Competing in the Caja Mágica is always a confidence booster for the Spanish players and Tuesday’s matches were further proof of that. On a day affected by rain, interruptions and patience, the home players took a significant step forwards on the clay of the Mutua Madrid Open.
Leading the cast of local winners, Fernando Verdasco shone in his home city with a 7-5, 6-4 victory over the Italian Paolo Lorenzi. The Madrid native completed a special day in the Caja Mágica with his 500th victory on tour.
“It was a special match to play at home, in my city, in front of my family and friends”, said the current world number 37. “I’ve been struggling with a torn calf for three weeks and I wasn’t sure whether to play or not until the final few days, I was unable to play in Barcelona. The first match is very often a difficult one. Where better than in Madrid to get 500 victories?”
The result means Verdasco is now the sixth player in history to reach five centuries of wins. He shares the honour with Tommy Robredo (533), Carlos Moyà (575), Manuel Orantes (639), David Ferrer (724) and Rafa Nadal (889).
In the second round, the ex-world number 10 will take on the Argentine Leonardo Mayer, who beat Italian player Fabio Fognini 7-5, 6-4.
Roberto Bautista showed huge strength of character in a thrilling tie. The player from Castellón paved the way for the Armada with a notable comeback to win 6-7(3), 6-4, 6-4 against the American Jared Donaldson. The eleventh seed came through a two hour and 29 minute thriller in the Arantxa Sánchez stadium.
He will now meet German player Philipp Kohlschreiber in the next round, who recently reached the final on the Munich clay and today beat Japanese player Yuichi Sugita 6-4, 6-3.
Albert Ramos-Viñolas also demonstrated great determination in coming through one of the most dramatic matches of the day. The Catalan came back to beat the German Peter Gojowczyk 5-7, 6-2, 7-5 after two hours and 31 minutes of play. His quality returning gave him no fewer than six breaks of serve to turn the match on its head.
The player from Mataró will now meet Uruguayan Pablo Cuevas, who came out on top of another nail-biter against US player Jack Sock, the 12th seed, 6-7(5), 6-4, 6-0.
Carreño Busta and García-López bow out
The Mutua Madrid Open is extremely demanding from the outset and nobody gets away with an easy opener. The ball speed in the Spanish capital is always difficult to control even for the well-versed, some of whom said their goodbyes to the tournament on Tuesday.
Asturias native Pablo Carreño Busta, in the twilight of his career, said adios to the Caja Mágica after his opener. In a fast-paced clash, the Croatian Borna Coric beat the player from Gijon 6-4, 6-2 proving his credentials as one of the strongest players of the new generation.
In an enjoyable match on the clay of the Arantxa Sánchez court, the Balkan connected with 12 aces and his serve was never broken on the way to victory. He will now face the German Jan-Lennard Struff in the second round, who beat Romanian player Marius Copil 6-4, 6-4.
For his part, La Mancha native Guillermo García-López was unable to fend off the aggressive tennis of the American Ryan Harrison. The player from Louisiana won 6-4, 7-6(7) in an hour and 32 minutes and will now face his compatriot John Isner in the second round.