Sofia Open: In-form Sonego beats Zapata Miralles in opening round

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.

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