Thiem and Halep cruise to victory
Washington, US - Top seeds Dominic Thiem and Simona Halep cruised into the round of 16 at the ATP and WTA Citi Open with straight-set triumphs on Tuesday at the US Open tune-up event.
Austria's seventh-ranked Thiem, a French Open semifinalist in June, waited out a rain delay then needed only 63 minutes to dispatch 96th-ranked Swiss Henri Laaksonen 6-3, 6-3.
"It wasn't easy but I'm pretty happy with my performance," Thiem said.
"It was my first match on hardcourt since Miami (in March) and that's always a little tricky."
World No 2 Halep, this year's French Open runner-up, took only 79 minutes to oust US wildcard Sloane Stephens 7-6, 6-0.
"It was a tough first set. I was missing a little bit too much and she made some shots," Halep said. "Didn't have the rhythm at the beginning, but I feel better now."
"I don't have a lack of confidence but it's always nice to get that first win," Thiem said.
This marks the biggest event where Thiem has been top seeded, but his four nearest rankings rivals are also in the field - Germany's Alexander Zverev, Japan's Kei Nishikori, Canada's Milos Raonic and Bulgarian Grigor Dimitrov.
"I think there are five or six players to beat," Thiem said. "There should be four or five top seeds. I'm one of them."
But Thiem faces a possible third-round match on Thursday against South Africa's Kevin Anderson, who has beaten him in all five of their career meet-
ings, all on hardcourt and with Thiem taking only one set.
Second-seeded Nishikori turned back the determined challenge of American Donald Young 6-3, 4-6, 7-6.
Nishikori, seeking his first title of 2017, didn't face a break point in the third set, but he couldn't convert any of his eight break
chances as Young forced the tiebreaker.
Nishikori finally sealed the win on his sixth match point after two hours and 25 minutes and with the clock ticking toward 2 am.
Halep passes first test
Halep will next face Colombia's 115th-ranked Mariana Duque-Marino for a quarterfinal berth as the 25 year old Romanian keeps her focus on building her game for the US Open that starts on August 28 in New York.
"For first match on hardcourts, it wasn't that bad," Halep said. "My serve wasn't the best but I was OK. Everything went well. I can't say I have to adjust something.
"It was important today."
Other results (x denotes seeding): Men second round: Jack Sock (x8) beat Marius Copil 7-6, 7-6; Juan Martin Del Potro (x13) beat Lukas Lacko 7-5, 6-2; Guido Pella beat Mischa Zverev I won (x12) 6-7, 7-6, 6-3.
Women first round: Ekaterina Makarova (x7) beat Jamie Loeb 7-6, 6-3.
Stanford results: First round: CoCo Vandeweghe (x6) beat Ajla Tomljanovic 6-2, 0-0 retd; CiCi Bellis (x8) beat Alize Cornet 6-3, 6-2.
Dominic Thiem serves to Henri Laaksonen in Washington, US, on Tuesday
Simona Halep hits a backhand return against Sloane Stephens during their match on Tuesday