ECKENTAL, November 1, 2016
Top seed Florian Mayer and Austrian former top 10 player Jürgen Melzer headlined Tuesday’s fully packed first round action of the €35,000 Bauer Watertechnology Cup, held inside the House of Sports in Eckental.
The world number 52 from Germany edged past Aldin Setkic of Bosnia and Herzegovina 6-4, 7-6. Mayer sent down 11 aces, winning 91 per cent of his first service points to advance in one hour and 19 minutes. The 33-year-old local hero will next play either German wild card Yannick Hanfmann or Sergiy Stakhovsky from the Ukraine.
Melzer, who entered the main draw with a wild card, eased past Bosnian Mirza Basic 6-4, 6-0. The 35-year-old is still on his comeback trail from injury, capitalized on five of his 10 break point opportunities to secure victory in only 52 minutes.
“I didnt’ start very well but made the best out of it and played really solid tennis in the end. I just needed to get used to the conditions, playing on carpet again,” Melzer told Tennis TourTalk after his win. “It was really important to land a lot of first serves, which went better the longer the match lasted. From then on it was a pleasant match.”
Melzer is one of the veterans on the tour but still remembers his last time he played a match on carpet.
“I think it was in Aachen in 2001. I really like it, it’s awesome. It is a pity that there aren’t too many tournaments on carpet left on the tour, as you can play serve and volley and different games styles appear. It’s simply different to the common baseline tennis, which makes it also interesting for the spectators.”
Melzer, who is the current world number 329, defeated Roberto Bautista-Agut at the Erste Bank Open 500 in Vienna last week and seems to be in good shape again.
“I asked for a wild card in Eckental pretty early during the US Open. I had been sidelined from the courts for such a long time, so I just need to play as many matches as possible and I am glad that I received the invitation.”
Earlier the day, second seed Daniil Medvedev fought past Ilya Ivashka from Belarus, rallying 4-6, 6-3, 7-5. The 20-year-old Russian, who is close to crack the top 100 for the first time, saved 10 from 14 break points, converting six of his own to prevail in just under two hours of play. Medvedev will next face fellow countryman and qualifier Alexey Vatutin, who edged past Marko Tepavac from Serbia 6-4, 7-6.
First Challenger Match Wins For Pichler And De Minaur
Elsewhere, world number 631 David Pichler upset seventh seed Teymuraz Gabashvili from Russia 7-5, 6-3 to celebrate his first victory in his first ATP Challenger main draw match after one hour and 29 minutes.
“This has been my best win in my career so far,” the 20-year-old Austrian was happy afterwards. “I played a pretty solid match with only a few errors. I tried to put a lot of pressure on him and was also looking for my chances at the net. This was the key to success today.”
Pichler replaced Igor Sijsling as lucky loser in the main draw. The Dutch was forced to withdraw due to sickness.
“I came here this morning for the lucky loser sign-in and learnt that I have to play the first match at 10 am. I am really happy with the win, as I only had about 30 minutes to prepare for the match.”
Pichler seemed to be well prepared for the surface, as ahead of Eckental he had played four consecutive weeks on carpet.
“It was part of my schedule to play a couple of tournaments on carpet. I lost last week pretty early, which was the actual reason to play here in Eckental, as it is more or less on my way home.”
The youngster from Burgenland will close his 2016 season after a few more matches on the ITF Pro Circuit.
“I will fly out to Antalya next Saturday, competing in two ITF Future events. Three more are coming up for me this season. The goal is to get closer to the top 400 but I still have to work hard in order to improve my game, which is the most important thing.”
17-year-old Australian Alex De Minaur also gained his first ATP Challenger match win in his third attempt. The teenager from Sydney knocked out Kenny de Schepper of France, winning 6-3, 7-5 in 74 minutes.
De Minaur, whose mother is Spanish and his father Uruguayan, currently lives in Alicante and is the world number 562 in the ATP singles ranking. He captured the Australian Open Boys doubles title alongside Blake Ellis and also finished runner-up to Dennis Shapovalov in the Juniors Wimbledon tournament.
We spoke to the youngster with an international background after his maiden Challenger win: