Kokkinakis qualifies, Golubev, Bellucci advance to round 2 at the ATP Istanbul Open Monday
Ahmet Fevzi Guclu for Tennis Atlantic
Today at the Istanbul Open, the qualifying tournament was concluded and the main draw started with two matches. On qualifying side, after 6/8 seeds made the final round, the top 4 seeds advanced to the main draw. Blaz Kavcic (d. Marton Fuscovics 6-0 6-1) has been drawn against Argentinian youngster Diego Schwartzman, Teymuraz Gabashvili (d. Radu Albot 7-5 6-2) will face countryman Andrey Kuznetsov, Australian young gun Thanasi Kokkinakis (d. Lorenzi Giustino 6-0 1-0 ret.) will face Serbian Dusan Lajovic, and Aleksandr Nedovyesov (d. Evgeny Donskoy 6-7 7-5 6-3) will be up against another countryman Mikhail Kukushkin for a place in the second round of the Istanbul Open.
Two of the qualifiers escaped from the seeds and got kind draws, while the others have 6th and 8th seed to beat to go further.
For the main draw action, there was no suprise, even with the seed losing. The first match on center court, Andrey Golubev and Wildcard Nikoloz Basilashvili played a very dull match. Basilashvili played poorly and proved that he is not ready for the ATP Tour main draws yet. The Georgian made many unforced errors during the whole match which was barely more than a hour. Also 27 year old Kazakh escaped from all BPs with quality serves and winning approaches on his first serve.The more solid player and the one with better clay game won the match comfortably. A crowd of around 300 did not seem particularly pleased with the quality of the contest.
In the second ATP main draw match of the day, no:74 Brazilian Thomaz Bellucci. playing on his best surface, beat the out of form 7th seed Russian Mikhail Youzhny, recording his second clay win against the veteran. Youzhny started to match surprisingly well, his caused was helped by Bellucci’s careless play early in the set. The Russian was leading 5-3 with the only break in the set, but eventually lost the advantage with some crucial errors. There was a huge scream from Bellucci after his maiden break of the match, then, both players won their service games, and the tiebreak decided the set. Belluci got the first mini-break with impossible winner down the line, only to lose it with an UE next point. At 6-5 in the TB, Brazilian capitalised his set point in his first attempt. Second set was much comfortable for the lefty, who used his powerful FH and grinded through the victory. It was an hardly upset in the end.
Tomorrow, the first match on Center Court will be the all-Kazakh matchup. 6th seed Mikhail Kukushkin, will take on Aleksandr Nedovyesov who he beat in their only clay meeting, in 3 sets last year. I expect a similar scenario between the two, anything other than Kukushkin win, would be a suprise, after the Nedovyesov’s not impressive performances in last 3 days.Then, two Turkish players will be in action on Center Court. 19 year old Cem Ilkel takes on Casablanca finalist, and Bucharest semi finalist Daniel Gimeno-Traver, while the Spaniard is the obvious favorite, he may be a bit tired after a large number of matches over the past weeks, and his inconsistency generally may be an advantage for the youngster to keep it close.
Marsel Ilhan on the other hand, home favourite and Turkey’s best player ever, will start his campaign against the veteran Jarkko Nieminen, who hasn’t played since an early exit in Monte Carlo. Following the loss against Feliciano Lopez in the second round of Barcelona, the Turk will be motivated to get back his good form on home soil. Their close ranking, also suggests quite a battle. Still, with the experience on his side, the Finnish will be the slight favourite, to make the second round. Ilhan will desperately need the crowd support tomorrow to be able win and setup a marquee match against Roger Federer in round 2. The final match on Center Court willl be the rematch of Bucharest first round, 5th seed Andreas Haider-Maurer will be again the favourite, though Dodig’s victory after a tough fight shouldn’t suprise anyone. Also the Austrian played a lot lately so his body may let him down, an unpredictable match lies ahead.
On the outside courts, some good matches are scheduled. Suprise kid of Barcelona, young Russian prospect Andrey Rublev, who just beat Fernando Verdasco last week, will be looking to keep his momentum going against the Bosnian hope Damir Dzumhur. This will be really close, but another solid performance from Rublev following week, wouldn’t be that easy. I’d go with 3 sets win for the Bosnian.
Next match on Court 1, Jurgen Melzer will play against Steve Darcis, both have bad reputations as of late on clay, it will be a toss-up, while Darcis win is much likely in the end. Last match on Court 1, Andrey Kuznetsov will be fighting against Teymuraz Gabashvili for a place in the second round of Istanbul Open. Despite the fact that Gabashvili being a qualifier, he has the better ranking and clay game, making him the favorite to advance.
Blaz Kavcic and Diego Schwartzman will open the Court 2 tomorrow, an easy win for the Argentinian should be the safe pick, The latter is the far better clay courter, and Slovenian always has had some trouble on the dirt. The following match on this court, will be between Denis Istomin and Benoit Paire. Uzbek is having bad clay season, and the young Frenchman came back from injury with good wins on his belt, the most recent one was against ErnestsGulbis in Barcelona. Paire has really a good clay game and may be a dangerous player on the day, if he wants. The momentum is on his side, hence is the obvious favorite of this meeting.
Finally the last match on Court 2, impressive Australian teenager Thanasi Kokkinakis will face Dusan Lajovic, though Kokkinakis is not tested here against important names yet, he has the clay game needed to beat the Serbian. Lajovic beat the 19 years old in Acapulco in 2 sets two months ago on hard, but the fate of popular youngster may change this time, if he shows his best against a very mediocre player like Lajovic.