Aljaz Bedene knocks out Feliciano Lopez to reach Chennai Open quarter-finals
Chennai, January 8 (IANS)
Qualifier Aljaz Bedene from Slovakia defied the ATP rankings and reputation to knock out second seeded and World No.14 Feliciano Lopez 6-4, 6-4 to enter the quarter-finals of the Aircel Chennai Open here on Thursday.
The 25-year old Bedene, semi-finalist here in 2013 when he beat Stan Wawrinka, then No.17 before losing to eventual winner Janko Tipsarevic, will next take on fifth seed Guillermo Garcia-Lopez of Spain, who beat Tatsuma Ito of Japan 6-7(1), 6-2, 6-0.
Earlier, third seed Spaniard Roberto Bautista Agut, with an eye on his foot faults, blasted his way past German journeyman Peter Gojowczyk 6-3, 6-2 to set up a quarter-final clash with Chinese Taipei's sixth seed and World No.38 Yen-Hsun Lu who put out Spaniard Pablo Carreno Busta 6-4, 6-4 on the outside court.
Lopez, 33, one of the oldest players on the ATP Tour and beginning his 18th season as a professional, never looked the part as he raved and ranted his way to defeat, displaying very little energy and aggression. It was as though he was sleepwalking.
In contrast, Bedene, ranked a modest 156 after achieving a career-high of 95 in 2013, played as well as he was allowed to and was surprised when told after the match that he sent down seven aces.
"Oh? Well, I guess, I served well today and hope I will continue to do so in the next match," said Bedene whose variety in groundstrokes that sent Lopez scurrying from corner to corner also had a telling influence on the outcome of the match.
Early breaks of serve in both the sets set up London-based Bedene nicely and though Lopez, who enjoyed a solid 2014 season with two wins over top-10 players, Tomas Bedych and Rafael Nadal, came up with some brilliant shots, the Slovak stood up to the onslaught while himself blazing away with winners of which he had 25 to the Spaniard's 12.
The other factor that separated the two was unforced errors with Lopez committing 32 as against Bedene's 20. Ironically, the Spaniard's main weapon, the serve, was under constant threat as he had 10 breakpoints against him to the Slovak's one.
Meanwhile, Bautista Agut, who climbed from 73 to 15 last year in the rankings, winning two ATP titles in the process, looked a tad rusty and was called several times for foot fault while serving which seemed to upset his flow.
However, Bautista Agut kept his wits about to overcome his 102 ranked Gojowczyk who failed to cash in on the openings in both sets by wasting breakpoints.
"My opponent was serving well and I had to remain focused. It is always tough playing the first match of the season, and I happy I won today," said the Spaniard.
Bautista Agut had more problems with foot fault than his opponent in the first set that lasted all of 36 minutes. The Spaniard started on a wrong note as he faced three breakpoints in the very first game of the set, saved them all and then served for 3-0 after breaking the German in the second.
Gojowczyk did well to break back in the fifth, but dropped serve again in the sixth with Bautista Agut making a successful challenge on a late line call in the middle of a rally on breakpoint.
The German demanded that the point be replayed, but the Chair Umpire awarded the game to the Spaniard who went on to take the first set.
Bautista Agut and Gojowczyk traded early breaks in the second set before the Spaniard broke again to take control of the set even as the German committed blunders, both from the back of the court and also the net where he missed easy putaways.
The 25-year-old Bedene, a semi-finalist here in 2012 by defeating Stan Wawrinka before losing to eventual winner Janko Tipsarevic.
Singles (2nd round):
- Aljaz Bedene (SLO) bt 2-Felicano Lopez (ESP) 6-4, 6-4
- 3-Roberto Bautista Agut (ESP) bt Peter Gojowczyk 6-3, 6-2
- 6-Yen-Hsun Lu (TPE) bt Pablo Carreno Busta (ESP) 6-4, 6-4
- 5-Guillermo Garcia-Lopez (ESP) bt Tatsuma Ito (JPN) 6-7(1), 6-2, 6-0