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Isner routs Simon as US ties France 1-1 in Davis Cup quarters after Tsonga beats Harrison
ROQUEBRUNE, France (AP) ' John Isner defeated Gilles Simon 6-3, 6-2, 7-5, pulling the United States even with France after Friday's opening singles in the Davis Cup quarterfinals.
The Americans needed a strong performance from Isner after Jo-Wilfried Tsonga beat teenager Ryan Harrison 7-5, 6-2, 2-6, 6-2 to give France a 1-0 lead.
Simon was called up to replace injured Gael Monfils this week. He has never beaten Isner and could not cope with the American's big serve. Simon also struggled with his own service game on the outdoor clay at Monte Carlo Country Club.
Saturday's doubles in the best-of-five series pits Bob and Mike Bryan against Frenchmen Julien Benneteau and Michael Llodra.
THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. Check back soon for further information. AP's earlier story is below.
ROQUEBRUNE, France (AP) ' Jo-Wilfried Tsonga defeated American teenager Ryan Harrison 7-5, 6-2, 2-6, 6-2 to give France a 1-0 lead against the United States in their Davis Cup quarterfinal on Friday.
The sixth-ranked Tsonga found it tough at times against the 19-year-old Harrison, who was playing in his first meaningful Davis Cup match. Harrison's big forehands and aggressive shot-making forced Tsonga to hurry shots as he tried to shorten the rallies.
"I had to battle and it worked out quite well for me," Tsonga said. "Despite losing that third set, I still tried to play my own game."
Tsonga broke Harrison in the 12th game to take a laborious opening set in 54 minutes, then began to find his range as Harrison's temper frayed.
Captain Jim Courier spoke with Harrison for smashing his racket into the ground after his double-fault gave Tsonga a 3-1 lead in the second set.
"I never double-fault that much, which is funny," Harrison said. "The sun was against me on that side, and so was the wind."
John Isner will play Gilles Simon in the next singles match. Isner won the two previous matches against Simon, a late call-up for the injured Gael Monfils. Harrison replaced ninth-ranked Mardy Fish when he pulled out with fatigue earlier this week.
Harrison, ranked 66th with only one Davis Cup match to his name ' a meaningless dead rubber in the 5-0 thrashing of Switzerland in February ' was far from intimidated and applied the early pressure.
He broke for a 2-1 lead when Tsonga, having just saved a break point with a net volley, scooped a sloppy forehand into the net.
Harrison was causing Tsonga some problems with his whipped forehands, but Tsonga broke back on Harrison's double fault for 2-2.
Having missed another chance to break Tsonga in the next game, Harrison's composure started to erode and he angrily swiped the ball into the net after a double-fault in the 10th game. He held for 5-5, but then lost the set on his next service game.
"His major weakness is that he is very, very nervy," Tsonga said. "I knew that if I held on longer than him it would be to my advantage, and that I needed to be patient."
A stunning double-handed backhand wrongfooted Harrison and gave Tsonga set point. Harrison survived a brief barrage of shots to clip a neat net volley to tie at deuce.
But Harrison's forehand went wide on the next point, giving Tsonga another chance. The Frenchman pinned Harrison back with some heavy forehands before clinching a difficult opener with a flashy backhand volley at the net.
"I didn't play as aggressively on some of the break points as I would have liked to," Harrison said.
When Tsonga broke in the fourth game of the second set for 3-1, Harrison took it out on his racket, whacking it so violently into the ground that the frame bent into a right angle. That prompted Courier, the former two-time French Open champion, to have a gentle word with him.
"When you see the player in front of you like that, you look at him and think 'OK, he's not feeling great,'" Tsonga said.
Tsonga broke Harrison again in the eighth game, putting the American under pressure with a volley that he could only return long.
Courier offered a sympathetic ear to Harrison at the end of the second set, nodding while Harrison spoke as they plotted a way for him to get back into the match.
Their chat seemed to work, with Harrison sweeping Tsonga aside in the third set, breaking his serve three times.
But Tsonga drew on his experience and regained control of the match in the fourth set, taking Harrison's serve with a smash and holding for a 3-0 lead.
Tsonga sealed victory on his first match point when, after a brief rally, Harrison's backhand from the back of the court hit the net.