No. 2 seed Nick Kyrgios, making his first appearance in Atlanta, booked the final spot in the quarterfinals on Thursday night. His opponent, the red hot American Jared Donaldson, who is playing some of the best tennis of his life battled Kyrgios to the end, but the raw power of the Aussie dictated play and kept Donaldson either behind the baseline or off the court.
After a rain delay of almost two hours, the first set was fast-paced and featured high quality shotmaking. No service breaks meant a tiebreaker where Kyrgios quickly took a 4-1 lead with a couple of mini-breaks on strong returning. At 6-4, he closed out the set with a service winner and a fist pump.
Kyrgios looked to be in a hurry, opening the second set with two breaks to jump out 4-0. Donaldson changed tactics a bit by changing paces and made a valiant effort to cut the lead to 4-3, but Kyrgios was just too strong on the big points and took the match 7-6(4), 6-3.
For Kyrgios, it was a return to winning ways on the tennis court and he seemed excited.“I knew that he (Donaldson) was confident,” said Kyrgios. “I haven’t played too much tennis of late so I’m just happy I got through. I know tomorrow I have a tough match, but I thought the conditions really suited my game.”
The BB&T Atlanta Open’s No. 4 seed, Ukrainian Alexandr “The Dog” Dolgopolov fell to 20-year-old, Yoshihito Nishioka of Japan 6-3, 2-6, 6-1, in second round play on Thursday.
Nishioka took control of the first set with a break in the fifth game and backed that up with another at 5-3 to take the opener. When Nishioka is playing well, he make it look effortless and free flowing and he was hitting on all cylinders early on. In the second set, Dolgolopov fought back with a break in the first game and mixed in four aces to take the second. Nishioka looked a little rattled against the veteran pro, but after splitting sets, he gave himself a little pep talk. That put him back in the right frame of mind and back dictating points in the decider. The young Japanese player won 100% of the points where his first serve connected in the third and he closed it out, looking confident heading into Friday’s action. Nishioka will now face Horacio Zeballos of Argentina in one quarterfinal.
In the day’s second contest, No. 5 seed Fernando Verdasco is now 5-0 for his career against Julien Benneteau of France with an easy 6-1, 6-3 victory. In the match, which took just 58 minutes the Spaniard converted 84% of first serve points and face no break points. Benneteau is working his way back from injury and Verdasco now has a confirmed set in the quarters.
Horacio Zaballos defeated Tobias Kamke 6-1, 6-4 in the other second round match of the day session. Quarterfinal action begins at 12 noon on Friday.
Gail Devers appears Friday at the 1996 Atlanta Olympic Games 20th Anniversary Exhibit presented by Coca-Cola. The exhibit is free and open to the public and coincides with the BB&T Atlanta Open’s celebration of the 1996 Atlanta Olympic Games, which runs July 30 – August 7.