TALLAHASSEE, Fla., April 30, 2013 – Top seed Michael Russell was bounced out of the Tallahassee Tennis Challenger while No. 2 Ryan Harrison avoided an upset scare Tuesday at the $50,000 USTA Pro Circuit event at the Forestmeadows Tennis Complex.
World No. 294 Suk-Young Jeong took down the 34-year-old Russell, ranked No. 93, Tuesday afternoon on Stadium Court, beating the American veteran 7-6 (6), 6-3 in a hard-fought affair.
Harrison, the world No. 81, followed Russell on court but avoided the upset trend by coming back from a second-set loss to Taro Daniel of Japan, winning 6-3, 6-7 (5), 7-6 (5).
“It was a long match, it was tough,” said Harrison, who won the title last week in Savannah. “But I didn't close it out and finish it the way that I wanted to. Things kind of go that way sometimes, you just have to keep fighting. I was able to come away with the third set.”
Earlier in the day it was Ryan's younger brother Christian, just 18, who shocked No. 6 seed Steve Johnson 7-6 (4), 6-1 on Stadium Court. Christian said he'd like to get his ranking up to the Wimbledon qualifier cut off (around No. 200) in the next month. He entered Tallahassee as the world No. 378.
“Christian has been getting stronger everyday,” 20-year-old Ryan said of his younger brother. “I think he's getting more comfortable at this level. I think he's starting to feel like he can beat these guys. He put it together and got a big win. He's going to start building off of that for sure.”
A pair of Americans, former champions Donald Young and No. 5 seed Tim Smyczek, were successful on familiar turf. Young, who won here in 2011, beat Michael Venus of New Zealand 7-5, 6-4 while defending champion Smyczek held off big-serving Australian Greg Jones 6-3, 7-5.
No. 4 seed Jack Sock fell on the wrong side of the upset tracks, losing to fellow American Alex Kuznetsov 3-6, 6-2, 6-3. Kuznetsov, who is leading the Har-Tru USTA Pro Circuit Wild Card Challenge, moved a step closer to clinching a spot in the French Open with the win.
“Jack is a really good, talented player,” said the 26-year-old Tampa resident. “It was difficult for me to break in the first set. I just really tried to stay the course in the second set and got a few chances on his serve. I won a break point at 3-1 in the second set when we were both at the net and I really felt like that turned the match around. That gave me confidence from there on out. I just kept fighting until the end.”
It's Wayne Odesnik who still stands in Kuznetsov’s way for a French Open berth. Odesnik was a 4-6, 6-3, 6-4 winner over Denys Molchanov of Ukraine on Court 1.
No. 8 seed Mischa Zverev of Germany notched a 6-4, 6-0 win over Nikoloz Basilashvili while American Bradley Klahn won 6-3, 6-2 against Nicolas Barrientos. Florida State University standout Dominic Cotrone fell short against Canadian Peter Polansky, 6-2, 6-4.
In doubles, local hopes Salif Kante and Takura Happy of Florida A&M University produced quite the win over Dante Saleh and Mico Santiago, winning 6-4, 6-4. Their victory marked the first time a college team had won in Tallahassee since a Florida State team did so in 2009.
More from Ryan Harrison:
On winning Savannah last week: “I have a lot of confidence coming off my win in Savannah last week. Those shots at the end you feel like you see the court a little better. There's no sense of panic when you lose a set or choke a set away. I feel more in control. What really counts at the end of the day is coming out on top and winning matches.”
On the challenge of playing in challengers: “There's a different field, but it's a good test. To be able to go back and play matches when you're supposed to win - I'm getting guys' best every day, they're coming out after me - every time I play. It's a perk not to have to play the No. 1 player in the world in the second round though.”
Daily updates on this tournament can be found at www.procircuit.usta.com and www.tallahasseechallenger.com. Live streaming is also available on www.procircuit.usta.com. The tournament can be followed on Facebook at “USTA Tallahassee Tennis Challenger” and on Twitter @TallyChallenger or by using the #TallyChallenger hashtag.
The tournament is part of the Har-Tru USTA Pro Circuit Wild Card Challenge and can be followed on Twitter at #USTAHarTruWC and www.USTAHarTruWC.com.