Isner Stands ‘Tallest’ in Atlanta


John Isner finally wins his third Atlanta final. Photo: Tom Grason/BB&T Atlanta Open

The “Tallest Finals Match in ATP World History” turned out to be one of the best finals so far in 2013 as John Isner and Kevin Anderson went the distance, playing three tiebreaks with Isner eeking out a  6-7 (3), 7-6 (2), 7-6 (2) win in the 2013 BB&T Atlanta Open.

John Isner, at 6’10”, and Kevin Anderson, at 6’8″, combined for the tallest final in ATP World Tour history. They trace their rivalry back to their college days at the University of Georgia and the University of Illinois.  What began as an indoor college match in the fall of 2005 between the Bulldogs and Cavaliers now has blossomed into a fun rivalry on the ATP World Tour. Both players were looking for their first BB&T Atlanta Open title; Isner was a two-time finalist.

“Fun” is a good way to describe what took place on Sunday when these two met in the finals of the BB&T Atlanta Open, an ATP World Tour 250 at Atlantic Station.

Is was no surprise when the first set ended up in a tiebreak with no service breaks and only two break points opportunities (for Anderson). The difference was in the tiebreak — when Isner’s forehand seemed to leave the stadium — Anderson capitalized, and closed out the breaker 7-3.

More of the same in the second set, as there were only three break point chances, two for Anderson and one for Isner. Both players served up nine aces in set two and had a first serve percentage of 63 percent. Even stats like those usually mean another tiebreak and that is just what Atlanta tennis fans got. This time it was the was Isner who put pressure on his opponent to force two straight Anderson errors at 2-2 in the breaker. With a partisan Atlanta crowd and numerous University of Georgia alumni in attendance, Isner caught a second wind to close out the tiebreaker 7-2.

“I knew not much was going to separate us,” said Isner. “In the first set I was a little sluggish, I was missing a lot of forehands and my footwork was pretty bad, but I knew I had a second gear in me.”

Anderson began the deciding tiebreak with an unforced error to fall behind 0-1. Isner then took his two service points before Anderson got on the board. Training 1-3, Anderson committed yet another unforced error while Isner turned up the volume on his serve and getting another backhand unforced error gift from Isner to take the breaker 7-2 and delighting his Atlanta fans.

In total, Isner saved 11 break points and that was the key to the match.

“I never wavered, I believed at love- 40 or whatever, it was that I could hold on,” explained Isner.

Anderson said he didn’t lose focus when he failed to convert on numerous break point opportunities.

“I thought I did well taking care of my own service games,” admitted Anderson. “I had only one break point (against me) in the three sets and gave myself opportunities, but wasn’t able to capitalize.  He just played two better tiebreaks than me.”

With the win, Isner pockets $98,700, 250 ATP World Tour ranking points and 70 Emirates Airline U.S. Open Series points to take the lead in the US Open lead up competition.

In the doubles final, Edouard Roger-Vasselin and Igor Sijsling defeated Colin Fleming and Jonathan Marray 7-6(6), 6-3.

Fun Match Facts

The 2:54 match turns out to be the longest best-of-three sets final on the ATP World Tour in 2013.

This was the first ATP World Tour final with three tie-breaks and no breaks of serve since the 2012 Chennai final between Milos Raonic and Janko Tipsarevic.

Of Isner’s seven career ATP World Tour titles, three have come after saving a match point.

Isner is 8-0 in decisive set tiebreak matches in 2012-13.

Isner’s seven career ATP World Tour singles titles equals the number held by his occasional doubles partner and good friend Sam Querrey. He also passes Mardy Fish who owns six titles.

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