Atlanta Day 1 Qualifying Recap
–Steen Kirby, TennisEastCoast.com
The BB&T Atlanta Open kicked off and the weather quickly sunned up as all the seeded qualifier players advanced. Ruben Bemelmans started it off with a 6-2, 6-1 win over Erik Graves. Bemelmans, who reached the 2nd round of Wimbledon as a qualifier and is at a career high ranking of 127, made the veteran Graves run out of his socks to reach his returns as he sliced and diced the ball.
The 8 seed, Brazilian Ricardo Hocevar, was tested against Phillip Simmonds but advanced 7-6, 7-5 in a long match. South African Rik DeVoest, the 5 seed, also faced a tough test against a relentless Nathan Pasha. Pasha, who is a promising young player at the University of Georgia and was a local favorite with his own cheering section, took the 1st set off De Voest, the world number 173, 7-6 in a tiebreak and was feeding off the energy of the crowd. De Voest powered through, finally advancing 6-7 6-2 7-5.
Tim Smyzcek, who won the Tallahassee Challenger back in April, had no trouble against Judd Motz and won 6-0 6-1. Ricardas Berankis, the qualifying 2 seed, did the same in winning his match over Ignacio Taboada 6-2, 6-1. Alex Kuznetsov beat Dean O’Brien 6-2, 6-2 and Sergei Bubka served well, and like the other seeds advanced over Jack Anton 6-1, 6-0. Ricardo Mello survived a match with few breaks, beating a sometimes dejected Mikhail Ledovskikh of Russia 7-5, 7-5.
Of the qualifying matches not featuring a seeded player, Lukas Dlouhy beat Christopher Eubanks 7-6, 6-0, Olivier Charroin of France beat Luiz Inaimo of Brazil 6-3, 6-4, and Drake Bernstein, a UGA wild card, beat Bradley Cox 6-3, 5-0 (ret.). Also, Catalin Gard beat Juan-Carlos Spir 7-6, 6-1, Kevin King of Georgia Tech won his rivalry match against Wil Spencer of Georgia 6-4, 6-3 in a spirited battle, and Olivier Sanjous triumphed over Pierre-Ludovic Duclos in 3 sets 6-7, 7-5, 6-3, coming on strong at the end. Mbonisi Ndimande beat David Span 6-3, 6-0 and Switzerland’s Luca Margaroli beat Eric Sock as his brother Jack watched intently, 6-4 5-7, 6-2 in the final match of the day.
Tomorrow’s 2nd round qualifying action will feature Bemelmans vs. Dlouhy in an intriguing match-up, Charroin vs. Hocevar, Berankis vs. Bernstein, De Voest vs. King, Bubka vs. Gard (Ukraine vs. Romania), Sanjous vs. Smyzcek, Mello vs. Ndimande and Kuznetsov vs. Margaroli.