When the time came for his ATP Tour main draw debut, things couldn’t have gone much better for Aleksandar Kovacevic.
The 24-year-old American stunned seventh seed Miomir Kecmanovic 6-4, 6-4 at the Eugene Korea Open Tennis Championships on Monday. Kovacevic had fallen in the final round of qualifying at the ATP 250 hard-court event in Seoul, but he took advantage of a lucky loser spot in style as he broke the World No. 32 three times en route to an impressive 93-minute first-round victory.
“[It is] a little bit surreal,” said Kovacevic, who will meet Christopher O’Connell or Chun-Hsin Tseng in the second round. “I watch these matches on TV every day. I consider a lot of these guys my peers and I feel like I’m playing at a pretty good level, but just being out there in an ATP event in the main draw… I thought that I needed a little more experience to be honest before I did well.
“I played really well out there. There’s something about big matches for me. For Miomir this is obviously not a huge moment because he’s been here for a while, but for me it is a big deal, so it brings out some of my best tennis. [I’m] really glad for this one, but hoping to continue it during the week. Definitely happy to get this first one, but not fully satisfied yet.”
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Born to a Serbian father and Bosnian mother and raised in New York City, Kovacevic has just completed his first year as a pro after playing college tennis at the University of Illinois. After reaching his maiden ATP Challenger Tour final in Indianapolis in August, Monday’s win represents an instant reward for the World No. 222’s decision to take the trip to Seoul.
“I don’t really travel the world much,” said Kovacevic. “I graduated from college about a year ago, so this is my first kind of year on Tour, and I’ve been mainly playing tournaments in the US so it is definitely a change. I kind of came here to get myself a little bit out of my comfort zone, and that’s exactly what these past few days has been.
“[It has been] kind of rough, I came down with a cold the first day I was here and been trying to accustom myself to the conditions and sleep and all that. But South Korea is amazing, I’ve been loving it. I’m here for four weeks, I’ve committed to doing that, and I couldn’t be happier right now.”
Also on Monday, Radu Albot marked his Seoul debut with a comfortable 6-3, 6-4 win against Japanese lucky loser Hiroki Moriya. Albot will meet American Steve Johnson or home wild card JiSung Nam in the second round as he seeks to reach his second tour-level quarter-final of 2022.
Kaichi Uchida prevailed in the final match of the day in Seoul with a 6-4, 6-2 win against another South Korean wild card, Seong-chan Hong. Uchida will meet second seed Cameron Norrie in the second round, where Jaume Munar will also feature. The Spaniard’s first-round opponent Yosuke Watanuki retired after just three games of the pair’s second ATP Head2Head meeting, leaving Munar to advance to a second-round clash against fourth seed Denis Shapovalov.