Isner overcomes Malisse in 1st round of 2012 US Open, Baker also through

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As the top ranked American in the men’s draw, 9th seed John Isner has a lot of pressure riding on his shoulders as he enters the U.S. Open.  He was challenged in his 1st round match by Belgian veteran Xavier Malisse who forced the 27 year old Isner to a 4 sets, with the American eventually prevailing 6-3  7-6 (5)  5-7  7-6 (9).
The 57th ranked Malisse stayed with Isner from the start of the match and did well to manage his opponent’s lightning serves and groundstrokes.  After the Belgian dropped his serve once in the 1st set, Isner paved his way to a 6-3 lead in the match.

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.

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