First Ball In, 7/9: Course Management
Flat shots, sharp defiance and a pretty good fade continue to serve Lleyton Hewitt well on grass.
The third-seeded Aussie dissected Croatian qualifier Ante Pavic, 6-2, 6-2, to reach his third straight Newport quarterfinal on Wednesday. Hewitt saved all seven break points he faced in the first set and surrendered just three points on serve in the second set of a 65-minute win.
The 2002 Wimbledon champion wasn't done for the day. Hewitt and sometime Davis Cup partner Chris Guccione defeated Ryan Harrison and Michael Venus, 6-3, 6-4, in a first-round doubles win. It came the day after Hewitt rallied from a set down to beat Harrison, 1-6, 7-5, 6-4.
"I was adjusted and ready for how the courts were playing today," said Hewitt. "I went out there with really good tactics and played them really well."
Hewitt's skill taking the ball on the rise, his accuracy controlling returns on the full stretch, and quick feet make him dangerous in unsettled situations that arise on grass. The lawns at the Hall of Fame Championships play faster and elicit a lower bounce than Wimbledon, rewarding Hewitt's knack of scraping back balls on the run. He has reached the Newport final two years running and aims to revive his stalled season here.
The 33-year-old opened the season beating Kei Nishikori and Roger Federer in succession to collect his 29th career title in Brisbane last January. He hadn't won successive matches since until this week, but has a history of making things happen on grass. Hewitt owns a 124-38 record on the surface with seven titles, second only to Federer among active players. In addition to his win over David Nalbandian in the 2002 Wimbledon final, Hewitt has won Queen's Club four times, 's-Hertogenbosch once, and Halle once.
Next up for Hewitt is a maiden meeting with American Steve Johnson. Newport is the one grass-court tournament that has eluded Hewitt, a finalist in each of the past two years. The man who has caddied for Greg Norman and played tennis with fellow Adelaide Crows ambassador Adam Scott showed his course management skills battling golfer Brad Faxon in both tennis and golf in Newport earlier this week. Check out the video here:
Argentine qualifier Renzo Olivo has made his mark in his ATP main-draw debut in Bastad.
The world No. 282 surprised two-time champion Tommy Robredo, 7-6 (6), 6-3, to reach the quarterfinals. The last time Robredo lost to a player ranked outside the Top 200 was at the 2009 Miami tournament when then-No. 467 Taylor Dent defeated the Spaniard, 7-5, 6-3.
Olivo won three matches in qualifying to reach the main draw, then earned his first tour-level win when first-round opponent Paul-Henri Mathieu retired trailing 5-2 in the first round. Olivo will play Pablo Cuevas for a place in the final four.
(6) Yvonne Meusburger vs. Chanelle Scheepers: Ten years after their first meeting, the 30-year-old veterans face off for a quarterfinal spot. Defending champion Meusburger has won four of their six meetings, attacking Scheepers' short second serve and stepping into the court. Meusburger won just one of her last seven clay-court matches before rallying from 3-5 down in the decider for her seventh straight win here. Scheepers, who reached the Roland Garros round of 16 in 2010, knows how to use the entire court. She reached clay-court doubles finals in Bogota and Rio de Janeiro earlier this year.
(7) Petra Cetkovska vs. (Q) Kiki Bertens: Both beat Romanians in round one. The six-foot Bertens is the bigger hitter, but Cetkovska is the more polished player. The Czech has used her slice backhand and variety scoring two Top 10 wins this season and will try to work the angles to make the slower Dutch woman move. Cetkovska is four wins shy of her 400th career victory.
(3) Fernando Verdasco vs. Albert Ramos-Vinolas: Fans of the lefty forehand will feast on this all-Spanish encounter. Qualifier Ramos-Vinolas, who captured the Milan Challenger title and was a finalist in Padova last month, has won 13 of his last 14 clay-court matches (including qualifying). Verdasco, who beat Grigor Dimitrov en route to the 2013 Bastad final, should he motivated after a first-round exit at Wimbldon and vigilant, as Ramos-Vinolas won their lone prior clay meeting two years ago in the Sao Paulo quarterfinals.
(2) Mikhail Youzhny vs. Leonardo Mayer: Since winning the opening set against Rafael Nadal in the Rome round of 16, Youzhny has failed to win back-to-back matches. Mayer, who reached the Vina del Mar final on clay earlier this season, will try to control rallies with his forehand. Youzhny's versatile one-handed backhand, particularly the backhand down the line, will be a key to his success as Mayer likes to hit the forehand from his backhand corner. Back when the Stuttgart final was five sets, Youzhny rallied for a 6-3, 3-6, 3-6, 6-4, 6-4 win over another Argentine, Guillermo Canas, to win the title in his 2002 tournament debut. The 22nd-ranked Russian has split two prior meetings with Mayer, both on hard courts.