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Isner Sets Hewitt SF Clash In Atlanta

Atlanta, U.S.A.

Isner© Alex SmithJohn Isner is bidding to reach the Atlanta final for the third time.

Top seed John Isner will face former World No. 1 Lleyton Hewitt in the BB&T Atlanta Open semi-finals after edging fellow American James Blake 7-6(1), 7-6(5) on Friday. Hewitt takes a 4-1 FedEx ATP Head2Head lead into the clash with two-time Atlanta runner-up Isner, having triumphed just two weeks ago when they met the Newport semi-finals.

The No. 22-ranked Isner fired 21 aces as he defeated Blake in 88 minutes. The right-hander lost to Mardy Fish in the 2010-11 Atlanta finals and is bidding to reach his second ATP World Tour final of the season, having lifted his sixth trophy in Houston in April (d. Almagro).

Hewitt advanced to his third ATP World Tour semi-final in four tournaments as he finished strongly to defeat Ivan Dodig 1-6, 6-3, 6-0. “At the start of the match I couldn’t get into it much,” admitted Hewitt, who had lost his previous meeting with Dodig last year. 

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“He served fantastic, hit his spots every time. I didn’t think he could play any better for a set and a half. I was just trying to hold serve and stay ahead in the second set. I played a good game at 4-3 to break. I was able to get up an early break in the third set and got a few more cheap points.”

The 32-year-old Australian improved to a 19-12 match record in 2013, having reached the semi-finals at The Queen’s Club (l. to Cilic) and finished runner-up in Newport (l. to Mahut) two weeks ago. The right-hander is looking for his first ATP World Tour title since 2010, when he won his 28th tour-level crown in Halle (d. Federer).

Should he reach the final, it would be the first time since 2010 (22-12 record) that two-time Grand Slam champion Hewitt has won 20 matches in a season.

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Ryan Harrison reached his first tour-level semi-final in more than a year when he won his second three setter of the tournament to defeat Colombian Santiago Giraldo 6-3, 3-6, 7-6(2). The 21-year-old American, who raced to a 5-0 lead in the deciding-set tie-break, last appeared in a semi-final in Newport last year.

"I love playing here in Atlanta," Harrison said. "I made the semi-finals the first time I played (2011). Last year I had a battle with James Blake. There was a lot of energy in the crowd tonight... it was a lot of fun."

Harrison will next meet second seed Kevin Anderson, who fired 12 aces in a 6-3, 3-6, 6-3 win over Uzbek Denis Istomin to reach his second consecutive semi-final, having advanced to the last four in Bogota last week. The 27-year-old South African, who is a career-high No. 21 in the Emirates ATP Rankings, also reached the Atlanta semi-finals in 2010 (l. to Isner). Anderson is looking to reach his third final of the season, having fallen in the Sydney (l. to Tomic) and Casablanca (l. to Robredo) finals.

In the deciding set Anderson rallied from 0/40 at 2-2 to hold serve as he won four of the last five games of the match. “In the third set I had to dig deep,” he said. “I had quite a few break points. I thought I played some good points. I don't think he gave it to me. I used the momentum and that's what tennis is: it can change just like that. It's important to stay in the moment as much as possible.”

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