John Isner is just two matches away from an unlikely defence of his 2018 Miami Open title. The American has been lucky enough to avoid pre-tournament favourite Novak Djokovic, meaning he will have played two seeds to make the final with opponent Felix Auger-Aliassime coming from qualifying.
Auger-Aliassime has been promising a lot over the past 12 months but this tournament is his definitive breakthrough on the big stage. The 18 year-old was ranked outside the top 100 at the start of the year but will find himself easily inside the top 40 now and could into the top 20 if he wins the title. The Canadian has dealt with seeds Borna Coric and Nikoloz Basilashvili easily this fortnight while also beating an in-form Hubert Hurkacz in straights too. “Yeah, a lot of things are working, obviously. I think I have been just improving in the last couple of weeks.” he said on his form right now.
Isner results this fortnight have been pretty consistent with four straight sets wins with the following results – 7-6 7-6, 7-5 7-6, 7-6 7-6, 7-6 7-6. The last of those came against Roberto Bautista Agut, who was fresh off beating Novak Djokovic for the second time this year. As usual, his serve was dominant in the win with a total of 24 aces overall.
Indian Wells brought all the attention to young Canadian superstars on the female side, Miami is going to do that on the men’s side now with two of them in the semi finals. Auger-Aliassime is more than capable of springing a shock but it will be a tough ask against an opponent who clearly thrives on the Miami courts and is unbreakable to boot. “I think maybe I’ll have to maybe adjust my return position. Maybe see the stats where he’s serving best, look at the match how he played today in these tiebreaks, to see where he likes serving on important points. From there, you know, just focus on myself, what I have to do first, and then figure out a way to break him.”
Prediction – John Isner in straight sets