SOFIA: Lorenzo Sonego sent an early statement to the rest of the field at the Sofia Open on Wednesday, racing to his sixth consecutive straight-sets victory with a 6-3, 6-4 first round win against Bernabe Zapata Miralles at the indoor ATP 250 event.
Having charged to his third ATP Tour title last week without dropping a set in Metz, Sonego backed up that run with a stunning first-round serving performance against Zapata Miralles in Bulgaria.
The Italian won 86 per cent (32/37) of points behind his first delivery en route to a 79-minute victory that set an intriguing second-round matchup against fifth seed Holger Rune.
"I am really happy because today I was really aggressive on court. I played so well. I did my best today, I am really happy about that," said Sonego, who was making his main-draw debut in Sofia.
The World No. 45 Sonego has so far brought his best level to the indoor hard-court season. Despite the challenge of taking on the ever-resilient Zapata Miralles, the 27-year-old broke the Spaniard once in each set to improve his season record to 24-24.
"Zapata is a wall, a big wall," said Sonego, who now leads the World No 78 2-0 in the pair's ATP Head to Head series.
"He served really well, (but) I started so good today, with good variation. The key I think was (my performance) on serve, and to be aggressive on return," he added.
Marc-Andrea Huesler and Fernando Verdasco were also straight-sets winners on Wednesday.
The Swiss World No 95 Huesler downed French qualifier Geoffrey Blancaneaux 6-4, 6-4 to set a meeting with second seed Pablo Carreno Busta, while former World No. 7 Verdasco took out sixth seed Nikoloz Basilashvili 7-6(1), 7-5.
The Spanish lefty, a seven-time tour-level titlist, will face Aleksandar Vukic in the second round as he bids for his third ATP Tour quarter-final appearance of the year.
Jan-Lennard Struff's powerful serving helped the former World No. 29 complete a 4-6, 6-3, 6-2 comeback win against Dusan Lajovic. The German won 90 per cent (43/48) of points behind his first serve against Lajovic on the way to extending his ATP Head to Head series lead against the Serbian to 3-0.
Struff next faces fellow qualifier Ugo Humbert, with both players chasing their maiden tour-level quarter-final of 2022. IANS