Sijsling, Robert, Ymer and Berlocq Advance in ATP Qualifying
Adam Addicott, Tennis Atlantic
Igor Sijsling heads the field of qualifiers in the BMW Open
It isn’t every day that players on the ATP Tour have to contend with the threat of snow disrupting their matches, but this is what happened during qualifying at the BMW Open in Munich.
Despite the burst of snow showers, four players managed to book their places in the main draw on Sunday. Only one seed managed to progress to the main draw in Germany. Second seed Igor Sijsling started his qualifying journey against Andrey Golubev. The Dutch player crushed Golubev 6-2, 6-1, winning 86% of his total service points. Sijsling encountered a much tougher second round meeting against fifth seed Jozef Kovalik. Kovalik defeated Austrian wildcard Alexander earlier in his opening match. The final round of qualifying was far from plain sailing for Sijsling. Despite dropping his service three times, he managed to grab the win in straight sets, 7-6(4), 6-4, after two hours of play.
Sijsling will now play in his first ATP main draw this year and his first since the 2015 BNP Paribas Masters. The 28-year-old currently has a win-loss of 39-65 on the ATP tour (a 38% winning rate).
The qualifying draw in Munich saw a trio of triumphs for home players. The most significant of the three achievements was wild card entrant Cedrik-Marcel Stebe. Stebe is a former top-100 player whose career has been affected by injury and hip surgery. In February this year he played his first match in almost 18 months in a Turkish Futures tournament. The German has been sidelined from action due to osteitis pubis, a noninfectious inflammation of the pubis symphysis.
Playing his first ATP qualifying event since the 2013 US Open, Stebe upset eighth seed Peter Gojowcyzk 6-1, 7-6(5), in the first round. Awaiting Stebe in the second round was Nils Langer, who stunned top seed Mirza Basic in his first match. Stebe was victorious in the all-German marathon, winning 2-6, 7-6(2), 6-4.
Matthias Bachinger defeated two German seeds to reach his first ATP main draw since June. Bachinger was playing in his first tournament since September due to injury. In his successful comeback from injury, the world No.33 produced straight sets win over third seed Daniel Brands and seventh seed Tobias Kamke.
The final injury-plagued player to triumph in qualifying was Florian Mayer. The 32-year-old hasn’t played on the tour since the US Open due to a hip injury. Aided by seven aces, the world No.268 defeated France’s Vincent Millot 7-5, 4-6, 6-4, to reach the main draw.
Mixed fortunes for Argentine players in Istanbul qualifying as Carlos Berlocq triumphs
The qualifying draw at the Istanbul Open could easily be mistaken for a South American tournament with three of the top five seeds comprising of Argentine players.
The top seed at the tournament was world No. 137 Maximo Gonzalez. The 32-year-old has won five main draw matches this year and is yet to win back-to-back matches in a main draw of a tournament in 2016. Gonzalez will not have a chance of extending his streak to six in Istanbul after suffering a shock loss in qualifying. After coming through a tough three sets win against world No.314 Tomislav Krkic, he faced Romania’s Adrian Ungur. He was unable to live up to his top seed status after crashing out 6-3, 7-5.
The qualifying triumph is a much needed boost to Ungur’s poor start to 2016. Since winning a Challenger title in Sibiu (Romania) last year, he has only managed to win two matches. The Romanian will play in his first ATP main draw since the 2014 Bucharest Open.
Carlos Berlocq was the highest seed to progress to the main draw in what was a roller coaster qualifying experience for the Argentine. In his opening match, the world No.153 required over three hours to see off Dimitar Kuzmanov 6-4, 6-7(5), 7-5. Berlocq, who achieved a ranking best of 37th in 2012, enjoyed another stern test in the second round against sixth seed Alessandro Giannessi. In a match lasting over two hours, Berlocq battled his way past the Italian 7-6(3), 6-3, to progress to the main draw, where he will be bidding to grab his first win on the ATP Tour this year.
