Richard Gasquet picks up first round win in Szczecin Challenger, Ruud and Cecchinato fall
It is not very often that a player who would be seeded in a Grand Slam opts to take part in a Challenger, but that is the situation that France’s World No.30 Richard Gasquet has found himself in. The former Wimbledon and US Open semi-finalist has been bereft of confidence, form, and fitness in 2017.
Having failed to win back-to-back matches since Eastbourne, and having lost in the first rounds of Wimbledon and the US Open, Gasquet has opted to move back to the Challenger circuit in the hopes that he can pick up some wins and much needed confidence. It is the first time that Gasquet has played a Challenger in more than seven years, since winning the Bordeaux event in 2010.
Gasquet got off to a good start in Szczecin by defeating local wildcard Marcel Gawron 6-3, 6-0 in just an hour and six minutes. He will face Spaniard Bernabe Zapata Miralles in the second round after he beat qualifier Robin Stanek 6-2, 6-3.
Gasquet avoided an upset in a round where a whole host of seeds fell. Veteran Argentine was one such victim, with the 4th seed beaten by America’s Bjorn Fratangelo 6-4, 7-6. 5th seed Marco Cecchinato also failed to win his opener, going down 3-6, 6-4, 6-4 to a resurgent Inigo Cervantes. Norway’s Casper Ruud made headlines this time last year by winning the Seville Challenger as a qualifier. The 7th seed made it two first round exits in a row as he lost to Jurgen Zopp. Ruud had retired in the first round of the Seville Challenger last week to Cervantes.
2nd seed Florian Mayer and 8th seed Renzo Olivo only just avoided upsets themselves. Mayer fought past Gleb Sakharov 5-7, 6-2, 6-1, whilst Olivo defeated Salvatore Caruson 3-6, 6-4, 6-3. 6th seed Jerzy Janowicz was the only seed to join Gasquet in a straight sets win, a 6-4, 6-1 winner over qualifier Guillermo Duran.
The Szczecin is amongst the elite of Challenger Tour tournaments, as the purse is worth more than £18,000 for the winner and 125 ATP points.