The ATP season shifts back to clay this week, where it will remain mostly for the next four months in anticipation of the French Open.
Although this year's Royal Guard Open from Viña del Mar in Chile doesn't have the same star power as it did a year ago when Rafael Nadal made his highly anticipated return, the ATP World Tour 250 series event features plenty of intriguing players to watch.
World No. 15 Fabio Fognini enters Chile as the tournament's top seed. The Italian advanced to the fourth round at the Australian Open, is coming off a nice showing at the Davis Cup and tends to play his best tennis on clay, where he won two titles last year.
Tommy Robredo, who won this tournament in 2011 and comes in as the World No. 16 and the tournament's second seed, and Nicolas Almagro (World No. 17 and tournament No. 3) should provide the biggest challenges for Fognini.
Defending champion Horacio Zeballos, who denied Rafael Nadal in three sets in the final last year, comes in at the bottom of the draw, looking at a potential quarterfinal matchup with Robredo.
Click ahead for the daily scores from the compelling clay tourney in Chile.
Fabio Fognini defeated Leonardo Mayer (6-2, 6-4)
Mayer had a nice run in Vina del Mar, defeating Tommy Robredo, Daniel Gimeno-Traver and Santiago Giraldo to advance to the finals, but he couldn't solve Fabio Fognini at the Royal Guard Open's final match.
The tournament's top-ranked seed, who also knocked off No. 5 Jeremy Chardy and No. 3 Nicolas Almagro, cruised past Mayer in straight sets to take home his first title since July of last year.
Fognini had a little bit of trouble taking advantage of break points. He had 13 opportunities but only broke the Argentine three times. It didn't matter, though, as he faced zero break points himself, drilled five aces and controlled serve all night long.
The match lasted just one hour and 23 minutes.
After an encouraging showing in Australia, Fognini has continued to play very good tennis, and with his ability on clay, he'll be an interesting name to watch over the next couple of months.
As for Mayer, despite the loss, he has plenty to be encouraged about after making his first ever ATP final.
Leonardo Mayer defeated Santiago Giraldo (7-6, 6-3)
Fabio Fognini defeated Nicolas Almagro (6-4, 1-6, 7-6)
In the first semifinal of the day, the two remaining unseeded players battled it out for the right to play for the tournament championship in Chile.
Mayer, the 91st-ranked Argentinian took out Colombia's Giraldo in straight sets. Their match took just an hour and 32 minutes to complete.
In the final, he will face the tournament's top seed Fabio Fognini. The Italian had his hands full on Saturday with third-seeded Spaniard Nicolas Almagro.
Ultimately Fognini prevailed in three sets and he is the favorite to walk away with the title in the finale.
Santiago Giraldo def. No. 7 Guillermo Garcia-Lopez; 3-6, 6-4, 6-2
Leonardo Mayer def. Daniel Gimeno-Traver; 3-6, 7-5, 6-3
No. 1 Fabio Fognini def. No. 5 Jeremy Chardy; 6-4, 3-6, 6-2
No. 3 Nicolas Almagro def. Taro Daniel; 6-2, 7-5
Santiago Giraldo knocked off his second seeded player in a row with a win over No. 7 Guillermo Garcia-Lopez. The Colombian defeated Marcel Granollers in Round 2 before taking care of business in the quarterfinals.
Garcia-Lopez had six double faults in the match, which is not a good way to advance in any tournament.
In the later session, top seed Fabio Fognini will attempt to keep up his solid level of play against Jeremy Chardy. Additionally, qualifier Taro Daniel will hope to keep his Cinderella run alive against Nicolas Almagro.
Round 2 Results
Daniel Gimeno-Traver def. Horacio Zeballos; 6-2, 6-4
No. 3 Nicolas Almagro def. Martin Alund; 4-6, 6-3, 6-4
Taro Daniel def. No. 8 Federico Delbonis; 1-6, 7-6(5), 7-6(7)
No. 5 Jeremy Chardy def. Pablo Carreno Buesta; 6-3, 7-6(5)
No. 1 Fabio Fognini def. Aljaz Bedene; 6-4, 7-6(0)
The biggest story of Day 4 is the continued run of Japanese player Taro Daniel. The 21-year-old phenom entered the week as an unseeded player in qualifying, but he reached the tournament and is now in the quarterfinals.
It look like things were coming to an end in Round 2 when Federico Delbonis dominated the first set. However, Daniel won the points when he needed them, including saving seven of his final 10 break points.
Delbonis then had four double faults in the third set to secure the upset for Daniel. He will now face Nicolas Almagro, who had 11 aces and won 91 percent of first-serve points in his Round 2 victory.
Last year's champion, Horacio Zeballos, could not defend his title after losing to Daniel Gimeno-Traver in straight sets. The Argentine could not force a single break in the second-round loss.
Jeremy Chardy then punched his ticket in the quarterfinals in a straight-set victory over Pablo Carreno Busta. He held his serve in the win and needed just a few breaks to ensure the win.
In the night session, No. 1-seeded Fabio Fognini defeated Aljaz Bedene in straight sets to advance. The Italian won 80 percent of his total service points for the match and was nearly flawless in the second-set tiebreak, winning all seven points to close out the match.
Round 2 Results
Santiago Giraldo def. No. 4 Marcel Granollers; 7-6(7), 7-6(2)
Leonardo Mayer def. No. 2 Tommy Robredo; 3-6, 7-6(8), 6-4
No. 7 Guillermo Garcia-Lopez def. Paolo Lorenzi; 3-6, 7-5, 6-4
Horacio Zeballos def. Gonzalo Lama; 6-3, 6-3
No. 5 Jeremy Chardy def. Christian Garin; 7-5, 6-0
Day 3 featured the start of the second round in Vina del Mar, and it was not a good day for the favorites.
Tommy Robredo, the No. 2 seed of the tournament and No. 16 player in the world, fell in his first match of the event against a red-hot Leonardo Mayer. Robredo used four aces to win the first set, but he was no match for the Argentine's serve the rest of the match.
Mayer won 51 of his 63 service points in the final two sets, good for an 81 percent success rate. He did not even face a break point in this stretch and it led to a quality victory.
Meanwhile, No. 4 Marcel Granollers also fell in his first match after a first-round bye. The Spanish star fought hard in two sets that both went to a tiebreak, but he could not win the points that mattered and ended up falling to Santiago Giraldo.
Giraldo advances to the quarterfinals to face Guillermo Garcia-Lopez, who moved on thanks to a three-set win over Paolo Lorenzi.
Based on these early results, it is clear every remaining seed has to be at attention to ensure they do not overlook their next opponent.
Round 1 Results
No. 8 Federico Delbonis def. Pablo Cuevas; 6-3, 6-4
Pablo Carreno Busta def. Filippo Volandri; 6-0, 3-6, 6-1
Paolo Lorenzi def. Alejandro Gonzalez; 6-2, 6-1
Martin Alund def. Albert Ramos; 6-3, 6-4
Aljaz Bedene def. Stephane Robert; 2-6, 6-3, 6-3
Daniel Gimeno-Traver. def. No. 6 Alexandr Dolgopolov; 7-6(4), 3-6, 7-5
Santiago Giraldo def. Ruben Ramirez Hidalgo; 6-4, 6-2
Taro Daniel def. Thomaz Bellucci; 6-3, 6-3
No. 1 Marcel Granollers/Marc Lopez def. Guillermo Garcia-Lopez/Philipp Oswald; 6-1, 6-3
Jeremy Chardy/Lukas Dlouhy def. No. 4 Pablo Cuevas/Horacio Zeballos; 7-6(5), 6-2
Christian Garin/Nicolas Jarry def. Christopher Kas/Andre Sa; 6-2, 6-4
There was not much drama on the second day of the tournament with only a single seeded player competing. That man was No. 8 Federico Delbonis, who had little trouble against Pablo Cuevas.
While Delbonis made some mistakes, he won 77 percent of his service points and was not broken once in a 6-3, 6-4 victory. The Argentine should not have a tough match until he presumably faces Nicolas Almagro in the quarterfinals.
One unseeded player to keep an eye on is Pablo Carreno Busta. The 22-year-old player is ranked 65th in the world after a solid 2013 season and is looking to do some damage in 2014. He showcased some great return work against Pablo Cuevas, winning in three sets for his first victory of the season.
Meanwhile, Aljaz Bedene outlasted Stephane Robert in one of the closest battles of the day thanks to 13 aces in three sets. With this type of serving ability, the Slovenian star could surprise people against top-seeded Fabio Fognini in the next round.
Daniel Gimeno-Traver was able to pull off the other lone upset of the day by knocking off Alexandr Dolgopolov, the No. 6 seed in the tournament. Gimeno-Traver finished with eight aces in the match and won 20 out of his 23 first-serve points to down Dolgopolov.
In the doubles bracket, Marcel Granollers and Marc Lopex rolled with an easy defeat of Guillermo Garcia-Lopez and Philipp Oswald in straight sets.
The upset in doubles came from Jeremy Chardy and Lukas Dlouhy, who downed No. 4 Pablo Cuevas and Horacio Zeballos in straight sets. After a close tiebreak win in the first set, two aces and a strong return game led to an easy win in the second set.
The action is just starting up in this loaded tournament, so remember to check back to keep up with the excitement.
Round 1 Results
Guillermo Garcia-Lopez defeats Julian Reister 3-6, 6-4, 6-4
Leonardo Mayer defeats Andreas Haider-Maurer 7-5, 7-5
Guillermo Garcia-Lopez, the tournament's No. 7 seed, came out flat and dropped his first set against German Julian Reister. But the 30-year-old Spaniard recovered nicely, breaking Reister six times to win the next two sets and advance to the second round.
He'll play the winner of Paolo Lorenzi and Alejandro Gonzalez.
During the day's other singles match, Leonardo Mayer and Andreas Haider-Maurer fought back and forth in a two-set match that lasted nearly two hours, but in the end it was the Argentinian who came out on top.
That sets up an intriguing second-round match between Mayer and Tommy Robredo. The Spaniard is obviously ranked much higher, but in their only other meeting, Mayer advanced in four sets at the 2012 U.S. Open.