Giron Wins All-American Battle Over Fritz At Dallas Open

Marcos Giron (photo: Dallas Open)

DALLAS/WASHINGTON, February 12, 2022 (by Michael Dickens)

Seventh-seeded Marcos Giron played the match of his life. He won an all-American quarterfinal battle over No. 1 seed Taylor Fritz at the Dallas Open Friday afternoon to set up an all-American semifinal with No. 4 seed Jenson Brooksby with an eye toward reaching his first ATP Tour final.

Appearing in his sixth career ATP Tour quarterfinal, the 28-year-old Giron faced a Top-20 player for the 18th time. It was the second tour-level meeting between the two Californians – the first one was won by the 24-year-old Fritz last year in Miami – and Fritz also beat Giron three times on the Challenger Tour. So, it’s a pretty safe bet there were no secrets, that each knew what to expect from the other.

When the quarterfinal match ended after two hours and 23 minutes it was the No. 70 Giron, seeded for the first time in an ATP Tour event, who prevailed with a 6-4, 3-6, 7-6 (3) victory over the 19th-ranked Fritz.

The fine margins proved to be decisive in the end. In the third-set tie break, Giron opened up a 3-1 lead and increased it to 4-2 with a mini break. Soon, he held serve twice, with a forehand winner and an unforced error to gain another match point at 6-3. This time, Giron got the job done after failing to win the match in the third set, ahead 6-5, 30-40. He closed out the victory on Fritz’s serve after the top seed hit a forehand wide that killed a short, three-shot rally.

For Giron, it was finally time to raise his arms in celebration. As he soaked up the plaudits of the fans, he knew that he would be back on the same court on Saturday to play in his second career ATP Tour semifinal.

“First of all, thank you to everyone here. It’s amazing to play in front of you guys,” Giron said in his on-court interview. “Honestly, I’m not sure how I won because Fritz is an incredible server, an incredible player. He served for the match twice. He beat me four times in a row even when we practice about 50 times a year. We both know each other’s games. It was a lot of fun to finish the match like that. Of course, it’s a tough one for Fritz, but best of luck to him in the future. He’s going to represent the U.S. in Davis Cup. I wish him good luck with that.”

Giron was asked what went through his head when he played the third-set tie break with the match on the line to stay focused. He thought about the question and started to chuckle a little bit, then said: “To be honest, I’ve played a few too many three-setters, so I feel like I have a lot of experience in the third. After surviving there in the end and being able to break, I felt like I had the momentum.

“I’ll enjoy this victory for a few minutes then start looking forward [to tomorrow].”

Brooksby, Isner, Opelka add to all-American dominance

• Fourth-seeded Jenson Brooksby began quarterfinal day at Styslinger/Altec Tennis Complex with an impressive 6-3, 6-0 win over No. 83 Jordan Thompson of Australia in 71 minutes. It was the second Tour win of the season in two outings for the 21-year-old Brooksby, ranked 54th. His victory assured there would be not only be an all-American semifinal but guaranteed that an American would play in Sunday’s title match, too.

Brooksby won the 45-minute opening set on his fourth set-point opportunity after saving a pair of break points in the seventh game, then ran away with the match in the second set with his creative shot making ability. He raced to a double-break 3-0 lead against Thompson by outmaneuvering him and winning points thanks to his solid return game. After Brooksby consolidated the break for a 4-0 lead, he broke Thompson’s serve for the third consecutive time to move to within one service hold of winning. Finally, he closed out the victory at love after Thompson netted a return that ended a 10-shot rally on match point.

Looking back, Brooksby impressively controlled the tempo and pacing of the match from start to finish in beating Thompson for the second time in two career meetings. He won 71 percent (34 of 48) of his service points, more than half (54 percent) of his return opportunities, and saved all three of the break points that he faced. Brooksby outpointed Thompson 56-33.

The loss dropped the 27-year-old Thompson’s record in ATP Tour quarterfinals to 3-10, 0-8 on hard courts. Meanwhile, Jenson is into his third ATP Tour semifinal in the past year and second on a hard-court surface.

“I’m really happy with how I competed today,” Brooksby said during his on-court interview. “I made good improvements over the match from yesterday. My game felt better and I was more confident. I thought it was a good day.”

