Posts tagged Isner
E-mail this to a friend Printable version
The United States won the Hopman Cup for the sixth time as Bethanie Mattek-Sands and John Isner secured a 2-1 win over Belgium in the final in Perth.
A 6-1 6-3 defeat of Justine Henin and Ruben Bemelmans in the mixed doubles rubber gave the Americans victory.
Henin had earlier beaten Mattek-Sands 7-6 (8-6) 6-3 before Isner levelled the tie with a 6-3 6-4 win over Bemelmans.
The winners were each awarded a gold and diamond-encrusted tennis ball as their prize.
“I actually saw these when I first got here and I thought they were the best trophy in tennis,” said Mattek-Sands. “It’s been an amazing week.”
Isner added: “This has been a great, great week. I’d like to thank Bethanie, her back’s got to be hurting because she’s been carrying me all week.”
In the opening rubber, Henin and world number 58 Mattek-Sands shared eight consecutive service breaks before the American took a 6-4 lead in the tie-break.
But Henin saw off the two set points and closed out the set, before recovering from 3-1 down in the second set to reel off 18 of the last 19 points on her way to victory.
Belgium had been late replacements for Serbia in the final after Ana Ivanovic was forced to withdraw with a stomach injury, and Henin admitted: “When I heard I had to play the final I was really mentally getting ready to go to Melbourne.
“It took me until 3-1 down in the second set to start playing my game but in the last five games I really found my level and it was good to finish with a win.
“But they were the better team today and I think the best team of the week won. John was just too big but it’s been great preparation for the Australian Open.”
* Wimbledon foes lead their teams to victories
* U.S. in pole position for final
American John Isner and Frenchman Nicolas Mahut, whose names entered the record books together at Wimbledon last year, helped their teams to victories in the Hopman Cup on Wednesday.
The two men played a record-breaking, 11-hour-five-minute match at Wimbledon last year and have since become good friends.
Isner showed he had endurance to match the speed of his serve as he came from 3-1 down to beat Potito Starace 7-6 4-6 6-4 and help the U.S. to beat Italy 2-1 in the mixed-team Hopman Cup.
Mahut bounced back from the loss of his singles to world number four Andy Murray with an inspirational performance in the mixed doubles as France defeated Britain by the same score.
The U.S. now top group B, in pole position to qualify for the final, though France and Italy can still finish ahead of them. Britain are the only team who cannot make the final.
Isner and Mahut will always be remembered for their Wimbledon encounter.
“We’ve become really good friends,” Isner said. “Honestly, before Wimbledon, you can ask him, we’d never said one word to each other. Now we text with each other quite often and I’ve gotten to know that he’s a really class act and a really good guy.”
Isner, six feet nine inches (2.06 metres) tall, struggled in the hot and humid conditions in the Burswood Dome but bounced back from a loss of concentration at the start of the third set to win.
“I am really happy to win a match like that,” he said. “I’d rather win losing my serve three times than win a match without losing my serve. It shows my returns are not too bad.”
Bethanie Mattek-Sands had put the U.S. ahead with a 6-4 6-4 win over an out-of-sorts French Open Champion Francesca Schiavone. The Italians won the mixed doubles to salvage a point.
Mahut pushed Murray hard, getting two set points in the first set and another in the second but the Scot found his game when he needed it to clinch victory.
The French, who had taken the lead when Kristina Mladenovic beat Laura Robson 6-4 3-6 6-0, then outplayed the Britons in the mixed doubles to clinch victory
One Florida Winner, Five R-up at 2010 Little Mo Int. Jr. Tennis
Boca Raton’s Charlotte Owensby captured the Girls’ 8 & Under title, and five other Florida players finished runner-up in boys’ and girls’ 8-12 age divisions at the 2010 Little Mo International Jr. Open, held in December 2010 at the IMG Bollettieri Tennis Academy in Bradenton, Fla. More than 200 players representing 31 countries competed at what has become the premier event for players in the youngest international junior tennis age divisions, with American standouts Andy Roddick and Ryan Harrison among past winners.
Owensby came from a set down to defeat fellow No. 1 seed Kristyna Lavickova of the Czech Republic 1-6, 6-4, 10-7 in the Girls’ 8 & Under final. Owensby also won the Little Mo Nationals regional event earlier in 2010 in Austin, Texas.
