World number 58 Frances Tiafoe has kicked off his Houston campaign with a 6-3 6-3 victory against another youngster Mackenzie McDonald in an hour and 3 minutes for his 11th win of the season. Frances served well, losing 16 points in nine service games and Mackenzie managed to break him once, which wasn't enough for a better result.
The older American struggled more in his games and he had to play against eight break points, dropping serve twice in each set to hit the exit door. Tiafoe saved a break point in the opening game of the match with a booming serve and he gained the advantage with a break in game four to take a 3-1 lead when Mackenzie sent a forehand long.
McDonald responded with a break at love in game five to get back on the positive side of the scoreboard but he couldn't stay there for too long, losing serve at love in game eight following a backhand mistake. Frances completed the set with a forehand winner in game nine, seizing the last nine points of the set to get the drive and the momentum before set number two.
Tiafoe converted the fourth break point at the start of set number two when Mackenzie hit the double fault and he served well in his games, dominating with his initial shot and forehand to avoid break points and giving no hopes of the return to McDonald.
The match was over when McDonald netted a backhand in game nine to lose his serve for the second time, sending Frances into the second round and allowing him to score his first win in Houston. Henri Laaksonen earned his first ATP win since Antwerp last fall, beating Dustin Brown 6-4 6-3 in just 57 minutes. Dustin served at only 46% and he could hit only one ace in the entire match, losing 46% of the points in his games and losing serve four times from five opportunities he offered to the Swiss.
On the other hand, Henri lost 12 points in nine service games and four of those came in the game when he lost serve for the only time in the opening set. Dustin drew first blood with a break in game four following a backhand winner but he stayed in front only for a few minutes, sending a forehand wide in the next game to bring Henri back into competition.
The German wasted game points at 4-4 and Laaksonen broke him for the second time to move 5-4 in front, closing the set on his fourth set point in game 10 after a forehand winner. The Swiss has lost three points on serve in set number two to keep all the pressure on the other side of the net and he pushed strong on the return in the second part of the set to bring it home in straight sets.
He broke in game seven with a backhand return winner and it was all over when Dustin netted a forehand in game nine to drop serve once again and end on the losing side. First round results: