Daniel Ousts Vukic At Chengdu Open

Taro Daniel (photo: Chengdu Open)

CHENGDU, September 20, 2023 (Press Release)

The opening main draw match of the Chengdu Open 2023 proved to be a thriller, as World No. 95 Taro Daniel rallied from a set down to oust eighth seeded Australian World No. 50 Aleksandar Vukic 4-6, 6-4, 6-2 in two hours and 14 minutes.

The 30-year-old Japanese served up seven aces and converted five out of 14 break opportunities to notch his sixth win over a Top 50 opponent this year, further improving his already best-ever season record in this category to 6-6.

“I’m feeling very relieved and happy because Vukic has been playing very well the last few weeks. I haven’t played since the US Open so it was great to have some weeks to rest and prepare but at the same time, you’re always a little bit more nervous when you start again. So to start with a victory like this is always a good confidence boost. It was nice to connect with some groups of fans and have their support grow during the match, that always helps, especially since I’m alone here this week,” said Daniel after his win.

In the day’s second Centre Court match, Roman Safiullin defeated US-American Brandon Nakashima 6-4, 6-4 in one hour and 28 minutes to make the second round in his Chengdu debut. The former junior World No. 2 has shown some fine form this season, reaching a career high of No. 43 in July following a strong run into the Wimbledon quarterfinals.

“I think the most important was to hold my serve and then try to get some break points – that was my main goal for the match. I am always trying to keep my focus and improve more and more,” said the 26-year-old.

Meanwhile, in tonight’s final Centre Court match, 24-year-old Frenchman Corentin Moutet overcame a spirited challenge from Chinese wild card Mu Tao to win 6-2, 6-2 in 78 minutes on his Chengdu Open debut.

In the final round of singles qualifying, Zimbabwe’s Benjamin Lock recorded a 6-3, 7-6 (7-5) upset victory over his higher ranked Japanese opponent, Rio Noguchi, to make the main draw of an ATP Tour level tournament for the first time in his career.

Also set to make his maiden appearance in the main draw of an ATP Tour level event is Australian rising star Philip Sekulic. The 20-year-old former junior World No. 22, who reached a career high ranking of No. 323 earlier this month, overcame a second set fightback from Evegeny Donskoy to prevail 6-2, 4-6, 6-2 in two hours and 15 mins.

The other qualifiers moving into the main draw are Pavel Kotov, who ousted Omar Jasika 6-2, 6-2, and Alibek Kachmazov, who defeated Li Tu 6-4, 6-2.

In today’s doubles action, the fourth seeded Great Britain-American pair of Julian Cash and Robert Galloway moved past Chinese wildcards Li Wenfu and Yang Mingfuan with a 6-2, 6-1 victory, while singles specialists Alexander Bublik and Miomir Kecmanovic overcame the Colombian-Peruvian tandem of Daniel Elahi Galan and Juan Pablo Varillas, winning 6-4, 6-0.

All remaining nine first round matches will be played tomorrow, with the match between Serbia’s Dusan Lajovic and Belgium’s rising star Zizou Bergs kicking things off on Centre Court at 1pm. Lajovic, who is returning to Chengdu for the fourth time, will have fond memories of his last visit in 2019, when he picked up his second career doubles title with compatriot Nikola Cacic.

The 33-year-old Serb, who triumphed at Banja Luka earlier this year for his second singles career title, will need to keep his wits against his 24-year-old wild card opponent, who picked up his fifth career ATP Challenger title this year at Tallahassee.

In the second Centre Court match, Peru’s Juan Pablo Varillas, who hit a career high ranking of No. 60 in June after reaching the fourth round of the French Open, will commence his campaign against Chinese wild card Cui Jie.

Thereafter, fifth seeded World No. 29 Alexander Bublik faces an early test against US-American Marcos Giron, against whom he has lost two of their three past meetings, most recently on the clay courts of Geneva this past May.

Bublik, however, has had a good season thus far, picking up his second career title on the grass courts of Halle before following that up with a run into the last 16 at Wimbledon to reach a career high ranking of No. 25 in July.

Sixth seeded Australian Max Purcell, currently at a career high ranking of No. 43, will start his campaign tomorrow against compatriot Jordan Thompson. The duo have already clashed twice this year, with World No. 56 Thompson prevailing at the Gwangju Open Challenger and Purcell turning the tables a few weeks later at the French Open.

Ranked at just No.233 at this time last year, the 25-year-old Purcell is having a groundbreaking season, with victories over the likes of Felix Auger-Aliassime at the ATP Masters 1000 Canada, and against Casper Ruud and Stan Wawrinka en route to the quarterfinals of the Cincinnati Masters.

The other seeded player in action tomorrow is Serbia’s World No. 47 Miomir Kecmanovic, with the number seven seed commencing his singles campaign against qualifier Lock. The 24-year-old, who attained a career high ranking of No.27 in January, has reached two ATP 250 finals this year, at Delray Beach and Estoril, along with semifinals at Banja Luka and Gstaad.

Two doubles first round matches will also take place tomorrow, with top seeded French pair Sadio Doumbia and Fabien Reboul taking on the Dutch tandem of Robin Haase and Bart Stevens on Court 2, and local wild cards Cui Jie and Aoran Wang squaring off against John Peers and Safiullin.