The amazing run of John Isner remained the prime story of this Legg Mason.
Today the 6-9, 22-year-old from University of Georgia collected his fourth
victory of the week, all of them ending in third-set tiebreakers. His opponent on
this quarter-final Friday was Tommy Haas, the tournament #2 seed, who returned
to action here in Washington for the first time since an injury-related
withdrawal at Wimbledon.
Once again, Isner's key to winning was his potent serve, which consistently
measured in the 120's and 130's and occasional surpassed 140 mph. Thus his
serving velocity was slightly lower than that of several others in the
tournament, but the serves were especially difficult to handle effectively given their
high bounces--an effect from Isner's unusually high point of launch. John
finished with a total of 30 aces, against his opponent's 19.
Haas played with good confidence and self-control. He generally returned
serve from 10-12 feet behind baseline, often satisfied to bunt back returns in
hopes of initiating long exchanges, where Tommy's polished ground game seemed
likely to prevail. Tommy lost the first set but strengthened to reach tiebreak in
the second. Midway in that tiebreak, Tommy moved in closer to baseline and
began trying to return John's serve with more authority. These changes partly
explained the erasure of John's early mini-break advantage and Tommy successful
conclusion of the tiebreaker.
The third-set tiebreaker was also a nail biter. The serving player lost only
one point in the twelve points played, but it was enough for another narrow
victory by Isner. As in his earlier victories, the tall American's composure and
determination at critical moments seemed remarkable.