US MEN'S CLAY COURT CHAMPIONSHIP
Isner Upstages Almagro For Houston Trophy; Wins First Clay Title
by ATP Staff|
“I've always known I could play well on clay,” said Isner. “This week is a little surprising, as Monday was the first day I hit a ball on clay since September. I knew it was going to be a tough adjustment and that I had to find a way to get through my first match. My second match was really close. I felt I played better each and every round. I played well yesterday and even better today.”
Isner began the week with a losing record (7-8), but defeated back-to-back Top 20 opponents en route to his sixth ATP World Tour crown. The 6’ 9’’ American, who finished runner-up at the River Oaks Country Club last year to Juan Monaco, avenged his loss to the Argentine in the semi-finals before posting his first win in three meetings with Almagro. Five of Isner’s six triumphs have come on United States soil.
In a clash between the top two aces leaders on the ATP World Tour, Isner protected his serve after falling behind an early break in the first set. World No. 23 Isner broke the 12th-ranked Spaniard three times to close out the win 81 minutes. The Tampa resident finished with seven aces to Almagro's five and set a tournament record with 64 aces during his run, surpassing Pete Sampras' mark of 60 in 2002.
“I was able to go for my shots and be effective on the baseline, especially with my forehand,” Isner said. “I was really proud with how I played after going down 1-3 [to win] five games in a row. I played exceptionally well those five games.”
Almagro was looking to win his first title in 2013 and like Isner, was appearing in his first final of the year. He dropped to a 17-7 season record and a 12-7 mark in tour-level finals, all on clay.
“He did a really good job today. He played aggressive,” said Almagro. “He served like normal, but today was tough for me. I want to congratulate him, because he's a really good player and a good person and I think he did a good job this week.”