By Florian Heer
(April 10, 2014) CASABLANCA – Six second round matches took place on Thursday at the Grand Prix Hassan II in Casablanca. In warm but misty conditions, yesterday’s ATP World Tour first-time winner Roberto Carballés-Baena opened a bid for a place in the quarterfinals by taking on fifth-seeded Joao Sousa, who currently sits at a career high No. 38 in the ATP Rankings. The Portuguese became the first player from his country to break into the top 50. Sousa also won the two previous meetings between the two in straight sets on Future level back in 2011.
Thursday it became a more even affair and the two first sets had to be decided in a tie-break. It was a classic clay court match with long an intense rallies, eventually with the better ending for the 21-year-old from Tenerife. Carballés-Baena gained two breaks in the final set to take the match winning 6-7, 7-6, 6-2 in three hours and thirteen minutes.
The Spaniard will face Andrey Kuznetsov next. The lucky loser from Russia, who replaced the tournament’s actual second seed, Gael Monfils, defeated Jiri Vesely 6-2, 3-1 on court two when the Czech was forced to retire due to sickness after only 44 minutes.
Back on centre court was a crowd favorite, Benoit Paire has returned to tournament play for the first time since the Australian Open after recovering from a knee injury. The Frenchman advanced into the quarterfinal in Casablanca for the last two consecutive years and repeated this achievement through a victory against Albert Montaňés in one hour and 37 minutes winning 6-4, 5-7, 6-4.
Pablo Carreňo-Busta defeated another player, who collected his first ATP World Tour win yesterday, Aleksandr Nedovyesov. The world No. 64 from Spain recovered from a set down and finally had the better ending in winning 3-6, 6-1, 7-6 in one hour and 50 minutes.
The 22-year-old from Gijón will face compatriot Marcel Granollers. The latter defeated Albert Ramos in an all-Spanish-affair 6-3, 7-6 in 100 minutes in the final match of the day. Granollers convinced with aggressive tennis and also some solid serve and volley play. It was the first time since Chennai that the 27-year-old from Barcelona did not fall in his opening match.
A fourth Spaniard will complete in Friday’s quarterfinals when Guillermo Garcia-López took out Carlos Berlocq winning 6-2, 7-5 in one hour and 53 minutes.
Florian Heer travels the tennis tour with a focus on ATP Challenger events and the ITF Future Circuit! Follow his twitter account @Florian _Heer.
RESULTS – THURSDAY, 10 APRIL 2014
Singles – Second Round
 B Paire (FRA) d A Montanes (ESP) 64 57 64
 M Granollers (ESP) d A Ramos (ESP) 63 76(3)
[Q] R Carballes Baena (ESP) d  J Sousa (POR) 67(7) 76(5) 62
 G Garcia-Lopez (ESP) d C Berlocq (ARG) 62 75
P Carreno Busta (ESP) d O Nedovyesov (KAZ) 36 61 76(3)
[LL] A Kuznetsov (RUS) d J Vesely (CZE) 62 31 ret. (sickness)
Doubles – Quarter-finals
T Bednarek (POL) / L Dlouhy (CZE) d  C Fleming (GBR) / J Marray (GBR) 26 64 10-8
D Bracciali (ITA) / F Delbonis (ARG) d  O Marach (AUT) / F Mergea (ROU) 76(3) 36 10-6
SCHEDULE – FRIDAY, 11 APRIL 2014
COURT CENTRAL start 12:00 noon
V Hanescu (ROU) vs  F Delbonis (ARG)
Not Before 1:30 pm
 M Granollers (ESP) vs P Carreno Busta (ESP)
 G Garcia-Lopez (ESP) vs  B Paire (FRA)
[Q] R Carballes Baena (ESP) vs [LL] A Kuznetsov (RUS)
COURT 2 start 1:00 pm
T Bednarek (POL) / L Dlouhy (CZE) vs  J Murray (GBR) / J Peers (AUS)
Not Before 2:00 pm
After Suitable Rest –  J Rojer (NED) / H Tecau (ROU) vs D Bracciali (ITA) / F Delbonis (ARG)