Isner Shocks Federer In Paris
American fires 27 aces in upset win
John Isner came through a tense third-set tie-break on Thursday to beat Roger Federer 7-6(3), 3-6, 7-6(5) at the BNP Paribas Masters. The American secured the win on his fourth match point after two hours and 16 minutes and improved his FedEx ATP Head2Head record against the No. 3 seed to 2-5. Both of Isner’s wins (2012 Davis Cup, indoor clay) have come indoors.
"Does indoors maybe help him there a little bit? Potentially," Federer said. "He's got the size, got the power, got the angles. I thought he did very well today when he needed it. The 'breakers, he served great. Those are the ones he needed. That was the difference."
Federer went down despite claiming the lone service break of the match, midway through the second set. The third-seeded Swiss struck 13 aces and saved all six break points faced, but misfired on a forehand to drop the first set and was on the receiving end of an unplayable 145 miles per hour Isner serve on the final point of the match.
“If you know me, you know that that's my favorite serve,” said Isner about his play selection on match point. “It's sort of one of those things, a lot of people know I'm going there. Catch it if you can. It's like a pitcher with a fast ball, I guess. It's a shot I have hit a million times. I have played a lot of matches in my career now. I have been in that situation before.”
Federer, the 2011 Paris champion had been perfect in tie-breaks against Isner since the pair’s first meeting at the 2007 US Open (5-0), but lost the initiative in both on Thursday. In the first-set tie-break, Isner fired a forehand winner to move ahead 3/1 before serving it out. In the decider, the American found the critical mini-break by drawing Federer to the net and forcing the Swiss into a backhand overhead miss.
"At the US Open, I won my tie-breakers," Federer said. "Here, I lost them. It's a pity. I didn't play a bad match. I haven't been broken during six sets against him, and I lost the match. This is how it happens against John. It's always on his racquet, especially indoors."
"This is a very big tournament," Isner said. "He's an incredible player. My favorite player and the greatest of all time, in my opinion. It was a huge win for me. I'm very proud I was able to get it done."
Isner will contest his 10th quarter-final of the season against David Ferrer, who topped Grigor Dimitrov 6-7(4), 6-1, 6-4 in two hours and 20 minutes. The tenacious returner was unable make inroads on the Dimitrov serve in the opening set, but went five-for-10 on break points the rest of the way to secure his fifth win over the Bulgarian (5-1).
Isner and Ferrer have met six times with the Spaniard winning five of those matches. However, the big-serving American’s win came in the Paris quarter-finals four years ago.
"It's been a while since I have played him," Isner said. "That's sometimes how it works out. You play a lot of the top guys, three, four times a year. Some you never play. This will be a tough challenge for me. I know going in he's never going to give up and he's always going to fight. He's an incredible player with an unbelievable work ethic, and he's earned everything he's ever gotten. It will be a fun match."