James Duckworth
James Duckworth. Photo via @CalebPicks_ Twitter

Seventh-seeded James Duckworth defeated fellow Australian Alexei Popyrin in three sets while Tomas Martin Etcheverry defeated fellow Argentine Facundo Mena in straight sets as first-round singles play began Monday in the second annual $612,000 San Diego Open ATP 250 men’s tournament at Barnes Tennis Center.

Duckworth had 14 aces in the 7-5, 4-6, 6-1 victory, improving his record in 2022 to 6-13, including splitting two matches in the U.S. Open. He defeated fellow Australian Christopher O’Connell, 4-6, 7-6 (0), 6-2, 6-3, in the first round and lost to Daniel Evans of Great Britain, 6-3, 6-2, 4-6, 6-4, in the second.

Evans is the top seed in the San Diego tournament.

The loss dropped the 23-year-old Popyrin’s record this year to 5-16, also splitting two matches in the U.S. Open. He defeated Chun-Hsin Tseng of Taiwan, 6-3, 7-6 (5), 7-6 (3) in the first round and lost to Diego Schwartzman of Argentina, 7-6 (3), 7-5, 7-6 (6) in the second.

Duckworth dropped 13 spots to 83rd on the Association of Tennis Professionals singles rankings released Monday. Popyrin was ranked 90th for the second consecutive week.

Duckworth will next face the winner of Tuesday’s match between American qualifiers Christopher Eubanks and Mitchell Krueger.

The victory advanced Etcheverry into a second-round match against third-seeded American Marcos Giron of the United States.

Eighth-seeded J.J. Wolf faced fellow American Stefan Kozlov to begin the afternoon session.

Wolf is ranked 73rd, one spot lower than his career best achieved last week. Kozlov rose two spots to 108th, his highest since his career-best 103rd July 18.

The 23-year-old Wolf is 9-8 this year. He reached the third round of the U.S. Open, upsetting then-18th-ranked Roberto Bautista Agut of Spain in the first round, 6-4, 6-4, 6-4, and defeating Chilean Alejandro Tabilo, 4-6, 7-5, 6-4, 6-3, in the second round before losing to eventual quarterfinalist Nick Kyrgios of Australia, 6-4, 6-2, 6-3.

The 24-year-old Kozlov is 4-7 this year, including losses in the first round of the U.S. Open and Wimbledon. He reached the round of 16 of the ATP 500 tournament in Acapulco, Mexico and the quarterfinals of the ATP 250 tournament in Delray Beach, Florida, both in February.

American Brandon Holt will face Frenchman Constant Lestienne in the second match in the afternoon session. The 24-year-old Holt recorded the biggest win of his professional career that began in 2020 last month at the U.S. Open, stunning then-12th ranked Taylor Fritz of Rancho Santa Fe, 6-7 (3), 7-6 (1), 6-3, 6-4 in the first round.

Holt’s mother is International Tennis Hall of Fame member Tracy Austin.

Monday’s winners are guaranteed at least $10,740 while the losers will receive $6,565. Each of the top four seeds in the 28-player draw received first-round byes.

The tournament will run through Sunday. The winner will receive $93,090.

The tournament received its name from the number of ranking points the champion receives. The ATP 250 tournaments are the lowest tier of tournaments on the main ATP Tour, after the four Grand Slam tournaments, ATP Finals, ATP Masters 1000 tournaments, and ATP 500 tournaments.

City News Service contributed to this article.


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Ellen Bullock