• Heineken Open

Isner warms up for Australian Open with Auckland title

ESPN staff
January 11, 2014
Isner shows off his trophy © Getty Images

John Isner fired 23 aces in a match that 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.

World No. 14 Isner, a potential fourth-round opponent for Andy Murray at the Australian Open, 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 quarter-final victory over fifth-seeded Philipp Kohlschreiber, which went to three sets, all tiebreaks, and contained no breaks of serve. Isner played six tie-breaks in 10 sets at the tournament and won five.

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Murray has played just four competitive matches since his surgery © Getty Images
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The third-seeded Isner, playing with a right ankle injury he picked up at the Hopman Cup the previous week, took a crucial mini-break to open the first-set tie-break. In the second tie-break, 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 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 from 1995 to 1997.

Nishikori - tipped by ESPN's resident expert and former British No. 1 to do well in Melbourne - will 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."

A fan shows support for Lu in the final © Getty Images
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