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Guillermo Garcia-Lopez, who is bidding to defend 250 Emirates ATP Rankings points this week, is hopeful of a strong performance at the Garanti Koza Sofia Open.
Gilles Muller is feeling looked after at the Garanti Koza Sofia Open, where he is looking forward to starting the European indoor swing.
Andreas Seppi reveals its special to visit a new country and play at the Garanti Koza Sofia Open.
Philipp Kohlschreiber is looking forward to competing at the Garanti Koza Sofia Open and his goals for the 2016 season.
Erhan Oral, the Tournament Director of the Garanti Koza Sofia Open, talks about the Bulgarian capital and the work that's gone into staging the newest ATP World Tour 250 tournament.
See the latest Emirates ATP Rankings as of 2 February, 2016.
Infosys ATP Beyond the Numbers shows that on break point, putting a first serve into play is critical
With 12 tournaments across four continents, there is non-stop action for fans to enjoy on the ATP World Tour in February.
See the latest Emirates ATP Doubles Team Rankings as of 2 February, 2016.
The inaugural Garanti Koza Sofia Open is well underway, but here's a look back at how the indoor hard court came together at the Armeec Arena. Video courtesy of the Garanti Koza Sofia Open
Montpellier plays host to the Open Sud de France for the sixth time, with defending champion Richard Gasquet as top seed and five of the Top 20 in the Emirates ATP Rankings in the strong, 28-player field.
Eighth seed Marcos Baghdatis notched his first win of 2016 with a 7-5, 7-5 victory over Lukas Lacko on Monday. The Cypriot fired nine aces in the 97-minute match.
“Today was a good match,” said Baghdatis. “I don’t have many matches in my legs because I only played the Australian Open this year. Here I was lucky enough to get the wild card… but I think I played pretty well. Today was a matter of trying to find a way to win, to fight and that’s what I did.”
Baghdatis will next face Taro Daniel, a 6-2, 6-2 winner over Denis Istomin.
Second seed Marin Cilic will open his Montpellier campaign in the second round against German teen Alexander Zverev, who saved one match point to advance with a 6-7(3), 6-4, 7-5 win over Luca Vanni.
“He played really well from the baseline and he was serving well,” said Zverev. “I had to fight hard and really dig in deep to get that win.”
In doubles, Borna Coric and Antonio Sancic teamed to oust third seeds Oliver Marach and Fabrice Martin 3-6, 6-3, 10-1.
What does it take to organise a tournament? Put simply, a lot of hard work.
That's exactly what the officials of the Bulgarian Tennis Federation, in partnership with land development company Garanti Koza, have undertaken ever since the 7 October 2015 announcement that Sofia would host an ATP World Tour tournament.
This week, Bulgaria celebrates the return of top-flight tournament tennis since two events on the 1980 and 1981 Grand Prix circuits. The nation is one of the 32 countries represented on the 2016 ATP World Tour calendar.
Erhan Oral, the Tournament Director of the Garanti Koza Sofia Open, is hopeful that after a successful first edition, more ATP World Tour players will make the trip to Bulgaria's capital city.
"Sofia is a very accessible city," Oral told ATPWorldTour.com. "I know how difficult it is for players to travel to different cities around the world. But in Sofia everything is very close, so it is very convenient for the players.
"We have an unbelievable arena, the Arena Armeec, not only the size, but for the tournament. The press centre, players' lounge and locker rooms are perfectly designed. It's a very good surface and a beautiful arena. I have spoken to the players and they all sound very positive about the event."
The 14,000-seater Arena Armeec Sofia, opened in 2011, is Bulgaria’s leading sports and entertainment venue. It has hosted sports such as basketball, volleyball, handball, boxing, wrestling, weightlifting, fencing and gymnastics, plus concerts for the likes of Lady Gaga, the Red Hot Chili Peppers and Iron Maiden.
Andreas Seppi told ATPWorldTour.com, "It's always something special coming to a new tournament. It's a very nice court and the stadium looks great." Gilles Muller, who enjoys playing at indoor events, added, "The organisers are doing a great job, because the players get everything they want. There are always cars available to transport us about. Everything is close by."
With the likes of Roberto Bautista Agut and Viktor Troicki, both of whom have lifted ATP World Tour 250 tournament titles already this year, Oral is delighted with the field.
