By Dave Gertler
(January 4, 2014) SYDNEY – Men’s top seed Juan Martin Del Potro was welcomed with some fine Sydney weather this morning, as the second day of action at the Apia International kicks off, promising more high quality matches. As well as the on-court action, previewed below, the Official Tournament Draw Ceremonies will be taking place from midday, featuring rising stars of the tour, Bernard Tomic and Simona Halep.
Two of the biggest names of the Men’s qualifications draw, Ryan Harrison and Benjamin Becker, will face each other on Grandstand Court immediately after two of the biggest names in the Women’s draw – Bethanie Mattek-Sands and Heather Watson – do battle for a place in the third round, and a chance to enter the main draw.
The men’s field of 32 players has a strong Australian contingent, numbering six in total. At least one Aussie is guaranteed a place in the second round, Matt Reid and John-Patrick Smith having been drawn to play each other in the first round.
Promising young Sydney-sider Jordan Thompson will have a loud local support crew when he comes up against Di Wu, the 208-ranked Chinese. This is a must-watch match for anyone who witnessed Thompson’s stunning play in the Australian Open Wildcard Playoff, which he won in Melbourne a few weeks ago.
Eyes will also be fixed on Jiri Vesely, the 84-ranked Czech who is the youngest player in the world’s top 100. Seventh seed Vesely will face veteran Italian Flavio Cipolla, who at 30 is making his first appearance at the Sydney International.
Headlining the first lot of matches on the women’s schedule, Julia Goerges will take on Irina-Camelia Begu. Despite reaching the fourth round of the Australian Open the last two years, Goerges will be looking to better her record at the Apia International, where she lost in the first round in 2012 and 2013.
Sergiy Stakhovsky, Mikhail Kukushkin and Teymuraz Gabashvili will also be in action on the men’s side, while a strong American contingent will headline the women’s side on this the second day of qualifying rounds.
Dave Gertler is a tennis journalist, player and musician based in Sydney covering the Australian summer of tennis for Tennis Panorama News. Follow his Twitter updates from the tournament @TennisNewsTPN, follow him on his personal Twitter @davegertler, read his blog, and listen to his podcast, Tennis Days .