Chinese Li Zhe survived Italian Lorenzo Giustino, 6-3, 3-6, 6-4, to advance to the second round of the Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP) Challenger Tour on Monday at the newly refurbished Rizal Memorial Tennis Center in Manila.
Li will be facing the winner between eighth seed Indian Somdev Devvarman and Oriol Batalla Roca of Spain.
“I just did what my coach tell me before the match. He [Giustino] also came back from the Australian Open. Everybody is tired. But he plays well today,” said the 29-year old Li, currently ranked 259th in the world.
Philippine Columbian Association Open champion Alberto Lim Jr. was still playing at press time against French David Guez in the tournament which offers a whopping $75,000 cash prize.
The other Filipino entries in the main draw are former Australian Open junior doubles champion Francis Casey Alcantara, former Australian Open juniors singles quarterfinalist Jeson Patrom¬bon, and Davis Cup veteran Ruben Gonzales.
Patrombon will have his hands full against fifth seed Kimmer Coppejans of Belgium while Alcantara battles Amir Weintraub of Israel. Gonzales is aiming for an upset win against seventh seed Igor Sijsling of the Netherlands.
The other first-round matches are between top seed Luca Vanni of Italy and Federico Silva of Portugal, No. 2 Mikhail Youzhny of Russia and Jason Jung of Taiwan, and No. 4 Go Soeda of Japan and Roberto Marcora of Italy.
JEAN RUSSELL DAVID