On the second day of Halle qualies, the final four main draw singles players in the singles determined; three of those matches concluded fairly quickly, but the final match of the day went the distance.
It has noticably cooled down here at the Gerry Weber Open, but at least it was a day without any rain interruptions. While there wasn’t an abundance of matches on schedule, there was still plenty of entertainment on the Open Sunday.
Alejandro Falla and Tim Puetz opened proceedings on Court 1 at 11am. Falla, last year’s finalist, took out Janko Tipsarevic on the previous day and likewise routed Puetz, 6-3, 6-1, booking his spot in the main draw without dropping a set this weekend.
Puetz spent the majority of the match stuck behind the baseline and, just like during longer patches of Saturday’s match against Benoit Paire, his first serve deserted him — allowing the Colombian to exert pressure on the German’s attackable second serve.
In the main draw, Falla will face fellow qualifier Lukas Lacko.
From there, Finnish veteran Jarkko Nieminen took out Tatsumi Ito in similarly straight-forward fashion. The Japanese kept the scoreline relatively close throughout the match, but the lefty’s experience shone through — particularly in the second set when he exploited the sole break point available to him and served out the match in style. Like Falla, Nieminen will be back on court tomorrow, contesting his first round of the main draw with German youngster Alexander Zverev.
Meanwhile on Court 2, top seed Vasek Pospisil had a particularly bad day at the office against Ricardas Berankis. The Lithuanian, who only made it into qualifying as an alternate, played a solid match against last year’s Wimbledon Doubles champion, mixing up angles and sufficiently flattening out his groundstrokes to send the erratic Canadian out of the draw.
More than once, Pospisil ended up a split second late on his shots, hitting the ball closer to the frame than the middle of the racquet. To make matters worse several close calls went against him in key moments — like on set point, when a second serve was called wide to gave Berankis the opener. Early in the second set, the 24-year-old had another call go against him, causing him to go off on the officials with aplomb.
Pospisil eventually settled again after losing seven games in a row, but it was too little too late as Berankis served out his first grass court win over a Top 100 player.
The final match between Jürgen Melzer and Lukas Lacko went down to the wire, and was by far the most competitive encounter of the day.
The Austrian was up a set and a break, sliding across the grass, chipping nasty forehand slices at Lacko when necessary. But the Slovak steadied himself through the second, and while his Austrian opponent was still employing solid grass court tennis — seamlessly switching between offense and defense — his execution ended up letting him down one too many times.
The final set proved to be a close affair. Both men had opportunities to close it out, but Lacko cheated the gallows by suddenly serve-and-volleying down match point. The 27-year-old proceeded to break Melzer thereafter, holding onto his own service game to close out the match despite facing several break points.
Tomorrow will see the start of the main draw action. Although there is only one seed in action, that one seed happens to be seven-time Gerry Weber Open Champion Roger Federer, facing local favourite Philipp Kohlschreiber in what many bill as the blockbuster first round in Halle.
The match is slated to begin at 5.30pm on Centre Court, right after the tournament’s opening ceremony.
Until then – auf wiedersehen.