Jozef Kovalik had to dig deep against Daniel Elahi Galan to make a winning start to his Cordoba Open campaign, recording a 6-2, 1-6, 6-3 victory as main draw action kicked off on Monday.
Kovalik came to Cordoba with plenty of momentum after reaching a semi-final in Istanbul on the ATP Challenger Tour to start the season. He also arrived with plenty of match play on clay, including a quarter-final run in Antalya.
The Slovakian, No. 128 in the FedEx ATP Rankings, cruised through the opening set against Galan before the Colombian began to make his way back. Galan, who was making his tournament debut in Cordoba, grabbed the second set and took a break to lead the third. Kovalik reeled off the last four games of the match to claim victory after an hour and 45 minutes.
Kovalik will face qualifier Marcelo Tomas Barrios Vera in his next match. The Chilean received a first-round bye after replacing Guido Pella in the draw after the Argentine withdrew from the tournament due to illness.
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Joining him in the Cordoba Open second round is wild card Nicolas Jarry, who fought through in a grueling three-setter against Spain’s Jaume Munar. The Chilean came back from a set down to prevail 5-7, 7-6(5), 6-4 after two hours and 43 minutes.
Contesting his first ATP Tour event in more than a year, Jarry will face No. 2 seed Benoit Paire in his next match.