Updated: Aug 4, 2021
With every match featuring a tiebreaker, it was the 4 underdogs winning in some close battles!
Bjorn Fratangelo d Andreas Seppi 7-5 7-6(5)
Serving very evenly at 15 aces and 0 double faults each, and eerily similar serving stats, it was a game of who could create the break point opportunities on the return of serve. Both started pretty aggressive, but it was the American moving the 37yo side to side, and ultimately getting the better of the Italian.
Jordan Thompson d Lloyd Harris (8) 7-6(2) 1-6 6-2
The Australian was the underdog heading into the match, and looked to be in good stead after winning the tiebreaker. Many would have bet on the 24yo South African to bring it back, and they would have been pleased with a ripper second set performance. However, it was not to be. Thompson, as he does all the time, regrouped after a mental breakdown, and come back like he knows how to.
Steve Johnson d Alexei Popyrin 7-6(4) 6-3
In a match with only one break, it was a very tight affair, with Johnson winning the mental battle on a 30 degree day in Atlanta. Ultimately, the mental battle was enough to win in such a tight match. Johnson winning with experience.
Peter Gojowczyk d Sam Querrey 4-6 7-6(3) 7-6(5)
The final singles match of the day, and the closest! Querrey only two points away from winning twice! In a match with 33 service games, there was only one break, showing how close these matches are, and setting the tone for the rest of the hard court season.
Jack Sock d Ricardas Berankis 7-6(4) 6-4 7-5
With both players competing well, and serving well specifically, it was all about returning serve, and who could provide the break points. The first set luckily went the Lithuanian's way, but it was Sock converting 2/5 break point opportunities, and incredibly giving no break point opportunities away.
Chris O'Connell d Denis Kudla 4-6 6-3 6-3
O'Connell unlucky to win the first set, but deservedly winning the match, with 19 aces, and magnificently winning 88% of first serve points. Also impressive was his return game, creating 8 break point opportunities despite converting just the 3 of them.
Benoit Paire (7) d Yasutaka Uchiyama 7-5 6-7(2) 6-4
Paire has been picking up some form as of late, but has not really been challenged by someone inside the top 100. Paire faces Ruusivuori in the next round, who is sure to give him a taste of his own medicine. Paire was serving well, winning 88% of first serves, and moving into the net nicely.
Emil Ruusivuori d Mackenzie McDonald 7-6(3) 7-5
These two are very even players, but it was the man from Finland who is underrated, still making his way up the ranks as a 22yo. McDonald is now 26, and established, and Ruusivuori was finding little cracks, and breaking the small mentality barrier the American had. As many losses with McDonald present, is the fact that McDonald exits the game mentally, serving garbage, winning 59% of his first serves and only 33% of his second serves.
John Isner (6) d JJ Wolf 6-4 6-7(3) 6-4
Despite Wolf's best attempt, it is overly difficult overcoming 36 aces from the 36yo. Though Wolf served 19 of his own, it was not enough to defeat the 5 time local champ. Wolf doing well to close out the tiebreaker considering he only won 16 receiving points off Isner's 18 games.
Brandon Nakashima d Trent Bryde 6-1 6-7(5) 6-4
In what was previewed as the easiest win of Nakashima's last couple of weeks, it was the world no 1164 to give the Los Cabos finalist a run for his money. Bryde having a magnificent stride in the second set and definitely gave Nakashima a fright. It was, however, not to be, as Nakashima brought home the bread!
Taylor Fritz (5) d Evgeny Donskoy 6-3 6-4
The 5th seed made the SF last week in Mexico, and is looking in good form here to start Atlanta. Similar first serve stats, but it was Fritz with the much better second serve stats, winning 82% compared to just 47% for the Russian. Only a couple of break point opportunities, but the American was sure to take them both (2/2).
NIck Kyrgios d Kevin Anderson 7-6(4) 6-3
With only one break of serve, Kyrgios did well to hold Anderson to no break point opportunities. Only a total of 25 aces (15 to Anderson, 10 to Kyrgios), Kyrgios just moved the 35yo around too well. Kyrgios' defence using a block as return of serve is simple yet effective. This, combined with his flat groundstrokes makes it difficult for a tall player like Anderson to smack it, but rather use more top spin or force an error, in which many errors were made.