Botic Barrage Too Hot For Sousa In Tel Aviv

Etcheverry downs World No. 39 Karatsev for maiden tour-level Top 100 win

Botic van de Zandschulp wasted no time settling in Tuesday at the Tel Aviv Watergen Open, where the fifth-seeded Dutchman dispatched Joao Sousa 6-2, 6-3 at the ATP 250 event in Israel.

Van de Zandschulp was particularly dominant on serve in his first ATP Head2Head meeting with four-time Tour titlist Sousa. The Dutchman won 83 per cent (29/35) of points behind his first delivery, while also crushing 28 winners to Sousa’s six as he completed a 81-minute first-round victory.

With the win, van de Zandschulp improved his record in first-round matches in 2022 to 18-6, and 10-2 on hard courts. The Dutchman, who played in his maiden ATP Tour final on the clay in Munich in May, will hope to notch his 37th tour-level win of the season in the second round against Liam Broady. The British qualifier earlier downed Serbian wild card Hamad Medjedovic 7-5, 6-3.

Van de Zandschulp’s triumph was followed by a first-round upset on the centre court in Tel Aviv, where Tomas Martin Etcheverry rallied after losing a one-sided second-set tie-break to complete a 6-2, 6-7(0), 6-4 win against sixth seed Aslan Karatsev. The win against the World No. 39 was the biggest of Etcheverry’s career, and the Argentine’s reward is a second-round clash against Roman Safiullin.

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Also on Tuesday, Arthur Rinderknech set a first tour-level meeting with third seed Diego Schwartzman in the second round in Israel. The big-serving Frenchman, a quarter-finalist in Metz last week, prevailed 6-7(5), 6-4, 6-3 against Romanian qualifier Marius Copil. Emil Ruusuvuori was also a first-round winner, breaking J.J. Wolf’s serve five times in a 6-3, 6-2 win to advance to face one of two Frenchmen ⁠— seventh seed Adrian Mannarino or Constant Lestienne.

Sebastian Korda backed up his own quarter-final run in Metz with a solid opening display against Cem Ilkel in Tel Aviv. The American had lost twice to Ilkel in the pair’s previous meetings on the ATP Challenger Tour in 2018 and 2019, respectively, but the 22-year-old powered to a 6-4, 6-4 win against the Turkish qualifier to book a second-round meeting against fellow American Maxime Cressy.

The ATP Tour has returned to Tel Aviv for the first time since 1996 this week. The 88-time tour-level titlist Novak Djokovic is the top seed on the Mediterranean Coast, where the Serbian is also competing in the doubles alongside home favourite Jonathan Erlich.

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