Croatian veteran Ivo Karlovic has made a winning start in Houston, beating Taro Daniel 7-6 6-4 in an hour and 36 minutes for his sixth win of the season. Both players served at 70% and it is interesting to notice that Taro had more aces (8-7) but it wasn't enough to topple Ivo, who lost just 15 points on serve to face just one break point.
He saved it in the very first game of the match to sail through the rest of his service games, and he made a crucial break in the seventh game of set number two to wrap up the win in straight sets. We saw just three break points overall and it was an entertaining match that couldn't find its place on the Center Court with a lot of American players in action.
Daniel could grab an early lead with that break chance in the opening game but Ivo saved it with a solid forehand attack to avoid an early setback, serving well in the rest of the set to keep the Japanese under pressure. Taro saved a set point in the 10th game when Karlovic's return landed just beyond the baseline but the Croat earned a 5-2 lead in the tie break after a forehand error from Daniel.
Taro got one mini-break back with a perfect lob in the following point but Ivo captured the set 7-5 with a smash winner in that 12th point. The second set was very fluid and Karlovic lost just two points on serve, waiting patiently for a chance on the return.
It came in game seven and he broke Daniel at love when the Japanese netted an easy forehand to seal his fate in this match. Two volley winners gave Ivo three match points in game 10 and he crossed the finish line with an ace to set up the second round meeting with Denis Kudla.
The 7th seed Ryan Harrison played in Houston for the first time in 2008 as a qualifier at the age of 15, becoming one of the youngest players who won an ATP match, and he returns to the River Oaks Country Club for the first time since 2014.
Ryan made a winning start after a 6-4 6-3 triumph over a teenager Miomir Kecmanovic in an hour and 16 minutes for his 11th win of the season after a poor run at Indian Wells and Miami. Harrison fired 11 aces and he lost 15 points in 10 service games, never facing a break point and making the Serb work hard in his service games in order to remain in touch.
Miomir served at only 53% and he certainly needed more than that, facing five break points and losing serve once in each set to end on the losing side. Harrison earned a break point in the second game of the match but he wasted it with a bad drop shot, and he could gain the lead in game six as well, with two break points up for grabs.
Miomir saved them with two good volleys to stay on the positive side of the scoreboard, and he had a game point at 4-5 to extend the opening set even further. He double faulted to keep Ryan in contention and the American grabbed the break and the set after a terrible forehand from Kecmanovic.
The second set saw eight easy service games on both sides and the decisive moment came in game six when Harrison broke at 15 to move 4-2 ahead. Ryan sealed the deal with four winners in game nine, finishing the match with a service winner to reach the second round in style. First round results: