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John Isner (8) and Ruud (14) Keep Winning Streaks Going Into Toronto Tennis Masters Quarterfinals

TORONTO, CANADA – August 12: John Isner of USA at the National Bank Open Presented by Rogers at the Aviva Centre on August 12, 2021 in Toronto, Canada (Photo by Peter Staples/ATP Tour)

By Ricky Dimon

John Isner has won more matches in his last three tournaments as he had in 2021 combined heading into the North American hard-court summer.

Prior to arriving in Los Cabos, Isner was 9-6 for the season. The 36-year-old American reached the semifinals at that event and is now on an eight-match winning streak that includes his sixth Atlanta title and run to the quarters of the National Bank Open. He maintained his fine form with a 6-4, 7-6(5) upset of Andrey Rublev on Thursday afternoon in Toronto.

Isner fired 20 aces while double-faulting only once and he saved all four of the break points he faced to improve to 3-0 lifetime against Rublev.

“The conditions were a bit tough on center court; it’s been a little bit swirly,” the world No. 30 explained. “I did know that Andrey was struggling with that. He was a little bit off kilter from the very get-go, I think. I could tell he was exhibiting some frustration out there.

“When I knew that he was a bit rattled early on, I just told myself I had to be the one to keep a cooler head. I think that helped me prevail in the end.”

Isner still has a ways to go before he catches up to Casper Ruud’s current winning streak. The 22-year-old Norwegian, who defeated Dusan Lajovic 6-4, 6-3 in the Toronto third round, has won 14 matches in succession. This stretch is highlighted by consecutive ATP 250 clay-court titles in Bastad, Gstaad, and Kitzbuhel.

Impressively, Ruud is making a strong transition to hard courts.

“I think I’m motivated to come back to the hard courts,” Toronto’s No. 6 seed commented. “I have had two very good matches here. It’s a great start for me to the hard-court swing.

“I think there are many things you do to kind of change your game style from clay to hard. You can try to flatten out the shots a bit, maybe use the slice a bit more. You can block some returns here and there and come to the net a little bit more.

“For now I prefer to play the rallies from the baseline. But to mix up with some slices can be good, to keep the ball low on the surface. I think the courts here are pretty fast this year, so it’s definitely something I’m trying to do.”

Ruud will try to remain on a roll when he faces Stefanos Tsitsipas on Friday. Isner is going up against Gael Monfils.

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