Qualifier Michael Yani knocks out fellow American Brian Baker while Jurgen Melzer’s injury gifts Pospisil second round berth; Two of top four doubles seeds in action tomorrow
Singapore-born American Michael Yani pulled off the upset of the tournament so far when he defeated compatriot Brian Baker 6-3, 7-6 (7-4) in one hour and 41 mins in the day’s final match on Centre Court here at the Malaysian Open, Kuala Lumpur 2012 held at the Putra Stadium in Bukit Jalil.
Qualifying for the main draw of this tournament for the second time in three attempts, Yani is only ranked No. 238 in the ATP rankings, while 27-year-old Brian Baker has been having the season of his career after returning from a long term injury layoff, climbing up several hundred ranking spots up to No. 62 in the last year.
The match wasn’t to follow the script, however, as 31-year-old Yani took the first set convincingly, and although he was down 4-2 in the second, he broke Baker back to force the match into a tie-break.
With the tie-break finely poised at 3-5 with Baker on serve, the American took a tumble when trying to retrieve an excellent drop shot from the resurgent Yani. Following a three minute delay for treatment, Baker got back up to play but double-faulted immediately and allowed Yani to serve for a truly memorable victory.
Meanwhile, Canadian world No. 122 Vasek Pospisil moved on to the second round of the Malaysian Open after Austrian eight seed and world No. 37 Jurgen Melzer pulled out midway in the second set of their first round match that stood at 6-4, 2-0 after 54 minutes.
In their first time playing each other, the 22-year-old Pospisil controlled the match from the start by breaking the Austrian as early as the second game. Melzer completed the first set, but midway through the second, decided he could not compete further and retired with a left leg quadriceps injury.
“I had been playing well in practice and I wasn’t surprised when I took the first set as I was in good form,” said Pospisil, who is second only to Milos Raonic in Canada and hopes to break back into the top 100 by year end.
Pospisil will meet Michael Yani in the second round, guaranteeing at least one of them their best ever finish in an ATP 250 tournament this year.
Wild card entry and one of only two Asians left in the singles main draw, Jimmy Wang of Chinese Taipei overcame Italian qualifier and world No. 277 Riccardo Ghedin 6-3, 6-3 in one hour and 27 minutes to move into second round.
Back in late 2010 from two wrist surgeries that kept him off the tour for close to three years, the No. 153 ranked Wang served well and had nine aces to his opponent’s one – and only got broken once, in the first set.
“It’s the first time I am playing him but I saw him play yesterday and maybe that helped a little,” said the 27-year-old.
Wang will need to pull off the upset of the tournament if he is to proceed past the second round, as he will be up against world No. 11 and singles second seed Juan Monaco of Argentina next.
“I have never played him before but watched him many times. He is a solid player and I’ll just do my best against him,” said Wang of his chances.
Meanwhile, in the day’s first match, teenage Malaysian wild card Ariez Elyaas Deen Heshaam put up a valiant effort but fell tamely in the end to world No. 97 Igor Sijsling of the Netherlands, losing 6-2, 6-1 in just 50 minutes on Centre Court.
Currently the country’s top ranked tennis player after picking up his first ATP ranking point last year, the 18-year-old is also the youngest participant in the tournament and is playing his first ever singles main draw match in an ATP 250 tournament.
“I started confidently and I think he was maybe a little nervous, but once he found his rhythm, it was very difficult for me to keep up,” said Ariez, who held serve in the first game and even broke his opponent in the fourth game of the first set.
“I think there is definitely improvement from last year. I don’t think it is impossible for me to play at this level. Physically, I have to be stronger, and if I keep going I know I can get there,” he added.
The 25-year-old Sijsling will meet the winner of the match between Spain’s eighth seeded Feliciano Lopez and Slovak Lukas Lacko in the second round.
Three more first round singles matches tomorrow as doubles main draw also gets underway
Doubles specialist Julian Knowle of Austria takes on in-form Spaniard Albert Ramos in the first Centre Court match tomorrow.
Knowle, playing singles for the first time since 2005, is not likely to put up much of a challenge in his first match-up against 24-year-old world No. 48 Ramos, who reached his career high of No. 38 in July when he made the quarterfinal of the ATP 250 SkiStar Swedish Open and the ATP 500 German Tennis Championships. Ramos was also a finalist at the ATP 250 Grand Prix Hassan II held in Casablanca this April.
Seventh seeded Julien Benneteau will take on Argentinean Carlos Berlocq in their first round match, with the duo having last met back in the 2007 Roland Garros, where Berlocq came from a set down to defeat the Frenchman in the first round.
However, both players reached their career best rankings earlier this year, with Bennetaeu currently ranked higher at No. 34 and Berlocq at No. 49.
Bennetaeu can probably boast the better form with some great matches this year, including leading Roger Federer by two sets to nil in the Wimbledon third round, before succumbing to the world number two.
Twenty-year-old Russian Philip Davydenko, the final remaining wild card and nephew of 2009 tournament champion Nikolay Davydenko, will take on Matthew Ebden on Court 1 tomorrow for the only other first round singles match being contested.
The Russian, ranked outside the top 1000, is likely to find the going tough against the No. 64 ranked 24-year-old Australian, who is playing the best tennis of his career this year. The winner of this tie will meet with the winner of the match between Benneteau and Berlocq.
The doubles main draw also kicks off tomorrow with five of the eight first round matches being contested and two of the top four seeded pairings in play.
The second seeded pairing of Daniele Bracciali of Italy and Brazilian Marcelo Melo will take on the American duo of Rajeev Ram and Brian Baker in the day’s last match on Court 1.
Rajeev Ram is fresh from winning his first doubles title of the year at the St. Petersburg Open in Russia just last week, together with Serbian partner Nenad Zimonjic.
Meanwhile, third seeds Bruno Soares of Brazil and Austrian partner Alexander Peya will play wildcard duo Jimmy Wang and Malaysian veteran Si Yew Ming on Centre Court not before 6.30pm.
Tournament singles champion in 2009, Nikolay Davydenko will take to court for his doubles campaign tomorrow, partnering Belgium’s Dick Norman as they face the Russian-Uzbek pairing of Mikhail Elgin and Denis Istomin in the first round.
Colombian Alejandro Falla and Igor Sijsling are up against Great Briton duo Colin Fleming and Ross Hutchins, with the tie scheduled for 2pm on Court 1.
Meanwhile, Melzer, who will have an MRI in the morning, may still return to the court in his doubles match, partnering second seeded singles Juan Monaco of Argentina, and playing against the US-Australian pairing of James Cerretani and Matthew Ebden in the day’s last match scheduled for Centre Court.
Both David Ferrer and Juan Monaco arrived in KL today ahead of their singles debuts on Thursday.
The tournament is supported by the Ministry of Tourism Malaysia and Tourism Malaysia and sponsors that include Rado, CNN International, the DoubleTree by Hilton Kuala Lumpur, Wilson, 100 Plus, the Albukhary Foundation, Astro and the ATP World Tour’s Premier Partner Corona. The event is sanctioned by the Lawn Tennis Association of Malaysia.