It was an unseasonably hot day with bright sunshine on Tuesday in Shanghai, which meant the players had to bring all the fortitude they could muster to their matches. The 12th-seeded John Isner and 73rd-ranked qualifier Dusan Lajovic of Serbia were first to experience the heat on stadium court.
The weather, as it turned out, made no difference to these two warriors as they battled it out on Centre Court. They persevered until Isner finally ruled the day with a 4-6, 7-6 (5), 7-6 (6) first-round win. The match loss was a real heartbreaker for Lajovic, who never surrendered his serve, saving all four break points he faced.
Isner understood that luck was with him in winning the encounter, quite probably since he’s played – and captured – similar matches in the past.
“I don’t think I had any business winning that match, but that’s the reality of my game sometimes,” Isner said. “I was very fortunate to win that one. The conditions were brutal. It felt like Atlanta in August. I think that could’ve been the hottest match I played all year.”
Isner now leads Lajovic 3-1 in career meetings with wins now on three different surfaces: clay, grass and hard courts. Seven of the eleven sets they’ve played ended in tiebreakers.
Isner was one of a contingent of four Americans who were in action on Tuesday. Joining Isner in the second round were 10th-seeded Sam Querrey, Steve Johnson and Ryan Harrison. Querrey ousted Yuichi Sugita of Japan 6-3, 6-2, Harrison scored a 6-2, 6-3 win over wildcard recipient Zhang Ze of China, and Johnson scored an abbreviated 7-6 (5) retired win over 13th seed Nick Kyrgios of Australia.
The only American who failed to advance was 14th seed Jack Sock, who retired because of dehydration with the Ukrainian qualifier Alexandr Dolgopolov leading 4-6, 6-1, 2-1. Recent U.S. Open finalist and 11th-seeded Kevin Anderson of South Africa put forth a straight-forward 6-3, 6-1 first round win over Adrian Mannarino of France.
Experience prevailed over youth when Viktor Troicki of Serbia defeated 18-year-old Canadian wildcard recipient Denis Shapovalov 6-7 (3), 6-3, 6-0 and playing for the second consecutive day, 16th-seeded Juan Martin del Potro of Argentina served up some quality tennis in taking a 6-3, 6-4 second round win over another rising youngster Andrey Rublev of Russia.
Del Potro landed 14 aces and never offered Rublev an opportunity to break his serve.
In an all-Spanish second-round encounter it was Albert Ramos-Vinolas who upset seventh seed Pablo Carreno Busta 7-5, 7-5. Fresh off his title win last weekend, world No. 1 Rafael Nadal said on Tuesday he’s ready for Wednesday night action against young American Jared Donaldson.
“Here we are in Shanghai and it’s another important event for me,” Nadal said. “It’s just another Masters 1000 that I gonna fight to be ready (to) compete the best way possible. Let’s see if I am able to make that happen.”
Second-seeded Roger Federer will also take to the court on Wednesday night when he faces Diego Schwartzman of Argentina.