Machado upsets Sousa, Gasquet, Kyrgios make strides Estoril Open 2015 Tuesday
Manuel Traquete for Tennis Atlantic
Tuesday at the Estoril Open featured the end of the first round of the main draw, a total of 8 matches in 3 different courts.
The day started on a negative note for the Portuguese contingent with crowd favorite and 2-time quarterfinalist at this tournament Gastao Elias losing in 3 tight sets to Kenny de Schepper. In his post-match presser, Gastão mentioned his inability to hurt De Schepper with his shots and move him around as his biggest shortcoming and highlighted the two break points he squandered at 1-1 in the third set as the deciding moment of the match, with De Schepper riding the momentum from there. The man from Bordeaux will now face his countryman Richard Gasquet, who blew out Marinko Matosevic in the second set after a very tight opening set; asked about how he’s feeling on court after a prolonged absence due to injury, Gasquet said he’s feeling good but that he has no expectations of winning this tournament, where he was a finalist twice before, since he’s not ready to win titles yet.
(Q)de Schepper d. (WC)Elias 6-2 2-6 6-3
(5)Gasquet d. Matosevic 7-6(7) 6-1
On court 3, Pablo Carreno Busta’s consistency from the baseline proved too much for the inexperienced Lestienne, who kept leaking errors on his way to a 3-6 1-6 defeat. Carreno Busta will now face Tommy Robredo in the second round. Next on court 3, the 2009 and 2010 champion Albert Montanes survived a tough 3-set battle against Martin Fischer to book a date with Gilles Muller in the second round. Another Spaniard advancing was Nicolas Almagro; the holder of 12 claycourt titles put in a very strong serving performance to defeat Stephane Robert in straights even if the rest of his game wasn’t really firing, which it will need to be in order to beat Leonard Mayer in the second round. Guillermo Garcia-Lopez also prevailed over countryman Roberto Carballes Baena, with unexpected ease considering the former’s efforts last week and how close this matchup had been in the 2014 Casablanca semifinal. This time around though, Carballes Baena simply couldn’t defend against Garcia-Lopez’s superior serving and ballstriking skills and the Spaniard’s quest for back to back ATP titles will continue against the second seed of the tournament, Kevin Anderson.
Carreno Busta d. (Q)Lestienne 6-3 6-1
Montanes d. (Q)Fischer 6-4 4-6 6-3
Almagro d. Robert 6-3 7-6(4)
Garcia-Lopez d. (Q)Carballes Baena 6-2 6-2
In the battle of the two highest ranked Portuguese players ever on center court (career high #35 for Joao Sousa and #59 for Rui Machado), it was the underdog who prevailed, with a gutsy, aggressive performance, while Sousa once again failed to live up to the pre-tournament hype and accused the pressure of playing in his home tournament again. Machado will now take on Croatian upstart Borna Coric, looking to reach his second QF at this event after doing so back in 2010.
Machado d. Sousa 7-6(5) 6-3
The day ended with what will likely go down as the most memorable match of the 2015 Estoril Open, featuring Albert Ramos and Nick Kyrgios. The young Aussie got off to a fast start, breaking Ramos in the second game of the match and serving his way to a 6-3 first set win. In the second set, Ramos remained unable to return Kyrgios’s monster serves, but he somehow managed to stave off break points (including what looked like virtual match points at 5-5) and then faced with defeat at 5*-4 down in the tiebreak he managed to string two points on Kyrgios’s serve to force a decider. In the 3rd set, Kyrgios’s serve lost some potency and Ramos scored an early break and never really looked like being broken back until 5*-4, where, with his back against the wall Kyrgios produced an excellent return game to avoid elimination. He then had two match points of his own with Ramos serving at 5-6, but a terrible miss on a FH sitter on the second match point seemed to spell the end for Kyrgios who then threw away the next few points with bad errors to go into the tiebreak and get himself an early minibreak down.
That was when things really got real; Kyrgios threw the ball into the stands in frustration and he had already got two code violations, a third one would have resulted in a game penalty and thus outright losing the match. But the umpire didn’t give him the infraction, leading to Ramos practically begging him to do so for about 5 minutes, with the Portuguese crowd booing him for trying to get Kyrgios defaulted. To no avail, as he completely lost focus, the tiebreak and the match, being booed off the court as he exited the tournament, while Kyrgios goes on to face Krajinovic in the second round. I asked Kyrgios some questions in his press conference after the match, which you can find here
(7)Kyrgios d. Ramos 6-3 6-7(5) 7-6(3)
Tomorrow, 4 round of 16 matches will be played, with Almagro and Leo Mayer starting a day in what must be considered a clash of two title candidates; Mayer is the current Hamburg champion and always a threat on the red clay, while Almagro’s career achievements on the surface speak for themselves despite his bad start to the year post-injury. Almagro won their two previous encounters on clay, but those happened when the Spaniard was at the peak of his career and Mayer yet to hit his stride, while the roles are now practically reversed and the Argentine must be considered the favorite in this battle of one handed backhands.
The winner of this clash will face the winner of another one handed backhand clash between Gasquet and De Schepper; when asked by me what he needed to do to beat his countryman, who he’s never faced before, Gasquet said he had to ‘play well’ and while that sounds like an incredibly generic and cliché answer, it’s hard to argue that if Gasquet plays well he should win easily against his much lower ranked countryman, who’s simply not comfortable at all on the red clay.
The 1 seed of the tournament, Feliciano Lopez, will open up against Robin Haase and while the rankings would suggest an easy Lopez victory the truth is the Spaniard is quite prone to early losses in smaller events and he has lost both matches he’s played on clay against Haase so this one is far from a given. The winner of this match will face the winner of the first ever night session match in a Portuguese ATP event, between Nick Kyrgios and Flip Krajinovic; the edge seems to be with the Aussie in this one, but he could well be tired after his battle against Ramos today and Krajinovic has the weapons to make it difficult on a good day.