After an easy opening win over Diego Schwartzman, Juan Martin del Potro finally met a challenge Thursday night on Arthur Ashe against Steve Johnson, the highest seeded American man in the field. And del Potro met the challenge with flying colors cruising past the No. 19 seed 7-6(5), 6-3, 6-2 to advance to the third round.
The win was del Potro’s first under the lights in New York where he had previously been 0-3. The Argentine who won the US Open in 2009 will duel David Ferrer who outlasted Fabio Fognini in five sets in a match that ended just before 1am.
Earlier on a day when rain halted afternoon play by almost four hours, under the new Ashe roof Andy Murray advanced over Marcel Granollers 6-4, 6-1, 6-4. It wasn’t vintage Murray but it was enough to get past the Spaniard.
“I felt I did pretty well,” Murray said. “It was a 20-, 25-minute period in the match where it was tough and, you know, tricky. Got myself in a situation that maybe, you know, I could have avoided if I had taken one or two of the set points that I had at 5-2 or 5-3.”
Murray lines up Paolo Lorenzi in the third round after the Italian beat Gilles Simon in a fifth set tiebreak. The 40th-ranked Lorenzi was just 2-21 in his career in Grand Slams entering the 2016 US Open!
2014 finalist Kei Nishikori survived a 2.5 hour rain delay and the power of 6-foot-6 20-year-old Karen Khachanov 6-4, 4-6, 6-4, 6-3.
“It wasn’t easy match,” Nishikori said. “He served really well second and third sets. Having really tough time with my return game. But after rain delay, you know, I change some tactics and start working really well. Yeah, it was really tough match but happy to win.”
Nishikori now meets Nicolas Mahut on Saturday.
Grigor Dimitrov was another five set winner, beating Jeremy Chardy. He’ll face Joao Sousa in the third round. Stan Wawrinka also won easily.
Young next gen players Nick Kyrgios and Dominic Thiem won while Alexander Zverev fell to Brit Dan Evans. Kyrgios remains bothered by a hip injury.
“It was obviously bothering me a little bit. But, you know, I’m doing everything I can for it. I’m getting a lot of physio for it,” Kyrgios said. “But my serve sort of got me out of trouble tonight.
“Guys with big games, guys that obviously can serve well, I think these courts favor them a lot. I feel comfortable playing here. I think I’m returning really good on these courts. I’ve always felt comfortable coming here.”
And American teen Jared Donaldson continued to show promise beating Viktor Troicki in three sets to reach the third round where he’ll meet ace king Ivo Karlovic.
“Honestly, whether or not I get a lot of attention, I’m still 120 in the world,” Donaldson said. “That’s not amazing. That’s not where I want to end up. It’s 120 in the world. I want to be top 10, top 5, No. 1. Eventually, if I get to that ranking, I’ll have enough attention, almost too much attention. I just have to make sure that I stay focused on my game, try not to let the outside factors kind of dictate how I play or act. I just have to keep improving.
“I remember coming here when I was 12. It was really cool to watch all the best players in the world play here. Now I’m thankful that I’m one of those players now.”
On the start of the third round, Novak Djokovic finally returns after three days off to face former US Open semifinalist Mikhail Youzhny. Rafael Nadal returns to take on Andrey Kuznetsov and Jack Sock meets 2014 champion Marin Cilic. Jo-Wilfried Tsonga collides with Kevin Anderson in another good match.
US OPEN FRIDAY SCHEDULE
Arthur Ashe Stadium 11:00 AM Start
Monica Niculescu (ROU) vs. Caroline Wozniacki (DEN)
Not Before: 1:00 PM
Madison Keys (USA) vs. Naomi Osaka (JPN)
Novak Djokovic (SRB) vs. Mikhail Youzhny (RUS)
Arthur Ashe Stadium 7:00 PM Start
Rafael Nadal (ESP) vs. Andrey Kuznetsov (RUS)
Catherine Bellis (USA) vs. Angelique Kerber (GER)
Louis Armstrong Stadium 11:00 AM Start
Roberta Vinci (ITA) vs. Carina Witthoeft (GER)
Jack Sock (USA) vs. Marin Cilic (CRO)
Petra Kvitova (CZE) vs. Elina Svitolina (UKR)
Not Before: 5:30 PM
John Isner (USA) vs. Kyle Edmund (GBR)
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