Tournament 11 Jan 2023

Top seed succumbs as weather forces play indoors at ASB Classic

by ASB Classic
Top seed succumbs as weather forces play indoors at ASB Classic

It took until late on the second day before the top seed Casper Ruud got on to the court, but found a rampant Serbian Laslo Djere impossible to overcome in the upset at the ASB Classic.

Djere was virtually faultless, especially on his serve for the 70th player on the world rankings to achieve an impressive victory 3-6 6-3 7-6 indoors at the ASB Tennis Arena.

It proved another day of hurry-up and wait as organisers were again frustrated with frequent light sprinkles of rain that held up proceedings as players looked to progress to the quarterfinals.

After delays, Ruud’s campaign moved indoors as he claimed the first set, before the Serb upped the ante, serving impeccably and not letting the top seed into the game in the final two sets.

And while the charge of the young Americans was a feature on the first day, there was a reminder from the Europeans that it is not all about the Stars and Stripes.

The hometown crowd warmed to the sight of second-seed Cam Norrie, back in the city where he grew up, with the Brit down one set to Czech Jiri Lehecka. The pair had numerous weather delays as Norrie eked out the second set 7-6 and the match was finally moved indoors to finish with Norrie dominant 6-3.

“It was a strange day but I am through,” said Norrie. “It is so unfair on the organisers with this weather. It was sunny to start and the wind swirling. I grew up here but when you are favourite then it is a little more difficult, especially coming from Sydney last week where we played indoors.

“I really feel for the tournament. It is the two weeks of the year when the public get to enjoy tennis here. Maybe it is time they look at a roof over the centre court – but I know that is a lot of money.

“It is such a special tournament. I grew up as a fan here coming to the tournament and being one of those fans in the stands. It is one of the best centre courts in a 250 tournament anywhere.”

Earlier Marcos Gilron prospered over the impressive JJ Wolf 6-4 6-4 in the all-American contest.

However, the Europeans made their mark, led by the redoubtable Frenchman, Richard Gasquet, who has a palmares of considerable repute including 15 WTA title sand second only to Rafa Nadal for years ranked in the world’s top 100.

He eased past Joao Sousa (POR) 7-6 6-2 to show he will be a considerable threat to the young guns in the tournament.

One of those youthful threats, 22-year-old American Jenson Brooksby dominated his opening set 6-1 over the talented Diego Schwartzman before the Argentinian picked up an injury and was forced to withdraw after a medical time-out.

However, Frenchman Quentin Halys accounted for talented 20-year-old American Ben Shelton 6-3 6-2 and Belgian David Goffin upset the big-serving Christopher Eubanks 6-2 6-4, in the match moved from outside to indoors.

“The key was my return and to stay calm. I know I am better than him on the baseline. I had to be solid and to be aggressive and make him run. I had to return really well because indoors Chris can serve unbelievable,” said Goffin. “I am very happy win in two sets and to break him many times. It was a great performance.”

More wet weather is forecast for tomorrow, and likely more games forced indoors in quarterfinal action.