Isner Needs 3 Tiebreaks to Capture Atlanta in Longest 2013 ATP Final; ERV/Sijsling Nab Doubles
John Isner defeated Kevin Anderson 6-7, 7-6, 7-6 in a 2 hour and 54 minute BB&T Atlanta Open Final, in which, as predicted, nary a single break of serve could be found.
They started out with confident holds in the first set, Anderson serving first, holding to 3-2 and dominating with forehand and aces.
Isner was able to get to deuce (from 40-0 Anderson, helped by two double faults from the South African) on one of Kev’s service games, but nothing came of it. Both guys were downright painful on return in this match, especially at the start, as they couldn’t read each others powerful serves.
Isner would save 2 set points with 5 aces at 4-5, Anderson’s racquet only making contact with the ball once from 15-40 onwards. From then on, it would be a pair of easy holds to a tiebreak that was won by Kevin Anderson. Anderson hit a ripped backhand for a minibreak and then held his serve out. He hit more winners and fewer unforced errors than Isner in the first set and thoroughly deserved it.
In the second set, Anderson would save a rather lucky break point with a pair of aces in his opening service game. An Isner return clipped the line and dropped just over, but nothing came of it from there. In the next game, Isner would save 2 break points with 3 aces and an unreturnable serve, slamming the door, as he had all week against his opponents when they threatened to break.
They would hold until 4 all, when Isner would go up 5-4 on serve. Kev took care of business all the way to 6-6 and the tiebreak.
In that tiebreak, Isner would claim an early and strong advantage, notching a double minibreak and popping an ace to seal it and force a 3rd set in front of raucous but respectful home fans.
In the 3rd and final set, under hot, muggy conditions in the sun, neither guy actually showed signs of too much fatigue, which was a credit to their stamina. Anderson would continue to be the slightly better player and he would generate a ton of breakpoint chances, but each and every time, Isner would take a second, bounce the ball and grunt it up to shut the door. Isner even saved breakpoints on 2nd serve. Anderson was serving first in this set, and would hold to 4-3, though he had another breakpoint chance and could have again taken what probably would have been the match sealing advantage. But he couldn’t close it out.
One last time, Anderson would have a shot at victory, getting 2 match points at 6-5 on the Isner serve. Yet, as the crowd roared before each point, the former Georgia Bulldog would respond. Anderson won an entertaining volley rally at the net, but Isner saved that match point with an ace. Then, Anderson tried even harder in what would be his last match point, ripping his backhand and putting everything into his shots. Isner would be just mobile enough, and just adept enough to not shank his returns and hold on by the skin of his teeth.
Unfortunately for Anderson, Isner would take control in the tiebreak, as the South African basically choked, giving up a double minibreak and not even coming close to dealing with Isner’s serve in the breaker. Isner claimed the match and had a subdued celebration, though he had fist-pumped when saving match and breakpoints. At the end, he would merely smile, wave, and toss his wristbands into the crowd, then shake his friend Anderson’s hand, shake the chair umps hand, and prepare for his post-match television interview. Isner, as a local favorite who is a well liked player in general, was certainly as pleased to take a title in Atlanta, as the fans were all about him taking one. He finally got over that hump. Now both he and Anderson will take their talents to DC.
Looking at the stats one last time: Isner did what he did well all week, even though none of his matches were easy, pounding out 24 aces in the final and saving all 11 break points he faced, while only having one break point opportunity himself. Though his returns were not consistent, nor even average at times, the forehand was still a reliable shot to lean in on. He served first serves in over 60% this tournament. Anderson, like Harrison, Blake and Hewitt before him was at times the better player, but just couldn’t close the deal in what was his third ATP final of the year (drops to 0-3). Isner, meanwhile, won his 7th ATP title and is now 2-0 in ATP finals this year, with his other title coming in Houston on clay.
In the doubles final, Roger-Vasselin and Sijsling took out Marray and Fleming 7-6, 6-3. The match started late because of the nearly three hour singles final and the trophy presentation. The Franco/Dutch pairing will be pleased with their title, as they have had great success with each other over the last two weeks.
The 2013 edition of the BB&T Atlanta Open was as exciting as this event has ever been. And it was a well-run, well-organized event which provided a bit of glitz to downtown Atlanta.