The award-winning Abierto GNP Seguros welcomes players and fans for a fourth edition at the Club Sonoma
David Ferrer vs. Thanasi Kokkinakis in the first round of a Challenger? It’s a showdown fit for the ATP World Tour, but on Tuesday it will take centre stage at the Abierto GNP Seguros in Monterrey.
In 2015, the elite $150,000 event celebrated Tournament of the Year honours in its inaugural installment on the ATP Challenger Tour. This week, they are back for a fourth edition.
With a dedicated team focused on improving the Challenger experience for its players and fans, the world-class tournament is not only a crown jewel in Latin America, but on the circuit as a whole. As the ATP Challenger Tour continues to expand its presence in Mexico, with new standout events in Mexico City and Puerto Vallarta, in addition to the second-longest running tournament in San Luis Potosi, the event in Monterrey is setting the bar once again.
One of the most picturesque and striking tournaments, the Abierto GNP Seguros is located at the base of a vast mountain range extending from the United States to Central America. Peaks tower over the Club Sonoma, contributing to the event’s intimate atmosphere.
This week, the tournament welcomes David Ferrer, who is competing in the last Challenger of his career. The Spanish veteran is set to retire from professional tennis in 2019 and decided to return to Mexico, where he has enjoyed great success over the years. A four-time champion at the ATP World Tour 500 event in Acapulco, the former World No. 3 opens with a blockbuster clash against Thanasi Kokkinakis.
“They invited me to come here and I could not refuse,” said Ferrer. “It is going to be a great first match against Kokkinakis, a great player. I really hope that the fans enjoy our match and take in some good tennis.
“The truth is that I have great memories of this country. Mexico has always been a home for me and I actually came here on vacation many times. It was here that I asked my wife to marry me.
“It is my first time in Monterrey and I wanted to come to a city where I never was. I’ve been here for two days and they have treated me like family.”
It will be the first encounter between the 36-year-old Ferrer and 22-year-old Kokkinakis, when the pair clash under the lights on Tuesday. The Aussie, who recently lifted his second Challenger trophy on the hard courts of Aptos, is looking to continue his ascent towards a Top 100 return.
“You don’t expect to come to a Challenger and play Ferrer in the first round, but it is what it is,” Kokkinakis told ATPWorldTour.com. “I’m looking forward to it. It should be a good crowd as a night match. I’m playing the next seven weeks through the end of the season, so it’s a nice way to kick it off. I haven’t played since the US Open, so it’s a good test to see where I’m at.
“I practised with him once in Shanghai when I was 18 and he chopped me. He just didn’t miss a ball. I missed a lot that day, so hopefully things go a bit differently this time. It’s going to be fun and good match. He’s just a work horse. He doesn’t give anything free. He doesn’t have a weakness. He’s super quick and super competitive and knows where to put the ball to make you uncomfortable. That’s why he’s been so good for so long.”
The stars are out in Monterrey, with a strong field joining Ferrer and Kokkinakis. Former champions Thiemo de Bakker (2015) and Ernesto Escobedo (2016) are here, along with top seed Marcel Granollers, fifth seed Ivo Karlovic, former World No. 8 Jurgen Melzer and #NextGenATP star Pedro Martinez.
On Sunday, Escobedo and Ferrer launched the tournament with a game of mini-tennis at the San Pedro de Pinta plaza in downtown Monterrey. They signed autographs, took photos with fans and interacted with local artist Zavala Eliud, who painted the event’s official mural. Escobedo, a California native of Mexican descent, won his second Challenger title in Monterrey two years ago.
Main draw play at the Abierto GNP Seguros kicked off on Monday.
Zverev, With London In Mind, Rolls In Beijing Opener
German could face Del Potro in the final of the ATP World Tour 500-level tournament
Alexander Zverev strengthened his chances of booking a second consecutive appearance at the Nitto ATP Finals on Tuesday at the China Open. The second seed improved to 6-2 in Beijing with a 6-4, 6-4 first-round win against Spain’s Roberto Bautista Agut.
Zverev, playing his first match since losing in the third round of the US Open (Kohlschreiber), stumbled after breaking early but recovered and served out the first set to love. The second set followed a similar script, as Zverev looked in control but was broken while serving for the match at 5-2. He clinched the first-round match, however, on his third match point after 90 minutes.
Zverev will next face Tunisia’s Malek Jaziri. The 21-year-old German is currently in fifth place in ATP Race to London. The top eight will qualify for the prestigious season finale, to be held 11-18 November at The O2 in London.
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Italy’s Fabio Fognini, who has an outside chance of making his debut at the season-ending tournament, advanced 1-6, 6-3, 6-3 against Moldova’s Radu Albot. Fognini is in 11th place in the Race, 1,405 points behind eighth-placed Kevin Anderson. Fognini will next face #NextGenATP Russian Andrey Rublev, who sped past Portugal’s Joao Sousa 6-0, 6-4.
Third seed and 2016 finalist Grigor Dimitrov started his China Open campaign with a 7-5, 6-3 victory over American lucky loser Tennys Sandgren on Tuesday over 83 minutes. The Bulgarian, who is hoping to finish the season strongly, recorded his 15th hard-court match win of 2018 (23-16 overall) and will now prepare to face Serbia’s Dusan Lajovic in the second round.
“It’s never easy when you’ve never played against a guy,” said Dimitrov. “So I think it took me quite a few games to kind of get in a rhythm, see what kind of game plan he had [and] just try to get comfortable in the match. I think the first set was obviously the tough set. After that, I kind of picked up my pace a little bit more, I started playing a little bit more aggressive. I think, also, I was moving well.”
Dimitrov opened a 5-2 lead in the first set, but had his serve broken in the ninth game. He converted his fourth set point opportunity to break Sandgren, a late replacement for Ryan Harrison, for the 43-minute opener and then took firm control by winning the first three games of the second set. Harrison pulled out prior to the match due to a back injury.
Spain’s Fernando Verdasco is one win from reaching the Beijing quarter-finals for the third time (2009 and 2011) after scraping past Gael Monfils, the Frenchman making his debut at the tournament, 2-6, 7-6(3), 7-6(5) in two hours and 23 minutes. Verdasco recovered from 0/4 down in the deciding set tie-break and now awaits the winner of sixth-seeded American Jack Sock and Nikoloz Basilashvili of Georgia.