18-year-old Andrew Rublev overcame a blip to triumph in Istanbul. Earlier this year, the Russian claimed his first Challenger title in Quimper, France. Since then, Rublev has encountered a slow start to the clay court season after failing to qualify for the Casablanca Open and then losing in the first round of Monte-Carlo Masters to German talent Alexander Zverev. In his third event of the year on clay, the teenager recovered from a first set slump to crush seventh seed Marius Copil 4-6, 6-0, 6-3.
Rublev is currently at a ranking best of 154th in the world. He first rose to prominence after winning the 2014 French Open Boys’ title.
Completing the list of qualifiers is another Argentine, Renzo Olivo. The 24-year-old has already produced solid results on the clay this year. At the Ecuador Open he reached the quarterfinals as a qualifier and he has reached the second round of the Buenos Aires Open. Unlike the three other qualifiers, Renzo was the only man to book his place in the main stage of the tournament without dropping a set. Starting his campaign with a 6-4, 7-6(4), win over Michal Konecny, Renzo faced Ivan Nedelko in the final round. Nedelko is a Russian player who plays mainly on the Challenger and Futures circuit. The Russian was no match for Renzo as he eased to a 6-4, 6-3, victory.
Stephane Robert and Elias Ymer progress to the main draw in Estoril
The second edition of the Estoril Open at the Clube de Ténis saw mixed emotions for the stars of the tournaments qualifying draw. Only two top-five players managed to progress to the main draw.
Headlining the field was world No.104 Albert Montanes, who recently reached his first ATP semifinal in Marrakesh since the 2014 Nice Open. The Spaniard was stunned in the opening round by world No. 240 Salvatore Caruso, a player who has won only three Italian Futures titles in his career.
The unexpected win by Caruso moved him to an all-Italian encounter with seventh seed Andrea Arnaboldi. Arnaboldi has endured a disappointing start to the year by winning only three of his 11 main draw matches. Facing Caruso, the world No.170 saved a match point in the second set to win 6-4, 6-7(6), 6-3, in a match lasting almost three hours. The tough win had earned the seventh seed a place in his first ATP main draw since the Bastad Open last July.
French veteran Stephane Robert was the highest seed to win both rounds of qualifying. The 35-year-old has already won two Challenger titles this year in India and Mexico and recently won two rounds of qualifying at the Monte-Carlo Masters. At Estoril he dismissed compatriot Alexandre Sidorenko in straight sets to face Farrukh Dustov. The Uzbek player stunned fourth seed Kenny de Schepper in his first round match. Robert was on the verge of exiting the tournament after trailing 3-6, 0-2 to Dustov. The Frenchman was able to turn his fortunes around to win 3-6, 6-4, 6-1. Robert will play in the main draw of the tournament for the second consecutive year. Last year he lost in the first round to Nicolas Almagro.
Elias Ymer continued his surge in form on the clay by defeating Croatia’s Franko Skugor 4-6, 6-1, 6-4, in the final round of qualifying in Portugal. Ymer is currently at a career ranking best of 123rd in the world after winning his maiden Challenger title in Barletta, Italy. The Swede was also granted a wildcard into last week’s Barcelona Open, where he lost in three sets to Thiemo de Bakker.
The lowest ranked player to qualify was Canada’s Steven Diez. The Canadian has enjoyed multiple success on the Futures tour this year by reaching the final of six tournaments, winning titles in three of them. Diez was able to convert his Futures success to ATP Tour delight with an impressive opening qualifying win against Luca Vanni. The 25-year-old crushed the fourth seed 6-1, 6-2. In round two he faced Argentine eighth seed Marco Trungelliti. The Canadian underdog won 64% of his service points and fended off 3 of 4 break points to upset the Argentine 6-3, 6-2.
Diez will now play in only his second ATP main draw after the 2014 Atlanta Open.