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Americans Donaldson and Paul power into BB&T Atlanta Open second round

Fellow Americans Jared Donaldson and Ernesto Escobedo are separated by only one year in age and 10 spots in the rankings, but there was a nothing short of a chasm between their levels of tennis on Monday evening at the BB&T Atlanta Open. Donaldson needed a mere 57 minutes to cruise past his countryman and earn a spot in round two.


Despite serving at only 48 percent, the No. 8 seed lost just 10 points in eight service games and did not face a single break point. Donaldson also won almost half of his return points (48 percent on first serve, 47 percent on second serve) to break Escobedo on four occasions.


Donaldson awaits another compatriot–either wild card Taylor Fritz or wild card Christopher Eubanks–in the last 16.


He won’t be the only 20-year-old American in the Atlanta second round. That is because Tommy Paul advanced with just his second career ATP-level match win in the form of a 4-6, 6-2, 6-3 upset of seventh-seeded Hyeon Chung. Paul, who committed to the nearby University of Georgia before deciding to turn pro two years ago, prevailed after two hours and one minute.


The world No. 291 cracked six aces while double-faulting just once and he broke Chung an impressive seven times.


“I had to bounce back in the second,” Paul commented. “I thought I did a pretty good job. He had a lot of chances early in the second. I thought my fitness was something that really helped me out today a lot.


“It’s really big. I’m definitely really excited to get out there and play on Wednesday, too.”


Another victory would give Paul a berth in his first career ATP quarterfinal and would send him even higher in the rankings. He is already projected to improve 48 places to 243rd with a chance to climb as high as 223rd if he picks up a second-round win. Regardless, he has much further to go to match the current heights of contemporaries and fellow Atlanta entrants Donaldson, Fritz, Frances Tiafoe, and 2016 Atlanta semifinalist Reilly Opelka.


“I really love all the other [Americans] my age,” Paul assured. “I love seeing them do well. It kind of pushes me to work hard. ‘If they can do it, why can’t I?’ That’s kind of how I think about it. I’m happy for them and hopefully I can get there, too.”

Ricky contributes to 10sballs.com and also maintains his own tennis website, The Grandstand. You can follow him on twitter at @Dimonator.