Clay court specialists make long trek for Cordoba Open
The main draw of the Cordoba Open is dominated by local entrants from top seed Diego Schwartzman to wildcard entrants like Guido Pella.
However, as the first clay court event of the 2023 ATP Tour it was bound to attract a few lovers of the surface from Europe.
Led by third seed and defending champion Albert Ramos-Vinolas Spain have a strong presence in the 28-man draw with five players in all.
Ramos-Vinolas will enjoy a bye into the second round guaranteeing a Spanish presence in the last sixteen.
The first round match between Peru’s world No 103 Juan Pablo Varillas and Serbia’s World No 89 Dusan Lajovic will determine the first hurdle in the defence of Ramos-Vinolas.
Ramos-Vinolas is the only foreign player to receive a bye into the second round although his compatriots Pedro Martinez (No 7) and Bernabe Zapata Miralles (No 8), were also seeded.
Miralles will start his tournament with an all-Spanish battle against Roberto Carballes Baena, ensuring there will be at least two men from Spain in the second round.
Seventh seed Martinez has a tricky nut to crack first up in the shape of five-time clay court titlist Cristian Garin.
Garin leads the ATP Tour head to head series against Martinez 3-1 however, the Spaniard did come out on top the last time they met in Miami in 2022.
Journeyman Pablo Andujar will start his campaign against 21-year-old wildcard Juan Manuel Cerundolo.
Argentine Cerundolo will be playing his first ATP Tour match of 2023 while Andujar will be out to kickstart a spluttering term which has seen him lose in Australian Open qualifying after a first round exit in Pune to start the year.
Juan Manuel’s older brother Francisco is the second seed and will enjoy a bye to the second round where he will face either Chile’s Alejandro Tabilo or a qualifier.
As for the rest of the European contingent, France are represented by Hugo Gaston who will open his campaign against a qualifier.
If he wins through his first round battle, Gaston will face fourth seed Sebastian Baez in the last 16.
Portugal’s Joao Sousa will take on home hope Tomas Martin Etcheverry in a tough opener for the ‘visitor’.
Italy’s Marco Cecchinato might be joined by compatriots Andrea Vavassori and Luciano Darderi who are both one win away from qualifying for the main draw.
Cecchinato will take on another Argentine contender in Facundo Bagnis in the first round.
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