Undeterred, Malisse remained very much in the match in the 2nd set, which saw both players winning an incredible 90% of points on their first serves. Given how well they were serving, the score crept up to 6-6 to trigger a tiebreak. In the ‘breaker’, Isner kept his composure and after taking it 7-5, he secured himself a 2-0 lead in the match and was well on his way to victory. Malisse, however, would not go down easy.
As Isner’s serve quality began to dip in the 3rd set, his opponent took full advantage, breaking him twice. Winning 100% of his points at the net, Malisse sealed the 3rd set win at 7-5 to extend the match at least one more set.
No stranger to long matches, Isner continued to battle for the win in what turned out to be a very entertaining 1st round match. Just as in the 2nd set, the 4th was taken to the tie break. The 9th seed was able to pull through in the final tense moments of the match to win his second ‘breaker’ of the match, booking himself a place in the second round of the tournament.
Isner will play Jarkko Nieminen of Finland next, whose 1st round opponent Mikhail Kukushkin retired after 2 sets.
Elsewhere in action was American Brian Baker, who has returned to the U.S. Open for the first time in 7 years. Baker’s career has been riddled with injuries, but the American has shown some good form this season. He defeated Jan Hajek in straight sets to make it into the 2nd round. Coming back from a set down, Australian veteran Lleyton Hewitt was also a winner today against Tobias Kamke of Germany.