Aircel Chennai Open 2016: Ante Pavic beats Nicolas Almagro
Ante Pavic secured a come-from-behind win over Spain's Nicolas Almagro in the opening match of the 2016 Aircel Chennai Open 3-6, 7-5, 7-6 (1) out on Stadium Court.
The giant Croat is an imposing figure and the big machine managed to slowly grind out his more fancied opponent over two hours and six minutes.
Almagro, as is customary, started off strongly, and took the first set after breaking in the sixth game when Pavic hit his low backhand volley into the net. Pavic's unforced errors didn't help his cause either in the first. Almagro's serve wide to Pavic's forehand was a source of good returns.
The second set saw both players being much more confident on serve and Almagro's game lost a bit of its edge with his backhand not as effective. Pavic used the forehand to Almagro's forehand to good effect to keep his opponent pinned.
Pavic held his own and employed higher use of serve and volley to disrupt Almagro's game plan. And thnightmares ploy managed to shift the match towards Pavic. The set was eventually decided in the 12th game when on his very first set point, Pavic forced the issue by coming to the net to force Almagro's lob to go long despite slipping on the court.
The third followed the pattern of the second with players comfortable on serve. Pavic was threatened in the 11th game with Almagro applying pressure, but the Croat came up with four great serves to hold serve. In the very next game, Almagro's own serve came under the gun as Pavic looked to break and win the match. Almagro saved the first match point with a forehand down the line and the second through a Pavic unforced error off a second serve
There proved to be no escape for Almagro though in the tie break as Pavic put his foot down to open up a 6-0 lead before eventually wrapping up the match.
Pavic was playing for the first time on the main Stadium Court after having fallen short in the qualifiers previously.
He called it "the biggest win of my career and it's a great feeling". Later in the press conference, Pavic admitted to feeling a bit nervous and thinking ahead at a point in the second set that almost led to him losing the match.