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Kendrick, Isner, Young advance at Tallahassee Challenger

Courtesy: USTA.com

-– Three top Americans are still alive after the quarterfinals of the USTA Tallahassee Tennis Challenger Presented by Comcast at Forestmeadows. However, it was Thailand’s Danai Udomchoke who stole the show, playing a pair of three-set thrillers.

Thursday’s first match proved to be one of the best of the day, as Danai Udomchoke upended American Ryan Sweeting, 7-6 (0), 5-7, 6-3. Udomchoke and Sweeting battled in the first set, with both players struggling to hold serve. Down 5-3, Udomchoke saved five set points to get the first set to a tiebreaker, where he dominated Sweeting, not losing a point. It looked like it would be a quick match, as Udomchoke took a 5-1 lead in the second; however, Sweeting won six consecutive games, saving five match points, to send the bout to a third and final set. In the third set, the native of Thailand earned a critical break and held on to advance to the semifinals.

“This was a good day for me, and it started with singles,” Udomchoke said. “I was down mentally after leading 5-1 and having so many match points. I thought the third set would be very tough for me, but I kept thinking I would try my best, and as I relaxed, I played better and better.”

Udomchoke will next play seventh-seeded John Isner, who outlasted Prakash Amritraj in three sets. Both players held serve through the first set, and in the tiebreaker Amritraj was the aggressor, stepping inside the baseline to take Isner’s serve early. The move proved to be beneficial, as Amritraj won the tiebreaker, 7-5. In the second set, the former All-American from Georgia earned the first break of the match at 1-1, and that was all Isner needed to take the set, 6-3. The third set was nearly identical to the second, with Isner getting a break at 1-1 and making it stand for the 6-7 (5), 6-3, 6-4 win.

“Amritraj is a tricky player and unlike any player I’ve played in awhile,” Isner said. “He attacks, and nowadays you don’t see a lot of players like that. He gave me fits the whole match, but I was able to scrap out a couple of breaks in the second and third sets, and my serve held up for me.”

Last year’s runner-up, American Robert Kendrick, defeated Australia’s Marinko Matosevic in straight sets to advance to the semifinals. The No. 2 seed made quick work of Matosevic, winning 6-4, 6-3. He next plays another American, Donald Young, who advanced when his opponent, Kye Tae Im, had to retire in the second set with a leg injury. Young won the first set, 6-4, and was ahead, 4-3, in the second when Im decided he could not continue.

Udomchoke was also involved in one of the best doubles matches of the day. He, along with partner Go Soeda, upset the tournament's No. 4 seeds, Martin Fisher and Harsh Mankad, 6-7 (4), 6-4, 10-5. Down a set and a break, the unlikely pairing won four out of the last five games to send the match to a super tiebreak. The breaker was tied at five when Udomchoke and Soeda went on a run, winning the last five points to advance to the semifinals.

“This was also a difficult match because my partner and I are normally singles players, and they were the No. 4 seeds,” Udomchoke said. “We played well today, and we returned well. It felt like our return game was our service game today.”

The pair will next play the last seeded team in the draw, No. 1 Eric Butorac and Scott Lipsky. The Americans easily defeated Phillip Simmonds and Jesse Witten, 6-2, 6-1.

Third-seeded twins Sanchai and Sonchat Ratiwatana were upended by the Great Britain duo of Colin Fleming and Ken Skupski in straight sets, 6-3, 7-6 (1). Fleming and Skupski will play Ryler DeHeart and Alex Kuznetsov on Friday, after the pair defeated Florida State duo Vahid Mirzadeh and Maciek Sykut.

The Seminole pair won the first set, 6-3, and served for the match at 5-4 in the second, but DeHeart and Kuznetsov were able to break and take the set to a tiebreaker, which they won 7-6 (3). In the super tiebreaker, the match was squared at 7-7, when a Kuznetsov forehand clipped the net cord, and while Mirzadeh got to the ball, he touched the net to give DeHeart and Kuznetsov the point. They then won the next two points to clinch the match, 3-6, 7-6 (3), 10-7.

Friday’s matches will begin at 12 p.m., with Fleming and Skupski taking on DeHeart and Fleming. For updated draws and order of play, click hereor log on to www.tallahasseechallenger.com.