10/11/12 4:12 PM | Ricky Dimon
Radek Stepanek upsets John Isner in three sets during third-round action on Thursday in Shanghai. Stepanek will once again play the underdog role in a quarterfinal clash against Andy Murray.
Radek Stepanek continued his run at the Shanghai Rolex Masters with a 6-4, 6-7(5), 6-3 victory over John Isner on Thursday afternoon. Stepanek, who ousted Richard Gasquet in round two, held all 16 of his service games to advance in two hours and 27 minutes.
Isner was nowhere near dominant on serve from the beginning and it caught up with him at 3-3 in the first set. The 12th-ranked American netted a backhand on Stepanek's second break chance to fall into an early hole. That was easily enough for Stepanek, who lost only six points in five service games and closed out the opener in routine fashion at 5-4.
After a questionable call in the ninth game of the previous set sent Stepanek into a tirade at Mohamed Lahyahi, Isner seemed to play with more inspiration. It paid off in the second, during which the No. 8 seed dropped a mere seven points in six service games. Isner failed to convert his lone break chance early in the set, but he did enough in the ensuing tiebreaker. A single mini-break was the difference, and it went to Isner at 5-5 courtesy of a wild Stepanek forehand.
Stepanek quickly regained the momentum in set three. The 33-year-old Czech missed a 0-30 opening at 1-0, but he earned a crucial break at 3-2 by capitalizing on his third opportunity on an errant Isner forehand. Stepanek held his last two service games with ease to finish the job.
Isner wrapped up his effort with 17 aces and two double-faults, but he won only 70 percent of his first-serve points and 59 percent when he had to throw in a second delivery. He played six sets in Shanghai and never broke serve, having previously outlasted Kevin Anderson in three tiebreakers on Tuesday.
Stepanek recorded four aces and two double-faults. He will go up against world No. 3 Andy Murray in the quarterfinals.
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