All-American Final Set For Atlanta
In a battle of big servers, John Isner again looked nearly impeccable on serve on Saturday at the BB&T Atlanta Open. The second seed blitzed past the third-seeded Gilles Muller 6-4, 6-2 in just 75 minutes to reach his seventh Atlanta final in the past eight years.
Isner claimed his seventh consecutive win and again didn't drop serve, erasing all four break points. The 6'10” American has now held for 69 straight service games, dating back to his title run last week at the Dell Technologies Hall of Fame Open in Newport.
“It was a very good match. Absolutely nothing to complain about today. On and off the court in pretty quick fashion and I certainly will be ready to go tomorrow,” Isner said. “I feel great physically, maybe the best I have felt in quite sometime. More importantly than that I am pretty confident as well.”
Isner will try to win his eighth consecutive contest and his fourth Atlanta title on Sunday when he faces compatriot Ryan Harrison, who beat Brit Kyle Edmund 6-7(5), 6-3, 6-4 in Saturday's second semi-final. Isner leads their FedEx ATP Head2Head series 5-2 but Harrison won their last match-up, a three-set win at the 2016 Rogers Cup.
“He is very comfortable playing here. I am too,” Harrison said. “It is going to be really important for me not to get discouraged whenever he is hammering aces left and right. It is going to happen. I know it is going to happen. I am going to create as many opportunities as I can and make sure I hold my service games.”
Harrison, who had reached the Atlanta semi-finals in 2011 and 2013, will play in his first Atlanta final and the second title match of his career. The 25 year old won the Memphis Open in February (d. Basilashvili).
Harrison was broken while serving for the first set against Edmund but roared back in the second, consolidating a break for a 4-1 lead. In the decider, the World No. 42 won eight of the final nine points, breaking Edmund to love at 4-4 and clinching the match when the Brit slapped a forehand wide.
Muller, who reached the Wimbledon quarter-finals earlier this month, had been breezing through his service games on the Atlanta hard courts, much like Isner. The left-hander had won all 24 of his service games and had erased all six break points. Through his first two matches, Muller had even out-aced Isner, 36 to 23.
But Isner, a three-time Atlanta champion, stepped up and played aggressively while returning. He broke in the third game to lead 2-1. In the second set, Isner broke Muller twice and then erased three break points after falling down 0/40 while serving for the match at 5-2.
“He made it very tough for me today. I don't feel like I played a bad match. I maybe didn't serve well enough today but it's also because of him, he put a lot of pressure on me,” said Muller, who fell to 2-4 in his FedEx ATP Head2Head series against Isner. “It was very tough out there today. All credit to him. He played a great match.”
Muller, a 2012 Atlanta finalist, reached his fourth Atlanta semi-final. “It's a perfect start to the hard-court season. I think I made the right choice to come here and get ready for the other tournaments, play in the heat, play on the hard courts,” Muller said. “I got two wins, another semi-final, so it's all good.”
Doubles Final Set
Wesley Koolhof of the Netherlands and New Zealand's Artem Sitak beat fourth seeds Purav Raja and Divij Sharan of India 7-6(3), 6-4 to reach the Atlanta doubles final. Koolhoof/Sitak will meet Bob Bryan and Mike Bryan, who dismissed Aussie John Millman and Thailand's Sanchai Ratiwatana 6-2, 6-3 in 49 minutes.
The Bryan brothers also won the Atlanta title in 2015. They will be going for their second title of the season (also Eastbourne) and their 114th career tour-level crown.