Jack Draper took 67-minutes to reach the second round of the Sofia Open in Bulgaria, an ATP 250 level event, to join Billy Harris who followed up his successful qualifying run with an excellent two-hour, 30-minute victory over his fellow Swiss qualifier Marc-Andrea Huesler, the defending champion, 6-4 3-6 7-6(5).
The two Brits were playing last week at a Challenger event in Bergamo, Italy, and had to face each other in the quarter finals which Draper won comfortably 6-2 6-3 to go on and collect the title two matches later.
Harris, world ranked 221 and a 28-year-old from Nottingham, was playing his first match at the top level but will find his next opponent, Germany’s veteran Jan-Lennard Struff, the third seed, a tougher prospect.
Draper meanwhile, had a much more comfortable opener dispatching Germany’s Maximilian Marterer 6-3 6-2 for his second round place.
The 21-year-old British No.4, currently ranked 91, a ranking deemed too low for a place in last week’s Paris Masters, is staking a strong claim for the second spot in the Team GB line-up for the Davis Cup Finals in Malaga following a series of injuries he has unfortunately suffered this season.
In lieu of playing Paris, Draper, as mentioned, made the most of the situation by dropping down a level and defeating former top-tenner from Belgium, David Goffin 1-6 7-6 6-3 in the final for his fifth Challenger level title.
Next up for Draper in Sofia is the top seeded Italian, Lorenzo Musetti who received a first-round bye.
Spain’s Roberto Bautista Agut was the player of the day as he came through a three-hour, 16-minute epic against the 9th seeded Serbian, Miomir Kecmanovic which required three tie-breaks to decide the winner.
The Spaniard failed to serve out at 5-4 in the second set and at the same stage in the decider but finally converted his second match point to record a weary 7-6(9) 6-7 2) 7-6(5) victory.
Bautista Agut faces Fabian Marozan next who emerged from an all-Hungarian battle with Zsombor Piros 6-3 6-1.
In other action, Australian Christopher O’Connell defeated Serbian Hamel Medjedovic 6-7(3) 6-1 7-6(2) and will next play, Sebastian Ofner after the Austrian beat Ukrainian qualifier Vitaliy Sacko 6-4 3-6 6-2.
Spaniard Albert Ramos Vinolas beat countryman Roberto Carballes Baena 7-5 4-6 6-3 in two-hours and 49-minutes to earn his first tour-level hard-court win since Basel in 2022. He will next face second seed Adrian Mannarino of France.
Australian Max Purcell also advanced, downing his fellow Aussie Rinky Hijikata 6-3 6-3 while Pavel Kotov overcame Bulgarian wildcard Alexander Lazarov 3-6 6-1 6-2 and Juri Rodionov of Austria, defeated Nicolas Moreno de Alboran, a Lucky Loser from the US, 7-6(4), 6-7(4), 6-4.
Finally, the Turkey wildcard, Cem Ilkel beat another wildcard, Bulgaria’s Dimitar Kuzmanov 6-0 6-3 and Hungary’s Marton Fucsovics, seeded 8, beat French qualifier Terence Atmane 7-6(4) 6-3.