SAN JOSE, Calif. — John Isner powered his way into the quarterfinals of the SAP Open on Wednesday night, pounding 14 aces in a 7-6 (3), 2-6, 6-3 victory over Canada's Vasek Pospisil.
The hard-serving American overcame a shaky second set, held off two break points in the third set with aces and finished off the pesky Pospisil behind some pretty passing shots. Isner will play the winner of Xavier Malisse and Matthew Ebden on Friday.
After dropping out of the Australian Open because of a nagging right knee and losing his final Davis Cup match in the United States' win over Brazil last weekend, Isner hardly showed the poise and polish of his past.
Isner still hit 77 percent of his first serves, which topped out at 137 mph, making up for most of his misses. Isner, ranked 16th in the world, mixed up his speeds in the final set once Pospisil started to solve his serve.
Pospisil still won more overall points (87) than Isner (86) and had the American on the verge of elimination. With Pospisil ahead 2-1 in the final set, Isner blasted a pair of aces on both break points he faced and smashed another serve that went unreturned to level the match.
In the next game, Pospisil pushed a volley wide and hit a backhand long to down 0-40. After Pospisil saved off one break point, the 6-foot-9 Isner bent down low for a big-finish forehand winner that had him charging the net, pumping his fist and yelling, "Yeah!"
While it's not the clean West Coast comeback Isner had hoped, the ending is better than his recent matches.
Isner lost to Thomaz Bellucci to send the U.S. and Brazil to a deciding fifth match Sunday, when Sam Querrey sealed the victory for the Americans by beating Thiago Alves indoors in Jacksonville, Fla. Isner also pulled out of the Australian Open just before the Grand Slam event began last month because of a bone bruise in his right knee.
Since losing in the round of 32 in the U.S. Open last August, Isner entered San Jose just 3-7.
At Doha, Qatar, fresh off winning a second consecutive Australian Open, top-ranked Victoria Azarenka breezed into the third round of the Qatar Open with a 6-2, 6-3 victory over Romina Oprandi.
The defending champion was joined by fourth-ranked Agnieszka Radwanska and Caroline Wozniacki. Radwanska beat Australian qualifier Anastasia Rodionova 6-3, 6-2, and Wozniacki downed Sorana Cirstea of Romania 7-6 (7), 6-0.
American Sloane Stephens, who upset Serena Williams in the Australian Open quarterfinals, lost to Klara Zakopalova 4-6, 7-6 (5), 7-6 (5).
Stephens pulled out of Fed Cup against Italy last week after aggravating an abdominal muscle injury and suffering from a stomach virus.
Several seeded players lost, including the 16th-seeded Stephens. Ninth-seeded Marion Bartoli lost to Svetlana Kuznetsova 6-4, 6-4, while No. 17 Lucie Safarova of the Czech Republic was upset 6-4, 6-2 by Christina McHale of the United States. Urszula Radwanska, the sister of Agnieszka, upset 15th-seeded Roberta Vinci of Italy 6-2, 5-7, 6-0.
Wozniacki saved four set points in the tiebreaker before going up 1-0 when Cirstea hit a crosscourt backhand wide. The Dane then broke Cirstea three times.
At Rotterdam, Netherlands, defending champion Roger Federer cruised into the second round of the ABN AMRO tournament, beating Grega Zemlja 6-3, 6-1.
Federer, a two-time winner at the indoor hard court tournament, had taken a two-week break after losing a grueling five-set semifinal to Andy Murray at the Australian Open.
Also Wednesday, Gilles Simon beat Italian qualifier Matteo Viola 6-3, 6-1 to secure a place in the quarterfinals, and fellow Frenchman Julien Benneteau joined him after a 6-1, 6-3 win over Victor Hanescu.
Marcos Baghdatis reached the second round when Benoit Paire retired while trailing 6-0, 6-7 (3), 4-0.