Surprise Success for Sarkissian and Marterer at ATP Sydney Qualifying
Adam Addicott, Tennis Atlantic
A series of shocks occurred during the qualifying competition at the Apia International Open in Sydney after only two seeded players managed to reach the main draw.
Top seed and Former French Open semifinalist Ernests Gulbis continued his poor start to the year with a shock first round loss to world No. 198 Alexander Sarkissian. The 25-year-old American clinched his first Challenger title in South Korea last year. Sarkissian dropped his serve only once as he took the match 6-3, 7-5. It is now the second consecutive week that Gulbis has failed to qualify for a main draw of a tournament.
Awaiting Sarkissian in the final round was Poland’s Lukasz Kubot. Kubot, who is currently ranked 29th in the doubles, defeated home player Blade Fong 6-1, 6-2, in his first match. The Polish player was no match for Sarkissian as the world No.198 broke his opponent four times to win 6-3, 6-3, to book his place in the main draw.
Maximilian Marterer recovered from the brink of defeat before stunning Bosnian eighth seed Damir Dzumhur. The German trailed 2-5 in the final set before winning 7-5, 1-6, 7-6(2), after an hour and 58 minutes. The German was on course for a showdown with second seed Sergiy Stakhovsky, however, he was stunned by Australian wildcard Aleksandar Vukic 3-6,6-3,6-4.
In the battle of the underdogs it was Marterer who was triumphant after he edged out Vukic 6-1, 7-6(7). The 20-year-old German is yet to win a main draw match on the ATP World Tour with a win-loss of only 0-2.
The highest seed to reach the main draw was Kazakh third seed Mikhail Kukushkin. The world No.65 endured a tiring opening match against Matt Reid, lasting over two hours, winning 6-7(2), 6-4, 7-6(5). His reward was a clash against Spanish clay court specialist Íñigo Cervantes. Last year Cervantes won three Challenger titles on clay. The final round was another grueling encounter for Kukushkin, who had to save three match points during the final set. After dropping the opening set, Kukushkin produced gutsy play to win 3-6, 6-4, 7-6(6).
Completing the qualifying was French Veteran Nicolas Mahut.The 33-year-old kicked-off his campaign with a 6-1, 6-3, win over Italy’s Marco Cecchinato. Next up for Mahut was sixth seed Dusan Lajovic. Lajovic enjoyed a straight sets win over wildcard Mayez Elrich in his first match. The final clash was a chance for Mahut to get revenge after falling to the Serbian at last year’s Paris Open. The Frenchman grabbed his revenge after clinching the win 7-6(4), 3-6, 6-2.
First round matches for the qualifiers
Mahut has a considerable h2h edge over his first round opponent Adrian Mannarino, Sarkissian faces veteran Simone Bolelli, Marterer faces Pablo Cuevas, and Kukushkin has a tough test against the seeded Jeremy Chardy.