PARIS.- It was a full season since Federico Delbonis (65th in the world ranking) did not win a match in a Grand Slam. He went through Wimbledon, the US Open and the Australian Open, but in all three events he always had to say goodbye in the first round. This time, everything changed and the southpaw returned to Roland Garrosscenario in which he had won in a tournament of this category for the last time, and he had the pleasure of returning to victory.
The player born in Azul did not have an easy debut on the French brick dust, because on the other side of the net one of the local players, the left-handed player, was waiting for him Adrian Mannarino (69th in the world). Both left-handed, although with different game prototypes, and both with a long history on tour. In a duel of changing development, the winner of the historic fifth Argentine in the 2016 Davis Cup final against Croatia in Zagreb, managed to win 6-1, 7-6 (7-1) and 6-2, in two hours and 14 minutes, in court number 6 of the fabulous French complex. With his victory, the first round was completed for the 11 Argentine representatives in Paris, with a balance of five wins and six losses. Those who had also advanced to second were Diego Schwartzman, Sebastián Báez, Camilo Ugo Carabelli and Pedro Cachin.
Under the watchful eye of Davis Cup captain Guillermo Coria and sub-captain Martín García, Delbonis, trained by Mariano Hood, passed the first round in the Bois de Boulogne for the fifth time (he had already done so in 2013, 2018, 2019 and 2021). But this season, he’s on a mission to defend his career-best finish in a major: the 8th finals reached last year on the Parisian brick dust, when he said goodbye to the Spaniard Alejandro Davidovich Fokina in the fourth stage.
Delbonis, who will turn 32 next October, was satisfied with his debut: “It was a good match, I think I played very solid in the first set, I got a bit nervous in the second and at the same time Adrian started to play more aggressive and It got a little complicated, but when I was able to feel better mentally, I managed to get the game on track”. for the lefty, it was important to have saved four set-points in the second quarter, when Mannarino took a 5-2 lead and had those chances to take second. “It happened that I did not continue hitting as I had been and he improved with the encouragement of the people in his favor. Having won that set gave me a jump start to also start 3-0 very quickly in the third. He made it difficult for me at the end in a couple of games with the wind, but I think I continued to play well”, he expanded.
The victory against Mannarino is a valuable contribution for Delbonis, who he had only achieved two wins on the European tour on slow surface: in the first round of the Masters 1000 in Monte Carlo, against the Spanish Jaume Munar and, last week, at the ATP 250 in Geneva, against the Lithuanian Ricardas Berankis. The left-hander spoke about what has been a season with ups and downs so far, beyond an accompanying ailment: “The injury has nothing to do with my present. I do preventive things to lengthen my career, I can be fine with kinesiology, and of course, I have the pain that anyone who plays has, but that has nothing to do with the results. I always tried to emphasize how consistent I was on the brick dust tour last year, and how hard it was to do it again afterwards. This year, with the points to defend, I couldn’t have a good preparation. I had some bad luck after Australia when I tested positive for Covid, then I arrived with just enough in Marrakesh at the start of the tour… It’s little things that didn’t work out, and then the lack of winning games makes you lose a little trustworthy But I want to continue giving myself opportunities. Just as it happened today with the second set, that I went through with it, tennis is becoming very mental”.
Delbonis’s next rival will be the Russian Andrey Rublev, seventh favorite in Paris, who defeated the Korean Soonwoo Kwon (71st) 6-7 (5-7), 6-3, 6-2 and 6-4. The Argentine and the Muscovite met only once, in the first round of Wimbledon 2021 and Rublev triumphed in four sets. Delbo anticipated: “He is the favourite, that’s for sure. But I want to go out on the pitch, enjoy the game and do what I’ve been doing, and mentally keep working. In certain matches, and in five sets, a lot can happen.”
Bagnis and Coria, eliminated
Previously, two other players from our country said goodbye in the first round. First thing in the morning Facundo Bagnis he lost 6-2, 6-2 and 6-2 against the Russian Daniil Medvedev, number 2 in the world, at the Lenglen court; the left-hander from Rosario looked physically handicapped by a soleus injury.
Later, Federico Coria he said goodbye to the Slovak Alex Molcan, who defeated him 6-3, 6-4, 3-6 and 6-3; the younger brother of the Davis Cup captain had a chance from him in the second set, in which he was 4-0, but he couldn’t close it.