Guido Pella didn’t have the luxury of easing his way into the Argentina Open. The second seed endured a marathon second-round battle with fellow Argentine Facundo Bagnis that exceeded three hours before advancing 7-6(2), 6-7(2), 6-4 on Thursday.
Both players traded comfortable service holds in the opening set to force a tie-break, where Pella won six consecutive points to grab the early advantage. Pella scored the first break of the night at 4-4 in the second set, but let slip his chance to serve out the match in the next game. Bagnis raised his level in the second-set tie-break and hit a forehand volley winner to send their clash into a decider.
It appeared an upset might be in the cards, but Pella regrouped by breaking serve with a forehand winner in the opening game of the final set. The brutal baseline rallies took their toll on Bagnis, who received a medical time out at 1-2 in the decider and made a tired forehand error two games later to give the second seed an insurance break.
Bagnis, No. 134 in the FedEx ATP Rankings, made a valiant effort to close the gap. He recovered one of the breaks at 1-4 and bravely saved two match points on his serve at 3-5, but Pella ended the match with an ace after three hours and 12 minutes.
Pella will have another all-Argentine battle in the quarter-finals when he faces Juan Ignacio Londero. The 26-year-old delighted the home crowd by rallying for a 6-7(3), 6-2, 6-1 upset against sixth-seeded Serbian Laslo Djere. Londero thrives on home soil, having defeated Pella last year to capture his maiden ATP Tour crown in Cordoba.
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Top seed Diego Schwartzman burned the midnight oil in his debut match this week in his hometown, fighting back to beat fellow Argentine Federico Delbonis in a 6-3, 4-6, 6-2 thriller that ended just before 2:30am.
Delbonis looked ready to deliver an upset after taking a 2-0 lead in the final set and holding three game points for a double break advantage. But after the top seed fought them off and held serve, he summoned one last burst of top form. Schwartzman reeled off six straight games and cracked a forehand winner on match point to advance in two hours and 33 minutes.
Last year’s runner-up (l. to Cecchinato) will now face Uruguayan Pablo Cuevas, who continued his dominance over Albert Ramos-Vinolas by defeating the seventh-seeded Spaniard 6-4, 4-6, 6-4. Cuevas improved to 8-1 in their ATP Head2Head series and has won their past seven matches.