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July 30, 2009

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Becker packed off early, Safin through in LA

BIG-SERVING American John Isner produced the first upset at the LA Open with a 7-6, 7-6 victory over seventh-seeded German Benjamin Becker in the opening round on Tuesday.

Isner, who reached his first ATP semifinal of the year in Indianapolis last week, powered down 15 aces before sealing the win in just over two hours on a sun-baked afternoon at the LA Tennis Center.

Eighth-seeded Russian Marat Safin was in early trouble against American Robby Ginepri before recovering to win 3-6, 6-3, 6-4.

Sixth-seeded American Sam Querrey thumped Uzbekistan's Denis Istomin 6-2, 6-0.

The towering Isner, 77th in the rankings, swept through the tiebreak in the second set 7-3 to extend his career record to 3-0 over Becker, the world No. 44.

"I had a good week last week and maybe I was a little bit tired today," the American told reporters after losing only four points on his first serve. "I played four long matches last week but today was starting off on a good foot."

Isner was heartened to maintain his form after being sidelined from the game earlier this season for just over a month while struggling with mononucleosis.

"It's done now and I've just to get in a little better match shape," the 24-year-old said. "When you take a month off and don't do anything, you lose a lot."

Former world No. 1 Safin, playing on the ATP circuit this year for the last time, was delighted to beat the winner of last week's event in Indianapolis.

"Robby is playing really well," the Russian said. "He is a tough player and it was a well-played match from both of us. I was able to go up a break at the beginning of the second set and that helped me to turn the match around."

Fifth-seeded Russian Igor Kunitsyn eased into the second round with a 7-5, 6-2 victory over Indian qualifier Somdev Devvarman and Argentina's Leonardo Mayer crushed French qualifier Josselin Ouanna 6-2, 6-3.

Also, Latvian Ernests Gulbis brushed aside Lu Yen-hsun of Chinese Taipei 7-5, 6-2 and Cypriot Marcos Baghdatis beat Canada's Frank Dancevic 7-6, 6-3.


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