CASABLANCA, April 9, 2015
Second round matches continued at the Grand Prix Hassan II on Thursday when the top half of the draw stepped into action.
Moroccan wild card Lamine Ouahab will continue to carry home hopes after knocking out top-seed and defending champion Guillermo Garcia-López in straight sets. The 30-year-old really seemed to enjoy himself out on centre court and impressed with great variety in his shots, some of them with a nice touch and hard to read for his Spanish opponent. Ouahab sealed victory in one hour and 29 minutes winning 6-3, 6-3 to reach his very first quarterfinal on ATP World Tour level. The world number 313 claimed his 22nd match win in a row on home soil this year after claiming three ITF Future titles (two in Casablanca, one in Safi) and one ATP Challenger crown (in Casablanca).
“I went on court in order to win the match. You need to have this intention, otherwise it doesn’t make sense to compete. Of course, Guillermo was the favourite but during a match everything is possible. You need to believe in yourself trying to play your own game, so your opponent doensn’t get the chance to find his rythm,” Ouahab told afterwards and enjoys the home advantage. “It’s great to see the people are happy. I really feel how the crowd backs me during the matches. Their support is great and gives me more energy.”
The Moroccan’s tennis festival continued when Ouahab, alongside his partner Younes Rachidi, also prevailed in the doubles competition. The team defeated the German tandem of Dustin Brown and Jan-Lennard Struff winning 7-6, 1-6, 10-4 in 79 minutes to reach the semi-finals.
In the remaining singles matches third seed Jiri Vesely, with 21 years the youngest player in the main draw, beat former world number 8 Mikhail Youzhny winning 7-6, 6-3 in one hour and 39 minutes.
“Mikhail is a former top ten player, so he obviously can play very well. I was a break up in the first set but unfortunately he broke back to love and so it was open again. We both held our serves until the tie-break, which was also very tight. We both had set points but eventually winning the first set definitely gave me confidence. On the other side, he was also a bit tired and so I had a big advantage,” Vesely analyzed the encounter between the youngest and the oldest player in the draw. “Mikhail is a very experienced guy. He has been on the tour for ages. He knows how to behave in certain situations. I lost a couple of matches in a row before, I think seven or eight. I wasn’t confident at all and I knew how tough that match could be, so I am very happy how I served it out with two aces winning in the end.”
Daniel Gimeno-Traver advanced to the quarterfinals after seventh seed Mikhail Kukushkin was forced to retire due to a knee injury at 6-1, 4-1 for the Spaniard.
In the battle of the qualifiers Aljaz Bedene defeated Arthur de Greef, who gained his very first victory on the ATP World Tour on Wednesday over Diego Schwartzman, winning 6-2, 6-3 in 69 minutes.