Fognini Leads Seeds Into Stockholm Second Round
Former champion Baghdatis also advances
Three seeds — No. 6 Fabio Fognini, No. 7 Yuichi Sugita and No. 8 Fernando Verdasco — all got off to winning starts on Tuesday at the Intrum Stockholm Open.
Italian Fognini, who picked up the Gstaad crown (d. Hanfmann) in July, opened his bid for a sixth ATP World Tour title by beating Malek Jaziri of Tunisia 7-5, 6-1 in 73 minutes. He now faces Swedish wild card Elias Ymer, who knocked out Argentine Leonardo Mayer, this year’s Hamburg titlist (d. F. Mayer), 6-4, 3-6, 7-5 in two hours and eight minutes.
Japan's Sugita lived to fight another day, withstanding 15 aces in a dramatic 1-6, 6-3, 7-6(4) victory over Denis Istomin of Uzbekistan over one hour and 56 minutes. Istomin won the first five games of the pair’s third FedEx ATP Head2Head meeting, then recovered from 3-5 in the third set before squandering a 4/2 advantage in the tie-break. Sugita goes onto meet 2009 titlist Marcos Baghdatis of Cyprus, who beat Slovakian Norbert Gombos 6-3, 6-4.
Spaniard Verdasco, runner-up at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships (l. to Murray) in February, lost just one of his first service points (27/28) to record his fourth straight win in eight meetings (5-3) against Robin Haase 6-3, 6-1 in 47 minutes. He now plays Estonian lucky loser Jurgen Zopp, who overcame Slovakian qualifier Lukas Lacko 6-4, 6-7(1), 6-2.
Elsewhere, France’s Jeremy Chardy set up a second-round encounter against third-seeded American Jack Sock after he hit 12 aces — and lost six of his first service points (27/33) — to beat Alessandro Giannessi of Italy 6-0, 7-5 in 72 minutes. He also beat Giannessi a few weeks ago at the Shenzhen Open 7-6(6), 6-4 in the first round.