Estoril Open: Juan Martin Del Potro survives first round scare

By Luís Santos

Women’s Defending Champion Out! Mixed Fortunes For Portuguese

Sun-grilled after a day at the Estoril venue, the biggest news in the women’s field was the departure of defending champion Anastasija Sevastova.

Under soaring temperatures for spring in Lisbon, Urszula Radwanska went toe-to-toe with 2010 champion Sevastova but it still wasn’t enough as the Latvian put an end to the first set 7-5. Second set was pretty much the same story with Sevastova finally gaining the edge to go up 6-5 on her serve. But it wasn’t to be as the younger Radwanska broke back and went on to claim the tiebreak 7-5. A deflated Sevastova had little in her tank to withstand the increasingly confident Polish and eventually lost 6-1.

Radwanska will now play Johanna Larsson of Sweden in the second round.

Also struggling today but managing to emerge victorious was Greta Arn.

Juan Martin Del Potro

The German was the 2007 winner and today faced off Portuguese wildcard Maria João Koehler. On paper it should have been a walk in the park but Koehler has stormed through the ITFs. The result? A three set tussle.

The German was solid during the first set as Koehler sprayed balls everywhere and eventually claimed the set 6-2.

After remaining close through the first four games, MJK finally started gearing up and went up 5-2. Arn closed the gap to 5-3 but after a highly disputed game, Koehler ended the rally with a dropshot to take the set 6-3.

As the third set rolled on, Arn stepped up as MJK lost steam. Arn went up 3-1 as the Portuguese complained of cramps to her legs and committed an array of errors. Koehler still managed to level proceedings at 3 all but from there on the Portuguese started misfiring repeatedly and Arn took her chances to win 6-2 3-6 6-3.

Next for the German will be clay court specialist Anabel Medina Garrigues who surprisingly stopped Romanian Simona Halep in two tiebreaks.

Also moving on was Jarmila Gajdosova who after a slow start, took eight games in a row to clinch a 6-4 6-0 winner over Czech Renata Voracova. Gajdosova now meets countrywoman Casey Dellacqua for a place in the quarterfinals.

Number three seed Klara Zakopalova was also among the winners on sunny Tuesday as she dispatched Beatriz Garcia Vidagany.

Other winners on day two included Kristina Barrois, Anastasia Yakimova and American Sloane Stephens. Stephens played compatriot Melanie Oudin but the latter was never in control of the match. Stephens and Oudin would methodically enroll in baseline duels with Oudin taking the initiative to go for the winner. Stephens, however, would slice, dropshot or make a blasting stroke to reset the point or gain advantage. As the match wore on Oudin was out of sorts and the less mediatic American won 6-2 6-1.

Gil advances. Pedro Sousa Out

After the departure of crowd favorite Koehler early on, all eyes were on Frederico Gil, who took the court mid-afternoon.

The Portuguese never looked unsettled during the 87 minute contest as he brushed aside Flavio Cipolla of Italy 6-3 6-2. Next up for the Portuguese will be the mighty Fernando Verdasco, the second seed this week.

Worst Luck had young prodigy Pedro Sousa. Despite battling it out with Juan Martin Del Potro for almost two hours, the Argentinian proved too good in the end. Even so, the Portuguese number 488th claimed the second set to the former US Open champion, losing a mere nine points on serve. In the end experience mattered most and Del Potro took the match 6-2 3-6 6-3.

Next up for Del Potro is Colombian Alejandro Falla who won after his opponent Pablo Andujar retired with a lower back injury. The score was 4-6 6-1 4-4.

Mixed results for the Brazilians as well. While Thomaz Bellucci defeated Frederik Nielsen 7-5 6-1 after being down 2-5, Marcos Daniel wasn’t so lucky as he went out to qualifier Eduardo Roger-Vasselin of France.

Rising star Milos Raonic was also in action today as he took on Igor Andreev on Centralito. Raonic was impeccable on serve winning 75% of the points with the first serve and saving all eight break points against him. Andreev faltered once each set to hand the Canadian a 6-4 6-4 win 1 hour and 24 minutes.

Other winners today in the men’s side included Carlos Berlocq and Pablo Cuevas. Berlocq will meet fourth seed Gilles Simon while Cuevas will take on third seed Joe-Wilfrid Tsonga on Centralito.