ISMANING, October 19, 2020
No. 4 seed Antoine Hoang headlined the action on the opening day of the main draw at the €44,820 Wolffkran Open in Ismaning, Germany, one of only two ATP Challenger Tour tournaments to be played on carpet. In the final match on Monday, the 24-year-old from France fought past former World No. 12 Viktor Troicki of Serbia 4-6, 7-5, 6-1.
Hoang, who captured the 2018 Eckental Challenger title on German soil on a similar surface, showed that he feels comfortable on carpet. After a slow start, the World No. 134 found his rhythm in the second set, withstood nine aces, breaking Troicki’s serve five times to secure victory in one hour and 52 minutes.
“It was really tough, as he plays really well on this surface,” Hoang told Tennis TourTalk after the match. “There are only a few tournaments to be held on carpet, so I had to adapt to the conditions. I stayed focused and fought until the end, coming back from a set and a break down.
“Conditions in Eckental were similar to here. The balls bounce pretty low. However, when I played there, it was two years ago and many things have changed since then. But I tried to remember some of the things, which went well. Hopefully, I can win this tournament here, too.”
Hoang will next take on Matteo Viola of Italy, who also came from a set down to overcome #NextGenATP US-American Brandon Nakashima, who is accompanied in Ismaning by his coach and former Wimbledon champion Pat Cash, 4-6, 6-3, 6-4. The 33-year-old from Venice broke his opponent’s serve four times to prevail after two hours and eight minutes.
“I am very happy to got the win today. It was not easy,” Viola said. “I played good tennis. Sometimes I struggled a bit with the serve, which put me under pressure but I am happy with the game. I tried to be as aggressive as possible. He has a very flat ball, so it was not easy.”
Viola has returned to Ismaning for the third time. “Experience helped me today. But the overall level in the tournament is high and every match is tough,” he commented on the 32-man-draw.
Earlier in the day, Prajnesh Gunneswaran of India battled past Argentine qualifier Tomas Martin Etcheverry 6-4, 3-6, 7-6(3). The No. 7 seed outpointed his rival 106-100 to advance after two hours and 25 minutes.
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“It was definitely a very close match. Credit to my opponent, who fought really hard today,” Gunneswaran said. “I had a lot of break point chances, which I didn’t convert. I am very glad that I got through this one. It is my first time on carpet and it feels pretty good. Some parts of my game suit this surface well. I am aggressive and if I serve well, it helps me. On the other hand, I also like to play with a lot of spin on the forehand. This is something, which is not that effective here. I have to adapt my game to the carpet but I am looking forward to doing it better and better.”
Up next for Gunneswaran will be either defending champion Lukas Lacko from Slovakia or German wild card entry Max Hans Rehberg.
India’s Ramkumar Ramanathan will join his compatriot in the second round. The 25-year-old from Chennai defeated Frenchman Quentin Halys 7-6(5), 6-3 in one hour and 13 minutes to meet Botic van de Zandschulp next. The 25-year-old from the Netherlands, champion of the 2019 Tennis Challenger Hamburg, was in cruise mode, as he eased past No. 8 seed Juan Pablo Varillas 6-0, 6-1 in only 41 minutes.