In the biggest upsets so far of the Oracle Challenger Series Newport Beach presented by RBC Wealth Management, No.2 seed Frances Tiafoe fell to an in-form Denis Istomin 6-3, 6-2 and No.1 seed Taylor Fritz lost to Oracle Challenger Series stalwart Mitchell Krueger 6-4, 3-6, 6-3.
From the get-go, Istomin, the former World No.33 controlled his match against the hard-hitting American with powerful first-strike tennis, not allowing any in-roads.
“I played my game, concentrated on my serve and returned well,” said Istomin. “The conditions were not easy, but I found the way how to play and I followed my game.”
Istomin is no stranger to big wins, with two ATP titles to his name and wins over No.2 Novak Djokovic and No.5 David Ferrer at the Australian Open and BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells, respectively. But due to a 2019 season marred with injuries, he treats every match the same to bring back the form and mentality he knows he has.
“Any match win gives me confidence. I had so much trouble last year with injuries, every single match – doesn’t matter which player it is, top 20, top 10, top 200 – any win gives me confidence.”
Istomin’s next match will be tomorrow against American Thai-Son Kwiatkowsi.
Shortly after, Fritz took the court against Krueger, who put on the performance of his life to earn his first-ever Top 40 win.
“I played really well start to finish,” said Krueger. “I had one little drop in my game to get broken in the second set, but I thought I maintained my level the whole time. Really happy with how I played.”
Despite playing the No.34 player in the world, Krueger had the confidence needed to pull through.
“I know that anyone can beat anyone on any given day, so I had the belief and knew that if I could keep my level high, I’d be able to give myself plenty of chances to win. Luckily it worked out as I was hoping.”
A regular here every year at the Newport Beach Tennis Club, Krueger loves the conditions and atmosphere.
“I’ve played the Oracle Challenger Series Newport Beach every year. What’s not to like about it? Perfect weather, great crowd support, nice club. I think everyone enjoys being here.”