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Isner Starts Bid For Newport Title Treble; Mahut Begins Defence

Newport, U.S.A.

Isner© Kate Whitney LuceyJohn Isner is looking to win his third Newport title this week.

John Isner will be hoping to maintain his unbeaten record as the top seed at the Hall of Fame Tennis Championships.

Isner picked up the 2011 and 2012 Newport trophies as the top seed, and Tuesday improved to a 14-3 match record at this ATP World Tour 250 tournament. The American struck 19 aces in a 6-3, 7-6(6) first-round win over qualifier Wayne Odesnik.

"I feel like I've played a lot of matches like that here in Newport," said Isner. "One break in a set and winning the tie-break... The first match here is always tricky. The surface is just different, and on top of that I was playing a left-hander and that's not easy either. I'm happy I got to win. It got a little dicey there in the end, where I could have closed it out a little earlier.

"I've had a lot of success here, especially the last three years. I don't know of a tournament where I've won 14 of 15 matches. That's pretty impressive. I'm glad that I'm here and hopefully I can keep going. I've had good memories here in the past.”

Isner will now face World No. 208 Austin Krajicek, who overcame Tim Smyczek 7-6(7), 6-1.

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Nicolas Mahut started his bid to retain the title earlier in the day. The fourth seed, who beat Lleyton Hewitt in last year’s title match, hit 11 aces to knock out Facundo Arguello 7-6(1), 6-4 in just over 90 minutes for a place in the second round.

“I have had a tough grass season, so my confidence is not as high as last year,” said Mahut. “But here, anyone can beat anybody. It wasn’t a good match today, but I got through and I hope I can do better tomorrow. I know I can win the title here. I feel like at home, having played here for nine years.”

Mahut will next face qualifier Luke Saville, a former Wimbledon junior champion, who defeated Peter Polansky 6-4, 6-2 in 66 minutes.

Lleyton Hewitt, the 2002 Wimbledon champion, overcame the windy conditions to defeat American Ryan Harrison, prevailing 1-6, 7-5, 6-4 after two hours and 10 minutes. Both players dropped serve five times.

"At the start I tried to come out and play really clean tennis," he said. "It's totally different courts and conditions to playing in London. That was the hardest thing, so in the end, I just tried to win ugly more than anything. Just get balls back in play. With the wind out here on these courts, they're not bouncing as high as in England. It's a lot tougher out there. I wouldn't say it was the best-looking match, but I just found a way to win."

For a place in the quarter-finals, Hewitt will play Croatian qualifier Ante Pavic, a 7-6(0), 6-4 winner over Romanian Marius Copil.

Seventh seed Jack Sock, playing his first match since winning the Wimbledon doubles title with Vasek Pospisil on Saturday, defeated fellow American Alex Kuznetsov 6-4, 6-3.

Sergiy Stakhovsky lost three of his service points in a 6-3, 6-2 victory over Farrukh Dustov and will next tackle second seed Ivo Karlovic, who has hit 601 aces in 37 matches this year according to ATP MatchFacts.

Eighth seed Adrian Mannarino will challenge Dudi Sela after he beat Jimmy Wang 6-2, 6-4 in 64 minutes.

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© Ben Solomon

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