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  • Isner, Fish begin Houston campaigns

    4/11/12 7:28 PM | Ricky Dimon
    Isner, Fish begin Houston campaigns John Isner and Mardy Fish will contest their Houston openers on Thursday. They are set for respective meetings with Horacio Zeballos and Michael Russell.

    (Q) Horacio Zeballos vs. (2) John Isner

    Zeballos and Isner on Thursday will be meeting for the second consecutive year at this very same stage--the second round of the U.S. Men's Clay Court Championships. Isner won that encounter 7-5, 6-3 to improve his head-to-head record against Zeballos to 2-0. The 6'9'' American also survived their 2010 Rome matchup 4-6, 7-6(5), 7-5.

    It will be difficult for Zeballos to turn the tide because Isner is in rare form right now. The world No. 10 is showing extreme prowess on clay, having won three Davis Cup rubbers already this season over Roger Federer, Gilles Simon, and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga. Zeballos has been slumping of late, but he qualified for the Houston main draw and defeated Adrian Ungur 6-3, 6-3 on Tuesday. Count on Isner advancing in straight sets.

    (1) Mardy Fish vs. (Q) Michael Russell

    Fish and Russell will also be squaring off for the third time in their careers at the ATP level when they clash during second-round action on Thursday. Both of their clashes went Fish's way; 6-2, 7-6(1) on the clay courts of Rome in 2010 and 6-1, 6-2 just a few months later on the Newport grass.

    It has already been a good week for Russell, who qualified for the main draw then overcame Daniel Gimeno-Traver 2-6, 7-5, 6-1 on Tuesday night. The 33-year-old American is now 3-4 at the ATP level this season. Fish is struggling mightily to build on a 2011 campaign that saw him qualify for the World Tour Finals. Even after reaching the Miami quarterfinals, the world No. 9 is just 7-5 for the year. An upset is possible, but Fish in two competitive sets is the pick.


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