Is­ner beats Har­ri­son to win At­lanta Open ti­tle

Kuwait Times - - SPORTS - —AP

John Is­ner rode an over­pow­er­ing ser­vice game to his fourth At­lanta Open ti­tle and sec­ond con­sec­u­tive ATP tour­na­ment, beat­ing fel­low Amer­i­can Ryan Har­ri­son 7-6 (6), 7-6 (7) on Sun­day be­fore a friendly crowd at At­lantic Sta­tion.

Hav­ing won eight straight matches all in straight sets since bow­ing out in the sec­ond round at Wim­ble­don ear­lier this month, the sec­ond-seeded for­mer Univer­sity of Ge­or­gia star said he thor­oughly en­joys play­ing in At­lanta, where’s he’s made the fi­nals in seven of the eight tour­na­ments.

He also won ti­tles here in 2013-’15, and is 27-4 on the courts near his alma mater. The 32year-old Is­ner won the Hall of Fame Open last week on grass in New­port, Rhode Is­land. “This is al­ways go­ing to be my fa­vorite time of year,” he said about the hard-court sea­son. “I couldn’t ask for a bet­ter start, ob­vi­ously . . . I landed yes­ter­day, had a prac­tice last night and things felt good right away. I was on a good roll.”

The match fol­lowed ser­vice in the first set to force a tiebreaker. Har­ri­son, the fourth seed, ral­lied from a 2-4 deficit to level the breaker at 6-6 only to see Is­ner win with a siz­zling fore­hand to the deep right cor­ner. Is­ner fired 23 aces to Har­ri­son’s 10, but af­ter 75 straight ser­vice games with­out be­ing bro­ken he was passed on the fore­hand side early in the sec­ond set to trail 2-0. That ball, at 40-30 Har­ri­son, was orig­i­nally called out but, af­ter Har­ri­son chal­lenged a re­play re­vealed that it just caught the line.

Is­ner broke back in the next game when Har­ri­son sent what looked like an easy fore­hand long. From there, the friendly foes re­mained on serve to reach another tiebreaker upon Is­ner’s 18th ace. He at­trib­uted his win­ning streak partly to his loss at Wim­ble­don, where in the sec­ond round he fell 7-6 (5), 6-7 (5), 7-5, 6-7 (5), 3-6 to Dudi Sela of Is­rael.

“The match I lost to Dudi Sela was a bless­ing. I had a sit-down with my staff and hashed things out,” Is­ner said. “I was play­ing ten­ta­tive and scared, not to win. “I told my­self that’s not the way to play . . . you have to learn from your losses, and I did that.”

Trail­ing 6-7 in the sec­ond tiebreaker, Is­ner whis­tled con­sec­u­tive 137 mph aces, and then took the ti­tle when Har­ri­son couldn’t get to a quick cor­ner shot to his back­hand. Af­ter win­ning the first stop on the U.S. Open Se­ries, Is­ner sounded like he’s ready for the year’s last Grand Slam event, al­though he’ll have to wait a lit­tle more than a month be­fore the pros gather in New York for the Open. “This win­ning streak is more a prod­uct of me play­ing well, not my op­po­nents,” he said af­ter cap­tur­ing his 12th ca­reer ATP Tour ti­tle. “In my opin­ion, I could’ve beaten a lot of top 10 op­po­nents. I have a level of con­fi­dence that’s hard to get.”

Amer­i­can broth­ers Bob and Mike Bryan won the dou­bles ti­tle with a 6-3, 6-4 vic­tory over Wes­ley Kool­hof of The Nether­lands and Artem Si­tak of New Zealand.

AT­LANTA: John Is­ner re­turns a fore­hand to Ryan Har­ri­son dur­ing the BB&T At­lanta Open at At­lantic Sta­tion on July 30, 2017 in At­lanta, Ge­or­gia. —

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