You don’t have to look hard to find enticing early-round contests at this week’s ATP Challenger Tour 175 event in Bordeaux, France.
Several Grand Slam champions are among the Bordeaux field, including Dominic Thiem, who rallied from a set down Tuesday to escape Benoit Paire at the BNP Paribas Primrose. Stan Wawrinka also earned a victory to set a blockbuster clash against Andy Murray.
The Austrian Thiem overcame early serve trouble to get past home favourite Paire 4-6, 6-4, 6-3 at the clay-court event. After winning just seven of 14 points off his first delivery in the opening set, Thiem dropped just six first-serve points the rest of the match.
The 2020 US Open champion, who was a semi-finalist at last week’s Challenger event on home soil in Mauthausen, will next face another Frenchman, eighth seed Corentin Moutet.
Paire also enjoyed a strong run at a Challenger event last week, reaching the final at the Francavilla al Mare Challenger.
In other Bordeaux action, Wawrinka needed just one hour, seven minutes to oust qualifier Ugo Blanchet 6-3, 6-1 and set up a must-watch second-round clash against former World No. 1 Murray (NB 5:45 p.m. local Wednesday).
Wawrinka and Murray, who are each three-time major champions, have met on the biggest stages of the sport, including in two tour-level finals (2008 Doha, 2019 Antwerp) and two Grand Slam semi-finals (Roland Garros 2016, 2017). They’ve also met at the Nitto ATP Finals, in Davis Cup, and at the Olympics. Across 22 tour-level meetings, Murray leads Wawrinka 13-9.
Watch Match Of The Day: Andy Murray vs Stan Wawrinka (NB 5:45 p.m. local)
Earlier this month, Murray captured the Challenger 175 title in Aix-en-Provence, where he beat World No. 17 Tommy Paul in the final. The second seed Murray and Wawrinka are among a stacked bottom half in the Bordeaux draw, alongside Richard Gasquet, Thanasi Kokkinakis, Ugo Humbert, and Mikael Ymer.
In a battle of #NextGenATP Frenchmen, Luca Van Assche survived wild card Harold Mayot 6-2, 4-6, 6-3. In the deciding set, Van Assche fended off seven of eight break points to escape the first round.
Several upsets occurred Tuesday at the Piemonte Open Intesa Sanpaolo. Home hope qualifier Federico Gaio defeated eighth seed Oscar Otte 6-4, 7-5 after winning 28 of 35 first-serve points and Salvatore Caruso rallied to upset sixth seed Yosuke Watanuki 2-6, 6-3, 6-4 at the Challenger 175 event.
Wild card Flavio Cobolli and 28-year-old Stefano Napolitano were among the Italians to earn victories on home soil. #NextGenATP star Cobolli cruised past Ukrainian Aleksandr Braynin 6-3, 6-3 while his countryman Napolitano escaped three-time Challenger Tour champion Otto Virtanen 6-1, 5-7, 6-4.
Dominik Koepfer, who was a finalist at last week’s Prague Challenger, needed just one hour, eight minutes to down Giulio Zeppieri and set up a second-round meeting against third seed Juan Pablo Varillas.
Dominik Koepfer in first-round action at the Turin Challenger. Credit: Francesco Panunzio
Lucky loser Gianluca Mager added to Tuesday’s upsets with a 6-1, 7-6(9) victory against seventh seed Aleksandar Kovacevic. The Italian Mager converted his six match point to defeat the World No. 113 Kovacevic, who fought back from 2-5 down in the second set to force a tie-break.
Top-2 seeds Sebastian Baez and Daniel Elahi Galan will begin their Turin campaign on Wednesday.
First round secured 💪
Qualifier Salvatore Caruso takes out No. 6 seed Watanuki 2-6, 6-3, 6-4 in Turin#ATPChallenger | @federtennis pic.twitter.com/qFyrUZV9zm
— ATP Challenger Tour (@ATPChallenger) May 16, 2023