It’s one of the busiest days of the week at the Gerry Weber Open; with ten singles and four doubles matches played over four courts, the schedule is positively packed. Approximately half of the matches have concluded and, with seven out of Top 8 seeds in action, that’s a solid reason to double up on the reports from the site!
After a long Monday, there was no let up on the second day of Halle’s main draw event. By noon, three matches kicked off in earnest, leaving on-site fans altogether spoiled for choice.
First up on Centre Court, Dominic Thiem had the unenviable task of facing No. 2 seed Kei Nishikori in his first round. Though the Austrian was broken early, he proved capable of at least rising to the challenge. He might well have taken the opening set, but his backhand let him down at crucial moments — on two of his three set points, no less. Nishikori ended up winning the first set in a tiebreak over the 21-year-old, who played a good match given how much he struggled on the surface in s’Hertogenbosch last week.
Nishikori saw off a strong resistence from a solid Thiem in what was a textbook tight two-setter. The World No. 5 was happy with his first win on the grass, but it was obvious that it will take another match or two to adjust to the surface.
“It was tough because he’s a good player. He has a decent serve for his height and it wasn’t easy. I was struggling a little bit, but overall I think I played well. There were some up and downs but still it was a good match and the first match for me to play on grass.
“We could be going three sets. So, I’m very happy to win in two sets today.”
Over on Court 1, Steve Johnson scored a good win over a somewhat disinterested Bernard Tomic, an Aussie who’s otherwise known to be quite fond of grass courts. Johnson was particularly solid behind serve and hardly gave his oppenent a look at break points throughout.
Tomic didn’t just struggle with the lack of pace he got off of Johnson’s slice backhand, but something else seemed to bother him as he called a trainer at 1-2 in the second set.
Or maybe not?
After some muttering and complaining towards chair umpire Cedric Mourier, the top Australian quickly sent the physio off the court, saying that “they could also send his Mum out” during the changeover and it wouldn’t make a difference.
Also this happened:
Giraldo and Karlovic were involved in one of the closest matches of the day and emotions ran high. The Colombian took the first set tiebreak but never had a break point on the Croat’s serve, losing his own just once in each of the next two sets while Karlovic averaged two aces per game.
Giraldo ranted away at the chair umpire for an entire changeover about the lack of fair play he perceived from Karlovic, who claimed to be injured after the opening set but played on. This would, ironically enough, earn Giraldo a code violation for unsportsman like conduct.
On the neighboring Court 2, Ernests Gulbis scored an encouraging win over Sergiy Stakhovsky, a memorable moment considering how torrid the Lavtian’s season has been thus far. Though the 26-year-old’s forehand remains a massive liability on grass due to its huge swing, Stakhovsky opted to serve to the Gulbis backhand for the majority for the first set, coming into the net off of approach shots into the same corner far too many times. As a result, he was broken after a series of good returns and passes.
The second set saw a short rain delay, in which all three of Lahyani, Gulbis and Stakhovsky were all more than amused amused by Giraldo’s outburst on the next court.
Later on, the Ukranian took a short medical timeout after an attempted dive volley went awry. The physio examined the pinky on his right hand, which was caught in between the racket and grass upon landing, but was able to carry on. It turned out to be closer affair than the opener but whenever the 2014 French Open semifinalist was in trouble, his big serve got him back on track.
In the second wave of matches, Gael Monfils won his opening round comfortably against Lukas Rosol — in exactly one hour — whereas Jiri Vesely lost a heartbreaker against Mihkail Kukushkin. The Czech lefty had three match points to seal the deal, but just couldn’t convert. Kukushkin took advantage of all but one of his eight break chances. Vesely, by contrast, went 3/16 on break points.
On the courts now are Tommy Haas in an opening match against Andreas Seppi and No, 6 seed Pablo Cuevas against Jerzy Janowicz.
More to follow later today.