Miami | Isner finally lifts a Masters 1000 title
It was a suitable end to 32 years at Crandon Park in Key Biscayne, that the Miami Open event was won by an Americans, as the tournament makes its move to a more utilitarian venue 18-miles away at the NFL Dolphin stadium.
John Isner finally came good to win his first Masters 1000 event having fallen short in three previous finals to join Sloane Stephens who picked up the women’s title 24-hours earlier.
I couldn’t have scripted this. I came into this tournament, I won one ATP [World Tour] match all year and was playing very poorlyJohn Isner
The 14th seed beat Alexander Zverev 6-7(4) 6-4 6-4 with another display of incredible serving which on this occasion, was matched by the German, seeded 4.
Isner arrived in the final having struck 81 aces in five matches and he improved that tally with another 18, his last to claim the final point after two-hours and 29-minutes.
It capped an excellent week for the big American who has not had the best of seasons to date arriving in Miami with just one win since the start of the year.
“I couldn’t have scripted this. I came into this tournament, I won one ATP [World Tour] match all year and was playing very poorly,” Isner admitted during his on-court interview.
“I won my first match [here] in three sets and that’s how tennis goes – you start to gain a little confidence and next thing you know things start to roll your way.”
Isner is the first US player since Andy Roddick in 2010 to lift the Miami title and as of Monday will see his ranking rise to nine.
“It’s up to me now to keep pushing forward,” he continued. “To get over the hump in tournaments like this is a big thing mentally for me. We cleared that hurdle this week. I went into every match super fresh and loose. I will be a force if I can continue to play freely.”
In the final both Zverev and Isner were faultless in their service games and the first set predictably went the distance before the German prevailed when the American sprayed a backhand wide.
With Isner looking tired and a bit downbeat following the loss of the opening set which saw five-consecutive mini-breaks before Zverev claimed it, the tide turned his way when he finally broke to take a 5-4 lead. His serve ensured he levelled the match and he went on to repeat that when Zverev failed to hold at 5-4 in the third.
Zverev, who had never lost to Isner in their three previous meetings, lost his rag when he was broken in the third and smashed his racket in frustration and then tossing the broken frame into the crowd.
“I missed more shots today than I did the whole tournament. I played badly from the baseline but it’s not easy against John,” he admitted later before departing for Valencia and a Davis Cup tie with Spain.
“He always makes it difficult. I kind of lost the match myself but I have known him since I was 14 so although I am never happy to lose, I am happy for him that he’s won his first Masters.”
Commenting on the move to the Black Rock Stadium, like Stephens the day before, Isner was sad at leaving. “With the atmosphere and the support, it was amazing,” he said. “You just can’t replicate that and for me to come out the winner in the last men’s single match ever here is unique.”