Alexandr Dolgopolov recovered from a slow start and poor play at times to best Rhyne Williams 6-4 4-6 6-4 yesterday in Memphis. Williams got off to a strong start, breaking to open and leading 3-0 but he would let his game slip and let Dolgopolov back into the opening set, a set he would eventually take with a break. In the 2nd set, it was Williams getting the big break he needed in a match full of long-winded rallies, with both guys putting a ton of balls back in play and returning serve well. In the 3rd, Dolgopolov got a break midway through and held on the rest of the way through some long difficult games. Dolgopolov was not at his top level but Williams, as usual, seemed to let the emotional rollercoaster get the best of him, and with every racquet smash and outburst, it was almost as if you could see Dolgo realizing he had gotten into Williams head and capitalizing.
Marin Cilic survived a brutal 3 set match with Igor Sijsling 7-6 3-6 7-6, a match where he didn’t have a single break of serve and struggled to deal with Sijsling’s powerful serve. He had a clear edge in the 1st set, holding easily, with Sijsling struggling with a sore shoulder that required the trainer after a few games. But Sijsling would hang in there, and almost got better as the match went on, holding his serve, but then struggling in the 1st set tiebreak. In the 2nd he came back though, got a break and held all the way through, hitting with power on both the backhand and forehand side along with continuing to serve well.
In the 3rd set, it continued to be a battle with holds all the way until the tiebreak and Sijsling having a break point at 6-5 to take the match that he couldn’t convert. Sijsling also had 2 more match points in the tiebreak, but an odd netcord and an unforced error prevented them from being converted. Cilic continued to hold his serve and eventually took the 3rd set tiebreak and the match in tough fashion.
In other men’s singles action, Michael Russell made the quarters 6-2 6-4 over Lukasz Kubot, smacking the ball around well, serving comfortably and passing the serve and volleyer Kubot, who was clearly off his game today, with relative ease. Kubot even whiffed on his volleys a few times, while Russell just glided corner to corner and put the ball away for winners, keeping Kubot uncomfortable and defensive.
Russell is joined in the quarters by Denis Istomin, who whipped up on Lleyton Hewitt 6-1 6-2, running over Rusty with good serving and a wicked forehand showing. Kei Nishikori eased past Donald Young 6-3 6-3, not showing any real weakness. Marinko Matosevic finally earned another marquee win, upsetting Sam Querrey in 3 sets 3-6 6-4 7-5. Jack Sock and his ripping forehand beat his doubles partner James Blake 7-5 6-4, surviving everything JB could throw at him in style. Feliciano Lopez also made the semis via walkover as Tommy Haas withdrew shortly before the match with “respiratory illness”.
The men’s quarterfinals will be Cilic vs. Nishikori, Matosevic vs. Dolgopolov, Russell vs. Istomin and Sock vs. Lopez.
In men’s doubles Peya/Soares beat Butorac/Hanley 6-4 6-2 and Kubot/Nestor beat Melzer/Petzschener 6-4 7-5. Both teams make their way into the semifinals.
On the women’s side, the singles semifinals were determined, with Sabine Lisicki beating Kristina Mladenovic 6-3 6-3, Stefanie Voegele dominating Heather Watson 6-1 6-2, Marina Erakovic beating a frustrated Jamie Hampton 7-5 6-2 and Magdalena Rybarikova winning a slice and dice battle with Kirsten Flipkens 6-7 7-5 7-6-3. That match was highlighted by a back and forth opening set tiebreak that went as long as a double changeover, and it seemed neither player could string consecutive points together, serving or returning.
The women’s semis will be Lisicki vs. Rybarikova and Voegele vs. Erakovic.
In women’s doubles, Arvidsson/Larsson booked a spot in the final , 4-6 6-3 11-9 over Deikmejre/Moulton-Levy and Dolonc/Hrdinova fell to Mladenovic/Voskoboeva 7-6 6-4. Mladenovic and Voskoboeva make the semis, where they will play Lee-Waters/Pegula.
It was a great time in Memphis and I hope everyone enjoyed the on site coverage, TEC will continue to update on news from Memphis until the conclusion of the tournament, and we want to thank everyone at the tournament, including the media director and the ATP and WTA media representatives for their helpfulness. I also want to extend a special thanks to Tennis Now’s Blair Henley, who was personally very helpful to me throughout the week as a fellow journalist.