Adam Addicott, Tennis Atlantic
With the highest ranked player in the main draw being world No.37, Guillermo Garcia-Lopez, this week’s Grand Prix Hassan in Morocco is a golden opportunity for the lower ranked players to gain valuable ATP points.
The qualifying draw of the tournament saw a big shock on its first day after top seed Kenny de Schepper crashed out to Croatia’s Nikola Mektic. The French world No.140 took the first set with ease before suffering a surprise 2-6, 6-2, 6-4, loss to Mektic. 27-year-old Mektic has never played in a Grand Slam tournament and has never won a Challenger tournament. Nevertheless, he continued his run in the second round against France’s Maxime Chazal, a player who reached a career ranking high of 327th earlier this year. Firing eight aces and winning 79% of first service points, the Croat defeated Chazal 7-6(6), 6-3, to reach his first ATP main draw since the 2015 Bucharest Open.
The highest ranked player to reach the main draw in Marrakesh was Argentine third seed Maximo Gonzalez. The 32-year-old, who achieved a ranking best of 58th in 2009, has only won three main draw matches this year. The Spaniard plays best on clay, with all of his 23 pro titles being won on the surface. After easing to a 6-1, 6-4, win over Gerard Granollers in the first round. He faced seventh seed Mathias Bourgue in the final round. The world No.144 was impressive against the Frenchman, winning 80% of his first service points during his 6-4, 6-2, triumph.
Franko Skugor reached his second ATP main draw of 2016 by stunning second seed Elias Ymer in the final round. Skugor, who dropped only two games in his first round match, was on the verge of going out after trailing 4-6, 1-3, to the Swedish player. Despite the slow start, the world No.156 staged an epic comeback to win 6-4, 4-6, 6-2. The loss means that Ymer has still only won two main draw matches on the tour this year. Meanwhile, Skugor will be bidding to grab his sixth main draw win of the season in Morocco.
The biggest surprise of the draw was Italy’s Lorenzo Giustino. The Italian is currently ranked 254th in the world and has won four titles on the Futures tour. In Marrakesh he was the only qualifier player to produce back-to-back wins against seeded players on his way to the main draw. After battling past fourth seed Kimmer Coppejans (5-7, 6-4, 6-3), he faced Russian fifth seed Andrey Rublev. Last month Rublev won the biggest title of his career after defeating Paul-Henri Mathieu in the final of the ATP Quimper Challenger. Despite Rublev’s recent surge in form, Giustino managed to grab the shock 6-4, 6-3, win.
First round matches
Q Nikola Mektic.CRO Vs WC Reda El Amrani MOR
Q Maximo Gonzalez ARG Vs Daniel Muñoz de la Nava ESP
Q Franko Skugor Vs Albert Montanes ESP
Q Lorenzo Guistino Vs Denis Istomin UZB