Top seed and defending champion John Isner beat qualifier Sergei Bubka of Ukraine 7-6 (7/3), 4-6, 6-3 in the first round at the Hall of Fame Tennis Championships on Tuesday.
Isner, ranked 11th in the world entering the week, is scheduled to face Nicolas Mahut in the next round. The pair met in the longest match in tennis history — 11 hours, 5 minutes — before Isner’s 70-68 fifth-set victory in 2010 at Wimbledon.
“We can’t avoid each other on grass,” Isner joked about his pairing against Mahut. “I should have won my first-round match at Wimbledon [last month] and we would have faced each other.”
Isner knows he has to play better to advance. He felt like he was having trouble with Newport’s grass surface most of the match against Bubka.
“I didn’t quite have my feet under me,” he said. “I wasn’t used to the court. That’s something that comes with playing matches.”
In the third game of the final set, Isner struggled to hold serve. When the game was over, the crowd became noticeably louder, trying to help him pick up momentum.
After Bubka double-faulted in the eighth game, Isner closed it with a backhand winner, going up 5-3 in the set. He closed out the match with a service winner.
Second seed Kei Nishikori also advanced with a 6-4, 6-4 win over Igor Sijsling of the Netherlands.
In other first-round play, third seed Milos Raonic of Canada rallied past Australian Matthew Ebden 3-6, 6-3, 7-5; Sam Querrey of the US, continuing his comeback from elbow surgery last year, ousted No. 5 seed Alex Bogomolov Jr of Russia 7-5, 7-6 (7/5); Tim Smyczek of the US beat No. 4 Denis Istomin 6-3, 6-3; and 2009 Newport champion Rajeev Ram defeated Grega Zemlja 6-3, 6-1.
Izak van der Merwe outlasted eighth seed Gilles Muller 7-6 (7/5), 6-7 (3/7), 6-4; while Jesse Levine beat Marinko Matosevic 6-2, 7-6 (10/8) and former world No. 1 Lleyton Hewitt coasted past Canada’s Vasek Pospisil 6-1, 6-1.
AP, UMAG, Croatia
Croatian wild-card Mate Pavic upset sixth seed Juan Carlos Ferrero in the first round of the Croatia Open on Tuesday, beating the former champion 6-2, 6-2.
The 19-year-old Pavic saved all four break points he faced and converted four out of the six he earned.
“My coach told me to play my game and not pay attention to the fact that is a former No. 1,” Pavic said. “This win means so much.”
Earlier on Tuesday, Potito Starace beat Slovakian qualifier Ivo Klec 6-3, 7-6 (8/6) to advance to the second round.
In another upset, Wayne Odesnik of the US beat eighth seed Edouard Roger-Vasselin of France 6-7 (4/7), 6-2, 7-5.
Blaz Kavcic of Slovenia, Fabio Fognini of Italy and Marco Trungelliti of Argentina also advanced.
Fognini, a semi-finalist in 2008 and last year, defeated Karol Beck of Slovakia 6-3, 6-1; Kavcic downed Croatia’s Antonio Veic 6-2, 6-2; and Trungelliti beat Paolo Lorenzi of Italy 7-5, 6-4.
In late matches, fifth seed Carlos Berlocq of Argentina eased past Croatia’s Ivan Dodig 6-4, 6-0; Daniel Brands of Germany defeated Italian Walter Trusendi 6-1, 7-6 (10/8); and Ernests Gulbis of Latvia beat Spain’s Gorka Fraile 6-1, 6-3.
AP, STUTTGART, Germany
Big-serving Lukas Rosol beat fifth seed Robin Haase of the Netherlands 6-4, 7-5 on Tuesday to advance to the second round of the Mercedes Cup.
Rosol stunned Rafael Nadal in the second round of Wimbledon earlier this month. He served 12 aces and won 91 percent of his first-serve points against Haase.