CAMPBELL'S HALL OF FAME TENNIS CHAMPIONSHIPS
Isner Breaks "Casino Curse"; Claims Second Career Title
by ATP Staff|
The 26-year-old Isner won his first ATP World Tour title of the season and the second of his career, after lifting the trophy in Auckland (d. Clement) in January 2010; he has a 2-4 record in finals. Victory also marked Isner’s 100th tour-level win (100-80 record).
Isner took a late wild card into Newport, forcing him to miss his brother, Nathan’s wedding in Virginia on Saturday. "I told myself that I was going to take the wild card here and the only way I was going to miss the wedding was if I got to the semi-finals," he said. "But it definitely turned out to be a great decision and I owe a huge thanks to Mark Stenning for the wild card. It’s the perfect start to the summer and I really feel like my best surface is the hard courts in the U.S. so I’m going to have a lot of confidence from this."
In a match that featured the biggest-ever height differential in an ATP World Tour final, 6’9’’ Isner fired 22 aces as he dispatched 5’6’’ Rochus in one hour and 42 minutes. The right-hander converted his fifth break point to take a 5-3 lead in the first set and closed out his advantage. He squandered five further break points in the second set, but prevailed in the decisive tie-break.
"I don’t think I’ve ever had a better week serving," said Isner. "I just served excellently. I’m fortunate to have that weapon and I was in a groove for five matches. It carried me to the championship here. This court, this tournament, was perfect serving conditions for me."
Rochus agreed that Isner’s serve played a huge factor in the final. “He played great,” he stated. “I think in the second I was very close. In the tie-break I had some chances and came back. At 6-all I missed this really easy forehand. Then he aced me again. I tried my best. I didn’t serve so well today. Otherwise I was really playing solid, very good, but I think the serve made a difference.”
The American became the third successive homegrown winner at the ATP World Tour 250 grass-court tennis tournament and received 250 South African Airways 2011 ATP Ranking points and $76,500.
It has been a turnaround week for Isner, who had dropped to World No. 46 after beginning the season at No. 19. Coming in to Newport, he had won back-to-back tour-level matches only twice in the first six months.
"This year I haven’t had great results," admitted Isner. "The last time I won back-to-back matches was Miami. So it’s huge on any level, but especially on this level, to win five matches in a row. This game is all about confidence, so I’ll definitely take this into my next event and events after that."
The 30-year-old Rochus lost out in the Newport final for the second year in a row, having been beaten by Mardy Fish in 2010. The Belgian was contesting his ninth ATP World Tour final, his first since the 2010 Newport title match, and dropped to a 2-7 mark. His two titles came on clay at Palermo (d. Nargiso) in 2000 and Munich (d. Vliegen) in 2006.
“I had a very good tournament,” said Rochus. “My level was very good all week. He was better than me today. A bigger serve. I’m proud of [myself], again to be in the final here two times in a row. It’s fantastic. I think today he didn’t get the final very easy. He had to fight to the last point.”