Defending champion John Isner and top seed Jo-Wilfried Tsonga of France both won on Tuesday in the second round of the Winston-Salem Open.
The third-seeded Isner was pushed to three sets before beating Slovakia’s Martin Klizan 4-6, 6-3, 7-5. Tsonga, the highest-ranked player (sixth) in the final hard-court tournament before the US Open, beat Brazil’s Thomaz Bellucci 6-3, 7-6 (7-2).
Isner showed the effects of a two-week layoff, coming out sluggish against Klizan.
The left-hander broke Isner’s serve in the opening game of the first set, and kept him scrambling with his groundstrokes.
However, Isner eventually picked up his game, serving 13 aces — the fastest recorded at 225kph — and breaking Klizan’s serve late in each of the final two sets.
“I felt the match was going to be tough, and that’s exactly what it was,” Isner said. “He was playing pretty well, and I wasn’t on top of my game. That’s all it took in that first set, and from that point on I knew it was going to be a battle.”
“I wasn’t that great out there today, but as the tournament progresses, I should get stronger,” Isner said.
Isner will next face 13th-seeded Jurgen Melzer of Austria, who fought off a challenge from 303rd-ranked qualifier Michael McClune to win 6-2, 2-6, 7-6 (12-10).
Tsonga, a semi-finalist at Wimbledon earlier this season, broke Bellucci’s serve in the first set, but the Brazilian overcame four double faults to force a second-set tiebreaker.
“It was a good match for me,” said Tsonga, who teamed with Michael Llodra for the silver medal in men’s doubles at the London Olympics. “The second set, I had many occasions to finish it, but I did much better in the tiebreaker.”
Tsonga will next play qualifier Sergiy Stakhovsky of the Ukraine, who upset 15th-seeded Pablo Andujar of Spain 6-2, 6-3.
In addition to Andujar, three other seeded players were eliminated on Tuesday: eighth-seeded Julien Benneteau of France, last year’s Winston-Salem finalist; 11th-seeded Denis Istomin of Uzbekistan and 12th seed Kevin Anderson of South Africa.
Fourth-seeded Alexandr Dolgopolov of the Ukraine downed Taiwan’s Lu Yen-hsun 6-1, 6-3.
Additional reporting by staff writer