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Fish Clings on to Atlanta Title

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Fish Clings on to Atlanta Title

The U.S. summer hardcourt series got under way this week with the Atlanta Tennis Championships. In a replay of last year‘s final, Mardy Fish and John Isner collided in the ultimate match. The result was similar as Fish vanquished Isner 3-6,7-6,6-2 to defend his trophy.

With the title in Newport a few weeks ago, Isner was trying to win back to back title for the initial time in his career while Fish was in his maiden final of the season.

As a result of a double fault, Isner faced double break point to open the match. However, by finding his serve, Isner held. Later on, when Fish’s forehand sailed long on break point, Isner took a 3-1 lead. This was the difference in the first set, as Isner went on to guard serve and carry it 6-3.

With a forehand miscue by Fish on break point, Isner capitalized and secured the initial game of the second set. Soon though, with a backhand down the line winner, Fish manufactured double break point. When Isner double faulted, the players were back on serve.

Since neither contender could fabricate another break point, the second set went to a tiebreaker. Subsequent to getting the initial point, Isner got on a roll and built a 5-1 advantage. Then, with a powerful forehand, Isner forced Fish into a mistake to obtain double championship point at 6-4.

Yet, by pushing his backhand long and with Fish thumping an ace, Isner watched two chances combust. Promptly, with a superb backhand crosscourt volley winner, Fish had set point. Next, as Isner hit a forehand wide, Fish captured the second set.

At the start of the previous set, Isner seemed to be suffering from the heat. On the other hand, Fish looked like he had hardly warmed up after tiebreaker. Consequently, Isner would need to draw on all his reserves to pull off a victory.

With Isner double faulting, Fish arrived at double break point. When Isner’s backhand dropshot missed its mark, Fish banked the opening game of the decider.

After Fish consolidated with a love game, Isner easily guarded serve to stay one game behind. With Fish serving at 3-2, Isner struck a nice backhand down the line winner for double break point.

Still in the longest rally of the afternoon, fatigue bested Isner causing him to send a forehand long. Ultimately, Fish maintained serve and extended his lead.

When Isner double faulted on break point, Fish had a 5-2 edge. After quickly reaching triple match point, Fish crushed a forehand crosscourt winner to claim the championship.

Fish stated that he was “lucky” to come away with the win because “nine out of ten times when John is up a set and a break, he will close it out”. Furthermore, Fish expressed he cannot remember Isner ever surrendering a tiebreaker after a 5-1 advantage.

Fish admitted that fitness was in part a factor “I felt great. . . I pride myself on my fitness now”.

This upcoming week, Fish will be the top seed at the Farmers’ Classic. Juan Martin Del Potro, the 2008 champion, will make his summer hardcourt debut as the second seed at the same event.

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Federer, Murray, Roddick and Nadal Stand Out of the Heap as U.S. Open Favorites

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Federer, Murray, Roddick and Nadal Stand Out of the Heap as U.S. Open Favorites

The U.S. Open draw has been unveiled with the usual suspects at the top pack.  Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer are the highest seeds followed respectively by Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray.  For some, the path has multiple green lights, but for others it is lined with yellow flags.  Here’s a breakdown of the draw.

After his victories at the French Open and Wimbledon, Nadal is once more in pursuit of the U.S. Open trophy, the sole major he lacks.  In 2008, the Spaniard was halted in the semifinals by Murray and last year in the same round by Juan Martin Del Potro, the champion.  Although Nadal has been the most prolific performer on grass and clay this season, hardcourt has been a different story.  Nadal has a lone final appearance in January in Doha and went down to Nikolay Davydenko.  With neither injury nor fatigue an issue this time, Nadal is capable of going the distance.  However, there may be a significant boulder in his way in the quarterfinals.

Finally in shape after hip surgery, David Nalbandian has made himself part of the conversation and could clash with Nadal in the quarterfinals.  Although Nadal recorded the win at their last meeting at the Sony Ericsson Open in March, Nalbandian’s form has improved markedly since then.  Moreover, Nalbandian took the title as a wildcard at the Legg Mason Tennis Classic earlier this month.  As a result, the Argentine will not be an easy customer for the Spaniard.

While Fernando Verdasco, the eight seed, is technically another likely quarterfinal counterpart for Nadal, Verdasco is at best a minute obstacle.  With a 10-0 record against his countryman, in a five set match, Nadal is a sure bet.

De novo, Nadal has been placed on a collision course with Murray to reach his first U.S. Open final.  Twice on hardcourt this year, Murray has comprehensively beaten Nadal including the Rogers Cup two weeks ago.  After dreadful results most of the season, Murray is at last in form and defended his title in Toronto.  If they clash in the semifinals, Nadal will have a tough time getting a pass.

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