Isner struggles past Malisse at Open de Nice

Top-seeded John Isner advanced to the Open de Nice quarterfinals Wednesday, beating Belgium's Xavier Malisse 7-6 (3), 7-6 (5) in the clay-court event.

The hard-serving American had 13 aces in the match. He will face Nikolay Davydenko in the quarterfinals. The Russian topped seventh-seeded Denis Istomin of Uzbekistan 6-4, 1-6, 6-3.

No. 2 Gilles Simon of France and No. 3 Nicolas Almagro of Spain also advanced.

Simon downed Bulgaria's Grigor Dimitrov 6-3, 6-3 and will play Brazilian Thomaz Bellucci, who beat Spain's Juan Carlos Ferrero 6-4, 6-3. Almagro overcame Frenchman Edouard Roger-Vasselin 7-6 (5), 6-4 and will face Steve Darcis of Belgium, who rallied past Italian Filippo Volandri 3-6, 6-2, 6-4.

Fourth-seeded Gael Monfils of France was knocked out by American Brian Baker, 6-3, 7-6 (9). Ranked 216th Baker is playing in first tour-level event since the 2005 U.S. Open — and first ever on clay.

Baker will face Mikhail Kukushkin of Kazakhstan, a 3-6, 6-2, 7-5 winner over No. 5 Bernard Tomic of Australia.