Foki Fells Botic In See-Saw Hamburg Opener

Khachanov holds off Struff, Molcan also advances on Day 1 at ATP 500 event in Germany

There were breaks of serve aplenty in the opening match of the 2022 Hamburg European Open on Monday, but it was Alejandro Davidovich Fokina who prevailed in a topsy-turvy first-round clash against fifth seed Botic van de Zandschulp.

Despite his own serve being broken twice in each set, Davidovich Fokina’s return game carried him to victory in northern Germany. The World No. 35 broke van de Zandschulp’s serve six times on the way to a 6-4, 6-4 win that improved his record against higher-ranked players this year to 8-12.

The most notable of those wins came at the Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters in April, when Davidovich Fokina upset then-World No. 1 Novak Djokovic en route to his first ATP Masters 1000 final.

The Spaniard also reached the quarter-finals on the grass at The Queen’s Club in June, when his run was ended by van de Zandschulp in straight-sets. Monday’s victory in Hamburg restored Davidovich Fokina’s lead in the pair’s ATP Head2Head meeting, with the Spaniard moving into a 2-1 lead.

The victory was Davidovich Fokina’s first in Hamburg, after he fell in the first round on his only previous appearance at the event in 2019. His second-round opponent will be Jozef Kovalik, after the Slovakian qualifier defeated 18-year-old German wild card Max Hans Rehberg, 3-6, 7-5, 6-1.

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Seventh seed Karen Khachanov saved two match points before emerging victorious against home favourite Jan-Lennard Struff in a thrilling final match of the day in Germany. Struff’s opportunities to clinch his third tour-level win of the year came when he was leading 6-5 in the deciding set, but Khachanov dug deep to hold his serve for 6-6 before easing to victory in the decisive tie-break.

The World No. 26 Khachanov, who reached the quarter-finals in Hamburg in 2017, will play Fabio Fognini or Aljaz Bedene in the second round.

Also on Monday, Alex Molcan defeated 18-year-old home qualifier Marko Topo 7-5, 6-3 to reach the second round in Hamburg for a second consecutive year.

Molcan, who has reached tour-level finals on clay in Marrakech and Lyon this year, broke Topo’s serve three times and dropped just 11 points behind his own delivery in a 92-minute encounter. The Slovakian will next face fourth seed and defending champion Pablo Carreno Busta or #NextGenATP Italian Luca Nardi in Germany.