"I think for the first year of the tournament, it is a very strong entry, particularly when you consider it is the week after a Grand Slam championship. We have two players who have won ATP World Tour 250 titles already this year, Bautista Agut and Troicki, but we also have a lot of other good players, such as Guillermo Garcia-Lopez, Seppi, Muller and Philipp Kohlschreiber, in addition to younger names.
"It's a challenging week for us, but it's nice to begin the indoor European swing on a similar surface to Rotterdam's courts. That's a big plus for the event."
Local Alexander Lazov, who made his ATP World Tour debut on Monday against Martin Klizan, said, "It's very good for the country and for Bulgarian tennis players, who can train here and see top players compete. For sure I can learn something from this event and it will inspire me to improve my [Emirates ATP] Ranking."
With great infrastructure and the backing of Garanti Koza, who sponsored the WTA Tournament of Champions when it was held in Sofia in 2012-14, Oral is confident the event will flourish.
"For Sofia, the size of the city, economy and market, it's a great start to be a [ATP World Tour] 250," he said. "We need to sustain and maintain this level for a period of time. It's also important for the players to support the tournament as well as the fans.
"It's a great honour to bring the tournament to Bulgaria. It's the first time in history that Bulgaria has had an ATP World Tour event. We're happy to be part of this history."
Latin America’s Golden Swing kicks off at the Ecuador Open Quito, where Bernard Tomic and Feliciano Lopez lead the field and Victor Estrella Burgos returns to defend his title.
The top two seeds ventured outside of Quito on Monday to Mirado de Guapulo to take in the view at 2,500+ meters above sea level and engage in a light hit.
“Last year was a great year for me here,” said 2015 runner-up Lopez. “It was my first time playing in the altitude. It was a tough week, I’m very sad that I lost in the final… hopefully this year I can have another great run and hopefully hold the trophy Sunday.
“I’ll go one match a time,” said the Spaniard, who awaits the winner of Joao Souza and Facundo Arguello in the second round. “When you play in these conditions [at a high altitude] anything can happen really.”
“I’m very confident playing in altitude, it’s one of the reasons I decided to come here,” top seed Tomic said. “It’s my first time in Quito and I’m very excited so hopefully I can have a good tournament.
“I think here is a tough field, they’re all very good players in altitude so it’s going to be very tough for me.”
Tomic will open his Quito campaign in the second round against Roberto Carballes Baena after the Spaniard advanced with a 6-4, 6-3 win over Austin Krajicek.
Eighth seed Pablo Carreno Busta made a strong start to his campaign on Stadium Court, dismissing Rogerio Dutra Silva 6-3, 6-1 in just 58 minutes.
The Spaniard notched his first win of the season as he broke serve four times and relinquished just 10 points on serve. He had fallen in the first round in Doha (l. to Nadal) and the Australian Open (l. to Kyrgios).
On his debut in Quito, Carreno Busta goes on to face Inigo Cervantes for a place in the quarter-finals. Cervantes defeated Pere Riba 6-7(6), 6-4, 6-3.
Ecuador's Giovanni Lapentti, 33, announced that 2016 would be his last on tour following a 6-2, 6-3 loss to Colombian Alejandro Falla. Lapentti will play doubles Tuesday with Fernando Verdasco.
Watch the moment Di Wu claims his maiden ATP Challenger Tour title, rallying from a set down to upset top seed Kyle Edmund in Maui.
Rafael Nadal will defend his Argentina Open title in Buenos Aires next week after taking a wild card into the ATP World Tour 250 clay-court tournament.
The addition of World No. 5 Nadal means the tournament will boast its strongest field yet, with four of the Top 12 in action - Nadal, No. 6 David Ferrer, No. 9 Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and No. 12 John Isner.
Speaking from Mallorca, where he has been training on clay since his shock first-round exit against Fernando Verdasco at the Australian Open, Nadal said, "I want to thank the organisers of the Argentina Open for giving me this wild card to play in Buenos Aires. The times that I've played in Argentina have been special and full of good memories because the people are some of the best in the world.
"I asked for this wild card after the bad result in Melbourne and I hope that Buenos Aires will once again be the start of a good run for me. I will try my best to make sure it is."
Nadal will open his campaign on either Wednesday or Thursday in the Argentine capital. The 29-year-old Spaniard won the title for the first time last year with victory over Juan Monaco in the final.
The Argentina Open also welcomes two of the ATP's most exciting young stars - Dominic Thiem and Jack Sock - as well as home favourites Monaco, Leonardo Mayer and Federico Delbonis.
