DOHA/QTF, January 11, 2021
Top seed Gregoire Barrere of France fought past Czech Republic’s Zdenek Kolar on Monday to secure a 7-6(5), 6-3 victory in the first-round of the men’s qualifying of the 2021 Australian Open held at the Khalifa International Tennis & Squash Complex in Doha.
The 26-year-old Frenchman, who made the second round at last year’s “Happy Slam”, needed 96 minutes to dispatch the 224-ranked Kolar in the thrilling encounter. Barrere, a winner of three ATP Challenger Tour singles titles and six ITF Pro Circuit singles titles, hit five winners and won 60 per cent of his break points on his way to victory.
No. 2 seed Hugo Dellien of Bolivia dispatched Chile’s Alejandro Tabilo in just 68 minutes, winning in straight-sets 6-1, 6-0 to advance to the second round.
The 27-year-old World No. 111, who defeated Carlos Berlocq, Guido Andreozzi and Roberto Carballés to reach the quarterfinals of the 2019 Rio Open to become the first Bolivian player with an ATP win since Mario Martínez at the 1984 French Open, enjoyed a somewhat easy ride over his Santiago-resident opponent in pleasant weather conditions on Court 2. En route to his win, the former Junior’s World No.2 fired three aces, winning 72 per cent of his first serves and 67 per cent of his second serves as he booked a second-round face-off against Australia’s Andrew Harris.
The 26-year-old Aussie, ranked 232, emerged victorious from a hard-fought battle against Belgian Ruben Bemelmans, winning 6-4, 5-7, 6-3 in a grueling encounter that lasted two hours and 30 minutes.
Tuesday’s second-round encounter will be the first between Dellien and Harris. The winner is set to face either 141-ranked Carlos Alcaraz of Spain – the 17-year-old who won three ATP Challenger titles in 2020 and was voted the ATP Tour’s Newcomer of the Year – or Russia’s Evgeny Karlovskiy, ranked 258, for a chance at one of the available 16 spots for the main draw of the Australian Open.
Meanwhile, former world No. 10 Ernests Gulbis will not be making an appearance in Melbourne this year after crashing out in the first round of the qualifiers. The 32-year-old Latvian was beaten 7-6(2), 6-3 by Blaž Rola of Slovenia.
Gulbis, who won his first ATP Tour singles title at the 2010 Delray Beach Open after defeating Ivo Karlović in the final, was one of the pre-tournament favourites. His exit on Monday followed the trend of some major upsets being recorded at the event, which is being held outside of Australia for the first time in its 116-year history.
Italian young gun Lorenzo Musetti lost 6-3, 1-6, 4-6 to Dutch Botic van de Zandschulp while former world No. 5 Tommy Robredo, an Australian Open 2007 quarterfinalist, was sent packing by France’s Antoine Hoang in straight-sets on the same day.
Former World No. 17, Bernard Tomic, in the meantime, is two wins away from an 11th Australian Open main draw appearance after battling for more than two hours to take his first-round qualifying match. The Aussie outlasted Slovakian Jozef Kovalik 6-4 3-6 6-4 in a sweat-soaked baseline grind.
Tomic broke Kovalik in the first and last games of the epic encounter and fought many mental and physical demons in between. Without a top-level tour win in 18 months, and having earned just $23,684 during his COVID-ravaged 2020 campaign, Tomic has plummeted to No. 228 in the ATP rankings. Tomic is set to face fellow Aussie and wild card entry Tristan Schoolkate in the next match ahead of the final pitch for Melbourne.
Living the dream in Doha.
— #AusOpen (@AustralianOpen) January 11, 2021