CASABLANCA, April 7, 2015
The remaining nine first round matches took to court on Tuesday at the Grand Prix Hassan II in Casablanca.
Two Moroccan wild cards headlined the action with 30-year-old Lamine Ouahab beating Robin Haase a third time in a row. The world number 313 has already captured three titles on home soil this year winning two ITF Futures trophies in Casablanca and Safi as well as the ATP Challenger event in Casablanca in January. Ouahab won 83% of his first service points and closed the match out in style hitting his sixth ace for a 6-2, 6-4 victory after one hour and six minutes. Haase, 225 position better ranked than his opponent, is still yet to win a set against Ouahab. The Algerian-born defeated the Dutchman at the ATP Challenger in Rome in 2010 and in Casablanca in 2012.
“Robin is a very good player but he has never been able to beat me, although he is better ranked. My game suits pretty well against him and I just had to play like the last time,” Ouahab told. “My good results in the last couple of weeks gave me confidence and I hope that it will continue like this to have a successful year on the tour. It’s great to play here in front of the home crowd. I know that the people expect a lot and I hope I can fulfill it,” the Moroccan added. “I do not have a coach. I have a friend from Paris, who helps me. Of course this is a handicap but I can’t afford having a coach. Nonetheless, I just want to play as much as possible to improve my game.”
Ouahab will clash with top-seed Guillermo Garcia-López next. “This will be the most difficult match but I have already beaten Players at this level, so I am pretty confident,” Ouahab is looking forward to meet the Spaniard in the second round.
World number 738 Yasine Idmbarek was without any chance in his season debut on ATP World Tour level against Mikhail Youzhny. The lowest ranked player in the draw lost in 69 minutes 3-6, 1-6. The Russian will meet third seed Jiri Vesely in the second round.
“It was a good experience but it’s never easy to compete with a former top 10 player. I played a good first set and was able to keep the pace but Mikhail raised his game in the crucial moments, which was his key to success in the end,” Idmbarek said after his first match on World Tour level in a year.
Pablo Andújar made a winning return to Casablanca beating Tobias Kamke 6-3, 6-4. Before Tuesday’s encounter, the 29-year-old Spaniard has amassed a 9-1 record in the largest Moroccan city since winning the title on his maiden appearance in 2011. Andújar returned successfully to defend his crown one year later but crashed out in the first round in 2013. He skipped the event last year and has won just two matches in 2015 and consequently slipped out of the top 50 for the first time since July 2014. With this victory, the world number 64 is back on the winning track to face Andreas Haider-Maurer next. The sixth-seeded Austrian withstood 15 aces to beat Jan-Lennard Struff in with two hours and 33 minutes longest match of the day.
The other two Spaniards could also celebrate a victory on Tuesday. Nicolas Almagro’s return to action after a foot injury continued with a 6-4, 6-1 win over qualifier Taro Daniel. The former world number nine hit seven aces to seal victory in 63 minutes and was pleased with his performance but stated on twitter that he is also a bit sad that he cannot be in his home town Murcia to celebrate the popular fiesta “el bando de la Huerta”.
Almagro will take on Carlos Berlocq next, who had a successful start into the clay court season on Monday beating Pablo Carreῆo-Busta in three sets.
Daniel Gimeno-Traver defeated Malek Jaziri 6-4, 6-3 in their first tour meeting. The 29-year-old Spaniard capitalized on five out of his twelve break point chances to seal victory in one hour and 24 minutes. Gimeno-Traver will face Mikhail Kukushkin next, who beat Albert Ramos on Monday.
Damir Dzumhur, who has already captured a trophy on clay this season claiming the ATP Challenger title in Santo Domingo in February, defeated French qualifier Paul-Henri Mathieu 6-2, 7-6 in 77 minutes to meet fourth seed Marcel Granollers in the second round.
Aljaz Bedene remains unbeaten as British citizen and stated on twitter: “Pleased to get the win today, was not easy but I live to fight another day. Hoping for more tomorrow. Thanks for the support #BackTheBrits”. The qualifier defeated Maximo Gonzalez from Argentina winning 6-3, 3-6, 6-3 to face Arthur de Greef next. The Belgian qualifier upset eighth seed Diego Schwartzman 4-6, 7-5, 6-4 in two hours and 14 minutes.