A day away from the quarterfinals, the ATP tournament in Los Angeles has featured few significant surprises but a handful of intriguing results. Among them is the surprising run of Rajeev Ram, more familiar from his exploits on the doubles court than in singles. Choosing to prioritize his singles this summer, Ram has found that decision rewarded this week with a pair of main-draw victories, including a noteworthy upset over the returning Brian Baker. Able to reach the second week of Wimbledon, the comeback artist will hope to rebound as his home major approaches. Due to face Ram in the quarterfinals, meanwhile, is the third-seeded Lorenzo Mayer, who has not played a complete match but instead collected a bye and a retirement.
Prevailing in tense three-setters, Australians Marinko Matosevic (the sixth seed) and Matthew Ebden survived to fight another day, Matosevic at the expense of his compatriot Chris Guccione. The net-rushing Ebden overcame the similarly retro style of Michael Berrer in a clash of chronic serve-and-volleyers rarely seen in the modern game. That match fittingly ended with a third-set tiebreak, as did the tournament of fading fan favorite James Blake. Delighting the Los Angeles crowd under the lights with a shower of vintage forehand winners, he ultimately could not maintain his consistency and lost five straight points after taking a 4-2 lead in the decisive tiebreak. More optimistic for local fans was the performance of California native Sam Querrey, a champion here two years ago who holds the second seed in a draw depleted by the Olympics. In his opening match, he advanced to the quarterfinals by comfortably dispatching a Dutchman who had stifled the ambitions of UCLA star Steve Johnson a round before. One other American remains alive in the draw: Michael Russell, who faces a daunting challenge on Thursday against the top-seeded and 47th-ranked Benoit Paire.
Elsewhere in the draw is the entertaining Lithuanian Ricardas Berankis, who has won three matches combined in qualifying and the main draw. Having upset the seventh-seeded roadrunner Bjorn Phau, he faces a veteran more than a decade his senior in Igor Andreev, who has defeated Nadal before and won two sets from Federer. A flamboyant shotmaker from Belgium, Xavier Malisse will test his talents against Berankis in one of Thursday’s most notable matches. We will discuss that encounter and more when we return to review Los Angeles on Friday before traveling there this weekend.