ATP Miami: Isner downs Zverev to become the last champion at Crandon Park

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ATP Miami: Isner downs Zverev to become the last champion at Crandon Park
ATP Miami: Isner downs Zverev to become the last champion at Crandon Park

The American John Isner will be remembered as the last champion fo Miami Masters at the Crandon Park after a hard-fought 6-7 6-4 6-4 triumph over the 4th seed Alexander Zverev in 2 hours and 29 minutes! This was the fourth Masters 1000 final for Isner and the first title at this level that will bring him the place in the Top 10 on Monday.

Isner came to Miami with just 2 wins in 2018 but he played great tennis in the last 10 days to lift his biggest title 25 days before his 33rd birthday. John is the first American player to conquer Miami since Andy Roddick in 2010 and he is also the third consecutive non-European player with Masters 1000 title, after 69 trophies that went to the old continent before that.

In addition, Isner is the oldest first-time champion at Masters 1000 level, passing Ivan Ljubicic who won Indian Wells in 2010, and he is the 65th Masters 1000 champion overall since 1990. John fired 18 aces and he saved all three break points he faced to keep the pressure on Sascha who had to play against 12 break points, saving 10 of those to keep himself in contention.

Nonetheless, he dropped his serve in the ninth game of sets two and three to find himself on the losing side and miss a chance to win his third Masters 1000 title as the only active player after Federer, Nadal, Djokovic or Murray who achieved that.

The American had 44 winners and 37 unforced errors, dominating with his serve and forehand despite too many errors from his forehand wing, while Zverev stayed on 22 winners and 24 errors, which wasn't enough in the end. It was important for both players to find the rhythm right from the start but we saw break points already in the second game when Zverev had to dig deep to remain unbroken.

John squandered three break points and the last one could have been very costly since he missed an easy volley at the net. Sascha had his chance on the return as well in the fifth game but Isner denied rival's break point with an ace down the T line to remain on the positive side of the scoreboard.

It was the American's turn to make some damage on the return in game six again, creating two break points but wasting both, and they served well in the remaining games to set up a tie break. After four easy points on both sides we saw five mini-breaks in a row and Zverev opened a 5-4 gap after a costly double fault from Isner in the ninth point.

The German won the next two points on his serve to grab the breaker 7-4 after a grueling 58 minutes, looking good to lift his third Masters 1000 crown. The second set was more fluid and returners won just six points in the opening eight games to stay neck and neck at 4-4.

Out of sudden, Sascha squandered a game point in game nine after a double fault and Isner broke him with a cross court forehand winner that sent him 5-4 in front, allowing him to serve for the set in the following game. Instead of another easy hold, John faced two break points in that 10th game but he repelled them both and closed the set with a service winner, sending the match into a decider after an hour and 43 minutes.

The momentum was on Isner's side now and he used it to sail through his service games in set number three, serving at 83% and dropping three points in five service games! Zverev couldn't follow that pace and he saved a break point in game three and another four in game five to keep himself in contention, hoping to survive until the tie break.

John had the other plans, though, winning 12 of the last 14 points to seal the deal and celebrate his biggest success in a career just before the 33rd birthday. Sascha opened the ninth game with a double fault and Isner fired a forehand winner to move 30-0 up, keeping the pressure on his young opponent.

A backhand error from the German gave two break points to the American and he converted the first when Zverev netted an easy forehand, earning a chance to serve for the triumph in the following game. John completed the win with an ace and he started a huge celebration in front of the delighted fans that witnessed the first American champion here in eight years. Final result:


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