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Monaco Survives Scare; Seppi Upset

Winston-Salem, U.S.A.

Johnson© SUSAN MULLANE/CAMERAWORK USAAmerican Steve Johnson upset No. 2 seed Andreas Seppi.

Eighth seed Juan Monaco came through a second-round scare at the Winston-Salem Open on Tuesday, battling past Nicolas Mahut 6-7(4), 6-3, 6-4 in two hours and 26 minutes.

The Argentine will attempt to reach his eighth quarter-final of the season when he faces tenth seed Alexandr Dolgopolov, who came back for a 4-6, 6-1, 6-4 win over Daniel Gimeno-Traver. Monaco has a 25-19 match record on the season, highlighted by finishing runner-up in Kitzbuhel (l. to Granollers).

American Steve Johnson upset second-seeded Italian Andreas Seppi, prevailing 6-7(5), 6-4, 7-5 after two hours and 19 minutes. The 23-year-old Johnson, a two-time NCAA singles champion, claimed his fourth match win of the season and seventh overall.

“Definitely played really well today,” he said. “Felt like everything I’ve been working on for the last four, five, six months kind of came together, so it’s nice to see the hard work pay off in big situations.”

Johnson, who plays Yen-Hsun Lu for a  place in the quarter-finals, is one of two Americans left in the draw following the exits of Mardy Fish, James Blake, Tim Smyczek and Denis Kudla on Wednesday.

Nieminen

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Fish retired unwell, granting Jarkko Nieminen a third-round meeting with American Sam Querrey. Nieminen had been leading 7-5, 6-7(3), 3-2. “I felt for one and a half sets I played really good tennis,” said Nieminen. “I’m really happy about that. I don’t know when Mardy started to feel worse, but he played good tennis.”

Blake lost 7-6(9), 2-6, 6-3 to fifth seed Benoit Paire, while Smyczek failed to hold onto a set lead in a 3-6, 6-3, 6-3 defeat to No. 7 seed Fernando Verdasco. Paire will face ninth seed Jurgen Melzer, who was up 4-2 in the third set when Thiemo de Bakker retired with a toe injury, while Verdasco meets Dutchman Robin Haase, a 6-4, 3-6, 7-5 winner over No. 12 seed Lukas Rosol.

World No. 126 Ricardas Berankis accounted for Kudla 6-4, 6-4 in 63 minutes to record back-to-back tour-level victories for the first time since April. The Lithuanian will look to reach his third quarter-final of the year when he takes on Roberto Bautista Agut, who defeated 14th seed Martin Klizan 6-4, 6-1.  

Gael Monfils made a winning debut in Winston-Salem, defeating Argentine Guido Pella 6-2, 6-2 in 52 minutes. The Frenchman will next confront Spaniard Tommy Robredo, whom he trails 1-3 in the FedEx ATP Head2Head. Robredo, the No. 4 seed, fought past France's Guillaume Rufin 7-6(5), 4-6, 6-3 in two hours and 20 minutes.

Russians Dmitry Tursunov and Alex Bogomolov Jr. will face off in the third round. The 13th-seeded Tursunov, who reached the Washington semi-finals and Cincinnati quarter-finals, closed out a 4-6, 7-5, 6-1 win over Belgian David Goffin. Bogomolov beat lucky loser Joao Sousa 6-4, 6-1.   

Verdasco also won his doubles opener on Tuesday, teaming up with fellow Spaniard David Marrero for a 4-6, 7-5, 10-7 win over the wild card duo of James Cerretani and Robin Haase. Fourth-seeded Brits Colin Fleming and Jonathan Marray, meanwhile, fell to Santiago Gonzalez and Scott Lipsky, 6-4, 7-5.

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