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Isner Breaks "Casino Curse"; Claims Second Career Title

Newport, U.S.A.

Isner© Mike BazJohn Isner missed his brother's wedding, but won his second career ATP World Tour title.

American John Isner became the first top seed to win the Campbell’s Hall of Fame Tennis Championships since its inauguration in 1976 when he defeated Olivier Rochus 6-3, 7-6(7) on Sunday in Newport.

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.”

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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.”

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