Isner and Harrison Setup All-American BB&T Atlanta Open Final
Steen Kirby, Tennis Atlantic
John Isner is one match away from winning his second tournament in as many weeks, as he dominated Gilles Muller 6-4 6-2 in the first of two BB&T Atlanta Open singles semifinals for 2017. Muller was poor on return and Isner was much improved from the quarterfinals. Isner fired 15 aces, Muller posted just 8, and was broken three times, while Isner saved all four break points he faced. Muller hadn’t been broken all week but after he didn’t break early on, he was broken in the first set, and then twice more in the second set to hand Isner the match. Both players are typically strong servers, but this match did produce chances on return, chances that only Isner aggressively pounced on.
It was a much closer match on Saturday night as Ryan Harrison edged Kyle Edmund 6-7 6-3 6-4 in two hours. Their groundstroke centric semifinal produced one of the matches of the tournament, as Harrison’s edge on first serve points (winning 84%) was the key advantage. Harrison only faced three break points in the match, and was only broken once, Edmund was broken three times. The British player snatched the first set from a break down, taking a tiebreak that saw five mini breaks in total, three of them going in favor of Edmund. Harrison kept his head up in set 2, breaking early on after saving a break point in the opening game of the set. It was one way traffic in set 2 from 3-1, as Edmund was taken into a third set. In the third set Edmund was under pressure throughout, he faced three break points at 1-1, saving them all, but finally buckled to lose his service game at 4-4. Harrison would then serve the match out, continuing his good form on hard courts this year, and his renewed focus.
In the final Harrison will be facing Isner for the seventh time in their careers. Harrison won their last meeting in 2016 at the Rogers Cup, that was a close three setter. Isner leads the h2h 5-2, but Harrison leads 2-1 on hard courts, which should give him plenty of confidence. Isner has won seven matches in a row, and fourteen straight sets. He’s 3-3 in his career in Atlanta finals, and is seeking his fourth title in one of his two “home” tournaments in the USA. Harrison is playing in just his second career ATP final, he the title in Memphis final year as an ATP tournament earlier this season. Unless Harrison serves lights out, Isner should be the favorite in the final, whether it gets to a tiebreak or not.
The Bryan Brothers will face Koolhof/Sitak in the doubles final, after Koolhof/Sitak beat Raja/Sharan and the Bryans beat Millman/Ratiwatana. Both matches were completed in straight sets. The Bryans will be heavy favorites in the doubles final, even though their form has declined with age.