Isner wins title in Auckland; qualifier Muguruza champ in Hobart
MELBOURNE, Australia -- John Isner fired 23 aces in a match which 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, his last tune up for next week's Australian Open.
No. 14-ranked Isner captured his eighth career singles title and won the title in New Zealand for the second time after his victory in 2010.
The match was similar to Isner's quarterfinal victory over fifth-seeded Philipp Kohlschreiber which went to three sets, all tiebreaks and contained no breaks of serve. Isner played six tiebreaks in 10 sets at the tournament and won five.
The third-seeded Isner, playing with an right ankle injury he picked up at the Hopman Cup the previous week, took a crucial minibreak to open the first set tiebreaker. In the second tiebreaker, 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.
"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 and without him I wouldn't have been able to take this court," Isner said.
Lu has played on the ATP Tour for 13 years and reached his first final on Saturday. He played with tenacity, weathering Isner's serving power while saving 10 out of 10 break points he faced.
"I've been through injuries, I dropped my ranking and came back and in the last few years I was really stable in the top 100," Lu said. "But this was a really good step to reach a final on the ATP Tour and I hope I can take this performance and go into next week and the rest of the year."
In the WTA event at Hobart, Spanish qualifier Garbine Muguruza defeated Klara Zakapalova of the Czech Republic 6-4, 6-0 to claim her first singles title.
The 20-year-old Muguzura, who did not drop a set from the qualifiers to the final, joins 2012 champion Mona Barthel as the only qualifiers to win the Hobart event.
Muguruza, ranked 58th, beat second-seeded and Wimbledon semifinalist Kirsten Flipkens in the quarterfinals, while Zakapalova defeated top-seeded and former U.S. Open champion Sam Stosur in the semis.
Muguruza won the opening set when she broke Zakapalova's service in the 10th game.
The Venezuelan-born Muguruza has a first-round match against Kaia Kanepi of Estonia at the Australian Open.