Tennis bits: British No 2 Aljaz Bedene scores landmark victory; US Open qualifying begins

Aljaz Beden upset top-seeded Gilles Simon, the world No 11, at ATP Winston-Salem on Tuesday, while US Open qualifying began ahead of the August 31 tournament proper start.

Aljaz Bedene of Great Britain reacts after a point against Gilles Simon during his second-round win over the top seed on Tuesday at the ATP Winston-Salem Open. Jared C Tilton / Getty Images / AFP / August 25, 2015
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Top seed Gilles Simon of France was upset by Britain’s No 2 Aljaz Bedene, while two other high seeds survived upset bids on Tuesday during second-round play at the ATP Winston-Salem Open.

Bedene, ranked 58th in the world, battled through tiebreakers in all three sets and match point in the third against the 11th-ranked Simon to win 6-7 (5/7), 7-6 (7/5), 7-6 (7/6).

Meanwhile, 15th-ranked Kevin Anderson, the No 2 seed, beat Mikhail Kukushkin 4-6, 6-2, 6-3. Third-seeded Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, ranked 19th, downed Denis Istomin 5-7, 6-4, 6-1 at the Wake Forest Tennis Center in the final tuneup for next week’s US Open.

It was Bedene’s fourth career win over a Top 20 opponent since turning pro in 2008, and his third this season. Before Tuesday, Bedene’s previous career best came against then-No 14 Feliciano Lopez of Spain in the round of 16 at ATP Chennai in January.

“I haven’t beaten (someone) in the top 10 yet, so this is my best win,” the 26-year-old Bedene said. “It was tough. Gilles is known as one of the toughest guys on the tour. Coming back after losing the first set, and having served for it, is never easy. But I’m playing well. I can’t wait for my next match.”

His victory came in just the 12th ATP World Tour match this season to have tiebreakers in all three sets – three of those coming Tuesday at the Winston-Salem Open. Earlier in the day, Teymuraz Gabashvili beat Thanasi Kokkinakis 7-6 (7/5), 6-7 (5/7), 7-6 (7/3); while Simone Bolleli needed just over two and a half hours to defeat seventh-seeded Sam Querrey 7-6 (9/7), 6-7 (4/7), 7-6 (11/9).

“(Simon) was returning well, and I was returning well,” Bedene said. “We did not have so much advantage with our serve. Sometimes there were games (40)-zero, sometimes there were long ones.

“It was a close match – three tiebreaks. I don’t think I’ve ever played on the ATP Tour three tiebreaks.”

Simon had an opportunity to close out the third-set tiebreaker and win the match, going up 6-5 after getting a mini-break on Bedene’s serve. But Bedene got his own mini-break to even the score at 6-6, then won the next two points.

“I had my chances to win this match,” Simon said. “But Aljaz always played some great shots in the right moments to save some of them.

“I really tried to put everything I had on the court today, but my game just wasn’t good enough and Aljaz deserved to win.”

Simon and Querrey were among eight seeded players to fall Tuesday. Malek Jaziri upset fourth-seeded Viktor Troicki 6-4, 4-6, 6-4; Yen-Hsun Lu downed fifth-seeded Guillermo Garcia-Lopez 6-3, 6-3; 19-year-old Hyeon Chung beat No 9 seed Benoit Paire 6-1, 6-4; Pablo Carreno Busta defeated 10th-seeded Joao Sousa 6-4, 6-4; Diego Schwartzman downed 12th-seeded Pablo Andujar 4-6, 7-5, 7-5; and Pierre-Hugues Herbert defeated 14th-seeded Marcos Baghdatis 6-3, 2-6, 7-5.

Also winning Tuesday was Steve Johnson, 2014 finalist Jerzy Janowicz, 11th-seeded Jiri Vesely and sixth-seeded Thomaz Bellucci, who defeated top American prospect Frances Tiafoe, 17.

Johnson, seeded 13th and the only American player remaining, beat Sam Groth 6-4, 6-7 (4/7), 6-1.

Janowicz needed just less than 71 minutes to defeat defending champion Lukas Rosol 6-3, 6-2. Last year, Rosol rallied past Janowicz 3-6, 7-6 (7/3), 7-5.

Vesely beat Martin Klizan 6-3, 6-4; and Bellucci downed Tiafoe 6-3, 2-6, 7-6 (7/2).

In US Open men’s qualifying, which began on Tuesday, only four seeds were eliminated early – Tatsuma Ito, Dusan Lajovic, Matthias Bachinger and Blaz Rola. Top-seeded Paul-Henri Mathieu, the world No 80, advanced with little trouble. American 2014 junior Wimbledon champion Noah Rubin, 19, advanced as a wild-card to a meeting with third-seeded Guido Pella after beeting Huang Liang-chi. Another teenaged American wild card, 18-year-old Tommy Paul, was responsible for 24th-seeded Rola’s dismissal, 6-3, 4-6, 6-4. Sweden’s 19-year-old world No 132 Elias Ymer advanced to a meeting with No 98 Jan-Lennard Struff by blowing by Jan Satral 6-2, 6-1. Albert Montanes, the 21st seed, advanced when Spanish compatriot Jordi Samper-Montana retired, as well.

Wednesday continues qualifying with German 18-year-old rising star Alexander Zverev, the second seed, facing Argentine veteran Horacio Zeballos and American 17-year-old prospect Stefan Kozlov up against another Argentine, Guido Andreozzi. Another American 17-year-old, Reilly Opelka, faces Swede Christian Lindell. And Russia’s highly-rated Andrey Rublev, also 17, will meet 10th-seeded veteran Go Soeda.

New Indian No 1 Yuki Bhambri will also be tested by Japan’s 23rd-seeded 19-year-old Yoshihito Nishioka, with 20-year-old British No 3 Kyle Edmund facing Canadian Peter Polansky. In probably the most senior meeting of quaifying, 12th-seeded Nicolas Almagro, a former top-10 player, faces former world No 52 Igor Sijsling.

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