Less than 24 hours ago, John Isner was 5-2 down in the third set against Grigor Dimitrov, but he made a great turnaround, saving a match point to oust Bulgarian after 2 hours and 45 minutes, and it was questionable will he be able to recover in time for today's clash with Juan Martin del Potro.
The Argentine also had his problems, playing for 5 weeks in a row and giving his best to grab that last spot at the World Tour Finals, which he would have done with a win today. Instead of that, John, who lost in the final here 12 months ago, scored another hard-fought triumph, toppling his rival by 6-4 6-7 6-4 in 2 hours and 10 minutes to advance to the semi-final, where he will face Filip Krajinovic from Serbia. This was one of the most important matches of the season for both, Delpo could have booked the place in London, while John is still fighting for that and will make the WTF berth if he goes all the way here.
Playing against each other for the 9th time, John scored his 3rd win over Juan Martin, facing no break points in the entire match and converting both chances he earned to emerge as a winner. Overall, it was a fast and fluid match, with just 2 deuces and break points and Isner won 7 points more than his rival.
The American made the difference with his second serve, winning 18 out of 27 points, and he managed to defend his backhand as well, hitting a respectable number of winners from that wing. Both players had more winners than unforced errors, thanks to good serving, and John created a nice gap in the shortest points up to 4 shots, something that Delpo couldn't overcome in the longer rallies, where Isner wasn't too far behind him.
As was expected, they both held without any troubles right from the start, and it looked like the tie break is inevitable. Instead of that, John played a great return game when Delpo served to stay in the set at 4-5, reaching the first break points after a backhand down the line winner.
Another good return followed by a volley winner at the net sealed the deal for him, taking the opener by 6-4 after 36 minutes. There were no loose games in set number 2, we saw a great serving display on both sides and only 12 points for the returners in 12 games to settle into a tie break.
Nothing could separate them in the first 11 points but the high-quality set had to be ended in the worst possible way, with a double fault from Isner. Del Potro was now a set away from reaching the London berth but he started to feel the pain in his left hip, which affected his serve.
He had 3 game points in the 3rd game but John managed to hang in (successful challenge kept him in the game) and to create a break point with a return winner, taking advantage of rival's slow second serve. Juan Martin missed a forehand in the next point and that will prove to be very costly for him, unable to pull the break back in the remaining games.
Isner blasted 4 service winners in the 10th game to seal the deal and propel himself into the last 4, advancing to Masters 1000 semi-final for the 10th time in his career. Quarter-final result: