It was only the second day of action in Antwerp and we already lost 3 seeds, and on the other hand, it was a great day for the upcoming stars, well, for almost all of them. In the U21 battle, Ernesto Escobedo took down Denis Shapovalov by 7-6 6-4 in an hour and 44 minutes for his first win since Montreal, not being in a great form recently. It was a solid and tight battle from start to finish and Ernesto managed to keep his serve safer, fending off 2 break points and earning 8 break chances on the return. Denis did well to save 7 of those but one loose service game in the second set cost him the match, as he didn't have a chance to pull it back. The battle was on right from the start, both found a nice rhythm on serve and there were no break points until the tie break.
Escobedo clinched 3 mini-breaks to grab the set by 7-5, and this was very important for the rest of the match, keeping the pressure on Denis. Canadian saved 2 break points in the opening game and he had a chance to move in front in game 4 when he earned his only break points of the match, but Escobedo saved them to keep his serve intact. Shapovalov lost the ground in those moments and he gave the serve away in game 5, Ernesto broke him on third break point to move 3-2 in front, looking good to bring the match home from there. American lost just 3 points in his last 3 service games to wrap up a triumph, and it could have been even easier, as he had another 3 break points in game 7, failing to convert any of them.
Last week in Shanghai, Stefanos Tsitsipas qualified for the main draw and he beat Karen Khachanov for his maiden ATP win, and this talented 19-year-old repeated that here in Stockholm. Stefanos took down the 6th seed Pablo Cuevas by 6-1 6-4 in just 56 minutes to set up the second round clash with Ivo Karlovic. Everything worked well for the youngster, he lost just 11 points in 9 service games and he also had the edge in the rallies, outplaying Cuevas with his deep and precise groundstrokes. Pablo couldn't find his first serve and he as in trouble every time he would have missed it, facing 5 break points and losing serve 3 times. It was all about Tsitsipas in the opening set, he cruised through his service games and broke Cuevas in games 2 and 6 for an easy 6-1, settling into a great rhythm and moving a set away from the triumph. Pablo raised his level in the second set, holding more comfortably, but one loose service game cost him the match, as Stefanos broke in game 3 to keep the lead until game 10 when he sealed the deal on own serve.
Frances Tiafoe won his 7th ATP match of the season after toppling the German veteran Florian Mayer by 6-3 6-4 in 58 minutes. Both players struggled to find the first serve but Frances was more effective, dropping 13 points in 9 service games and getting broken once from 3 chances he gave to German. Mayer couldn't follow that pace, making too many errors and losing almost 50% of the points in his games, facing 10 break points and handing his serve 4 times. Frances was off to a great start, finding the range of his shots and making a lot of damage on the return as well, stealing rival's serve in games 3 and 9 for a 6-3. Young American raced towards the victory with a 3-0 lead in the second set as well but Mayer found the way to break back in game 5, leveling the score at 3-3 after saving 2 break points in game 6. Tiafoe proved to be more focused in the closing stages, winning 8 out of the last 9 points and breaking Florian in game 10 to wrap up a win and book his place in the second round.
First round results: