Copa Sevilla: Top Favourites Book Second Round Berths

Pedro Cachin (photo: Brigitte Urban)

SEVILLA, September 5, 2023

This week, the Real Club de Tenis Betis is hosting the 60th edition of the Copa Sevilla, where the stars of the ATP Challenger Tour will be in the spotlight. It marks a farewell to the iconic yellow clay, which is a common surface in tennis clubs throughout Andalucía. However, the poor image quality in television broadcasts is prompting the organizers to switch to the standard red clay in 2024.

Carballes Baena and Cachin advance

The top two seeds of this year’s tournament opened their title bids with wins. Defending champion Roberto Carballes Baena of Spain defeated his compatriot and qualifier Inigo Cervantes 6-2, 6-1 on Tuesday evening. Under the lights on Pista Central, the No. 1 seed of the €145,000 ATP Challenger Tour event dominated the encounter right from the beginning, broke his rival’s serve five times to secure victory in one hour and 20 minutes.

“I am happy with today’s match because it’s not easy after coming from a fast court,” said Carballes Baena. “Here in Seville, I feel very comfortable, the crowd treats me well, and with my family nearby, it makes playing easier. I felt good in the match, at the beginning, it was tighter. The conditions at night are very slow, it’s hard to move the balls, there are more rallies, and I knew that Inigo played two matches yesterday, and that he would struggle a bit. So, very happy with today’s match.”

Carballes Baena will next take on qualifier Carlos Lopez Montagud, who edged past fellow Spaniard Oriol Roca Batalla 7-6(3), 1-6, 7-6(4) in exactly three hours of play.

Second-seeded Argentine Pedro Cachin also had to go the distance in his match with Raul Brancaccio of Italy, winning 6-2, 5-7, 6-3. The 28-year-old wild card entry, who earned his maiden title on the ATP Tour in Gstaad, Switzerland in July, fired 11 aces and won 75 per cent of his first-service points to prevail after two hours.

“I’ve played Raúl many times, we know each other well, luckily I always beat him,” said Cachin. “He plays very low, so if you don’t lift the ball and change the rhythm, he’s going to make it very difficult for you. I think he found a very good rhythm in the second set, and I dropped my energy a bit. Fortunately, I managed to break at 3-2, which hurt him a bit, he told me, and I think that was a bit of the key. I served well and he seemed have physical problems. towards the end of the match.” Up next for Cachin will be Calvin Hemery of France.

In other action, No. 5 seed Hugo Gaston eased past former World No. 7 Fernando Verdasco of Spain 6-1, 6-1. In a match between two lefties, the 99th-ranked Frenchman saved both break points he faced and capitalized on all of his own five break-point opportunities to advance in only 52 minutes.

“It was difficult, as Fernando had an amazing career. Last time we played in Bordeaux and I lost in straight sets,” Gaston told Tennis TourTalk afterwards. “Conditions are bit different with the yellow clay. It’s a bit faster and sliding is different. You need to adapt but I felt very good on court today.

Gaston will next face home favourite and wild card entry Carlos Taberner.

Kukushkin sets all-Kazakh derby

Kazakh veteran Mikhail Kukushkin, champion of the ATP Tour event in St. Petersburg 2010 as well as of 14 ATP Challenger Tour tournaments, beat Spanish qualifier Diego Augusto Barreto 6-4, 6-4. The 35-year-old won 56 per cent of the total points played in his Sevilla debut to succeed in two hours and four minutes.

“I am more experienced than my opponent and I was fighting for every ball. I did less mistakes than him and this made the difference,” Kukushkin told Tennis TourTalk and added about his goals: “I would like to get back to my best level, improve my rankings and maybe win an ATP title again.”

The World No. 242 will play his fellow countryman and No. 6 seed Timofey Skatov in the second round.