John Isner is in the BB&T Atlanta Open finals for the fifth time in six years and Marcos Baghdatis is in his first ATP World Tour final since 2011.
Isner took on a young and rising American in Denis Kudla to start the day session at Atlantic Station.
Kudla didn’t give Isner a chance to get on rhythm in the first set as he moved the 6’10” player from the onset. After six uneventful holds, Kudla earned two break points after getting multiple good looks on the defending champ’s serve and a break in the seventh game to take the first set 6-4. The world No. 19 ended up winning a paltry 27% of points on his second serve in the opener.
Isner bounced back in a big way in set two with a more aggressive mindset.
“I stayed with it and didn’t want to get rattled out there,” explained Isner. “The 2-1 game in the second set, I started going more my shots a lot more. I was hitting (my serves) bigger as the match went on.”
The former University of Georgia All-American closed out the second set 6-2 without dropping a point on serve.
It looked like going to a third set favored Isner. Coming into the semifinal, Isner was 9-3 in three set matches in Atlanta and had won four straight. Isner earned three break chances in the final set before converting one on a match point at 6-5.
“When he serves that big, you kind of get stuck in neutral,” stated Kudla after the match.
Kudla said that even in defeat, he’ll take a lot of positives away from his week in Atlanta.
“I came all the way from qualies and continued my confidence from grass to hard courts.”
Naturally, being in his fifth final in six years, Isner feels comfortable on the fast and high-bouncing courts at Atlantic Station.
“When I heard a tournament was coming to Atlanta, I thought it could be a good thing for me. I didn’t know it would be this good. I love playing here, I’ve mentioned that a million times.”
Baghdatis won a war of wills, 7-6(4) 3-6 7-6(4) on Saturday night by defeating 2012 finalist, Gilles Muller. Baghdatis, a veteran player from Cyprus pounded out 10 aces of his own and was only broken twice in the three sets.
Sunday’s action in Midtown will start at 12:30 p.m. with the doubles final featuring the Bryan Brothers, Bob and Mike Bryan.
Isner and Baghdatis will play the singles final at 3 p.m. Tickets are available at www.bbtatlantaopen.com.