Florida players finishing runner-up in finals were unseeded Myles DeCoste of Ft. Pierce, Christian Alshon of Boca Raton, Mason Beiler of Palm Harbor, unseeded Constanza Rios of Sarasota, and unseeded Ava Sowell of Clearwater. The “Little Mo” tournaments are in honor of Maureen “Little Mo” Connolly, who was known not only for her victories but for her outstanding sportsmanship on and off the court.
Here are the final results in each division for the 2010 Little Mo International Jr. Open:
Boy’s 8 & Under
(1) Michael Francis II Eala (PHI) d. Myles DeCoste (Ft. Pierce, Fla.) 6-0, 6-1
Boy’s 9 & Under
(1) Brandon Nakashima (San Diego, Calif,) d. (1) Donovan Lilov (Morristown, NC) 6-1, 6-0
Boy’s 10 & Under
(1) Yshai Oliel (ISR) d. (1) Christian Alshon (Boca Raton, Fla.) 6-0, 7-5
Boy’s 11 & Under
(1) Brannagh Pattison-Blouin (CAN) d. (1) Mason Beiler (Palm Harbor, Fla.) 6-1, 7-5
Boy’s 12 & Under
(1) Raahil Doshi (SIN) d. Ronak Baldua (San Jose, Calif.) 6-1, 6-1
Girl’s 8 & Under
(1) Charlotte Owensby (Boca Raton, Fla.) d. (1) Kristyna Lavickova (CZE) 1-6, 6-4, 10-7
Girl’s 9 & Under
Viktoria Morvayova (SVK) d. Constanza Rios (Sarasota, Fla.) 6-2, 6-0
Girl’s 10 & Under
(1) Neli Sunjic (CRO) d. (1) Ellie Douglas (McKinney, Texas) 6-3, 6-3
Girl’s 11 & Under
(1) Katie Swan (GBR) d. Ava Sowell (Clearwater, Fla.) 6-0, 5-7, 10-6
Girl’s 12 & Under
(1) Ingrid Neel (Rochester, Minn.) d. (1) Hannah Lairmore (Mobile, Ala.) 6-0, 6-1
You are arm wrestling and your opponent has the exact same strength you have. Neither of you can budge.
One weak second, and you would be done. One lapse of concentration, and it’s over. Same is true for the other guy.
And the moment doesn’t just last a few seconds. Or minutes. Or hours. It lasts three days. How do you do it? How do you keep it together?
That’s how I saw tennis’ biggest moment of 2010. The year in tennis belonged to Rafael Nadal, really, as he recovered from an injury that threatened his career, won three majors, reestablished himself as the world’s best player and entered the argument about best player of all time.
But the most incredible moment is not in debate. It was John Isner beating Nicolas Mahut on a side court at Wimbledon on a Tuesday.
Also, on a Wednesday.
And a Thursday.
The net broke, the scoreboard broke. But Isner and Mahut, in the ultimate example of sports courage and stubbornness, went on and on until Isner finally won. Remember? It was 6-4, 3-6, 7-6 (9-7), 6-7 (7-3), 70-68. Yes, 70-68. They hugged at the net when it was over, and gave tennis a breakthrough moment.
“I really thought it was a dream. I didn’t think that type of match was possible.”
– John Isner “I really thought it was a dream,” Isner said after the match. “I didn’t think that type of match was possible. So I was really expecting to wake up, in all seriousness.”
To Isner, the dream started about midway into Wednesday’s play. They played the first four sets on Tuesday, and then stopped because it was dark. On Wednesday, they tried to play the final set, but had to quit again at 59-all. Dark again.
It was somewhere around 25-all that day, Isner said, that he became “completely delirious.”
It finally ended the next day, after Isner said he woke up feeling like a million bucks … in quarters.
The middle day, of course, was the most surreal, lasting hours and hours without completing one set. Isner pleaded with the chair ump at the time to let the match go on. The final set itself would have been the longest match in history.
This is true: I sat down courtside on that Wednesday just to see the fifth set. When it got to 8-7, with no idea history was being made. I left the grounds and walked roughly 15 minutes into Wimbledon village, found a pub and watched England play an entire World Cup soccer game.
When the soccer game ended, I walked back to the All England Club. Isner was up 28-27.
I sat only a few feet from Isner’s coach, Craig Boynton, who spent hours with a running stream of encouragement: “Good spot here, kid. Come on kid, you can do it. Your tennis here, kid.”
Isner kept looking over at Boynton and shrugging his shoulders with his arms out and palms up.
