BRAUNSCHWEIG, July 4, 2016
The ATP Challenger Tour has returned to Braunschweig for the 11th edition of the Sparkassen Open. The €106,500 event features again a great line-up with all eight seeds ranked inside the top 100. As in 2014, the tournament was again awarded as Challenger of the Year in 2015.
On Monday’s start of the main draw, Gerry Weber Open champion and Braunschweig’s number three Florian Mayer had to work hard to open his title bid successfully. The world number 80 from Germany, who lost in the first round of Wimbledon to Dominic Thiem, fought past Marek Michalicka 6-0, 5-7, 7-6. Mayer dominated the encounter right from the beginning, entertaining the crowd with some spectacular shots to gain a 6-0, 4-0 lead. Then he started to struggle. The 29-year-old Czech became stronger and Mayer only closed the encounter in the tie-break of the final set after two hours and 14 minutes.
“Somehow I lost the tension. That is exactly what must not happen,” Mayer told afterwards but seems to feel comfortable in Braunschweig. “Everything is perfect here.” The veteran will next face the winner of the all-German-encounter between wild card Daniel Masur and Tobias Kamke.
Jan-Lennard Struff remained untroubled in his opening match beating Argentine qualifier Juan Ignacio Galarza 6-3, 7-6. The fourth seed, who entered the draw with a wild card, saved both break points he faced, converting one of his own to prevail in one hour and 21 minutes.
“I still have some problems to adapt to the clay again. But I am very pleased with my first set today,” said Struff, who fell in Wimbledon’s first round to Daniel Evans. He now awaits either Jozef Kovalik or Taro Daniel in the second round.
Next Gen star Karen Khachanov overcame Italian qualifier Gianluca Mager 6-2, 6-7, 6-0 in two hours and eight minutes. The 20-year-old Russian will next take on the winner of the match between Nikoloz Basilashvili, who has already clinched one title on German soil this season by winning the Neckar Cup, and Igor Sijsling. Teymuraz Gabashvili outlasted Frenchman Kenny de Schepper 7-5, 4-6, 6-1 to either play Nils Langer or fifth seed Argentine Leonardo Mayer.