Bautista, right, during Wednesday's clash with Harris. Julio Salcedo
Countdown begins to the climax of the Malaga Open

Countdown begins to the climax of the Malaga Open

In the absence of local tennis star Alejandro Davidovich, Frenchman Benoît Paire stole the limelight at Inacua for all the wrong reasons

Daryl Finch


Friday, 13 October 2023, 17:19


Spain's fourth most prestigious tennis event, the Malaga Open (a Challenger 125 tournament), is drawing to a close this weekend at the Inacua Racquet Centre in the city after a week filled with highs and lows.

One major low came before a ball was even struck when Malaga-born Alejandro Davidovich announced that he would not be participating on the back of his disappointing show at the Shanghai Masters. Despite being eliminated in the round of 64, the distance would not permit such a quick turnaround between tournaments.

The absence of the 24th-ranked player in the world left Benoît Paire as one of the tournament's main attractions. His opening-day clash with Pedro Martínez was supposed to be the box office match-up everyone was waiting for. However, it attracted the headlines for all the wrong reasons as the Frenchman's seemingly deliberate underperformance sparked outrage across the world, including accusations of match-fixing.

Meanwhile, two highs, for Spanish tennis in particular, were the return to action for both Pablo Carreño and Roberto Bautista after injury lay-offs. Both stepped up their recovery in Malaga, with the former winning his first match in 10 months, against Arthur Cazaux. However, he was eventually eliminated in the round of 16 against Mattia Bellucci, one of the quarter-finalists playing today, Friday.

Likewise, Bautista dropped out at the same phase, in his case at the hands of Brit Billy Harris - the tournament's surprise package.

With Bautista's elimination, the top half of the draw remains devoid of national talent, guaranteeing one spot in Sunday's final for at least one non-Spaniard.

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