Pinoy netters open ATP quest

MANILA, Philippines - Unheralded Chinese Li Zhe turned back Italian Lorenzo Guistino, 6-3, 3-6, 6-4, yesterday to barge into the second round of the $75,000 ATP Challenger Philippine Open 2016 at the Rizal Memorial Tennis Center.

AJ Lim, one of the four Filipino wild card entries in this ranking weeklong event, was playing French David Guez at presstime with hopes of pulling off an upset in the $75,000 tournament backed by the Philippine Sports Commission, the Philippine Tennis Association and Cebuana Lhuillier.

Meanwhile, the other local bets – Fil-Am Ruben Gonzales, Francis Casey Alcantara and Jeson Patrombon – open their respective campaigns today.

Alcantara clashes with Israel’s Amir Wein Raub, Patrombon takes on Belgium’s Kimmer Coppejans while Gonzales tangles with The Netherlands’ Igor Sijsling.

The 29-yea-old Li, currently No. 260 in the world, fought back from a 3-4 deficit in the decider to escape with the victory that took almost two hours to finih under searing heat.

“It was really hot in here,” said Li, who planed in late Friday night after failing to make the cut in the main draw of the Australian Open.

Li will next face the winner between No. 8 Indian Somdev Devvarman and Spaniard Oriol Batalla Roca, who are also playing at press time.

Dunlop is the official ball, Chris Sports the official stringer and TV5 official broadcaster of the meet.

Austrian Maximilian Neuchrist and Indian Divij Sharan smashed American James Cerretani and Japane4se Toshihide Matsui, 7-6 (5), 6-2, to advance to the second round of the doubles competition.