Andrej Martin Survives A Scare During Qualifying At Ecuador Open 2016
Adam Addicott, Tennis Atlantic
Top seed Andrej Martin was forced to work hard for a place in the main draw during Qualifying At the Ecuador Open
Martin is currently ranked 148th in the world and is a regular feature on the Challenger tour. The Slovakian has already played in three Challenger tournaments this year, losing in the first round of the first two before reaching quarterfinals in Rio de Janeiro. He kicked-off his qualifying bid with a 7-5,6-4, win over home favorite Emilio Gomez. After his convincing first round win, Martin encountered a stern test against French seventh seed Calvin Hemery in the final round. Hamery is ranked 229th in the world and his opening win over Austria’s Bastian Tinker was his first match win on the tour this year. Dropping the opening set after 26 minutes, Martin battled back to win 2-6,6-2,7-5, after an hour and 50 minutes.
Martin is one of two Slovakian players to successfully qualify for the main draw in Ecuador. Jozef Kovalik upset fourth seed Franko Skugor on his way to the main draw. The world No.251 required exactly two hours to defeat Skugor 6-4,3-6,6-4 in the first round. Kovalik was on course to play sixth seed Jordi Samper-Montana in the final round, however, the Spaniard was stunned by Colombia’s Eduardo Struvay in straight sets. In 2015 Struvay achieved a career high of 185th and won two gold medals at the Central American and Caribbean Games. Kovalik encountered tough resistance from the Colombian but managed to pull off a 7-6(2), 6-4, victory after converting his fifth match point.Embed from Getty Images
The first player to secure his place in the main draw was Argentina’s Renzo Olivo. The 23-year-old recently made his Grand Slam debut at the Australian Open where he won three qualifying matches before upsetting Czech Republic’s Jiri Vesely in the first round. Olivo breezed past France’s Jonathan Eysseric 6-3, 6-1, in the first round. Eysseric is known best for reaching the final of the 2007 French Open boys’ draw. The reward for Olivo’s first round win was a meeting with compatriot Juan Ignacio Londero. Olivo had a 3-1 winning head-to-head record going into the match and he was able to increase it in Ecuador. Despite falling behind 0-2 in both sets, Olivo managed to claw his way back on both occasions to win 6-3, 7-5, booking his place in the main draw.Embed from Getty Images
Finally, Joao Souza produced a duo of wins over home players to become the highest seed to reach the main draw in Quito. After reaching a ranking high of 69th in April last year, the Brazilian has fallen to 149th in the world. During qualifying Souza enjoyed a 6-3,6-4, win over wildcard Iván Endara. Souza continued his winning momentum by defeating Roberto Quiroz 6-4, 6-3. Quiroz is a former junior world No.7 and has recently been studying in America at the University of Southern Carolina.
First round matches for the qualifiers
Kovalik will battle Spanish veteran Albert Montanes, Martin faces another Spanish veteran, Marcel Granollers, Olivo faces wild card Alejandro Gonzalez, and Souza has a winnable contest against Argentine Facundo Arguello.