John Isner showed some impressive tennis defeating Juan Martin Del Potro 6-1, 7-6 in the Miami Open 2018 semifinals.
To say that Juan Martin Del Potro was the best tennis player during the last month is to say nothing. The Argentinian started the season a little slowly, although highlighted by a runner-up finish in Auckland. However, prior to this fortnight, he was riding a 15-match winning streak, including titles in Acapulco (defeated Anderson) and Indian Wells (defeated then world no.1 Federer after saving three match points). He lost just two sets before the semifinals, one against Robin Haase in the second round and one against Milos Raonic in the quarterfinals.
John Isner’s 2018 campaign was a disastrous one before the Miami Open, the American won just one match in six tournaments but somehow he has managed to turn it around in the capital of Florida. After barely scraping through a tough opener against Jiri Vesely, Isner straight-setted Mikhail Youzhny, Marin Cilic and Hyeon Chung to advance to the semifinals. The American was seeking his fourth final appearance at the Masters 1000 level, having lost all three finals played. Check our recap on his very impressive win against Hyeon Chung.
The pair met nine times before, with Del Potro leading the head to head 6-3. They split their two 2017 meetings as the Argentinian prevailed in Montreal and Isner took the meeting at the Paris Masters.
Isner opened up on a very high note hitting nine winners to none from Del Potro in the first three games. A 3-0 lead for a player with a serve of Isner’s caliber is a huge advantage and the American didn’t look as if he was going to waste it. He even took another break at 1-4 when the Argentinian double-faulted at deuce and then completely shanked a forehand. Isner then served it out six games to one, hitting 19 winners in just 7 games.
Del Potro improved significantly in the second set, hitting with a much better depth, also started holding pretty easily. The home crowd started cheering against Isner, clapping their hands on his errors. Del Potro interacted a lot with the public, encouraging them to give him even more support. This didn’t bother Isner as he got to a breakpoint at 4-4 but couldn’t return the opponent’s serve.
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Isner produced two crucial holds and the set went to a tie-break. The American opened up with a mini-break and had an easy volley to go up 4-0 but somehow found a way to miss it. He kept the mini-break advantage and then produced a sensational pass to give himself four match points. Some good defending allowed him to attack the net and finish with a stunning drop-volley on his first opportunity.
Impressive win for Isner, although you have to note that Del Potro was surprisingly sub-par, probably tired from all the tennis he has played in the last four weeks. It’s incredible how the American turned his season around after losing his 6 out of his first seven matches. Now he’s going to get a chance to seal his first Masters 1000 win after three previous runner-up finishes (lost to Federer, Nadal and Murray). This time there won’t be a Big Four member awaiting at the last stage, but a so much more accessible opponent – Alexander Zverev or Pablo Carreno Busta.