The crowd would giggle every time the chair ump would announce another outrageous score. Mahut would not stop running, or even slow down. Isner would not stop crushing serves; his 113 aces were 34 more than the previous record for a match.
And by the time it was over, the match had lasted 183 games. By contrast, Nadal had won seven matches to win the French Open a few weeks earlier. All seven matches totaled 201 games.
It’s probably not quite right to call this a tennis “moment.” A moment is something you might catch in a snapshot, like Francesca Schiavone’s pure joy when she won the French.
This moment lasted 11 hours, 5 minutes, blowing away all records for longevity.
People will point to those records and numbers as defining the moment. I don’t think they do.
Some people, too, have been pointing out that the quality of tennis wasn’t particularly high. It’s true, really, but that’s also beside the point.
Isner and Mahut not only defined themselves as fighters, but also provided a classic example of what sport can be. That’s what those days were about. It was two people fighting as hard as they could, making as much of themselves as they could, doing it for a freakishly long time with grace and sportsmanship. Both talked about gaining respect for each other in the fight.
And risk, too. I remember worrying at the time that one of them might just drop.
“Trust me, I thought about that,” Isner’s mother, Karen, told me a few minutes after the match. “I thought, ‘Someone has to do something.’ ”
The next day, in the second round, Isner was done. He failed to hit one ace while losing quickly. His first serve had lost roughly 25 mph.
Months later, at the U.S. Open, Mahut still complained about fatigue, and also about pain his back and knees. Isner took a few weeks off, came back, got hurt in Cincinnati.
But he seems to be recovering now, finishing the year ranked No. 19. Mahut continues life on the fringe of the tour, ranked No. 132.
Both move on now Jan. 3 to start the year in Australian at the Hopman Cup where …
They will play each other.
They’ll have two weeks to get the match done before the Australian Open.
E-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow me on Twitter @gregcouch
Isner ready to put epic Wimbledon match behind him
- Tweet This
- Share on LinkedIn
- Share on Facebook
NEW YORK (Reuters) – To most tennis fans, American John Isner will be forever remembered as the man who won the longest ever tennis match at Wimbledon this year.
But the 25-year-old, who reached the second round of the U.S. Open on Wednesday with a 6-4 6-3 6-4 win over Frederico Gil of Portugal, wants to make a new name for himself.
Isner’s first-round match with Frenchman Nicolas Mahut at Wimbledon spanned three days and went down as the longest ever match at 11 hours 5 minutes and 183 grueling games.
The American did numerous television interviews when he returned to the United States after Wimbledon but said he is now determined to move on.
“That’s something I will always remember and it was truly a pleasure to be on the court with Nicolas that day for a historic match,” Isner said in a oncourt interview.
“But I want to put it behind me. I want to do well in the big tournaments. This is my favorite tournament in the world and this is the one I want to do well in.”
Isner almost did not make it to the U.S. Open after turning his right ankle in Cincinnati Masters two weeks ago.
But the 18th seed showed no signs of discomfort as he dispatched world number 87 Gil in straight sets.
Gil was looking for his first victory in a grand slam event but though he matched Isner early on, once the American had won the first set, the result never looked in doubt.
“(The ankle) felt great,” Isner said. “I took a four-to-six week injury and got ready in two weeks.”
Not having to play his first match until Wednesday “was huge” to his hopes, said Isner, who now plays Switzerland’s Marco Chiudinelli.
“I turned it two weeks ago so it gave me two weeks,” he said. “It was a lucky break.”
(Editing by Frank Pingue)
WASHINGTON — John Isner’s experience with match-deciding tiebreakers wasn’t enough to save him from an upset loss Thursday night.
Unseeded Xavier Malisse of Belgium edged the Greensboro tennis player 6-4, 3-6, 7-6 (5) in a rain-delayed match in the third round of the ATP’s Legg Mason Classic.
Isner, seeded fifth, served 18 aces to Malisse’s 11, but struggled all night with his return of serve. The Page alumnus, ranked 19th in the world, won only 18 percent of points on first-serve returns and 32 percent on second-serve returns.
Isner’s sometimes-doubles partner, Sam Querrey, also was an upset victim in the Legg Mason. But a quasi-tragic accident that might have ended his career at 21 has helped Querrey keep things in perspective.
The frightening incident occurred late last September, after a practice session at Bangkok’s stop on the ATP tour. Querrey was sitting on a glass table in the locker room to finish dressing when the table gave way under his 6-foot-6, 200-pound body.
