John Isner showed this week why he will be hard-pressed to win a Grand Slam title due to his return and ground game, but with his omnipresent serve he could dispatch of any opponent in one match, slogging on to win the BT&T Atlanta Open after a 6-7(3), 7-6(2), 7-6(2) win in the final.
Isner played seven tiebreakers over four matches during the week after receiving a first-round bye, needing three sets to beat No. 373-ranked Christian Harrison, two tiebreaks to defeat No. 91-ranked James Blake, a third-set tiebreak in the semifinal win over Lleyton Hewitt, and three tiebreaks against Anderson.
“This is a tournament where I could’ve been out in my first match,” Isner said. “I lived on the edge all week and seemed to come through each and every time. It’s very encouraging…I never wavered. I believed that even at love-40 that I could still hold on and was able to come up with the goods.”
The inability to finish off opponents quickly, especially those ranked outside the Top 50, is Isner’s Achilles heel, which he will need to put on ice if he to even approach making the late rounds at a Slam.
The Isner-Anderson final went into the record books as the tallest final in ATP history between the 6’10″ Isner and the 6’8″ Anderson. The result moved Isner back into the Top 20 on the ATP Rankings, and the big man improved to 7-7 in career finals. Anderson fell to 2-4 in career finals. Isner was broken four times during the week holding serve in 59 of 63 games, and in the final fought off all 11 break points faced.
No. 6 seed Mikhail Youzhny took home the hardware at the Credit Agricole Suisse Open in Gstaad, Switzerland, defeating unseeded Dutchman Robin Haase 6-3, 6-4 in the claycourt final.
“When you win a tournament, it doesn’t matter how you’ve played or who you beat. My last title was at the start of last year in Zagreb, so it’s been quite long,” said Youzhny after the 31-year-old won his first title since February 2012. “I’m trying everything to try and play more consistently at a high level.”
The No. 33-ranked Russian entering the event improved to 9-11 in career finals. Haase fell to 2-1 in career finals.
“He’s a great player and I never beat him,” Haase said.
Tommy Robredo was yet another 30+ year old winner on the week, finally stopping the run of Fabio Fognini 6-0, 6-3 in the final of the Vegeta Croatia Open in Umag.
The No. 5-seeded Robredo collected his second title of the year, and cracks the Top 30 after beginning the year outside the Top 100 due to injury.
“Before the match, I was talking to my coach and I was saying, ‘It’s lovely to be waiting to play a final and you are nervous,’” the 31-year-old Robredo said. “Money can’t buy this feeling and I’m lucky to be part of this sport and lucky to have the chance to feel these feelings. I enjoy it and I know how to handle it…I played lovely. I played great. It was a perfect match. It’s not easy to play a final and I played very good.”
Robredo ended Fognini’s 13-match win streak, which included the titles at Stuttgart and Hamburg.
“It was an incredible week,” said Fognini, who the ATP says will rise to a new career high of “around” No. 16. “I go home with a lot of happiness. I’m a little bit disappointed, but even if you’re Roger [Federer] or Rafa [Nadal], you’re going to lose some time. I’ve played three incredible weeks and they’re going to stay in my head for the rest of my life.”
It was an upset in the Bank of the West Classic final at Stanford where Dominika Cibulkova outlasted top-seeded Agnieszka Radwanska 3-6, 6-4, 6-4.
It was the first win in five meetings for Cibulkova against Radwanska.
“I didn’t play my best tennis at all today,” said Radwanska who led 4-2 in the third. “I think everything was a problem for me. I couldn’t feel the ball well — actually I couldn’t feel the ball the whole tournament. And she was much better on the court, hitting so hard and so cleanly. She was playing so well out there.”
It was the third career title for Cibulkova after Moscow in 2011 and Carlsbad in 2012, improving to 3-5 in WTA finals.
Ukranian teen Elina Svitolina also had a week to remember as she captured her first career title at the Baku Cup in Baku, Azerbaijan, defeating veteran Shahar Peer of Israel 6-4, 6-4 in her first WTA final.
“It was a very tough match today and I had a lot of tough matches throughout the week, but I worked really hard coming into the tournament, and it turned out well for me,” Svitolina told the sparse crowd after the final.
Her previous best WTA result was the prior week when she reached the semifinals at the WTA event in Bad Gastein. She is the first teen to win a WTA title since 2012. Peer fell to 5-4 in career finals.
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