Matt Ebden, Hiroki Moriya Shine During Shenzhen Qualifying
Adam Addicott, Tennis Atlantic
The Shenzhen Open is the first out of three Chinese ATP tournaments which will take place over the next month. Headlined by Tomas Berdych and Marin Cilic, the ATP 250 tournament is a golden opportunity for the lower ranked players to grab some crucial ranking points during the final part of the 2015 season.
In the qualifying tournament world No.133 Matthew Ebden headed the field after Austin Krajicek was moved to the main draw following Richard Gasquet’s withdrawal. In his first match Ebden played little known American Nicholas Alexander Reyes. 20-year-old Reyes has won 5 main draw matches in his career and is ranked over 1000 places below Ebden at 1494th. Despite the enormous rankings gap, the match was a much closer encounter as the Australian took the match 6-3, 7-6 (1). In the final round he played New Zealand’s Michael Venus. Venus defeated sixth seed Lee Duck-hee in the second round after saving a match point during a second set tie-break. Venus was unable to reproduce another upset as Ebden cruised to take the match 6-2, 6-2. Ebden has claimed one Challenger title this year which was at the Aegon Surbiton Trophy in June.
The only other seeded player to successfully qualify for the main draw was Japanese 5th seed Hiroki Moriya. Moriya defeated 19-year-old Xia Haitong in his opening match (6-1,6-3) to set up an encounter with France’s Johan Tatlot. Tatlot reached world No.5 in the junior rankings last year and is currently ranked 359th in the world. Tatlor stunned third seed Chen Ti in the second round by winning 6-4,1-6,6-4. Moriya experienced a tough start to the match as he trailed 2-4 before taking five out of the next six games to take the first set. In the second set the world No.219 broke in the penultimate game of the match to win 7-5, 6-3, after eighty minutes. Moriya is yet to win a title this year and has a 2015 main draw win-loss of 9-22.
Out of the seven Chinese entrants into the qualifying draw, only one was successful. 18-year-old Zhang Zhizhen produced one of the best wins in his career by beating 4th seed Luke Saville to reach the final stage of qualifying. In the final he played Sergey Betov from Belarus. Betov is currently ranked 73rd in the doubles rankings after claiming four titles on the Challenger circuit this year. The home player was too powerful for Betov as the 18-year-old booked his place in the main draw with a 6-2, 6-3 win. Earlier this year Zhezhen claimed his first Futures title at a F10 event in France.
Finally, Takuto Niki enjoyed a milestone competition to reach the main draw. The 27-year-old beat China’s Chen Long in the first round to face 8th seed Mikhail Elgin in the second round. 33-year-old Elgin has won four Future titles this year. Despite being the underdog, Miki stunned the eight seed by winning 6-4, 7-5. The Japanese player was able to continue his winning momentum by defeating China’s Sun Fajing in the final round. He will now play in the main draw of an ATP event for the first time in his career.
The main draw matches:
Matthew Ebden (AUS) v Víctor Estrella Burgos (DOM) – This will be the second time that the two players have met and the first since 2012. In their first encounter Ebden took the match 6-3, 6-2.
Hiroki Moriya (JPA) v Ricardas Berankis (LTU) – First meeting.
Takuto Niki (JPA) v Bai Yan (CHN) – First meeting.
Zhang Zhizhen (CHN) v Go Soeda (JPA) – First meeting.