John Isner rallies to reach Atlanta Open final
ATLANTA (AP) Two-time defending champion John Isner rallied to reach his 19th ATP Tour final Saturday, beating friend Denis Kudla 4-6, 6-2, 7-5 in the Atlanta Open semifinals.
Isner's serve was once again overpowering and, after winning a rock-steady first set, the 22-year-old Kudla made too mistakes over the final two sets in Atlantic Station.
Fifth-seeded Marcos Baghdatis of Cyprus faced seventh-seeded Gilles Muller of Luxemborg in the night semifinal.
Although this was the first meeting between Isner and Kudla, the Tampa, Florida, residents often practice together. Kudla, in fact, warmed Isner up at Wimbledon in 2010 before Isner played the longest match in tennis history, an 11-hour, 5-minute win over Nicolas Mahut.
Isner broke serve twice in the second set, each time winning games as Kudla sent apparently easy forehands from the baseline into the net to give the 6-foot-10 former University of Georgia star leads of 3-1 and then to clinch the set at 6-2. The only service break of the final set came on another Kudla forehand mistake, when he sent one wide to end the match.
Isner moved to 19-3 in Atlanta while reaching his fifth final in six years. He will chase his 10th title Sunday.
Kudla, who had to win two qualifying matches to make the main draw, entered the match on a 17-2 run at various levels of competition, including a run where he was the first American male since 2012 to reach the round of 16 at Wimbledon.
The top-seeded tandem of Mike and Bob Bryan won the first doubles semifinal in fashion befitting the mismatch that appeared on paper. The most successful doubles team in history beat Donald Young and Christopher Eubanks 6-2, 6-4 for their record 942nd career win together.
Young and Eubanks, an Atlanta native and rising sophomore at nearby Georgia Tech playing in his first ATP main draw, scored just five points against 41 serves over two sets - including two of 26 first serves. Saturday was their third match together.
The Bryans will try to extend their tournament titles record to 107 on Sunday.