By Nick Margiasso/BB&T Atlanta Open
Usually, the way the tale goes, is that either the scruffy old veteran or the upstart young gun wins in the end. Wednesday, it was both.
Lleyton Hewitt, a two-time Grand Slam champion and the No. 7 seed at the BB&T Atlanta Open, showed his patented brand of rugged grinding to defeat wild card American Rhyne Williams 7-6(6), 6-4 on Stadium Court to advance to the quarterfinal round.
Just behind the Australian vet, on the AJC Grandstand Court, another American wild card, 373rd-ranked 19-year-old Christian Harrison showed poise beyond his years. In his first main draw match on the ATP World Tour, he beat Colombia’s No. 1 Alejandro Falla 6-1, 6-7(7), 6-2. Ranked only No. 373, the 19-year-old beat the player who is 290 spots above him in the rankings.
Each match featured a pressure-packed tiebreak, but the meaning of that extra frame proved very different within the course of either match.
Hewitt had a chance to serve for the first set, up 5-4, but Williams fought back to even it and eventually force a tiebreak. In the deciding frame, Williams went up 6-2 only to waste four straight set points. After the changeover, Hewitt got his first set point and didn't blow it, volleying it home to clinch the set with a patented shout of "Come on!" The two stayed neck-and-neck in the second, but as Williams served to stay in the match at 4-5, Hewitt broke him for the win instead.
On the adjacent court, Harrison, the younger brother of 132nd-ranked American Ryan, quickly went to work with a 6-1 opening-set win against the 83rd-ranked Falla. Harrison won 83 percent of his first serve points and was 2-for-2 on break points in the set. In the second, the players locked in and fought through a grueling tiebreak, which Falla pulled out with two straight points after Harrison evened it at 7-7.
If Falla was looking to steal the momentum, though, it was not to be. Harrison rebounded like a veteran, serving to go ahead 3-2 and then reeling off another three consecutive games from that point for the victory. Harrison fist-pumped to the raucous crowd after Falla's final forehand sailed long.
Harrison was a perfect 4-for-4 on break points in the match. He'll have a truly tall task ahead of him in the second round, getting the event's top-seed John Isner on Thursday.
In other Wednesday news
Soft-spoken giant Ivo Karlovic, fresh off his tournament win in Bogota last weekend, took on another Australian veteran in action, Matthew Ebden. In what looked like a mismatch, the two-time and defending BB&T Atlanta Open doubles champion Ebden notched the upset victory after Karlovic retired with fatigue after dropping a listless first set 6-2.
The doubles tandem of American Rajeev Ram,a winner of the inaugural BB&T Atlanta Open double title, and Great Britain's Ken Skupski defeated fellow Brit Dominic Inglot and German Franky Moser, a 2011 doubles finalist in Atlanta. 6-4, 6-4 to advance to the quarterfinal round.