• No. 3 seed John Isner fired 19 aces during his 10 service games with his final one coming on match point en route to an impressive 66-minute, 6-4, 6-4 victory over 150th-ranked Canadian qualifier Vasek Pospisil to open Friday’s night session in front of a sellout crowd in Isner’s hometown.

Isner won 90 percent (35 of 39) of his first-serve points, broke Pospisil twice and saved the only break point he faced while outpointing his opponent 59-43. It was the kind of impeccable performance that could only leave Pospisil shaking his head and smiling when he shook hands with the 36-year-old Isner at the net.

The win advanced the 26th-ranked Isner into Saturday’s semifinals against  No. 2 seed Reilly Opelka of the United States, who coasted past No. 5 seed Adrian Mannarino of France, 6-3, 6-4, in only 55 minutes on the strength of 17 service aces  and a 95-percent efficiency (36 of 38) winning points on his first serve. Opelka’s victory set up a second all-American semifinal in Dallas and ensured there would be an all-American final on Sunday.

Meanwhile, Isner’s semifinal berth is his first since the ATP Masters 1000 Toronto in August 2021 and represents the 58th semifinal of his career. He also remains alive in the doubles. He and American Jack Sock will face Lloyd Glasspool of Great Britain and Harri Heliovaara of Finland in a Saturday evening doubles semifinal.

“It was the best match I’ve played all year, no doubt about it,” Isner said of his victory over Pospisil during his on-court interview. “I didn’t have many chances but when I did I capitalized on them. A lot of times when you win a close match like I did in the first round [against Kevin Anderson], it relieves some of the pressure and you build upon [the win]. I think I did that tonight. I’m into the semifinals. Let’s see if I can keep going. …

“This is the perfect court, the perfect atmosphere for me. I’m happy to keep going.”

Around the Dallas Open

In quarterfinal doubles play, the American duo of Sam Querrey and Jackson Withrow defeated Andre Goransson of Sweden and Nathaniel Lammons, 7-6 (4), 7-6 (3), and Lloyd Glasspool of Great Britain and Harri Heliovaara of Finland were winners over Hans Hach Verdugo and Miguel Angel Reyes-Varela, both of Mexico, 6-1, 7-6 (3).

Querrey and Withrow will face No. 1 seeds Marcelo Arevalo of El Salvador and Jean-Julien Rojer of the Netherlands in one Saturday semifinal, while Glasspool and Heliovaara will play Americans John Isner and Jack Sock in the other.

Friday’s Dallas Open results

Saturday’s Dallas Open order of play

Don’t tell Mannarino who he’s playing!

France’s Adrian Mannarino advanced to his second straight ATP Tour quarterfinal with an impressive 6-3, 6-1 win over No. 108 Yoshihito Nishioka of Japan Thursday evening. The fifth-seeded Mannarino, who is ranked 57th and made the final eight last week at Montpellier, France, struck 13 aces and didn’t face any break points during his 66-minute victory. The triumph advanced the 33rd-year-old Frenchman to play No. 2 seed Reilly Opelka of the United States in the final quarterfinal match on Friday night.

During Mannarino’s post-match interview Thursday with Blair Henley on court, she knew well to steer clear of making any mention that Mannarino would be facing the American No. 2. However, she asked Mannarino whether it was by superstition or something else.

“I find out an hour before the match and just try to do the best I can,” he said. “When I’m winning a match, I just want to enjoy the moment. I don’t want to think about the next match. I don’t want to care about it. If I know who I am playing, I’m going to overthink a little bit. It’s not a good thing. I just want to stay fresh.”

A day at the art museum with Reilly Opelka

American Reilly Opelka is a big fan of art museums. So, it should come as no surprise that earlier this week on one of his off days at the Dallas Open, he spent time visiting Southern Methodist University’s Meadows Museum, which houses one of the largest and most comprehensive collections of Spanish art outside of Spain.

By the numbers

Jenson Brooksby holds a 4-0 record in quarterfinals on the ATP Tour and has not dropped more than five games in every attempt at this stage.

“Quotable …”

“Whether it’s the first point of the game or break point or any situation to overthink, I think how you play with a strategy … the more you do it in practice, the more confident you get. It naturally becomes easier on the court.”

– No. 4 seed Jenson Brooksby, explaining how he tries not to overthink while on court, but that it helps to have a high tennis IQ.