Brits Jamie Murray and Neal Skupski upset top seeds Juan Sebastian Cabal and Robert Farah on Saturday to reach the second round of the Western & Southern Open 7-6(5), 7-6(3).
“It was nice to put in a good performance against a top, top team, the World No. 1s,” Skupski said. “I thought we executed very well today. We put in a good week’s practice going to Connecticut early, we worked on a few things before coming here and it paid off. Hopefully we can continue the good work on the practice court and it will continue to pay off on the match court. Very happy to get the win and hopefully we can push forward the rest of the week.”
One year ago at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center, Cabal and Farah beat Murray and Skupski in the semi-finals en route to the US Open title. The Western & Southern Open is being held at the same venue this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“It was a good start to ‘Cincinnati’. It’s a bit strange having ‘Cincinnati’ at the home of the US Open,” Skupski said. “But it was nice to get back on the court with Jamie for a match for the first time since February when we lost in Dubai.
“It was very strange to play in front of no fans. I thought we did a good job of bringing a lot of energy to the court today because we weren’t getting it from the fans. Hopefully the fans will be back very soon, but until then we’ll have to bring our own energy on the court and try and keep each other motivated as much as possible.”
Reigning Australian Open champions Rajeev Ram and Joe Salisbury also had a tight match in the first round, but the third seeds found a way to win. The American-British team defeated Cristian Garin and Casper Ruud 6-3, 6-7(3), 10-6.
“It’s better than starting off with a loss, that’s for sure,” Ram said. “It was fun to get out there and play again, which all of us probably felt that way after such a long break. It was fun to get out and compete in an ATP event.”
Seventh seeds Raven Klaasen and Oliver Marach advanced past Tim Puetz and Alexander Zverev 7-6(6), 3-6, 10-6, while eighth seeds Wesley Koolhof and Nikola Mektic eliminated Karen Khachanov and Andrey Rublev 6-4, 6-2.
Hubert Hurkacz and John Isner will be opponents on Sunday, but they played together on Saturday to earn a 6-3, 6-0 victory against Australian Open finalists Max Purcell and Luke Saville.