John Isner needs no introduction to the tennis fans of Atlanta.
Not only is he a two-time finalist at the BB&T Atlanta Open, a former college star at the University of Georgia and the top seed this week in Atlanta, he’s been the star attraction at numerous clinics this week in Atlanta including the Emirates Airline “Emirates Returns” Kid’s Day Clinic held on Wednesday at Atlantic Station’s Central Park.
When Isner took the court on Thursday night, many thought Isner would cruise past 19-year old Christian Harrison with ease. They were wrong, as Isner always seems to give the Atlanta crowds their money’s worth.
Isner needed 2 hours and 24 minutes and 29 aces to take out Harrison who was playing in his first ATP World Tour main draw 7-6 (9), 4-6, 7-5 in front of an almost full stadium.
In Isner’s Wednesday pre-tournament press conference, he commented that sometimes the first match he plays in a tournament is the toughest.
“It’s the fourth time the tournament has been here, and I’ve always had a bye and played a guy that had won a match,” explains Isner. “For me first matches at every tournament I play are tough.”
The former University of Georgia All-American and Harrison appeared to be on course for a third set tiebreaker until Isner eeked out a break in the 11th game of the third set by putting his service returns in play.
“I tried to be aggressive, I was struggling out there and had a hard time controlling the ball, so I’m really happy with the win.”
Another American moving through the draw and Christian’s brother, Ryan Harrison posted an upset win over Igor Sijsling of The Netherlands 6-4, 6-3. Ryan Harrison is not longer being be Tres Davis and is working with the USTA’s Jay Berger. It’s been a rough season for Ryan as he has sen his ranking fall to No. 132 but if he can grab another win or two here he might begin to turn his year around.
For the Harrison’s, it’s been a great family week.
“This has been the first time we are advancing in an (ATP) main draw,” stated Harrison. “My mom and dad are actually both here, I had a good friend of mine here, and Christian has friends here, so it’s been fun.”
Also posting wins a on Thursday was American James Blake who is hoping to keep turning back the clock. Blake disposed a tough Russian in Evgeny Donskoy.
“I always feel like the hard court summer is a chance to play my best tennis, and when it’s hot I play pretty well,” explained Blake, who will next face his good friend Isner.
Other players advancing to quarterfinal play with Thursday wins include Denis Istomin of Uzbekistan, Santiago Giraldo of Colombia and tournament second seed Kevin Anderson of South Africa.