Ram starts quest for third Newport title

Defending champion Rajeev Ram enjoyed a welcome return to the Hall of Fame Tennis Championships in Newport on Monday with a 6-2, 6-3 win against American wild card Mackenzie McDonald.

Ram won almost 90 per cent of his first-serve points and erased two of three break points in the 65-minute first-round triumph. The 32-year-old American is looking to win the season’s final grass-court event for the third time (also 2009, 2015).

Ram, who’s making his ninth appearance in Newport, improved to 17-5 at the championships by beating the 21-year-old McDonald, who was playing in his first ATP World Tour match as a professional and recently finished an historic collegiate career at the University of California, Los Angeles. In May, McDonald became the first player in 15 years to win the NCAA singles and doubles titles in the same year.

“I actually know him pretty well, him and I practised together before he went to school. I tried to help him with a few things,” Ram said. “To get out and play somebody like that is a little tricky but I thought we both handled it pretty well.”
Ram, who’s coming off a doubles semi-final showing at Wimbledon with Raven Klaasen, said he always looks forward to his week in Newport. “I’ve won two titles, they’ve both been here. I’ve played here every year since I was a pro. A lot of things make it really special,” he said.

The Indiana native next will face seventh seed Dudi Sela of Israel, who beat Slovakian Lukas Lacko 6-3, 6-2. Sela was five-for-five on break points.

Donald Young Tennnis Hall of Fame

© Stefy Hilmer Photography

Eighth seed Donald Young also returned to Newport with a straight-sets win, sweeping #NextGen player Jared Donaldson 6-1, 6-3 in 56 minutes. Young lost only 12 points on his serve (35/47) to avenge a straight-sets loss to Donaldson on clay at the Savannah Challenger in April.

Young, No. 61 in the Emirates ATP Rankings, will look to achieve his best result in Newport with a win by making the quarter-finals (2R in 2008, 2011). He’ll next face 35-year-old Benjamin Becker of Germany or 18-year-old Stefan Kozlov of the U.S.

In doubles, Brit Brydan Klein and Japanese Yuichi Sugita upset top seeded Americans Eric Butorac and Scott Lipsky 6-3, 7-6(14). Butorac/Lipsky had three set points and had fended off six match points before falling in the 30-point tie-break.

Second seeded Aussies Sam Groth and Chris Guccione swept countryman Jordan Thompson and Sela 6-3, 6-4 in 52 minutes. Marcos Baghdatis and Gilles Muller also were victorious against Ariel Behar of Uruguay and Jeevan Nedunchezhiyan of India 6-2, 6-3.

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© Stefy Hilmer Photography

© Stefy Hilmer Photography

courtesy of the ATP World Tour