Was there today
Matches in random order:
Jerzy Janowicz POL  beat Jesse Huta Galung NED 4-6 6-3 6-3
Saw the second half of the first set, and the first half of the second set. I don't like watching ballbashers though, especially when they have a grunt like the Pole does, so not even my appreciation for Jesse was enough to keep me on court. Jesse was playing quite solidly for most of the games I saw, not letting Janowicz's huge serve get to him and trying to hit skillful returns and passing shots. Jerzy was perhaps a bit too erratic and that cost him the set at *4-5. The next few games saw the same scenario, but then Jesse had 40-0 on his own serve only to squander that lead with some uncharacteristic (for this match) errors. Jerzy apparently never looked back from there.
Yannick Mertens BEL beat Dominik Meffert GER 6-2 6-2
Meffert has got to be the worst player of the day - and that says quite a lot, because the level of play in general wasn't that high. Mertens lacks variation, hitting everything from the baseline as flat as possible. When he has an off-day, he is truly among the worst players I have ever seen. Today, however, he was not making many mistakes and dictating almost every single rally against Meffert, who lacked the intelligence to force the Belgian to mix it up and who also lacked focus and composure. In the second set, just as Mertens was producing more errors and was giving the German a chance to get back in, Meffert faced a BP, got frustrated, hit the net, got a point penalty (he had already received a warning for ball abuse) and was thus broken. Pretty poor match in general, the only positive thing being that Mertens is winning matches again these weeks. As an aside, Court 1 seems to be Meffert's court. I can't recall the number of matches I've seen him play on that court
Jan Mertl CZE  beat Vincent Millot FRA 6-3 6-3
Saw most of this match. Every time I see the Frenchman I wonder how he is ranked in the Top 300. He's a tenacious counterpuncher, but that game style becomes rather defunct when you are consistently the first to make mistakes. Even Mertl, not exactly known for his consistency or solidity, outlasted Millot in most rallies. The Czech also has a huge serve, which definitely helped him in this match. But Mertl is such a volatile player that any small shift in the momentum could have completely turned the match around. He was getting distracted by every small thing imaginable, and then getting worked up by these distractions even when he had a comfortable lead. His (understandable) pet peeve seemed to be people moving along one side of the court. But it was so bad that towards the end of the match he twice stopped his serve motion because he thought people were walking, when there weren't even people where he was looking
Mertl was also very much annoyed by the heavy gusts of wind that plagued the tournament today, but he should have realized that with his serve and powerful hitting the wind actually works in his favor, as he can hit through it more than most of his opponents can.
Boy Westerhof NED beat Laurent Rochette FRA 6-3 6-4
I was hungry and shivering from the cold so I only saw four games of the first set. Westerhof was dictating play, alternating amazing winners with some of the worst UEs. Rochette tried to be aggressive as well, but Westerhof wouldn't allow him. The Frenchman looked really rabid or maniacal, having a possessed look in his eyes and constantly shouting at himself. When he cheers himself on, it's something like ALLEEEZ! Vamos! Forza!
Apart from De Jong-Coppejans, this was probably the weakest first-round match. But I'm glad to see Boy got a Challenger win.
Iñigo Cervantes ESP  beat Nicolas Devilder FRA 5-7 7-5 6-3
Saw only the latter half of the final set, but this was easily the best tennis that I saw today. Very evenly matched, with Devilder playing smart defensive tennis, mixed with the odd attempt to go for the winner (more often than not he was unsuccessful), and Cervantes playing his aggressive powerhitting game from the baseline. The Spaniard was a lot better today than he was against Cipolla at Wimbledon, managing to keep the error count low in the tail end of the match.
