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Top Americans serve way to victory

By: Anirudh Sridhar

John Isner

As expected, top-seeded John Isner made easy work of James Duckworth in his first match of the Citi Open on Tuesday night, advancing 6-3, 6-4 in a match that lasted only one hour, three minutes.

The game was dominated by aces with Isner smacking 14 down, besting Duckworth’s eight. Isner only broke Duckworth’s service game two times the entire match, but it was enough to advance to the third round of the Citi Open as Duckworth failed to capitalize on his only break point opportunity.

Isner will take on 15-seeded Marcos Baghdatis in the third round

Meanwhile, fifth-seeded Steve Johnson blew past Adrian Mannarino 6-3, 6-4 to advance to the third round as well with 12 aces leading the way compared to three by his opponent. Johnson also won 33-of-38 of his first service points, which was the key to the game as he struggled with his second serve, only winning half of them.

Johnson will play fellow American Ryan Harrison in the next round.

In one of the later matches of the day American Jack Sock blasted 10 aces on his way to a 7-6, 6-4 victory over Slovakian Lukas Lacko to move on in the tournament. Sock had seven aces coming in the crucial first set and won 82-percent of his first serve points during the entire match.

After falling to break Lacko’s serve on three opportunities in the first set, Sock won two break points in the second set leading to a comfortable close to the game and a berth to face Daniel Evans in the next round.

Wozniacki forced to retire against Stosur despite lead

It was quite a heart-breaking end to a tremendous effort by former world No. 1 Caroline Wozniacki, who had fallen on hard times lately but was playing as good as she had in a long time against top-seeded Samantha Stosur.

Carolina WozniackiWozniacki was placing her serves perfectly and it led to seven aces but several backhanded return attempts by Stosur, who was constantly making long chases to get to the ball.

Stosur was up 5-3 in the first set before Wozniacki too four-straight games to win the first set. That was in spite of playing with a clear left-arm injury that even forced Wozniacki to take a medial time out.

Wozniacki then took a 3-1 lead in the second set before Stosur decided to aim solely for Wozniacki’s backhand. Ultimately Wozniacki got broken to trail 4-3 in the second set and retired from the match.

“There was a point where I hit a backhand and I just felt it, and was like ‘Oh, it’s nothing,” Wozniacki said. “But then I hit another backhand and I was like ‘Ok, it’s something.’ And it just got worse.”

This is the latest setback for the Danish star who was the runner up at both the 2009 and 2014 US Opens. Wozniacki has not won a Grand Slam match this year and had to miss the French open because of an ankle injury.

“At this point, I just can’t catch a break,” she said. “I’m thinking ‘I’m going to catch a break sooner or later.’ But right now, it’s jut like one thing after the other. I feel like I’m hitting it pretty well. I’m serving well. And it’s like, this happens. It’s just really disappointing.”

Harrison wins battle against Victor Troicki

It was played on one of the smaller courts at the William H.G. FitzGerald Tennis Center but it was one of the loudest and most exciting places to be as Ryan Harrison went through a battle against 10th-seeded Victor Troicki and eventually pulled off the upset.

Harrison was able to earn the 7-6 (4), 6-4 victory to earn a match in the next round against countryman Steve Johnson.

The first set was one of the best sets of the tournament so far as Troicki staved off 12 break points, including five set points before losing out in the first-set tiebreaker. There were numerous cheers from the crowd as Harrison went on to beat Troicki in straight sets, not allowing it to go to a third set where anything could happen.

Similar to the Golden State Warriors, the Americans have strength in numbers entering the third round with Harrison’s surprise victory to join four other seeded Americans – Isner (1st), Johnson (5th), Sock (6th), and Sam Querrey (8th) – vying for spots in the quarterfinals, where they have a chance for four guys. An American has not won the men’s singles competition at the Citi Open since Andy Roddick earned the title in 2007.

