Day three in Houston provided some fascinating matchups, including an all-American battle, a contest between young guns, and a major upset. The top two seeds, John Isner and Benoit Paire, both got their campaigns underway after first round byes, but only one emerged victorious as the second round got underway at the US Men’s Clay Court Championship on Wednesday.
2013 champion and number one seed John Isner kicked off his 2016 clay court season on Wednesday, and faced an early challenge in the form of fellow American Denis Kudla. The unseeded American did a good job of keeping up with his countryman’s monster serve, but had no answer in the tiebreaks, as Isner emerged victorious 7-6(2), 7-6(4).
It was a classic Isner serving performance, as he pounded 24 aces past his countryman and did not allow a single break point opportunity against his serve in the match. In total, the serve monster only dropped five points on his first serve in the match, and 79% of his service points overall. While Kudla’s numbers were not as impressive, his serve was just as effective, as he was not broken in the match, even though he had to save three break points through 12 service games. But when push came to shove in the tiebreaks, Isner showed why he’s one of the best in the world in breakers, claiming both to seal victory.
Isner was joined in the second round by fellow American Sam Querrey, who raced to victory over Benjamin Becker in a mere 50 minutes. Querrey dropped 13 aces on his German opponent, while saving both break points he faced. Becker was unable to match the two-time runner-ups strong serving, and was broken three times, failing to save a single break point. He also only won three points on his own second serve in the 6-3, 6-3 victory by the American.
The major upset of the day saw second seed Benoit Paire ousted by clay court specialist Juan Monaco 6-3, 7-5. The Argentinian won the title back in 2012 and was in fine form on Wednesday, taking advantage of a poor serving performance from his French opponent. Paire only put 35% of his first serves into play, and only won 43% of his second serve points. The Frenchman was under constant pressure from the Argentinian, facing eleven break points and being broken four times. He returned the favour, outchancing his opponent with 12 break points, but could only convert two of them. Monaco needed an hour and a half to claim victory.
The final match of the day was the most interesting, as it pitted a pair of teenagers against each other. Home hope Tommy Paul grabbed the early lead against Korean teen Hyeon Chung, but was unable to hold on, eventually falling 5-7, 6-2, 6-2. After exchanging breaks early in the set, Paul got the second break late to claim the opening. At that point, Chung completely flipped the momentum and dominated the last two sets, not allowing the American a single break point opportunity in the last two sets, while grabbing two breaks of his own in each set to wrap up the win in just under two hours.
The second round will be completed tomorrow.