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Isner Saves 3 M.P. To Beat Berdych In Winston-Salem Final

Winston-Salem, U.S.A.

Isner © Getty ImagesJohn Isner improves to a perfect 10-0 match record in Winston-Salem.

American John Isner successfully defended his Winston-Salem Open title, saving three championship points before defeating second-seeded Czech Tomas Berdych 3-6, 6-4, 7-6(9) on Saturday.

It is the second time that the 27 year old has retained a title, first accomplishing the feat earlier this summer at the grass-court tournament in Newport (d. Hewitt). He has compiled an 18-3 mark starting with that title run, taking his season record to 41-15.

"It’s a great feeling. Both my titles this year are the exact same titles I won last year," said Isner. "Defending a title is not easy. There’s pressure on you coming into the tournament so I think for me to do that, at both Newport and here in Winston-Salem, it should help me a lot going forward in the coming years. I’m absolutely thrilled.

"It was a very good match, an incredible atmosphere. It was a lot of fun to play out there. There were certainly some tense times all throughout the match. At times probably wasn’t the prettiest of tennis, but I was able to gut it out and am very, very proud of that."

Berdych secured the first set in 34 minutes with two breaks as the third-seeded Isner managed to win just 54 per cent of his service points, but was unable to maintain the momentum in the second. The Czech dropped serve in the opening game, while Isner proceeded to lose just five service points total, drawing level with an ace on set point.

For a second straight day, Isner - who knocked out top seed and World No. 6 Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in the semi-finals - prevailed against a Top 10 player in a third-set tie-break. He saved three match points at 6-5, 7-6 and 9-8 for World No. 7 Berdych, and clinched the match after two hours and 26 minutes on his second championship point.

World No. 10 Isner, who fired 22 aces in the final, improves to a tour-best 35-13 in tie-breaks this season and to a 10-0 match record at this ATP World Tour 250 tournament. He has now won five ATP World Tour titles from 12 finals, while Berdych drops to a 7-8 record.

Isner Features In All-New DEUCE

"I hope it’s going to be enough time to put this match from my mind and keep all those matches before - and those before were pretty good. Even this one was not bad until the end. It just happens," said Berdych. "I won a couple of matches, which was the goal and the [reason] why I wanted to come here. I made it pretty successful, but still one I was missing, so it will take some time. Next week, already Monday or Tuesday, I’m starting in New York so it’s not much time to think on the past but to be ready for what’s happening there."

Both players next head to the US Open. Isner will be looking to reach the quarter-finals for a second straight year; the highest seed in his quarter is World No. 5 David Ferrer. Berdych could face Roger Federer in the quarter-finals, but has never advanced past the Round of 16 in nine previous appearances in Flushing Meadows.

"Last year it served me very well. I won here and made the quarter-finals, lost to Andy Murray in a very tough match," said Isner. "I’m heading to New York filled with confidence. I’ve played very well since my first round loss at Wimbledon. I’ve only lost three matches, so I’m heading into New York feeling good about myself."

Isner moves up to No. 2 in the 2012 Emirates Airline US Open Series Bonus Challenge Standings with his triumph Saturday, while Berdych finishes in a sixth-place tie with American Mardy Fish. World No. 2 and defending US Open champion Novak Djokovic clinched the Series on Friday following Sam Querrey's loss in the Winston-Salem semi-finals.

2012 Emirates Airline US Open Series Bonus Challenge Standings

PositionPlayerCountryTotal Points
1 Novak Djokovic SRB 170
2 John Isner USA 140
3 Sam Querrey USA 135
4 Roger Federer SUI 100
5 Alexandr Dolgopolov UKR 85
T-6 Tomas Berdych CZE 75
  Mardy Fish USA 75
T-8 Richard Gasquet FRA 70
Tommy Haas GER 70
  Andy Roddick USA 70

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