• Isner meets Nieminen, Gulbis hopes to build on win

    8/31/12 4:39 AM | Ricky Dimon
    Isner meets Nieminen, Gulbis hopes to build on win John Isner will contest his second-round U.S. Open match on Friday against Jarkko Nieminen. Ernests Gulbis is also back in action after stunning Tommy Haas, as he faces Steve Johnson.

    Jarkko Nieminen vs. (9) John Isner

    Nieminen and Isner will be going head-to-head for the fourth time in their careers when they clash in round two of the U.S. Open on Friday. Unfortunately for Nieminen, this is their fourth straight meeting on Isner's favorite surface--American hard courts. The 6'9'' American prevailed in the first round of the 2007 U.S. Open, then in Memphis in 2010, and against last summer in Winston-Salem.

    Isner is up to No. 10 in the world thanks to a 42-15 record for the season. New York's ninth seed, coming off another title in Winston-Salem, held off Xavier Malisse 6-3, 7-6(5), 5-7, 7-6(9) on Wednesday. Nieminen advanced via retirement after leading Mikhail Kukushkin 6-0, 6-2 in his opener. The 42nd-ranked Finn is a decent 20-21 for his 2012 campaign. Look for Isner to get the job done in four sets.

    (WC) Steve Johnson vs. Ernests Gulbis

    Gulbis has been here before; and not just in the second round of the U.S. Open. The Latvian scored a huge win in his Wimbledon opener, upsetting Tomas Berdych in three consecutive tiebreakers. But Gulbis flamed out in his very next match to unheralded Jerzy Janowicz. Now the world No. 145 is coming off a Wednesday shocker against Tommy Haas, in which he prevailed 3-6, 4-6, 6-4, 7-5, 6-3. Gulbis, who reached the fourth round in Flushing Meadows five years ago, is a disappointing 14-16 for the season.

    As he attempts to do what he could not at the All-England Club, Gulbis finds Johnson standing in his way. The two-time NCAA champion is just now starting his professional career and he picked up his first ATP-level win in Atlanta. Johnson, who led Southern California to four consecutive NCAA team titles, earned another by ousting fellow American Rajeev Ram 6-3, 7-6(5), 6-3 in round one. Don't be surprised if Johnson, who completely dominated the college ranks, gets his biggest pro victory after five hard-hitting sets.

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