When the time came for his ATP Tour peloton debut, things couldn’t have gone much better for him Aleksandar Kovacevic.
The 24-year-old American stunned seventh place Miomir Kecmanovic 6-4, 6-4 at the Eugene Korea Open Tennis Championships on Monday. Kovacevic had fallen in the last round of qualifying at the ATP 250 hard-court event in Seoul, but he capitalized on a lucky loser’s spot in style as he broke world No. 32 three times en route to an impressive 93-minute first-round win.
“[It is] a bit surreal,” said Kovacevic, who will score Christopher O’Connell or Chun Hsin Tseng in the second round. “I watch these games on TV every day. I consider a lot of these guys as my peers and I feel like I’m playing at a pretty good level, but just being out there in the peloton at an ATP event… I thought I needed a little more experience beforehand, To be honest I did well.
“I played really well out there. There’s something about big matches for me. Of course it’s not a big moment for Miomir because he’s been here for a while, but for me it’s a big thing so it’s bringing out some of my best tennis players. [I’m] I’m really happy about it but hope to continue it later in the week. I’m definitely happy to get this first one, but not quite satisfied yet.”
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Born to a Serbian father and Bosnian mother and raised in New York City, Kovacevic has just completed his freshman year as a pro after playing collegiate tennis at the University of Illinois. After reaching his first ATP Challenger Tour final in Indianapolis in August, Monday’s victory is an instant reward for world No. 222’s decision to make the trip to Seoul.
“I don’t actually travel around the world much,” said Kovacevic. “I graduated from college about a year ago so this is my first year on the tour and I’ve mainly been playing tournaments in the US so it’s definitely a change. I kind of came here to get out of my comfort zone a bit and that’s been it for the past few days.
“[It has been] pretty rough, I had a cold the first day I was here and was trying to get used to the conditions and the sleep and all that. But South Korea is amazing, I loved it. I’ve been here for four weeks, that’s what I’ve committed to and I couldn’t be happier at the moment.”
Also on Monday Radu Albot made his Seoul debut with a comfortable 6-3, 6-4 win over Japan’s lucky loser Hiroki Moriya. Albot will meet Americans Steve Johnson or home wildcard JiSung Nam in the second round while attempting to reach his second tour-level quarterfinals in 2022.
Kaichi Uchida beat another South Korean wildcard 6-4, 6-2 in the final game of the day in Seoul, Seong-chan Hong. Uchida will meet the second seed Cameron Norrie in the second round where Jaume Munar will be there too. The Spaniard’s first-round opponent Yosuke Watanuki was eliminated after just three games of the pair’s second ATP Head2Head meeting, pitting Munar against the fourth seed in the second round Denis Shapovalov.