Emil Ruusuvuori of Finland yesterday beat sixth seed Daniel Evans of Great Britain to reach the second round of the Qatar ExxonMobil Open. Playing their first match on the Tour, Ruusuvuori looked assured as he won 7-5, 6-4 in 1 hour 52 minutes.
Ruusuvuori is now 2-7 against top-30 players in his last 9 matches against them.
Also yesterday, South Korea’s Soonwoo Kwon battled past Jordanian wildcard Abedallah Shelbayh in three hard-fought sets. Kwon secured his second round berth after winning 6-3, 3-6, 6-4 in 1 hour and 54 minutes.
Eighth seed Botic van de Zandschulp of Netherlands beat Ilya Ivashka of Belarus and eased into the second round of the 32-player field with a 6-2, 7-5 win in 91 minutes. Van de Zandschulp, who registered personal-best 38 wins in 2022, fired five aces in his commanding win.
In a shocking result for a former champion, French qualifier Alexandre Muller beat Georgia’s Nikoloz Basilashvili in three sets. Muller beat Basilashvili – the 2021 winner and last year’s finalist – 7-6 (3), 6-7 (8), 6-4 in 2 hours and 38 minutes. Basilashvili fired nine aces.
Ruusuvuori, 23, pumped seven aces in his feisty clash against Evans, the British number two.
“I thought I was improving and I was just playing better and better. Yes, he was giving me a tough time and he’s a great player. So but I’m very, very happy to get through this match,” Ruusuvuori said yesterday.
“He’s a tricky player. He plays a little bit differently than most of the guys, let’s say, and in the top-50 or a hundred. And they have great slides, great tactics. And I just need to kind of figure out the way and serve well and put the pressure on him. And then yeah, in the end I was able to get the win,” the Finnish star said.
On Monday night, Ruusuvuori joined compatriot Patrik Niklas-Salminen to beat Nikola Mektic and Mate Pavic 6-2, 7-6 in the doubles quarter-finals. “We had a clue because (Jack) Draper had had to pull out the previous night. So we were the first alternate, so we knew we could be in. We prepared and got to play one match a couple of weeks ago with him,” Ruusuvuori said.
“And we played a good match. No doubt. Also Patrick has been improving so much and me too. I played great doubles in the Davis Cup and yeah, we just had fun and we were able to take the win,” he added.
Kwon yesterday was pleased with his performance against Shelbayh, who was making his Doha debut. The 19-year-old was the first player to represent Jordan in an ATP Tour or Grand Slam main draw match.
“I don’t know what to say now – I’m just really happy to win today. It was a tough match today because he (Shelbayh) played very well and then yeah, he had one or two poor shots. I don’t know how to say it but he put up a great fight,” Kwon said yesterday. “I was disappointed to lose the second set, but I tried my best. I tried to enjoy the game and to be positive. Just want to play one game at a time,” Kwon, who won his second career ATP Tour title at Adelaide-2 in January, added.
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