ISNER AND ANDERSON TO MEET IN QUARTERFINAL

ISNER AND ANDERSON TO MEET IN QUARTERFINAL

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ISNER AND ANDERSON TO MEET IN QUARTERFINAL

[column size=”00-1″ last=”1″ style=”1″]Haas Reaches Quarterfinal, Querrey Upset
by Steve Dorsey

DELRAY BEACH, Fla. – The reigning champion and this year’s No. 1 seed stayed on course for a showdown against each other by winning their respective matches Thursday night at the ATP World Tour’s Delray Beach International Tennis Championships.

Top-seeded American John Isner ousted Go Soeda of Japan in straight sets in the nightcap after South African Kevin Anderson, the defending Delray Beach ITC champion and No. 6 seed here this year, advanced with a three-set victory against Yen-Hsun Lu of Chinese Taipei.

That was a reversal of fortune compared to the afternoon session when two seeded players – No. 3 Sam Querrey and No. 8 Xavier Malisse – lost their second-round matches.

Isner, ranked No. 15 in the world, lost in the first round at Memphis last week but has bounced back with two wins here to set up a showdown against Anderson, who beat Isner in the semifinals here last year en route to winning the tournament.

“I have my hands full,” Isner said of his quarterfinal pairing against Anderson. “I felt like if I could have won that match, I would have won this tournament last year, and now I’m playing him in the quarters. I wish he was ranked a little higher. I haven’t had much success at all against his serve the last three or four times I’ve played him.”

Isner said the cool temperatures that dipped into the mid-60s Thursday night “polarized” him in the first set of his 7-6(2), 6-2 win against Soeda.

“Actually, it was conditions that I quite like, but I wasn’t used to it in the beginning, and it became a battle” Isner said. “Like a hundred times before, my serve kept me in that set and allowed me to win that set. And from that point, I told myself I would need to play more aggressive.”

Anderson won his second match of the tournament with a 6-4, 3-6, 6-3 win against Lu. Only five weeks removed from right elbow surgery, Anderson is playing in his first tournament since reaching the fourth round at the Australian Open.

“It’s good,” Anderson said of his elbow. “Just playing competition again puts a little different stress on it that it isn’t quite used to yet. I just have to monitor it. It was fine today. It fatigues more easily, but I just have to build that level of endurance.”

The temperature was not the only thing that cooled off here Thursday as two more seeds fell in second-round afternoon matches.

The biggest upset was registered by Latvian qualifier Ernests Gulbis, the No. 109-ranked player in the world who sent Querrey to an early exit with a 6-4, 4-6, 7-6(4) win. Earlier in the day, Malisse lost to qualifier Daniel Munoz-De La Nava.

Tommy Haas, the No. 2 seed, breezed into the quarterfinals, but four of the eight seeds here have been ousted in the first two rounds.

Querrey appeared to be on his way to the quarterfinals when he broke serve twice and led 4-0 in the third set, but Gulbis didn’t quit and pulled off the comeback upset when Querrey double-faulted on match point, his eighth of the match.

Gulbis displayed his emotions when he slammed and broke his racket in the second set and was docked a point for cursing in the third set. Gulbis made no apologies for letting his emotions show.

“I didn’t sleep for basically three days before coming here, and fighting through qualies . . . it is how it is,” said Gulbis, who captured his first ATP World Tour singles title here in 2010. “Physically, I feel really good with my game. Every point I get now is big for me. I just have to play better to get into the main draw.”

Querrey was frustrated with his play, particularly in the third set, but faced the music at the post-match interview with reporters.

“I’m pretty bummed,” Querrey said. “I thought I had him on the ropes (at 4-0 in third set). I thought (Gulbis) did a good job of returning today. The double faults killed me. I usually don’t do that. It’s just one of those days, one of those matches. I was hoping to have a good week. The good thing is I have 10 days before I play at Indian Wells. Hopefully, I’ll have it out of my head by then.”

Haas, 34, who has overcome a rash of injuries during his career, including hip surgery two years ago, was the ATP Comeback Player of the Year in 2012. He has vaulted to No. 19 entering the week here where he won the title in 2006.

“I still feel like I can do some good things on the court,” Haas said after his 6-4, 6-1 win against Denis Istomin. “It was different from two days ago with the cool weather (Thursday).”

Malisse has more match wins (26) at the Delray Beach ITC than any other player in the field here this week, but he failed to add to that total when Munoz-De La Nava ousted the No. 50-ranked Malisse 7-6(3), 3-6, 6-3 in the continuation of their second-round match that was suspended Wednesday because of rain.

Munoz-De La Nava, making his debut in Delray Beach, advances to the quarterfinals for the second time in his ATP World Tour career and the Spaniard next faces Gulbis in an all-qualifiers match on Friday.

Ricardas Berankis is making the most of his lucky loser entry into the main draw. The Lithuanian and Bradenton, Fla., resident moved into the quarterfinals with a 3-6, 6-4, 6-1 win against American wild card Jack Sock.

Berankis, who is ranked No. 87 in the world, will face Frenchman Edouard Roger-Vasselin on Friday. Roger-Vasselin, who is ranked No. 105, defeated Ivo Karlovic 6-4, 7-5.

Croatian Ivan Dodig also moved into the quarterfinals with a 6-3, 7-5 win against Evgeny Donskoy, setting up a match Friday against Haas.

Two doubles matches were played Thursday. Johan Brunstrom and Raven Klaasen teamed to defeat Tomasz Bednarek and Marinko Matosevic 5-7, 7-5, 10-5. Americans James Blake and Jack Sock won their first-round match against Colin Fleming and John Peers 6-2, 3-6, 10-7.
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