Close Matches In Monday Action At 2016 BB&T Atlanta Open
Steen Kirby, Tennis Atlantic
Monday at the 2016 BB&T Atlanta Open featured a host of close matches as multiple players pulled their matches back from the brink to prevail and reach the second round. Tim Smyczek started the day with a remarkable win over Thiago Monteiro in nearly two and a half hours. Smyczek struggled to find the range on his first serve in the match, and despite breaking Monteiro back after going down a break 5-4 in the first, he was broken again in a long game that saw Monteiro convert his fourth set point opportunity on return.
Monteiro looked set to charge into the next round, and was up 7-5 5-3 but Smyczek got up 0-40 in the next game, and broke on his third break point opportunity. Smyczek would go on to serve for a third set, only to be broken himself at love to force a second set tiebreak. Monteiro never saw a match point, as Smyczek pulled it out 7-5. At this point the heat was taking its toll on the Brazilian. Smyczek got an early break, and improved his serve to take the match 5-7 7-6 6-3 an hour after he looked likely to exit in the opening round.
Joining Smyczek in round 2 are fellow Americans Reilly Opelka, Donald Young, and Jared Donaldson. Opelka won a nail biter over GA Tech’s Chris Eubanks 7-6 7-6 for his first ever ATP main draw win. Eubanks struggled to deal with Opelka’s pulverizing serve and height, as he didn’t generate a break point chance in the match, and failed to convert on his set point chances in the first set tiebreak. Opelka has shown major improvements since he played in Atlanta last year.
Atlanta’s Donald Young nearly suffered Eubanks fate, but he prevailed 3-6 7-6 7-5 over Austin Krajicek in two and a half hours. Young had chances to break Krajicek in the first set, and to break back after he went down a break, and Krajicek was serving for the first set, but he couldn’t convert. In a nip and tuck second set, only Young had a break point chance that he couldn’t convert. Krajicek had two match points in the ensuing second set tiebreak, including one on his own serve, but Young finally converted on his fourth set point to keep the match alive.
Krajicek didn’t give up the fight, and in the third set he was up 3-1 and 5-3, but he was broken serving for the match, and in his next service game, as Young narrowly came back to the match 7-5, winning the final four games of the match in the process. Despite being the favorite, it was a surprising result for Young to come back from the brink of defeat.
Jared Donaldson rolled past Sam Groth, who looks destined to be back on the challenger tour after yet another ATP main draw loss. Groth did nothing with his return games, and was shaky enough on serve to allow Donaldson to pounce on him and win 6-2 6-4, in a match that was more of a blowout than even the scoreline would suggest. Donaldson saved the only break point he faced in the match.
Last but not least, Adrian Mannarino ousted qualifier Mischa Zverev 6-3 3-6 7-6 in yet another close match that went over two hours. Mannarino had to save two break points and went on to break in the next game to eventually take the first set. His baseline rallying kept Zverev under pressure, but the German responded well, saving break points early in the second, and finally converting on his third break point chance of the set to serve for a third set at love. Zverev would have two more games with a break point chance in the third set, he broke Mannarino at love to serve for the match, but was broken on Mannarino’s fourth BP chance. Mannarino got ahead in the tiebreak, winning every point from 3-3 in the final set breaker to take it 7-3.
In ATP doubles Demoliner/Garcia-Lopez dominated Kamke/Lajovic in straight sets, and Dolgopolov/Stakhovsky defeated fan favorites Frawley/Kyrgios to reach the next round.
The singles matches tomorrow are highlighted by serve and volleyers Stakhovsky and Rogers Cup doubles champion Ivan Dodig facing off, along with Fernando Verdasco vs. Dusan Lajovic. Other matches include Garcia-Lopez vs. Zeballos, Evans vs. Nishioka, Benneteau vs. Smith, Sijsling vs. Fratangelo, and young gun Taylor Fritz vs. NCAA player Austin Smith. The winner of that match, and Fratangelo both have their chances to add more Americans to the round of 16.
Eubanks/Kennedy vs. Monteiro/Nishioka will also be contested tomorrow in doubles.