Isner Saves 3 Match Points Against Berdych As He Defends Winston-Salem Title

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American John Isner his second season title as he prevailed in a three set thriller against Czech Tomas Berdych, winning 3-6  6-4  7-6 (9).

Second seeded Tomas Berdych paved his way into today’s final with a relative ease, losing only one set to Steve Darcis, just before crushing him in the next two. Berdych was bidding to win his 8th ATP Tour career title and boost his confidence before the start of the 4th Grand Slam event, US Open in Flushing Meadows. This is the only Grand Slam where the Czech has never been able to reach the quarterfinals.

Going into today’s encounter, no.3 seed John Isner was leading the head to head against the Czech with 2-1 and was hoping to defend his last year’s title here at the Wake Forest University Tennis Complex. The American survived two tough three setters on his way into the final, having beaten Slovak Martin Klizan 7-5 in the decider and coming out on top against Frenchman Tsonga in yesterday’s semis, winning in a third set ‘breaker’.

Berdych started the match a bit more consistantly, holding his serves with a lot of confidence. As he managed to take the American’s serve in the fifth game after some unforced errors started creeping into Isner’s game, he took a 3-2 lead in the first set. The former Wimbledon finalist Berdych struck once more in game 9 and breaking Isner to 15, he closed out the set.

However, the American responded brilliantly and got an early break in the second set after taking Berdych’s serve in the opening game. Both players held their service games till the end of it without any hint of hesitation and with Isner wrapping it up on his own serve, he levelled the match at one set apiece.

The third set proved to be a lot more equal affair, neither of the players getting a chance to break the opponent. Berdych had the slight advantage of serving first, but Isner didn’t seem to be too bothered and made the Czech work really hard in the 11th game of the set just before forcing a tiebreak that was going to decide the winner of this year’s Winston-Salem Open. Both players showed some nervousness as they exchanged three mini breaks each at the beginning of the ‘breaker’, making it 5-5. The drama that followed after that surely kept every single person in the crowd at the edge of their seats. Berdych had three opportunities to close out the match, but Isner held his nerve as he averted all of them. He then went on to convert his second match point with a bullet forehand when the Czech was serving at 9-10 and the crowd went wild.

With this victory, Isner successfully defended his title and will be going into the 2012 US Open as one of the dark horses.


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