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Isner Saves 2 M.P For Title In Battle Of Atlanta Giants

Atlanta, U.S.A.

Isner© Alex SmithJohn Isner wins his seventh ATP World Tour title.

John Isner took an early lead in the Emirates Airline US Open Series with victory in the tallest final in ATP World Tour history on Sunday at the BB&T Atlanta Open.

Top seed Isner, 6’10”, saved two match points to defeat 6’8” second seed Kevin Anderson 6-7(3), 7-6(2), 7-6(2) in two hours and 54 minutes - the longest best-of-three sets final on the ATP World Tour this season.

By winning his seventh title (7-7 overall), Isner received $98,700 in prize money and 250 Emirates ATP Ranking points. The result means that he will break back in to the Top 20 of the Emirates ATP Rankings on Monday. Anderson, who is now 2-4 in finals, picked up $52,000 and 150 points.

"This is a tournament where I could’ve been out in my first match," said Isner, who edged Christian Harrison in his opener. "I lived on the edge all week and seemed to come through each and every time. It’s very encouraging.

"I’ve been on the wrong end of a final that close before - maybe not three tie-breakers close, but super close, having match point, having a lot of chances - so it feels good to be on the other end of that. I never wavered. I believed that even at 0/40 that I could still hold on and was able to come up with the goods."

Isner hit 24 aces and saved all 11 break points he faced. He held serve in 59 of his 63 service games this week. Anderson struck 21 aces, lost just 11 of his first service points, and was forced to save one break point.

It was the first ATP World Tour final with three tie-breaks and no breaks of serve since January 2012, when Milos Raonic defeated Janko Tipsarevic in Chennai. It was also the first final in which both players hit 20-more aces since 2011 Memphis (Roddick, 20 d. Raonic, 32).

"I was holding easily and trying to give myself chances, which I did. Just wasn’t able to capitalise on them. That was the difference today," said Anderson. "He stays in there. He serves well, he plays well when it matters, and he definitely played two better tie-breaks than me." 

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The pair’s ninth FedEx ATP Head2Head meeting went with serve in the first set. Isner saved two set points at 4-5, 15/40, in a lengthy service hold. Anderson broke free at 3-3 in the tie-break, winning four straight points to wrap up the set in 54 minutes. Isner had won his past 12 tie-breaks.

Anderson saved one break point early in the second set, of few chances, which was decided by another tie-break. At 2-2, it was Isner’s turn to step up. He won five straight points in another 54-minute set.

Isner, a former University of Georgia All-American, fought back from 0/40 and saved four break points in the second game of the deciding set as Anderson looked set to take a 2-0 lead. At 6-5, Anderson could not convert two match points on Isner’s serve at Advantage.

Isner won the first three points in the tie-break to further dent Anderson's confidence and went on to add to his US Men's Clay Court Championships title (d. Almagro) in April. The victory also made up for two runner-up finishes to Mardy Fish in the 2010-2011 Atlanta finals.

Of Isner's seven career ATP World Tour titles, three have come after saving match point and winning in a third set tie-break (2010 Auckland, ’12 Winston-Salem, ’13 Atlanta), and his last six have come on home soil. He is 8-0 in decisive set tie-break matches in 2012-13 (29-14 in his career).

"It feels amazing because I have been so close," said Isner, "losing to Mardy twice - having match points in one of them - and losing to Andy [Roddick] last year in the semis in a tight match. I’ve been super close in this tournament.

"There’s no question I play my best in the U.S. This is where I’m very comfortable. I compete extra hard and things seems to work out for me when I’m playing in the U.S."

Anderson’s last title came in March 2012 at the Delray Beach International Tennis Championships (d. Matosevic). He has a 32-14 record on the season (19-7 on hard courts).

"It’s definitely disappointing not to win today," he said. "I felt I gave myself a good chance, but I’m not going to let it get me down. I’ll be ready to go next week."

Anderson will be the seventh seed at the Citi Open, an ATP World Tour 500 tournament in Washington D.C., while former finalist Isner is seeded eighth.

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