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Isner Leads American Charge Into Third Round

Miami, U.S.A.

Isner© Getty ImagesJohn Isner set up a third round encounter with Nicolas Almagro in Miami.

John Isner maintained his strong run of form on home soil with a 6-7(5), 6-3, 6-4 comeback victory over countryman Donald Young at the Sony Open Tennis on Saturday.

The No. 10 seeded American rallied from an early deficit to seal the second round win in just under two hours. Young had halted a 10-match losing skid at the ATP World Tour Masters 1000 level with a first round win over Carlos Berlocq on Thursday, but was unable to overcome 14 aces, 45 winners and four breaks of serve from Isner. The big-serving 28 year old employed an aggressive gameplan in attacking the net often, winning 18 of 25 net points.

Isner, who is coming off a run to the semi-finals at the ATP World Tour Masters 1000 event in Indian Wells last week (l. to Djokovic), is competing in his first tournament since returning to the Top 10 in the Emirates ATP Rankings.

"I thought I played pretty well," Isner said. "A lot of times it comes down to a one-set situation for the match and having my serve on my side, it helps. I had a lot of adrenaline going through me, especially when I was up a break. It was one of those things where I go out there and serve my hardest, serve my biggest and win the match."

Isner will look to advance to the Round of 16 for the second time (2011) when he battles No. 18 seed Nicolas Almagro on Monday. Almagro sent Isner’s Davis Cup compatriot Sam Querrey packing after a 6-4, 6-4 defeat in 67 minutes. The Spaniard did not face a break point in his first match in three weeks, having withdrawn from Indian Wells with a shoulder injury. He snaps a four-match losing streak with the victory.

Isner and Almagro will meet for the fourth time in their FedEx ATP Head2Head series, with the 6’10” Isner prevailing in their most recent encounter in last year’s Houston final. Almagro won the previous meeting 7-5 in a fifth set in the 2012 Davis Cup semi-finals.

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Fellow Americans Ryan Harrison and Jack Sock were unable to replicate Isner’s win on Saturday, both falling in their quests to advance to the third round.

Harrison turned in a valiant effort against lucky loser Benjamin Becker, storming back from down a break in the third set to force a deciding tie-break. The German would have the upper hand in the final moments, however, outlasting Harrison 7-5, 3-6, 7-6(2). Becker, who entered the main draw following Juan Martin del Potro’s withdrawal due to a persistent wrist injury, won 81 per cent of first serve points and broke Harrison four times in 10 opportunities.

Becker will seek a return trip to the fourth round in Crandon Park when he duels with qualifier Aljaz Bedene after the Slovenian prevailed over Vasek Pospisil 6-7(5), 7-5, 6-3. Becker reached the Round of 16 in 2010 after upsetting former Top 10 players Ivan Ljubicic and Tommy Robredo.

Sock, meanwhile, could not overcome a dominant serving performance by No. 12 seed Milos Raonic, succumbing 6-4, 7-6(1). Raonic hammered 14 aces, won 84 per cent of total service points and did not face a break point. Sock was unable to conjure similar magic against Raonic after upending the Canadian in their first FedEx ATP Head2Head encounter in Memphis last year.

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Lionel Maltese


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