Tennis

Isner done, Querrey moves on at Sony

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Richard Evans

Richard Evans has covered tennis since the 1960s, reporting on more than 150 Grand Slams. He is author of 15 books, including the official history of the Davis Cup and the unofficial history of the modern game in "Open Tennis." Follow him on Twitter.

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KEY BISCAYNE, FLA.

John Isner fell at the fourth-round hurdle of the Sony Open on Monday, decisively beaten 6-3, 7-6 by Marin Cilic of Croatia, but US No. 1 Sam Querrey got a free pass into the quarterfinals when Milos Raonic withdrew with a strep throat.

Isner, who has yet to find his best form in 2013, pin-pointed technical deficiencies on the forehand as the reason he could not deal with Cilic’s more solid ground game.

“It felt like every ball he made, I would then miss with my forehand,” said Isner. “I’m not physically tired, I’m not mentally tired. I’m healthy. It’s just technical things I need to work on. I’m a big guy. Missing that many shots, it’s probably from getting too high up and not staying in the saddle.”

As usual Isner hit more winners than his opponent but it was the unforced error count that worked against him and nullified the fact that he hit 20 aces to Cilic’s two. And the most revealing stat was on points won on the second serve. Isner could only win 35 percent off his own delivery while Cilic was up at 65 percent.

The ninth-seeded Croat will now go up against the big Frenchman Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, who crushed the Finn, Jaarko Nieminen 6-3, 6-3.

Querrey will meet another of those big serving top 10s, Tomas Berdych after the No. 4 seed fought back strongly against the improving Colombian left-hander Alejandro Falla to win 2-6, 7-6, 6-4.

Andy Murray, last year’s beaten finalist here, had to dig himself out of a tight situation in the first set against Bulgaria’s talented 21-year-old Grigor Dimitrov when he trailed 2-5. Murray upped his game to head off the threat but was helped when Dimitrov revealed the nerves which too frequently hamper his skillful game when he double faulted three times to hand Murray another service break.

Sean Connery is pumped

RIGHT ON!

Sean Connery is fired up about the US Open. And he is pretty hyped about these things, too.

“Obviously it was way cooler today with much slower conditions,” said Murray. “I was leaving the ball a bit short. Once I started to improve my depth a bit I made it tough for him and he started to make mistakes. He probably got a bit nervous and that helped me.”

Murray will now play Italy’s 19th-ranked Andreas Seppi, who defeated the Brazilian left-hander Tomaz Bellucci 7-5, 4-6, 6-2.

In the last match of the evening, Maria Sharapova blasted her way past the 31-year-old Czech, Klara Zakopalova 6-2, 6-2, an opponent she had first played back in 2003 at the Australian Open. Klara won on that occasion – Maria was just 15 – but she has now lost the past five meetings against a player who has a chance of overtaking Serena Williams if she wins the title here and Serena fails to reach the final.

However, despite winning all four Grand Slams, Sharapova has never won the Sony Open.

“It’s one I’d love to add to my collection,” she said.

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