The last year the Miami Open tournament is held in Key Biscayne has four mouthwatering clashes in prospect. In the afternoon session on Wednesday a contrast in styles in the first quarterfinal was as apparent as one could wish to see as native favorite big man John Isner faced off against roadrunner Hyeon Chung from Korea.

The match did not really live up to its billing with Hyeon Chung’s superior returning being the missing factor to turn this encounter into a competitive one. Isner’s trademark powerful serving simply blasted the 21=year old off the court. The 19th seed booked his 11th place in a Masters 1000 tournament semifinal with an overwhelming 6-1, 6-4 straight set victory.

Chung in the middle of his impressive backhand drive swing

Isner, the 19th seed, led their head to head record two to one going into their Miami clash, but Chung prevailed in the last meeting in Auckland earlier this year, where the young Korean player’s returning in particular alone was worth the price of admission.

Early on, the 32-year old Isner, wanted to make a statement. Booming down first serves and finishing the opening game with a deft half-volley that earned him the easy put away. Isner was unable to challenge the first Chung service game as it went by without any fuzz.

Isner’s second biggest weapon on full display against Chung

The match still needed to get that spark for the crowd to get into it. Chung was not reading the Isner serve at all and the American in turn was going for broke on almost all the returns. As was expected beforehand, lengthy rallies were few and far in between.

The first long exchange, however, came in the fourth game. On break point down, Chung got broken right away when he let his backhand sail long after a tentative rally. A huge roar from the American to welcome it, knowing Chung hadn’t been broken all week. Isner showed all the right signs as he consolidated in a hurry with four first serves to let Chung have a long changeover to ponder about what just had happened.

Instead of collecting himself Chung seemed to become more impatient. Sitting comfortably on 30-0 he still relinquished his serve as a few loose shots and cracking Isner forehands meant he lost four points in a row. Isner was now up 5-1, with the double break cushion.

Isner was not going hang around and raced away with another great service hold to 15 to take the first set in just 25 minutes of exemplary first strike tennis: 6-1.

Dream scenario for Isner as he takes the first set in a blink of an eye

Chung had only returned 43% of serves, while the American made 3 out of 4 returns. But more than the returning part Chung needed to cut down on the errors that had creeped into his game. He simply had not showed up and played his game. He had committed ten unforced errors, with only two winners to show for it.

Kicking off the second set, the match unfolded in some more lengthy exchanges, which favored the young 21-year old from Korea. Holding his serve with relative ease he started to stamp his authority to lead 2-1 with Isner misfiring on his bread and butter forehand wing.

In the fourth game the real Hyeon Chung finally showed his face. Earning himself his first break point of the match in the fourth game with a forehand pass and a big roar of his own. Three juggernaught serves later though, and the set was all square again: 2-2.

At this point no service games were gimmes anymore. A lob from Isner got him to 30-40 on the next game. It was this time Chung to serve his way out of trouble, but the game was far from over. In a rare outburst Chung vented all his frustration after yet another unforced error.

The second and third chance went begging for the American as well but the fourth proved the charm for Isner as Hawk Eye was needed to overturn the Chung ground stroke that initially seemed to have clipped the baseline. Chung had produced an horrendous game with numerous double faults to gift the 19th seed the breakthrough in the second set and he couldn’t have been happy with it.

Chung struggling to find his range

Isner went on to hold to 15 to stretch the lead to 4-2, being just two games away from equaling his best ever result in Miami when he reached the semifinal stage in 2015. Chung reduced the arrears to just one game as he fired an ace down the T. His body language, however, needed a boost in order to launch a successful assault on the mighty Isner serve.

Isner wasn’t feeling the pressure, so it seemed. He kept pounding down the first serves and whenever Chung was able to put his racquet on it, his forehand was enough to bully the fast Chung around the court.

After just 1 hour and 7 minutes of play Isner had his first match point, which he converted courtesy of a dazzling ace out wide. Isner completed a win that never looked in doubt: 6-1, 6-4.

The final roar came from big John. Boasting a 21 to 15 winners/unforced errors ratio he will undoubtedly be pleased about his own performance. Even though, the best version of Chung did not step out on court today, it will take some special returning game to break this man’s impeccable serving.

Next up for Isner will be either Milos Raonic or Juan Martin del Potro. The pair are in for a rematch of their Indian Wells semifinal. In any case, we will have a blockbuster semi-final on the bottom half of the draw.

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