10/9/12 3:33 PM | Ricky Dimon
John Isner outlasts Kevin Anderson in a three-setter that featured zero breaks and a total of four match points saved across two different sets. Isner will face either Richard Gasquet or Radek Stepanek on Thursday in Shanghai.
John Isner was not at the top of his game heading into the Shanghai Rolex Masters, but he was up to his old tricks on Tuesday.
Isner outlasted Kevin Anderson 7-6(3), 6-7(8), 7-6(7) in a second-round thriller that lasted two hours and 45 minutes. The No. 8 seed missed one match point in the second set but saved three in the third-set tiebreaker before finally advancing.
This one was a serve-fest right from the start, but never more than it was in the first set. Neither man faced a break point along the way. Anderson had a slight upper hand the whole time, winning all 19 of his first-serve points. In fact, the 6'8'' South African still won more points in the set (35-34) despite getting blown out in the tiebreaker.
Set two was all even. Isner saved three break points, Anderson fought off one break point, and both players finished with 46 points won. Anderson survived a match point in the ensuing tiebreaker before taking it 10 points to eight to appropriately force a decider.
This time Anderson almost turned the tables from the first set. Isner had been cruising, dominating on serve and earning three break points at his opponent's expense, but the world No. 38 had every reason to win the 'breaker. Anderson gave back a mini-break at 5-3 and still had match points at 6-4, 6-5, and 7-6, but he could not finish the job.
"I know I easily could have lost that one," Isner admitted, stating the obvious. "Really we both served well. It came down to a few points here or there, and I was able to pull it out. I served well enough to maybe win in two sets, but I had to win in three. I'm very, very excited to get through."
The 12th-ranked American recorded 24 aces and three double-faults while serving at 78 percent. Anderson wrapped up his effort with 21 aces and two doubles at 70 percent serving. Both men won 86 percent of their first-serve points.
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