ROTTERDAM                    -            Rotterdam finalist from two years ago Grigor Dimitrov is through to the second round of the first ATP 500 event of the season, beating Denis Shapovalov 6-3, 7-6 in an hour and 29 minutes.

The Bulgarian played better on the second serve and in the pivotal moments, fending off all three break chances and securing one break in the first set before sealing the deal in the tie break of the second, finishing the clash with 19 winners and 17 unforced errors. On the other hand, it was the sixth defeat for Denis in nine matches so far in 2020, struggling to find the range with his backhand or to deliver better percentages on the second serve, wasting a set point at 5-4 in set number two and ending his campaign in the very first round.

The 6th seed Roberto Bautista Agut had to dig deep to beat a qualifier Marton Fucsovics 4-6, 7-6, 6-1 in two hours and 17 minutes, winning three points more than the opponent. Daniel Evans took down another qualifier Philipp Kohlschreiber 6-3, 7-5 in an hour and 16 minutes, losing 11 points in 11 service games and saving the only break point he faced to mount the pressure on the German. Kohlschreiber suffered a break in the sixth game of the opening set and fought well in the second, with both players producing one commanding hold after another before the Briton claimed 12 of the last 13 points to move over the top and make a winning start. Pablo Carreno Busta needed two hours and 45 minutes to dismiss Adrian Mannarino 5-7, 7-6, 6-4, creating no less than 17 break chances and converting only four, missing the opportunity to secure the triumph much earlier.

Later, Canadian teenager Felix Auger-Aliassime outlasted Germany’s Jan-Lennard Struff to win 6-3 1-6 6-3 and advance to the last-16. The 19-year-old Auger-Aliassime, who had his breakthrough season last year when he climbed up to 17th in the rankings, nearly threw it away in the second set when he lost five games in a row before he regained his composure in the final set. The Canadian served seven double faults but also fired 16 aces in the contest and set up a match with Dimitrov. Italy’s fifth seed Fabio Fognini was upset in straight sets by Russia’s Karen Khachanov 6-3 6-3. Fognini lost his focus following an argument with the umpire over a call in the second set and the Italian also asked for the trainer’s help in strapping up his leg below the knee. Khachanov sailed through the second set with two breaks of serve and Fognini’s unforced error count of 36 only made things easier for the Russian. Andrey Rublev knocked out Nikoloz Basilashvili 6-2 6-3 in what was the shortest match of the first round, with the 22-year-old wrapping up the encounter in only 55 minutes after winning 91% of his first serve points. Rublev’s record is 12-1 this year, having won titles in Doha and Adelaide and losing only at the Australian Open in the last-16 to semi-finalist Alexander Zverev.