Isner’s Atlanta dominance continues with final win over Sela

John Isner rolls over Dudi Sela in straight sets on Sunday to win a second consecutive Atlanta title. Isner is now 16-3 lifetime at this event and he owns nine career ATP winner’s trophies.

They say there’s no place like home, but for John Isner, there might be.

Atlanta, sometimes mistakenly called Isner’s home because he went to college for four years at the nearby University of Georgia, must now be considered the 6’10” American’s best tournament. In his fourth final in five appearances, Isner captured his second consecutive BB&T Atlanta Open title on Sunday afternoon by overwhelming Dudi Sela 6-3, 6-4.
Isner 1
Competing in his 18th career final whereas Sela had only been in one previous final and none in the last five years, Isner’s big-match experience showed right away. Although service breaks are generally few and far between for the world No. 12, he seized one right away for 2-0 advantage in the first set. Isner was pushed to deuce in each of his next two service games and even had to erase a break point with an ace at 2-0, 30-40, but he held comfortably at both 4-2 and 5-3 to take the set.

“Today it was okay,” Sela commented on his serve. “The first game was not great. I hit two unforced errors with my backhand and one double-fault and it’s 0-40 and one good return by him and I’m broken. Now I have to break his serve, so it’s not easy. I knew when he broke me straight away he was going to play much, much better.”

“It helped a lot,” the top seed assured when asked about the quick break. “I was able to get up early and I was serving first, as well. So I was playing from ahead pretty much the whole match. I broke early in the second set, as well. I like that situation a lot, given the conditions, the court, how I’m serving…. A lot went right for me today.”
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The day was all but over when Sela dropped serve for a second time at 1-1 in the second. The 5’9” Israeli battled back from 0-30 to 30-30, but Isner promptly cracked two straight forehand winners to break. Sela’s best chance to break after the 2-0 game in the first set came with his opponent serving for the championship at 5-3. The world No. 94 built a 0-30 lead only to see Isner force an error, hit two service winners, and smash an ace to clinch victory.

Sela saw 15 aces whiz past him during the one-hour and 11-minute affair. The underdog could not have been helped by the fact that he was facing Isner in hot, fast, and high-bouncing conditions. Sela has also not played a single day match in his four previous rounds before the final.

“Today was the first time for me playing in the daytime,” he noted. “All the matches I played were night matches. Today there was significant change.”
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“The conditions are different,” explained Isner, comparing day to night. “The ball is so lively out there. It’s tough to control and my serve is tougher during the day than it is at night. I had that going for me. I can’t ask for better conditions against an opponent like that. [They] were strongly in my favor.”

But when is any hard-court match in the United States not in Isner’s favor? Seven of his nine career ATP titles have come in his home nation, including four on hard courts and two in Atlanta (2013 and 2014). He also finished runner-up in Cincinnati last summer and in Indian Wells two years ago in addition to final appearances in Washington, D.C. (2007 and 2013) and Memphis (2010). All nine of his titles are of the 250-point variety.

“I would like to have it a little different,” Isner admitted. “I’ve been in the final of two Masters and two other 500 events. I’ve been in big finals before; it just hasn’t materialized for me. But my time will come. Look, this event…the field is so tough…. I’m so happy to win this. I consider myself very fortunate that this tournament is here. It’s a big advantage for me, honestly, to play in Georgia and have the crowd on my side and have a lot of support. It helps a lot.”
Isner trophy

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