Stakhovsky Opens Portoroz Title Defense With Hard-Fought Win

Sergiy Stakhovsky (photo: Florian Heer)

PORTOROZ, August 8, 2018

Sergiy Stakhovsky started his title defense at the Zavarovalnica Sava Slovenia Open with a 4-6, 6-3, 6-3 win over Belgian lucky loser Christopher Heyman on a long Tuesday in sunny Portoroz. Under the flood lights on Centre Court, the World No. 118 fought back from a break down in the final set to prevail after two hours and 14 minutes.The encounter finished at half past midnight local time.

“The first match is always tough, in particular in these conditions,” Stakhovksy said. “We played a decent match. I started well but then I slowed down the pace and he became better. I was able to come back after being a break down and started to playing better from then onwards. I am just happy to be through, as the first match of a tournament has always been the crucial part of the week for me.”

Next up for Stakhovsky will be Turkish qualifier Altug Celikbilek, who eased past Slovenian wild card entry Aljaz Jakob Kaplja 6-0, 6-1 in only 46 minutes.

Adrián Menéndez-Maceiras, who finished runner-up at the ATP Challenger in Segovia last weekend, benefited from the reitrement of Ivan Nedelko. The No. 3 seed from Spain was leading 4-2 in the first set when the Russian was forced to stop playing.

Menéndez-Maceiras will next face Lucas Miedler. The 22-year-old Austrian defeated qualifier Frederik Nielsen of Denmark 6-3, 6-2.

“It was pretty tough, as it was really hot but I showed a decent performance today,” Miedler told Tennis TourTalk afterwards. The World No. 226 has come to Portoroz for the first time. “A lot of players told me that it is a great tournament here and so far as I have seen, it is really a nice spot. I only arrived on Sunday and just found some time to jump into the sea only once. My family joins me here and I hope to stay as long as possible in the tournament.”

Miedler just returned from a four-week hard-court swing in Canada, where he finished runner-up at the ATP Challenger event in Winnipeg. “I feel comfortable on hard court. It was good to see that I managed to beat a couple of players in a row.”

Gian Marco Moroni caused the upset of the day, knocking out fourth favourite and fellow Italian Gianluigi Quinzi 6-3, 6-7(3), 7-5. The 20-year-old Rome native struck 12 aces, winning 76 per cent of his first service points to prevail in just under three of play. Moroni will next play Cem Ilkel of Turkey.

Pavel Kotov continued his good run of form with a comfortable 6-4, 6-3 win over Frenchman Benjamin Bonzi. The 19-year-old Russian advanced to the quarterfinals at the ATP Challenger in Astana and reached the semis in Liberec last week and is currently ranked on a career high World No. 361. Kotov finished the encounter in 66 minutes.

“This is my first interview,” the teenager stated afterwards. “It was a good match but it was extremely hot out there with more than 30 degrees Celsius. Physically I feel like I am dead right now but I am trying to do my best.”

The Moscow resident will challenge Aldin Setkic in the second round, who knocked out the tournament’s No. 2 Dennis Novak.

Photo Gallery (by Florian Heer):