After playing doubles past midnight and getting to sleep at about 3 a.m., Steve Johnson was less than thrilled to be playing in the first Citi Open men's match in the main stadium at 4 p.m. Thursday at Rock Creek Park Tennis Center in Washington.
Still, showing the sort of progress that has lifted his ranking to a career-high 25th, Johnson played quality first-strike tennis and ended qualifier Ryan Harrison's season-best run by winning the all-American matchup, 6-4, 6-4, to reach the hard-court tournament's quarterfinals.
"I was lucky enough to be on the schedule first today. Just good turnaround," the fifth-seeded Johnson said, his words thick with sarcasm. "Got a few hours of sleep. Just get back up. That's life. Hopefully, the ATP and those guys don't do that much anymore, because I don't think it's fair. It's up to those guys. They've got to do what they've got to do."
Tournament director Jeff Newman said the scheduling was affected by rain that washed out play earlier in the week and court assignments are based on various factors such as "a television perspective, a fan perspective, how the draws are matched up."
"Every player wants to play in a certain position. You try to take feedback and weigh it all," Newman said. "Some players will be happy; some people would prefer other spots."
Johnson, a member of the U.S. Olympic team headed to Rio de Janeiro next month, broke Harrison once in each set, did not face a break point himself and ended the match with a 130 mph ace.
A two-time NCAA singles champion in 2011 and 2012, and a member of Southern California teams that won four consecutive national titles, Johnson earned his first ATP trophy at Nottingham, England, last month, then backed that up by making his fourth-round debut at a Grand Slam tournament at Wimbledon.
"I knew I was capable always of winning a title — and, hopefully, multiple titles," Johnson said. "Once you win it, then you know what it feels like, you know what it's like to be serving for a title. You get to those situations a little bit more and you just hopefully become more comfortable."
On Friday, Johnson will face top-seeded John Isner, who hit serves at up to 143 mph, produced 16 aces and never faced a break point in a 7-6 (3), 6-2 victory over No. 15 Marcos Baghdatis. This will be the third year in a row that Americans Johnson and Isner meet in Washington; Johnson won in 2014, and Isner did in 2015, both decided by a third-set tiebreaker.
"He'll tell you this much: He was playing pretty poorly the first five months of the year. Wasn't getting much going. But he turned the corner (in June)," Isner said. "He's carried that confidence over to here. He's just like anyone else: When he gets confidence on his side, he starts going for his shots and his shots start finding the right spots."
Also Thursday, No. 2-seeded Gael Monfils overwhelmed No. 16 Borna Coric, 6-2, 6-3, No. 13 Ivo Karlovic hit 21 aces and eliminated No. 3 Bernard Tomic, 7-6 (4), 6-3, No. 6 Jack Sock beat Dan Evans, 6-1, 7-5, No. 7 Alexander Zverev got past Malek Jaziri, 6-2, 5-7, 6-2, and No. 8 Sam Querrey took the last five games in a 7-6 (5), 6-3 victory over 2012 champion Alexandr Dolgopolov.
In women's action, third-seeded Monica Puig lost to Lauren Davis, 6-4, 6-2, fourth-seeded Kristina Mladenovic beat 2013 Wimbledon runner-up Sabine Lisicki, 6-3, 6-3, Risa Ozaki edged Naomi Broady, 6-1, 5-7, 6-4, and Camila Giorgi advanced when Tamira Paszek withdrew before their match because of an upper respiratory infection.
Navy men's lax coach Sowell gets extension
Navy men's lacrosse coach Rick Sowell has received a contract extension. Athletic director Chet Gladchuk confirmed Thursday that he has added four years to Sowell's original contract, which had one year remaining. Gladchuk did not disclose specific terms of the new deal, which keeps Sowell in Annapolis through 2021. Sowell has led Navy to consecutive winning seasons and back-to-back Patriot League regular-season championships. In 2016, the Midshipmen were 11-5 and reached the NCAA quarterfinals. Gladchuk also announced Thursday that Ryan Wellner has been promoted to associate head coach. Wellner, who came with Sowell from Stony Brook, serves as defensive coordinator. Sowell and Wellner attended Washington College.
For more of Bill Wagner's story on Sowell, go to baltimoresun.com/lacrosse.
