Jan-Lennard Struff, Kenny de Schepper Cruise Into Erste Bank Open Main Draw
Adam Addicott, Tennis Atlantic
Jan-Lennard Struff headlined the group of four qualifiers for the 41st Erste Bank Open after the top two seeded players crashed out.
Struff enjoyed a brief first round match after his opponent, Serbia’s Miljan Zekic, retired whilst trailing 1-5. In the last round Struff faced world No.251 Jan Satral. Satral knocked out 7th seed Mirza Basic in the first round after two closely fought sets – 7-6 (3), 7-6 (4). This year Satral has won two Futures titles and his first ever Challenger title in doubles. Despite 155 places separating the two players, the final encounter was a tough match for the third seed. After taking the opening set comfortably, Struff trailed 2-5 in the second set and saved three set points before clawing his way back to 5-5. As the second set went into a tie-break, the German world No.96 experienced another problem. Satral rapidly opened up a 5-0 lead but failed to close the set out as Stuff staged another comeback to book his place in the main draw. Struff took the match 6-3, 7-6 (9) after an hour and twenty-four minutes.
France’s Kenny de Schepper joined Struff in the final after stunning Belgian top seed Ruben Bemelmans. De Schepper booked his in place in the final round of qualifying after beating Switzerland’s Marco Chiudinelli 6-4, 6-3. Meanwhile, Bemelmans received a first round bye. World No.121 De Schepper saved three break points as he brushed aside the top seed 6-3, 6-2. This was the second time in two weeks that De Schepper has beaten the Belgian. In the first round of the Mons Challenger in Belgium last week he defeated Bemelmans in three sets. The Frenchman comes to Austria high in confidence after reaching back-to-back Challenger semifinals in France and Belgium.
Japan’s Yuichi Sugita defeated Spain’s Jaume Munar (6-1, 6-2) in the first round to set up a clash with second seed Nikoloz Basilashvili. Leading into the qualifying tournament, Sugita has won 11 out of 15 matches played since the US Open. The 27-year-old won his first title of the year at the Bangkok Challenger last month. During his 86-minute match against Basilashvili, Sugita broke the Georgian player four times as he took the match 6-3, 7-5, to move into the first round of the tournament for the first time in his career.
Finally 19-year-old Austrian wildcard Lucas Miedler qualified for the first ATP main draw in his career. During his junior career, Meidler won the 2014 Australian Open boys’ doubles title. This year Meidler has already won 11 Futures titles on the doubles circuit. During the qualifying tournament, Miedler came from a set and a break down in the first set to defeat Italian 8th seed Riccardo Bellotti 3-6, 6-4, 6-4. In the final round he played 35-year-old fourth seed Michael Berrer. Berrer has recently confirmed that he has delayed his retirement plans after enjoying a promising 2015 season where he beat Rafael Nadal in January and reached his first ATP semifinal in three years in Colombia. Despite being ranked 400 places lower than Berrer, Meidler faced no break points as he stunned the German 6-4, 6-4.
First Round Matches
Yuichi Sugita Vs Lukas Rosol – Rosol has beaten Sugita once before which was in 2010 during the qualifying rounds of the US Open.
Jan-Lennard Struff Vs Sergiy Stakhovsky – This will be their seventh meeting with Struff leading 6-1. They have played each other twice in 2015. Struff won in the Orleans Challenger, but Stakhovsky won in the second round of the Marseille Open.
Kenny de Schepper Vs John Isner – First meeting.