By Nick Margiasso/BB&T Atlanta Open
On Thursday at the BB&T Atlanta Open, the Americans were crushing the tennis ball like the good old days.
Ryan Harrison took the court Thursday afternoon looking to win back-to-back matches at a tournament for only the second time in his last five events. But he got the win he sought, taking a 6-4, 6-3 contest against fourth-seeded Igor Sijsling in a match with one wild swing.
Early on things looked bleak, as the unseeded and 132nd-ranked American was broken twice by Sijsling as the Dutchman had a 4-0 lead less than 15 minutes on court.
All of a sudden, though, Harrison came alive in a big way and made those the only enjoyable minutes of Sijsling's match. The 21-year-old Davis Cup veteran reeled off six straight games to close out the first set. He kept the momentum going, taking a 4-3 lead on serve in the second, then breaking and serving out the win for a trip to the quarterfinals.
"I started slow, things weren't falling the way I wanted to but I could feel like I was close," Harrison said afterwards. "I felt like if a few things went my way I'd be able to turn things around. I was surprised that the first set turned so quickly. I was glad to hit a few big shots to get back in it. I knew if I could keep a positive vibe going I could make good things happen."
James Blake continued the banner day for the U.S. players, dominating eighth-seeded Evgeny Donskoy of Russia 6-3, 6-2 to reach his second ATP quarterfinal of the year.
The former world No. 4 jumped out to a 4-1 lead early, utilizing his free-swinging shots off both wings to eventually close it out 6-3. He moved swift and powerfully in the second, earning a 4-2 lead and adding a break and a final strong service game to seal the win.
In other early singles news at the Atlanta event, Denis Istomin upended fifth-seeded Yen-Hsun Lu 7-5, 6-2 to earn his spot in the quarterfinal round. On the doubles side, the Israeli duo of Jonathan Erlich and Andy Ram stunned the top-seeded tandem of Ivan Dodig and Marcelo Melo 7-5, 4-6, [10-8]. Also, the Australian pairing of Lleyton Hewitt (already through to the quarterfinal round in singles) and Chris Guccione drubbed Rajeev Ram and Ken Skupski 6-1, 6-2.