A shard of glass sliced his right (racket) arm, barely missing a nerve and requiring emergency surgery that included four layers of stitches. After his loss Wednesday night, Querrey displayed the inside of his right arm, a 3-inch scar barely visible.
“They had to stitch a muscle back up,” he said, “and there’s a little square under my wrist that’s numb; I don’t have any feeling there. But that doesn’t affect my tennis at all.”
That he was quickly dispatched by 41st-ranked Serbian Janko Tipsarevic hardly puts a dent in his building momentum, Querrey insisted.
Andy Roddick eased through his second match last night versus qualie Grega Zemlja to start his run at the Legg Mason Tennis Classic title. Roddick only fired four aces in the match but never faced a break point against Zemlja, didn’t lose a point in his last four service games, and converted all four of his break chances.
Roddick’s a three-time champ in DC, and has a career 30-5 record here, who’s seeking to add a fourth LMTC trophy to his resume. Roddick said in the presser, however, that his real focus is using this time on the American hard courts for US Open preparation. “If anyone tells you the end goal isn’t to be prepared and ready by the US Open, they’re probably not being completely honest with themselves or with you. The best preparation for a Grand Slam is winning.”
In one of the popcorn matches of the night, third seed Fernando Verdasco narrowly avoided an upset against Michael Berrer. Verdasco faced two match points in the second set, and was trailing 2-5, before winning five straight games to close out the set. The Spaniard pulled out the win in a third set TB, 4-6, 7-5, 7-6 (6).
“Even when I was match points down, I was just trying to put all the balls in and make no mistakes,” Verdasco said, adding, “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.”
In the last match of the night, fifth-seeded John Isner and Thiemo De Baaker went to two tie-breaks, with Isner sealing the win with three aces in the second set TB producing a 7-6 (6), 7-6 (8) win. Quite a change from their last meeting, when Isner was easily dropped by De Baaker after his marathon match with Nicholas Mahut. Both Isner and De Bakker had really strong service games. Isner had fifteen aces for the match, with De Bakker getting nine. De Bakker saved the only break point of the entire match.
Mardy Fish pulled out an easy 6-4, 6-3 win against Viktor Troicki, who double-faulted six times in the match, including three times in one game during the first set. A somewhat disappointing result for Troicki, who took out Roddick in ‘08 and advanced to the final here before losing to defending champion Juan Martin Del Potro.
Other second round winners included fourth-seeded Marin Cilic with a surprisingly easy win over Denis Istomin 6-4, 6-2. Closing out the first-round matches, Marco Chiudinelli took out Brian Dabul 7-6 (3), 6-2; and Alejandro Falla got through against Rendy Lu 7-5, 6-1.
It was a bad day for the French players, with four players dropping out: Richard Gasquet, who retired with bad back in his opener against Kristof Vliegen; Julian Benneteau def by Xavier Malisse 7-5 6-4, Michael Llodra, who was upset by American Ryan Sweeting 6-4 6-2; and ‘06 champ Arnaud Clement, who was downed by Janko Tipsarevic 6-4 6-0. These losses left Gilles Simon as the lone French winner for the night after he dropped Igor Kunitsyn 6-1 6-2, while LLodra and Benneteau are sticking around in dubs action.
Another popcorn match was served up for fans in dubs action when top seeded team Daniel Nestor and Nenad Zimonjic took a first-round loss, falling to Czechs Tomas Berdych and Radek Stepanek, 6-4, 4-6, 10-8. Fans crowded the stands 10 people thick to see the match that definitely opens up the draw for other teams, including second seeded three-time champions Bryan Brothers, who are in headline action tonight.
