The Georgia heat left both players simmering at times, but John Isner kept his cool the best and won the BB&T Atlanta Open tennis tournament today for a fifth time.
The top-seeded Isner, a Greensboro native who is ranked No. 9 in the world, defeated Ryan Harrison, the No. 8 seed, 5-7, 6-3, 6-4.
John Isner repeats as Atlanta champion with a 5-7 6-3 6-4 win over Ryan Harrison.— Tennis TV (@TennisTV) July 29, 2018
Isner, a University of Georgia alumnus, improved to 31-4 at Atlanta in what, by all rights, is the ATP World Tour's John Isner Invitational.
Isner becomes the fourth American to win the same tournament at least five times. Pete Sampras, Andre Agassi and John McEnroe at three events and Jimmy Connors at two also achieved the feat.
The tournament championship is the 14th of Isner's pro career, which began in 2007, and his second this year after a win in the Miami Open on April 1.
The Page High School graduate will continue his U.S. Open hardcourt tuneup as the No. 2 seed, behind third-ranked Alexander Zverev, for the 64-player Citi Open this week in Washington.
The temperature in Atlanta reached 89 degrees for the 5 p.m. start at Atlantic Station, where the temporary venue was constructed in the parking lot of a Midtown community that is home to shopping, dining and condos.
And it appeared the heat would wilt the 6-foot-10 Isner, who played in his first tournament since reaching the Wimbledon semifinals on July 13 and needed three sets to subdue Mischa Zverev in Friday's quarterfinals and then Matthew Ebden in Saturday's semifinals.
"I came into this tournament with maybe not as full of a tank as I have in the past," Isner told ATPWorldTour.com, "but I was able to last three matches where it was three sets but they weren’t your typical three-set matches. They weren’t your typical drama-filled matches with 7-6 in the third, so that helps a lot get a lot of stress off of me. Physically I’m healthy, I’m just a little bit tired, but I just do the right things, I have a few days off now, and just need to keep taking care of myself."
After Harrison broke and captured the opening set, he had multiple chances to break Isner in the second set and take command.
At 1-1, with Isner frustrated and a big serve having deserted him, Harrison missed on three break-point chances on second serves. Then Isner broke Harrison in the sixth game to go up 4-2 to gain the edge and even the match.
"It’s a weird game," Isner said. "I've been on the other end where you have four or five chances to put your stamp on the match and you don’t get it, and I just had one chance, and played a good point, and was able to win the second set, and had one chance in the third and got up early, so again that’s how our sport goes sometimes. I was very fortunate today."
Isner opened the third set, breaking Harrison by ripping an inside-out forehand down the sideline and triggering a racquet smash by the world No. 53, and he was never in trouble after that.
After Washington, the Dallas resident is also expected to play at the Rogers Cup Aug. 6-12 in Toronto and the Western & Southern Open Aug. 12-19 in Cincinnati before the U.S. Open starts on Aug. 27.