Dana Johannsen is the NZ Herald's chief sports reporter

Tennis: Kohlschreiber slices past Spaniard

Philipp Kohlschreiber battled through three sets to beat Pablo Carreno Busta of Spain yesterday. Photo / Richard Robinson
Philipp Kohlschreiber battled through three sets to beat Pablo Carreno Busta of Spain yesterday. Photo / Richard Robinson

Fifth seed Philipp Kohlschreiber needed to draw on all his 10 years of experience playing in Auckland's unique Stanley St venue to get past his first-round Heineken Open opponent yesterday.

The German survived a tough three-set battle against impressive young Spaniard Pablo Carreno Busta to set up a second-round match-up against Argentine Horacio Zeballos today.

Kohlschreiber made his first appearance in Auckland in 2004, reaching the quarter-finals or better in eight of his nine previous visits, and has come to learn the quirks of the venue over that time. It was that inside knowledge that helped him through a tight third set against Carreno Busta, who was a big mover in the ATP rankings last year.

"I think maybe I'm a little more experienced, I had the slice that I pulled out a lot. With the wind the slice is not that fast but it's changing its direction quite a lot because of the wind," said Kohlschreiber.

The value of a well-executed slice was a lesson the world No 22 said he learned the hard way, when he was beaten in the 2012 semifinals by Belgian Olivier Rochus, who employed the shot to good effect in windy conditions.

"I guess that's where 10 years in Auckland helps you," he said.

Kohlschreiber quickly wrapped up the first set 6-2. But Carreno Busta, who was voted the most improved player on the ATP tour last year, having climbed 650 positions from 715 to 65 in 2013, fought back strongly in the second, playing some impressive forehand volleys to take it to a decider.

After Kohlschreiber's tough centre court battle, sixth-seeded Frenchman Benoit Paire by contrast had a more straightforward first-up encounter, blitzing Poland's Michal Przysiezny 6-4, 6-2 in 49 minutes.

The only seed to fall in the opening round was Robin Haase of the Netherlands, who went down to Spain's Guillermo Garcia-Lopez in a match that went to a third-set tiebreak.

Rubin Statham's appearance in the main draw of the singles lasted just over an hour, with the Kiwi No 1 easily accounted for by Slovakian Lukas Lacko 6-3, 6-1.

Rain forced an early end to last night's evening session, creating a scheduling nightmare for organisers today. Drizzly conditions interrupted the first match of the evening between American qualifier Bradley Klahn and Daniel Brands of Germany. Klahn won the first set 7-5, but trailed 2-4 when the match was stopped. They will resume on centre court today, with play at Stanley St to start at an earlier time of 10am.

Last night's late game between wildcard Marcos Baghdatis and American Steve Johnson was also postponed and will be pushed to an outside court. The respective winners of the two matches will play twice today.

Top results

*Guillermo Garcia-Lopez (ESP) bt 8-Robin Haase (NED) 4-6 7-5 7-6(4)
*5-Philipp Kohlschreiber (GER) bt Pablo Carreno Busta (ESP) 6-2 3-6 7-5
*Roberto Bautista Agut (ESP) bt Daniel Gimeno (ESP) 6-1 3-6 6-4
*Q-Donald Young (USA) bt Federico Delbonis (ARG) 7-5 6-2
*Q-Lukas Lacko (SVK) bt WC-Rubin Statham (NZL) 6-3 6-1
*2-Julian Knowle (AUT)/Marcelo Melo (BRA) bt Tommy Haas (GER)/Andre Sa (BRA) 6-1 6-4
*6-Benoit Paire (FRA) bt Michal Przysiezny (POL) 6-4 6-2
*Lu Yen-Hsun (TPE) bt Igor Sijsling (NED) 7-5 7-6 (7)

- NZ Herald

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