Italian wild-card cruises through

This content was published 13 years ago. It may refer to a past edition of the Internazionali d’Italia.

29-year-old journeyman Filippo Volandri proved that he was worthy of the wild card which the Italian Federation awarded him, brushing Thiemo de Bakker aside in little over an hour.

The Dutchman enjoyed a stellar 2010 but has struggled this year, losing eight of his 11 tour matches thus far and Sunday saw him fail to hit his straps throughout. He rarely found his radar on first service, and this enabled Volandri, currently no.80 in the ATP rankings, to carve out break points in virtually every game. The Italian took three of them in the first set and two in the second, to the delight of the partisan crowd. Volandri will now face the winner of Stanislas Wawrinka (a finalist here three years ago though in poor form in 2011) and another Italian wild card, Fabio Fognini.

After Volandri’s win, the crowd was pumped up for the match between Andreas Seppi and Juan Monaco, but the crafty Argentinean silenced them in the end, defeating his Italian opponent 6-1, 4-6, 6-2. Seppi managed only two break points in the match but converted the latter to force a decider, but he was permanently behind the eight-ball on his own serve and was powerless to stop “Pico” in the third. Monaco will face an out-of-sorts Tomas Berdych in the second round and will fancy his chances on clay against the no.7 seed.

Elsewhere in the first round, Germany’s Florian Mayer coped better with the hot yet windy conditions to defeat Andrey Golubev 6-4, 6-3. The Kazakh rarely settled, serving five double faults and berating himself copiously throughout. Mayer will face veteran lefty Juergen Melzer in the second round who is no.8 seed and currently enjoying his highest-ever ranking. Fellow German Philipp Kohlschreiber also created the upset of the day at least in terms of ranking, dispatching no.13 seed Mikhail Youzhny for the loss of a mere six games. The Russian continues his slide down the rankings since peaking at the end of last year, while “Kohli” stretched his dominance over him, having now defeated him five times out of six.

In the final match of the day, Fernando Verdasco avoided a real banana skin in the form of rising star Milos Raonic, defeating the Canadian 6-4, 6-4. The Spanish lefty has slipped to 17th in the world and thus is not seeded here, giving him the toughest of draws – world no.25 and newcomer of the year Raonic in the first round followed by no.5 seed Robin Soderling in the second. He overcame the first hurdle without a hiccup on the back of a 77% first service rate, and while Raonic thrilled the crowd with five of his trademark aces, he only managed a 55% clip overall and had ten break-points against him. Verdasco took one in each set, and that was enough.

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