The South American clay court circuit having moved from Cordoba to Buenos Aires, the capital of Argentina, where no home player has won in the past 13 years, saw six of the local nine competing in this year’s field, make first round exits.
I didn't really give him a chance to breathe. Every game he earned it Frances Tiafoe
Amongst them the teenager who won the Cordoba Open last week, Juan Manuel Cerundolo who was still getting used to being an ATP champion on his debut on the tour.
The 19-year-old lost out to his compatriot Federico Delbonis, the world No.82, a 30-year-old veteran of the tour, 6-4 7-6(2) while his elder brother, Francisco Delbonis, 22, a qualifier, avenged his second-round defeat in Cordoba by beating compatriot Federico Coria 6-4 7-5.
The third remaining Argentine is Diego Schwartzman, the world number 9 and top seed for the event who has the best chance of ending the 13-year-old drought having been a finalist in Bain 2019 and a semi-finalist there last year. Unfortunately his preparation suffered a knock when he was beaten in the last eight in Cordoba last week, by Spain’s Albert Ramos-Vinolas who is also competing in BA.
Schwartzman opens his campaign following a first round bye, against Slovakia’s Lukas Klein, a qualifier who progressed with a comfortable 6-4 6-3 win over his countryman Andrej Martin.
A player who might disrupt local hopes is Frances Tiafoe, the American eighth seed who overpowered Facundo Bagnis from Rosario in Argentina, a semi-finalist in Cordoba, 6-1 6-3 in just 69-minutes.
“The focus from start to finish is what I’m really happy about. That’s something that I’m trying to really incorporate. Obviously, I have over the years, but really focussing on it this year,” Tiafoe said. “I didn’t really give him a chance to breathe. Every game he earned it.”
The 23-year-old Tiafoe hasn’t played on clay since the 2019 Madrid Open but on this performance, he must be considered a contender,
The World No. 62 will next play Spaniard Jaume Munar, who ousted wild card Facundo Diaz Acosta 7-6(5) 6-3, a player he has yet to beat.
“I’ve lost to him twice. He beat me on clay in Barcelona a couple of years ago. He beat me in Milan,” Tiafoe recollected. “It’s going to be good. I want to beat him.”
Fifth seed Albert Ramos-Vinolas, who made the Cordoba final, overcame a difficult challenge against current junior World No. 1 Holger Vitus Nodskov Rune. The Spaniard defeated the 17-year-old Danish wild card 2-6 6-4 6-3 after one hour and 57-minutes.
In other matches Italy’s Marco Cecchinato was beaten by the seventh seed from Serbia, Laslo Djere 6-7(4) 6-2 6-3 who goes on to face Federico Delbonis.
Also through are Spain’s Pablo Andujar, the sixth seed and Germany’ Dominik Koepfer.