Top seed Alexander Bublik eased into the Hall of Fame Open semifinals by dismissing Jason Jung 6-2, 6-4 on Thursday in Newport.
Bublik was too strong for Jung, hitting 14 aces to bring his total across two matches this week to 26. He has faced just three break points so far, making it a lot easier to go for more on his return games.
“There are a lot of positives,” Bublik said. “Staying confident the entire match, staying focused especially against such a tricky opponent. He runs around and plays very solid. I tried to [keep] my nerves together and [was] serving well, so that definitely helps.”
The 24-year-old Kazakh is enjoying his best season on the ATP Tour with two final appearances (Singapore and Antalya), and he’s competing at a career-high ranking this week of No. 37. Pressure is not an issue for the first-time top seed.
“I don’t like to put the pressure on myself,” he said. “Simple as that.”
After making the third round of Wimbledon, Bublik is making the most of his time in Newport before heading to Tokyo for his Olympics debut next week.
“I don't like to do long [training] sessions like two weeks or three weeks,” Bublik said. “I'd like to be in shape, and when you are on tour, you get to practice with good guys. You get a feel of the competition, so you don't get out of the rhythm.”
Newport is the site of Bublik’s first career ATP final in 2019 as he continues his hunt for his first title. He next takes on fellow big server Kevin Anderson.
After two hours and 36 minutes, Anderson pulled out a 6-7(5), 6-2, 6-4 comeback win over fellow wild card Jack Sock. The 6’8” South African has averaged 18 aces per match in Newport, so his first meeting with Bublik on Saturday will be exciting first-strike tennis.
Anderson had to do a lot more than serve well to subdue Sock’s huge forehands, excellent court coverage, and upbeat energy.
“I was up against a really, really good player,” Anderson said. “I know Jack's had a couple of tough years, but his level is way, way above his ranking. I had to really dig deep. It was a very physical match.”
The 35-year-old is into his first semifinal since last October (Vienna) as he aims to win his seventh career ATP title and first-ever on grass. After multiple injury setbacks, the World No. 113 is working his way back into the form that saw him reach two Grand Slam finals (2017 US Open and 2018 Wimbledon).
A positive, steely demeanor has helped Anderson stay focused.
“I work really hard to keep as positive as possible,” Anderson said. “Sometimes it’s pretty tough out there. A few of Jack’s shots today were just too good; I couldn’t get upset. A positive mentality counts for a lot.”
Anderson and Bublik will get a day off as Friday’s quarterfinal lineup features 20-year-old American Jenson Brooksby vs. Peter Gojowczyk and No. 7 seed Jordan Thompson vs. Maxime Cressy.
Written by Nina Pantic