Soweto - South African wild card entry Dean O’Brien caused a major upset at the Soweto Open on Wednesday when he defeated Brazilian eighth seed Fabiano de Paula 7-6 (2), 6-7 (5), 7-6 (4) in the second round of the men's tournament.
“It was a very tough match,” O’Brien said.
“I’ve never gone 6, 6 and 6 against someone, but I feel like apart from just playing well, I just stayed mentally in it the whole time.
"I was up a set, up a break twice in the second, and it was a close tie-break in the second. I just hung on and I’m glad I pulled it through in the third-set breaker.
“Staying mentally strong was the biggest key in my match today.”
O’Brien, who is ranked outside the top 1 000 players by the ATP, recorded the best result of his career to set up a quarterfinal encounter with top seed Lukas Lacko.
“I can say this was my biggest result. I had a couple of good wins earlier this year, playing some of the number one seeds in the Futures, but I feel like I’m playing the best tennis of my life,” O’Brien said.
“I feel at altitude, and having grown up here, I have an advantage over the top seed tomorrow.
“I’m not scared. I feel like if I can make a lot of balls, get the ball up on him and make it physical, I’ve got a shot.”
Countryman Rik de Voest continued his bid for a first title at the Soweto Open with 6-3, 6-0 victory over Germany’s Stefan Seifert.
De Voest, twice a runner-up at the ATP Challenger Tour event, will face third seed Vasek Pospisil in the next round.
“It was great to get through the match today and I’m happy,” De Voest said.
“Winning matches always helps with confidence, and I’ve got two under the belt.
"Now we start to play against some of the seeded players and these guys are good players, so obviously I’m going to have to continue playing well and improve.”
Seifert did not pose much of a threat to the seventh seed, who dropped only three games on his way to victory.
“In the beginning of the match I was still trying to figure my opponent out," said De Voest, the top-ranked South African in the tournament.
"He was playing pretty fast and flat and not giving me much rhythm, but once I found my range, I felt I was in control of the match.
"I think I did well not to let him come back into the match as well and just kept the pressure on."
Meanwhile, Lacko, who ousted Ricardo Hocevar in the opening round, sailed past Michal Konecny with a 6-1, 6-0 win to secure his passage to the quarterfinals.
“I’m now into the quarters and not really looking ahead to the finals yet because I have to still win two matches to get there,” Lacko said.
“My opponent wasn’t all there so I moved him about on court, and honestly, it wasn’t quite all that difficult.”