Atlanta Day 7 recap: Isner, Harrison one round away from all-American final

The Atlanta story is a familiar one for John Isner. Now the question heading into the weekend is if he can rewrite the final chapter. Isner is through to the semifinals of this event for the fourth time in its four-year history after edging friend and fellow American James Blake 7-6(1), 7-6(5) on Friday afternoon. In all four of Isner’s appearance, he has received a first-round bye followed by a three-set win in the second round and a straight-set victory in the quarterfinals. Blake kept it close in both sets and had a great chance of winning the second, but he gave back a break and lost one service point in the tiebreaker–at 6-5 to abruptly end the encounter.

Somewhat overshadowing the former UGA Bulldog and No. 1 seed this week are the Harrison brothers. Christian lost to Isner in a tight three-setter on Thursday while Ryan booked a spot in the semifinals for the second time in three trips to Atlanta. The elder Harrison has won all three of his matches in three sets, the most recent a 6-3, 3-6, 7-6(2) thriller over Santiago Giraldo on Friday night. The 21-year-old trailed by a break early in the third but recovered to eventually dominate the final ‘breaker. Harrison struck six aces and matched Isner with the fastest serve of the week at 142 miles per hour.

Rounding out the semifinal lineup are Lleyton Hewitt and Kevin Anderson, who earned bookend three-set wins on Friday. Hewitt lost the first five games of his match against Ivan Dodig only to storm past the No. 3 seed 1-6, 6-3, 6-0. Anderson won the highest-quality showdown of the day, holding off Denis Istomin 6-3, 3-6, 6-3. Both men fired 12 aces in a match that virtually all came down to Anderson’s service game at 2-2 in the third, a marathon in which the 6’7” South African erased a 0-40 deficit and saved six break points in total.

Familiar foes Isner and Hewitt will face each other again on Saturday while Anderson and Harrison are set for first-ever meeting.

Harrison on his win: “To me the whole thing was just a lot of fun. Things go bad here and there; things don’t feel great all the time, especially in such a close match, but there was a lot of fun out there. The crowd was awesome. There was a ton of energy and I’m an energetic person; whenever there’s that much stuff going on, I’m going to be alive. My feet are going, my energy’s up, I’m excited.”

Harrison on Atlanta: “I love playing here in Atlanta. I had my first-ever breakthrough tournament and I won a wild-card event (for the Australian Open) here when I was 17. And I won that event again the next year. So I actually started here in Atlanta 9-0 as a professional. Now I’m back in the semis again, so I can’t say I don’t love playing here.”

Harrison on his brother: “I was super proud of him. He came in here and played his first tour event and it looked like he had been doing it for 10 years. The way he handled himself, he was a true professional. Christian played his heart out. After the match, the only thing he was talking about was the experience and how awesome it was. He was just thinking about doing 100 pushups because he wanted to gain a little bit. He actually did a small workout after that match. He works his butt off.”

Isner on tiebreakers: “When I’m in that situation in sort of favors me, given how I can end the points quickly. It really puts a lot of pressure on my opponent because really if they slip up one point on their serve, the tiebreaker could be over. A lot of times I play my best tennis in the tiebreak. A lot of times I’m playing more aggressively and finishing points the right way.”

Isner on Hewitt: “His return of serve is incredible. He gets his racket on the ball, somehow, someway. That and how he competes is what got him to No. 1 in the world. He’s a Hall of Famer. He’s still going. He has a great record against me. I know I can beat him, but I need to play well and I need to serve very well.

Dodig 2                                                                Ivan Dodig

Hewitt wins 2                                                                   Lleyton Hewitt

Blake 1                                                                 James Blake

Isner 3                                                                    John Isner

Isner press                                                                 Isner

Harrison wins 1Harrison wins 3                                                                  Ryan Harrison

Istomin                                                                  Denis Istomin

Anderson                                                                 Kevin Anderson

1 Comment on Atlanta Day 7 recap: Isner, Harrison one round away from all-American final

  1. Another great day of tennis at the BB & T….there have been great matches all week long, and the semis match ups could make for more thrilling tennis!

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