ATP Rio: Cristian Garin, Federico Coria, Pedro Martinez, Attila Balazs reach quarters

Tennis - Two qualifiers and one lucky loser are through to the last eight, seeking big points at the first clay ATP 500 event of the season

by Jovica Ilic
ATP Rio: Cristian Garin, Federico Coria, Pedro Martinez, Attila Balazs reach quarters

One seed, two qualifiers and one lucky loser are through to the quarter-final at the ATP 500 event in Rio de Janeiro, staying in contention for the title and massive points. Attila Balazs is through to his first ATP quarter-final since Umag last year when he was a surprise finalist, beating Thiago Monteiro 1-6, 6-1, 6-4 in an hour and 51 minutes.

The Brazilian served at 70% and fired 12 aces but that wasn't enough to carry him through, even though he made a perfect start of the encounter. Balazs secured five breaks and suffered four in his games, prevailing with a late break in the decider to advance into the last eight for the first time above the ATP 250 level.

Thiago stormed over his rival in the first set, securing three straight breaks for a 6-1 and losing momentum even faster in set number two when the Hungarian had the upper hand to score three consecutive breaks and repeat the result from the opener.

Trailing 5-2 in the final set, Monteiro pulled the break back and stayed in touch before Attila grabbed the decisive break at 5-4 to cross the finish line. A qualifier Pedro Martinez played well in Cordoba and Buenos Aires, maintaining the pace in Rio de Janeiro as well to advance into the first ATP quarter-final thanks to a rock-solid 6-1, 6-4 victory over Pablo Andujar in an hour and 26 minutes.

The youngster lost 17 points in nine service games, fending off all three break chances and stealing the opponent's serve thrice to control the scoreboard and sail into the last eight. Martinez grabbed a break in game four when Andujar sprayed a forehand error, delivering another one at 4-1 thanks to a weak smash from the more experienced player and fending off two break chances in the next game with service winners to grab the opener 6-1.

Pedro landed a perfect backhand down the line winner in the third game of the second set to forge the advantage that he kept until the end, firing a service winner in game ten to seal the deal and deliver the fifth ATP victory in the last couple of weeks.

Another qualifier Federico Coria came to Rio de Janeiro with one ATP win under his belt, scoring two at this event for the first ATP quarter-final after a 6-4, 4-6, 6-4 victory over the 16-year-old Carlos Alcaraz. The encounter lasted for two hours and 17 minutes and there wasn't much to separate them, with both taking 96 points.

Coria repelled ten out of 14 break chances, earning five breaks to prevail against the youngest player in the draw who became the first player born in 2003 with an ATP win this week. The Argentine saved all five break chances in the opener, earning a break at 4-4 following a costly double fault from the Spaniard and erasing a break chance in the next game with a service winner before hitting another one for a 6-4.

Alcaraz raced into a 5-0 lead in set number two with a double break, getting broken twice while serving for the set at 5-1 and 5-3 to keep the rival in contention. Coria's effort was in vain, though, suffering another break in game ten to hand the set to the youngster who had the momentum on his side ahead of the decider.

There, they traded early breaks and it was Federico who clinched another one at 2-2 and moved over the top with a fine hold in game ten that propelled him through. Skipping Buenos Aires, Cordoba champion Cristian Garin is back in action in Rio de Janeiro, ousting Federico Delbonis 6-4, 6-3 in an hour and 36 minutes after a rock-solid performance.

The Chilean dropped 13 points in nine service games, facing no break points and mounting the pressure on the other side of the net to steal the opponent's serve thrice from seven chances, moving through after a double fault from the Argentine in the ninth game of the second set to remain on the title course.

Federico Coria Pedro Martinez Attila Balazs