A busy Thursday at the Arizona Tennis Classic saw Alexander Shevchenko score a win that he won’t soon forget. The 22-year-old ousted French wild card Gael Monfils in the first round of the Phoenix Challenger 6-4, 6-7(2), 6-3.
Post match, the qualifier Shevchenko posted on Instagram a message sharing his admiration for the former World No. 6.
“Such an emotional match for me,” Shevchenko said. “[Gael] was the reason I fell in love with the game.”
Shevchenko is coached by Gunter Bresnik, who has worked with prominent players such as Boris Becker, Patrick McEnroe, Dominic Thiem, and fittingly—Monfils.
After sleeping on a 2-0 lead in the deciding set following rain suspending Wednesday’s play, Shevchenko held his nerve in the closing stages to advance at the Challenger 175 event.
In other opening-round action Thursday, top seed Matteo Berrettini won 28 of 33 first serve points to defeat countryman and lucky loser Mattia Bellucci 6-4, 6-4. The 2019 Phoenix Challenger champion will next meet Aussie qualifier Aleksandar Vukic on Friday afternoon.
“I’m really happy to be here and get the win, great start,” Berrettini said. “I came here to make a long run and play as many matches as possible.”
With crowd support behind him at the Phoenix Country Club, American Aleksandar Kovacevic was firing on all cylinders en route to 6-3, 3-6, 7-6(6) victory against Christopher O’Connell. Currently World No. 104 in the Pepperstone ATP Live Rankings, Kovacevic could rise into the Top 100 should he beat third seed Richard Gasquet.
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Earlier in the day, eighth seed Emil Ruusuvuori cruised past Roberto Carballes Baena 6-3, 6-0. The Finn will meet Quentin Halys in the second round.