Dramatic Tuesday at @WSOpen Portends An Exciting Wednesday
Eric Logan, Tennis East Coast
A dramatic round of 32 finished last night at the Winston-Salem open, with 14 of the 16 seeds in action. Top seeded John Isner played for the first time in the night session, attracting a huge crowd in his home state, and for many, announcing the arrival of the critical stages of the event.
Second seeded Kevin Anderson opened play on center court against erratic Frenchman Adrian Mannarino. Anderson played a bit of a sloppy match, but Mannarino’s tendency to throw in very poor service games from nowhere cost him dearly against the big server in a 6-3 2-6 6-4 loss. The match was followed by third seed Tommy Robredo against Nicolas Mahut. Mahut defeated the Cincinnati quarterfinalist 6-1 7-6(0) in a match where Robredo seemed not to give his full effort.
While Anderson’s match unfolded, the most truly dramatic match of the day was being played on Court 2 between Joao Sousa and Jerzy Janowicz. After a very easy first set win for Janowicz, Sousa recovered to even the match at 1-6 6-3. Sousa broke in the third, and served for the match at 5-4. After saving break point at 30-40, Sousa once again found himself facing break point at Ad-Out. Here, Sousa hit a pass that Janowicz clearly touched but was not called by the umpire. While the crowd yelled out to the umpire that the Pole had touched the ball, Janowicz appeared to confess to Sousa he had touched it without conceding the point. A long argument ensued which seemed in danger of becoming physical at times. Janowicz would go on to win the match 6-1 3-6 7-6(5). The two continued to argue even after the match ended, and it seems likely both will be fined for the spectacle.
A pair of matches went an extraordinary distance in the blazing heat. Aleksandr Nedovyesov put up a good effort against twelfth seed Edouard Roger-Vasselin, but fell 7-6(9) 6-7(5) 6-4 in 2 hours and 43 minutes. In a shorter (and rather low quality) but physical match, slumping fourteenth seed Andreas Seppi struggled past Argentine clay specialist Federico Delbonis 7-5 6-7(5) 6-2. Another lengthy but rather high quality match was one between Mikhail Kukushkin and Robin Haase, with the thirteenth seed prevailing 5-7 7-6(2) 6-4.
An all-American match between Sam Querrey and Steve Johnson saw Querrey prevail 6-4 6-3. It was a poor showing by Johnson from 4-2 up in the first set, with the higher-ranked of the two making a number of routine unforced errors. Querrey has now defended at least some of last year’s semifinal points, saving his ranking from dipping even further.
In the night session, John Isner dispatched Bradley Klahn 7-6(5) 6-2. Klahn was the better player in the first set, winning more points than the top seed, but as he so often does, Isner found a way to win in in a tiebreak. Afterwards, Klahn’s resistance crumbled as he played two abysmal games to go down 0-4 and winning only two return points in the second set.
Elsewhere around the grounds, Yen-Hsun Lu dispatched Blaz Rola 6-4 7-5, with Rola’s serve not good enough to compensate for his failure to win rallies. Fourth seed Leonardo Mayer bowed out meekly 6-3 6-1 to David Goffin to worsen his poor hard court record. Pablo Andujar defeated Igor Sijsling 6-4 6-3.
In perhaps the disappointment of the day, Ryan Harrison retired leading an extremely poor Lukas Rosol 6-3 1-2. Harrison had been up a set and a break. Marcel Granollers easily dismissed Paul-Henri Mathieu 6-3 6-3, and Frank Dancevic fared even worse in a 6-1 6-3 loss to Donald Young. It is worth noting that for all the criticism Berlocq and Granollers get for their grunts, for my money, Sousa’s is louder.
In doubles action, the exodus of seeds continued. Fourth seeded Huey and Inglot’s withdrew and were replaced with Florin Mergea and Joao Sousa. Top seeded pair Leander Paes and David Marrero’s campaign was cut short as a back injury forced Marrero to retire to the huge-serving team of Sam Groth and Chris Guccione. The first quarterfinal saw Cabal and Farah defeat Mahut and Haase, while Mergea and Sousa, Fyrstenburg and Matkowski, and third seeds Murray and Peers advanced to that round. Sousa’s effort was commendable given the manner of his loss earlier.
Today’s action sees the seeds meet in the round of sixteen. Top seed John Isner will take on Mikhail Kukushkin in what is sure to be an entertaining night match. Other match-ups include Anderson-Querrey, Janowicz-Roger Vasselin, Lu-Granollers, and Garcia Lopez-Young. The final eight will be decided by tonight on what promises to be another exciting day from North Carolina.