The Olympus U.S. Open series kicked off this week with the return of the ATP to Atlanta following a nine year absence. With a 4-6,6-4,7-6 victory, Mardy Fish, the sixth seed, overcame John Isner, the second seed, to carry the Atlanta Tennis Championships. Since capturing the Newport title, Fish has been on a roll and now has a ten match winning streak. Atlanta is Fish’s fifth career trophy.
For Isner who played his collegiate tennis in the area, this was a homecoming. The former Georgia bulldog had plenty of supporters in the stands. With an ace, Fish sealed the first game of the match. Then, courtesy of a forehand error and a double fault, Fish had two break points on Isner’s initial service game. However, Isner held for 1 all. Serving at 2 all, Fish faced triple break point. But, by provoking a few return errors from Isner, Fish got to deuce. After erasing a fourth break point, Fish secured the game with an ace. Yet, Fish’s next time out, with a double fault and two forehand miscues, he gave Isner two more break chances. Isner converted when Fish double faulted. After easily consolidating, Isner jumped to a 5-3 advantage and eventually captured the set with an ace.
In the second set, Fish placed more pressure on Isner’s serve. Therefore, Fish was rewarded with a break point when Isner netted a backhand crosscourt in the eighth game. Still, Isner pulled out the game for 4 all. But, subsequent to a love game by Fish, Isner committed three consecutive mistakes including a double fault to give his rival triple break point. When Isner’s forehand volley sailed wide, Fish took the second set.
The previous set on a changeover, Isner received treatment to his right shoulder. However, there were no signs of injury as Isner used his serve to get out of a 15-30 predicament his first game of the last set. For his part, Fish was guarding serve comfortably, with a love game for 2-1. As a result of a double fault, Isner handed Fish break point. When Isner’s dropshot failed to clear the net, Fish pocketed the game for 3-1. Yet, with back to back winners and forehand flub by Fish, Isner arrived at triple break point. By sticking a forehand volley winner, Isner seized the break to get back on serve. After again cruising on serve, Fish guided a forehand up the line long to gift Isner a break point. Still, with a few good serves, Fish saved the game for 5-4. Ultimately, the set was decided by a tiebreaker. As fatigue set in, Isner surrendered his first two service points with forehand errors. Thus, Fish raced to a 4-0 lead. Subsequently, Isner strung together three points in a row to narrow the deficit to 4-3. But, with Isner unable to capitalize on Fish’s second serve offerings, Mardy widened the gap to 6-3. After salvaging one set point, Isner sent a backhand out of play to package the championship for Fish.
In the semifinals, Fish prevailed over top seed Andy Roddick. Fish’s first triumph over Roddick after nine successive losses. Moreover, in the second round, Fish bounced another Georgia favorite, Robby Ginepri and fellow American Taylor Dent in the quarterfinals. This March, as of consequence of knee surgery last year, Fish’s ranking went down to 108. Since optimizing his fitness regiment which included shedding thirty pounds, Fish has been a finalist at Queen’s Club. Following the Newport tournament, Fish’s ranking improved to 49th and after Atlanta he will reinsert himself into the top 30.
This was Isner’s fourth final of 2010. Earlier in the year in Auckland, Isner banked his first ATP title. Since, Isner’s reached the finals in Memphis and Belgrade and was stopped on both occasions by Sam Querrey.