Lopez Opens Home Campaign At Villa De El Espinar

Feliciano Lopez (photo: Open Castilla y Leon El Espinar)


Top seed Feliciano Lopez began his title bid at the €66,640 Open Castilla y Leon with a first-round win. The World No. 89 from Spain defeated compatriot and wild card entry Nikolas Sanchez Izquierdo 6-4, 7-6(2) on a sunny Tuesday afternoon at the Villa de El Espinar.

Lopez, who is competing in his first ATP Challenger tournament since Monterrey, Mexico in March last year, was rock solid on his serve. He fired 13 aces and won 94 per cent of his first-service points to prevail after one hour and 23 minutes. The 39-year-old Toledo native will next face unranked Argentine Julio Cesar Porras, who beat World No. 274 Hiroki Moriya from Japan in his first match at a pro-tournament on Monday.

Turks Altug Celikbilek and Cem Ilkel, finalists at last week’s Open Ciudad de Pozoblanco, both continued their good run of form and booked a spot in the second round of the hard-court tournament in Spain. No. 8 seed Celikbilek defeated Johannes Haerteis of Germany 6-3, 6-4 in 67 minutes and will next take on Russian veteran Teymuraz Gabashvili.

Ilkel rallied from a set down to overcome Roberto Ortega-Olmedo from Spain 3-6, 7-6(4), 6-4 after two hours and 24 minutes. Up next for the No. 9 seed will be Spaniard Nicolas Moreno de Alboran, who emerged victorious from the battle of the qualifiers with Italian Luca Vanni, winning 6-4, 6-3 in 74 minutes.

In other action, Frenchman Hugo Grenier beat Pavel Kotov from Russia 6-4, 6-2 to oppose Spanish qualifier Carlos Gimeno Valero in the second round. The World No. 267 from Valencia knocked off No. 6 seed Quentin Halys of France 6-3, 7-6(3) in one hour and 35 minutes.

Tim van Rijthoven of the Netherlands, doubles champion alongside Igor Sijsling last week in Pozoblanco, fought past fourth seed Marc-Andrea Huesler from Switzerland 6-7(6), 7-6(4), 7-5 after two hours and 19 minutes and will next play Malek Jaziri of Tunisia.

Czech qualifier Dalibor Svrcina, who won the 2019 Australian Open boys’ doubles title with Jonas Forejtek, benefited from the retirement of No. 5 seed Frederico Ferreira Silva. The 18-year-old was leading 6-4 when the Portuguese was forced to stop playing due to an right ankle injury. Up next for Svcina will be Argentine Renzo Olivo.