ORDER OF PLAY – WEDNESDAY, AUGUST 04, 2010
STADIUM start 4:00 pm
 Sam Querrey (USA) vs Janko Tipsarevic (SRB)
Not Before 5:30 PM
Alejandro Falla (COL) vs  Lleyton Hewitt (AUS)
Not Before 7:00 PM
[WC] Andrew Courtney (USA) / Michael Shabaz (USA) vs  Bob Bryan (USA) / Michael Bryan (USA)
 Tomas Berdych (CZE) vs Dmitry Tursunov (RUS)
GRANDSTAND start 4:00 pm
Mardy Fish (USA) / Mark Knowles (BAH) vs Marcelo Melo (BRA) / Bruno Soares (BRA)
Not Before 5:30 PM
Horacio Zeballos (ARG) vs  Marcos Baghdatis (CYP)
 Stanislas Wawrinka (SUI) vs [WC] David Nalbandian (ARG)
Kristof Vliegen (BEL) vs  Andrey Golubev (KAZ)
COURT 1 start 4:00 pm
 Ernests Gulbis (LAT) vs Illya Marchenko (UKR)
Not Before 5:00 PM
Marco Chiudinelli (SUI) vs  Radek Stepanek (CZE)
John Isner (USA) / Sam Querrey (USA) vs Julien Benneteau (FRA) / Michael Llodra (FRA)
COURT 2 start 4:00 pm
Simon Aspelin (SWE) / Paul Hanley (AUS) vs  Mariusz Fyrstenberg (POL) / Matkowski Matkowski (POL)
Not Before 5:00 PM
Rohan Bopanna (IND) / Aisam-Ui-Haq Qureshi (PAK) vs Martin Damm (CZE) / Oliver Marach (AUT)
Live streaming begins Thursday, and TV coverage begins on Friday on ESPN2.
Also Check Out:
Roddick, Isner Highlight Tuesday in Washington; Blake Bounced
USA Takes Over England, Fish v. Querrey Reach Queen’s Final
A Fish on Clay?
Americans Blake, Fish Swim to Forefront at ATP Estoril
WC Blake Exits in 1R; Roddick, Isner, Fish on Tap Tonight at Legg Mason Tennis Classic
Filed under: ATP, American tennis, US Open Series, Washington
Tags: Alejandro Falla, Andy Roddick, Fernando Verdasco, Grega Zemlja, John Isner, Mardy Fish, Michael Berrer, Richard Gasquet, Ryan Sweeting, Thiemo de Bakker, Viktor Troicki
First- and second-round play continued at the Legg Mason Tennis Classic in Washington on Tuesday.
Play was headlined with a mouthwatering second-round rematch featuring American John Isner and Thiemo de Bakker of the Netherlands. Isner faced de Bakker in Wimbledon following his three-day, 11-hour, five-minute first-round marathon against Nicolas Mahut. Isner, who had no energy left for the Wimbledon match against de Bakker, was defeated in straight sets at the All England Club. The rematch between the two on Tuesday lasted until Wednesday morning in Washington. It was eerily similar to the Isner-Mahut contest at Wimbledon. The contest had no breaks of serve by either player and Isner finally defeated de Bakker 7-6 (6), 7-6 (8). Isner finished with 15 aces, while de Bakker had nine.
Only one break point was generated during the contest and de Bakker fought Isner’s opportunity off. In the first-set tiebreak, Isner earned an early mini-break when he went up 2-1, taking the second point off de Bakker’s serve. After de Bakker managed to hang in the tiebreak, Isner finally closed the breaker out by winning a point off de Bakker’s serve, taking the first-set tiebreak 8-6. The second set played out in the same exact fashion the first one did –no breaks of serve for either player. Isner lost a mini-break early in the set, but managed to rally back and serve the tiebreak out 10-8.
Before the Isner match, second-seeded Andy Roddick set the table for an American sweep on Tuesday. Roddick, last year’s runner-up and three-time Legg Mason champion did not disappoint. Roddick defeated Grega Zemlja of Slovenia in straight sets 6-4, 6-4. The ninth-ranked American’s serve was flawless. Roddick’s serve was not broken once throughout the match and he won a gaudy 90 percent of his first-serve points. On the other hand, Zemlja only won 72 percent of his first-serve points and was broken twice. Roddick moves on to the third round where he will face a tough opponent in 13th-seeded Gilles Simon of France.
Simon, who was ranked as high as No. 6 in May of 2009, had a solid match on Tuesday by defeating Igor Kunitsyn of Russia in under an hour 6-1, 6-2. Simon has struggled to regain his old form since returning from a knee injury that kept him sidelined for most of the year. However, he looked solid on Tuesday and can be a threat to Roddick in the third round.
American Mardy Fish returned to the singles court following a week off after winning the Atlanta Tennis Championships. In Atlanta, Fish defeated Roddick in a semifinal match and Isner in the final. Fish also won his previous tournament on the grass in Newport. Fish is red-hot, winning his last two tournaments.
