Del Potro Makes Winning Return To Cincinnati
Former finalist Ferrer wins, but Sock is beaten
"During the second set, in the end, I played my best tennis," said del Potro. "I hit so sure with my forehand. I made good serves and I took all my chances to win... Mentally, I was strong enough to keep fighting and I think he got down after losing that second set. Then, when I broke his serve early in the third [set], my game started improving and I played much better than him."
Berdych settled into his service rhythm early on and broke his Argentinean opponent for a 3-1 lead and did not lose a first service point until the 10th game. As del Potro worked his way back, Berdych began to lack confidence.
Del Potro struck a winner off a third successive slice backhand to break for a 3-1 advantage in the second set. Three mistimed forehands when serving for the set at 5-3 cost del Potro as Berdych broke back, but the Argentinean controlled the tie-break and finished with an ace.
The third set was one-way traffic for del Potro, who improved to 5-3 lifetime against 2011 and 2013 Cincinnati semi-finalist Berdych, who missed last week’s Coupe Rogers due to a rib injury.
Japan’s Yuichi Sugita recovered from a slow start and regained his focus to defeat American No. 13 seed Jack Sock 7-5, 6-4 in just over 90 minutes. Sock committed 43 unforced errors against this year’s Antalya Open champion (d. Mannarino), who challenges Joao Sousa in the second round.
Spain’s David Ferrer, the 2014 finalist, was in control for a set-and-a-half against Steve Johnson mid-afternoon, before letting the American back into the pair’s third meeting. Ferrer, a winner of his past six ATP World Tour finals, including the recent SkiStar Swedish Open in Bastad (d. Dolgopolov), ultimately held his nerve to win 6-1, 5-7, 6-3 in two hours and 22 minutes. He now faces former World No. 8 and lucky loser Janko Tipsarevic.
Earlier in the day, sixth seed Milos Raonic announced his withdrawal from the tournament, where he reached the 2014 and 2016 semi-finals, due to a left wrist injury. The Canadian is replaced in the draw by lucky loser Christian Harrison.