Steve Johnson, the 2018 Infosys Hall of Fame Open champion, made a good start to his pursuit of a second Newport title on Monday.
The American defeated countryman Stefan Kozlov 7-5, 6-3 to reach the second round at the final tour-level grass-court event of the season.
“[My level was] decent when it needed to be decent and average when it needed to be better. I thought I played well at the end of sets, but there was a stretch there in the middle of both sets that I didn’t like the way I was playing and executing,” Johnson said. “But when you’re not doing that and you still get a win, that’s a good sign.”
This was the fourth time this year at all levels that Johnson and Kozlov have clashed. After Kozlov took the first two meetings, Johnson has now claimed two in a row, with both coming on grass.
“Glad to get a win today and try to put the first couple this year behind me,” Johnson said. “He plays a very awkward, tricky style game and he does it well.”
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Another American also moved on when Jack Sock clawed past Moldovan Radu Albot 6-1, 7-6(2). Sock is chasing his first tour-level singles title since the 2017 Rolex Paris Masters.
“Definitely a tricky first match against a very solid opponent,” Sock said in his on-court interview. “But happy to get through.”
German Peter Gojowczyk, a 2017 Newport semi-finalist, eliminated Frenchman Ugo Humbert 7-5, 6-4. Gojowczyk entered the match with a 1-9 tour-level record on the season, but is now 6-2 at the Infosys Hall of Fame Open. He will try to improve that record in the second round against four-time champion John Isner, the second seed.
In an all-Australian battle, Jason Kubler ousted Jordan Thompson 6-2, 6-3 to set a clash against top seed Felix Auger-Aliassime, who is making his Newport debut.
Top Seeds Advance In Doubles
Raven Klaasen and Marcelo Melo, the top seeds in the doubles draw, eased into the second round with a 6-2, 6-4 victory against Serbian twins Ivan Sabanov and Matej Sabanov.
Indian Ramkumar Ramanathan and Australian John-Patrick Smith upset second seeds Hans Hach Verdugo and Hunter Reese, while Americans Robert Galloway and Alex Lawson ousted Frenchmen Quentin Halys and Adrian Mannarino 6-3, 3-6, 10-7.