Round 1 – February 10
Court 1 was nearly empty as the match got under way. The score suggests the one-sided affair that it was. Daniil’s power serves and strokes were simply too much for Jonathan, who played instead of Lukasz Kubot at the last moment. Game set and match in under 41 minutes! I was happy to see Russian ‘NextGen’ star Medvedev for the first time. He made the main draw which is no surprise at all, thrilled to see him again.
Life outside of the ATP top 100 is a hustle. Matthias Bachinger is 30 (high rank 85). He has only a few years left in tennis to improve and make some decent money. Ricardas has been injured and is regaining his powers. You get to play equally skilled opponents in qualifiers, Challengers (or Futures) and there’s not a lot of room for error. No glamour involved either: your stage is a side court with hardly anyone watching, where you chase points and a dream like.
Stefanos blew away Martin early on, who committed many errors. Slowly Martin regained form and Stefanos’ gigantic backhand wasn’t as precise as usual. Both players were annoyed and racquets bounced. A linesmen made, according to Stefanos, the “worst call in history”. Klizan complained to the ref that Stefs ‘foot shuffle’ before every return was “too loud for him to concentrate”. A tough and exciting battle won by Klizan, after he clinched two tiebreakers.