Schwartzman among upsets in Tel Aviv

Favored players Diego Schwartzman and Botic van de Zandschulp were early casualties at the Tel Aviv Watergen Open on Thursday as both were upset by respective unfancied opponents.

 DIEGO SCWARTZMAN was the clear fan favorite on Thursday in his match against France's Arthur Rinderknesch at the Tel Aviv Watergen Open. But the Jewish-Argentine lost a tough three-setter, 6-3, 2-6, 7-6(7), to bow out of the tournament. (photo credit: ANDREW BOYERS/REUTERS)
DIEGO SCWARTZMAN was the clear fan favorite on Thursday in his match against France's Arthur Rinderknesch at the Tel Aviv Watergen Open. But the Jewish-Argentine lost a tough three-setter, 6-3, 2-6, 7-6(7), to bow out of the tournament.
(photo credit: ANDREW BOYERS/REUTERS)

Favored players Diego Schwartzman and Botic van de Zandschulp were early casualties at the Tel Aviv Watergen Open on Thursday as both were upset by respective unfancied opponents Arthur Rinderknesch and Liam Broady.

Top seed and the main attraction at the event, Novak Djokovic was set to take to the court later in the evening.

Israeli play in the tournament also ended on Thursday when the experienced Vasek Pospisil of Canada beat qualifier Edan Leshem 6-3, 6-2 in an hour and 20 minutes.

Pospisil, who also played in the qualifying competition, had struggled with injury and lost in his match but was given a reprieve as a lucky loser in the main draw of the event after another player withdrew through injury.

Pospisil was well in control of the match against Leshem and was never troubled by the aspiring Israeli, who advanced from the qualifying event and reached the last-16 of the tournament by beating compatriot Yshai Oliel in the previous round. Leshem’s success should see him rise some 80 places in the rankings from his current position at No. 446.

 Novak Djokovic playing in the Tel Aviv Watergen Open, September 29, 2022. (credit: ORI LEWIS) Novak Djokovic playing in the Tel Aviv Watergen Open, September 29, 2022. (credit: ORI LEWIS)

An exciting round of 16

Dutchman van de Zandschulp, seeded fifth in the tournament and ranked No. 35 in the world, was taken to three sets by left-handed British qualifier Broady, ranked 174, in a match that went to three sets and was full of long baseline rallies with the British underdog winning 6-4, 4-6, 6-3.

Frenchman Rinderknesch, ranked 58, used his big serve to see off crowd favorite Schwartzman of Argentina, the third seed and ranked 17th. The diminutive baseliner, who is not in his best form, made many errors and was edged out 9-7 in a deciding set tiebreak. The winning score for the Frenchman was 6-3, 2-6, 7-6(7).

Wednesday’s late match, meanwhile, was well worth waiting for and produced one of the best matches seen in Israel in many years as No. 2 seed Maric Cilic of Croatia met Austria’s Dominic Thiem. It ended in a 6-7, 6-2, 6-4 win for the Croatian, who was celebrating his 34th birthday, but he was made to work very hard for the win and was pushed all the way by the Austrian wild card entry who is returning from a long-term injury.

The intensity of the tennis was clear to see on the faces of both players who put every ounce of effort into their shots and it was a spectacle that all those who witnessed will not forget in a hurry.

“I think it was a fantastic match. I think it was an amazing, amazing level,” Cilic said in his on-court interview. “We don’t get so many chances to play a second-round match in front of such a big crowd, so thank you so much. It was a fantastic birthday.”

“We don’t get so many chances to play a second-round match in front of such a big crowd, so thank you so much. It was a fantastic birthday.”

Maric Cilic

Play resumes on Friday with quarterfinal matches, the semifinals will be played on Saturday and the final on Sunday.