and ATP Pro events. So far this year he has one Futures and two Challenger titles to his name. Paire was formerly considered a top young gun, and is seeking to climb his way back into the conversation.
Who’s next for the qualifiers:
Albert Ramos-Vinolas (Q) – Denis Istomin (LL)
Norbert Gombos (Q) – David Goffin
Benoit Paire (Q) – Denis Kudla (Q)
Kudla had beaten Paire once before at the 2013 Aegon Championships at the Queen’s club in London.
Edouard Roger-Vasselin (Q) – Joao Sousa
Andrey Kuznetsov (Q) – Gael Monfils
Monfils beat Kuznetsov in straight sets earlier this year in the second round of the Marseille Open
Jeremy Chardy – Diego Schwartzman (Q)