Florida: Top-seeded John Isner outlasted fellow American Jesse Levine 6-4, 7-5 (15) on Tuesday in their first-round match at the Delray Beach International Tennis Championships.
In another first-round match, Jarkko Nieminen of Finland, ranked 43rd, beat second-seeded Marin Cilic of Croatia 6-3, 3-6, 6-2.
Isner barely held off a tenacious Levine, who is ranked No. 133 in the world and needed a wild-card entry into the main draw.
Levine trailed the 11th-ranked Isner throughout the tiebreaker. The match ended when Levine’s backhand hit the top of the net and carried long, putting Isner into the second round.
“I served very well and to be honest I was very lucky to win it,” said Isner, who had 13 aces. “To be honest, if I lost that second set I didn’t really fancy my chances in the third because the humidity was getting to me.”
Nieminen has already won a title this year at Sydney, while Cilic was playing his first match of the season. The 21st-ranked Cilic has been nursing a left knee injury and this was his first match since last November.
Known for a big serve, Cilic racked up nine aces—but he was streaky. His first-serve percentage was only 48 percent.
“It was my first match for a while and it felt a little bit awkward I would say,” Cilic said. “I played some moments pretty good but I think my fitness level, not great. … I expected that to happen.”
Also during the day session, fifth seed Philipp Kohlschreiber of Germany defeated Olivier Rochus 6-1, 6-4. Latvian Ernests Gulbis, the 2010 Delray Beach champion, beat Alejandro Falla of Colombia, 6-4, 6-1. And Belgium’s Xavier Malisse, a two-time Delray Beach champion, scored a 7-6 (3), 6-3 win over Guillermo Garcia-Lopez of Spain.
Fourth seed Andy Roddick, making his first visit to the Delray Beach tournament since 2003, plays his opening match against Philipp Petzschner of Germany on Tuesday night.