Atlanta QF recap: Isner joined by unseeded trio in semifinals

John Isner is the lone remaining seed at the BB&T Atlanta Open as the weekend ushers in semifinal play on Saturday. The defending champion booked his spot in the last four with a 7-6(7), 6-4 victory over Marinko Matosevic on Friday afternoon.

Isner was one point away–twice–from bowing out after his opening match, in which he saved two match points on the way to a 4-6, 7-6(5), 7-5 victory over Robby Ginepri. The 6’10” American did not come nearly as close to the brink of defeat against Matosevic, but he did have to battle back from a break down and eventually save a set point in the first. He also struggled through a second set in which both players were adversely affected by brutal heat. The end result was a 7-6(7), 6-4 win in Isner’s favor.
“I knew he was struggling out there a little and he knew I was struggling out there a little bit,” Isner explained. “But a lot of times in situations like that it’s an advantage for me, because even though I appear super tired—I am super tired—I can still muster up enough energy to pop some big serves in. At the beginning of that second set it felt like someone just put us in the oven.

“A lot of people tell me I play possum out there and I may do that, but I’m not breaking the rules by any means. I’m lollygagging around in between points, but when the point comes I’m ready.”

One man who seems unable to be derailed by heat or by anything else is Benjamin Becker. The German, a recent runner-up on the grass courts of ‘s-Hertogenbosch, maintained his fine form with a 6-4, 6-2 defeat of lucky loser Thiemo De Bakker. Becker, best known for beating Andre Agassi in the Hall of Famer’s last match at the 2006 U.S. Open, fired six aces without double-faulting while holding all nine of his service games.
Becker wins
Jack Sock also advanced to the semifinals in straights, but–like Isner–he got off to a slow start. Lukas Lacko broke right away and consolidated his advantage en route to a 5-3 lead in the first set, but he could not serve it out at 5-4. From there it was all Sock, who ended up prevailing 7-6(6), 6-2.
“It was a pretty rough start,” Sock assured. “Even if the guy is up early like that, if you can break back at 5-4, you know it’s level. The momentum probably shifts in my favor in that case pretty heavily.”

Speaking of momentum, Sock has a ton of it right now. The 21-year-old American captured the Wimbledon doubles title with Vasek Pospisil and is also coming off a semifinal showing in Newport. The Sock-Pospisil team, meanwhile, has rolled through two matches this week and will put their No. 1 seeding and status as title favorite on the line once again on Saturday night against Nicolas Barrientos and Victor Estrella Burgos.

Said Sock, “I always love playing in doubles, so you’ll see me in a lot of draws; especially Vasek and I right now, we’re on a pretty good winning streak. One of our small goals is to make the year-end championships in London. Obviously I love still being in the doubles (in Atlanta). Any tennis I can play and any time I can compete, I love it.”

Pospisil only has doubles left on his Atlanta schedule, because he went down to Dudi Sela 7-5, 1-6, 6-2 in Friday’s nightcap. A roller-coaster ride featured injury timeouts for both players. Pospisil saw the trainer multiple times for a right-leg issue and Sela took a medical timeout for no other reason than to gather his thoughts after Pospisil had reeled off a flurry of games in succession.

“To do some thinking with myself about what I have to do,” Sela said when asked about the reason. “To relax.”

Pospisil 1
There was doubles action to begin the day. Barrientos and Estrella Burgos held off Chris Guccione and John-Patrick Smith 7-5, 3-6, 10-6. The all-American duo of Steve Johnson and Sam Querrey took the court next and the two first-round singles opponents took down No. 2 seeds Santiago Gonzalez and Scott Lipsky 7-6(2), 7-5.
Johnson Querrey

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