10sBalls.com • TennisBalls.com


Isner, Harrison set up all-American showdown for BB&T Atlanta Open title


John Isner’s current hot streak plus his illustrious history at the BB&T Atlanta Open is making for a scary combination.


Isner won his third consecutive match of the week without playing a tiebreaker when he coasted past Gilles Muller 6-4, 6-2 during semifinal action on Saturday. The No. 2 seed saved all four of the break points he faced and broke Muller an impressive three times to get the job done in one hour and 15 minutes.


En route to the Newport title last week, Isner won all four of his matches in straight sets and was pushed to a tiebreaker only once–by Matthew Ebden in the final. The 6’10” American became the second player since records started being kept in 1991 to win an ATP title without facing a single break point in the entire event.


“Even though I’ve played opponents much lower-ranked than me, I also knew I was playing extremely well,” Isner noted. “It wasn’t in my opinion a case of playing someone ranked No. 120. It was more of me playing well, and I kept that up today. It was a very good match; absolutely nothing to complain about.”


Isner has at least been forced to fight off five break points this week; one against Lukas Lacko in the quarterfinals prior to the showdown against Muller. Nonetheless, he has managed to extend his streak of holds to 72 straight dating back to Wimbledon.


In his 2010 marathon match at the All-England Club against Nicolas Mahut, Isner held 84 service games in a row.


Speaking of records, no one in the history of this Atlanta event has been better than the world No. 20. In fact, no one has been anywhere close to as good. Isner is through to his seventh final in the eight-year history of the tourmament and he is 26-4 overall. He has never lost prior to the semifinals.


He hasn’t come close to losing this week–not even against Muller, who has won two ATP titles in 2017 and is coming off a quarterfinal showing at Wimbledon.


“He made it very tough for me today,” the veteran Luxembourgian admitted. “I don’t feel like I played a bad match. Maybe I didn’t serve well enough, but that’s also because of him. He put a lot of pressure (on me); as soon as I had to hit a second serve, I felt big pressure coming. It was very tough out there today. All credit to him; he played a great match.”


That’s nothing new for Isner in Atlanta, where can win for the fourth on Sunday.


“I am going to be pulling for Ryan (Harrison),” Isner said prior to the second semifinal. “I always pull for Americans. To play an American in an ATP final would be very cool. For sure I will be pulling for Ryan a little bit.”


Ryan Harrison of the USA in action against Kyle Edmund of Britain during their semifinal round match at the BB&T Atlanta Open tennis tournament at Atlantic Station in Atlanta, Georgia, USA, 29 July 2017. Harrison defeated Edmund and will face John Isner of the USA in the singles finals. EPA/ERIK S. LESSER

Isner got his wish, as a three-set battle with Kyle Edmund went Harrison’s way 6-7(5), 6-3, 6-4. The world No. 42 had previously lost twice in the Atlanta semis, but he got over the hump on Saturday night to reach his second career ATP final.


“I served for that first set,” Harrison reflected. “I felt like towards the end of the first set I relinquished a little bit of control. I played the last couple games at his mercy. Starting the second set I knew it was important after losing the tiebreaker to pick up my energy, because it can go away from you quick after losing a first set like that, where you serve for it. It was just really important to have good energy starting the second. Once I got momentum going with my serve and saved a break point early, from then on out I felt really comfortable with my service games.


“It feels awesome.”


Ricky contributes to 10sballs.com and also maintains his own tennis website, The Grandstand. You can follow him on twitter at @Dimonator.