Monfils eases to victory in first match at the Citi Open

Gael MonfilsThe entertaining Frenchman Gael Monfils cruised to a 6-3, 6-2 victory over Yen-Hsun Lu to advance to the next round at the Citi Open. The second-seeded Monfils was dominant on his first serve as he had 10 aces and won 91-percent of his first serve points. He was also strong on his second serve by winning 71-percent of those points and played an almost flawless match against Lu.

It was Monfils first win in a couple of months and he’s glad to be back on the court.

“I’m very pleased with my play,” he said. “It’s been a couple of months for me struggling with my health and it feels good to be back on the court and to sweat, and it was great.”

Monfils will take on the 16th-seeded Borna Coric in the next round.

Tomic and Muller move on

Third-seeded Bernard Tomic had a closer-than-expected first set against American Donald Young, but was ultimately able to advance in the tournament with a 7-6 (4), 6-3 victory. Tomic was able to smack 12 aces in the match and won 79-percent of his first serves while Young only won 64-percent of his and had only five aces.

Despite winning 82-percent of his first serves in the first set, Tomic struggled only going 6-for-16 on second serves, and had three double faults that allowed Young to hang around. However, he was almost flawless in the second set with no double faults and a 7-1 ace advantage leading to victory.

Meanwhile, 14th-seeded Gilles Muller made easy work of Yoshihito Nishioka, 6-4, 6-1. Muller out-aces Nishioka 11-2 in the match and went a remarkable 24-for-28 on first serves while Nishioka failed 10 of his opportunities and went just 6-for-18 on second serves. Muller was able to return well throughout the game to put pressure on Nishioka.

Zverev too much for Fritz

In the battle between the teenagers, the German Alexander Zverv beat Taylor Fritz 6-4, 6-2 to advance to the quarterfinals of the Citi Open. It was only the third time in Zverev’s career that he played someone younger that him.

The 19-year-old Zverev broke the 18-year-old Fritz’ serve early in both sets and held serve throughout the match, leading to a decisive victory. Both players showed a lot of emotions on the court, as they would shout or yell at their racket after every unforced error.

After an early break from Zverev in the first set, Fritz had an immediate opportunity on Zverev’s next service game, but was not able to capitalize on five break points, ultimately shattering his confidence for the rest of the set.

“It was a difficult match as we both served really well,” Zverev said. “The court was very fast, as Centre Court here is faster than the other courts I don’t know why.”

Similar to the first set, Zverev broke Fritz’ second service game of the second set and then came back from down 40-love to break Fritz’ serve again, which served as the knockout punch for the game.

“It’s always important with both of our serves to go up a break,” Zverev said. “It’s not easy to break either of our serves so to go up a break is always big.”

Zverev will take on Malek Jaziri in the third round.

Wildcard Pegula stuns McHale to advance

There was a point where Christina McHale could be argued to be the second-best American women’s tennis player behind the all-time great Serena Williams and it’s not that she has really fallen off, though she is currently ranked 23 spots lower than she was at her peak – after all, she did just beat Williams in straight-sets at Wimbledon – but wildcard Jessica Pegula just happened to find a way to out-play her and advance.

The daughter of Buffalo Bills and Sabre’s owner Terry Pegula was on Center Court and earned the 7-5, 6-2 victory over McHale despite only two aces in her match. Simply, she was able to grind out the volleys and places her returns well enough to keep McHale off balance it seemed. And though she wasn’t landing aces, she was whipping a serve that topped out at 108 mph and stayed aggressive to keep McHale on defense.

Her red-hot start to the set gave her a 5-1 lead, which McHale was able to get tied, but Pegula won the final two games and rode the wave of momentum through the second set.

Pegula is ranked 173rd in the world without any WTA single or doubles titles.

Certainly Pegula’s next opponent is as tough as they come as she’s set to play top-seeded and world No. 14 Samantha Stosur, but the Australian did show some struggles against Wozniacki’s hard serve before winning by retirement in her match.

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Anirudh Sridhar

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