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John Isner Kicks Off 2011 Australian Open with First-Round Win

Lauren LynchCorrespondent IIJanuary 18, 2011

Tennis Now
Tennis NowJulian Finney/Getty Images

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A day after one of his contemporaries fell out of contention and another had to go five sets to survive, American John Isner showed no signs of doing either, as he routed France's Florent Serra 6-3, 7-6(8), 6-3 in a first-round match at the Australian Open Tuesday.

Isner slammed 26 aces and hit 81 percent of his first serve winners in advancing to the second round, where he will take on the Czech Republic's Radek Stepanek on Thursday. 

It was a day of few upsets on the men's side, with No. 1 Rafael Nadal utterly dominating Marcos Daniel 6-0, 5-0 (ret.), hitting 16 of 19 first serves for winners and also 24 of 26 receiving points. Nadal broke Daniel six times in six opportunities.

Also looking sharp were No. 4 Robin Soderling, a 6-4, 6-2, 6-2 winner, and Andy Murray, who advanced 6-3, 6-1, 4-2 (ret.). 

The only upset of the day came courtesy Benjamin Becker, who thrashed on-again, off-again talent Ernests Gulbis, seeded 24th, in straight sets, 7-6(5), 6-2, 6-4. Gulbis served better overall, but six double faults combined with Becker breaking him four out of six times spelled certain doom for the talented young Latvian.

While Gulbis went down meekly, 13th-seeded Jo-Wilfried Tsonga had to fight for his life to overcome Philipp Petzschner in five. After dropping the first two sets, the top-ranked Frenchman rallied to take a dramatic 4-6, 2-6, 6-2, 6-3, 6-4 victory.

Also pulling a five-set rabbit out of his hat was No. 21 seed Marcos Baghdatis, who sweated out a 3-6, 7-5, 6-1, 4-6, 6-2 win over Slovakia's Grega Zemija.

The feel-good win of the day came from Argentina's Juan Martin del Potro, who won an epic first set over Israel's Dudi Sela, 7-6 (15-13), and proceeded for the sweep, with a pair of 6-4s in the next two battles. Del Potro draws Baghdatis in the next round.

Other advancing seeds included No. 31 Feliciano Lopez, No. 10 Mikhail Youzhny, No. 11 Jurgen Melzer, No. 22 Michael Llodra, No. 15 Marin Cilic, No. 7 David Ferrer and No. 32 Guillermo Garcia-Lopez.

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