Last former champion still in competition at this year’s edition of the Rio Open presented by Claro, Uruguayan Pablo Cuevas had no problem beating Argentinian Juan Ignacio Londero this Thursday to secure a spot in the quarter-finals of the event at Jockey Club Brasileiro.
Cuevas needed just over an hour to score 6/1 and 6/4 and improve to 12-4 his excellent win-loss record in Rio.
“I’m happy with my tennis and to be honest I don’t feel like I’m the favorite to win this tournament”, said Cuevas.
In the last game of this Friday night at Court Guga Kuerten, the Uruguayan will face Albert Ramos-Vinolas.
“I know it’s going to be a tough match playing a Spaniard player on clay, but I feel ready and I believe in my tennis. Of course I still have some adjustments to make but I think I can win.”
His rival Vinola defeated Argentinian Federico Delbonis this Thursday afternoon after nearly loosing the match at the second set. In the end, he prevailed in 3/6, 7/5 and 6/3.
“I struggled to find my rhythm in the first set and got better in the second. At some point, when it was 4/4, I thought the game was over but I managed to find my focus again and kept on going”, said Vinolas.
As for his next rival, Cuevas, the Spaniard believes he’s the underdog. “Pablo is a great player and, even though he’s not a top seed at this year’s event because he had a bad 2018, he plays really well and beat me several times in the past (Cuevas leads the head to head by 6-1). The pressure is on him. I’ve got nothing to loose”, added Vinolas.
Djere and Ruud also prevail
First winner of this Thursday at the Rio Open was Serbian Laslo Djere.
Djere, who garnered the first Top 10 victory of his career on Tuesday when he knocked 2017 champion Dominic Thiem out of the event, beat Taro Daniel, from Japan, in two sets: 6/4 and 6/2.
With the win, Djere will became World’s number 81, his best ranking position so far.
He will now take on ATP’s Next Gen Casper Ruud, who defeated last seeded player still active in the tournament, Portuguese João Souza. 20-year old Ruud won in three sets: 6/3, 3/6 and 6/4.
“It was a very tough match I felt like I played really well at certain points of the match. Of course I’m really happy to get through with the win after a tough battle, the conditions were difficult, it was very humid, witch is extra tough for players who sweat a lot like me. I feel a little bit tired now, but I’ll be ready for tomorrow”, said Ruud.
Rio has a special place in the Norwegian’s heart. It was at the carioca event that he had his breakthrough tournament, two years ago, making the semi-finals as a 208th-ranked wild card.
As for his next match, he expects another battle on court. “I honestly don’t know Djere well, we never played or practiced together, so hopefully my coach can help me with that. I know he’s been playing well and is in good shape and it’s going to be a big match for both of us”, added the Norwegian.
“On the paper he is the favorite but hopefully I can be the winner.”
Bolivian Dellien hopes to continue making history
The first quarter-final match of this edition of the Rio Open will put face to face Slovenian Aljaz Bedene and Bolivian sensation Hugo Dellien, at Quadra Giga Kuerten, starting at 3pm.
While Bedene is in his fourth appearance at the carioca tournament, with the best result being the quarter-finals last year (lost to Fabio Fognini), Dellien is playing for the first time at Jockey Club Brasileiro.
The Bolivian already made history this week after becoming the first tennis player from his country to win an ATP Tour or Grand Slam match since 1984. This will also be the first time he plays an ATP 500 quarter-final.
“This week has been a dream to me. The past two I struggled trying to qualify to Cordoba and Buenos Aires and now I’m playing the quarter-finals of an ATP 500 event”, said Dellien, ranked 113 in the world.
RESULTS – FEBRUARY 21, 2019
Singles – Second Round
[Q] C. Ruud (NOR) d  J. Sousa (POR) 63 36 64
L. Djere (SRB) d T. Daniel (JPN) 64 62
A. Ramos-Vinolas (ESP) d F. Delbonis (ARG) 36 75 63
P. Cuevas (URU) d [Q] J. Londero (ARG) 61 64
ORDER OF PLAY – FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 22, 2019
COURT GUGA KUERTEN start 3:00 pm
A. Bedene (SLO) vs [Q] H. Dellien (BOL)
L. Djere (SRB) vs [Q] C. Ruud (NOR)
J. Munar (ESP) vs [WC] F. Auger-Aliassime (CAN)
A. Ramos-Vinolas (ESP) vs P. Cuevas (URU)