CHENGDU, September 24, 2019 (Press Release)
Players in the Chengdu Open 2019 had to endure a four-and-a-half-hour delay as intermittent light rain interrupted play on the courts of the Sichuan International Tennis Centre this afternoon.
Fifth seed Dusan Lajovic had already taken a one set lead against Argentina’s Juan Ignacio Londero on Court 2 before play was called off. After losing the second set, the Serb eventually notched a 6-2, 4-6, 6-4 victory in one hour and 48 minutes of play to move into the second round of the Chengdu Open for the third time in four years.
“I feel good about my win. It wasn’t easy to play today because we had to go off the court many times because of the rain delay. In the second set I lost my focus a little bit and lost the set and had to wrap my head around that. But I’m happy that I had an early break in the third and another one which helped me because I lost my serve once. I feel good playing here in Chengdu. It’s a nice city, nice tournament, good organization and I enjoy coming back,” said the 29-year-old world No. 29, whose best result here came when he made the quarterfinals in 2017.
After a long wait to start play on Centre Court at 5.30pm, Spain’s Fernando Verdasco enjoyed a victorious debut here in Chengdu as he overcame a spirited second set fight back from Aussie NextGen Contender Alexei Popyrin to win 6-2, 7-5 in 78 minutes.
The 35-year-old world No. 35 saved six out of seven break points during the match, all of which came in the second set, while converting two of the four break opportunities he had in each set to move into the second round.
“I think in the first set I was very good, I almost didn’t miss any balls. Second set he started very strong with powerful serves over 200kmh while I didn’t start with the same feeling on the ball. He was 4-1 up and had chances to break me again but I kept fighting and when I won that game, it gave me the confidence to break him in the next game. It’s not easy when you’re 4-1 down but I’m happy with my first set and how I came back in the second set,” said the Spaniard.
The other Spaniard in singles action today also notched a first round win. World No.63 Pablo Carreno Busta swept past Moldova’s Radu Albot 6-3, 6-4 in an exciting match that lasted one hour and 30 minutes on Court 1.
After relinquishing an early break in the second game of the match, the currently higher ranked Albot (No. 42) saved all eight other break points he faced in the first set, but could not create a single break opportunity against his 28-year-old Spanish opponent who was winning 93% of his first serve games.
Carreno Busta then saved three crucial break points in the fourth game of the second set before breaking Albot’s serve with four points on the trot in the seventh game to set up the win.
In the day’s second and final Centre Court match, Belarussian Egor Gerasimov surmounted a strong challenge from local wild card Li Zhe to rally from a set down and win 4-6, 6-2, 6-3 in one hour and 59 minutes.
Meanwhile, South Africa’s Lloyd Harris, who came back into the draw as a Lucky Loser following Polish qualifier Kamil Majchrzak’s withdrawal due to illness, also rallied from a set down to upset Hungarian world No.66 Marton Fucsovics 4-6, 6-4, 6-2 in one hour and 44 minutes and make the second round.
In doubles action, second seeded British-American pair Dominic Inglot and Austin Krajicek defeated plucky Chinese wild card pairing Sun Fajing and Wang Aoran 6-1, 0-6, 10-8 in 50 minutes to move into the quarterfinals.
Also moving to the last eight of the doubles draw after wins today are the fourth seeded Israeli-French combo of Jonathan Erlich and Fabrice Martin, along with the British scratch pairing of Kyle Edmund and Daniel Evans.
The remainder of the first round singles ties are scheduled for play tomorrow, with sixth seeded American Taylor Fritz and exciting 20-year-old Canadian, Denis Shapovalov, set to open their campaigns.
Fritz is back in Chengdu for the third year running, having made the quarterfinals from qualifying in 2017 and the semifinals last year, and will take on Kazakhstan’s in-form Alexander Bublik in the first round this year.
The 21-year-old Fritz picked up his maiden career title at Eastbourne in June, before making two more finals at Atlanta and Los Cabos to reach a career high ranking of No.25 in August.
Bublik made his first career final at Newport in July and reached the third round of the US Open to reach his career high of No.69 earlier this month.
Shapovalov has made two semifinal and three quarterfinal appearances on tour this season, which includes a deep run at the Miami Masters in March where he defeated then world No.10 Stefanos Tsitsipas to break into the Top 20 for the first time in his career.
Currently at No.34, Shapovalov will face Lithuania’s Ricardas Berankis tomorrow for the third time in three years. The series is tied at 1-1, with Shapovalov winning on the hard courts of the 2018 Indian Wells Masters but losing in the first round of Wimbledon this year.
The match between Korean wild card Hyeon Chung and Portuguese Joao Sousa, which was postponed today, will kick things off on Centre Court at 1pm, followed by Fritz vs Bublik (not before 2.30pm) and Shapovalov vs Berankis (not before 4.30pm).
The only other singles match played tomorrow will see Canada’s Vasek Pospisil, currently ranked at No.223 but playing in the main draw courtesy of a protected ranking, taking on Australia’s world No.54 Jordan Thomson on Court 1.
Their match will follow the first round doubles tie that features number one seeds, Croatian Ivan Dodig and Slovak Filip Polasek, facing off against the Czech-Slovak tandem of Roman Jebavy and Igor Zelenay.
Also in doubles action tomorrow are the third seeded Mexican-Swedish pairing of Santiago Gonzalez and Robert Lindstedt, who meet the Serbian pair of Nikola Cacic and Dusan Lajovic in the first round.