Denis Istomin saved all seven break points he faced on serve en route to a 6-2, 6-3 win over Australian Matthew Ebden in the first round of the Delray Beach Tennis Championships on Monday.
The 25-year-old from Uzbekistan avenged a loss to the Ebden in their only other career meeting in Brisbane, Australia, last year. South Africa-born Ebden won that contest in straight sets 6-4, 6-4.
Istomin hammered seven aces, won 77 percent of his first-serve points in the 78 minute match.
In other first-round matches on Monday, Ryan Sweeting routed Donald Young in an all-US match 6-1, 6-1, while Israel’s Dudi Sela defeated Denis Kudla of the US 6-4, 6-3.
The 82nd-ranked Sweeting is making his fourth appearance at the event. He reached the quarter-finals last year.
Istomin is ranked 51st in the world, which is just off his career-high ranking of 40th in 2010. He is 9-5 this year and two weeks ago he reached the final of the San Jose Open, where he lost to Canadian Milos Raonic.
Istomin advances to the second round where he is scheduled to play the winner of the match between veteran Andy Roddick of the US and Germany’s Philip Petzschner.
Istomin has played tennis since a young age, but he did not touch a racket for two years after suffering serious injuries in a car crash aged 15 while traveling to a Futures tournament in Tashkent, Uzbekistan.
He needed more than 80 stitches and spent three months in hospital after undergoing surgery for a badly damaged leg.
He resumed training in 2003 and won his first Challenger tournament two years later. He made his Grand Slam debut a year later at the Australian Open, losing in straight sets to then-world No. 1 Roger Federer.
The 1.88m tall Ebden had just two aces and made seven double faults as he struggled mightily on his serve, winning just 45 percent of his second-serve points.
Ebden was born in Durban, but he attended high school in Perth, Australia.
He is now a member of Australia’s Davis Cup team.
His father was a top cricket and tennis player in South Africa, and he has two sisters who were nationally-ranked tennis players.
? MEXICAN OPEN
AP, ACAPULCO, Mexico
Florian Mayer of Germany defeated Facundo Bagnis of Argentina 6-2, 6-4 to advance to the second round of the Mexican Open on Monday.
Fifth seed Mayer took advantage of seven aces to get past Bagnis in just over an hour at the Fairmont Acapulco Princess. Mayer had four break opportunities and converted three of them.
Also advancing was No. 7 seed Marcel Granollers of Spain, who defeated Brazil’s Thomaz Bellucci 6-4, 6-2.
Potito Starace beat Alessandro Giannessi 6-2, 7-5 in an all-Italian encounter, while Pablo Andujar of Spain ousted Leonardo Mayer of Argentina, 7-6 (7/5), 6-3.
On the women’s side, Melinda Czink of Hungary beat Canada’s Stephanie Dubois 7-6 (8/6), 6-3, while Stephanie Foretz Gacon defeated fellow Frenchwoman Mathilde Johansson 6-4, 7-6 (7/5).