ATP Sofia: Berrettini downs Khachanov. Bautista Agut and Verdasco win



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ATP Sofia: Berrettini downs Khachanov. Bautista Agut and Verdasco win

The 6th seed Fernando Verdasco is safely through to the second round in Sofia after a 6-2, 6-1 triumph over a qualifier Alexander Lazarov in just 51 minutes. Serving at 75%, Fernando lost just 11 points behind the initial shot, facing the only break point he played against and stealing more than of the points on the return to score four breaks from five opportunities.

Lazarov sprayed a forehand error in the second game to get broken and Fernando claimed the opener with another break at 5-2, previously saving a break point in the seventh game. The Bulgarian netted a backhand in the second game of the second set to fall even further behind, sending Verdasco 5-1 up after yet another basic error in game six.

Serving for the triumph, the Spaniard held at 30 a few minutes later to make a perfect start and save energy for more dangerous obstacles. Martin Klizan needed an hour and 22 minutes to dethrone Mirza Basic, dominating in the sets he won for a 6-0, 3-6, 6-2 triumph after converting all five break points he earned.

The 4th seed and a former champion Roberto Bautista Agut had to work hard to grab the tenth win of the season, ousting Matthew Ebden 3-6, 6-3, 6-2 in an hour and 49 minutes to secure the place in the quarters. Playing against each other for the first time since June 2014, Roberto saved two out of four break points in the opening set and he recovered after a slow start, dropping only 12 points on serve in the rest of the encounter and leaving the rival behind him.

Matthew couldn't properly defend the second serve and four breaks were all Bautista Agut needed to bring the match home and stay on the title course. The top seed Karen Khachanov is not on it anymore, though, losing in the second round to his Italian coeval Matteo Berrettini 6-7, 6-3, 6-4 in two hours and nine minutes.

Matteo won just four points more than Karen although that was enough to cross the finish line first and show the exit door to the Russian who is 2-3 outside Davis Cup so far in 2019! Khachanov served at 72% but his second serve let him down, facing seven break points and suffering three breaks, one in each set.

On the other hand, Berrettini repelled two out of three chances he offered to the world no. 11 and that sent him over the top, gaining confidence after a poor start of the year. Karen drew first blood in the fourth game when he painted the line with a forehand down the line winner, barely losing a point on serve to forge a 5-2 lead.

Out of sudden, he sprayed a forehand error in game nine to hand the game to Berrettini while serving for the set, also wasting a set point on the return in the following game to keep Matteo in contention before the tie break.

The Italian squandered a set point at 6-5, unable to tame Karen's serve and hitting a backhand long in the 14th point to lose the breaker 8-6. Despite this setback, Matteo continued to fight and he lost just three points on serve in set number two, making one good hold after another and breaking Karen at 3-2 after a loose backhand from the Russian.

The Italian closed the set in the ninth game and he did everything right in the third as well, keeping his serve protected and clinching the crucial break in the third game with a perfect forehand crosscourt winner. Serving for the match at 5-4, Berrettini fired a service winner to join Bautista Agut in the quarter-final, waiting for Marius Copil or Fernando Verdasco.