Despite Early Breaks, Isner Claims Milestone Win
Two-time champion John Isner claimed his 350th match win at his hometown tournament in Winston-Salem Tuesday night, clinching back-to-back breaks against World No. 70 Russian Andrey Kuznetsov to close out the match 2-6, 7-6(5), 6-3.
Isner had dropped serve just three times all summer (Newport, Atlanta, Montreal, Cincinnati) but was broken twice in the opening set and three times overall. But in an encouraging sign, he converted all three break point chances he accrued. The 6’ 11” American came into the tournament having held 146 of his past 149 service games. He was not broken in five matches en route to the semi-finals of the Western & Southern Open in Cincinnati last week.
"After the end of the second set I had to change my clothes; I was sweating profusely out there," Isner said of the draining win. "I wasn't feeling great to be totally honest. But at 3-all [in the third] I found a burst of energy. I got up 0-30 in that game and the next thing I knew I was off; it was crazy. I think I rattled off 12 of the last 13 points [and 16 of 17], something like that. I got a second wind. All of a sudden it came to me. It's just one of those things."
Isner improved to 9-0 in tie-breaks in Winston-Salem. The No. 3 seed has not lost a match on the courts of Winston-Salem since he made his debut in 2011. He is 13-0 at this event. His only early exit came in 2014, when he was forced to withdraw at the quarter-final stage.
"It was a tough first match here in Winston-Salem, adjusting to the heat, the fast conditions," said the Spaniard, last year's runner-up. "I hope to play even better tomorrow. It's going to be a tough week and a tough match tomorrow against Baghdatis."
Three #NextGenATP players advanced Tuesday: 14th seed Borna Coric, of Croatia, American wild card Taylor Fritz and 13th-seeded Korean Hyeon Chung. Fritz enjoyed a decisive 6-3, 6-2 win over in-form 10th-seeded Japanese Yuichi Sugita 6-3, 6-2.
But Coric and Chung both had to rally from a set down. Coric, currently fourth in the Emirates ATP Race To Milan, defeated American Donald Young 4-6, 6-4, 6-2. Chung, eighth in the Race but 102 points behind seventh-placed Daniil Medvedev, defeated another Milan rival from Russia, Andrey Rublev (sixth in the Race), 5-7, 6-1, 6-1.
Former finalist Julien Benneteau upset second seed and defending champion Pablo Carreno Busta 7-6(5), 6-7(5), 6-3. The Frenchman rolled the dice on serve, firing 13 aces but throwing in eight double faults. He also pressured the Spaniard's serve throughout, earning 20 break points, converting five.