Jack Sock and Feliciano Lopez led the charge into the quarterfinals on Thursday at the US Men’s Clay Court Championship, as the last four matches of the second round were contested with three of the remaining seeded players were in action, including the defending champion. Here’s what happened on day four in Houston
Defending champion Jack Sock got his title defence underway on Wednesday, defeating Matthew Ebden 6-2, 7-6(5) in their second round match. Sock got off to a lightning fast start, dominating the opening set. The American broke his opponent twice in the first set, while not giving Ebden a single opportunity to event the match by only allowing him four points on his own serve in the opener. The Aussie picked up his level in the second set and made a contest out of it, finally breaking through on Sock’s serve, although he gave up a break of his own. When the match came down to the wire, it was the reigning champion who kept his nerve in the tiebreak, edging Ebden 7-5 to wrap up the victory.
American wild card Tim Smyczek was dominant on serve in his second round clash with fellow American Donald Young, claiming victory in straight sets. In the opening set, Young could get nothing going on serve, only holding once out of four service games. He would reclaim one of the breaks, but his inability to hold allowed Smyczek to cruise through the opener. The second set was much tighter, but the wild card upped his own service level and did not give Young a single break point opportunity, courtesy of a consistent first serve (Smyczek only missed three in the second set). A single break was enough for the Milwaukee native, as he sealed the 6-2, 6-4 victory in 56 minutes.
Third seed Feliciano Lopez overcame a slow start to get his clay court season underway and defeat Lukas Lacko 7-6(4), 6-1. One bad game was enough to put pressure on Lopez, as he gave up his lone break of the match. He soon recovered and went on to only lose six points on serve in the whole set and forced a tiebreak, which he won to take the opening set. The momentum soon swung to the Spaniard, who cruised from there. He only lost three points on his own serve in the second set, while dominating Lacko’s second serve which led to a pair of breaks, which was enough to send him into the second round.
Marcos Baghdatis continued his hot run of form, defeating Fernando Verdasco 6-4, 6-3 to reach the quarterfinals. The Cypriot was challenged by Spanaird, but gained a narrow advantage in the key category, break points, in both sets, converting his extra break point on both occasions to wrap up the victory in an hour and 16 minutes.
The quarterfinals will take place tomorrow.