Isner advances to final on Newport’s hot grass courts
NEWPORT, R.I. (AP) — Top-seeded John Isner overcame extremely hot conditions and a first-set tiebreaker loss to beat fourth-seeded Ugo Humbert of France 6-7 (4), 7-6 (5), 6-3 on Saturday and advance to the Hall of Fame Open final.
The 34-year-old American will face Alexander Bublik, a 7-6 (5), 3-6, 6-4 winner over Marcel Granollers of Spain. The 22-year-old Bublik, from Kazakhstan, reached his first career ATP final.
The matches were played before induction ceremonies for the 2019 class of Li Na from China, Mary Pierce of France, and Russian Yevgeny Kafelnikov.
Playing in a feel-like temperature in the 90s, Isner, ranked 15th in the world coming into the week, broke in the second game of the final set — the first break of the match — en route to his fourth final on Newport’s grass courts. He won in 2011, ’12 and ’17.
“The length of the match is fine. That’s what happens, especially with matches like mine,” the big-serving Isner said. “It’s really hot and humid and takes a lot (out) of you. To be honest, I don’t feel really great right now.”
Isner is into his 28th ATP final.
In a match that lasted 2 hours, 44 minutes, started in sunshine and ended with shadows creeping nearly halfway across the court, Isner had two aces in the final game to go up 40-0.
He hit a forehand winner at the net and pumped his fist when it ended.
Isner hit a forehand winner down the line to win the second-set tiebreaker and force the deciding set.
“That was a big shot,” he said. “I always say when I win the second set, I’m going to win the match.”
Bublik broke in the fifth game of the final set to take control of his match.
Just before he closed it out, an elderly female fan, seated courtside in the sun, was carried out on a chair by two men with ushers helping. The feel-like temperature at the time was in the upper 90s with the sun beating down on the court and some spectators.
“It’s hot,” said Bublik when asked about the conditions during a post-match interview on the court. “I’m just glad I won a match.”
The stadium seating and courtside seats — both located in the sun and usually at least about three-quarters full on induction day — had less than a hundred people seated for both semifinals.