After a hard fought match, Thanasi Kokkinakis (right) congratulates Robby Ginepri, who advances to the Main Draw.
You win some, you lose some. With Robby Ginepri’s deserved win to gain entrance into the main draw, the tournament lost the chance to see one of tennis’ most exciting up and coming players in Australia’s Thanasi Kokkinakis. Ginepri defeated Kokkinakis in the final round of the qualifying tournament with a score of 75, 76(6).
The players were evenly matched in many ways, making for an intriguing game, with the two setting similar paces to their games (including occasional bursts of power and just as many temporary lulls). For every first serve that Kokkinakis had difficulty getting in, Ginepri had trouble hitting a return over the net. Then, suddenly, both had streaks where their serves could not fail. It was a steady first set seemingly on its way to a tiebreak.
Then, it happened — the twist of fate that determined the outcome of the match. Backing into himself to reach his backhand into a deep baseline ball, Thanasi Kokkinakis rolled his left ankle. After calling for a trainer to determine the severity of the injury, Kokkinakis decided to proceed, although he was obviously in some degree of discomfort. He quickly lost the next game, which resulted in Ginepri winning the first set.
Set two played out much like set one began, with the two players winning their respective service games. Somehow, Kokkinakis found a way to increase the efficiency of his strokes, counting on near perfect placement in order to avoid having to chase down returned balls. Kokkinakis dug deep and found within himself on a steely determination to continue the game. The second set went to a tiebreak, with Kokkinakis unable to pull ahead. The loss is shared by the Houston tennis fans, who will miss out on the opportunity to see one of the most exciting young players around. Until next year, that is.
In the other exciting qualifying final match of the day, Ryan Harrison came from (way) behind to defeat Ruben Bemelmans 1-6, 7-5, 7-6(3). It was a long, hard slog, but Harrison took control of the game just in time (saving 6 matchpoints along the way) and proved that he deserves a place in the Main Draw.
As for the first round action, the match of the day was American Jack Sock’s relaxed dismissal of the tournament’s 2007 champion Ivo Karlovic, of Croatia. This was the third meeting for the two players. Their previous two matches ended in victories for 6-foot-10 Karlovic. At first, it seemed the match would feature little besides the two players’ massive serves, with no promise of anything resembling a rally. But on Monday afternoon, Sock broke the Croatian’s giant serve twice in the first set and made it clear that he is serious about making advances in his personal game.
Dustin Brown, of Germany, also moved on, defeating American Rhyne Williams, who had reached last year’s semifinals, 6-1, 6-2.
RESULTS – MONDAY, APRIL 07, 2014
Singles First Round
Jack Sock (USA) d  Ivo Karlovic (Croatia) 6-1, 6-4
Sam Querrey (USA) d Alex Bogomolov, Jr. (Russia) 6-4, 7-6 (6)
Dustin Brown (Germany) d [WC] Rhyne Williams (USA) 6-1, 6-2
Alejandro Gonzalez (Colombia) d [WC] Marcos Baghdatis 4-6, 6-2, 6-1
Qualifying Final Round
 Ryan Harrison (USA) d  Ruben Bemelmans (Belgium) 1-6, 7-5, 7-6(3)
 Peter Polansky (Canada) d  Thiemo de Bakker (Netherlands) 6-4, 6-3
Robby Ginepri (USA) d Thanasi Kokkinakis (Australia) 7-5, 7-6 (6)
 Ruben Ramirez Hidalgo (Spain) d Takanyi Garanganga (Zimbabwe) 6-1, 5-7, 6-3