American John Isner is one step closer to defend his title at the Hall Of Fame Championships in Newport after overcoming South African qualifier Izak van der Merwe 6-4 7-6 (2) in a match that was dominated by serves.
Top seed Isner managed to break his opponent in the third game of the first set and held his serve with confidence to take a lead in the match.
The South African had a good opportunity to force a decider, but wasn’t able to take his chances when 6-5 and 30-0 up in the second set on Isner’s serve. After the American held to set up a ‘breaker’, he stepped up a level and with the help of some big first serves, powered through to the last 4.
He will now play fellow countryman Ryan Harrison, who booked his place in the semis when his opponent Benjamin Becker of Germany was forced to retire due to a hamstring injury whilst trailing 6-4 3-0.
American wild card holder Harrison averted four break points when serving for the first set and went on to take Becker’s serve twice at the beginning of the second, before the German decided no to carry on in the match.
Harrison is aiming to reach the first ATP Tour final of his career, with Isner having two final appearances to his name this year.
In the other semis, former world no.1 Lleyton Hewitt will play American Rajeev Ram, who ousted second seeded Kei Nishikori in the round before.