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John Isner only knows one way to win at the Legg Mason Tennis Classic—in a third-set tiebreaker.
Last year, Isner won five matches with a third-set tiebreaker—three against seeded players—to reach the final, where he lost to top-seeded Andy Roddick. This year, he pulled an upset again in, yep, a third-set tiebreaker.
“I can’t seem to win them any way else,” Isner said. “It’s the same story as last year.”
Isner defeated eighth-seeded Marcel Granollers 6-3, 6-7 (5), 7-6 (1). It was one of two upsets against seeded players Monday evening—Bobby Reynolds beat No. 7 seed Marc Gicquel 7-6 (2), 3-6, 6-4.
Isner won the first six points against Granollers in the tiebreaker, and clinched the victory when he returned Isner’s 133 mph serve into the net. The match lasted two hours and eight minutes.
“It has to be this tournament,” Isner said. “This is the only tournament I do this at time in and time out.”
Fourth-seeded Tommy Haas, the highest-seeded player in action on the first full day of the tournament, defeated qualifier Rik De Voest 6-4, 4-6, 6-1 to advance to the second round.
“I just started converting on the big points much better,” said Haas.
In the first Center Court match of the day, qualifier Somdev Devvarman earned his first ATP win 7-6 (3), 2-6, 6-1 over Taylor Dent.
Devvarman is a two-time NCAA singles champion—he won the 2007 title by defeating Isner, then a senior at Georgia. Devvarman joined the professional tour in June after graduating from Virginia but has played primarily in Futures and Challengers events.
“I was a little nervous out there, to be honest with you,” Devvarman said. “But after the first few games, that wore off.”
Devvarman lost in the first round of the Legg Mason tournament the past two years. In 2006 he was granted a wild-card entry into the field, and last year he qualified for a berth.
Dent, a wild-card entry in the tournament, was making his second appearance since two operations to repair broken vertebrae last year. He also lost in the first round of the Hall of Fame Tennis Championships in Newport, R.I., in July. Dent won four ATP Tour events and reached No. 21 in the world in 2005 before his injuries.
In other matches, Dudi Sela defeated Vincent Spadea 7-6 (6), 6-3; Florent Serra defeated Uladzimir Ignatik 7-6 (3), 6-3 and Donald Young beat Luis Horna 6-3, 6-1.
Five of the top six seeds are in action Tuesday, including top-seeded Roddick and No. 2-seeded Juan Martin del Potro, who defeated Roddick on Sunday in Los Angeles.