ATP Paris: Isner edges Dimitrov. Del Potro stays in race for London
by JOVICA ILIC | VIEW 4116
Juan Martin del Potro found the right rhythm at the US Open and he has been on a roll ever since, coming to Paris after 4 consecutive weeks of solid results that kept pushing him higher through the ATP list. Tired but determined Argentine is doing a fine job in the French capital so far, and he increased his chances of reaching the ATP World Tour Finals even more with a 7-5 6-4 triumph over Robin Haase in an hour and 32 minutes. Thus, Juan Martin will play in back-to-back Masters 1000 quarter-finals for the first time since 2013, when he did that in Shanghai and Paris as well.
This was their 4th meeting and del Potro grabbed the 4th win, saving 2 out of 3 break points and finishing the match with 4 points more than Haase. Besides of the last 2 games of the opening set, it was a fast and fluid match, with good serving from both, and the 13th seed made all the difference by converting all 3 break points he created.
It was a high-quality stuff on both sides, they both had more winners than unforced errors, and the match was decided by a few balls. Haase was in front in the points that ended with 4 shots or less but del Potro neutralized that by taking an upper hand in the longer rallies, which was also one of the key elements in his triumph.
Both players served well right from the start, with no break points in the first 8 games and Juan Martin drew first blood with a break in game 9 after a good return and a forehand winner. Out of sudden, Haase broke back at love in game 10 to prolong the set, and he had 4 game points to move 6-5 ahead.
He couldn't deliver a hold and Juan Martin earned a break after an expensive double fault from his rival. The Argentine served for the opening set for the second time in game 12 and it turned out to be the longest game of the match, with 4 set points for him and 2 break points for Haase, who was refusing to give up.
In the end, Juan Martin grabbed the game and the set with a nice volley winner at the net, in what has been a good hour of tennis from each player. The second set was more fluid, with 9 good holds and one loose service game for Robin, that cost him the match.
Del Potro blasted a forehand return winner in game 5 to clinch the crucial break of serve, and he brought the match home with 3 commanding holds, saving a smash winner for the final point and propelling himself into the last 8.
Grigor Dimitrov and John Isner played one of the most entertaining matches of the entire tournament, with the American prevailing by 7-6 5-7 7-6 in 2 hours and 45 minutes, advancing to his third Masters 1000 quarter-final of the season. Isner, who played in the final here 12 months ago, came from a verge of defeat, trailing 5-2 in the final set and fending off a match point in the 8th game on own serve to at least stay alive for one more game.
Instead of bringing the match home, Grigor chocked in the 9th game, losing his serve at 15, and that will prove to be very costly, as he lost the tie break by 7-3 to end his run in the last 16. John served at 79% and he fired 25 aces, but all of that wasn't enough to defend his serve better, being forced to play against 12 break points.
Nonetheless, he managed to find the right serves when he needed them the most, and he repelled 10 break points, which helped him to stay in the match. On the other hand, Grigor did a lot of damage with his first serve and he faced just 2 break points in the entire match, only to lose serve at the worst possible moment when nobody expected that.
Both players had 47 winners and John had 9 unforced errors more than his rival. Despite that, he wasn't too far behind Grigor in the longer rallies, battling his way towards the win after chasing down every ball and never losing his fighting spirit.
The first set went into a tie break, John saved 2 break points and Grigor had to fend off 1 to set up the deciding game, which developed into a real thriller! Isner had no less than 6 set points, finally clinching the last one at 11-10 to take the opener, saving 2 set points at 7-8 and 9-10.
Bulgarian took charge in set number 2, serving well and keeping the pressure on his rival. John saved 2 break points at the start of the set but he had to let his serve away in the 12th game when Grigor broke to clinch it by 7-5 and send the encounter into a decider.
Dimitrov was the better player after that opening set and he had the advantage on his side, together with momentum, and it was clear that John will have to produce something special to emerge as a winner. The American saved a break point in both of his opening 2 service games but Grigor found the way to stile the break in game 6, moving 4-2 in front.
A hold at love in the 7th game brought him closer to the finish line, and everybody already saw him in the quarters. Isner had some other plans, though, saving a match point on serve in game 8 and scoring that surprising break a few minutes later when Dimitrov served for the triumph.
Grigor lost his ground a little bit after wasting such a huge lead and he couldn't keep his focus in the tie break, making some double faults to give John 3 mini-breaks, which was enough for the 9th seed to seal the breaker by 7-3 and progress to the next round.
Just like del Potro, John is still in the Race for London, but he will have to go all the way here to book his place at the World Tour Finals. Third round results:
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