Irving Tennis Classic: Frances Tiafoe Rolls Past Benjamin Becker

It was a loaded second day of main draw play on Wednesday at the Irving Tennis Classic (ITC). The day featured 11 singles matches and four doubles matches. The tournament's top seed, Gilles Muller, ended the night with a win. It was a day full of competitive tennis with some surprise results.

Youth Served, Tiafoe Triumphs Over Becker

The 18-year-old was nearly flawless in the opening set against Becker. Both players could find no separation through the first nine games as each held serve, with Tiafoe up 5-4. In what proved to be the decisive game of the set, Tiafoe would convert on his second break chance of the set to take down the German 6-4. The American won 14 of 15 points on his first serve in impressive fashion, taking 23 of 28 points overall on serve. Tiafoe would be forced to save just a single break point.

Tiafoe wold start the second set slowly as his first serve percentage dropped in his first few games. He was forced to escape from a 0-40 hole in his second service game, but managed to work his way out for the 2-1 lead. The wasted opportunities weighed immediately on the former Baylor Bear as Becker would drop serve in the next game to hand Tiafoe the lead at 3-1. Things did not go well for Tiafoe in the lead however, as he once again fell behind 0-40 and this time could not fight back. The set went back on serve at 3-2.

Tiafoe pumps his first (Photo: Irving Tennis Classic)
Tiafoe pumps his first (Photo: Irving Tennis Classic)

Both players continued with their service issues in the next game as the third straight break of serve gave the 18-year-old American another break lead at 4-2. The break trend would end in the next game as Tiafoe rediscovered his serve to put a stranglehold on the set at 5-2. The players would trade holds to finish the match, with Tiafoe serving it out for the 6-4, 6-3 win.

Defending Champ Leads Wednesday Winners

Defending champion Aljaz Bedene showed he was the clear favorite by taking out Brazilian Rogerio Dutra Silva 6-3, 6-2. The defending ITC champion cruised to victory in one hour and four minutes, but not without some challenges. He had to save five break point chances and then converted his chances to get the job done.

Elsewhere, there were several surprises in singles play on Wednesday.. Doubles specialist Michael Venus got a big upset over Marco Cecchinato 6-3, 3-6, 6-3. The lucky loser struck ten aces, while saving seven of eight break points faced against the 89th ranked Italian. Venus came out firing in the first set with 86 percent of his first serve points being won in the set. The native of New Zealand would play aggressive first strike tennis, that was the key as he got the break and closed out the set.

The Italian then fought back, neutralizing his opponent's comfort moving forward. The match headed to a decider, where an inspired Venus played lights out. He would win 20 out of 23 points on serve. Only one break was needed to give Venus the big win, as he moved on to the second round.

Donskoy and Cervantes Provide Thrilling Finish

In other action, a three set thriller took place between Evgeny Donskoy and Inigo Cervantes. The Russian came out victorious 6-7 (8), 7-6 (4), 6-4 in two hours and 16 minutes. Both players traded breaks in the first set that eventually headed to a set tiebreaker. The 6th seeded Spaniard gutted it out, while working hard in every point. Donskoy continued to put forth maximum effort, while both players again traded breaks in the second set.

That eventually led to the Russian winning and pushing the match to a third set. In the decider, the Russian buckled down on the return side, winning a total of 45 percent of the return points. A second break ultimately handed Donskoy the win. The three set thriller was a he pair’s second match this year. They played each other at the Australian Open in the first round. That match saw Donskoy prevail in four sets.

Marchenko Prevails in Day's Longest Match

Eighth seed Illya Marchenko defeated Philipp Petzschner 6-7 (5), 7-6 (4), 6-3 in the longest match of the day. The two hour and 49 minute battle saw both players fighting for every point. The first set was a complete show of service ability, as neither player struck a break of serve. The qualifier fought to grab the first set in a tiebreaker. As the match wore on, both players began to see more opportunities on each other's service games.

Each game was fairly close and both players kept their cool. Marchenko and Petzschner both traded breaks and then held to force the tiebreaker in set two. This time, it was in the 8th seed who took the breaker to set up a third and decisive set. Marchenko would win 70 percent of his first service points in the decider and broke Petzschner twice.  as well as broke twice to book a spot in round two.

Other Results From Wednesday's First Round

A second lucky loser registered an extra dose of luck on Wednesday as Ecuadorian Giovanni Lapentti fought to a 4-6, 7-6 (5), 6-2 victory over qualifier Jason Jung. The two hour 26 minute marathon saw Lapentti strike seven aces on his way to the second round. Next Generation young gun Alexander Zverev’s older brother Mischa Zverev showed a bit of his own magic, as he fought his way past sixth seed Denis Kudla 6-3, 3-6, 6-3 in one hour and 34 minutes. After the match, Zverev said he was pleased with his performance, "I'm happy, I played well in the third, and it's my first victory in the main draw in Irving so far."

Third seed Lukas Rosol took care of business over qualifier Jakob Sude 6-2, 7-6 (2). The Czech rolled on serve during the match, but especially in the first set as he dropped no second serve points. Sude improved on his serve in the second set as both players held all 12. Rosol would assume complete control of the tiebreaker to help close out the match.

Three quick matches also finished out with an unfortunate retirement from German Michael Berrer, while he was down 2-6, 1-2 to Diego Schwartzman. Ivan Dodig got a solid 6-2, 6-2 win over 23-year-old Jozef Kovalik, who is currently sitting on a career high ranking of 182. The Croatian had five breaks of serve on his way to victory. Second seed Gilles Muller finished the night by defeating qualifier Cameron Norrie 6-4, 6-3. The 20-year-old Brit gave great effort, but could not match Muller. After breaking the second seed once on a sole opportunity, Norrie was not close to getting another chance. The second seed was poor with only 45 percent of his first serves landing in play. It was not a perfect performance, but he was able to pull through and get the job done without much trouble.

Wednesday's Doubles Results

Leander Paes (left) and Lukas Rosol during their win on Wednesday (Photo: Irving Tennis Classic)
Leander Paes (left) and Lukas Rosol during their win on Wednesday (Photo: Irving Tennis Classic)

Paes-Rosol def. R.D Silva-Lapentti 6-3, 6-4
J.P. Smith-Venus def. Istomin-Tursunov 6-7 (10), 6-4, 10-8
Eazor-Wood def. Smyczek-Pier 3-6, 6-2, 10-7
Jung-Sude def. Becker-Knowles 6-3, 6-4

Thursday's Schedule

With action moving into the second round in singles, there are some marquee matches on top. The first match up on Championship Court on Thursday could be the best. Defending champion Aljaz Bedene opens the day against Dmitry Tursunov. They will be followed by Rosol and Denis Istomin. The nightcap on Championship Court features Mischa Zverev against Marcel Granollers.