Today was the first day that a lot of seeds came out in the locations in England and Turkey. My feature match heading into the day was out on Court 1 in Eastbourne and it saw Jelena Ostapenko go up against Carla Suarez Navarro.
In one of the Antalya matches we saw two players outside the top 250 do battle and eventually Mohamed Safwat take out the home favourite Cem Ilkel 4-6, 6-3, 7-6(9-7). Neither of these men are very experienced at playing big events but they handled their nerves very well today and there was barely anything separating the two. There was only one break point in the first set and that went the way of Ilkel but that was only because Safwat didn’t hit as many first serves in as required for one game. It was a similar story in the second set but this time it was Safwat who got a break early in the set and carried it through to force a decider. The deciding set was a highly competitive and entertaining affair with both players having a lot of opportunities. Ilkel went up a break at 5-5 and then had match points when trying to serve it out but Safwat managed to force a tiebreaker. Ilkel took an early lead in the tiebreaker and had more match points after getting that early lead but the Egyptian roared back and eventually took a very tight match. Safwat had to save 5 match points in the end which is an incredible achievment for someone with Safwat’s lack of experience and this match also puts out a really good image of Middle Eastern tennis.
We also saw a seed tumble out in Antalya as Carlos Berlocq got a good 3-6, 6-2, 6-4 win over Viktor Troicki. Neither man was serving very well and there wasn’t a clear stand-out player in the match but in the end it came down to Berlocq playing the important points well. Berlocq was under constant pressure in the first set as he faced a total of ten break points to Troicki’s zero and in the end the Serbian broke twice on the way to the comfortable first set. Troicki’s serving level plummeted in the second set and he only held serve once on the way to Berlocq quickly pushing the match into a third. The third set was rather tight but it was sealed very early with Berlocq going up a double break and Troicki only being able to recover one of the breaks before succumbing. Berlocq should be happy with this win because he is not very comfortable on the grass courts and any win is a good win for him on the surface, especially with Wimbledon just around the corner.
There was a surprise result for the men in Eastbourne as the home favourite Cameron Norrie got his first ever ATP win as he moved past Horacio Zeballos, who is having a good season, 6-4, 7-6(7-4). Zeballos isn’t a comfortable clay courter but Norrie, who is meant to be in Texas at university, played to his strength and was solid for the whole match. Norris was broken in his first service game but he broke straight back and then went on to break later in the set as Zeballos was failing to capitalise on his serve. Norrie was string behind his first serve in the first set and only dropped the point three time when he hit it in. To be honest, Zeballos was probably the stronger player throughout the set but it was Norrie who played well in the important moments and thats what counts. The two exchanged breaks only once throughout the set on the way to a tiebreaker even though Norrie wasn’t getting as many first serves in. The tiebreaker started out tight but eventually Zeballos played a few bad points which put Norrie ahead and the Brit eventually closed out his first ATP win against a top 50 opponent in front of his home crowd.
My feature match saw Jelena Ostapenko come back firing in the first match since her French Open victory as she moved past Carla Suarez Navarro 6-3, 0-6, 6-4. Ostapenko was suffering from an injury around the middle of the match but after she got treatment she came back firing. The first set was a great display of what Ostapenko can do as she didn’t miss much and she broke twice on the way to the win. Even from the start you could tell that Ostapenko’s backhand was working really well on the grass court but after the first set she looked like she was being hampered by a right thigh injury. She could barely move in the second set and Suarez Navarro easily rushed through the set to force a decider. After the second set Ostapenko got some treatment for her injury and she came back playing very well. The start of the decider was tight but eventually Ostapenko got the break midway through the set and she carried that through to victory. Ostapenko looked fearless today even though she had pressure on her to back-up Rolland Garros and if she carries the form through, assuming her injury doesn’t get worse, she could do some damage at Wimbledon.