With rain limiting main draw play the first two days of the Western & Southern Open, eight players were tasked with contending their first two singles matches Wednesday.
Of those eight, Yuichi Sugita of Japan was the only one to win both matches and advance to Thursday’s play. He will face fourth-seeded Milos Raonic on Grandstand.
While playing two matches in one day is not the norm on the ATP and WTA tours, it happens occasionally when inclement weather strikes the week of a tournament.
“Yesterday, there was no match, so I prepared for two matches today,” Sugita said. “I had a lot of energy for that. I charged up a lot yesterday. Sometimes, it happens.”
Sugita officially spent 3 hours and 46 minutes on court Wednesday, and by the end of play, he earned his first two career victories at an ATP Masters 1000 event. He defeated Alexander Zverev 6-7(4), 6-4, 6-2 in the first round during the heat of the day and came back in the evening for a 6-3, 7-5 win over Nicolas Mahut, who was also playing his second match of the day.
“After the match, I really. dedicated for the recovery,” Sugita said. “Today was really good for the recovery, and I started the second match really good.”
Sugita entered the week ranked No. 102 in the world rankings and played through qualifying.
With a smile, fellow two-match player Kurumi Nara summed up her long day in four words.
“I’m very tired now,” she said.
Nara, a tournament qualifier ranked 86th, finished a marathon first-round match at 6:13 p.m., defeating Viktorija Golubic of Switzerland 6-4, 4-6, 7-5 in a contest that lasted 3 hours and 6 minutes. After a nap and a meal, she starting warming up on court for her second match just after 9 p.m.
While she lost to 16th-seeded Anastasia Cibulkova in the second round, Nara said she was happy with day overall and her second career main draw victory in Cincinnati.
KONTA’S STRONG SUMMER
British No. 1 Johanna Konta won her debut match at Cincinnati, defeating qualifier Donna Vekic of Croatia 7-5, 6-3.
Now ranked No. 13 on the WTA Tour, Konta’s appearance at the Western & Southern Open is a reminder of how far up the rankings she has traveled in the last year. Last August and outside the top 100 in the rankings, she captured a $100,000 ITF title in Vancouver and has rapidly climbed the charts ever since.
Improved fitness and tour-level experience has spelled the difference for Konta over the last calendar year.
“I keep trying to do that every time I step out onto the court, to keep taking everything from the match that I'm playing and try to reinvest it into the following matches,” Konta said. “I think I've been able to do a good job at just reinvesting those experiences and just becoming that much tougher.”
Konta’s continued her success this summer, putting together a 11-2 record so far on hard courts since Wimbledon. She won the title in Stanford and was a quarterfinalist in Montreal and the Olympics.
TIEBREAKER AND DECIDERS
Three men’s matches ended in third set tiebreakers Wednesday. Grigor Dimitrov beat Feliciano Lopez 7-5, 3-6, 7-6(6); Steve Johnson rallied to beat Julien Benneteau 3-6, 6-2, 7-6(5); and Borna Coric defeated Nick Kyrgios 7-6(2), 4-6, 7-6(6).
Tiebreakers have become almost guaranteed when Milos Raonic and John Isner have faced. The two big servers have faced four times, and seven of the nine total sets have ended in tiebreakers. Raonic was on the winning side of the tiebreaker battle today, defeating Isner for the first time with a 7-6(5), 7-6(5) score.
The longest tiebreaker today? That honor belongs to the match between Barbora Strycova of the Czech Republic and Samantha Stosur of Australia. Strycova took the opening-set tiebreaker over Stosure 13-11 and went on to take the second set and match 6-3.