Isner Leads Four Americans Through, But Sock Falls
Four of the Top 5 Americans in the Emirates ATP Rankings were in action on opening day of the US Open, with John Isner, Sam Querrey and Steve Johnson all kicking off their campaigns with victories. Jack Sock succumbed to Jordan Thompson in five gripping sets on Louis Armstrong Stadium.
Isner overcame Pierre-Hugues Herbert 6-1, 6-3, 4-6, 6-3 to improve to 11-1 in the first round at his home Grand Slam. Seeded 10th, the big-serving North Carolina native launched 59 winners, including 22 aces, to advance after two hours and 23 minutes. His return game was on song as well, saving six of seven break points faced.
Isner enters New York following one of the best US Open Series campaigns of his career. The champion at the BB&T Atlanta Open and semi-finalist at the ATP World Tour Masters 1000 event in Cincinnati, he boasts a dominant 13-3 mark since Wimbledon. The top American will next face Korean #NextGenATP star Hyeon Chung, who topped Horacio Zeballos 3-6, 7-6(8), 6-4, 6-3.
"I don't know if it benefits really anyone," Isner said of the milder, less humid weather conditions. "Of course, it certainly can help some players. If it's 90 and humid, that's rough. For the most part the weather over the years has been pretty temperate at the Open, but especially this year.
"I certainly like it. Only changed shirts out there one time. I'm a big sweater. I like it. I really would actually say that all the players enjoy it. We do play matches in pretty oppressive conditions sometimes. This is not the case so far here at the US Open. I think I'm playing pretty well. I've had a strong summer. I thought I played really well today. I was very happy with how I played. I'm in a good spot."
Querrey turned in arguably the most dominant performance among the American contingent on Monday, racing past Gilles Simon 6-4, 6-3, 6-4 in one hour and 52 minutes for his 31st match win of the season. He fired 10 aces to claim his third FedEx ATP Head2Head victory over Simon and first on hard courts.
"I thought I did everything pretty well," said Querrey. "The best thing I thought I did well was not get too down on myself. I lost serve three or four times in a row at one point, which doesn't happen too often. I did a good job of battling through that. Every part of my game felt good today, so overall I was pretty happy."
A deep run in New York could prove critical for Querrey's hopes in the Emirates ATP Race To London. The Nitto ATP Finals contender enters on the heels of a semi-final run at Wimbledon and title in Los Cabos. He tangles with Dudi Sela next after the Israeli secured a 6-2, 6-4, 6-2 win over Georgia Tech University standout Christopher Eubanks.
The winner of Querrey/Sela will face either qualifier Radu Albot or Yen-Hsun Lu. The Moldovan ousted American #NextGenATP Ernesto Escobedo 7-5, 4-6, 6-2, 6-4, while the Taiwanese surprised 25th seed Karen Khachanov 4-6, 6-2, 6-3, 6-3.
There was no first-round drama for Steve Johnson this year at the US Open, with the California native notching a 6-4, 7-6(2), 7-6(5) victory in two hours and 21minutes. Johnson, who had saved six match points to defeat Evgeny Donskoy in his 2016 opener, fired 37 winners and 16 aces to prevail on the Grandstand. Kyle Edmund awaits next.
Jared Donaldson carried the #NextGenATP torch for the Americans on Monday, downing Nikoloz Basilashvili 6-0, 4-6, 6-3, 7-6(6). It looked like the first-round affair would head to a fifth set after Basilashvili broke to open the fourth, but Donaldson drew level and eventually converted his second match point in the ensuing tie-break. The Rhode Island native, who stunned David Goffin in last year's opening round, will look to pull another upset over a Top 20 seed when he faces No. 16 Lucas Pouille. He will have history on his side, having defeated Pouille in straight sets at the Coupe Rogers earlier this month.
Meanwhile, American wild card Thai-Son Kwiatkowski nearly claimed his first tour-level match win in stunning fashion, pushing Mischa Zverev to five sets before succumbing 7-6(5), 4-6, 4-6, 7-5, 6-3. Zverev, seeded 23rd, took the first-round clash after three hours and 28 minutes and will face Benoit Paire next. Paire defeated lucky loser Lukas Lacko 6-3, 6-2, 7-6(5).