Ernests Gulbis and Marius Copil have failed to qualify in Rotterdam although they have earned a second chance to fight for the main draw win, facing each other in the opening round as lucky losers. Ernests needed just 72 minutes to dismiss the Romanian 6-2, 6-4 and score the fourth win of the season, delivering career-best numbers behind the serve to book the place in the last 16.
The Latvian blasted 12 aces and he lost just seven points in nine service games, never facing a break point and keeping the pressure on the other side of the net. Copil was miles away from those numbers and he had to play against 12 break points, suffering three breaks to propel Ernests over the finish line.
Gulbis hit the zone right from the start, rattling off one good hold after another and moving ahead when Marius sprayed a forehand error in game four. Serving to stay in the set at 2-5, Copil netted an easy volley to hand the opener to his rival who was looking for more of the same in the rest of the encounter.
The Romanian was powerless on the return in set number two as well, creating nine break points and having a chance to wrap up the win in less than an hour. Copil fends off the first eight, including three match points at 4-5 before Ernests finally clinched the victory with a forehand down the line winner, happy with the way he performed and confident before the second round clash against Kei Nishikori or Pierre-Hugues Herbert.
The 4th seed Milos Raonic toppled Philipp Kohlschreiber 7-6, 7-5 in an hour and 41 minutes, blasting 21 aces and losing 12 points behind the initial shot. Philipp had only one break point although he managed to stay in touch with the rival all the time, wasting a set point in the first set tie break and suffering the only break in his last service game to push Milos over the finish line.
Raonic had 40 winners and just 15 unforced errors, keeping everything under control in his games and waiting patiently for an opportunity on the return. After ten easy holds on both sides, Kohlschreiber created a break chance but Milos' strong serve denied it and the set went into a tie break where the Canadian opened a 6-4 lead.
Philipp saved three set points before he created one of his own that Milos erased with a service winner for 8-8. Raonic won three points in a row to close the breaker 10-8 following a deep return that the German failed to control, building the momentum before the rest of the encounter.
Milos had the opportunity to gain a set and a break lead but he squandered break points in the first and third games of the second set, staying on the positive side of the scoreboard until game 11 when Milos earned the crucial break with a forehand down the line winner that sent him 6-5 up.
Serving for the triumph in the following game, Raonic fired four winners to emerge as the winner and set the blockbuster second-round clash against Stan Wawrinka. Another Canadian had a good day in the office as well, with Denis Shapovalov ousting a qualifier Franko Skugor 7-5, 6-3 in an hour and 23 minutes, losing serve twice but delivering a solid performance on the return to pass the first obstacle and stay on the title course.
The youngster forged a lead in the fourth game when Skugor netted a backhand but he lost the advantage after a backhand error in game seven. Still, he lost that game behind him quickly, wasting two set points on the return in the tenth game before breaking Franko at love at 6-5 to finally close the first set.
The Croat suffered two breaks at the start of set number two and a teenager sealed the deal with four winners in game nine that propelled him into the second round.