AUCKLAND, New Zealand (AP)French qualifier Gregoire Berrere weathered storms on and off the court to beat two-time champion John Isner 6-7 (3), 7-6 (5), 6-3 in the first round of the ASB Classic in New Zealand.
Matches were moved indoors Tuesday as tropical Cyclone Hale battered Auckland with gale-force winds and rain. The move suited Berrere who considers indoor hardcourts his best surface. The tournament is a warm-up event for the Australian Open, which starts next week.
Berrere also had to endure the American’s powerful serves. Isner had 28 aces but Berrere was patient and prevailed.
Isner is 12 aces away from becoming the first player to serve 14,000 aces in ATP Tour and Grand Slam events.
The win was Berrere’s first in 23 attempts against a top-50 opponent. Isner currently is ranked 37, off his career high of No. 8 in 2016.
”I’m feeling good, actually I’m feeling great,” Berrere said. ”I trained a lot last week because I lost in the first round of my last tournament so I tried to prepare for this tournament.
”I have a good feeling here and I think I played very well. This morning when I knew we were going indoors I was quite happy because I knew it was my best court so even playing against Isner who I knew served very well.”
Berrere knew the challenge of playing Isner and prepared himself for it, concentrating on his return of serve. He came up with the crucial point of the match when he struck a cross-court winner from Isner’s second serve for 5-3 in the deciding set. Berrere then comfortably held serve to take the match in just over two hours.
”I think I did a pretty good match, even though I broke only once in the third set,” Berrere said. ”It can be very frustrating (to play against the big-serving Isner). But it’s his game, I have my game and I have to accept it and focus on me, on my serve game.
Berrere faces compatriot Constant Lestienne in the second round.
American Chris Eubanks, also a qualifier, beat defending champion Ugo Umbert 7-6 (5), 7-6 (3).
The 26-year-old Eubanks also wields a powerful serve and stuck with Humbert through a tight match before taking a decisive 6-1 lead early in the second set tiebreaker.
”I was playing some pretty good ball throughout the course of the match and I think just being comfortable playing a lot of tiebreakers based on my game,” Eubanks said. ”I showed that to pretty good effect today.”
Earlier, American Marcos Giron rallied from a set down to beat Federico Coria of Argentina 6-7 (5), 6-4, 7-5.
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