Atlanta final preview and pick: Isner vs. Anderson

The tallest-ever ATP final will pit John Isner against Kevin Anderson on Sunday in Atlanta. Isner is looking for his first career title at this event after finishing runner-up to Mardy Fish in both 2010 and 2011.

(1) John Isner vs. (2) Kevin Anderson

Isner and Anderson will be facing each other for the ninth time in their professional careers when the two former college rivals collide in the final of the BB&T Atlanta Open on Sunday afternoon. The head-to-head series stands at 5-3 in Isner’s favor, including 4-3 on hard courts. They most recently squared off five months ago in the Delray Beach quarterfinals, where the 6’9” American prevailed 6-2, 7-6(1). They split a pair of 2012 meetings, with Anderson taking two tight sets in Delray Beach before Isner outlasted him in a Shanghai third-set tiebreaker.

Isner press
Anderson is in the midst of an outstanding 2013 campaign that has him up to a career-high ranking of No. 21 in the world. The 6’7” South African is 32-13 for the season following Atlanta scalps of Matthew Ebden, Denis Istomin, and Ryan Harrison. He survived three-setters against Ebden and Istomin before holding off Harrison in a second-set tiebreaker. Isner has been up to his usual dramatics. The top seed edged Christian Harrison 7-6(9), 4-6, 7-5, beat James Blake 7-6(1), 7-6(5), and outlasted Lleyton Hewitt 6-4, 4-6, 7-6(5). Isner’s year has been plagued by knee issues, but he has now won six of his last seven matches.

While Anderson has been playing superior than his opponent of late, the Delray Beach result bodes well for Isner and he is playing far better now–as he often does during the hard-court summer–than he was this spring. In a serve-fest that is likely to feature at least one tiebreaker if not two or three, Isner may have a slight edge. After all, he is statistically one of the best tiebreaker players in the history of tennis. The former UGA Bulldog is also due in Atlanta, where he is already a two-time runner-up.

Pick: Isner in 3

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