MARSEILLE, February 16, 2016
Two former semi-finalists at the Open 13 opened Tuesday’s action on Court Central, when Sergiy Stakhovsky denied Feliciano López‘s 400th career match win through a 6-3, 2-6, 7-6 victory in the pair’s first tour meeting since 2012. The 30-year-old Ukrainian, who made it to the stage of the final four in 2015, withstood 14 aces, smashing 12 of his own to prevail in one hour and 53 minutes setting a second round meeting with the tournament’s number one Stan Wawrinka.
“I returned from Australia and was a little sick, so I had to take care of that,” the top-seed said ahead of his first match in Marseille on Wednesday.
“Then I had two weeks of fitness preparation. I worked quite a lot fitness wise, so I’m happy to be back, start the competition again and be back in a tournament. It’s one of the best tournaments in the 250 category, well organized with great spectators and I am happy to be back after I had lost to Stakhovsky in the quarterfinals here last year. It will be difficult again against him but of course I want to go as deep as possible this week.”
Later the day, López also lost his opening match in the doubles competition alongside fellow Spaniard Marc López. The top-seeds were beaten by Robin Haase and Aisam-Ul-Haq Qureshi 7-6, 7-6.
Defending champion and fifth seed Gilles Simon crashed out, losing 3-6, 6-3, 6-7 to top-Russian Teymuraz Gabashvili, who won his first ATP quarterfinal at Sydney last month. The world number 30-year-old Tbilisi native saved three match points and converted three of his 14 break point chances to seal victory in two hours and 29 minutes.
Gabashvili will take on his doubles partner Nick Kyrgios next. Australia’s number two returned two action, after he had missed last week’s tournament in Rotterdam with an elbow injury. Kyrgios beat Vasek Pospisil 6-4, 6-4 in his Marseille debut. The match lasted 70 minutes.
Alexander Zverev, who returned to Marseille after losing in the opening round last year, made a winning start into this year’s edition. In the last match of the day, the youngest player in the top 100, who is coming off a quarterfinal in Rotterdam, defeated Julien Benneteau 7-6, 7-5 in one hour and 48 minutes to set a second round clash with the tournament’s number two Tomas Berdych.
“Julien was playing really well. I am sorry that it had to end this way,” Zverev told afterwards, as Benneateau was heavily taped during the last two games and obviously had problems to move on the court. “I wish him all the best and hope that it isn’t anything major,” the youngster added.
“I have always played well in France since I was a little kid. So I am happy to be back,” Zverev said and is looking forward to his next challenge.
“It’s going to be very tough against Tomas. We practiced quite a lot together and know each other well. I am ready for it, we will see what will happen on Thursday.”
“Sascha’s” older brother Mischa Zverev, who battled through the qualifying, celebrated his first win on the ATP World Tour this season with a 6-2, 7-5 victory over Indian wild card Ramkumar Ramanathan in one hour and 26 minutes. Zverev takes on sixth favourite David Goffin next.
Seventh seed Gael Monfils was forced to withdraw from the tournament with a harmstring issue at his right leg sustained in Rotterdam. He will be substituted by lucky loser David Guez, who faces wild card Quentin Halys in the opening round.