John Isner was on the brink of defeat Monday evening in Acapulco, but the American served his way out of trouble and into the second round.
The 36-year-old saved a match point at 2-5 in the third set before rallying past Spanish wild card Fernando Verdasco 7-5, 6-7(4), 7-6(3) after three hours and 14 minutes at the Abierto Mexicano Telcel presentado por HSBC.
After taking a tough second-set tie-break, Verdasco had all the momentum. Isner trailed 2-5 in the decider and 30/40 on his serve. But with his back against the wall, the American hit a forehand drop volley from an awkward position to stay alive.
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Isner then raised his level to break back in the next game before eventually winning in a final-set tie-break. Verdasco hit sensational returns throughout the match against one of the best servers in tennis history, but Isner’s 29 aces were too much to overcome.
Another American had less difficulty Monday evening. Seventh seed Taylor Fritz defeated Frenchman Adrian Mannarino 6-3, 6-3 in one hour and 33 minutes to set a second-round clash against Spanish wild card Feliciano Lopez or Japanese qualifier Yoshihito Nishioka.
Two younger Americans fell short in their openers. Sebastian Korda served for his match against Dusan Lajovic, but the Serbian stormed back for a 6-4, 4-6, 7-5 victory after two hours and 42 minutes. German Peter Gojowczyk, a lucky loser, dismissed Brandon Nakashima 6-4, 6-4.