Philipp Kohlschreiber goes through, but Kiwi out

DAVID LONG
Last updated 21:11 07/01/2014
Philipp Kohlschreiber
PETER MEECHAM/Fairfax NZ
SAFELY THROUGH: Philipp Kohlschreiber in action at the Heineken Open today.

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Philipp Kohlschreiber was able to grind it out against his opponent today, but sadly New Zealand's Rubin Statham couldn't.

Kohlschreiber, the Heineken Open's fifth seed, had a fight on his hands against Pablo Carreno Busta from Spain, but he won the mental battled to come out on top, winning 6-2 3-6 7-5.

The German not only has one of the best one-handed backhands in tennis, he also possesses a superb backhand slice, that pinned Carreno Busta on his baseline towards the end of the third set - and then he'd unleash a sweet forehand winner.

"With the wind the slice isn't that fast but it changes direction a lot because of it," Kohlschreiber explained.

"I remember when I played in the semifinals against [Olivier] Rochus here, he played a lot of slice and I got frustrated badly about it.

"If you play a good slice, it's pretty tough to do anything, especially in the right moment, you might push the balls a bit more, so that was my last chance to win the match."

Kohlschreiber, who has a world ranking of 22, won the Heineken Open in 2008 and this is his 10th appearance in Auckland. He was the finalist last year, losing in straight sets to David Ferrer, who is also playing in the tournament for the 10th time.

"He is always doing better than me, but it's a great start of the season," Kohlschreiber said of Ferrer.

"We both love to come here, it's a great Centre Court, great support and I've always played well here, so it's somewhere to get back the confidence and get some matches."

But while Kohlschreiber was able to make the adjustments in his game to get through to tomorrow's second round, Statham didn't.

He was competitive early in the first set against Lukas Lacko from Slovakia, with it being 3-3 at one point, but he then lost nine of the next 10 games, with the final result being a 6-3 6-1 defeat.

Statham is ranked 288 in the world, compared to Lacko at 90, so there needs to be a bit of perspective before the usual shock about a New Zealand player losing to someone at this tournament.

With the state of men's tennis in this country as it is and Tennis NZ washing their hands of our best male players now and focusing on youth, it's going to be a long time before anything changes, if ever.

But despite the lack of any support, Statham still feels he can progress further up the rankings.

"I believe I can play at that level, I've beat many top 100 players, so it's not a job I haven't done before," he said.

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"Even out there I did create opportunities for myself, I think it's probably more a mental thing.

"I've still got to develop my game obviously, to play consistently at that level throughout the year. But it's probably more a mental thing to be more ruthless when I have those opportunities."

Meanwhile, the first seeded player bowed out of the tournament today, with the No 8 from the Netherlands, Robin Haase losing to Spain's Guillermo Garcia-Lopez 4-6 7-5 7-6.

SINGLES

First round

[Q] Donald Young (USA) def Federico Delbonis (ARG) 7-5 6-2
Guillermo Garcia-Lopez (ESP) def [8] Robin Haase (NED) 4-6 7-5 7-6
[5] Philipp Kohlschreiber (GER) def Pablo Carreno Busta (ESP) 6-2 3-6 7-5
[Q] Lukas Lacko (SVK) def [WC] Rubin Statham (NZL) 6-3 6-1
Roberta Bautista Agut (ESP) def [Q] Daniel Gimeno-Traver (ESP) 6-1 3-6 6-4
[6] Benoit Paire (FRA) def Michal Przysiezny (POL) 6-4 6-2
Yen-Hsun Lu (TPE) def Igor Sijsling (NED) 7-5 7-6

DOUBLES

First round

[2] Julian Knowle (AUT)/ Marcel Melo (BRA) def Tommy Haas (GER)/ Andre Sa (BRA) 6-1 6-4
[3] Jamie Murray (GBR)/ John Peers (AUS) def Rubin Statham (NZL)/ Michael Venus (NZL) 6-4 6-4

- Fairfax Media

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