Chile’s Fernando Gonzalez was the star attraction on the first day of the Liverpool International Tennis Tournament, defeating local qualifier Harry Meehan 7-5, 7-6(5) at Calderstones Park.
The former world number five impressed on his debut on Centre Court, as he continues his comeback from hip and knee surgery in preparation for Wimbledon next week.
“I really enjoyed it,” said Gonzalez. “It was a really nice atmosphere here in the park and that helps when the crowd enjoys it too.
“It was a bit difficult for me with the conditions after two years without playing on a grass court, but I’m sure it’ll get better and better throughout the week.”
Both players began the match solidly on serve, as the inexperienced Meehan appeared unfazed by his star opponent.
The 16-year-old from Allerton competed well throughout, showing signs of the form that saw him cruise through qualifying for the event last weekend.
However, in Gonzalez the youngster faced a veteran from the ATP Tour and the 30-year-old’s ferocious forehand was in full flow as he broke in the 12th game to take the first set 7-5.
Meehan continued to fight and clearly thrived with the home crowd on his side. The local schoolboy was a force once again on serve, using all six foot five inches of his frame to take the second set into a tie-break.
But it was the 2007 Australian Open Finalist who captured the decisive break once again, forcing Meehan into an error on serve before closing out the contest on his second match point to come through unscathed.
Play continues this afternoon with former Wimbledon champion Richard Krajicek taking on ex-British number one Greg Rusedski on Centre Court.