ATP St. Petersburg: Seeded Players Go Undefeated on Day 2
By Max Gao
(October 13, 2020) ST. PETERSBURG, RUSSIA (VIRTUALLY) — In a blockbuster second day of main-draw action at the St. Petersburg Open, the seeded players went undefeated, with Andrey Rublev (No. 3), Karen Khachanov (No. 4), Milos Raonic (No. 6) and Borna Coric (No. 7) all advancing to the second round in straight sets.
Coric, Raonic Advance Early on Day Two
In the first match of the day, Croatia’s Borna Coric—who lost in the final last year to Daniil Medvedev—earned a big win over veteran Feliciano Lopez, scoring his first win against the 39-year-old Spaniard in three meetings. Serving 12 aces and dropping just nine service points throughout the match (45/54), the No. 7 seed didn’t face a single break point en route to a solid 6-3, 7-6(2) victory in an hour and 36 minutes.
“I thought I was playing very good through the whole match. In the first set, only in the first couple of games, I just didn’t feel very good, but then I would say from the 3-all, I was playing very good tennis,” Coric said in his on-court interview. “In the second set, I thought I had some very small chances to break him. I didn’t do it, but most importantly, I just stayed calm and in the tiebreak I played some of my best tennis in the whole match.”
“I’m really enjoying this tournament a lot. Last year, it was one of my best results. It’s been a very tough year with the COVID and everything, but I’m just very happy to be here again,” added the 23-year-old Croat, who will face either Russian wild card Roman Safiullin or lucky loser Emilio Gomez in the second round.
During his press conference today, I asked @borna_coric about his recent decision to join TikTok and his thoughts on social media in general.
— Max Gao (@MaxJGao) October 13, 2020
In the second match, 2015 champion Milos Raonic made a winning return to St. Petersburg, defeating American qualifier J.J. Wolf, 7-6(5), 6-1. The Canadian, who decided to skip Roland Garros this year to avoid switching from clay courts to hard courts, fired 21 aces and saved five set points in a titanic opening set before ultimately running away with the match.
“It was very difficult playing somebody that already had two matches to play this week, had more opportunity to get used to the conditions here, and also somebody that I felt was playing pretty aggressive and free,” Raonic told the media after his victory. “For me, it was important that I saved those five set points. I came with the right approach and I was able to get better as the match went on.”
After an impressive run to the final of the Western & Southern Open this past summer, where he lost to World No. 1 Novak Djokovic, Raonic has looked increasingly confident on the hard courts and will look to build on that with a second-round showdown against Kazakhstan’s Alexander Bublik.
Khachanov, Rublev Delight Home Crowd With Dominant Debuts
In back-to-back matches on the Centre Court, No. 4 seed Karen Khachanov and No. 3 seed Andrey Rublev delighted their home crowd with dominant victories to kick off their respective singles campaigns after scoring a massive win over the No. 1 seeds in doubles on Monday night.
Khachanov needed just 77 minutes to ease past Australia’s James Duckworth, earning an extra break in both sets to earn his first singles win of the week. The World No. 17 will be looking to win his fifth tour-level title this week and his second on home soil, having won the Kremlin Cup in his hometown of Moscow in 2018. For a place in the quarterfinals, Khachanov will now play Russian wild card Aslan Karatsev, who has gone 18-2 in matches at the Challenger and tour level since the season resumed.
Rublev needed just a minute more than his compatriot and doubles partner to see off Canada’s Vasek Pospisil, 6-2, 6-4. After an impressive last couple of months, which saw him reach the quarterfinals at Roland Garros and the U.S. Open, Rublev is making his top-10 début this week. In his straight-sets victory, the 22-year-old won 87 percent of the points behind his first serve (26/30) and broke four times while dropping serve only once. For a place in the last eight, the Russian will now await the winner of the match between Russian qualifier Pavel Kotov and France’s Ugo Humbert.
Ivashka Overcomes Point, Game Penalty to Advance; Melzer, Roger-Vasselin Move on in Doubles
On Court 1, Belarusian qualifier Ilya Ivashka found himself in a bit of trouble with the rules during his first-round match with Adrian Mannarino. After taking the first set, Ivashka decided to take a last-minute toilet break during a medical time out for Mannarino in the second set. However, after returning late to the court by three times the normal limit, Ivashka was hit with three code violations for “delay of game,” causing him to receive a warning, a point penalty and a game penalty at the same time. Despite the stunning series of events, the Belarusian was able to regroup and closed out the match in a second-set tiebreak, defeating Mannarino, 6-3, 7-6(6), in a little over two hours. He now awaits the winner of the match between No. 2 seed Denis Shapovalov and lucky loser Viktor Troicki.
In the other singles match on Court 1, Serbia’s Miomir Kecmanovic defeated Kazakhstan’s Mikhail Kukushkin, 6-3, 7-6(7), in an hour and 36 minutes. The 21-year-old Serb will now face Great Britain’s Cameron Norrie, who upset No. 8 seed Taylor Fritz on Monday, for a spot in the last eight.
In doubles action, Norrie and Fritz actually teamed up on Tuesday afternoon to defeat the all-British pairing of Luke Bambridge and Daniel Evans, 3-6, 6-3, 10-5. They will face Marcelo Demoliner and Matwe Middelkoop next, who upset No. 3 seeds Sander Gille and Joran Vliegen, 7-6(1), 7-6(7).
In other news, No. 2 seeds Jurgen Melzer and Edouard Roger-Vasselin defeated Russian qualifiers Evgeny Donskoy and Roman Safiullin, 6-2, 7-6(3). They will face Russian wild cards Daniil Golubev and Evgenii Tiurnev, who advanced by walkover, in the quarterfinals.
Medvedev, Shapovalov to Kick off St. Petersburg Campaigns on Wednesday; Wawrinka Faces Donskoy for Spot in Quarterfinals
In another action-packed day in St. Petersburg, No.1 seed Daniil Medvedev will kick off his campaign against French veteran Richard Gasquet while No. 2 seed Denis Shapovalov will kick off his campaign against Viktor Troicki. In the only two second-round matches to be played on Wednesday, Norrie will square off against Kecmanovic and No. 5 seed Stan Wawrinka will meet Russian wild card Evgeny Donskoy.
Wednesday at the #SPBOpen:
→ Denis Shapovalov will kick off his tournament against Viktor Troicki
→ Daniil Medvedev will play his first match against Richard Gasquet
→ Stan Wawrinka will face Evgeny Donskoy for a place in the quarterfinals
Full schedule: pic.twitter.com/i2rNwwScSk
— Max Gao (@MaxJGao) October 14, 2020
Max Gao is a freelance Canadian sports and entertainment journalist that is covering this year’s St. Petersburg Open for Tennis Panorama News. Follow all of his reports throughout the week here and follow him on Twitter for live updates and exclusive, behind-the-scenes content from this year’s event: @MaxJGao.