Home & Dry: John Isner Rides Service, Adrenaline to Dallas Finals | TBEN | Tennis
John Isner reached his 31st TBEN final at the Dallas Open on Saturday, but this one is extra special. With family and friends in the stands, the 37-year-old was just one win away from the title at the ATP 250 event in his home city.
The fifth seed won an all-American game against JJ Wolf 3-6, 7-5, 7-6 (4), overcoming a slow start with a dominant serve that improved throughout the two and a half hour game.
“I saved a lot of break points with non-returnable serves. Without that I would have been off 6-3, 6-4,” Isner said in his on-court interview. “So of course I’m lucky enough to have that gun in my pocket, and I needed all of it today.
“It was an absolute fight so I’m pretty tired. But I’m absolutely ecstatic to be in the final here in Dallas tomorrow.”
After seeing eight break points in his first eight service games, Isner found form on his pitch to put pressure on his 24-year-old opponent. The 16-time Tour-level title-list claimed his only break point of the match to take the second set, then raced to a 4/0 lead in the final set tiebreak before capping victory with a delicate drop-volley -winner .
Much of Isner’s long string of successes on the TBEN can be attributed to his skill at serve and tiebreaks, and he performed against Wolf on both fronts. He fired 31 aces in the match – extending his record total to 14,133 – and won his 501st tie-break tie-break to seal the victory. In Friday’s quarterfinals, Isner became the first man to win 500 tiebreaks in the Open Era.
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One thing Isner doesn’t have on his side is youth. After defeating an opponent 13 years his junior in the semi-finals, he will face another 20-something in Taylor Fritz or Wu Yibing in the final. After playing just two games in January, going 0-2 Down Under, Isner won four games in five days to reach the Dallas final.
How is his body holding up?
“Frankly, it feels terrible right now,” he said with a laugh. “I’m 38 in April. It’s not getting any easier. I started a little slow, a little slow, but in the third set I actually felt the best I felt the whole match. I had a lot of adrenaline there at the end and I was able to control my nerves and win.
“Right now the name of the game is recovery. I’m going back to the workout room and trying to get this big body ready for tomorrow.”