CHENGDU, September 27, 2018 (Press Release)
Korean world No. 23 and tournament second seed Hyeon Chung’s campaign here at the Chengdu Open 2018 was cut short by a devastating display of aggressive tennis by 18-year-old Felix Auger-Aliassime, with the Canadian youngster winning 7-6(2), 5-7, 6-4 in two hours and 36 minutes on Centre Court.
The 6ft 3in right-hander served up 11 aces, including the match winner, and constantly put his higher ranked opponent under pressure with powerful forehands across the court and down the line that made the Korean scramble for every return.
“First of all you have to believe in yourself to win these kind of matches, playing against these players. I played every point with everything, with my strength. The key today was my serve. I was also able to dictate most of the rallies and I was also very tough mentally until the end so that really paid off,” said Auger-Aliassime, who will make his maiden appearance in an ATP Tour level quarterfinal on Friday.
Chung had managed to rally from a break down in each of the first two sets, but could not find a way back after his serve was broken in the first game of the third set, failing to capitalise on the one break opportunity he created in the eighth game.
“He played really well. I have never played with him before. He has a really good serve. I tried to do my best but it was not my day. Now I’m just looking forward to next week,” said Chung after the match.
Portugal’s Joao Sousa completed his second three set victory this week in Chengdu to move into the quarterfinals, this time rallying from a set down to defeat Canada’s Vasek Pospisil 6-7(4), 6-4, 7-6(0) in an tightly contested and incident filled match lasting two hours and 50 minutes.
After taking the first set, 28-year-old Pospisil struggled with pain in his left knee and called for three medical timeouts over the duration of the second and third sets. When Sousa raced to a 3-0 lead in the final set tie-break, the Canadian smashed his racquet in frustration, resulting in a point penalty and effectively ending his hopes of a comeback.
Tunisia’s Malek Jaziri’s fine form this week continued as he knocked out the number four seed Adrian Mannarino, defeating the Frenchman 6-3, 7-6(5) in one hour and 40 minutes on Centre Court.
The 34-year-old Jaziri is in the last eight for the fourth time this season, having made the Marrakech quarterfinal, Dubai semifinal (defeating Dimitrov en route) and Istanbul Open final (defeating Cilic en route).
Australian Bernard Tomic secured his second quarterfinal appearance of the year here in Chengdu as he notched his fourth win in five days, defeating in-form South African youngster Lloyd Harris 7-6(5), 2-6, 7-6(6) in two hours and 11 minutes on Court 1.
The 21-year-old Harris played a fantastic match, serving up an impressive 23 aces and saving four out of the five break points he faced, but it was the 25-year-old former world No.17 Tomic who held his nerve and made crucial winners during the first and third set tie-breaks to deny Harris his first Tour level quarterfinal appearance.
Earlier in the day, Gstaad champ Matteo Berretteni was the last singles player to move into the second round with a comfortable 6-3, 6-4 victory over Indian qualifier Prajnesh Gunneswaran in 73 minutes.
The 22-year-old hit his career high ranking of No. 54 in July following his maiden singles title triumph in Switzerland, where he also picked up the doubles title with compatriot Daniele Bracciali.
In doubles first round action, Chinese doubles wild card pairing Gong Mao-Xin and Zhang Ze put on a valiant display in front of their home fans, but could not overcome the Ukrainian-Slovakian pairing of Denys Molchanov and Igor Zelenay, who prevailed 7-6(6), 6-7(4), 10-8 in an intense super tie-breaker victory lasting one hour and 44 minutes.
Following the withdrawal of Fabio Fognini and Phillip Petzschner from the doubles, alternate pair Ruben Bemelmans and Prajnesh Gunneswaran also moved into the quarterfinals with a 6-2, 6-3 win over Moldovan-Tunisian duo Radu Albot and Malek Jaziri (who played after his singles match).
In the doubles quarterfinals, the fourth seeds comprising of last year’s titlist Aisam-Ul-Haq Qureshi of Pakistan and Mexican Santiago Gonzalez, have made their first semifinals as a pair with a comprehensive 6-4, 6-0 victory over scratch pair Matthew Ebden and Mischa Zverev in just over 46 minutes.
Argentine Guido Pella had to wait for partner Sousa to recover after his singles, but the duo wrapped up a comfortable 7-6(1), 6-3 victory over Indian pairing N.Sriram Balaji and Rohan Bopanna in 68 minutes on Court 1 to move into the semifinal.
Top seed Fognini to make Chengdu debut
The remaining five singles second round matches will be contested tomorrow along with two doubles quarterfinal matches.
Italian top seed Fabio Fognini will commence his Chengdu Open 2018 campaign tomorrow against Belgian qualifier Ruben Bemelmans in the day’s second match scheduled on Centre Court.
The 31-year-old Fognini has had a screamer of a season, picking up three ATP 250 titles (at Sao Paulo, Bastad and Los Cabos) and matching his career high ranking of No.13 last achieved in 2014.
Tournament third seed Nikoloz Basilashvili of Georgia will also take to court tomorrow as he opens his campaign against American Sam Querrey.
Basilashvili became the first champion from Georgia in ATP World Tour history when he picked up the Hamburg title in July, which helped him achieve a career high ranking of No.31.
Querrey is lower ranked at No. 58 but was at a career high of No.11 in February and has beaten the Georgian in their only previous meeting on the grass courts of Wimbledon last year.
Sixth seeded Aussie Matthew Ebden will kick things off on Centre Court at 1pm with his first encounter on tour against Berretteni while American Taylor Fritz and Mikhail Kukushkin of Kazakhstan will play their second round match at 2pm on Court 1.
The day’s final Centre Court match sees top seeded Croatian doubles duo Mate Pavic and Ivan Dodig taking on the Ukrainian-Slovakian pairing of Denys Molchanov and Igor Zelenay.
The other doubles quarterfinal match between Bemelmans / Gunneswaran and American-Indian tandem Austin Krajicek and Jeevan Nedunchezhiyan will take place on Court 1 after suitable rest for Bemelmans.