Big Servers Roddick, Isner, Monfils and Karlovic Fill Washington Final Four

Posted on August 4, 2007

Semifinal action on Saturday at the $600,000 Legg Mason Tennis Classic in Washington D.C. features Americans Andy Roddick, the top seed and two-time champion, and John Isner, who reached the semifinals by pulling together four straight victories in a third set tie-break. Roddick defeated James Blake in the last all-American final in Washington – also Roddick’s last event appearance – in 2005.

Andy Roddick takes a 2-1 lifetime record into his match against seventh-seeded Croat Ivo Karlovic, including a win in the 2005 Washington quarterfinals. Their other two meetings also came that season, with Roddick prevailing in the Queen’s final to capture his 19th career title and Karlovic winning in the second round of ATP Masters Series Madrid, 3-6, 7-6(7), 7-6(3).

Andy Roddick, 24, is appearing in his seventh semifinal of 2007 (2-4 record). He advanced to ATP finals in February at Memphis (l. to Haas) and in June at Queen’s (d. Mahut). Roddick is attempting to reach his 36th career final (22-13), and his third in Washington. He claimed the title in 2001 (d. Schalken) and 2005 (d. Blake), and has now won eight straight matches at the event after missing last year’s tournament due to an abdominal strain. He has a 22-3 overall record in Washington, and is 2-1 in semifinals with his loss coming to Tim Henman in 2003. Roddick has a 40-10 season record (26-6 on hard courts), and is attempting to win the US Open Series Lever 2000 Challenge for the third straight year. With a win in the semifinals, he would assume the lead (currently No. 5). Last week, he made his 2007 summer hard court debut with a semifinal exit in Indianapolis (l. to Dancevic). At 6’2” in height, Roddick is the shortest of the four semifinalists.

Ivo Karlovic, 28, has a 3-0 record in ATP semifinals this season. He reached the San Jose final in February (l. to Murray), and followed by winning the Houston title in April (d. Zabaleta) and Nottingham title in June (d. Clement). He made his only other appearance in an ATP final in 2005 at Queen’s (l. to Roddick). The 6’10” Karlovic has a 24-11 record in 2007 – already eclipsing his previous-best season match wins total (18 in 2004) – and achieved a career-high No. 40 in the ATP Rankings on July 9, 2007 (currently No. 41). Karlovic is making his second appearance in Washington following his quarterfinal exit in 2005 (l. to Roddick). He improved to a 6-1 event record, saving two match points in his quarterfinal win over Chilean Paul Capdeville. Karlovic has fired 66 aces in his three matches this week, taking his 2007 total to 700 and moving him past compatriot Ivan Ljubicic (658) to No. 1 in the RICOH ATP MatchFacts leader board.

Frenchman Gael Monfils, the ninth seed, faces off against American wild card John Isner for the first time. Both players are making their Washington debut this week.

Gael Monfils, 20, is appearing in the semifinals for the second time this season. In May, he was a finalist in Poertschach and posted wins over Roddick (QF) and Lleyton Hewitt (SF) en route to his fifth career ATP final (l. to Monaco). With his quarterfinal win over former World No. 1 and third seed Marat Safin, the 6’4” Monfils returned his season record to the .500 mark (18-18) for the first time since his third round exit at the Australian Open (3-3). Beginning with his loss to compatriot Richard Gasquet in Melbourne, Monfils lost eight straight ATP-level matches through ATP Masters Series Rome in May, though he captured the Sunrise Challenger title in March (d. Seppi). He broke out of his slump at Poertschach, and in July reached the Gstaad quarterfinals (l. to Mathieu). Monfils has a 1-4 record in his five ATP finals, winning his sole title in 2005 at Sopot (d. Mayer). Monfils set a personal record two days in a row for fastest serve, first hitting one at 145 mph against Michael Berrer on Thursday and then at 146 mph against Safin on Friday.

John Isner, 22, is appearing in his second career ATP tournament and made his ATP-level debut last month in Newport (l. to Norman in the first round). He advanced to his first career ATP semifinal this week by prevailing in a third set tie-break in his four matches (d. Henman, No. 8 seed Becker, Odesnik, No. 2 Haas). In each of his first three matches, he came back from a set deficit. The 6’9” Isner has not dropped serve since the first set of his second round match against Becker, and has only been broken three times in 68 service games this week - once by Henman, and twice by Becker. Isner did not concede any break point chances to either Odesnik or Haas. He has also served 109 aces this week, including 30 or more in his last three matches. The Greensboro, North Carolina, native won the Lexington Challenger title last week (d. Wilson). In June, he won the U.S. Futures #14 title in Chico, California (d. Miranda). In May, he led the University of Georgia to the National Championship team title. He is being coached by Ricardo Acuna.

The four seeded tandems all advanced to the semifinals, and Saturday will feature a rematch of the 2006 Washington doubles final (No. 1 Bryan/Bryan vs No. 3 Hanley/Ullyett) and the 2007 ATP Masters Series Indian Wells doubles final (No. 2 Damm/Paes vs No. 4 Erlich/Ram).

Two-time defending champions, Bob and Mike Bryan, have defeated Paul Hanley and Kevin Ullyett in each of their three meetings this season (Finals at AMS Monte-Carlo and Hamburg, SF at Queen’s). The Bryans are attempting to collect their eighth title of the season, and won the Los Angeles title in their last appearance – their 40th career title as a tandem. They have a 53-6 season record (22-6 in Washington) and have reached the Washington final four times (runners-up in 2001-02). Hanley and Ullyett have compiled a 26-12 season record (5-1 in Washington), and captured the title in their season opener at Sydney. (ATP Digital Services)