SOFIA, February 1, 2016
For the first time since 1981 an ATP World Tour level tournament is being held in Bulgaria’s capital city when the main draw of the €520,070 Garanti Koza Sofia Open started on Monday at the Arena Armeec.
The ATP 250 tournament was shifted from Zagreb to Sofia featuring eight of the top-50 players, led by world number 18 Roberto Bautista-Agut, who is the top-seed in an ATP World Tour event for the first time in his career. The 27-year-old Spaniard receives a first round bye along with the further three top-ranked players Viktor Troicki, Guillermo Garcia-López and Andreas Seppi. There are a total of 20 countries represented in the 28-man-draw.
Bautista-Agut arrived in Sofia on Monday. “It will be very interesting. For sure the hosts made great efforts for this tournament. I hope I will enjoy my week in Sofia,” he told at the airport and added: “I have played well since the season started. I did great in Melbourne at Australian Open and I am sure I will play my best here. We did a good job in the off-season and I am sure I can win the trophy here.”
There were three singles first round matches on Monday’s order of play, when seventh seed Martin Klizan cruised past Bulgarian wild card Alexander Lazov, who was making his ATP debut, winning 6-3, 6-0 in only 59 minutes. It was the first victory of the season for the world number 44 from Slovakia.
Klizan will take on Lukas Rosol next. The 30-year-old Czech rallied back from a set down to defeat Robin Haase 3-6, 6-3, 6-4. Rosol hit eight aces and won 73% of his first service points to seal victory in one hour and 47 minutes. The world numer 46 extended his head to head lead over the Dutch to 4-1.
“It’s always a battle. I got lucky at the end, as Robin is playing good tennis. It’s always about one or two points. After the Australian Open, which is outdoors, to then move indoors, is tricky. It’s a different game and I’m happy with the result,” Rosol said and was also impressed by the new event on the ATP World Tour.
“The stadium and court is nice to play on,” the Czech stated. “I came here on Friday to get used to the conditions. They do a good job and make you feel comfortable, so I wish the organizers well in the future.”
Qualifer Mirza Basic set a second round meeting with Garcia-López, as he beat India’s number one Yuki Bhambri 6-3, 7-6. The world number 119 from Bosnia-Herzegovina, who qualified for his maiden Grand Slam tournament in Melbourne two weeks ago, won 73% of his first service points and converted four of his nine break point chances to prevail in one hour and 25 minutes.