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Washington Open: Dominic Thiem, Simona Halep cruise; Juan Martin del Potro sets up Kei Nishikori clash

Washington: Top seeds Dominic Thiem and Simona Halep cruised into the round of 16 at the ATP and WTA Citi Open with straight-set triumphs Tuesday at the US Open tune-up event.

Austria's seventh-ranked Thiem, a French Open semi-finalist in June, waited out a rain delay then needed only 63 minutes to dispatch 96th-ranked Swiss Henri Laaksonen 6-3, 6-3.

"It wasn't easy but I'm pretty happy with my performance," Thiem said. "It was my first match on hardcourt since Miami (in March) and that's always a little tricky."

Aug 1, 2017; Washington, DC, USA; Dominic Thiem of Austria hits a backhand against Henri Laaksonen of Switzerland (not pictured) on day two of the Citi Open at Fitzgerald Tennis Center. Thiem won 6-3, 6-3. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports - RTS1A1U7

Dominic Thiem hits a backhand against Henri Laaksonen on day two of Washington Open at Fitzgerald Tennis Center. Reuters

World No 2 Halep, this year's French Open runner-up, took only 79 minutes to oust US wildcard Sloane Stephens 7-6 (7/3), 6-0.

"It was a tough first set. I was missing a little bit too much and she made some shots," Halep said. "Didn't have the rhythm at the beginning, but I feel better now."

Thiem, who dropped only eight points on his serve and just one on 25 successful first serves, broke in the second game of the match and again in his rival's last two service games, taking the match when Laaksonen netted a backhand.

"I don't have a lack of confidence but it's always nice to get that first win," Thiem said.

This marks the biggest event where Thiem has been top seeded, but his four nearest rankings rivals are also in the field — Germany's Alexander Zverev, Japan's Kei Nishikori, Canada's Milos Raonic and Bulgarian Grigor Dimitrov.

"I think there are five or six players to beat," Thiem said. "There should be four or five top seeds. I'm one of them."

But Thiem faces a possible third-round match Thursday against South Africa's Kevin Anderson, who has beaten him in all five of their career meetings, all on hardcourt and with Thiem taking only one set.

"Of course I will think about it and I have to change something," Thiem said. "It's a very tough draw."

Halep will next face Colombia's 115th-ranked Mariana Duque-Marino for a quarter-final berth as the 25-year-old Romanian keeps her focus on building her game for the US Open that starts on August 28 in New York.

"For first match on hardcourts, it wasn't that bad," Halep said. "My serve wasn't the best but I was OK. Everything went well. I can't say I have to adjust something.

"It was important I won today. It was important the second set was much better. The next round I have to be a little more aggressive. I have to come to the baseline and finish the points sooner."

Stephens has been back for only a month after missing nearly a year with a left foot injury, falling to 957th in the rankings. She remains frustrated as she tries to regain the form that saw her claim her first WTA title in Washington in 2015.

"It was a good first set," Stephens said. "I did well to do the best I could. I got a little frustrated in the second set. It's going to take a while to get that consistency back and get more matches under my belt."

Ekaterina Makarova stopped Jamie Loeb 7-6 (4), 6-3, and Monica Puig beat Louisa Chirico 6-4, 6-4. The rain delay forced the women's night matches to be postponed to Wednesday.

Eighth seed Jack Sock overcame a temporary Hawkeye breakdown, and a subsequent emotional outburst, to edge 90th-ranked Romanian Marius Copil 7-6(2) 7-6(6) in the second round.

At 5-5 and 15-all in the first set, Sock became highly irritated when the technology used to check disputed line calls failed to work after he challenged a call.

Sock looked incredulous when chair umpire Fergus Murphy announced the linesperson’s call would have to stand in view of the breakdown.

“I feel very good on that ball being in so that could change the match obviously,” Sock said to Murphy, pleading with the chair umpire to overrule the call.

“That’s ridiculous,” the American continued when Murphy refused to budge. “It’s your job to see that and you can’t see that.”

Realising his appeal was futile, Sock returned to action and eventually prevailed, if only barely in a match in which neither player faced a break point.

Three-time champion Juan Martin del Potro topped Lukas Lacko 7-5, 6-2 to make the third round as well.

No 2 seed Kei Nishikori edged out the 28-year-old American Donald Young 6-3, 4-6, 7-6 (5) in the last match of the day that finished at 1:53 am.

The Japanese faces Del Potro in his next round in what promises to be an intriguing encounter.

With inputs from agencies

Updated Date: Aug 02, 2017 12:25 PM

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