Coming into the Winston-Salem Open, Igor Andreev had not advanced to the third round of an ATP World Tour event all year.
That all changed on Monday as Andreev pulled off the first significant upset of the tournament, beating second-seeded Jurgen Melzer 7-5, 6-3 in a second-round match.
The 28-year-old Russian broke Melzer in the second and final games to win the first set, then was in control throughout the second. It was his second victory over Melzer in five meetings, and the second straight.
Andreev credited his 6-7, 6-3, 6-4 victory over Bernard Tomic in the first round on Sunday as a confidence-booster going into the match.
"After the long match, I had more confidence on the court," Andreev said. "I did better than yesterday from the beginning of the match. I had an early break and that helped my confidence, and I had my concentration.
"He’s the No. 2 seed and a really good player. I had to focus and concentrate, and it worked out for me. You don’t want to lose concentration, and I concentrated really well today."
Andreev, who had a career-high ranking of 18 in 2005, came into this tournament at No. 79 in the South African Airways ATP rankings. He didn’t make it through qualifying last week in Cincinnati, and lost in the first round at Kitzbuhel before that.
For Melzer, No. 17 in the latest South African Airways ATP rankings, it was another in a recent string of frustrating losses. Since Wimbledon, he has lost his first match in three of four tournaments; he lost in the first round to Gilles Simon in Cincinnati last week.
"It was a tough first set," Melzer said. "I had a lot of break chances and did not convert them. At the moment, I am just not winning the important points, and you cannot win matches that way. The second set I had a few love-30s and I just let him out all the time. He played well, and when he had a break chance he took it.
"Winning matches when you’re not winning important, big points is very tough. You need some luck, and when you’re not playing well you hardly ever get it."
This obviously isn’t the way the Austrian lefthander wanted to prepare for next week’s US Open. So now it’s time to regroup.
"I’m gonna take a day off tomorrow and fly to New York and try to get some practice and relax and try to feel the ball," he said. "Hopefully I can go through the early rounds without some damage and get my confidence back. That’s the most important thing at the moment."
In the only other afternoon match involving a seeded player, No. 8 seed Marcos Baghdatis dispatched Ryan Sweeting 7-5, 6-1.
Baghdatis came into the Winston-Salem Open after losing in the first round in each of the past two weeks, falling to James Blake in Cincinnati and John Isner in Montreal. He has now won both of his career matchups against Sweeting.
"I won, which is the most-important thing," Baghdatis said. "It was tough playing out there. The courts are very fast, the balls get small, so it jumps very high and is very quick. But it’s the first round. I fought through it. I didn’t serve very well so I have some things to work on
Baghdatis was a perfect 5-for-5 in break opportunities, and he jumped on Sweeting’s second serve all day – winning 15 of 21 second-return points. Sweeting helped the cause by double-faulting six times.
"For sure, I was returning well," Baghdatis said. "But he was double-faulting a lot also. He threw in some crucial double faults. But I’m returning well and just playing solid, and that’s what I have to do."
In afternoon first-round singles matches, Kei Nishikori rallied to beat Gilles Muller 1-6, 6-4, 7-6; Carlos Berlocq beat Andreas Haider-Maurer 7-5, 4-1 (ret.); Steve Darcis beat Frederico Gil 3-6, 6-3, 6-4; Julien Benneteau beat Ricardo Mello 6-1, 6-3; Michael Russell beat Adrian Mannarino 6-4, 6-7, 6-2; Dudi Sela beat Filippo Volandri 6-3, 6-2; and Denis Istomin beat Matthias Bachinger 7-6, 6-1.