Normality returned to the shock-strewn South African Open on Thursday with remaining seeds Kevin Anderson and Adrian Mannarino reaching the quarter-finals.
South African Anderson gradually took control against Israeli Dudi Sela to triumph 6-4, 6-2 in the ATP tournament at the Montecasino entertainment center north of Johannesburg.
Frenchman Mannarino took a little longer to take command against German Denis Gremelmayr before winning 6-7 (2/7), 6-4, 6-4 in an error-saturated match.
Japan’s Go Soeda failed to build on a bright start and was overwhelmed 6-3, 5-7, 0-6 by Slovak Karol Beck.
Canadian giantkiller Frank Dancevic, who beat top seed and title holder Feliciano Lopez of Spain in the opening round, edged local favorite Fritz Wolmarans 7-6 (7/4), 6-3 in a feature game that matched its billing.
Anderson must have wondered if was going to join six other seeds, including No. 2 Lu Yen-hsun of Taiwan and No. 3 Janko Tipsarevic of Serbia, on the scrapheap after losing two previous encounters against Sela.
But any fears the No. 1 South African player had proved unfounded as he always looked the likely winner.
“I am focused on my game and just hope I can keep it up,” said Anderson, who faces the added pressure of living up to considerable pre-tournament hype in the South African media.
Mannarino, a 22-year-old seeking his maiden ATP title, confessed that he played “not so good” when booking a last-eight place after a rare game in which jet-propelled serves did not dominate at 1,800m above sea level.
Only 17 places separate Beck and Soeda in the world rankings, making it all the more difficult to fathom why the Japanese offered so little resistance when it came to the crunch.
Dancevic brushed aside a neck injury to take the first-set tiebreaker after winning five points on the trot to overturn a 3-0 deficit and shaded Wolmarans in a second set of several service breaks.
Britain’s Jamie Murray and Alexander Peya of Austria beat Lu and Tipsarevic 6-3, 6-4 in a second round doubles match.
Additional reporting by staff writer