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The Journal Gazette

Wednesday, February 13, 2013 9:19 pm

Falla outlasts Cipolla in first round of SAP Open


Alejandro Falla overcame a slow start and then almost blew a big lead before outlasting Flavio Cipolla 7-6 (1), 7-6 (10) on Wednesday in the first round of the SAP Open.

After falling into a 4-1 deficit in the first set, the Colombian rolled off four straight games and blew away Cipolla in the tiebreaker. Falla took a 5-2 lead in the second and held off the Italian in a topsy-turvy tiebreaker to end a grueling 2-hour, 35-minute match on the indoor hard court.

Falla will face Australia's Marinko Matosevic in the second round.

Hard-serving headliner John Isner was scheduled to face Canada's Vasek Pospisil in the night session. The 16th-ranked Isner, part of the U.S. team that beat Brazil last weekend to advance to the Davis Cup quarterfinals, had a first-round bye.

The top American is hoping for a strong West Coast comeback.

Isner lost to Thomaz Bellucci to send the U.S. and Brazil to a deciding fifth match Sunday, when Sam Querrey sealed the victory for the Americans by beating Thiago Alves indoors in Jacksonville, Fla. Isner also had to pull out of the Australian Open just before the Grand Slam event begin last month because of a bone bruising in his right knee.

Isner had a year-end best No. 14 world ranking and a career-high $1,354,332 in earnings in 2012. But the 6-foot-9 Isner hasn't played on the ATP World Tour since a two-set loss to fellow American Ryan Harrison in the second round in Sydney on Jan. 9.

Isner's not the only strong server in San Jose, either.

Two-time defending SAP Open champion Milos Raonic is the top seed in the draw, setting up the possibility of a power-packed final should both advance. The 13th-ranked Raonic also had an opening-round bye. The Canadian will play in the second round Thursday night against Michael Russell, who won an All-American matchup over qualifier Donald Young 6-3, 7-5.

Also Wednesday, Australian Matthew Ebden beat qualifier Rik de Voest 6-2, 7-5. Croatia's Ivo Karlovic was playing wild-card Steve Johnson, and fourth-seeded Tommy Haas of Germany was scheduled to face Canada's Jesse Levine.