Montanes Opens Marrakech Campaign With Success

Albert Montanes advances to the second round (photo: GP Hassan II)

MARRAKECH, April 4, 2016

The spring clay season begins in a new host city for the only African tournament on the ATP World Tour as the Grand Prix Hassan II, inaugurated in 1984 in Casablanca, takes place at the newly relocated Royal Tennis Club de Marrakech.

Further read: Clay court season kicks-off in Marrakech

Four singles matches were scheduled on Monday  with two Moroccans in action. The country’s best ranked player Lamine Ouahab, who reached the quarterfinals in Casablanca last year, lost his opening match to Facundo Bagnis 6-7, 2-6. The world number 315 received a wild card but did not really find his rhythm and the 26-year-old Argentine capitalized on three of his seven break point chances to prevail in one hour and 17 minutes. Bagnis will play second seed Joao Sousa in the second round.

Second local wild card Reda El Amrani returned to the courts, making his first appearance on the ATP World Tour since 2011, when he lost to Blaz Kavcic in Casablanca. The 27-year-old former world number 160, who is currently unranked, had a good start into his match against Croatian qualifier Nikola Mektic gaining an early break. Yet, the longer the encounter lasted, the better became Mektic, who hit five aces and won 55% of the total points to seal a 7-5, 6-3 victory in one hour and 50 minutes. He will face either eighth seed Jiri Vesely or Inigo Cervantes.

Earlier the day on centre court, Argentine qualifier Maximo Gonzalez dismissed Daniel Munoz de la Nava 6-1, 6-4. Both players met for the second time this season, as the Spaniard won the only previous encounter between the two in Sao Paulo in three sets. On Monday, it was the 32-year-old from Tandil, who had the better ending, winning 81% of his first service points to prevail in one hour and 12 minutes. Gonzalez will face either sixth seed Albert Ramos or 2007 champion Paul-Henri Mathieu next.

2007 finalist and oldest player in the main draw Albert Montanes advanced to the second round through a 6-4, 6-4 victory over Croatian qualifier Franko Skugor. The 35-year-old Spaniard sent down six aces and converted three of his 12 break point chances to close the match after one hour and 32 minutes. He will take on the winner of the match between fifth seed Temyuraz Gabashvili and Daniel Gimeno-Traver next.

Guillermo García López lifted the trophy in 2014

Guillermo García López lifted the trophy in 2014

Spaniard Guillermo Garcia-López, who won the title in 2014, is the top seed in the tournament for the second straight year. The 32-year-old is making his fifth straight tournament appearance and eighth overall (10-6 record). Along with his title, Garcia-Lopez has reached the quarterfinals three times. This season he has compiled a 6-8 match record with his best results the quarterfinals in Chennai and Sofia. He also advanced to the third round at the Australian Open.

Reigning champion Martin Klizan withdrew from the tournament due to an on-going foot injury. The number one Slovak Republic player won the biggest ATP World Tour title of his career at the 500 level tournament in Rotterdam in February.