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Isner powers past Malisse at Open de Nice

ESPN staff
May 23, 2012 « Audley compares Joshua to Foreman | Chartbeat test »
John Isner served well against Xavier Malisse © PA Photos
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Top seed John Isner relied heavily upon on his serve as he advanced from the second round of the Open de Nice on Wednesday.

Isner faced Belgium's Xavier Malisse in an intriguing clash of styles, and ultimately it was the American's power that made the difference. In a match of no service breaks, Isner took two tiebreakers to win 7-6(3) 7-6(5).

Malisse brings court craft to a tennis match and is arguably a more rounded player than his rival. However, Isner was able to hit 13 aces en route to winning 46 of 54 points on his first delivery as neither man even created a break point in the contest.

By contrast, Nikolay Davydenko's 6-4 1-6 6-3 victory over Denis Istomin produced ten service breaks, five to each player. The fact that Davydenko won only two more points than his rival in the entire contest shows how tight the match was, but the Russian's superior angles made the difference as the seventh seed departed.

The big shock came in the day's late match, which saw fourth-seeded wildcard Gael Monfils beaten by qualifier Brian Baker. Ranked 216 in the world, Baker beat the world No. 14 6-3 7-6(9), creating 16 break points in the match.

Elsewhere, there were wins for Gilles Simon and Thomaz Bellucci.

At the World Team Cup, Argentina and Czech Republic set up a shootout to qualify for the weekend's final from the Red Group, after they beat Japan and USA respectively on Wednesday. Carlos Berlocq beat Go Soeda in straight sets to give Argentina an insurmountable 2-0 lead against Japan, while the Czechs completed a 3-0 rout of USA as Radek Stepanek and Frantisek Cermak beat Andy Roddick and Ryan Harrison 7-6(5) 5-7 10-8.

The Blue Group will be decided by a meeting between Germany and Serbia, who defeated Croatia and Russia in the second round of matches. Philipp Kohlschreiber overcame Lovro Zovko 6-2 7-6(2) to complete Germany's victory, while Serbia had already sealed their triumph prior to a doubles loss on Wednesday.

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