SOFIA, February 4, 2016
The top-eight seeds at the inaugural €520,070 Garanti Koza Sofia Open found their way into the quarterfinals at Arena Armeec on Thursday.
World number 18 Roberto Bautista-Agut still has to wait to play his first match in Bulgaria’s capital, as the top-ranked’s opponent Filip Krajinovic was forced to withdraw from the second round encounter due to a right shoulder injury.
After receiving the walkover, Baustista-Agut will take on Adrian Mannarino next. The eighth seed from France overcame Romanian qualifier Marius Copil, winning 6-4, 6-7, 6-3. Mannarino didn’t face a break point and withstood 11 aces, breaking his opponent’s service twice to seal victory in two hours and two minutes.
Second seed Viktor Troicki advanced to the quarterfinals through a 6-4, 6-3 win over German qualifer Daniel Brands. The world number 25 from Serbia hit eight aces and won all of his 26 first service points, reaching the quarterfinals after 65 minutes without facing a break point.
“It wasn’t easy. Nothing is easy on this level. He is a good player. He has a really aggressive style which I normally like to play against. And maybe that is why I played pretty well. It was a good match for me. The stadium is very nice, pretty new. The court is very nice. The type of surface suits me well. So far everything is good here. I haven’t seen much of the city but I hope I will have the chance to see it”, Troicki said afterwards.
Troicki set a sixth tour meeting with Philipp Kohlschreiber, who is leading 4-1 in head to head records. The world number 34 from Augsburg defeated Damir Dzumhur in the evening session by a decent performance, taking the opening set in only 20 minutes but lost his first service game in the second frame, which took the match the distance. Kohlschreiber won 77% of his first service points and capitalized on four of his 14 break points, which finally put him back in lead to seal a 6-1, 4-6, 6-3 victory in 90 minutes.
“I had a great start into the match and played a very solid first set without many mistakes. The second set was a bit strange, I didn’t move well in the beginning and saw the ball very late. I think I was too nervous having too many thoughts, as the first set was too easy. I had to run behind the break and didn’t manage to break back, although I had a couple of opportunities. Third set was good again and I am happy with the finish,” Kohlschreiber summarized the encounter and is looking forward to meet Troicki again.
“We played a couple of times. He had a very good start of the season, so I expect a very tough match – like always. He doesn’t hit so hard from the baseline but serves and returns well. For sure he is the favourite, as he did better results in the past, so I have to be on a very good level to beat him.” Like most of the other players, Kohlschreiber seems to enjoy his stay in Bulgaria.
“It’s nice here. Everything is pretty close and well organized. The arena is really great with high quality equipment and a nice centre court. Of course, it would be nice to have a few more spectators here but you also have to consider that it is the tournament’s first edition,” Kohlschreiber told about the atmosphere at Arena Armeec. He has also already had a visit to the city.
“Yesterday I went to the city centre and we had a short sight-seeing tour. We had a look at the parliament, the university as well as two great churches. It was a short impression of the city but a very nice and friendly one,” the German told Tennis TourTalk and described how he experienced Angelique Kerber’s win of the Australian Open last Sunday.
“I was practicing in Munich in order to prepare for this tournament here when Angelique played the final in Melbourne. I wasn’t satisfied with my own performance in Australia (lost to Kei Nishikori in first round), so I decided to have some extra shifts in terms of practice sessions but I always had one eye on the TV. People told me when I had to watch during the crucial points and then we went out cheering on her. What can you say – congratulations – it was just an unbelievable performance. I have already congratulated her and it’s just amazing. It’s also about her, such a honest person with fighting skills. Just great,” he told.
Fourth seed Andreas Seppi cruised past Thiemo de Bakker, gaining his third victory over the Dutch in the pair’s third meeting. The world number 31 from Italy saved the only break point he faced and converted five of his own to prevail in just 57 minutes.
“It was a surprise that I won so easy. I’ve played Thiemo few times and I know he can play pretty well and I was surprised a little bit from the result. I think I played a solid match, didn’t make many mistakes. It is a good win in my opening match here. It is completely different conditions from Australia so I had some problems in practice but in the match I was pretty ok”, Seppi told after the match facing Martin Klizan next.
“Klizan is always a dangerous player. He is left handed and plays a big forehand. We played plenty of times, we also played doubles here in Sofia. We know each other pretty well. It will be another good challenge for me and I hope I will improve few things and will play a little bit better. We’ll see”, said Seppi who had played in Sofia before at an ATP Challenger event in 2002.
Sixth seed Gilles Muller completes the top-ranked eight players participating in the quarterfinals on Friday. The 32-year-old from Luxembourg beat Ricardas Berankis 7-5, 7-6 in one hour and 49 minutes to face the tournament’s number three Guillermo Garcia-López.
“It was a tough game. I lost a little bit concentration in the second set, but I am pleased I managed to win in two sets in a row. I know Guillermo well. We are the same age and we’ve met a lot since we were juniors. He is good player but it is early to think about the match against him. I just finished this one”, said Muller.