More men's college lacrosse: Bucknell named Brian Small (Calvert Hall) an assistant coach. Small, a 2005 Ohio Wesleyan graduate, was an assistant last season at Dartmouth and was head coach at John Carroll University the previous three years.
Men's college basketball: Kani Coles, a 6-foot-8, 230-pound power forward who graduated in 2015 from Edmondson, committed Tuesday to Central Florida. Coles played last season at Pensacola (Fla.) State College.
For Matt Bracken's blog post on Coles, go to baltimoresun.com/varsityletters.
Women's college soccer: Princeton senior forward Tyler Lussi (St. Paul's School for Girls) and Harvard senior forward Margaret Purce (Good Counsel) were named to the 36-woman watch list for the MAC Hermann Trophy, which goes to the nation's best player.
Laurel Park: More than seven months after tearing his labrum and fracturing his shoulder in two places in a training accident, jockey Sheldon Russell will make his comeback Saturday. Maryland's leading rider in 2011 and a six-time meet champion at Laurel and Pimlico Race Course, Russell, 28, is named to ride Praise the Moon in the third race. He underwent surgery in December and began therapy in early January. Russell resumed exercising horses in late April, primarily for trainers Tim Keefe and Cal Lynch, while awaiting medical clearance to return to race riding. Agent Marty Leonard said Russell got approval from doctors during a visit this week.
Men's golf: Tom Grem of Hunt Valley Golf Club kept the regional Father-Son tournament titles in the family as he and son Jimmy won the 76th Maryland State Golf Association crown by a stroke with a 3-under-par 69 at Towson Golf and Country Club. Two weeks ago, Tom and younger son Doug won the Middle Atlantic Golf Association event, surviving a five-team playoff on the second extra hole after all returned 4-under 66s at Kenwood CC.
College baseball: Coppin State outfielder-pitcher Andrew O'Dwyer was named Most Valuable Player of the Mid-Atlantic Collegiate League while playing for the Berkley Bandits this summer.
Colleges: Hofstra named Amanda Ghysel (Loyola Maryland) senior assistant director of athletic communications.
College track and field: Mount St. Mary's named former Villanova sprinter and cross country runner Chris FitzSimons to the coaching staff.
Pro basketball: Guard Keron DeShields (Towson Catholic, St. Vincent Pallotti), who led Tennessee State with 16.5 points per game in 2015-16 after transferring from Montana, has signed with Latina Basket in Italy.
Varsity softball: Centennial senior catcher Emily Allen was named to the CBS MaxPreps Medium Schools All-American second team.
NHL: The Hershey Bears, the Washington Capitals' American Hockey League affiliate, named Bryan Helmer vice president of hockey operations after the retirement of general manager Doug Yingst, who spent 34 years with the organization. Helmer, 44, played for the Bears from 2008 to 2010.
NBA: The Washington Wizards signed guard Tomas Satoransky, their 2012 second-round draft pick, but did not release financial terms. Earlier this month, the Wizards and Satoransky agreed to a $9 million, three-year contract, according to a person familiar with the move who spoke to the Associated Press on condition of anonymity at the time because there was an NBA moratorium on such signings. As part of the deal, the Wizards agreed to contribute $650,000 toward Satoransky's buyout from the Spanish club he has been with.Satoransky, 6 feet 7 and 210 pounds, is from the Czech Republic.
WNBA: Lynetta Kizer had a career-high 21 points and fellow Maryland alumna Marissa Coleman scored 11 of her 14 points during a decisive run that overlapped the third and fourth quarters to help the visiting Indiana Fever (12-12) to an 82-70 victory over the New York Liberty (18-8).
Books: Tennessee State associate professor Harriet Kimbro-Hamilton has received the Robert Peterson Recognition Award for her book, "Daddy's Scrapbook: Henry Kimbro of the Negro Baseball League, A Daughter's Perspective." The award, presented this month during the 19th annual Jerry Malloy Negro League Conference in Kansas City, Mo., is given annually for bodies of work that increase public awareness about the Negro Baseball League. "Daddy's Scrapbook" is filled with personal observations, newspaper articles, and other items from Henry Kimbro's glory days as a player for the NBL's Baltimore Elite Giants, Birmingham Black Barons, and the New York Black Yankees.
Sun staff and news services contributed to this article.