Tennis

Isner beats Lu to win Auckland title before Australian Open

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The Canadian Press
1/11/2014 1:21:46 AM
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MELBOURNE, Australia -- John Isner fired 23 aces in a match which had no service breaks to beat Lu Yen-hsun of Taiwan 7-6 (4), 7-6 (7) in the final of the ATP's Heineken Open in Auckland on Saturday.

Isner, ranked No. 14, won his eighth career singles title and took the title in New Zealand for the second time after his victory in 2010.

The match was similar to Isner's quarterfinal victory over fifth-seeded Philipp Kohlschreiber which went to three sets, all tiebreaks and contained no breaks of serve. Isner played six tiebreaks in 10 sets at the tournament and won five.

The third-seeded Isner, playing with a right ankle injury he picked up at the Hopman Cup the previous week, took a crucial minibreak to open the first set tiebreaker. In the second tiebreaker, he rallied from 3-0 down and closed with an ace on his third championship point.

"This match was very tight as every match I've played this week was very tight," Isner said. "I needed every bit of it to come out on top.

"I've spent a lot of time on this court this week but as each match progressed I was getting more and more comfortable."

Isner heads into the Australian Open with a question mark hanging over his fitness because of his injured ankle. He has drawn a qualifier in the first round.

"I'd like to thank my chiropractor because I had a bit of a banged-up ankle coming in here and he spent tireless hours working on me," he said. "Without him I wouldn't have been able to take this court."

In the final of the Kooyong Classic exhibition event, Japan's Kei Nishikori joined his coach Michael Chang as a tournament champion with a 6-4, 7-5 win over Tomas Berdych.

Nishikori, seeded No. 16 at the Australian Open, was watched in the stands by former French Open champion Chang, a three-time winner at the Melbourne venue in 1995-97.

Nishikori is drawn to face Australia's Marinko Matosevic in the first round of the Australian Open.

"It won't be an easy first match, and it's not easy to play an Australian," Nishikori said. "But if I can play like I did today, I have a big chance to win."

In the WTA event at Hobart, Spanish qualifier Garbine Muguruza defeated Klara Zakapalova of the Czech Republic 6-4, 6-0 to claim her first singles title.

The 20-year-old Muguzura, who did not drop a set from the qualifiers to the final, joins 2012 champion Mona Barthel as the only qualifiers to win the Hobart event.

Muguruza, ranked 58th, beat second-seeded and Wimbledon semifinalist Kirsten Flipkens in the quarterfinals, while Zakapalova defeated top-seeded and former U.S. Open champion Sam Stosur in the semis.

Muguruza won the opening set when she broke Zakapalova's service in the 10th game.

The 20-year-old Muguruza didn't play after Wimbledon last year after due to right ankle surgery, and the recovery took longer than expected.

"I started to play on a chair, and then it was a little bit more until I was like normal," she said. "I didn't expect to win a lot of matches in the second tournament of the year but I just know that I'd worked so hard before. I was like a big bull."

The Venezuelan-born Muguruza has a first-round match against Kaia Kanepi of Estonia at the Australian Open.

John Isner  (Photo: Anthony Au-Yeung/Getty Images)

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(Photo: Anthony Au-Yeung/Getty Images)
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