By John Delong
There’s a huge difference between college tennis and the ATP World Tour.
Wake Forest’s Romain Bogaerts found that out the hard way on Sunday afternoon in his Winston-Salem Open debut, as Yen-Hsun Lu schooled him in a 6-1, 6-1 victory.
Lu, ranked No. 60 in the latest ATP World Tour rankings, jumped out to a 5-0 lead in the first set and eventually needed only 55 minutes to oust Bogaerts in the second match of the day on Center Court.
Bogaerts, the 19-year-old Deacon sophomore who received a wild card into the Main Draw when Bernard Tomic withdrew on Friday, realized quickly that he was up against a significantly better player. The 30-year-old Lu has been ranked as high as No. 33 in the world, while Bogaerts currently stands at No. 1092.
"It’s a whole new level," Bogaerts said. "I mean, it’s against a better player. It’s more pressure. Everything is different. But it was a great experience to get to play in a big stadium against a great player, and now I’ve done it, so I’ll be ready for the next time."
Bogaerts’ only regret was that he was so nervous that he didn’t play up to his normal standards. He served at just 55 percent and had seven double faults, as Lu won 55 of the 84 points in the match and converted on all five of his break opportunities.
"I knew it was going to be really hard and I knew he is a better player than I am, but I was so nervous it was more I gave him a lot of easy shots and I made a lot of stupid mistakes that I shouldn’t make usually that nervous. I was really nervous. Really, really nervous the whole match.
"I don’t think I can beat this guy because he’s still another level. He takes the ball so early. He hits harder. He plays well on the important points. But if I wasn’t so nervous I could have won a couple more games maybe."
Lu, who converted all five break-point opportunities, advanced to the second round where he will play No. 16 seed Pablo Andujar on Tuesday.
"He’s a new guy from the tour, he is studying here I see from his profile," Lu said. "I don’t know him before and I just tried to find out how he played early in the match and in the warmup. So I just tried to play my game and to see how he reacted. I feel he was getting tight and maybe he wanted to perform even better than what you can expect. Maybe he’s making a lot of mistakes. But for him it is good playing, and for me, I didn’t expect this kind of score but it was a good match and I was pleased with my performance today."
In other Sunday afternoon Main Draw first-round matches, Alex Bogomolov Jr. beat Victor Hanescu 6-3, 6-4; 2011 WSO semifinalist Robin Haase beat Adrian Mannarino 6-3, 6-3; and Guillermo Garcia-Lopez beat Grega Zemlja 6-1, 4-6, 6-1.
Qualifying also finished up on Sunday afternoon as Frederik Nielsen, Thiemo De Bakker, Steve Johnson and David Goffin advanced to the Main Draw. Nielsen beat Denis Kudla 4-6, 6-2, 6-0; De Bakker beat Sanam Singh 6-1, 6-4; Johnson beat Joao Sousa 4-6, 6-1, 6-4; and Goffin beat Michal Mertinak 6-2, 6-1.
Goffin will now face Jack Sock in the first round on Monday; Nielsen will face Roberto Bautista Agut; De Bakker will face Igor Sijsling; and Johnson will face Bobby Reynolds.