Fifth and sixth seeds Feliciano Lopez and Pablo Andujar start singles campaigns tomorrow, along with 2009 champion Nikolay Davydenko; Top seeded doubles also set to feature against Malaysian wild card pairing
Seventh seed and world No. 34 Julien Benneteau of France booked his spot as expected in the second round of the Malaysian Open, Kuala Lumpur 2012, as he overcame a first set scare to defeat Argentinean Carlos Berlocq 7-6 (7-2), 6-3 in one hour and 30 minutes at the Centre Court of the Putra Stadium in Bukit Jalil today.
The 30-year-old Benneteau let slip a 4-2 lead in the first set, allowing the world No. 49 Berlocq to break him twice to come back, but the higher ranked Frenchman held his composure in the tie-break to take charge of the match.
The second set saw the Argentinean put up little fight as Benneteau broke him twice, including in the ninth and final game, to take the set.
“I made some mistakes on serve in the first set and he came back. But I played a great tie-break and I think it was the difference in the match,” said the Frenchman.
Benneteau will now face Matthew Ebden in the second round, seeking redemption after his loss to the Australian in three sets at the Indian Wells ATP World Tour Masters in March.
“I lost to Ebden earlier this year at Indian Wells and hopefully it is different this time around,” said Benneteau, who has played in six ATP finals but never won a title.
Australian world No. 63 Matthew Ebden had earlier swept past wild card Russian Philip Davydenko 6-0, 7-6 (6-3) in one hour and 17 minutes to move into the second round.
Ranked outside the top 1000, the 20-year-old nephew of 2009 champ Nikolay Davydenko was on course for a whitewash at 2-5 down in the second set, but the Russian picked up his game, led by his sweeping backhand, and came back strongly to even lead 6-5 on serve. However, the set eventually went into a tie-break with Ebden taking the victory.
The 24-year-old South Africa-born Ebden lost in the first round at Kuala Lumpur last year, but enjoyed his best ever ranking this year and will once again pose a strong threat to the seventh seed Benneteau tomorrow.
Spaniard Albert Ramos continued his fine form this year with a convincing 6-1, 6-4 victory over qualifier Julian Knowle of Austria in 69 minutes on Centre Court.
World No. 48 Ramos controlled the match from the start as Knowle’s inexperience in singles (the doubles specialist is playing in an ATP singles main draw for the first time in seven years) showed when the 38-year-old struggled with his service throughout the first set.
Leading 4-2 in the second set, it may have looked like Knowle, the oldest player in the tournament, was going to push the tie into a decider, but Ramos, who served 14 aces in the match, broke him twice on the trot to wrap the match up and book his second round spot against third seed Kei Nishikori of Japan.
Five first round doubles matches were played today, with the Great Briton pairing of Colin Fleming and Ross Hutchins becoming the first to book their quarterfinal spot after a straightforward 6-3, 6-2 victory in 55 minutes over the Dutch-Colombian pairing of Igor Sijsling and Alejandro Falla.
The British duo, who are playing some of the best tennis of their career this year, lost in last year’s quarterfinal to the top seeds in the tournament, but have a more favourable draw this year and will likely meet the fourth seeded Austrian-Argentinean duo of Julian Knowle and Filip Polasek.
Tournament stalwart and 2009 singles champ Nikolay Davydenko got off to a winning start in his doubles campaign, partnering the 6”8’ power serving Belgium Dick Norman as they defeated the Russian-Uzbek pairing of Mikhail Elgin and Denis Istomin 6-3, 6-0 in 50 minutes.
Third seeded doubles pair Alexander Peya of Austria and Brazilian Bruno Soares broke little sweat in defeating the Malaysian-Chinese Taipei wild card entry of Si Yew Ming and Jimmy Wang 6-2, 6-2 in 52 minutes on Centre Court to book their quarterfinal appearance.
The Asian scratch pair started strongly, but their confidence petered out by the fifth game, when they first got broken and subsequently struggled for form and communication.
Peya and Soares, meanwhile, were serving strongly and focused their returns toward the lesser ranked Malaysian to wrap up a comfortable victory.
Speaking after the match, the Malaysian said: “Overall I think we played okay, but mistakes on a few important points cost us. Given more time, we could have forged a better partnership.”
