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Tennis: Nadal figures out Isner's serve, reaches Rome quarterfinals

AP , Thursday 14 May 2015
Rafael Nadal
Rafael Nadal, of Spain, returns the ball to Marsel Ilhan, of Turkey, during their match at the Italian Open tennis tournament, in Rome, Wednesday, May 13, 2015 (Photo: AP)

Rafael Nadal became the first player to break John Isner's serve in nearly a month, and he did it twice in a 6-4, 6-4 win Thursday to reach the Italian Open quarterfinals.

The 16th-seeded Isner had held serve in 84 consecutive games stretching back to his last meeting with Nadal on April 16 in the Monte Carlo Masters, when Nadal broke him in the third set and went on to win.

This time, Nadal broke to take a 3-2 lead in the first set with a forehand winner that landed on the line on his first break point. Then the Spaniard produced a whipping forehand return passing shot up the line off Isner's second serve to go up 5-4 in the second, and quickly closed it out from there.

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