Del Potro Returns To Clay, Zverev Advances In Munich

Juan Martin Del Potro (photo: Alexandra Beier/Getty/MMP)

MUNICH, April 27, 2016

Following a rainy and snowy start to the BMW Open by FWU AG, the stars came out on Wednesday to open their Munich campaign. With temperatures still below 10 C, players could at least enjoy some sunny spells at the venue of the MTTC Iphitos.

Juan Martin Del Potro, who returned to clay for the first time since May 2013, headlined centre court action, beating Dustin Brown 7-6, 6-4. The 27-year-old Argentine, who was granted a wild card, obviously had some problems to find his rhythm and needed some time to adapt to the German’s unusual game.

Yet, the longer the match lasted, the more solid became Del Potro. The “Tower of Tandil” won 77% of his first service points and capitalized on three of his nine break point opportunities to prevail in one hour and 22 minutes.

Juan Martin Del Potro

Juan Martin Del Potro

“I am very happy to win my first match on clay after three years,” Del Potro was relieved afterwards.

“I was nervous in the end of the match. I couldn’t serve like I had done before. Luckily for me, he made a double fault on match point, so that I finally got through. 

“Dustin also played better in the end. It is very complicated to play against him and the conditions were almost horrible. I didn’t know him before this match. We have never practiced together and didn’t watch one of his matches on TV. So it was strange for me but I stayed focused on the match,” the 2009 US-Open champion said, who suffered from several injuries in the past.

“My wrist feels better. It is improving week by week. I am starting to hit the topspin backhand, what I need on this surface.”

Del Potro will take on Jan-Lennard Struff next. The 26-year-old German secured his first win over seventh seed Vasek Pospisil in the pair’s second tour meeting. Struff sent down six aces, winning 80% of his first service points to advance after one hour and 52 minutes with 6-7, 6-3, 6-2.

“I know that he is a tall guy,” Del Potro said about his next opponent. “He has a strong game and I am looking forward to my second match on clay.”

Eighth seed Alexander Zverev defeated Malek Jaziri 4-6, 6-3, 6-2 after the encounter was suspended on Tuesday evening with the Tunisian leading 5-4. The 19-year-old German saved 11 of the 12 break points he faced, gaining the decisive break in the third game of the final set and extended the lead in the following. Zverev served out after two hours and 10 minutes.

Alexander Zverev

Alexander Zverev

“I couldn’t find any rhythm yesterday but today was good. I changed my game a bit compared to Barcelona, tried to go more for his forehand, which worked out,” told Zverev, who took revenge on Jaziri after losing to the Tunisian in Spain last week.

“Yesterday’s court was actually unplayable. It was more mud than clay out there. The match was suspended after a couple of games in the opening set but from my point of view we should not have even started. It didn’t stop raining,” Zverev was happy to finish the match in better conditions.

Two weeks ago, the German teenager changed his racket to the new Head Speed Limited.

“Head did a new design for the young generation of players making the racket even faster and more effective. I have played it since Monte Carlo. It is great and I was involved in the making of the racket’s design.” 

Zverev will take on Lukas Rosol next. The youngster lost all of the three previous meetings with the Czech. The last match between the two took place at Zverev’s Davis Cup debut with Germany in Hannover earlier this season.

“It is going to be very difficult but conditions will be different compared to Hannover. I was nervous and pretty tired back then. I hope for a better result tomorrow.”

Dominic Thiem

Dominic Thiem

Third seed Dominic Thiem had a difficult start against Santiago Giraldo being two breaks down, but rallied to seal a 7-5, 6-4 victory.

The 22-year-old Austrian hit six aces and won 72% of his first service points to reach his second consecutive quarterfinal in Munich after one hour and 33 minutes.

“It was a good match in general. The weather did not make it easy, but from 2-5 on, I played pretty well. Winning in straight sets against a good player is a decent result,” Thiem was pleased with performance.

The Austrian youngster has already captured two titles this season, lifting the trophies in Buenos Aires and Acapulco.

“The first three months of the season were very exhausting, as I played a lot of tournaments suffering many jet lags. Now, I have adapted to the European Time and it’s easier without all the long-haul travels.

“I have already had good memories of South America from my junior days. So, I was really looking forward to the three tournaments (Buenos Aires, Rio, Acapulco). Nonetheless, it could have also gone the other way. I could have also lost all of my matches in Buenos Aires but everything worked out for me there. It was an incredible journey,” Thiem said and added that he is not sure, if he plays at the Olympic Games in Rio.

Fabio Fognini

Fabio Fognini

Earlier the day, Fabio Fognini opened centre court action with a comfortable 6-3, 6-1 win over German wild card Maximilian Marterer. The fifth seed from Italy, who finished runner-up to Martin Klizan in Munich’s 2014 final, lost his service two times but also converted six of his own break point chances to advance after 57 minutes. Fognini will play Mikhail Kukushkin in the second round.

The tournament’s top-seed David Goffin will open his title bid on Thursday taking on Victor Estrella Burgos. The 35-year-old from the Dominican Republic dismissed Cedric-Marcel Stebe 7-5, 6-2  in the German’s first tour-level match since Hamburg 2013.

Gael Monfils

Gael Monfils

Meanwhile, second seed Gael Monfils was forced to withdraw from the tournament with an adductor injury.

“I was practicing with Goffin and I tried to go for one ball, did a step and I injured my groin. Of course, it’s bad news for me and the tournament,” Monfils told in the afternoon.

“I still hope to be good for the French Open. We will see what is going to happen with my plans to play in Madrid and in Rome.”