Pella Survives Buenos Aires Marathon
Guido Pella didn’t have the luxury of easing his way into the Argentina Open. The second seed endured a marathon second-round battle with fellow Argentine Facundo Bagnis that exceeded three hours before advancing 7-6(2), 6-7(2), 6-4 on Thursday.
Both players traded comfortable service holds in the opening set to force a tie-break, where Pella won six consecutive points to grab the early advantage. Pella scored the first break of the night at 4-4 in the second set, but let slip his chance to serve out the match in the next game. Bagnis raised his level in the second-set tie-break and hit a forehand volley winner to send their clash into a decider.
It appeared an upset might be in the cards, but Pella regrouped by breaking serve with a forehand winner in the opening game of the final set. The brutal baseline rallies took their toll on Bagnis, who received a medical time out at 1-2 in the decider and made a tired forehand error two games later to give the second seed an insurance break.
Bagnis, No. 134 in the FedEx ATP Rankings, made a valiant effort to close the gap. He recovered one of the breaks at 1-4 and bravely saved two match points on his serve at 3-5, but Pella ended the match with an ace after three hours and 12 minutes.
Pella will have another all-Argentine battle in the quarter-finals when he faces Juan Ignacio Londero. The 26-year-old delighted the home crowd by rallying for a 6-7(3), 6-2, 6-1 upset against sixth-seeded Serbian Laslo Djere. Londero thrives on home soil, having defeated Pella last year to capture his maiden ATP Tour crown in Cordoba.
Top seed Diego Schwartzman burned the midnight oil in his debut match this week in his hometown, fighting back to beat fellow Argentine Federico Delbonis in a 6-3, 4-6, 6-2 thriller that ended just before 2:30am.
Delbonis looked ready to deliver an upset after taking a 2-0 lead in the final set and holding three game points for a double break advantage. But after the top seed fought them off and held serve, he summoned one last burst of top form. Schwartzman reeled off six straight games and cracked a forehand winner on match point to advance in two hours and 33 minutes.
Last year's runner-up (l. to Cecchinato) will now face Uruguayan Pablo Cuevas, who continued his dominance over Albert Ramos-Vinolas by defeating the seventh-seeded Spaniard 6-4, 4-6, 6-4. Cuevas improved to 8-1 in their ATP Head2Head series and has won their past seven matches.