NUR-SULTAN, March 11, 2020
The ATP Challenger Tour has returned to Kazakhstan this week for the second edition of the Nur-Sultan Challenger I held on the indoor hard courts of the National Tennis Center in Nur-Sultan, the country’s capital city formerly known as Astana.
Mohamed Safwat, who clinched Egypt’s first Challenger trophy since 1996 last month in Launcaston, Australia, is the top seed at an ATP Challenger event for the first time. The World No. 131 opened his title bid with a 6-2, 6-4 second-round win over local favourite Grigoriy Lomakin on Wednesday afternoon. Safwat didn’t face a break point and capitalized on three of his four own break point chances to advance in one hour and 20 minutes.
The 29-year-old Cairo resident will next take on Tallon Griekspoor from the Netherlands, who edged past Nino Serdarusic of Croatia 6-3, 7-6(5) in one hour and 27 minutes.
Withdrawals because of corona concerns
A couple of players withdrew from the tournament due to “non-medical” reasons. As Kazakhstan has barred entry to travelers from France and Germany amongst others due to coronavirus, players were forced to leave the country. Otherwise they would have been quarantined.
No. 2 seed Yannick Maden from Germany was scheduled to play Alexey Zakharov from Russia, who received a walkover into the third round. Maden’s compatriot Mats Moraing and No. 9 seeded Frenchman Enzo Couacaud also pulled out of the event.
Confirmed. German and French players at Nur-Sultan Challenger had to leave Kazakhstan before midnight. Otherwise quarantine.
Player let me know: “We had to escape …”
— Florian Heer (@Florian_Heer) March 11, 2020