No. 39 Klizan Headlines Strong Qualifying Field

August 22, 2015 08:11 PM

Singles Qualifying Draw

By John Delong, Winston-Salem Open

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. - It seems every year a big name shows up for qualifying at the Winston-Salem Open, and that is the case again this year.

Martin Klizan, currently ranked No. 39 in the ATP World Tour rankings after being as high as No. 24 earlier this year, won his first two matches on Saturday as the qualifying bracket’s top seed. He can advance to the Main Draw with one more win on Sunday.

The 26-year-old from the Slovak Republic dispatched Eric Quigley 6-4, 6-2 in the first round, then beat Delton Baughman 6-4, 3-6, 6-0 in the second round.

He was pleased with his performance Saturday, especially in the final set against Baughman when he raised his level of play significantly.

“I have played very, very bad the past few weeks,” Klizan said. “But these matches are helping me here. I play better and better, I feel it, and these two matches today helped me a lot. My game now is better than two days ago, for example. And tomorrow I hope it’s going to be also better.”

Others who have come through qualifying during the tournament’s first four years include Kei Nishikori, Ernests Guilbis, David Goffin and Sergiy Stakhovsky. In the inaugural tournament in 2011, Julien Benneteau came through qualifying and went all the way to the finals before losing the title match to John Isner.

Klizan made the decision to play the WSO only a few days ago, after losing in the second round at Cincinnati. He had gone out in the first round in each of his previous three tournaments in Montreal, Kitzbuhel and Hamburg.

Had he entered before the original entry deadline in early July, he would have actually been a seeded player and would have received a first-round bye in the Main Draw. But as a late addition, he was required to go through qualifying.

That doesn’t bother him at all, though.

“I came here to play more matches,” he said. “I came here to make some confidence, to make my form before the US Open. This week, I don’t care about results, I don’t care about points, I don’t care about the tournament. I just care about my matches today. If you just practice, you don’t make it like if you play a regular match, so for me this is good preparation and I’m just very happy to play another practice match for me.”

Klizan, who owns three career ATP World Tour titles including one in Munich when he was also a qualifier, will face Bjorn Fratangelo on Sunday with the winner advancing to the Main Draw. Fratangelo advanced by beating Ryan Shane 6-2, 7-6 (4) in the first round and Brayden Schnur 6-3, 6-4 in the second round.

Six others won two matches Saturday to advance to Sunday’s third round. Ryan Harrison beat Clay Thompson 6-7 (4), 7-6 (3), 6-0 in the first round and then beat Sanam Singh 6-3, 7-6 (2) in the second round. Will Spencer beat Frank Dancevic 6-2, 1-6, 7-6 (3) in the first round and Ryan Haviland 5-7, 6-4, 6-2 in the second round. Sekou Bangoura beat Marcelo Demoliner 6-4, 6-2 in the first round and second-seeded Lucas Pouille 6-4, 6-1 in the second. Pierre-Hughes Herbert beat Kimmer Coppejans 6-3, 6-2 in the first round and Kevin King 7-5, 6-2 in the second. Marco Cecchinato beat Andrew Carter 7-5, 6-3 in the first round and Wake Forest’s Skander Mansouri 6-1, 6-4 in the second. And American teenager Frances Tiafoe beat Patrick Daciek 7-6 (5), 6-0 in the first round and Radu Albot 6-4, 6-4 in the second round.

Five Wake Forest players were in action. Mansouri beat  Damon Gooch 4-6, 7-6 (5), 6-3 before losing in the second round to Cecchinato. The other four all lost in the first round. Baughman beat Wake’s Christian Seraphim 6-3, 6-2; King beat Deacon Sam Bloom 6-3, 6-2; Albot beat Deacon Keivon Tabrizi 6-3, 6-3; and Schnur beat Wake’s Jon Ho 6-4, 6-3.