Clay-Court Specialists Marco Cecchinato and Facundo Bagnis Dominate Argentina Open Qualifying
Adam Addicott, Tennis Atlantic
This year’s Argentina Open will see the king of clay, Rafael Nadal, kick-off his clay court season. As Argentine fans wait for the arrival of Nadal, the were treated to a series of entertaining matches over the weekend in the qualifying draw.
Half of the entrants in this year’s 16-strong qualifying draw were from the home country, however, only one Argentine successfully qualified to the main draw. 25-year-old Facundo Bagnis has already won two clay court titles this year. On the Challenger circuit Bagnis has claimed back-to-back titles in Bueno Aires, Argentina, and Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Bagnis, seeded second in the draw, started his qualifying run with a roller coaster 6-2, 6-7(5), 6-0, win over Pedro Cachin. Next up for the second seed was Slovenia’s Blaz Rola. Rola dropped only two games in his opening match against home player Hernan Casanova. Ranked 49 places higher than Rola in the rankings, Bagnis eased himself to the 7-5, 6-1, win. During his second round match, the Argentine won 72% of his service points.
Italian top seed Marco Cecchinato was also impressive during his two qualifying rounds. The world No.91 was yet to win a match this year going into Rotterdam after falling at the first hurdle in his three previous tournaments. In the first round in Buenos Aires the top seed eased past world No.378 Juan Ignacio Galarza 6-1, 6-2. Awaiting him in the second round was another home player, fifth seed Facundo Arguello. Cecchinato won 68% of his service points and saved 7/7 break points to beat Arguello 6-3, 7-5, to book his place in the main draw.
Albert Montanes reached the main draw without dropping a set. After some intense off-season training, the 35-year-old didn’t start his 2016 season until the end of January at the Bucaramanga Challenger in Colombia, where he lost in the first round. He won his first match of the year at the Ecuador Open after defeating Jozef Kovalík in the first round. In Argentina, Montanes first match was against Brazilian world No.275 Jose Pereira. Despite there being over 100 places separating the two players, Montanes was made to battle before clinching the match 7-6(5), 7-6(6). In his final qualifying match, the Spaniard faced Italy’s Filippo Voladri. The fourth seed fired six aces during his straightforward 6-3, 6-4, win over Volandri.
Finally, Portugal’s Gastao Elias will play in his first ATP World Tour main draw since last year’s Portugal Open after his double win in qualifying. Opening up against world No.317 Tomás Lipovsek Puches, the sixth seed was pushed harder than expected during his 6-2, 7-6(4) first round win. Then in the final round of qualifying, he faced Guilherme Clezar. Clezar produced a shock 6-3, 6-2, win over third seed Daniel Gimeno-Traver in his first round match. Eilas required an hour and 50 minutes to edge past Clezar, winning 7-5,7-6(9).
First round matches
Q Marco Cecchinato ITA – Juan Monaco ARG (first meeting)
Q Gusta Elías POR – Daniel Munoz de la Nava ESP (Elias trails the head-to-head 0-1)
Q Albert Montanes ESP – Nicolas Almagro ESP (Montanes leads the head-to-head 5-2)
Q Facundo Bagnis ARG – Renzo Olivo ARG (Bagnis leads the head-to-head 4-1)