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Isner Sets Mahut Clash In Newport; Nishikori, Raonic Advance

Newport, U.S.A.

Nishikori© Ben SolomonKei Nishikori won his Newport debut on Tuesday.

Top-seeded American John Isner set up a second-round clash with Frenchman Nicolas Mahut after opening his title defence Tuesday at the Campbell’s Hall Of Fame Tennis Championships with a 7-6(3), 4-6, 6-3 win over Ukrainian Sergei Bubka.

Both players dropped serve just once in the one hour, 55-minute match. Isner, making his first appearance since suffering a five-set loss to Alejandro Falla in the first round of Wimbledon, fired 20 aces.

“I'm very happy because I won,” said Isner. “I knew it wasn't going to be pretty because I haven't played my best lately. I haven't played many matches. And this court is a little bit different.

“I knew I was going to have my hands full. Playing a qualifier is not easy, because [he's] won three matches. He feels comfortable on these courts, whereas I didn't at all. I was able to pull it out thankfully.”

Isner and Mahut will be facing off for the fourth time, with all those meetings having come on grass. Isner had famously defeated the Frenchman in a 70-68 fifth set two years ago at Wimbledon.

Second seed Kei Nishikori opened his Newport campaign with a 6-4, 6-4 victory over Igor Sijsling. Though he lost serve twice, Nishikori capitalised on four of his six break points to win his event debut in 71 minutes. The 22 year old will take on two-time defending finalist Olivier Rochus next.

“It wasn’t my best honestly, even though I was up in the score. But I’m happy to win today,” Nishikori said. “The grass is a little softer than Wimbledon. It bounces low, so you have to get down. I think everyone has started using slice, so you have to be careful.”

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Third seed Milos Raonic battled past Matthew Ebden 3-6, 6-3, 7-5 in one hour and 54 minutes. Serving at 3-4 in the third set, Raonic saved two break points en route to winning four of the final five games.

“The surface is tough. There were a lot of tricky bounces,” said Raonic. “It’s more of an old-style grass court. You try not to get yourself in trouble.

“I was at 52 per cent on first serves which is not a good thing for me, but it was enough to get the job done… It’s about doing what you got to do to win and giving myself the opportunity to play better tennis tomorrow.”

American qualifier Tim Smyczek upset No. 4 seed Denis Istomin 6-3, 6-3 to notch his second tour-level victory of the year. Smyczek converted four of his 14 break points to advance in just 56 minutes.

Sam Querrey, the 2009 runner-up, upended fifth seed Alex Bogomolov Jr. 7-5, 7-6(5) in one hour and 35 minutes. Querrey fired 11 aces and did not face a break point to even his tour-level record against the Russian to 1-1.

“It just feels nice to get a win,” said Querrey. “Bogie is a tough guy. He makes you play a lot of balls. I thought I served well when it counted on the big points.

“In April this year, I feel like I found my game again. I felt I was playing at a Top 20 or Top 30 level even though I wasn’t ranked that high.”

Wild card Lleyton Hewitt was confident in his opener, rolling over Vasek Pospisil 6-1, 6-1 in just 49 minutes. Hewitt won an identical 68 per cent of his service and return points to notch his first tournament win since the Australian Open.

Qualifier Benjamin Becker defeated David Goffin 6-4, 6-3. Becker won 83 per cent of his first serve points and broke the 21-year-old Belgian three times to advance in 70 minutes.

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