Lukas Rosol got the better of Robin Haase 3-6, 6-3, 6-4 in one hour and 48 minutes on Monday at the inaugural edition of the Garanti Koza Sofia Open. It was the pair's fourth three-setter in five meetings.
Afterwards Rosol, who is now 6-3 on the season, explained to ATPWorldTour.com, "It's always a battle. I got lucky at the end, as Robin is playing good tennis. It's always about one or two points. After the Australian Open, which is outdoors, to then move indoors, is tricky. It's a different game and I'm happy with the result."
The Czech was also impressed by the new ATP World Tour 250 tournament. "The stadium and court is nice to play on," he added. "I came here on Friday to get used to the conditions. They do a good job and make you feel comfortable, so I wish the organisers well in the future."
Seventh seed Martin Klizan required 59 minutes to beat wild card Alexander Lazov, making his ATP World Tour debut, 6-3, 6-0. He lost just two of his first service points.
Qualifier Mirza Basic overcame Yuki Bhambri 6-3, 7-6(4) in 85 minutes. "I was a little bit tired, having now played three matches in three days, but I am happy to have won," said Basic. "His serve was tricky."
Roberto Bautista Agut, Viktor Troicki, Guillermo Garcia-Lopez and Andreas Seppi are the top four seeds.
Novak Djokovic was a man in demand after winning his sixth Australian Open title on Sunday night at Melbourne Park.
Soon after the match, the World No. 1 was engaged in a 90-minute media tour of interviews and photos, including 11 television one-on-ones.
After a few hours of sleep, Djokovic took the Norman Brookes trophy for a photo shoot at the Government House, followed by more one-on-one interviews with the Australian media.
The Serb’s media tour finished with a visit to the Braybrook Early Learning Centre. The Novak Djokovic Foundation donated $20,000 to Mission Early Years Supported Playgroup Programs at Braybrook & Doreen.
A LOOK BACK
“Today I gave 100 per cent energy,” Wu told broadcaster Mike Cation following the match. “Chinese players have never won a Challenger. I did well on the court to fight and it was amazing. For sure [I feel the pressure in China]. The Chinese fans follow you and want you to win. I wanted to become the first man to win a title. I'm really happy.”
The 24 year old will return to the Top 200 of the Emirates ATP Rankings with his maiden crown. He enjoyed a fruitful off-season entering 2016 that included a training block with Novak Djokovic, Milos Raonic and Andreas Seppi in Monte-Carlo, followed by a successful qualifying campaign at the Australian Open. Wu had dropped two previous Challenger title matches, in Beijing 2012 and in a third set tie-break in Shanghai 2015.
"We made the appointment with Novak during the Shanghai Rolex Masters. It's extremely difficult to get a point from Novak when we play together. He is like a wall. I see a big distance to reach his level and I'm not expecting it, but I found myself with the potential to improve and make progress."
“I know he (Edmund) is young, smart and in the Top 100. He has good experience. I was more aggressive with my forehand today, but I hit more double faults (11) because he returns very well. This is why I missed so many. I have to get stronger in my legs. I also have to remember how I played here, be more consistent and play the next like this one.”
World No. 88 Edmund’s defeat ends a streak of eight straight Challenger finals won by British players. It was Wu’s fourth victory over a Top 100 opponent and first in a completed match at the Challenger level.
Claro Open Bucaramanga (Bucaramanga, Colombia): Gerald Melzer and Paolo Lorenzi were drawn to face each other in Bucaramanga in the 2015 second round and once again in the 2016 final. Different year, same result. The 25-year-old Melzer needed just 75 minutes to clinch the title 6-3, 6-1, fighting off four of five break points faced. It was the Austrian’s second crown of the year, following a season-opening victory in Mendoza, Argentina, and third overall. He owns a 12-2 record to open the season. Lorenzi, meanwhile, was appearing in his 31st ATP Challenger Tour final, which is second-most all-time behind Yen Hsun Lu’s 36 title matches.
What The Players Said
In Australia, the second edition of the Launceston International is staged, with home hope Jordan Thompson the highest-ranked player in the field at World No. 143 in the Emirates ATP Rankings. Top seed James Duckworth withdrew with an elbow injury sustained in Maui.
ATP CHALLENGER TOUR ON TWITTER: New in 2016, the ATP Challenger Tour has launched a dedicated Twitter account for the latest news and information about players and events. Follow @ATPChallengerTour at twitter.com/ATPChallengerTour.