The final rounds of qualifying ended with a bang and at the 2022 Winston-Salem Open.
In a match of the thinnest margins, the top qualifying seed and current world no. 45 Tallon Griekspoor of the Netherlands fell to 122-ranked Australian Chris O’Connell in just less than two hours 7-6(4), 7-6(4).
O’Connell faces Adrian Mannarino in his main draw debut, but Griekspoor will be rewarded for his efforts. After three main draw singles players withdrew Sunday with various injuries, the Dutchman makes his way into the draw as a Lucky Loser and faces Aussie Alexei Popyrin.
Another fascinating battle unfolded between the qualifying nos. 3 and 7 where Taro Daniel of Japan and American Emilio Nava faced off for the second time this season. Daniel won their last meeting in the qualifying rounds of Indian Wells 7-5, 7-5. Sunday was Nava’s day to claim the win.
“Seriously tough conditions out there and a tough opponent. It was quite a battle,” said a beaming Nava.
In a match that lasted nearly three hours, Nava closed it out 6-4, 3-6, 7-5. This marks only his second main draw at the ATP Tour level.
“Early in the third I started feeling a little slow, a little sluggish, but I just adjusted how much I was eating and drinking. I’m used to these conditions. I love it here because my brother was at Wake Forest. I love the courts. I love the people,” he added.
His first round opponent is another American and Winston-Salem Open veteran Steve Johnson. They are expected to face off as the second match on Stadium Court during the day session on Monday.
French star Richard Gasquet is also expected to play Monday. The 36-year-old had a grueling opening round against Kamil Majchrzak of Poland. The Frenchman rallied from a 0-3 start to send the first set into a tiebreaker after saving one set point.
Majchrzak nabbed the set, but Gasquet stormed back to take the second with a decisive 6-2 score. A third set was not to be, though, because a late-match injury forced Majchrzak to retire at 6-7(5), 6-2, 1-0.
Gasquet faces rising Italian star and no. 5 seed Lorenzo Musetti in the second night match Monday evening.
The other Winston-Salem Open repeat performer of the day, Belgium’s David Goffin, did not fair as well. At 2-1 in the first set directly after Goffin broke the Laslo Djere serve, rain showers suspended and then delayed play for more than an hour.
When play resumed Djere broke immediately back and took the opening set 6-3. The unrelenting humidity tested both players’ fitness, but Goffin went up a break in the middle of the second set for 4-2 and closed the set 6-3.
The 31-year-old broke in the opening game of the third and was serving for a 3-1 lead, but it was to be the Serbian’s night with the final score 6-3, 3-6, 6-3.
“It was both physical and mental I think. I managed to stay calm since I prepared well for this U.S. [hard court] swing. My body was feeling right, and that’s what helped me push through in those tough moments,” said Djere during a much-needed cooldown routine.
The 16 seed Joao Sousa awaits Djere in his second round match, likely slated for Tuesday.
In the day’s nightcap, Australian John Millman made short work of his opponent, Frenchman Hugo Gaston winning 6-2, 6-3 in less than 90 minutes. Millman’s speed was on full display covering the court especially well during the long rallies, winning more than 75% of points with more than nine shots.
He takes on no. 8 seed Albert Ramos-Vinolas of Spain in his next round.
Monday’s order is stacked from start to finish at the Winston-Salem Open, but many will be focused on the first night match that features an in-form J.J. Wolf against a returning Dominic Theim.
“We are thrilled with the level of tennis we’ve experienced these first two days. The fans have enjoyed some compelling matches, and we look forward to an exciting week,” says Tournament Director Jeff Ryan.