Sunday, August 4, 2013

Isner Rallies, Advances to Citi Open Finals

#8 seed John Isner made it back to the finals of the Citi Open for the first time since 2007, rallying to defeat unseeded Dmitry Tursunov 6-7, 6-3, 6-4 after an 60+ minute rain delay yesterday. Isner's victory sets up a dream matchup with two-time champion Juan Martín del Potro later today at the William H.G. FitzGerald Tennis Center.

Isner launched a total of 29 aces for the match, reaching 142 MPH (to save a set point) in the first set tiebreaker (eventually won by Tursunov 9-7.) Both players traded big serves, with Isner running off 16 straight points at one juncture. The dramatic tiebreaker ended a set that was otherwise dominated by the former NCAA champion: Isner held advantages in 1st serve % (63-49) 1st service points won % (88-76) and winners (22-9.) Tursunov had one less unforced error (10-11.)

Isner jumped out to a 2-1, 40-15 lead in the second set, before the rain came. The chair umpire drew Isner's ire by letting play continue one more point, resulting in a slip and one break point lost. When play resumed (one long hour later) Isner broke serve, and took control of the match. Unfortunately, the rain delay also prevented my staying for the entire match.

Today's finals should be a real crowd pleaser; although it's worth noting that del Potro is 3-0 lifetime vs. Isner (6-0 in sets.) How the 7th ranked player in the world handles Isner's serve should tell a lot... but Isner has to deal with del Potro's equally confounding forehand. John is 7-7 all-time in ATP Finals; and is fresh off an Atlanta Tennis Championships title last week over Kevin Anderson. Del Potro has won just one title this year (Rotterdam Open, back in February) but reached the semifinals of Wimbledon last month, losing an epic 5-set marathon to world #1 Novak Djokovic.