Isner survives match point, tops Johnson on clay

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HOUSTON — John Isner erased a match point and hit a tournament-record 38 aces during a 6-7 (1), 7-6 (4), 6-3 comeback victory over Steve Johnson at the U.S. Men’s Clay Court Championship on Thursday night.

Isner, who won the title in 2013, is one of five Americans in the quarterfinals, tying the most at the event since it moved to Houston in 2001.

He’s joined in that round by Taylor Fritz, Frances Tiafoe, Reilly Opelka and Michael Mmoh.

Fritz, the highest-ranked American man at No. 13 and seeded No. 2 in Houston, advanced Thursday by beating Alejandro Tabilo 6-1, 6-4.

Fritz has won nine of his past 10 matches, including a title at Indian Wells, California last month.

Tiafoe defeated Pablo Cuevas 5-7, 7-5, 7-6 (4).

Defending champion Cristian Garin eliminated Jordan Thompson 3-6, 6-3, 6-3 to run his Houston winning streak to seven matches.

The event returned this year after a two-year hiatus because of the pandemic. Garin beat Casper Ruud to the 2019 final the last time the tournament was held.

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