Tim Smyczek defeated fellow American Ryan Harrison 6-0 6-2 in the first round of the BB&T Atlanta Open tuesday, needing only 53 minutes to secure the victory.
Harrison, who looked OK in his doubles match yesterday, was clearly suffering from some sort of illness, as well as blisters on his left foot. Regardless, the Wisconsin native looked sharp from start to finish, breaking serve five times, while holding his serve with relative ease the entire match. Smyczek, a favorite among many readers of this site, spoke with The Tennis Nerds and other reporters after the match.
“It was pretty clear that he wasn’t moving his best. Usually he moves very well, so I knew something was up,” Smyczek said.
Playing an injured opponent can often times be very difficult mentally, but Smyczek stayed focused throughout.
“I went out there with a really clear game-plan, and frankly that didn’t change much with him not moving so well. I’m really happy with the way I focused and I think there’s a lot of positives to take from this match,” Smyczek said. “It’s not easy to beat anybody that scoreline at this level, even if he is hurt.”
The man most call “Smee” has had a tough 2014 season. After reaching a career high ranking of 73 late last fall, he has suffered from injuries as well as mixed results. After reaching the semifinals in Maui, Smyczek was having shoulder problems, and that set him back a couple weeks. The main roadblock was knee-surgery that took place two months ago.
“It was a long road back. I came back quickly, but it took a while for me to feel like I was moving like I’m used to. But now I’m really happy with the way I’m feeling physically on the court,” Smyczek said, adding that he went through a good training block with coach Billy Heiser just before Wimbledon.
Smyczek is most remembered for his five set thriller against Marcel Granollers at the 2013 US Open, where he was the last American man standing in the draw. He talked about his desire to return to those stages.
“That’s what we play for, especially as an American. It was an honor to play in front of a lot of fans who were behind me. So that’s what we’re shooting for, to get back to that stage,” Smyczek said.
(Five fans wearing “S-M-Y-!-!” t-shirts were especially passionate that night)
The American stands at about 5’9, but he has a forehand that can do serious damage, as well as a rock solid backhand that is very flat and skids through the court. Smyczek served exceptionally well tuesday, making 81% of his first serves. Don’t be fooled, just because he’s small doesn’t mean he can’t crank it up to about 130 mph. (Referred to as “Smee-Bombs”) If that continues, look for him to have a lot of success in this tournament. He mentioned that a win like this could springboard him to greater success.
He will face off against Australian Marinko Matosevic in the second round. Matosevic also dispatched his opponent, Victor Estrella-Burgos, by the same exact scoreline, 6-0 6-2.
The two have met twice at the challenger level, each player holding one win. They last met in 2012 in Sarasota, where Smyczek won a tight three setter, 7-6(6) in the third.
“I know his game well,” Smyczek added. “He’s a great player, very steady but he has weapons. It’ll be tough.”