HARRISON INTO THIRD ROUND AT
Ashley Marshall | January 17, 2018
Ryan Harrison advanced to the third round of the Australian Open, and Mackenzie McDonald came within a few points of toppling No. 3 seed Grigor Dimitrov on Day 3 in Melbourne.
Harrison (pictured above) defeated No. 31 seed Pablo Cuevas, 6-4, 7-6, 6-4, on Court 7, marking the first time he has been this deep in eight main-draw appearances in Melbourne and matching his best finish at a major alongside a third-round appearance at the US Open in 2016.
The American sent down 14 aces, recorded 32 winners and never faced a break point as he eased past the Uruguayan to set up a Round-of-32 encounter with former US Open champion Marin Cilic.
Harrison, ranked No. 45 in the world, reached a career-high ranking of No. 40 last summer, and he has started 2018 off well, including a run to the Brisbane final earlier this month. ADVERTISEMENT But if Harrison’s win over a similarly ranked Cuevas was somewhat foreseeable, McDonald’s nail-biter with Dimitrov was not.
Twenty-two-year-old McDonald only turned pro in mid-2016 after winning the NCAA Division I Men’s Singles title, and he is ranked 178th in the world. But he matched Bulgarian Dimitrov, one of the tournament favorites, blow for blow in a three-hour, 28-minute battle to start the night session inside Rod Laver Arena.
The final score – 4-6, 6-2, 6-4, 0-6, 8-6 – shows just how close McDonald came to pulling off one of the biggest shocks of the tournament, and there was nothing to separate the two players. They each earned five breaks of serve, and McDonald actually won more points – 150 to Dimitrov’s 148 – in large part because of McDonald’s 22-minute, fourth-set bagel that sent the match into a decider.
None of the first 13 games of the fifth set saw a break point, but Dimitrov, serving first, always had the benefit of being able to supply scoreboard pressure, as the American was constantly serving to level the score and, at 4-5 and 5-6, to stay in the match.
But Dimitrov finally broke through at 6-7, winning the final three points of the contest to move on to Round 3.
Elsewhere on Day 3, Nicole Gibbs lost to No. 30 seed Kiki Bertens of the Netherlands, 7-6, 6-0.
Doubles play also kicked off on Wednesday, with the Bryan brothers and the team of Sam Querrey and Steve Johnson among the American winners.
Thursday’s schedule sees seven Americans in singles action, including No. 17 seed and US Open finalist Madison Keys against Ekaterina Alexandrova and No. 13 seed Sam Querrey against Marton Fucsovics.
Elsewhere, Denis Kudla plays fifth-seeded Dominic Thiem, Tennys Sandgren faces 2016 US Open winner Stan Wawrinka, and Tim Smyczek meets 21st-seeded Spaniard Albert Ramos-Vinolas. On the women’s side, Bernarda Pera plays No. 9 seed Johanna Konta, while Lauren Davis plays Andrea Petkovic.