John Isner has kicked off his return to Auckland with a marathon three-set win over compatriot Sam Querrey this evening.

Isner, a late withdrawal from last year's tournament, was back on centre court at Stanley St for the first time since lifting the trophy in 2014 after being afforded a first-round bye.

His appearance on centre court lasted a bit longer than he probably would have been hoping, taking out the match 7-6 (10), 6-7 (7) 6-4.

The towering American was locked in an absorbing battle of wills for nearly two and a half hours.

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The first two sets went to tiebreak, with Isner taking out the first and Querrey the second.

The third also looked like it was headed towards a deadlock before Isner went up a break in the seventh game, in what proved to be the decisive period of the match.

The match was punctuated by impressive serving from both players. Isner recorded a stunning 31 aces, while Querrey was not far behind on 21.

Isner will meet Italian Fabio Fognini in tomorrow's quarterfinals.

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