Stockholm - John Isner was taken all the way by fellow American Bradley Klahn before winning his first match of the week at the Stockholm Open on Thursday.
The top-seeded Isner, who can still qualify for the end-of-season ATP Finals in London, toughed out a 7-6 (7/2), 6-7 (5/7), 7-6 (7/5) victory in the second round after receiving a bye in the first round.
Isner led 5-0 and 6-2 in the final-set tiebreaker but Klahn, ranked No 102, pulled the score back to 6-5. Isner then produced a big first serve on his fourth match point, which Klahn couldn't return.
"Who knows? Maybe I needed a match like this to get me going," said Isner, who fired 31 aces. "I think I was pretty fortunate tonight."
It was his first competitive match since losing to Juan Martin del Potro in the US Open quarter-finals in early September. He has since become a father.
Fabio Fognini, the second seed, beat Lukas Lacko 6-4, 6-4, and there were also wins in the second round for Philipp Kohlschreiber and Tennys Sandgren.
Results from the ATP event in Stockholm on Thursday (x denotes seeding):
John Isner (USA x1) bt Bradley Klahn (USA) 7-6 (7/2), 6-7 (5/7), 7-6 (7/5)
Tennys Sandgren (USA) bt Oscar Otte (GER) 7-6 (7/4), 3-6, 6-3
Philipp Kohlschreiber (GER) bt Fernando Verdasco (ESP x8) 4-6, 7-5, 7-6 (7/5)
Fabio Fognini (ITA x2) bt Lukas Lacko (SVK) 6-4, 6-4