APRIL 22 - MAY 5, 2024

Moro: from knock up partner to star

The first ATP Tour match of Alejandro Moro Cañas’ career could not have gone any better for the Spaniard. He received a wildcard for the qualifiers at this Mutua Madrid Open, where he met the semi-finalist of the Masters 1000 in Miami, world number 47 Francisco Cerúndolo. If the Spaniard was nervous, there were no signs of it and, feeling there was nothing to lose, he produced a stunning performance (6-0 in the first set) against which Cerúndolo had no reply and therefore bowed out of the event at the first hurdle.

The world number 440 only needed 57 minutes to take the spoils and will now face another tough opponent in Lorenzo Musetti for a place in the main draw. The Italian beat Japanese player Nishikori 7-5, 6-3 in a tight encounter.

Another Spaniard who enjoyed a victory in the first round of the qualifiers is Roberto Carballés Baena, the world number 100, who sprung an upset on Slovakian player Alex Molcan to win 7-5, 6-4. His opponent tomorrow will be the Serbian Dusan Lajovic, who beat Frenchman Adrian Mannarino (the victim of an even younger Carlos Alcaraz in the 2021 Mutua Madrid Open) two sets to love.

The other three Spaniards in action today were less fortunate. The remaining two wildcards, Daniel Rincón and Daniel Mérida Aguilar both lost in two sets to Maxime Cressy and Marton Fucsovics, respectively, who will now square off tomorrow for place in the main draw. The only Spaniard to play on the Arantxa Sánchez Vicario court was Pablo Andújar, but he suffered the same fate as his compatriots, losing in one hour and twenty minutes to French player Ugo Humbert, who now meets the Korean Soonwoo Kwon, who needed a third set to see off his 17-year-old Chinese opponent, Juncheng Shang.

On court 3, Benoit Paire demonstrated his quality in a 6-0, 3-6, 6-3 win over the American Brandon Nakashima. His second-round opponent tomorrow will be the Argentine Federico Coria, who beat US player Dennis Kudla 6-2, 6-2 in less than an hour.

Another American who progressed, along with Cressy, was Mackenzie McDonald, who came flying out of the blocks to take the first set 6-2, but then needed a third to seal the deal against the Portuguese Joao Sousa. For a place in the first round proper, he will now face Hugo Dellien, who beat his namesake, Frenchman Hugo Gaston, 6-1, 6-2.

The final clash of the second round of the qualies will see the Belgian David Goffin, who beat Czech player Jiri Vesely 6-3, 7-6, take on the Chilean Alejandro Tabilo, who sent the American Marcos Giron packing in two sets, 6-3, 7-5.