After his semifinal win, John Isner said he had found his confidence and did not want to let it go, but Isner might have lost his newfound confidence already after losing a second straight Atlanta final to Mardy Fish after being up a set and a break.
Isner had a chance to close out the match in the second set tiebreak when leading 5-1, and then 6-4, with two championship points. Fish said about being match point down, “When you’re in that position, it’s almost over. I played some good points. I don’t think he missed any first serves there. I stuck some returns and put some balls in play.”
Isner also had two break points at 2-3 in the third set to get back on serve, but Fish was able to hold and pulled away with the match to win 3-6, 7-6(6), 6-2. Fish said of the match, “I didn’t necessarily change anything tactically. I took care of my serve games a little bit better once I lost serve in the first game of the second.” Fish also said, “I played a good third set, but I was lucky to win the second set. I felt like I played better and better throughout the match.” This is Fish’s sixth ATP World Tour title.
Saturday’s Semifinal between John Isner and Gilles Muller was reminiscent of their second round match last year with both men very dominant on their own serve. The only thing that separated the two in the first set was Isner’s break of Muller’s serve on a double fault at 5-5. Isner had two break points, again at 5-5 in the second set but was not able to capitalize. The American played a poor tiebreak, which Muller won 7-3. After the match, Isner said he did not panic after losing the second set and that he felt he returned well in the third. He won 80 percent of Muller’s second serve points in the third set to take the match, 7-5, 6-7(3), 6-1, and make his second straight Atlanta final.
Isner also said that the difference between the beginning of the year, when he had a string of losses, and the last few weeks (during which he won a title in Newport) is that he feels like his confidence is back. “It’s not so much something I’ve been working on in practice, it’s something simple like confidence. I’m not the fastest mover but I feel like I’ve been moving well this week and that comes from having a clear head and making the right decisions on the court. I’ve been waiting for this feeling for four or five months now and now that I’ve got it I don’t want to let it go.”
Isner said that he feels more rested for the final this year than last year because last year he was playing in the Doubles Semifinal after playing the Singles Semifinal.
Out of Sync
Yen-Hsun Lu had a great start to his Quarterfinal match against John Isner with a break point in the first game, but after failing to break, Lu had a difficult time staying in the rallies and reading Isner’s serve in their first meeting. At one point the second set where Lu failed again to return one of Isner’s serves, he let out an annoyed sigh and shrugged his shoulders. Isner only served eight aces for the match, but he only lost four points on his first serve on his way to a 6-1, 6-2 victory, in 56 minutes. Isner acknowledged that his opponent did not play his best, but he still felt he played a solid match himself and was happy to win quickly. Isner is on a seven-match winning streak after winning in Newport last week.
Isner said his last two matches this year are very similar to his path to the Final last year, where he had a long three-setter followed by a quick Quarterfinal. Isner will meet Gilles Muller, who defeated Kevin Anderson 7-6(3), 7-6(3), in a semifinal rematch of their second-round encounter last year, where Isner won in a third-set tiebreak.