After two days of frequent rain interruptions, the weather in northwestern Poland finally got better. The tournament had some making-up to do and t24 matches were played on five courts. The seeds came into play, including World No. 49 Albert Ramos-Vinolas.
The Spaniard defeated Johannes Haerteis in two comfortable sets. Ramos-Vinolas got a good read on the opponent’s serve and broke four times.
A 6-2 6-4 victory marked his return to Szczecin after 10 years. Back then he was ranked No. 246 in the ATP ranking and lost in the second round to Florian Mayer. This time, he comes back to the Pekao Szczecin Open as the top seed and a favorite to clinch the title.
If not now, when?
Ramos-Vinolas will have a good chance to lift the “Spanish curse” of the Pekao Szczecin Open. Clay courts are usually this nation’s players forte, yet over 26 past editions not a single Spaniard lifted the title. Seven different men combined for nine runner-ups and only two sets won in the finals. In last year’s edition, Alejandro Davidovich Fokina took a set from Guido Andreozzi, but came up just short in the very end.
The Spaniard had a roller-coaster of a season so far, at one point dropping out of the top 100 for the first time in five years. The post-Wimbledon clay court season brought some much-needed success. Ramos-Vinolas had a great run at three consecutive tournaments (Bastad, Gstaad, Kitzbuhel), winning 12 matches and clinching his second career ATP title in the process.
Ramos-Vinolas attributes this success to finally playing injury free and an increase in confidence. His goal for now is to get to the Top 40. Piling up points in clay challengers should be easier for him than in Asian hard courts tournaments.
The Spaniard said at the press conference that he expects a tough match tomorrow. Thomaz Bellucci even at this stage of his career is definitely not your typical Challenger third-round opponent. The former World No. 21 is always a difficult opponent on this surface.
Main Photo from Getty.