Storybook Run Continues for Chris Eubanks at BB&T Atlanta Open
Steen Kirby, Tennis Atlantic
Georgia Tech Senior Chris Eubanks won the second ATP match of his career, upsetting American young gun Jared Donaldson 6-4 4-6 6-2 in the second round of the 2017 BB&T Atlanta Open. The local favorite Eubanks backed up his round 1 win against Taylor Fritz, and again showed off fantastic power on the forehand side, and excellent footwork. Eubanks pushed Donaldson around the court in the first and third set. In the first he came back from a break down, securing two breaks in total to take the set. Donaldson hung tight though, breaking and then holding serve without incident in set 2. Even though the momentum was with the top 60 player, it was Eubanks who would break early in the third set, and then after saving a break point and holding for 5-2, he broke Donaldson on his third match point to take the match, rather quickly for a three setter. Although he’s unlikely to turn pro until after he completes college, his performance this week puts him in the conversation as one of the top young American men in tennis. After the win he reacted with pure joy, running around and high fiving spectators in a victory lap.
American men had a great day on Thursday in Atlanta, in the late match Jack Sock backed up his place as the top seed 6-4 6-3. His forehand and serve were too strong for Sela, who lacked the weaponry to compete with the American #1. Sela, who kept a positive attitude throughout the contest was broken in the opening game, and although Sock faced a bit of pressure, he managed to maintain his serve for the first set. In the second set Sela was again broken from the start, and although he had chances in two different Sock service games to break back, he couldn’t take them. Losing momentum, Sock broke late to finish off the match. It wasn’t the cleanest performance for Sock, but it gets him to the quarterfinals.
Ryan Harrison also kept his seeding, defeating John Millman 6-7 7-6 7-5. Harrison was cranky through the first two sets, but finally found his mojo. The first set featured a long rain delay, as both players traded breaks and ended up in a first set tiebreak. Millman faced pressure on his serve in the first set, but Harrison choked when he had a break point on his racquet. A poor tiebreak put Harrison under the pump. He responded well though, Millman would go up a set and a break, but Harrison used his power and defensive skillset to claw back. Millman was kept behind the baseline, and was broken serving for the match after having a break point/match point at 3-5 in the second set. Harrison would take an ensuing tiebreak to take things into a third set.
Lacking weaponry, Millman was overpowered in the third set, Harrison continued to struggle on break points, but he did save two on his serve at 2-3 in the third, and finally broke through to go up 6-5 in the third, and then serve out the match. Like Sock, Harrison was sloppy at times on return in particular, but a win is a win, especially in the Atlanta heat.
On the grandstand Kyle Edmund came back from a set down to defeat Peter Gojowczyk 2-6 6-4 7-5. The match was disrupted by a rain delay, but Gojowczyk played a much better first set. In the second set Edmund saved a break point and then broke Gojowczyk in the final game of the set to force a third. Edmund would be under heavy pressure in an up and down third set, he saved three break points at 1-1, lost his serve at 2-2 but broke back, and then finally broke through, breaking Gojowczyk to take the third set 7-5 on his second match point chance. Edmund has a solid chance at claiming the title this week if he can improve his form a bit.
In the doubles Koolhof/Sitak beat Molteni/Shamasdin, and Millman/Ratiwatana beat Qureshi/Ratiwatana in a matchup between brothers, where Millman found some joy despite the singles loss.