Istomin beats Isner in Memphis, Nishikori and Hewitt through

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An early exit for John Isner at Memphis ATP tournament as he was beaten by Denis Istomin, whilst Kei Nishikori and Lleyton Hewitt advanced into second round.

Local favorite John Isner, who played San Jose semis last week, fell short in the first round of U.S. National Indoor Tennis Championships in Memphis. The 3rd-seeded American had defeated Istomin in their only previous ATP encounter, but let the Uzbek level their head-to-head score today. Nothing special happened until 3-3 in the opening set when the unseeded player was suddenly gifted two break point chances – he took advantage of the first one. Istomin, who is still without an ATP title, lost only one rally on his serve later in the set and even served it out with a game to love. It was going from bad to worse for Isner whose service games were under all sorts of pressure in the second set – he ultimately dropped two serves without ever producing a break ball himself. Istomin entered the second round after exactly one hour of play with a 6-4, 6-3 final score.

Seed no. 5 Nishikori put in a better performance and eliminated 146-th ranked Illya Marchenko of Ukraine. The latter broke back after suffering an early loss of serve in the first set, yet the Japanese favorite restored his one break advantage and served out the set with the third set ball. Marchenko nearly surprised his esteemed opponent in the set number two by escaping to 5-3, yet Nishikori survived the scare by responding with a couple of breaks on his own. In the end, he progressed into the next round with a hold to love. Not overly convincing display, yet a deserved 6-4, 7-5 victory for the Japanese.

Ex-number one Australian Hewitt managed to squeeze through to the second round after an adventurous battle against Taiwanese player Yen-Hsun Lu, ranked 72nd. Hewitt, currently occupying 107th place on ATP rankings, will want to forget the opener in which Lu broke him twice and glided to an easy first set triumph. The two-time Grand Slam winner seemed to be back on track in the following set as he acquired a double break lead by 4-1, yet he squandered his advantage in blink of an eye. He then braved two match balls at 6-5 for Lu and pulled off another comeback in the tie-breaker. The player exchanged breaks early in the decider, but in the end it was Hewitt who had stronger nerves and broke his challenger to love to grab a 2-6, 7-6 (3), 6-4 win. The match lasted almost two and a half hours.

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