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Lorenzo Sonego gave the home fans plenty to cheer about on Sunday when he upset France’s Adrian Mannarino in the opening match on Court Centrale at the Internazionali BNL d’Italia.
The 23-year-old Italian, who earned a wild card into the main draw after winning the pre-qualifying tournament last week, battled back from a set down to defeat world No. 27 Mannarino 26 76(4) 63. He will now face Peter Gojowczyk, who was a surprise winner of his match against No. 12 seed Sam Querrey, in the second round.
Sonego is enjoying a successful season on the ATP Tour. He reached his first ATP quarterfinal as a qualifier in Budapest last month, defeating world No. 29 Richard Gasquet en route to the last eight. The world No. 142 also recorded the first Grand Slam victory of his career when he overcame Robin Haase in the first round of the Australian Open earlier this year and plays here just one spot away from the career-high ranking he set in April.
Court Centrale was not such a happy hunting ground for Stan Wawrinka on the opening day at the Foro Italico. The 33-year-old former world No. 3, who was back in action for the first time since February, remained upbeat despite his 64 64 loss to Steve Johnson.
“I’m, for sure, disappointed with the result, that’s for sure. Would have loved to win,” said the three-time Grand Slam champion. “But I think, for me, if I really look where I am right now, I’m really happy. I think, in general, my level is really high, is better than what I expected.”
Wawrinka underwent knee surgery last August, returning briefly at the beginning of the year but hadn’t been seen on the Tour since he retired in Marseille in February. An extended recovery period for the knee surgery plus a calf injury which set him back for a further 10 days had delayed his return to competition.
Ryan Harrison was another American to taste success in the main draw on Sunday after he defeated Yuichi Sugita 76(5) 63 to advance to the next round where he will meet No. 4 seed Marin Cilic. Compatriot Jack Sock, the No. 13 seed, proved too good for David Ferrer, who became a father for the first time last week, running out victorious 63 64 against the former Roland Garros finalist to set up a second round clash against either Karen Khachanov or Philipp Kohlschreiber.
Further men’s main draw matches plus the women’s main draw get underway at 11am tomorrow.