Taiwan’s No. 1 Lu Yen-hsun beat Steve Johnson of the US 6-3, 6-2 on Wednesday to advance to the quarter-finals of the Winston-Salem Open.
Lu dominated on his serve, winning 79 percent of points on his first serve and 86 percent on his second. Lu converted three of seven break-point chances, while his opponent did not manage to create a break-point opportunity.
Lu next faces Ukrainian 10th seed Alexandr Dolgopolov, who rallied past eighth seed Juan Monaco 4-6, 6-3, 6-3.
American Sam Querrey stepped up his rivalry with countryman John Isner, blasting 19 aces to reach the quarter-finals.
Sixth seed Querrey beat 11th seed Jarkko Nieminen 4-6, 7-6 (7/4), 7-6 (12/10) a day after the 40th-ranked Finn had advanced when Mardy Fish of the US could not continue due to heat stroke.
Frenchman Gael Monfils, who is seeded 15th, extended his recovery from this month’s ankle injury by beating Spanish fourth seed Tommy Robredo 7-6 (7/2), 4-6, 6-2 in a match that lasted more than two hours.
He next faces Fernando Verdasco after the seventh seed beat Robin Haase 6-4, 6-7 (8/10), 6-3.
Austrian veteran Jurgen Melzer put out French fifth seed Benoit Paire 6-4, 6-3 to set up a match with Russia’s Dmitry Tursunov, a winner over compatriot Alex Bogomolov 6-3, 7-5.
Home-state hero Isner and Querrey have long been friendly rivals, with both standing more than 2m tall and relying on huge serving games.
Isner was the top seed and the two-time defending champion at Winston-Salem, but he and third seed Tomas Berdych withdrew, citing injury concerns a week ahead of the start of the US Open.
Querrey, 25, reached the semi-finals in Winston-Salem a year ago, losing to eventual finalist Berdych.
He won his 21st match of the season, with his best showing an Auckland semi-final nearly nine months ago, and says he has his chance with the pair of major seeds missing.
“Two big kind of power guys are out. You want to take it one match at a time, but it’s hard not to know that in the back of my mind that: ‘Hey, I have got a good opportunity here,’” said Querrey, who is ranked 29th in the world.
Querrey, who had won just two matches over five ATP events from the end of the French Open until this week, hopes to kick-start his hard-court season in time for the US Open.
“This is huge for my confidence,” said Querrey, who came from 6-3 down in the deciding tiebreak. “It’s the first time in a long while I can remember squeezing out a long tough one, saving match points, getting through when it wasn’t pretty at times. I felt better in this match than the first one and tomorrow I am hoping I’ll feel a bit better.”
Querrey bids for the semi-final spot against Ricardas Berankis of Lithuania, who defeated Roberto Bautista Agut 6-3, 6-3.
That match will be a rerun of last year’s final in Los Angeles, claimed by Querrey over the world No. 126, who has won three consecutive matches for the first time this season.
Additional reporting by staff writer