Pouille Returns To Action At Open Comunidad De Madrid

Lucas Pouille (photo: Florian Heer)

MADRID, April 13, 2022

Former Top 10 star Lucas Pouille has reached the second round of the I Open Comunidad de Madrid. The No. 6 seed of the €45,730 ATP Challenger clay-court event, opened his campaign in Spain’s capital city with a 6-0, 7-6(4) first-round victory over Maximilian Marterer of Germany.

On a sunny Wednesday morning at the Club de Campo Villa de Madrid, Pouille sent down five aces and won 85 per cent of his first-service points to succeed after one hour and 30 minutes.

“It was a tough second set,” Pouille told Tennis TourTalk. “I started really well. I didn’t make any mistakes. Then, I had a few opportunities at the beginning of the second set, when I had break points. He saved one with an amazing drop shot volley. From there, he started to be more aggressive and played better. I managed to win, as I stayed very calm and positive during the entire match. It’s a good win.”

The 28-year-old from Grande-Synthe, who entered the tournament with a wild card, has started a new coaching partnership with former Spanish pro Felix Mantilla. “After the Australian Open, I split with Nicolas Renavand and we both decided it would be good to try something new. I have worked with Thierry Ascione and we still work together. We met Felix during the tournament in Montpellier and we had a good talk, so we thought that we should give it a try. I was right. He is a great guy and a really good coach. Having someone from Spain, it brings a different state of mind, a different view in my game. Something new. It’s a good combination with Felix and Thierry.

Pouille, a winner of five ATP Tour titles, is competing in his only ninth tournament of the season, and his first since Pau in late February. His ATP Ranking had dropped to World No. 138.

“I had an injury like six or seven weeks ago but now I am physically okay, I am fit. We worked hard to be ready. We pushed back the tournament until I felt ready. Fingers crossed that I can stay healthy for a couple of months in a row, then I am sure that my ranking will come back.”

Pouille will next take on Spanish qualifier Oriol Roca Batalla.

Ofner advances, Verdasco falls

Over on Pista 2, Sebastian Ofner became the first player to book his spot in the quarterfinals. The World No. 226 from Austria, who is making his return to the courts after a long-term injury, cruised past No. 5 seed Mats Moraing of Germany 6-3, 6-2. In the pair’s first meeting, Ofner converted five of his eight break-point chances to advance after only 53 minutes.

The 25-year-old Styrian will next challenge second-seeded Brazilian Thiago Monteiro, who outlasted Hungarian Zsombor Piros 6-4, 2-6, 6-4 in the final match of the day.

Frenchman Manuel Guinard caused the upset of the day by knocking out hometown hero and No. 4 seed Fernando Verdasco 7-6(4), 7-5. The World No. 159 broke his rival’s serve four times and won 53 per cent of the total points played to reach the stage of the last eight after one hour and 46 minutes.

Guinard will next face Pedro Cachin of Argentina, who beat Altug Celikbilek of Turkey 6-4, 6-2 in 68 minutes.