Best of Three: Top Americans defend titles, in praise of Federer
At Newport, John Isner got back to his winning ways, playing his best tennis in months and beating Lleyton Hewitt in the final. It was Hewitt's first career loss in a grass court final (7-1) and was the first time Isner was able to string together consecutive match wins since reaching the final in Houston in early April. And don't discount the effect the grass-court title will have on Isner's mindset, especially crucial given the venue hosting the 2012 Olympics.
"I gained a lot of confidence from this week just as I did last year," Isner told reporters after the match. "I had a great, great summer last year. I hope to have much of the same this year."
Fresh off getting "gold-setted" at Wimbledon, top-seeded Sara Errani won her fourth title of 2012 in Palermo. In Umag, Croatia, Marin Cilic beat Marcel "The Cochlea Splitter" Granollers. Janko Tipsareric beat Juan Monaco to take the Mercedes Cup in Stuttgart. In (Old Dirty) Bastad, David Ferrer won his fifth title of the year, beating countryman Nicolas Almagro 2 and 2 in just over an hour. The good news for Almagro: he reachd the final. The bad news: he is now 1-34 against the top six.
Doubles winners: Santiago Gonzalez and Scott Lipsky in Newport. Renata Voracova and Barbora Zahlavova Strycova in Palermo. Jeremy Chardy and Lukasz Kubot in Stuttgart. Robert Lindstedt and Horia Tecau in Bastad.
Also, my colleague Chris Sesno dug up this tidbit I have seen nowhere else: Andre Agassi first claimed the No. 1 ranking on April 10, 1995, and last held it on Sept. 1, 2003, a span of eight years, four months and three weeks. Federer first took the top ranking on Feb. 2, 2004, and obviously holds the top spot today. By our reckoning, this marks a span of eight years, five months and two weeks. So add this to the encyclopedia that is Federer's list of records: While obviously not continuous, he has the longest interval between first achieving No.1 and last achieving No. 1.*
A Linda Richman topic for the audience: both Agassi and Federer needed to mount significant comebacks to "rescale the mountain," as Gil Reyes might put it. Two different men, different sets of obstacles, different circumstances. But whose comeback is more impressive? Discuss.