SHANGHAI, China -- On a day when world number two and three Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray arrived in Shanghai, it was American John Isner who turned in the day's most impressive win at the Shanghai Rolex Masters, defeating South Africa's Kevin Anderson, 7-6 (3), 6-7 (8), 7-6 (7).
Recording 24 aces and landing 78-percent of his first serve attempts, the eighth-seeded Isner took the first set tiebreaker, before pushing Anderson to a match point opportunity in the second frame.
Anderson, who nailed 21 aces of his own, regrouped to take the second set, and with neither player able to break the others' serve, the third set went the distance, with Anderson squandering three match point opportunities before falling to Isner, in what was the longest-ever match in the history of the Shanghai Rolex Masters (games played).
"I'm very, very happy to be through," commented Isner. "I don't care how it looks out there or on paper or whatever. I've one goal the rest of the year, and that's to make the final eight . . . it's all about wins."
While Isner is still technically in the hunt for a spot at November's Barclays ATP World Tour Finals in London, fellow top-15 player Kei Nishikori (pictured below) punched his ticket into the third round, after routing Chinese qualifier Wu Di, 6-2, 6-4.
Converting on four-of-nine break point opportunities, Nishikori, who is coming off a win last week in Tokyo and was a semi-finalist in Shanghai in 2011, outclassed Wu, just three weeks after a wave of anti-Japanese protests swept across the Chinese mainland.
"I played well last year, so there's no reason to not play here," added Nishikori. "I'm here to play tennis. Sports can make [people] all together. It has big power . . . I love to play here."
Nishikori now moves on to face American Sam Querrey, while Isner awaits the winner of Richard Gasquet and Radek Stepanek, who defeated former world number one Lleyton Hewitt, 7-5, 6-1.
Joining Isner in the third round is Spain's Fernando Verdasco, who upset seventh-ranked Juan Monaco, 6-4, 6-2, and tenth-seeded Marin Cilic, who topped Slovak Martin Klizan, 7-5, 6-1.
In a battle for bragging rights across the Taiwan Strait, Taiwanese qualifier Lu Yen-Hsun (pictured below) dominated mainland Chinese wild card Zhang Ze, 6-0, 6-2.
Needing just 53 minutes to advance, Lu snuck seven aces past Zhang, and capitalized on five-of-nine break point chances, setting a date with top-seeded Roger Federer in the second round.
Also advancing to the second round are advancing to the second round are twelfth-seeded Milos Raonic, who took out Australia's Marinko Matosevic, 7-6 (4), 6-3, fifteenth-seeded Giles Simon, who downed Austria's Jurgen Melzer, 6-4, 6-2, Marcos Baghdatis, who ousted Italian Fabio Fognini, 6-2, 6-2, thirteenth seeded Stanislas Wawrinka, who dropped Spaniard Albert Ramos, 7-6 (1), 7-6 (5), 2011 semi-finalist Feliciano Lopez, who avoided a scare from Colombia's Alejandro Falla, 6-3, 1-6, 6-3, Germany's Florian Mayer, who played past Australian Bernard Tomic, 6-4, 6-0, Serbian Viktor Troicki, who edged Russia's Mikhail Youzhny, 6-3, 2-6, 6-4, and Denis Istomin, who came from behind against Argentina's Carlos Berlocq, 4-6, 6-2, 6-1.