Teen Triumphs For Taylor Fritz and Tommy Paul During Mexico Qualifying
Adam Addicott, Tennis Atlantic
Top seed Thiemo de Bakker was joined by three Americans in the main draw after successfully qualifying for the main draw at the Abierto Mexicano Open.
This year is the 23rd edition of the men’s tournament with the main draw featuring five top 20 players. David Ferrer, Kei Nishikori and Marin Cilic headline the tournament. The draw could also feature some solid runs from the qualifiers after their encouraging performance over the weekend.
Top seed Bakker comes to Mexico in search of a confidence boost after losing in the first round of his two previous tournaments. In Rotterdam he lost to Borna Coric followed by a three set loss to Sam Querrey in Delray Beach. The Dutch player was able to end his losing run in Mexico with a 6-3, 6-4, win over Colombia Eduardo Struvay in the first round of qualifying. The triumph set Bakker up with a meeting with Alessandro Giannessi. The Italian world No.198 recently reached the semifinals at a Challenger event in Mexico. The Italian proved to be a tough opponent for Bakker. Nevertheless, saving 9/10 breaks points and producing seven aces, the top seed battled into the main draw with a 6-4, 3-6, 6-2, win.
Taylor Fritz continued his promising 2016 by dropping only eight games to reach the main draw. Fritz is at a career best of 102 in the world after his sensational run to the final of the Memphis Open. The 18-year-old is the youngest player to reach an ATP final since Kei Nishikori back in 2008 and the youngest American since Michael Chang back in 1989. In Mexico he brushed aside local wildcard Manuel Sanchez (6-1, 6-2) to set up a meeting with seventh seed Adria Menendez-Maceiras. The Spanish player was no match for the highly rated American teenager. Fritz remained unbroken throughout the match, winning 78% of his service points, to dismiss the Spaniard 6-3, 6-2, after just 71 minutes of play.
Continuing the trend of teenage success was another promising American teenager, Tommy Paul. The current French Open boys’ champion began 2016 with back-to-back Futures titles in America before suffering a trio of opening match exits at three higher level tournaments. Facing third seed Radu Albot in his opening match, Paul was a set and a break down before fighting back to produce a shock 1-6 7-6(4) 6-2 triumph. The reward for the American was Australia’s John-Patrick Smith. Similar top his match against Albot, the 18-year-old dropped the opening set after just 28 minutes before coming back to win 3-6,6-3,6-2. Paul will now play in the main draw of an ATP Tour event for only the third time of his young career.
Completing the qualifiers was Ryan Harrison, who is hoping the he can reproduced his performance from last year. The 23-year-old qualified for the Mexican event last year before reaching his first ATP Tour semifinal since 2013. Since his 2015 run in Mexico, Harrison hasn’t reached the semifinal at any other ATP event. His opening match was against Mexican wildcard Hans Hach Verdugo, a player who is yet to break the top-500. The American eased to a 6-3, 6-4, win. Next up for him was compatriot Alexander Sarkissian. Sarkissian is currently ranked 179th in the world, three places below his career best. The encounter was a straightforward one for Harrison, who produced 10 aces during his 6-1, 6-4, triumph. The 23-year-old hasn’t won back-to-back main draw matches since the Columbus Challenger last September.
First round matches
Q Ryan Harrison USA Vs (3) Marin Cilic CRO
Q Tommy Paul USA Vs Illya Marchenko UKR
Q Taylor Fritz USA Vs (8) Jeremy Chardy FRA
Q Thiemo de Bakker NDL Vs (2) Kei Nishikori JPA