Mar/19

29

Felix Gets Isnerized at Miami Open

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By Scoop Malinowski

A year ago John Isner entered the Miami Open fresh off an Indian Wells doubles title but an ice cold singles slump which he miraculously remedied by beating Jiri Vesley in the second round on grandstand. I saw this match and saw a slumping Isner looking fatigued and spiritless at the start of the second set but some crowd cheers from Harry Cicma, exhorting the big American on with “Cmon Isner”, “Let’s Go Bulldog”, Cmon Georgia” resulted in a spark which propelled Isner to a three set win and subsequently the title, a thrilling final win vs Alexander Zverev.

Isner returned to Miami Open this year with more confidence than last year, with eight match wins compared to just two one year ago. The new setting and venue are vastly different than the old site at Crandon Park on Key Biscayne but the results are the same. Isner just keeps on rolling to victory.

In today’s semifinal Isner found himself down a break in both sets and bulldogged his way to timely breaks and then eventually winning both sets in tiebreakers. Isner snapped off 21 aces. His 18 year old adversary, the Canadian Felix Auger-Aliassime, attempted to serve to win both sets but each time he squandered the winning position. It was the 33 year old Isner who came up with the magic when it mattered most.

Isner’s best weapons today were his serve, inside out forehands and his uncanny ability to win some key points from the baseline. If there’s a most underrated baseline player in the ATP it has to be Isner. Those who categorize Isner as just a big serving robot are underestimating the diverse arsenal of the goliath from Greensboro, North Carolina.

Isner has won just over 400 matches in his ten year ATP career. He has won 14 titles and over $17,000,000 in prize money. He has wins over Federer, Djokovic and Nadal. The best American, ranked 9 in the world, is a remarkable player. He has won 11 matches in a row in Miami.

And young Felix, who was attempting to be the youngest Masters finalist since Michael Chang in Toronto in 1990, learned a valuable lesson today in his first ATP 1000 semifinal. He will need to work on his return of serve and concentrate more on closing out sets on his serve.

“For sure [it was] nerves. It’s like I caught a virus or something. I don’t know. I couldn’t put a second serve anymore,” Auger-Aliassime said. “Even the first serve,  if you put it in, you don’t have to hit the second serve.”

“I just felt like, I don’t know, the nerves got to me a little. I wasn’t able to do like all the other matches and just focus on what I had to do, and it really got to me too hard.”

Isner, who last year became the oldest first-time Masters 1000 champion, will face the winner of the initial clash between Roger Federer and teen phenom Denis Shapovalov.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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2 comments

  • Dan Markowitz · March 30, 2019 at 2:52 am

    I didn’t see the second set, but when serving for the first set, Felix hit three double faults. That was very unfortunate.

  • Hartt · March 30, 2019 at 6:57 am

    It’s a shame that nerves got to Félix because he had a real shot at winning that match. If he’d been able to hold when he was serving for the sets both times, there wouldn’t have been TBs and he’d have won. But it was a huge event for the youngster, and hopefully he won’t be so nervous the next time he is in a big match.

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