Tennis

Isner beats Hewitt to defend title

Top seed John Isner of the USA serves to Lleyton Hewitt
Big John Isner was not broken in the final en route to his fourth ATP Tour title.
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NEWPORT, RI (AP)

Top-seeded John Isner came into the week wondering what was wrong with his game and left with his second straight Hall of Fame Tennis Championships title.

The hard-serving Isner put on a performance similar to last year and defended his title by beating Australia's Lleyton Hewitt 7-6 (1), 6-4 on Sunday afternoon.

The 6-foot-9 American was not broken in the match to earn his fourth career ATP title. He held serve in 57 of 58 games in the tourney.

''I gained a lot of confidence from this week, just like I did last year,'' said Isner, who entered the tournament fresh off a first-round loss at Wimbledon. ''The first match was the toughest. I easily could have lost that match. I feel like I got better each and every match.''

Isner used his overpowering serve for an ace to take a 1-0 lead in the tiebreaker. He won the next two points on Hewitt's serve to go up 3-0 before collecting another ace.

The tiebreaker ended when Hewitt was barely able to get the edge of his racket on a serve, with the ball sailing off the court.

Isner had 16 aces in the match and improved to an ATP-best 25-10 mark in tiebreakers this season.

''With the weapon I have and my serve in a shortened situation for the set, I'm always fortunate to have that weapon on my side,'' the 11th-ranked Isner said. ''I kept my head really well this week.''

It was the first career final loss on grass for Hewitt after seven victories. The 31-year old Australian entered the week ranked 233rd, coming off five surgeries in four years.

''A lot of positives come out of this week,'' Hewitt said. ''Grass is a tough surface to come back from any injury, especially with a foot surgery where my movement is so important. On grass you're always in the wrong position a lot of times, and you have to have your confidence in your footwork.''

In the final set, Isner collected the first break of the match in the third game, going up 2-1 when he hit a perfectly placed forehand winner.

Trailing 3-5, Hewitt fought off one match point at 30-40 and held serve to keep the match alive.

But in the last game, Isner unloaded aces on his first two serves. Isner closed out the 91-minute match with an ace on his second match point.

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