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Isner Trumps Hewitt In Heart Stopper

Atlanta, U.S.A.

Isner© Alex SmithTop seed Isner avenged a recent loss to Hewitt in Newport.

John Isner continued his run of form at the BB&T Atlanta Open, advancing to his third final in four years with a 6-4, 4-6, 7-6(5) victory over Lleyton Hewitt Saturday. Isner won his 12th straight tie-break and fired 21 aces to defeat the veteran Australian in two hours and 23 minutes.

After hitting a clutch backhand volley winner at 5-5 in the tie-break, the 6' 10" American converted on his first match point to improve to a 7-1 match record since retiring from the second round at Wimbledon with a left-knee injury. “I wanted to play that point aggressively and I did,” said Isner, discussing his net approach to set up match point. “I hit a fantastic volley. It was a huge point.”

In the final Isner will face No. 2 seed, 6' 8" South African Kevin Anderson, who fired 14 aces en route to a 6-3, 7-6(3) win over American Ryan Harrison. It will be the tallest final in ATP World Tour history.

The match initially followed the pattern of their two previous encounters this year, in which Hewitt battled back to win after relinquishing the first set both times. Isner settled down after dropping the second set today, however, and forced a third-set tie-break, his 10th in his previous 11 hard court matches. With the win, the American improved to 24-6 on the year in tie-breaks and has now won 12 straight.

“I thought I played very well,” said Isner. “It’s a case where I’m getting more comfortable, now that it’s my third match out there. I was able to go for my shots more in this match than I was in my previous matches.”

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Isner exacted revenge after a tight three-set defeat in the Newport semi-finals to Hewitt just two weeks ago, a defeat that cost Isner a shot at his third consecutive title at the Hall of Fame Tennis Championships.

Isner improved his overall record in Atlanta to 11-3 and will be playing in the final for the third time in four years, having previously lost to Mardy Fish in 2010 and 2011. He was a semi-finalist last year, as well (l. Roddick). Additionally, his 21 aces increased his total for the tournament to an impressive 71. His 29 aces in his second-round win over Christian Harrison were the most in a three-set ATP World Tour match this year.

Sunday's final will be Isner's 14th of his career on the ATP World Tour, with 12 coming on hard courts. He won the title in Houston on clay in April. Anderson will contest his third final of the season and should he win his third career title he will break into the Top 20 of the Emirates ATP Rankings for the first time in his career.

Anderson, who won 32 of 35 first-serve points and saved all five break points he faced against Harrison, has saved 13 of 14 break points faced during the tournament.

Having played nine tie-breaks in eight prior pro meetings with Isner, who also is a product of the American college tennis system, Anderson fully expects the final to be dominated by the serve.

"We've been playing each other for many years now and each time it's been a close match. I'll have to go out there and take care of my service games and try to create chances," he said. "I'll need to be patient and go into tie-breaks if necessary."

Isner leads Anderson 5-3 in their FedEx ATP Head 2 Head Series

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