A fatigued Fish pulled out of the singles field in Los Angeles last week, but he did play doubles at the Farmers Classic. The 15th-seeded American extended his winning streak to 11 matches on Tuesday by defeating Viktor Troicki of Serbia in straight sets 6-4, 6-3. Fish broke Troicki’s serve five times in the contest and was only broken twice. Fish, currently ranked No. 35 in the world has improved his ranking by 73 spots since Mar. 1.
Other notable seeds to advance in second-round play were third-seeded Fernando Verdasco and fourth-seeded Marin Cilic. Two seeded-Frenchmen lost in second-round action on Tuesday. Xavier Malisse defeated 12th-seeded Julien Benneteau of France in straight sets 7-5, 6-4. American Ryan Sweeting also defeated 14-th seeded Michael Llodra in straight sets 6-4, 6-2.
In first-round matches on Tuesday, the following players advanced: Janko Tipsarevic, Alejandro Falla, Marco Chiudinelli and Kristof Vilegen advanced. Richard Gasquet, a finalist in Gstaad over the weekend on clay, retired in his match against Vilegen after dropping the first set 6-3.
In doubles action, the Czech team of Tomas Berdych and Radek Stepanek defeated the world’s top-ranked team of Daniel Nestor and Nenad Zimonjic 6-4, 4-6, 10-8. Berdych, the top seed in the men’s draw, begins his singles campaign on Wednesday. It is his first tournament since finishing runner-up to Rafael Nadal at this year’s Wimbledon.
Top-ranked Serena Williams and John Isner will team up to represent the United States in next January’s Hopman Cup in Perth, Australia. Isner is best known for playing the longest match in tennis history at this year’s Wimbledon, shattering multiple records in his 11 hour, five minute marathon that spanned the course of three days.
The Hopman Cup will run from Jan. 1 to Jan. 8 of next year. Unlike other national team tennis tournament events, the Hopman Cup is unique in that it combines male and female players. The field for next year’s tournament is packed with some of the world’s best. Right now, there are five Grand Slam champions confirmed to play.
In addition to the star power of the American team, the Serbian team includes Novak Djokovic and Ana Ivanovic. Other players set to play in the tournament include Justine Henin of Belgium, Gael Monfils of France and Lleyton Hewitt of Australia.
Samantha Stosur, this year’s French Open finalist and fifth-ranked player on the WTA tour, has yet to confirm she will play in the tournament. She teamed up with Lleyton Hewitt in this year’s Hopman Cup. Tournament director Paul McNamee also said he was hopeful of adding world No. 4 Andy Murray, who reached the 2010 final for Great Britain alongside Laura Robson.
“It’s a spectacular lineup,” McNamee said. “There is potential for some really great match-ups for both the men and the women, not to mention the mixed.”
The field will continue to be filled in the coming weeks.
Nations are split into two groups where they will play a men’s singles match, a women’s singles match and then a mixed doubles match in a round-robin format. The respective group winners advance to a tournament final against each other. The tournament is played on hard court and allows players to prepare for the upcoming Australian Open.
JOHNS CREEK, Ga. — The crowd at the final match of the Atlanta Tennis Championships on Sunday was decidedly Georgia Bulldog, meaning the crowd was clearly behind local favorite and former UGA star, John Isner. It was Mardy Fish, however, who survived the scorching heat and the hostile crowd to win his second straight ATP tournament, 4-6, 6-4, 7-6 (4).
It took three sets and two hours and 45 minutes for Fish to finish off Isner at the first event in the U.S. Open Series event. But it’s taken a lot longer for Fish to get into the kind of shape it takes to be so successful on tour.
“Obviously we put in the work and this is what we wanted to do,” said Fish. “This is where we wanted to be. These are the types of matches we targeted in October when we were rehabbing with the knee. That seems like a long time ago. It feels great.”
Now that Fish is near the top of his game, he’s able to play events and believe that he can beat anyone who opposes him. This week he beat the ninth-ranked player in the world, Andy Roddick, and then No. 19 Isner. He’ll get similar competition throughout the rest of the hard court season, but Fish is fine with that.
“I do feel like I can play with anyone,” said Fish. “It’s a confidence thing, that helps a lot. If you feel like you’re going to walk out there not thinking you have much of a chance, what’s the point? You’re just playing, trying to make quarterfinals in tournaments and stuff like that. That’s not why we worked hard to get where we are.”
The heat was ‘brutal again,’ to use a commonly uttered phrase from Isner. The temperatures were in the upper-90s with the sun baking the on-court temperatures above 100 degrees.
