Tennis: Isner blasts past Djokovic into Indian Wells final

Reuters, Saturday 17 Mar 2012

Big-serving John Isner overpowered world number one Novak Djokovic to reach the final of the BNP Paribas Open with a 7-6 3-6 7-6 upset in the last four on Saturday

US player John Isner reacts after beating world number one Novak Djokovic in the semi-final

The 26-year-old American blasted a total of 20 aces past the top-seeded Serb, the last of them a 135 kph serve to clinch the final-set tiebreak 7-5 and end the match after two hours, 45 minutes.
Isner, who had lost to Djokovic in their previous two meetings, threw his arms skywards in celebration before light drizzle began to fall on the showpiece stadium court at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden.
“The only thing I could control was how I competed and I tried my hardest today,” 11th seed Isner said in a courtside interview after the biggest win of his career reaching the final in an elite ATP Masters 1000 event for the first time.
The American will meet either three-times champion Roger Federer or twice winner Rafa Nadal in Sunday’s final. Swiss Federer and Spaniard Nadal were scheduled to play later on Saturday in a heavily anticipated showdown, the 28th time the pair will have met in their ongoing rivalry.
Left-hander Nadal holds an 18-9 career advantage over the Swiss and has won four of their last five encounters, though they are 5-5 on the hard court.
“It’s frustrating when somebody serves over 70 percent of their first serves in with that angle and with that speed and accuracy,” Australian Open champion Djokovic, who had beaten Isner in their previous two meetings, told reporters.
“I knew I had to stay patient and just wait for the chance. I had some chances, I didn’t use them. But I thought I played a really good match.
“He played very well when he needed to, so all the credit to him.”
Under leaden skies in the California desert, Djokovic broke Isner to love in the third game of the match, when the American dumped a forehand into the net, to lead 2-1.
However, Isner broke back in the 10th, hitting a forehand service return that clipped the line. Djokovic challenged but the American’s shot was confirmed good by the Hawk-Eye ball tracking system.
The next two games went with serve for the set to go into a tiebreak and Isner, roared on by a partisan near-capacity crowd, charged 5-3 up as he regularly pounded down 140 kph serves.
Djokovic clawed his way back and saved two set points before the American clinched the tiebreak 9-7 when the Serb netted a backhand service return. Isner pumped his right fist in delight, having won the first set in an hour.
The American, who last month upset Federer in four sets in a Davis Cup first round tie, lost serve in the eighth game of the second, saving three break points after trailing 0-40 before the Serb went 5-3 up when Isner hit a forehand long.
Djokovic comfortably held in the ninth, firing a crunching forehand winner into an open court to level the match at one-set all.
The Serb had a chance to break Isner in the seventh game of the final set after his opponent netted a backhand on deuce but the American responded with a 143 kph ace before holding.
The next five games went with serve to take the set into a tiebreak and Isner raced 6-3 up, to hold three match points, after blasting a 144kph ace.
Djokovic won the next two points, the first with an ace of his own and the second when Isner netted a forehand service return, before the American sealed victory with another booming first serve.

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