Cristian Garin was perfect in the clutch moments on Monday evening to dismiss home favourite Fernando Verdasco 6-1, 6-4 in the first round of the Mutua Madrid Open.
The Chilean No. 1 saved all eight break points he faced and converted the three opportunities he earned to advance after one hour and 27 minutes, setting a second-round clash against German Dominik Koepfer, who ousted American Reilly Opelka 6-4, 6-4 earlier in the day.
The difference in Madrid experience could not have been greater inside Manolo Santana Stadium, as Garin was making his tournament debut and Verdasco was competing in the Spanish capital for the 18th consecutive edition (he also played in qualifying in 2002). But when it mattered most, Garin was the more comfortable player.
The 16th seed played aggressively when he needed to. But more importantly, he gave very few free points away, forcing Verdasco to beat him. The Spaniard could not do so, as he made 32 unforced errors, more than doubling Garin’s count (15).
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One seed who was unable to move on was 10th seed Pablo Carreno Busta. Qualifier Federico Delbonis rallied from a set and two breaks down to defeat the Spaniard 3-6, 6-4, 6-3 in the last match of the day. The Argentine will next challenge Estoril champion Albert Ramos-Vinolas or American Taylor Fritz.
In other action, Marcos Giron won a marathon three-setter against Pablo Andujar, clawing past the Spaniard 6-7(8), 7-6(4), 7-5 after three hours and 26 minutes. The American had already played a match that lasted longer than three hours in the first round of qualifying against Thiago Monteiro.
Giron will have to recover quickly when he plays third seed Dominic Thiem on Tuesday evening. The 27-year-old owns one Top 10 victory, which he claimed against Matteo Berrettini at last year’s Rolex Paris Masters.
Did You Know?
Garin is in second seed Daniil Medvedev’s section of the draw. If both men reach the third round, they will meet for the second time in their ATP Head2Head series. The Russian triumphed in straight sets two years ago in Montreal.