ATP Miami: John Isner prevails over Roberto Bautista Agut to enter semis


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ATP Miami: John Isner prevails over Roberto Bautista Agut to enter semis

The world no. 9 and the defending Miami champion John Isner is just two wins away from lifting the second straight Masters 1000 crown in Florida, despite not playing his best tennis. Interestingly, John is yet to lose a set at Hard Rock Stadium, ousting Sonego, Ramos-Vinolas, Kyle Edmund and Roberto Bautista Agut in eight tight sets, with seven of those reaching a tie break and one against Ramos-Vinolas that he won 7-5!

Two days ago, