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Del Potro Wins Historic Service Battle In Vienna

Vienna, Austria

Muller© e|motion/zolles.comGilles Muller ousted two-time former champion and home favourite Jurgen Melzer.

Top-seeded Argentine Juan Martin del Potro prevailed against German qualifier Daniel Brands 6-7(5), 7-6(4), 7-6(6) in a gripping service battle Wednesday at the Erste Bank Open in Vienna. It was the first time in a best-of-three sets match on the ATP World Tour both players hit at least 30 aces since the ATP began keeping RICOH ATP MatchFacts in 1991. Brands fired 32 aces to del Potro's 30.  

In a match featuring 15 missed break point opportunities, and ultimately no breaks of serve, each set came down to the wire in a tie-break. In the deciding set, there were no mini breaks until the 13th point, when the eighth-ranked del Potro edged ahead of Brands to put the match on his racquet. Del Potro closed it out to clinch the marathon contest in three hours and five minutes.

“If I knew this was going to happen before, I would have stayed at home for sure,” del Potro joked. “But I played a nice match for my first round after a month without competition. He served really well every moment of the match. I served really well too.”

Del Potro is playing his first tournament since a quarter-final showing at the US Open, where he lost to Novak Djokovic in a thrilling three-set contest. Del Potro is currently seventh in the South African Airways ATP Rankings Race To London, which determines the eight players who qualify for the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals. He is bidding to capture his third trophy of the season, after triumphing in Marseille (d. Llodra) and Estoril (d. Gasquet). Del Potro also won the bronze medal at the London 2012 Olympics.

World No. 81 Gilles Muller caused an upset earlier Wednesday as he ousted fourth seed and two-time former champion Jurgen Melzer 6-3, 3-6, 7-6(4) in the second round. The Luxembourg player fired 18 aces and won just four points more than Melzer in the one-hour, 52-minute contest.

The 31-year-old Melzer dropped to a 20-11 record in Vienna as he suffered an opening-round defeat for just the second time in 13 appearances. The Vienna native won back-to-back titles at his hometown tournament in 2009 (d. Cilic) and 2010 (d. Haider-Maurer).

Muller, 29, is through to his fourth ATP World Tour quarter-final of the season after improving to a 20-19 match record. The left-hander was runner-up at the BB&T Atlanta Open in July (l. to Roddick).

World No. 187 Donald Young recorded just his fifth tour-level win of the season as he upset fifth seed Fabio Fognini of Italy 7-6(8), 6-3 in the first round. The American saved 13 of the 16 break points he faced and broke Fognini five times to claim victory in one hour and 46 minutes.

The 23-year-old Young has not won back-to-back matches this season; he improved to a 5-23 match record. He enjoyed better success in 2011, reaching the fourth round of the US Open and the Thailand Open final in Bangkok (l. to Murray both times).

Austrian wild card Dominic Thiem recorded just the second tour-level win of his career as he defeated Slovakia’s Lukas Lacko 7-6(3), 6-3 in 93 minutes. The 19 year old, currently just inside the Top 400 of the South African Airways ATP Rankings, saved nine of the 10 break points he faced.

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