A former University of North Carolina star Brayden Schnur has qualified for the main draw in New York and he never looked back, defeating four rivals for his maiden ATP wins and the place in the first ATP final. In the semi-final match, Brayden took down the 6th seed and the last year's finalist Sam Querrey 7-6, 4-6, 6-3 in an hour and 54 minutes for his most significant result in a career, previously winning five Futures crowns.
The Canadian won just three points more than the American, serving at 76% and saving five out of seven break points despite an evident struggle on the second serve. Sam blasted 19 aces and he delivered better numbers after missing the first serve, saving three out of five break points but failing to cross the finish line first after one break he gave to Schnur in the decider.
Sam was in an ideal position to secure the opening set, leading 5-4 and creating four set points on the return in the following game. Brayden stayed composed, saving them all to bring the game home and fighting off the fifth set point with a volley winner in the 12th game to set up a tie break where he converted the third set point at 8-7 when Querrey sprayed a forehand error.
The young Canadian moved 3-0 up in the second set with a break in game two before Querrey launched his charge, forcing a mistake from his opponent to break back in game five and securing the lead with another one at 3-3 when Schnur sent a forehand long.
Serving for the set at 5-4, Sam fired an ace to wrap up this part of the match and set the decider where he was the favorite thanks to his experience and this momentum he just gained. Instead of that, Brayden delivered five good holds to keep the pressure on the other side of the net and the American failed to follow the same path, losing serve at 15 in game two and not having a chance to pull it back in the rest of the set.
Schnur hit a service winner in game nine to seal the deal and continue his fairytale run here in New York, becoming the second player in 2019 after Juan Ignacio Londero who has reached the maiden ATP final at the event where he also grabbed the first ATP win.
In the record-breaking clash between giant servers John Isner and Reilly Opelka, the younger player prevailed 6-7, 7-6, 7-6 in two hours and 31 minutes to advance into his first ATP final, saving six match points in the second set tie break for the career-best result!
For the first time in the best-of-three ATP match, two players fired 81 aces combined (43 for Reilly and 38 for John) and we saw just three break points in the entire encounter, together with 29 holds at love or 15, which shows how good they both served.
John and Reilly were on the mission right from the start, losing only 11 points on serve in the entire opening set and reaching the tie break after just 34 minutes, with unreal 17 points in a row for the servers, something you don't see that often.
Leading 9-8, Isner finally found the way to tame rival's serve and finish the set with a single mini-break after a smash winner, moving in front and putting the pressure on Opelka who had no room for errors in set number two.
There, nothing changed in terms of the scoreline and they went into a tie break after just 82 minutes, still with no deuces or break chances what so ever. As we already said, the youngster was one wrong step from the defeat and he fought like a real champion, saving six match points at 6-4, 6-5, 8-7, 10-9, 12-11 and 14-13 to stay on the course and steal the set with the second mini-break at 15-14 on his fifth set point to prolong the match and boost his chances before the decider.
Reilly saved the first match point on the return with a backhand down the line winner and the second with a forehand winner after another more extended rally. John failed to convert the remaining three match points on the return and he was punished in that 30th point when he hit a running forehand crosscourt winner to take the set and push this crazy match into the final set.
There, Opelka saved the first break point of the duel with a service winner in game two, creating two chances of his own in the following game that John erased to stay on the positive side of the scoreboard. The returns couldn't do much in the rest of the set and they went into a deciding tie break where Opelka forced an error from Isner to go 5-3 up, creating two match points with a backhand winner and converting the first with a service winner to move over the top and advance into his first ATP final.