Rhyne Williams, Tennys Sandgren advance to Challenger quarterfinals

There was no letdown Thursday afternoon for Rhyne Williams and Tennys Sandgren.

The former teammates at Tennessee (2010-11) both posted second-round victories in the $50,000 Knoxville Challenger and advanced to today's quarterfinals at Goodfriend Tennis Center.

Williams, a Knoxville native, defeated No. 4 seed Mischa Zverev of Germany 4-6, 7-5, 6-3, while Sandgren beat Adrien Bossel of Switzerland 7-6 (5), 6-2.

For Williams, it was a quick turnaround after winning a three-setter Wednesday night against Austin Krajicek in a match that lasted almost 3 hours.

"I just dug deep today," Williams said. "Really, when I woke up this morning, my body wasn't feeling that great. I played really late last night. Somehow adrenalin carried me through the match."

Williams, who saved a match point against Krajicek, again was on the edge of defeat after Zverev broke serve in the second set for a 5-3 lead and served for the match at 5-4.

Zverev led 30-0 in the game, but Williams rallied and broke serve. Williams held serve and broke again to win the second set.

After having his knee taped between sets, Williams jumped ahead 3-0 in the third.

"It was kind of weird that once I got down, I actually settled down and settled into the match," Williams said. "I feel like my percentages picked up and I really caught fire with my passing shots."

Williams, who reached the quarterfinals of last week's Challenger in Charlottesville (Va.), knew he couldn't have a letdown against Zverev.

"Everyone can play," Williams said. "Somehow, even if you're not feeling your best, you've got to squeak out some matches, and sometimes that really picks up your confidence going into the next rounds."

Sandgren upset top-seeded Jesse Levine in three sets Tuesday night and was still feeling the effects of that match Thursday.

"It's always tough after having such a physical match," Sandgren said. "I was still feeling pretty sore but was able to get through it."

With Bossel serving at 5-6 in the first set, Sandgren had three set points but lost all three. After holding serve, Bossel took a 4-0 lead in the tiebreaker before Sandgren won the next six points.

"I just tried to dig down and see if I could put some good points together, and I was able to do that," Sandgren said.

Sandgren rolled in the second set.

"I loosened up big-time," Sandgren said. "I was telling myself to just go after the ball. I wasn't really hitting the ball that great in the first set. I was a little tight, a little nervous."

Williams and Sandgren lost to Krajicek and Devin Britton, 6-3, 6-7, (10-7) in a first-round doubles match Thursday night.

Dave Link is a freelance contributor.

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