Daniel Brands and Marius Copil Triumph In Qualifying at Sofia Open
Adam Addicott, Tennis Atlantic
The first edition of the Sofia Open saw the surprise exit of the top two seeds in the qualifying draw.
Headlining the field was Japan’s Yūichi Sugita. Ranked 124th in the world, Sugita recently qualified for his maiden Australian Open main draw before suffering a defeat to French 23rd seed Gael Monfils. The 27-year-old kicked off his Bulgarian campaign with a 6-4, 6-1, win over Turkish wildcard Cem İlkel. Awaiting him in the final round was Romania’s Marius Copil. Copil defeated 18-year-old Bulgarian Alexandar Lazarov in straight sets during his first round match.
Copil’s start to 2016 has been far from ideal with him losing two out of his three matches during the Australian swing. Despite the unsatisfactory to the year, Copil proved too problematic for Sugita. The world No.170 fended off three break points to win 6-3, 6-4, after 78 minutes of play.
Following the top seed out of the tournament was Russian second seed Konstantin Kravchuk. At 133rd in the world, Kravchuk is just seven places away from his career best of 126. His opening match was a tricky test against Belgium’s Yannick Mertens. The 30-year-old had a match point to take the win in straight sets, but failed to convert as he eventually edged past the world No.201 6-2, 5-7, 6-2.
There was a bigger test awaiting Kravchuk in the second round, German fifth seed Daniel Brands. Brands has enjoyed an impressive start to 2016 with a semifinal appearance in the Noumea Challenger, followed by reaching the second round of the Australian Open as a qualifier. Despite a promising start by the Russian, the 30-year-old prevailed to Brands. The German recovered from a set down to upset the second seed 4-6,7-6(5),6-4.
Mirza Basic recently became only the second Bosnian man to reach a main draw of a Grand Slam tournament at the Australian Open. In Melbourne he defeated Robin Haase in the first round before succumbing to Tomas Berdych. Basic was able to continue his Melbourne momentum in Bulgaria with a duo of wins. His opening performance against Israel’s Amir Weintraub was mixed. After failing to serve the match out in the final set at 5-4, the Bosnian grabbed another critical break in the following game to seal the win – 6-7(2), 6-3,7-5. Basic’s second round encounter was more straightforward as he eased past 6th seed Farrukh Dustov 6-3, 6-3, to reach the main draw.
Completing the quartet of Bulgarian qualifiers was Italy’s Thomas Fabbiano. Since reaching the last eight of the ATP Chennai Open at the start of the year, the Italian has suffered early losses during the Australian Open qualifying tournament and at the Manila Challenger. Fabbiano, seeded fourth in the tournament, overcame his recent disappointments to reach the main draw in Sofia. After dismissing Serbia’s Laslo Djere in the first round, the Italian set up an encounter with Marton Fucsovics. The encounter was an easy task for the 2007 French Open boys doubles champion as he won six consecutive games during his 6-4, 6-1, victory.
First round matches for the qualifiers
Q Daniel Brands vs. Q Thomas Fabbiano
Q Mirza Basic vs. Yuki Bhambri
Q Marius Copil vs. Hyeon Chung
All of the qualifiers are capable of making runs given this open field.