Cervantes/Nieminen beat Kravchuk/Sidorenko 6-7 (5) 6-4 10-5
Saw only the first set. The Franco-Russian pairing looked to be the better doubles partnership, but Iñigo and Timo looked the better players more generally. While they seemed very awkward and inexperienced as doubles players, they were motivated, having fun (even joking with each other) and hit the better shots. Kravchuk looked like he had the most potential as a doubles player, i.e. someone to whom volleying comes more naturally, but he was the weakest player out there because of the mistakes he made and because of his lack of firepower. I think I have developed a soft spot for Sidorenko this week. I like his understated passion. And he's a lot easier on the eyes in person than on live stream or photos
PS I: Timo's coach/father (the resemblance is uncanny) is craaazy. He kept gesturing and talking to himself after each point
PS II: I must be Iñigo's lucky charm. He has never lost a match of his that I've attended. Too bad I don't cheer for him all that much.
Stéphane Robert FRA beat Maximo Gonzalez ARG  7-6 (5) 6-3
Saw about two-thirds of first set. Gonzalez was up a break and looked to be in control, but the serve in this match counted for nothing. Machi in general doesn't have a strong serve, and Robert has been forced to adapt his serve because of his shoulder injury. This means that his service is rather powerless (I honestly think my serve could rival his). But the Frenchman looked very solid and good from the baseline. The key difference between the two towards the end of the first set was the Argentine's greater propensity for making mistakes. Some of his shots went outside of the lines by quite a few centimeters.
Came back as the match was coming to a close in the final game. Gonzalez let out a big roar of frustration, refused to shake the umpire's hand (don't know what happened there), but congratulated Robert and patted him on the back (Robert is I think universally liked among players; he's a very genuine guy and a good sport).
Kenny De Schepper FRA  beat Alexandre Sidorenko FRA [Q] 6-3 6-7 (4) 6-1
Saw the second set. Definitely a much better performance from Sidorenko than in his Q2 match against De Goeijen, but I'm afraid my final verdict would still be that he just doesn't cut the mustard, even at the Challenger-level. De Schepper was on par with him in baseline rallies, whereas someone who prefers clay (as Sidorenko does) should be able to dominate the point against servebots once there is a rally. I found De Schepper to be quite impressive in Roehampton, where he cruised on serve and blasted many great returns against credible opponents. The serve was the key to success here as well, but on clay his return is a lot less dangerous. He also looked clumsy at the net; two mishit volleys were the only two mini-breaks in the tie-break.
Thiemo de Bakker NED [WC] beat Attila Balazs HUN 4-6 6-2 6-3
Just woeful. Thiemo was spraying Feña-like UEs throughout the match and Balazs wasn't much better. De Bakker at least showed glimpses of his former self, but he doesn't look like a contender for the title here, let alone like a Top 100 prospect. By the way, Balazs is incredibly fidgety; he wore a shirt that was slightly too tight, and he kept pulling it and lifting it. He also had a bit of a cough.
Martin Alund ARG  beat Thiago Monteiro BRA [Q] 6-2 2-6 7-6 (5)
Saw the entire second set and most of the final set, including the ending. In contrast with his Q2 match, Monteiro was really impressive today. On Saturday he already impressed me with his serve and baseline game, but produced a lot of mishits as well. Today, in the second and third set at least, the UE count was greatly reduced. There were many really good baseline rallies. Monteiro frequently painted the lines, which drove Alund absolutely crazy. The Argentine in general didn't look like a likable chap; he was spitting and complaining all the time and just had a really negative attitude. Pretty much the entire crowd seemed to be supporting Monteiro. In the final set the match could have gone either way. Alund was up a break, but Monteiro deservedly broke back. In the tie-break, Alund was just slightly better from the baseline.
Diego Junqueira ARG beat Radu Albot MDA 6-2 6-4
Saw the first set only. I can now say that I've actually seen Junqueira play well. He was aggressive from the baseline and sent Albot left and right. The Moldovan, on the other hand, really is unable to translate his dominance in Futures into Challenger-level successes. He looked like a fish out of water in that first set.
Yuri Schukin KAZ [Q] beat Rameez Junaid AUS [Q] 6-2 7-6 (3)
Saw bits and pieces. You know that Schukin is done for if Junaid is competitive with him in baseline rallies, on clay. The Kazakh is just pushing these days, but committing too many errors for a pusher. The more entertaining player lost here.