Michael Russell beat fellow American and seventh seed Donald Young 1-6, 6-1, 6-4 on Monday in the opening round at the Hall of Fame Tennis Championships.
The tournament, the only one held on grass in North America, features a number of Olympians from 10 different countries scheduled to play before heading to the London Games on Wimbledon’s grass surface later this summer.
Young, the 57th-ranked player in the world coming into the week, is part of the US Olympic team.
Young dominated the opening set, winning 10 of 11 first-serve points and 16 of 18 service points overall. He closed the set in 25 minutes, before 96th-ranked Russell changed his attack.
“It’s difficult on a grass court, it’s almost like you’re hitting and you keep waiting to see who’s going to get a bad bounce first,” Russell said. “I thought I was playing a little more aggressive in the second or the third set. Even when I did miss, I thought I was playing with the right style of play.”
In the final set, Young fought off three match points in the ninth game, before Russell closed it out when Young hit a backhand service return into the net on the final point.
“Obviously, I wanted to close it out when he was serving, but like I said, in the third set I felt really comfortable in my serve and was able to serve it out, which was nice,” Russell said.
Top seed, defending champion and US Olympian John Isner was scheduled to face qualifier Sergei Bubka of Ukraine yesterday.
France’s Nicolas Mahut, a Newport runner-up in 2007, beat Switzerland’s Marco Chiudinelli 6-0, 7-6 (7/2).
Chiudinelli was upset a few times with the chair umpire. At one point during the second set when the chair overruled Mahut’s serve, calling the ball in, Chiudinelli could be heard yelling: “You’re making some of the worst calls here.”
In other first-round play, Jack Sock of the US won his first ever match on grass, beating Russian Igor Kunitsyn 7-5, 1-6, 6-4; Belgian Olympian Olivier Rochus beat Japan’s Go Soeda 6-4, 3-6, 6-3; and Israel’s Dudi Sela beat Canadian Frank Dancevic 6-0, 6-2.
US Olympian and sixth seed Ryan Harrison outlasted Belgian Ruben Bemelmans 7-6 (10/8), 6-7 (5/7), 7-5.
The tennis tournament is held in conjunction with induction ceremonies. Jennifer Capriati heads this year’s class that are scheduled to be enshrined on Saturday.
AP, STUTTGART, Germany
Dustin Brown of Germany saved a match point to upset sixth seed Nikolay Davydenko of Russia 7-5, 3-6, 7-6 (9/7) in the first round of the Mercedes Cup on Monday.
Brown, who received a wild card to play in the Stuttgart tournament, broke his opponent early in the third set, but allowed Davydenko to fight back.
The Russian won a match point on his serve, but he was eventually overcome by the German.
Brown led 5-2 in the tiebreaker, before wasting a match point and allowed Davydenko to level at 6-6. The Russian’s ninth double fault gave Brown his third match point as he served out the match.
Also on Monday, Guillermo Garcia-Lopez swept past fellow Spaniard Ruben Ramirez Hidalgo 6-2, 6-3.
AP, UMAG, Croatia
Seventh seed Martin Klizan of Slovakia advanced on Monday to the second round of the Croatia Open by defeating Aljaz Bedene of Slovenia 6-2, 6-2.
Klizan is playing for the first time as a seeded player in Umag. He easily defeated Slovenian wild-card Bedene, dominating the match from the start.