Bautista Agut Keeps Up Winning Form In Rotterdam

Spaniard claims 13th win of the season

Roberto Bautista Agut kept up his strong early season form in Rotterdam on Wednesday as he reached the second round of the ABN AMRO World Tennis Tournament with a 7-6(4), 1-6, 6-3 victory over Joao Sousa.

The Spaniard has a 13-2 mark in his best start to an ATP World Tour campaign, with two titles already in Auckland (d. Sock) and last week in Sofia (d. Troicki). He goes on to face Jiri Vesely for a quarter-final spot.

Philipp Kohlschreiber was the first player through to the quarter-finals as he defeated qualifier Ivan Dodig 6-4, 6-2 in 70 minutes. The German also reached the quarter-finals last week in Sofia (l. to Troicki) and goes on to challenge second seed Marin Cilic.

Cilic, the 2014 finalist, held his nerve to beat fellow big-server Gilles Muller 7-6(2), 7-6(7). There were no breaks of serve in the two-hour encounter.

"I was expecting a close match," said Cilic. "Luckily I was serving well today and I was mentally focused. I was close to breaking a few times in the second set and put pressure on his serve. Gilles is a very difficult player to play against indoors and I'm happy to be through."

Eighth seed Viktor Troicki celebrated his 30th birthday by striking 14 aces in a 4-6, 7-6(2), 6-3 victory over qualifier Andrey Kuznetsov in two hours and six minutes. He now plays teenager Hyeon Chung.

Elsewhere, Jeremy Chardy battled his way past lucky loser Evgeny Donskoy, a replacement for Richard Gasquet, by saving one match point at 7/8 in the third set tie-break to win 6-7(9), 6-4, 7-6(8) over two hours and 23 minutes. He'll next meet fellow Frenchman Nicolas Mahut, a qualifier.

Teenager Sascha Zverev offered a mature performance in dismissing Canadian Vasek Pospisil 7-5, 6-2 in the first round, winning the pair’s first tour-level meeting. Rather than attempt to over-power the hard-hitting Pospisil, Zverev successfully used heavy crosscourt forehands to prevent his opponent from gaining a foothold in the match.

The German wild card did not hit an ace in the match, but saved the only break point faced in the 81-minute win. The 6’6” Zverev won 64 per cent of points (19/30) on the Pospisil second serve.

Zverev’s next opponent will be Gilles Simon, who advanced to the second round with a 7-6(5), 6-1 win over Dutch wild card Robin Haase after overcoming a 2-5 deficit in the opening set.

Widely known as a counter-puncher, Simon turned the match around against the 6’3” Haase by attacking. In his comeback, the Frenchman consistently used angled ground strokes to expose the Dutchman’s movement before gliding to net for the put-away volley. He finished the day with 32 winners and improved to 4-1 in his FedEx ATP Head2Head rivalry against Haase.

In the final match of the day, Gael Monfil saw off Borna Coric 6-3, 5-7, 6-2 to move into the quarter-finals. The elastic Frenchman, who made a quarter-final showing at the Australian Open, overpowered the young Croat with his serve-forehand combination and improved to 6-2 on the year.

“[Coric] is a good fighter,” Monfils said. “I got a little bit tight at the end of the second set. But fortunately I came back strong in the third set. I served a bit faster and used my forehand well again.

“It was a very physical match. He was running a lot and very fast. We had some great rallies. He is very talented.”

Monfils’ best result in Rotterdam was a semi-final appearance in 2009. He awaits the winner of Simon and Zverev.

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