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Isner Holds Off Matosevic In Atlanta Quarters

Atlanta, U.S.A.

Isner© Getty ImagesJohn Isner advanced to the Atlanta semi-finals for a fifth straight year.

John Isner will look to book a spot in his fourth BB&T Atlanta Open final after ousting Marinko Matosevic 7-6(8), 6-4 in Friday’s quarter-finals.

The 6’10” American fired 17 aces, increasing his tournament total to 47, winning 84 per cent of his first-serve points and converting on two of five break point opportunities.

Isner was broken in the first game of the match, but remained poised to take the opening set in a tie-break, saving a set point. He has won 10 of his last 11 tie-break sets in Atlanta, since 2012. The top seed would take the initiative in the seventh game of the second set, breaking for a 4-3 lead and eventually thumping an ace on his first match point for the victory.

"I knew he was struggling out there a little bit and he knew I was struggling out there a little bit," said Isner. "A lot of times those situations are a big advantage for me because I can muster up enough energy to pop some big serves in. The beginning of the second set it felt like someone put us in the oven. It was rough. There's only one option for me there: play big and play aggressive. A lot of times it works out."

Isner, the champion in 2013 and runner-up to Mardy Fish in both 2010 and ‘11, improved to 25-12 this year. He will face countryman Jack Sock in the semi-finals, looking to extend a 3-1 FedEx ATP Head2Head advantage and avenge a quarter-final defeat at the Hall of Fame Tennis Championships two weeks ago.

Sock rallied from an early 1-4 deficit to dispatch Lukas Lacko 7-6(6), 6-2 on Friday, needing 81 minutes and four breaks of serve. The American rising star is in the midst of a career-best year, having contested his fifth quarter-final of 2014. He has registered 17 tour-level match wins this year, seven more than he managed during the entire 2013 season.

"I had a pretty rough start," Sock said. "He came out keeping the ball really deep, keeping me off the baselineSock and out of my forehand. I broke back for 5-4 and the momentum shifted in my favour."

In other action, Dudi Sela won his 100th tour-level match, surviving a one hour and 42 minute battle with fourth seed Vasek Pospisil 7-5, 1-6, 6-2. The Israeli advances to his fifth ATP World Tour semi-final where he will face Benjamin Becker.

"It's good for my confidence to be in the semi-finals," said Sela. "The last time I was in a final was 2008. Hopefully I'll be able to reach another one [this week]."

Becker will seek to advance to his second final of the year after earning a convincing 6-4, 6-2 win over Thiemo de Bakker. The 33 year old reached the title match at the Topshelf Open (l. to Bautista Agut) last month, defeating Sela in straight sets en route.

Americans Johnson and Querrey Advance to Semis
The American duo of Steve Johnson and Sam Querrey upset second seeds Santiago Gonzalez and Scott Lipsky 7-6(2), 7-5 to move into their first semi-final as a team since Los Angeles 2012. They will battle Kevin King and Michael Venus on Saturday.

Victor Estrella Burgos maintained his strong form, teaming with Nicolas Barrientos for a 7-5, 3-6, 10-6 win over third seeds Chris Guccione and John-Patrick Smith. Guccione saw his win streak snapped at nine, following consecutive titles in Newport and Bogota. The Dominican-Colombian tandem will next clash with top seeds and Wimbledon champions Vasek Pospisil and Jack Sock.

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