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Ex-UGA star Isner cranks 38 aces in French win

Photo by Danny Aller

Photo by Danny Aller

PARIS -- Regarding the damp, slow conditions Thursday at the French Open, John Isner had a different perspective.

Maybe that's because he's 6-foot-9.

The big American, who led the University of Georgia to the 2007 NCAA National Championship, hit 38 aces and reached the third round at Roland Garros for the first time by beating Marco Chiudinelli, 6-7 (3), 7-6 (3), 7-6 (7), 6-4.

"Everyone was talking about how slow the courts were playing," Isner said. "I felt like my court stayed fairly fast."

In a rain-interrupted match that took two days to complete, Isner played on cozy Court 6, but he'll upgrade to larger stages if he keeps winning. He's seeded 17th and confident he can win on clay, even if American men have repeatedly stumbled on the surface in recent years.

"I think it really suits my game really well," Isner said. "My serve is big enough that I can hold serve even if the clay is really slow. And more times than not, the ball bounces pretty high into my strike zone, which is what I like."

Isner lost six consecutive Grand Slam matches before reaching the fourth round at last year's U.S. Open. He also made the fourth round at the Australian Open in January.

"I know I have what it takes to make the second week and beyond," Isner said. "I've proven that the last two slams. Prior to that, I was going out first round a lot. Obviously I'm a much better player than I was then.

"One more match and I'm in the second week for the third straight time."

He'll play for the third day in a row toay when he faces No. 15 Tomas Berdych.