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Isner ousts Kudla at US clay court championships

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HOUSTON (AP) Top-seeded John Isner had a two-set tournament-record 24 aces to knock out fellow American Denis Kudla 7-6 (2), 7-6 (4) in the second round of the U.S. men’s clay court championships on Wednesday night.

The 30-year-old Isner, ranked 15th in the world, had 12 aces in each set and was never pushed despite failing to break Kudla’s serve in the match.

Earlier this year, he had 49 aces in a Davis Cup victory over Australia’s Bernard Tomic, when he unleashed a serve clocked at an unofficial record 157 mph.

Isner lost only four of his 46 first-serve points.

“Too good,” the 5-foot-11 Kudla said, shaking his head. “I tried everything. … His serve is a joke. “Some guys can handle it. But I’m not one of the taller guys. It’s just enough out of my strike zone for me to do anything about it when he’s serving like that.”

In the day’s final match, South Korea’s Hyeon Chung, 19, defeated 18-year-old American Tommy Paul 5-7, 6-2, 6-2 to become the third teenager since the tournament moved to Houston in 2001 to advance to the quarterfinals.

The first, Andy Roddick, did it in 2001 and 2002 and went on to win the championship both years. Ryan Harrison was the other in 2012.

Chung made it difficult on himself, though. He was a point from taking the first set and let it slip away. But he gave Paul, the French Open junior champion in 2015, no further openings and advanced to his second ATP World Tour quarterfinal.

Juan Monaco, the tournament’s 2012 champion who has been bothered by wrist problems, fell out of the top 100 three weeks ago – all the way to 148th – for the first time in nearly a decade and had only three match victories this year before arriving in Houston.

But he looked more like his old self again in a 6-3, 7-5 victory over the second-seeded Benoit Paire of France.

Also, Sam Querrey earned an easy 6-3, 6-3 victory over Germany’s Benjamin Becker for his 13th match win in the tournament, the most of any player in the draw. Querrey is through to the quarterfinals for the fourth time and he has been the clay courts runner-up twice.

Federer survives scare to advance in Halle

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HALLE, Germany (AP) Defending champion Roger Federer survived two match points against Benoit Paire to reach the quarterfinals of the Gerry Weber Open with a 6-3, 3-6, 7-6 (7) win on Thursday.

Paire rallied after losing the first set to take the second, and the Frenchman defended two match points at 6-5 in the decider to force a tiebreaker. Eight minutes later, it was a match point for the 48th-ranked Paire, and again when a mistake from Federer left it 7-6 in Paire’s favor.

But the top-ranked Swiss took the next three points to close the match in just under two hours at the grass-court tournament.

Federer extended his grass-court winning streak to 18 matches, including his titles in Stuttgart last week and at Halle and Wimbledon last year.

Federer skipped the entire clay-court season for the second year in a row and is now just four wins away from matching Jimmy Connors’ all-time record of 174 victories on grass.

Federer next faces Matthew Ebden of Australia, who upset former champion Philipp Kohlschreiber 4-6, 6-1, 6-2.

Also Thursday, Borna Coric defeated Nikoloz Basilashvili 6-4, 6-2.

The Croat next faces either Florian Mayer or Andreas Seppi.

Magdalena shows form on grass in Birmingham

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BIRMINGHAM, England — Magdalena Rybarikova, who climbed almost 90 places last year to reach a career-high No. 17 in March, showed she might rise even further after rallying against Kristina Mladenovic 3-6, 6-2, 6-1 Wednesday to advance to the quarterfinals in Birmingham.

The Slovak accelerated toward victory against the former top 10 player from France with an array of slice ground strokes, clever approaches and sharp volleys. The range of shots worked excellently on the lush surface at the grass-court Nature Valley Classic and helped her take control midway through the second set.

Rybarikova last year reached the Wimbledon semifinals. She is a former champion here, winning the title in 2009.

In the first round she beat third-seeded Karolina Pliskova for the loss of only five games but found it tougher against Mladenovic.

“I started to play very well,” Rybarikova said of her improvement from the fourth game of the second set against Mladenovic. “She served great to begin with and I struggled with my returns, but I kept fighting and my game improved a lot.

“I think I’d been a bit passive. The key was when I played more cross-court slices and drops and made an early break in the second set.

“That’s the way I am trying to play on grass. I am thankful that I have the game to do that. This court here really suits my game.”

At the changeover in the fifth game of the second set, Mladenovic’s morale appeared to plunge, and afterward her error ratio rose sharply with her standard dropping significantly.

The third set of a match which lasted nearly two hours took only 22 minutes, and long before the end the outcome had ceased to be in doubt.

Rybarikova next faces Slovenian qualifier Dalila Jakupovic, who on Tuesday overcame a difference in rankings of almost 100 places and saved four match points while beating seventh-seeded Elise Mertens of Belgium.

Jakupovic followed up Wednesday by getting past 18th-ranked Naomi Osaka of Japan, who recently beat four former top-ranked opponents. Osaka was forced to retired injured after losing the first set 6-3.