John Isner gave the Winston-Salem Open crowd exactly what they anticipated on Tuesday night: big forehands and bigger serves. The tournament's No. 1 seed defeated compatriot Bradley Klahn- who squeaked by Wake commit Noah Rubin on Sunday night- 7-6 (5), 6-2.
Klahn gave the Greensboro-native some trouble in the first set, with his biting lefty serve and his low, backhand slice which the 6-10 Isner had trouble handling. However, both players held serve, resulting in a first set tiebreaker.
Isner quickly fell down a mini-break at 2-2, missing a forehand approach shot. But he immediately rebounded, winning both of Klahn's service points with his overpowering forehand. Isner followed it up by winning his two service points, including a blistering 136 mph ace. Serving at 3-6, the wily Klahn responded with two service winners of his own.
Serving for the set, Isner threw a 111 mph, high-bouncing kick serve, which caught Klahn off guard to take the set. Returning this devastating serve is like hitting an 85 mph curveball when expecting a 98 mph heater.
After what Isner called a "shaky first set," Isner opened the second set with a break of serve and quickly got out to a 4-0 lead. The 29-year-old played solid from the backcourt, forcing Klahn to make mistakes, and continued to unload his serve to close out the match.
When asked how he could have prepared for Isner's serve, Klahn, the former NCAA Singles Champion, said, "Have my coach stand two feet from the net, I guess."
Isner felt confident about the state of his game heading into the tournament's round of 16 and the US Open less than a week away.
"My game is fine. It's where I want it to be. I feel good and healthy on the court. It's not rocket science. I don’t need to feel ball unbelievably well. Really for me it's just being healthy as possible.”
Isner plays again tomorrow night on Center Court against the No. 13 seed Mikhail Kukushkin of Kazakhstan.
Earlier in the day, American Donald Young moved on to round of 16 with a 6-1, 6-3 win over Frank Dancevic. The southpaw dictated play with his forehand and served well throughout the match. The No. 46 player in the world has had success in the Winston-Salem Open in the past and had only great things to say about the tournament, "This is where I broke my streak of losing 17 in a row [in 2012]. I like it here. It's south. It's pretty calm. The people are great." Young plays the No. 5 seed Guillermo Garcia-Lopez tomorrow.
Sam Querrey also advanced, defeating fellow American Steve Johnson 6-3, 6-4 on Center Court. Querrey, who described his summer as "pretty average" has reeled together two nice wins back-to-back. After some near upsets versus perennial Top 20 players Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Kei Nishikori earlier this summer, the tour veteran will have another shot tomorrow against the No. 2 seed Kevin Anderson.
After winning the first set 6-3 and on serve in the second, Ryan Harrison retired due to shoulder spasms versus No. 7 seed Lukas Rosol. Derailed by injuries all year, the 22-year-old peaked at No. 43 in the world in 2012, but has dropped to No. 184. His US Open status is up in the air, "I will try to fight it and get it ready the next few days... but you don't want to put yourself in a position where you're risking long-term health."