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Isner Wins Epic Tie-break; Wawrinka Advances

Wimbledon, England

Isner© Getty ImagesJohn Isner is through to the third round for the first time.

Four years ago today, John Isner made history as he won a record-breaking first-round contest with Nicolas Mahut in the Wimbledon first round. Against Jarkko Nieminen on No. 3 Court in the second round Thursday, the American won a marathon first set and backed it up to claim a 7-6(17), 7-6(3), 7-5 victory.

The first set tie-break spelled the second-longest men’s singles tie-break in Wimbledon history. In the 1973 first round, Bjorn Borg won a 20-18 tie-break against Premjit Lall.

Isner is yet to be broken during The Championships, not facing a break point on Thursday and saving all seven in his first-round match. The American struck 32 aces past Nieminen, adding to the 26 he fired against Daniel Smethurst.

"I wasn't that excited when I was down set point however many times I was," said Isner reflecting on the first set tie-break. "Excited when I won that set. That tie-breaker was something else. Fortunately I won. 

"For whatever reason, when I'm in [tie-breaks], I always have a lot of adrenaline and I'm always serving my best, better than what I was getting to that tie-breaker. That was the case today in the first and second set. Only lost one point on my serve. The name of the game for me is just taking care of the two points on my serve, put the pressure back on my opponent. That's what I did."

Isner is through to the third round at the All England Club for the first time in six visits. The 29 year old’s best Grand Slam showing was a quarter-final at the 2011 US Open (l. to Murray). Isner has a 21-10 match record on the season, highlighted by winning the Auckland title (d. Lu) and reaching the semi-finals at Indian Wells (l. to Djokovic).

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Stan Wawrinka is one match win away from equalling his best result at The Championships.

Fifth seed Wawrinka fired 56 winners past Yen-Hsun Lu to record a 7-6(6), 6-3, 3-6, 7-5 victory in two hours and 42 minutes. Wawrinka saved two set point opportunities in the first set tie-break, winning four points in a row from a 4-6 deficit.

"Grass is tough," he admitted. "It's tough to change quickly from clay court to grass, especially for my game. I need a lot of time on the grass. In past years maybe I didn't have enough practice, enough time. This year I had the chance after losing early in French Open, I had a wild card in Queen's, so I've been playing on grass almost three weeks now. I'm feeling really confident with my game. I think that makes a big difference."

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Video courtesy Wimbledon

Lu, one year older than Wawrinka at 30 years of age, posted his best Grand Slam championship result by reaching the 2010 quarter-finals. He beat Andy Roddick 9-7 in the fifth set in the fourth round to become the first player from Chinese Taipei to reach the last eight at a major.

Wawrinka will now face Denis Istomin, who defeated Julian Reister 7-6(7), 6-4, 6-4. Istomin advanced to the fourth round two years ago (l. to Youzhny). In 2010, he defeated Wawrinka in five sets in their Wimbledon opener.

"I want to go further," said Wawrinka. "It's important that I'm playing well. I'm confident with my game. I will have a tricky match against Istomin. He's a really tough player on the grass courts."

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