MADRID, April 11, 2022
The ATP Challenger Tour has returned to Madrid for the first time since 2012 and third time overall. The I Open Comunidad de Madrid is being held at the Club de Campo Villa de Madrid, situated next to the Casa de Campo, the largest public park in Spain’s capital city. The former royal hunting estate and today’s popular green space and weekend destination for Madrid residents has an area of 1,722.6 hectares (4,257 acres), about five times the size of New York City’s Central Park or twice the size of Paris’ Bois de Boulogne.
Main draw action of the €45,730 ATP Challenger clay-court event kicked off on a sunny Monday headlined by hometown favourite and No. 4 seed Fernando Verdasco. The 38-year-old Madrid native opened his title bid with a 6-3, 6-4 first-round victory over Dimitar Kuzmanov of Bulgaria. In front of about 150 spectators on Pista Central, Verdasco converted five of his nine break-point chances to advance after one hour and 21 minutes.
Up next for the World No. 120, who captured his first title in six years by winning the Abierto GNP Seguros in Monterrey, Mexico last month, will be the winner of the encounter between in-form Portuguese Gastao Elias and Frenchman Manuel Guinard.
Quite a good atmosphere here on Casa de Campo Villa de Madrid’s Pista Central, as hometown hero Fernando Verdasco 🇪🇸 is in first-round action of the I Open Comunidad de Madrid. 🐻🍓#ATPChallenger #Madrid @ccvmoficial @Visita_Madrid pic.twitter.com/Fy6dtKfZFy
— Florian Heer (@Florian_Heer) April 11, 2022
Moraing starts Madrid campaign with win
On Pista 2, Mats Moraing celebrated a solid 6-4, 6-2 win over French alternate Mathias Bourgue. The fifth favourite from Germany struck six aces, saved the only break point he faced and capitalized on three of his own nine break-point opportunities to prevail after one hour and 18 minutes.
“It was my first match on clay, which is always a bit difficult as you don’t know what’s going to happen,” Moraing told Tennis TourTalk afterwards. “Conditions are pretty good. The weather is nice, a bit of wind and the courts are okay. There were a couple of bad bounces but this is normal at the beginning of the clay-court season. The altitude is good for my serve and the balls are flying well. We will see, but I feel comfortable here.”
Moraing, sitting on a career-high ranking of World No. 124, already experienced an exciting year so far.
“I had a bad start into the season, as I suffered from corona in Australia and was forced to quarantine only one day ahead of the start of the qualifying to the Australian Open,” the Mulheim an der Ruhr native said. “Then, I went to France and had to deal with a hip injury, which meant that I was sidelined from the courts for a couple of more weeks. I came back in March in Forli and won a title at the Challenger in Turin, which was very nice. Next, I travelled to Indian Wells but had a cold and struggled with the hot conditions there and was forced to retire in the second round of the qualifying.
“Then, I beat Struffi (Jan-Lennard Struff) in Phoenix, which was a nice victory, however, against a good friend of mine. In Miami I suffered from a back injury, which was not ideal but I am used to it, as I often have to deal with minor ailments. But I keep my chin up and now I am back on clay, which I really like.”
Here in Madrid, Moraing, who has come to Spain only for the second time in his life, will next take on either Sebastian Ofner from Austria or qualifier Yshai Oliel of Israel.