That was just fine by him.
Roddick won the second-round match-up 6-4, 6-4, content to play some long points to begin the hard-court tournament and warm-up for the U.S. Open.
"I accomplished what I wanted to. I wanted to get in some rallies early, get my feet under me and move the ball around the court," Roddick said. "Basically get back to playing clean tennis. The things that don't necessarily show up on the stat sheet but win tennis matches."
Roddick, who had a first-round bye, fired only four aces but never faced a break point against Zemlja and didn't lose a point in his last four service games. He also took advantage of his break-point opportunities, converting all four chances.
"I was in control of my own service games, which was good," Roddick said. "I didn't dig myself many holes out there."
Roddick has a career 30-5 record in Washington, including three titles.
Isner sealed the win with three aces in the second tiebreak. He had 15 in the match.
The last time the two met was in the second round of Wimbledon. De Bakker won that meeting, which came a round after Isner's record-breaking marathon victory against Nicolas Mahut.
Both Isner and de Bakker relied on a strong service game, with de Bakker getting nine aces of his own. De Bakker saved the only break point of the match.
Earlier in the day, Mardy Fish extended the longest winning streak of his career to 11 matches with a 6-4, 6-3 win against Viktor Troicki, and third-seeded Fernando Verdasco narrowly avoided a second-round upset. Verdasco twice faced match point in the second set before coming back against Michael Berrer 4-6, 7-5, 7-6 (6).
Fish has won his past two tournaments, in Newport and Atlanta, and hasn't lost since the second round at Wimbledon. He credited his recent success to a new fitness regimen that led to him losing 30 pounds since undergoing knee surgery last September.
He also took advantage of Troicki's struggles. The Serb double-faulted six times in the match, including three times in one game during the first set.
"He's a fiery guy," Fish said. "He's a very hot and cold type player. He played very well at times and he played poorly at times. I was able to keep it steady."
Verdasco, who entered the tournament ranked No. 10, trailed 2-5 in the second set before winning five straight games to close out the set.
"Even when I was match points down, I was just trying to put all the balls in and make no mistakes," Verdasco said. "I think I was also lucky that he didn't make like a pretty good serve close to the line to win the match or a winner to the baseline or something like that."
Also in the second round, fourth-seeded Marin Cilic defeated Denis Istomin 6-4, 6-2 and Gilles Simon beat Igor Kunitsyn 6-1, 6-2. There were two upsets: Ryan Sweeting beat 14th-seeded Michael Llodra 6-4, 6-2 and Xavier Malisse upset No. 12-seeded Julien Benneteau 7-5, 6-4 in their second-round match.
In Tuesday's first-round matches, Marco Chiudinelli beat Brian Dabul 7-6 (3), 6-2; Janko Tipsarevic defeated Arnaud Clement 6-4, 6-0; Alejandro Falla won against Yen-hsun Lu 7-5, 6-1; and Kristof Vliegen advanced when Richard Gasquet retired after dropping the first set 6-3.
For Roddick, the early-round match provided a change to add some patience to his game after playing too aggressively at times in his last tournament at Atlanta.
And while Roddick wants to add a fourth Washington title to his trophy case, the real focus at this time of year is to get everything in place for the big tournament on the horizon.
"If anyone tells you the end goal isn't to be prepared and ready by the U.S. Open, they're probably not being completely honest with themselves or with you," Roddick said. "But the best preparation for a Grand Slam is winning."