Meanwhile, second seeded Italian-Brazilian pairing of Daniele Bracciali and Marcelo Melo also moved on as predicted to the quarterfinals of the doubles main draw after defeating the American duo of Brian Baker and Rajeev Ram 6-4, 6-3 in just over an hour.
In the day’s final match on Centre Court, the Canadian-Indian scratch pairing of Vasek Pospisil and Sanam Singh upset the odds when they overcame their more experienced opponents James Cerretani of the USA and Australian Matthew Ebden 6-4, 6-4 in one hour and 24 minutes.
The duo, who at the last minute replaced the pairing of Jurgen Melzer and Juan Monaco after the former pulled out of the tournament after a left quadricep injury, formed a formidable partnership, with Singh serving well and Pospisil proving dangerous at the net.
Lopez, Andujar and Davydenko to kick off singles campaigns tomorrow
Four first round singles matches and two second round singles matches will be played tomorrow in the Malaysian Open, Kuala Lumpur 2012.
Fifth seed Feliciano Lopez takes to court against Slovakian Lukas Lacko tomorrow, with the left-handed Spaniard, ranked 34 places higher at No. 32, the favourite to win in their first encounter together.
Meanwhile, sixth seeded Spaniard Pablo Andujar, has a tricky encounter with resurgent Uzbek Denis Istomin. The duo both reached their career high ATP ranking of No. 33 this year, in September and August respectively, and are currently ranked only four places apart, with the higher ranked Andujar at No. 42.
The 2009 Malaysian Open, Kuala Lumpur singles champion Nikolay Davydenko will also feature in singles tomorrow as he meets Sanam Singh of India in the first round.
The 24-year-old Singh, who had lost to Michael Yani in the qualifiers, was the Lucky Loser chosen to replace Slovak Martin Klizan, who pulled out of the tournament after winning the St. Petersburg Open last week.
Thirty-one-year old world No. 44 Davydenko should be in good form after making the semifinal of the ATP 250 Series Moselle Open last week, where he lost to top seed Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in three sets.
In the day’s first match on Centre Court, Colombian Alejandro Falla will take on American Rajeev Ram, with the duo having met only once before in 2009, where Ram claimed a first round victory in the Campbell’s Hall of Fame Tennis Championships held in the US.
Among the two 28-year-olds, Falla is currently ranked higher in the ATP rankings at No.61, having dropped eleven spots in the last week, while Rajeev climbed five rungs to No. 93.
Meanwhile, Great Briton qualifier and doubles specialist Dominic Inglot will have his work cut out for him in his first round match as he comes up again world No. 90 Alex Bogomolov Jr of Russia in the day’s first match on Court 1.
In an intriguing encounter and the first second round match being contested, both Michael Yani and Canadian Pospisil will attempt to secure their best ever finish in an ATP tournament by reaching the quarterfinals.
Qualifier Michael Yani played splendidly to defeat higher ranked US wild card Brian Baker yesterday while Canadian number two Pospisil was leading Austrian Jurgen Melzer by a set before the eighth seed pulled out with injury.
The 22-year-old Pospisil is currently ranked world No. 122 while 31-year-old circuit veteran Michael Yani is much lower in the ATP rankings at No. 238.
The other second round singles tie sees Matthew Ebden attempt to repeat his March Indian Wells victory over French seventh seed Julien Benneteau.
Two first round doubles matches will also take place tomorrow, with top seeds Mariusz Fyrstenberg and Marcin Matkowski of Poland taking on Malaysian wild card debutants Mohd Asri Merzuk and Syed Agil Syed Naguib. The Polish duo have a great record in the tournament, emerging champions in 2009, and with a combined ATP doubles rank of No. 21, they are favourites to win this year.
Also playing are the German pairing of Michael Kohlmann and Frank Moser, who face the Philippine-Great Briton duo of Treat Conrad Huey and Dominic Inglot for a spot in the quarterfinal.
Singles top seeds David Ferrer, Juan Monaco, Kei Nishikori and Alexandr Dolgopolov are scheduled to start their campaigns on Thursday.
Earlier today, the number one and two seeds Ferrer and Monaco took part in a spectacular photo shoot on the roof of the Intermark building in KL, where the duo played tennis on the skyscraper overlooking the Petronas Twins Towers.
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.
Tickets can be purchased by visiting the official website, www.MalaysianOpenTennis.com.