The world no. 119 Roberto Carballes Baena will compete in the first ATP quarter-final since Estoril last year, defeating a qualifier Lorenzo Sonego 7-5, 6-1 in an hour and 38 minutes. Serving at almost 70%, the Spaniard delivered solid numbers behind the first and second serve, getting broke twice and winning nearly half of the return points and breaking Sonego five times from 13 chances.
Lorenzo managed to come back from a 5-2 down in the opening set, only to lose eight of the next nine games to hit the exit door and send Roberto into the last eight. They traded breaks in games two and three and it was Carballes Baena who had the upper hand in the next 20 minutes, breaking Sonego in game six to open a 5-2 advantage.
The Italian broke back in the very last moment at 3-5 to level the score at 5-5 and create two break chances in game 11 for a complete turnaround. Carballes Baena fends them off and he converted the fourth set point on the return in the following game for a 7-5.
Carried by this momentum, Roberto rattled off five straight games in set number two to cross the finish line and stay on the title course. Facing each other for the first time on the Tour, the 3rd seed Marco Cecchinato toppled Christian Garin 7-6, 6-4 in an hour and 49 minutes for his third win of the season and the second quarter-final after Doha.
Both players had their chances on the return and it was Cecchinato who saved five out of eight break points, playing better on the second serve while scoring four breaks to seal the deal in straight sets. The Chilean drew first blood in the third game of the match but he sprayed a backhand error a few minutes later to hand the break back to Cecchinato who saved three break points in game seven to remain on the positive side of the scoreboard.
Serving at 5-6, Christian defended four set points to reach the tie break where he opened a 4-2 lead before Marco stepped in, winning five points in a row to claim the breaker 7-5 after a backhand error from the youngster.
Cecchinato scored three straight breaks at the start of the second set and despite getting broken twice he brought the match home with a forced error from Garin in game ten to secure the place in the quarters. In the battle of the home players, Cordoba finalist Guido Pella prevailed against Leonardo Mayer 6-4, 1-6, 7-6 in two hours and 11 minutes, facing each other for the first time since this tournament three years ago.
Mayer finished on the losing side despite facing only four break points, suffering two breaks and winning 12 points more than Pella thanks to that second set! Guido lost serve three times although he managed to raise his level after a poor second set to emerge as the winner in the deciding tie break where he almost squandered a 5-0 lead.
In the longest match of the day, the young Spaniard Jaume Munar toppled the 2nd seed Fabio Fognini 4-6, 6-4, 7-5 in two hours and 20 minutes for one of his best wins ever, coming from the verge of defeat to advance into the last eight.
Munar won just four points more than Fognini and he scored an extra break (seven against six for Fabio) to seal the deal and move into the third quarter-final of the season. Jaume had to retire against the Italian at the Australian Open after a great fight and he endured all the efforts today, showing both the physical and mental strength to overpower the world no.
15 and make a big step towards the maiden ATP title. They traded four breaks in the first five games and Fognini was the one who moved ahead in game nine with a forehand winner, closing the opener with a drop shot winner in the following game for a 6-4.
The youngster bounced back in set number two, hitting a magnificent backhand crosscourt winner in game ten for the crucial break and a 6-4, sending the match into a decider and increasing his chances against the better-ranked opponent.
Just like in the first couple of sets, they broke each other earlier in the third and it seemed that Fognini made a crucial move when he landed a return winner for a break at love in game nine. Out of sudden, Munar won 12 of the next 14 points for a great escape, breaking back in game ten and sending Fognini out with a break at love at 6-5 following a backhand winner.