Tennis: Isner aces Auckland, Muguruza wins in Hobart
Reuters, Saturday 11 Jan 2014

John Isner claimed his second Auckland Open title with a 7-6(4) 7-6(7) victory over an inspired Lu Yen-Hsun in a tight final at the Australian Open warm-up event on Saturday.

The tall American crashed down 23 aces but it was always going to take more than just his big serve to corral the Taiwanese, who put on a brilliant display of shot-making in his first ATP final.

While Lu ultimately came up short in his first final, Spanish qualifier Garbine Muguruza hammered Czech Klara Zakopalova 6-4 6-0 in hers to clinch a maiden WTA title at the Hobart International.

Japan's Kei Nishikori was also a winner on Saturday when the lucky loser finalist beat world number seven Tomas Berdych 6-4 7-5 to win the Kooyong Classic exhibition tournament.

Lu, ranked number 62 in the world, stunned David Ferrer to end the Spaniard's three-year reign as Auckland champion in Friday's semi-finals but Isner held his nerve when it mattered to edge two tiebreaks and avoid another upset.

After saving one match point with a brilliant backhand down the line and another when Isner went long with a forehand, Lu was finally forced to concede defeat when the American thundered down another unreturnable serve.

"I played exceptionally well today and I needed every bit of it to come out on top," said world number 14 Isner, who is seeded 13th for Melbourne Park and meets a qualifier in the first round.

An appropriate winner as a replacement finallist at a Kooyong event disfigured by withdrawals, Nishikori and his new coach Michael Chang will nonetheless be buoyed by his win over Berdych, which he wrapped up with a backhand cross-court winner.

"I'm very happy to put my name on this trophy along with my coach Michael," said Nishikori, who lost to Berdych earlier in the week and replaced Richard Gasquet after the Frenchman pulled out on Friday.

In Hobart, Muguruza's dominance and aggression reduced her experienced opponent to tears of frustration in the second set of the 70-minute contest.

Muguruza did not drop a set over the entire week and her first round opponent at Melbourne Park, 24th seed Kaia Kanepi, will have her work cut out on Saturday's evidence.

She was all over Zakopalova's serve and, having burst into tears at the final handover and fended off one match point, the Czech conceded the contest with her third double fault.

"I can't explain in words how happy I feel," the 20-year-old Muguruza said. "Last year I was injured for six months and it's amazing to be here."

It was the second day in a row that a qualifier won her first WTA title at an Australian Open warm-up after Tsvetana Pironkova claimed the Sydney International women's title.

Later on Saturday, world number five Juan Martin Del Potro meets Australian defending champion Bernard Tomic in the men's Sydney final.

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