Isner Battles Into Acapulco Semi-finals
Fifth seed John Isner continued his run of success at the Abierto Mexicano Telcel presentado por HSBC, defeating fellow American Tommy Paul 7-6(3), 3-6, 6-2 on Thursday for his second consecutive semi-final in Acapulco.
”He’s improved so much and his results show that this year. I’m definitely the old guard of American tennis and I’m trying to hang onto that for as long as I can,” Isner said. “Winning matches like this gives me a lot of confidence.”
Isner will now take on fellow American Taylor Fritz, who halted Brit Kyle Edmund's winning streak at seven matches with a 6-4, 6-3 victory to reach his maiden semi-final of the year. Isner leads their ATP Head2Head series 2-1, but lost their most recent clash last year in Auckland.
”I’m expecting a really good match. Taylor is confident every time he takes the court," Isner said. "He’s an absolute gamer and I respect the heck out of him. He straps on his shoes and goes to battle.”
Isner and Paul traded comfortable service holds in the first set to set up a tie-break. One point proved the difference, with Paul missing a forehand at 3/3 to give Isner a mini-break advantage. The big-serving American then took the next three points to grab the early lead.
A loose service game from Isner at 1-2 in the second set saw him hit two double faults to hand Paul the first break of the match. The slight advantage was all the 22-year-old needed and he went on to force a decider.
With the final set tied at 2-2, Isner found another gear and won four straight games to advance in exactly two hours. He hammered 22 aces on the day and has hit 72 aces across his first three matches this week.
Edmund and Fritz struggled to find their footing early on, with service breaks highlighting four of the first five games in the match. But Edmund's service struggles were largely due to Fritz's aggressive returns, with the American standing inside the baseline to pounce on second serves. A volley winner gave Fritz two set points with Edmund serving at 4-5 and a forehand error from the Brit wrapped up the opening set.
A three-game run of service breaks highlighted play in the second set, but it was Fritz who came out on top as another forehand error from Edmund gave the American his fifth break of the match and a 5-3 lead. The 22-year-old cracked a service winner on his first match point to advance in one hour and 35 minutes.
”When Kyle and I play each other, it’s all about who is going to get the first big shot in,” Fritz said. “Even when I was nervous, I was telling myself to still go for my shots.”