Monfils Falls In Opening Round At Chengdu Open

Gael Monfils (photo: Chengdu Open)

CHENGDU, September 25, 2018 (Press Release)

Australian Matthew Ebden’s fine vein of form this season continues here at the Chengdu Open 2018 as the 30-year-old world No.47 defeated Russia’s Evgeny Donskoy 6-3, 6-4 in 75 minutes to book his second round spot.

Ebden hit nine aces, while converting 83% of his first service points and three out of four break opportunities to complete the win. The Aussie, who made the third round at Wimbledon, the quarterfinals at Halle and two ATP 250 semifinals since June, achieved his career best of No.43 in July this year.

Meanwhile, fifth seed Gael Monfils suffered an unexpected defeat in his debut, relinquishing a one set lead to go down 6-3, 2-6, 1-6 to 21-year-old South African qualifier Lloyd Harris in one hour and 27 minutes.

Harris Lloyd

Lloyd Harris – photo: Chengdu Open

Harris comes into the tournament at a career high of No.129 after strong displays on the Challenger Tour and his victory here today represents the biggest win of his young career, granting him his maiden appearance in the second round of a Tour level tournament.

“It was a privilege to play with Gael. Maybe I was nervous at the start but I think I played well throughout the match. I think it was a great performance by me and I’m very impressed with how I played,” said the confident South African number two.

Eighth seed Tennys Sandgren is also out of the Chengdu Open, as in-form Kazakh Mikhail Kukushkin completed a 6-4, 6-3 victory over the American in one hour and 26 minutes. The 30-year-old Kukushkin is fresh off a strong run to the third round of the US Open, which included a win over Korean Hyeon Chung, and only faced and lost a single break point while converting four out of eight he fashioned to take the win.

In tonight’s final Centre Court match, Tunisia’s Malek Jaziri took two hours and ten minutes to overcome last year’s finalist Marcos Baghdatis, defeating the Cypriot 7-6(7), 1-6, 6-2 in an exciting back and forth encounter.

The in-form 34-year-old Jaziri has had a season filled with big victories, which includes defeating Marin Cilic en route to the final at Istanbul and beating Grigor Dimitrov to make the Dubai semifinals.

In a match between two 18-year-old former US Open Junior singles champions, ATP Next Gen contender Felix Auger-Aliassime overcame a spirited challenge from Chinese wild card Wu Yibing to prevail 6-3, 6-7(2), 6-1 and move into the second round.

Wu, still searching for his first Tour level win, came back strongly in the second set in front of an appreciative home audience, but admitted that he could not keep up with the pace of his higher-ranked Canadian opponent in the third.

Lucky Loser Auger-Aliassime, who has three Challenger titles since June 2017 and is the second youngest player ever to have multiple Challenger trophies, converted two of five break opportunities in the deciding set to complete the hard-fought victory.

Taylor Fritz, one of five Americans in the singles draw, rallied back from a shaky first set to defeat world No.1 junior Chun Hsin Tseng 3-6, 6-3, 6-4 and move into the second round. The 17-year-old Tseng put in a strong first set showing, saving two break points and converting one, but struggled with his serve in the next two sets, racking up six double faults.

Canadian Vasek Pospisil secured his first main draw victory in the Chengdu Open in three years of trying with a commanding 6-3, 6-4 win over Moldova’s Radu Albot in 76 minutes. One of only two singles players to have played in every edition of this tournament (the other being Baghdatis), the 28-year-old lost in the 2016 qualifying rounds and fell to Baghdatis in the first round last year.

American Sam Querrey was victorious in his Chengdu Open debut, defeating Guido Pella 7-6(6), 6-1 to notch his first win over the Argentinian this year in what was their third meeting since April.

Belgium’s Ruben Bemelmans also progressed into the second round after his higher ranked German opponent Mischa Zverev retired in the second set of their match. The score stood at 6-3, 2-0 in favour of the Belgian qualifier.

American-Indian pair Austin Krajicek and Jeevan Nedunchiziyan caused the first of two upsets in the doubles draw today when they ousted the third seeded Indian-Kiwi tandem of Divij Sharan and Artem Sitak, overturning a one set deficit to win 3-6, 7-6(2), 10-7 in one hour and 34 minutes.

Second seeded doubles pair Julio Peralta and Horacio Zeballos, who have collected six titles together in the last three years, have also been knocked out of the Chengdu Open. The Chilean-Argentinian duo lost 1-6, 7-5, 8-10 to the Indian pairing led by 38-year-old Indian doubles veteran and former world No.3 Rohan Bopanna and compatriot N.Sriram Balaji.

Fourth seeded Mexican-Pakistani doubles pair Santiago Gonzalez and 2017 doubles champ Aisam-Ul-Haq-Qureshi moved into the quarterfinals with a 6-2, 4-6, 10-2 super tie-breaker victory over American pair Taylor Fritz and Bradley Klahn.

The Argentine-Portuguese duo of Guido Pella and Joao Sousa made quick work of their first round doubles match, defeating last year’s doubles champion Jonathan Erlich of Israel and his new American partner James Cerretani 7-5, 6-3 in 78 minutes.

Second and fourth seeds to debut as second round commences

Second round singles matches will be contested on Wednesday, with Korean star Hyeon Chung set to make his much awaited debut as he takes on exciting youngster Auger-Aliassime in the night’s featured Centre Court match.

World No. 23 Chung, who won the inaugural Next Gen ATP Finals last year, has reached the quarter-finals or semi-finals at nine events this season, highlighted by a victory over six-time champion Novak Djokovic en route to the Australian Open semi-finals.

Fourth seed Adrian Mannarino of France will face Jaziri in the day’s third match slated for Centre Court, having beaten the Tunisian in their previous two encounters on tour – Bogota in 2015 and Delray Beach in 2016.

Seventh seed Joao Sousa of Portugal is also in second round action, taking on Pospisil for the fourth time on tour since 2015, having never lost to the Canadian.

The only other second round match to be played is an all-qualifier encounter between South Africa’s Lloyd Harris and Aussie Bernard Tomic.

In the last of first round action, Italian Matteo Berretini, who picked up his maiden career title on the clay courts of Gstaad in July, will meet Indian qualifier Prajnesh Gunneswaran in the day’s first match on Court 1.

Two doubles first round matches and two quarterfinals will be contested tomorrow, with the fourth seeds in action again against the Aussie-German scratch pair of Ebden and Zverev.

Chinese wild cards Gong Mao-Xin and Zhang Ze will kick things off for the day on Centre Court with their first round match against Ukrainian-Slovakian pairing Denys Molchanov and Igor Zelenay.