In his only previous Sofia open Five years ago, Grigor Dimitrov delighted his home fans by winning the trophy for losing just one set. Ilya Ivashka would not allow the Bulgarian to relive that joy this year.
The 28-year-old defeated the third-placed 6-3, 7-6(3) and reached the quarter-finals in Sofia. Ivashka held all seven break points he faced to triumph after an hour and 52 minutes.
“It was a very tough match and I’m very happy that I won in the end,” Ivashka said in his on-pitch interview. “It’s very difficult to play against Grigor, especially here at his home.”
The fans tried to force their local hero into a crucial set by shouting “Grigor! Grigor! Grigor!” chanted. after almost every point he won. But Ivashka kept his nerve in crucial moments to advance to the last eight.
“I find [holding my nerves] was the key of the game because the tension was high,” said Ivashka. “Of course, all the fans supported him, so it was tough mentally, but I coped well.”
Lorenzo Sonego” />
Photo credit: Ivo Pinev/LAP.bg
Lorenzo Sonego sent an early statement to the rest of the field earlier in the day as he rode to his sixth straight win with a 6-3, 6-4 win Bernabe Zapata Miralles at the indoor ATP 250 event.
After claiming his third ATP Tour title without dropping a set in Metz last week, Sonego underpinned that run with an impressive first-round service performance against Zapata Miralles in Bulgaria. The Italian won 86 percent (32/37) of the points behind his first performance en route to a 79-minute win that set off an intriguing second-round matchup against fifth place Holger Rune.
“I’m really happy because I was really aggressive on the pitch today,” said Sonego, who made his main draw debut in Sofia. “I played so well. I did my best today, I’m really happy about that.”
– Tennis TV (@TennisTV) September 28, 2022
World No. 45 Sonego has brought his best level to the indoor hard season yet. Despite the challenge of taking on the ever-resilient Zapata Miralles, the 27-year-old broke the Spaniard once in each set to improve his season record to 24-24.
“Zapata is a wall, a big wall,” said Sonego, who now leads world No. 78 2-0 in the pair’s ATP Head2Head series. “He served really well [but] I started so well today with good variation. The key was my opinion [my performance] being aggressive on serve and return.”
Marc Andrea Husler and Fernando Verdasco were also straight-set winners on Wednesday. World No. 95 Swiss Huesler defeated the French qualifier Geoffrey Blancaneaux 6-4, 6-4 to set up a meeting with the second seed Pablo Carreno Bustawhile former world No. 7 Verdasco took out the sixth seed Nikoloz Basilashvili 7-6(1), 7-5. The Spanish left-hander, a seven-time world champion at tour level, will face off Alexander Vukic in the second round as he bids for his third ATP Tour quarterfinal appearance of the year.
Jan Lennard Struff‘s powerful serve helped the former world No. 29 to a 4-6, 6-3, 6-2 comeback win Dusan Lajović. The German won 90 percent (43/48) of the points behind his first serve against Lajovic and extended his lead in the ATP Head2Head series against the Serb to 3-0. Struff next meets another qualifier Ugo Humbertwith both players pursuing their first tour-level quarterfinals in 2022.