Experience counts as Ferrer staves off Wu

Veteran David Ferrer needed all his experience to down Wu Yibing in the first round of the ATP Auckland Classic as the emerging stars went on display on Monday.

Spain’s Ferrer, a four-time winner in Auckland and the tournament seventh seed, broke in the second set on another double fault by the Hangzhou native to lead 4-2.   -  AFP

Veteran David Ferrer needed all his experience to down Wu Yibing in the first round of the ATP Auckland Classic as the emerging stars went on display on Monday.

“It was really tough. The juniors are coming and it was not easy,” said the 35-year-old former world number three, after taking nearly two hours to complete a 7-6 (9/7), 6-4 victory over a player 17 years his junior.

While Wu made an early exit, there was better fortune for another hot prospect, 18-year-old Canadian Denis Shapovalov, who took just 56 minutes to beat 33-year-old Brazilian Rogerio Dutra Silva 6-3, 6-2.

Wu, only a few months old when Ferrer turned professional in 2000, dropped his opening serve to love, but broke back to level at 3-3 and saved three break points at 5-5 before a double fault cost him the tiebreak 9/7.

Spain’s Ferrer, a four-time winner in Auckland and the tournament seventh seed, broke in the second set on another double fault by the Hangzhou native to lead 4-2.

Wu, who saved nine of 12 break points faced, displayed his fighting spirit by breaking back when Ferrer was serving for the match at 5-3, although it was a short-lived reprieve as he dropped his next serve.

“It was difficult. He's a young player with a lot of power in his shots,” Ferrer said.

“Experience was the key. I have 18 more years than him so I tried to play with my experience in the important moments.”

Shapovalov, already ranked 51 in the world after a standout 2017 which included wins over Rafael Nadal and Juan Martin Del Potro, fired down nine aces as he raced past Dutra Silva to set up a second-round clash with Del Potro.

The only other seeded player in action on day one was Spanish fifth-seed Roberto Bautista Agut, who beat New Zealander and French Open doubles champion Michael Venus 6-2, 6-1.

Eighth seed Andrey Rublev, who lost the Doha final to Gael Monfils last week, has pulled out of the tournament citing an arm injury.