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Goodbye Key Biscayne • Hello Biggest Title Of John Isner’s Career

John Isner of the USA kisses his trophy after defeating Alexander Zverev of Germany during their finals match at the Miami Open tennis tournament on Key Biscayne, Miami, Florida, USA, 01 April 2018. EPA-EFE/RHONA WISE



John Isner Saved His Best Tennis For Key Biscayne’s Last …


By Ricky Dimon


Isner won the biggest title of his career–first at the Masters 1000 level–by outlasting Alexander Zverev 6-7(4), 6-4, 6-4 in the final of the Miami Open on Sunday afternoon. The 32-year-old fired 18 aces and saved all three of the break points he faced before triumphing in two hours and 20 minutes.


“Last but not least I have to thank you guys,” Isner told the crowd at the trophy presentation. “This atmosphere was electric. It was unbelievable. You can’t replicate moments like this. I’m towards the latter part of my career; this is the best moment of my career. And you guys made that possible.”


Those is attendance witnessed some history, and not just for Isner. Sunday marked the last-ever day of the tournament’s Key Biscayne history before it moves off the island to the Miami Dolphins’ Hard Rock Stadium starting in 2019, and both players did their best to make it a memorable one.


As expected, this contest was a competitive one from start to finish. Zverev fought off five break points and Isner thwarted one en route to an unsurprising tiebreaker. The world No. 17 led by a mini-break early, but it was Zverev who seized a sudden mini-break advantage by virtue of an Isner double-fault at 4-4. Miami’s fourth seed took care of his next two service points to steal the opening frame of play.


Both men held serve in mostly straightforward fashion through the first eight games of the second, seemingly headed for another tiebreaker. From just about out of nowhere, however, two of the most dramatic games of the showdown ensued. Zverev earned a game point on his own serve at 4-4 only to double-fault, shank a forehand, and then watch helplessly as Isner converted break point with a forehand winner off the sideline. But it was not yet smooth sailing to a third set for the 6’10” American, who faced two break points himself at 5-4. He saved one when Zverev erred on a backhand pass, survived another by culminating a wild rally with a forehand pass of his own, and eventually clinched the set with a service winner.


From there Isner never relinquished momentum, even though it took him more than a few tries to take control in the third. Zverev escaped one break-point situation at 1-1 and dug out of a 0-40 hole–fighting off four break points in total–at 2-2. But playing with fire soon caught up with the 20-year-old German, who began his 4-4 service game with a double-fault and eventually got broken to 15.


In more typical Isner fashion compared to the difficulty with which he served out the second, the soon-to-be world No. 9 promptly finished off the biggest win of his career at love.


“It’s incredible,” Isner said during his post-match press conference. “To come back, as well, after a pretty disappointing first set–a first set I had certainly some chances in and some break points and was serving at 4-3 in the tiebreaker and lost four straight points…. At that point I was actually exhausted. Somewhere along in the second set I found a second wind, and I felt so much better in the second set and the third set than I did in the first set.


“To win like that in front of a crowd like that, with that atmosphere…it was absolutely amazing.”


“I’ll never win here,” Zverev responded with a smile when asked what it means for the event to be leaving Key Biscayne after this year. “That’s one…. I’m never happy to lose, but if I lose, I’m happy that [Isner] won [his] first Masters.”


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



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Main Draw Singles

Main Draw Doubles

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