It was quite an afternoon session in Rotterdam when two highly rated players were eliminated from the ABN AMRO World Tennis Tournament in their opening round matches.
I think I was very focused the whole match, This was the key today, not to make the little mistakes Dusan Lajovic
Much was expected of the top seed Daniil Medvedev, the Russian world No.3, whose 20-match winning streak was ended by Novak Djokovic in the Australian Open final.
The 25-year-old was playing his first match since Melbourne and was expected to pick up where he left off following that loss.
Had he done so and gone on to reach the final he would have risen to second in the world rankings, displacing Rafa Nadal in the process., the Spaniard having withdrawn from the Rotterdam field with a recurring back injury.
That will not now be the case with the Russian losing his second successive match, this time in 94-minutes to the Serbian Dusan Lajovic 7-6(4) 6-4.
Clearly frustrated at his inability to take control of the match, he smashed his racket in annoyance despite delivering 12 aces.
On the debit side he committed 25 unforced errors to Lajovic’s 12, and double-faulted eight times.
“I think I was very focused the whole match,” Lajovic said following the best result of his career. “This was the key today, not to make the little mistakes.”
The 30-year-old from Serbia faces Borna Coric of Croatia in the second round.
Medvedev joins Alexander Zverev out of Rotterdam, the German having earlier in the day been pulled back twice from early breaks in both sets, to slump in 77-minutes, to a 7-5 6-3 defeat to Alexander Bublik.
The world No.43 from Kazakhstan, who reached the final of the Singapore Open last week, was always expected to provide the world No.7 with problems and so it proved despite Zverev being the clear favourite.
“Beating Sasha is great. The match was a bit of ups and downs for both of us. He didn’t play well today,” a delighted Bublik said while attempting to keep his feet on the ground.
“I’m not that excited. It’s just another match. I did great. I was lucky enough to win it,” he added.
The German hit just 13 winners to Bublik’s 21, just one of which was an ace which was way below his recent average, surprising even him but he obviously doesn’t like the conditions.
“I haven’t won a single practice set in the five days I’ve been here, and I’ve been practising twice a day,” Zverev explained.
“In the past I haven’t done well here and to be honest, if the conditions don’t change a little bit, I don’t think in the future I’ll do too well here either.”
Zverev, playing Rotterdam for a fifth time winning just three matches, concluded, “I’m not as upset about the match as I usually would be in another tournament because I just don’t feel well here.”
Meanwhile his conqueror Bublic goes on to face Tommy Paul, ranked 56 in the round of 16, the American having overcome the 35th ranked Italian Lorenzo Sonego, 6-4 7-6(7)
In other action sixth-seeded Belgian David Goffin needed just over an hour to beat Germany’s Jan-Lennard Struff 6-4 6-0 to progress into the next round where Frenchman Jeremy Chardy, a qualifier, awaits.
Finally, to complete the first round, Alejandro Davidovitch Fokina defeated his fifth seeded Spanish compatriot, Roberto Bautista Agut, last week’s losing Cordoba finalist 6-2 7-6(3). He will face Hungarian qualifier, Marton Fuksovics for a place in the last eight.
And to complete the afternoons round up, Kei Nishikori became the first player to reach the quarter finals when he beat Australia’s Alex de Minaur 6-3 2-6 7-5.