Comment
0
Tweet
0
Print
RSS Feeds

Isner, 2-time champ del Potro in Washington final

Sunday - 8/4/2013, 2:33am  ET

Juan Martin del Potro, from Argentina, hits the ball during his match againstTommy Haas, from Germany, at the Citi Open tennis tournament, Saturday, Aug. 3, 2013 in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

HOWARD FENDRICH
AP Tennis Writer

WASHINGTON (AP) -- A couple of plastic sandwich bags filled with ice were resting on his left thigh, and some others were chilling his right knee, as an admittedly exhausted John Isner assessed how he's holding up after eight victories in 10 days.

"My body doesn't feel great," Isner said, then paused and smiled. "At the same time, nothing is wrong with me, besides just being a little tired and a little worn out. But that's what happens when you play well."

The highest-ranked American man certainly has been doing that lately. Isner, who is ranked 20th and seeded eighth, set up his sternest test of late, earning a matchup against top-seeded and two-time champion Juan Martin del Potro in Sunday's Citi Open final.

Taking control by breaking serve immediately after a rain delay, Isner hit 29 aces and beat unseeded Dmitry Tursunov 6-7 (7), 6-3, 6-4.

Later, del Potro came out much stronger after his semifinal was interrupted for more than three hours by showers and he turned things around to beat third-seeded Tommy Haas 7-6 (4), 6-3 in a match that ended past midnight.

"The rain, for sure, helped me to come back in this match," said the seventh-ranked del Potro, who hasn't dropped a set in three previous victories against Isner.

Del Potro stretched his winning streak at the hard-court tuneup for the U.S. Open to 13 matches. He won Washington's tournament in 2008 and 2009, then skipped it the past three years.

Trailing Haas 4-1 when a downpour came, 2009 U.S. Open champion del Potro won four games in a row.

"The rain delay's annoying. It bothers me a lot, actually," said Haas, who showed frustration at various moments by spiking, tossing or kicking his racket.

"Come back out there, and the momentum was really on my side, at least for the first set, I think. (If) it would have been mine, it would have been maybe a different match. But these are all the 'ifs' and 'buts' and not worth talking about."

Still, Haas actually held two set points late in the first, one of which del Potro erased with a 117 mph second-serve ace, and the other with a volley winner.

"He went for it," said Haas, a finalist last year. "He deserved it."

Because of all the delays, unseeded Andrea Petkovic's 7-5, 6-3 victory over No. 4 Alize Cornet in the second women's semifinal did not start until after 12:30 a.m. Sunday -- and did not finish until after 2:10 a.m.

Petkovic, seeking her first title since 2011, was scheduled to return to the court about 15 hours later to meet defending champion Magdalena Rybarikova in Sunday's final. Rybarikova beat Ekaterina Makarova 6-2, 6-0 in a semifinal stopped by rain at 5-2 in the first set.

Much, much earlier, Isner finished with a flourish -- his last six serves were aces -- and continued the strong form he showed last week while winning the title at Atlanta on a hard court.

"When you're winning, you're playing a lot of matches, and from that, naturally, you're just going to wear down," said Isner, who was visited by a trainer in the third set but said the left leg injury that forced him to stop playing at Wimbledon in June was not bothering him.

"I just wanted to get it massaged a little bit," said Isner, who for years has been officially listed as being 6-foot-9 by the ATP, but the tour's website recently changed that to 6-10. "It wasn't anything I was seriously worried about."

Isner, the 2007 runner-up in Washington, acknowledged his body feels "like it's a little beat up" after a second consecutive three-setter and a busy 1½ weeks, "but I'll be ready to go tomorrow, for sure."

After dropping the first set against Tursunov, Isner was ahead on serve 2-1 in the second when, with the match 70 minutes old and a drizzle falling, play was suspended. When they resumed at 30-40, Isner converted the break point with a forehand passing winner on a 12-stroke exchange.

"It's definitely not a comfortable feeling" to return from a delay facing break point, Tursunov said. "Really, you understand that if you don't win this point, you're down a break, and then the set is over."

Indeed, that was the first break in the match, and all Isner would need to even things at a set apiece 15 minutes later.

"Gave me all sorts of momentum," Isner said.

He broke again to lead 3-2 in the third, this time at love, helped by three unforced errors by the 61st-ranked Tursunov.

   1 2  -  Next page  >>