Isner Keeps Title Defence Hopes Alive In Miami
Isner was broken to start the match. But the seventh seed responded in Ramos-Vinolas' second service game to dig into the match. He saved the next four break points he faced and struck 16 aces en route to a one-hour, 53-minute victory.
Ramos-Vinolas has been a tricky opponent for Isner in their FedEx ATP Head2Head series, with the players splitting three-setters in Rome in the past two years. But those clashes were on clay, and while five of their six previous sets went to tie-breaks, Isner needed just one in the second set to advance.
"I did a lot of things well today," Isner said. "I played a good first set, even though I didn't start it off well. In the second, it wasn't quite as clean. I'll talk to my coach and try to iron things out. But I'm into the Round of 16 of a big tournament and I'm happy.
"Playing him on clay is a different animal, but I learned a few things from Rome last year. There were many tactical things that I needed to change. I did that today."
The 2018 Nitto ATP Finals qualifier has found a good string of form after losing his first two matches of the season. Isner reached three consecutive ATP Tour semi-finals in New York, Delray Beach and Rio de Janeiro before losing to then-World No. 13 Karen Khachanov in the fourth round at Indian Wells.
"When the sun is out, the court is more lively," Isner assessed. "But I enjoy the shade, especially when the sun is beating down on me. This whole tournament is fantastic though. I heard that some 40,000 fans came in yesterday. It's all about bringing fans into the tournament and that's what they did yesterday. It is my tournament to defend, but it does have a different feel to it."
Isner will next face 19th seed Kyle Edmund. They have already practised together in Miami and split their two FedEx ATP Head2Head meetings, both in 2016. Isner prevailed on the clay of Roland Garros, with Edmund getting revenge on the hard courts of the US Open.
On Sunday, the British No. 1 continued his stellar start to the tournament with an efficient 6-4, 6-4 win over Milos Raonic. He needed one hour and 34 minutes to prevail, overcoming 21 winners off the Canadian's racquet, while striking 15 of his own.
Edmund, who opened his campaign at the Hard Rock Stadium with a straight-set win over Ilya Ivashka on Friday, is coming off a fourth round finish at the BNP Paribas Open. The week prior, he lifted the trophy at the ATP Challenger Tour event in Indian Wells, in what was his first tournament in more than a month in his recovery from a knee injury.
The World No. 22 is enjoying his first taste of success in Miami in his sixth appearance, having previously never advanced past the second round. He is in the midst of a 7-2 run in ATP Masters 1000 tournaments, also reaching the quarter-finals in Shanghai in October.