“I don’t think I’ve ever played in conditions this hot and this humid,” said Isner. “It’s rough like this.”
The first hour was the hottest, according to Isner, and that’s the set he won. But gutting out that first set may have zapped his power for the final two. His first serve percentage dropped slightly between the first set and the final two. His return game suffered more. In the first set Isner returned 33 percent of Fish’s first serves. In the second and third sets that figure dropped to below 16 percent.
Some of that drop in the level of Isner’s return game came from mishits, as he lost the ability to focus at normal levels. More still seemed to come from his apparent energy conservation.
To get through a marathon match like that — and Isner should be able to write the book on marathon matches — you have to find ways to conserve energy. If Isner didn’t immediately jump out to a lead in Fish’s service games, he would either take chances to end points early, causing mishits or over-hitting. It’s just a fact of life.
“It’s the third final this year, that arguably, I probably could have won,” said Isner. “I lost two finals earlier this year and was up in both of them. In one I was serving on match point. This one obviously could have gone either way, it’s disappointing. I’ve played four finals this year and I’ve lost my last three, all in three sets. That’s hard to swallow but it hasn’t stopped me from progressing.”
Isner says that he’ll definitely take something away from the Atlanta tournament, and he’ll continue putting himself in the same position of playing in the finals at tournaments.
With the match tied at two sets apiece, Fish opened up the third set and held serve. Isner did the same and Fish followed suit to make the score 2-1, Fish.
In the next game Isner tried an ill-conceived drop shot and missed badly. Fish converted his second break opportunity of the match and went up 3-1. The match seemed to be in Fishes hands, but fought back hard on Fishes serve to get the break back. The two changed over at 3-2, Fish and the crowd got loud.
There was no doubt that the crowd was very pro-Isner. All day the random ‘Go Dawgs’ chant would be shouted. But while the players sat at changeover, what started with a small group turned into a scaled-down version of football in the south on Saturdays. By the time the players got back to their respective baselines, most of the crowd was involved in a back-and-forth chant. One side would scream ‘Georgia’ with the other ‘Bulldogs’.
“Breaking back, in general, gave me some juice,” Isner said. “The crowd, for the most part, was probably on my side and that kind of helped. it spurred me on.”
While ‘probably’ is an understatement in regard to crowd support, Isner also thinks his improved serving gave him the ability to get back in the match and take it to a third-set tiebreaker.
“I started serving better after that 3-1 game,” Isner said. “I held all the way through.”
Once the match made it to the third-set tiebreaker, there were two schools of thought as to who had the advantage. Maybe Fish was set up to win because of the level of fatigue plaguing Isner. Or possibly Isner, who is incredibly tough to beat in tiebreakers had the upper hand.
Fish started out serving, which was somewhat to his advantage. He won that first point and then took both of the points on Isners serve to go up 3-0.
“I knew that the way that I was feeling – the way we were both feeling – a good start in the tiebreaker was going to be huge,” Fish said. “I was lucky enough to get the first two points off his serve, which doesn’t happen too often.”
Fish took his next service point to go up 4-0 but Isner fought back. He scored the next two points before having some trouble with Fishes serves.
“He played a good point to go 4-1,” Fish said. “But later he missed two second serve returns to go 4-3 and another to make it 6-3. I think that was probably the turning point there of the tiebreaker.”
Isner later said that the two returns were ‘mishits’, but wouldn’t elaborate as to whether it was because of fatigue or Fish’s ability to start off second-serve points extremely well. Two points after the second missed return, Fish put the match to rest.
“He’s one of the toughest outs in a tiebreaker that we have out here,” said Fish. “It’s pretty satisfying to beat him at that.”
The win gives Fish his fifth career ATP tour title and the second this year and with his win last week in Newport, it’s his second consecutive. Fish feels like he’s playing the best tennis of his career..
“As top as I’ve ever been,” said Fish when asked if he was at the top of his game. “I’ve never won two tournaments in the same year, I’ve never won two tournaments in a row and on the ATP tour I’ve never won 10 matches in a row. It’s probably as good as it’s been.”
Fish can take home the satisfaction of knowing he’s playing incredible tennis right now. He can also take home $95,845 in prize money and more important 250 points toward his ranking. He’ll also jump out to an early lead in the U.S. Open Series standings with 70 points for winning the first step of six on the way to the U.S. Open.
But Fish won’t actually be going home. He’s headed to Los Angeles to play in the Farmer’s Classic, which starts on July 26.