Former Briton Aljaz Bedene, who returned to play for the land of his birth Slovenia after being granted British nationality following the ITF’s refusal to allow him to represent Britain in Davis Cup competition, rallied from a set down to upset fifth seed Jannik Sinner of Italy 3-6 6-2 7-6(3) on Wednesday at the Open Sud de France in Montpelier.
On the important points I was there. I didn't lose my focus Aljaz Bedene
The 31-year-old found the rising young Italian star too powerful during the early stages of the match but once he had settled and got the measure of his 19-year-old opponent, he turned the match around to dominate off the baseline.
Bedene landed 14 aces throughout the match and closed the net well in the final-set tie-break to progress after two hours and 39-minutes into the round of 16.
“In the first set, [Sinner] was the better player… Afterwards, I became more aggressive and was making less mistakes. I think that decided it,” said Bedene, in his on-court interview.
“On the important points I was there. I didn’t lose my focus.”
The victory was a satisfying one for the Slovenian who had suffered a third-round loss to the teenager at the Great Ocean Road Open warm-up event for the Australian Open, to pull ahead 2-1 in their head-to-head count.
Bedene will now face Egor Gerasimov, the Belarussian who ousted Andy Murray in the opening round, for a place in the quarter-finals.
In second round action Lorenzo Sonego, the Italian seventh seed, reached his first quarter-final of the year after 74-minutes, with a 6-3 6-2 victory over Sebastian Korda of the US.
Sonego will face the second seed from Belgium David Goffin who in turn put out the wildcarded Frenchman Benjamin Bonzi for a place in the semi-finals 4-6 6-4 7-5.
Sixth-seeded Ugo Humbert of France saved three match points before rallying to battle to get past Dutch qualifier Tallon Griekspoor for his place in the last eight in a three-hour marathon effort.
Humbert trailed 5-2 in the second set and faced the match points at 5-3, then turned things around to clinch a satisfying 6-7(4) 7-6(5) 7-6(5) victory.