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Isner, Tipsarevic Hang Tough

New York, U.S.A.

Isner© Getty ImagesJohn Isner was nearly forced to five sets by Belgian veteran Xavier Malisse.

American No. 1 John Isner was tested in his first-round clash at the US Open on Wednesday in New York, saving two set points in the fourth-set tie-break before edging Belgium’s Xavier Malisse 6-3, 7-6(5), 5-7, 7-6(9).

"I knew the match today was going to be tough," he said. "A lot of people are projecting me to go far here, but I wasn't looking past this match. As you guys could see, I had my hands full. He doesn't mind playing me. He's played me well in the past and he did it again today. Got to a certain point there where it was anyone's match. I just got pretty fortunate at the end. I'm happy to move on."

The 6’9’’ Isner fired 20 aces and won 80 per cent of points behind his first serve as he held off a Malisse fightback for victory in two hours and 56 minutes. The 27 year old has won nine of his past 10 matches, having come into the US Open after a semi-final showing at the Rogers Cup in Toronto (l. to Gasquet) and victory at the Winston-Salem Open (d. Berdych).

The No. 10-ranked Isner achieved his best result at Flushing Meadows last year when he reached the quarter-finals (l. to Murray). The North Carolina native is bidding to become the first homegrown winner since Andy Roddick triumphed in 2003 (d. Ferrero).

Isner Features In All-New DEUCE

Eighth seed Janko Tipsarevic, Luxembourg’s Gilles Muller and Latvian Ernests Gulbis all completed comebacks from two sets down in the first round, joining six other players who accomplished the feat in their openers Monday and Tuesday.

Serbia’s Tipsarevic survived a scare against France’s Guillaume Rufin before prevailing 4-6, 3-6, 6-2, 6-3, 6-2 in three hours and 37 minutes. The Belgrade native came back from two sets down for the fifth time in his career as he avoided a sixth first-round exit in New York.

Muller set up a second-round clash with Lleyton Hewitt after battling past No. 28 seed Mikhail Youzhny of Russia 2-6, 3-6, 7-5, 7-6(6), 7-6(6) in four hours and 23 minutes.

Gulbis overcame 34-year-old German Tommy Haas 3-6, 4-6, 6-4, 7-5, 6-3 in three hours and 44 minutes as he struck 70 winners, including 24 aces. "Mindset is that you don’t care anymore," said Gulbis. "You’re two sets down, you’re a break down. You simply don’t care. Then magic happens suddenly. You win a break back, you win a set and you’re back in the match."

Watch Gulbis Interview

World No. 21 Haas, a three-time US Open quarter-finalist, was making his 15th appearance at Flushing Meadows and lost in the first round for the first time since his 1996 debut (l. to Stich).

"I think I let it slip away a little bit in the third," lamented Haas, who was playing in his 50th major. "That 3-2 game in the third it's going to stay with me for a little bit for sure. Just got a little bit tight, a little bit nervous trying to consolidate that break. Made a few bad errors that you can't allow yourself to happen. Sort of gave him a chance to come back."

Gulbis will next face 2011-12 NCAA men's singles champion Steve Johnson, who defeated fellow American Rajeev Ram 6-3, 7-6(5), 6-3 to record his second tour-level victory and first at a major. Another NCAA singles champion, 2010 winner Bradley Klahn, joined Johnson in the second round as he prevailed against former World No. 8 Jurgen Melzer of Austria 4-6, 6-3, 7-5, 5-7, 6-4. It was his first win at the tour-level.

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