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John Isner survives challenge of foul-mouthed Xavier Malisse

August 29, 2012|By Diane Pucin
  • John Isner defeated Xavier Malisse, 6-3, 7-6 (5), 5-7, 7-6 (9), on Wednesday in the first round of the U.S. Open.
John Isner defeated Xavier Malisse, 6-3, 7-6 (5), 5-7, 7-6 (9), on Wednesday… (Mel C. Evans / Associated…)

NEW YORK — John Isner, the top-seeded American man in the U.S. Open main draw at No. 9, survived the crafty shot-making and continual temper tantrums displayed by 32-year-old Belgian veteran Xavier Malisse on Wednesday in a first-round singles match.

Isner won, 6-3, 7-6 (5), 5-7, 7-6 (9), and kept his mouth shut when Malisse couldn't. Among many rants, Malisse told the Arthur Ashe Stadium crowd, in an impolite way, to keep its collective mouth shut; was disgruntled when suite-holders didn't keep their doors shut and acted stunned when fans weren't back in their seats promptly after changeovers, as if he had never been in New York before.

Malisse's antics overshadowed what seemed like a tired-looking performance from Isner, who won a title at Winston-Salem, N.C., just last week. Malisse hadn't made it to the second round here since 2007.

Advancing more comfortably into the second round was another American, unseeded Brian Baker, a 27-year-old who made it into the main draw of the Open for the first time this year. From November 2005 to July 2011, Baker underwent five surgeries on his hips and elbow and started this season ranked No. 458 in the world. He now has a career-high ranking of No. 70 and he made it to the fourth round of Wimbledon after qualifying for the main draw.

Baker beat 29-year-old veteran Jan Hajek of the Czech Republic, 6-3, 6-4, 6-2.

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