Canada’s Denis Shapovalov was known to have a stuffed animal wolf in his player box in his early days on the ATP Tour. But on Wednesday at the Citi Open, he had to contend with JJ Wolf across the net.
The unseeded American won the battle of 23-year-olds 6-2, 6-7(5), 6-3 to advance to the Washington third round, breaking serve on five of seven chances. Despite hitting three aces to Shapovalov’s 20, Wolf was more successful on both first and second serve and posted a strong 81 percent (46/57) win rate on his first delivery.
Fueled by the home support, the former Ohio State Buckeye also found success at net, winning 13 of his 16 approaches in the two-hour, 17-minute contest. The victory sets up a meeting against ninth seed Holger Rune for a place in the quarter-finals.
Entering the ATP 500 event as a newly minted member of the Top 100 for the first time, Wolf is up nine spots to No. 90 in the Pepperstone ATP Live Rankings this week. With a 6-4 record on the season, he has twice before reached the Round of 16 on the ATP Tour this year (Acapulco, Houston). He also picked up wins at the ATP Masters 1000s in Indian Wells and Miami after qualifying for both events.
Wolf was one of 10 home-nation favorites in action Wednesday in Washington, including three all-American matchups. Third seed Taylor Fritz and Sebastian Korda also advanced in early action with a pair of comfortable victories.
Playing in his first match since his heartbreaking loss to Rafael Nadal in the Wimbledon quarter-finals, Fritz was a 6-4, 6-3 winner against Alexei Popyrin, scoring a late break in each set against the Aussie. Fritz did not face a break point until he saved two from 15/40 to serve out the victory.
The American is seeking his third title of the season (Indian Wells, Eastbourne) in just his third Washington appearance. He improved to 17-5 on hard courts this season with his opening win and faces 16th seed Daniel Evans next.
Korda earned his second straight-sets win in as many days with a 6-1, 6-4 decision against 12th seed Sebastian Baez. The American won the first five games of the match then made his move in the seventh game of set two before saving a pair of late break points. Fifth seed Grigor Dimitrov awaits in the Round of 16.
On Wednesday evening, 13th seed Maxime Cressy stormed back against Jack Sock to earn a 4-6, 6-4, 6-0 victory to gain a measure of revenge after Sock’s four-set win in the Wimbledon second round. He will next face top seed Andrey Rublev.
In the two other all-American matchups, 10th seed Frances Tiafoe defeated good friend Christopher Eubanks 6-3, 7-6(2) and fourth seed Reilly Opelka outlasted Denis Kudla 6-7(6), 6-4, 6-4 . Tiafoe faces eighth seed Botic van de Zandschulp on Thursday, while Opelka will look to improve to 3-0 in his ATP Head2Head against Nick Kyrgios.
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