Even with the top eight seeds given a bye in the round of 64 at Cincinnati Masters, there were enough interesting clashes to follow in the first few days of the tournament. Ninth seed Stanislas Wawrinka – who lost out to eventual champion Federer in semi-finals last year – overcame Andreas Seppi by stealing the Italian’s serve once in each set. The Swiss number two claimed a comfortable 6-3, 6-4 triumph in one hour and nine minutes without ever facing a break point.
Fourteenth-seeded Fabio Fognini, who played three finals and won a couple of ATP trophies in Germany in July, was beaten by Czech veteran Radek Stepanek in straight sets as well. In an unusual encounter the players converted eleven break points between them with the Italian not being able to hold a serve until 2-4 in the second set. He clinched four consecutive games to make it 4-4, but was then broken to love for the fifth time in the match which Stepanek thus wrapped up with a 6-2, 6-4 victory.
Rejuvenated Tommy Haas, seed number eleven, did just enough to eliminate big-serving South African Kevin Anderson. The latter never got close to seizing the German’s serve, whilst the Hamburg-born player capitalized on two early breaks to complete a 6-4, 6-4 win.
World No. 185 Brian Baker made good use of his wild card invitation as he prevailed over Uzbek Denis Istomin in straight sets. He confirmed a late break to clinch the opening set, whilst he closed out the second one with a double break advantage. End score: 7-5, 6-3. Another American wild card holder James Blake progressed by claiming Jerzy Janowicz’s scalp. The young Pole faced sixteen break point threats over the course of the match – he suffered two losses of serve in the opener, whilst he squandered three set balls in the second set before the domestic player finished him off 6-1, 7-5. John Isner and Ryan Harrison also made it to the second round after taking out German Florian Mayer (6-3, 6-4) and Aleksandr Dolgopolov of Ukraine (7-6(3), 6-4), respectively.
Last week’s Montreal semi-finalist Vasek Pospisil of Canada was given a free pass as fifteenth-seeded Frenchman Gilles Simon withdrew at 6-3, 1-1 in the second set.