Twin Towers Isner, Opelka Lead American Charge
Big servers John Isner and Reilly Opelka were among four Americans who charged into the third round of Roland Garros Wednesday in a long-overdue run of good form in Paris from American men. The last time at least four American men advanced to the third round was in 1996, when six survived the second round.
Isner fired down 23 aces to defeat Serbian Filip Krajinovic in straight sets, 7-6(6), 6-1, 7-6(5).
“I’m not trying to prove anything to anyone. I just want to go out and play free and try to play loose and be happy with the result either way. That's what I have done very, very well this year,” Isner said. “The times that I have lost this year I have been happy. I have been fine. I slept fine that night, and that's the mentality I'm taking.”
The World No. 34 was in ruthless serving form, winning 91 per cent of his first-serve points and saving all three of the break points he faced in the match. Isner will next meet fifth seed Stefanos Tsitsipas, who leads their ATP Head2Head series 3-2 in their head-to-head.
Opelka also moved on, converting five of his seven break points against Jaume Munar to win 6-3 6-2 3-6 7-5. Opelka, normally known for his big serving, was able to break Munar’s serve five times in the match, hitting 61 winners along the way while his opponent only managed 18.
“I’m excited. I'm thrilled. I've only been in the third round [at a Grand Slam] once before in Wimbledon,” Opelka said. “My body was in much worse condition than it is now. It's just a testament to how hard I've been working in the gym. It just shows that I'm getting better.”
It was an impressive win for Opelka considering Munar is extremely comfortable on the clay. In fact, the 24-year-old Spaniard has played all 13 of his tournaments at all levels in 2021 on the surface.
In the first round, Grigor Dimitrov led the Californian 6-2, 6-4, 5-1, 0/40 on Giron’s serve. But the American battled back to force a fourth set, in which the Bulgarian retired due to a back injury. Giron has had to endure physical issues of his own throughout his career, having surgery on both of his hips between 2015 and 2016, and he will next play 22nd seed Cristian Garin.
The fourth American to go through on Wednesday was Steve Johnson. In the second to last match of the day, Johnson beat Brazilian Thiago Monteiro 6-3, 6-7(2), 7-6(2), 3-6, 6-3 after three hours and 49 minutes.
Johnson, who also won a five-setter in the first round, hit 19 aces and converted seven of his 15 break points to reach the third round in Paris for the fourth time. He began the tournament without a tour-level win in 2021.
Mackenzie McDonald had two match points in the third-set tie-break against Garin, but the Chilean rallied for a 4-6, 4-6, 7-6(9), 6-3, 8-6 victory.
Garin was unable to convert a match point of his own at 6-5 in the fifth, but managed to make good on his second attempt a few games later, ending a battle that lasted more than four hours.
Tommy Paul made an early push to join his fellow Americans in the third round when he took the first set against Daniil Medvedev. But the second-seeded Russian rebounded strongly to win 3-6, 6-1, 6-4, 6-3.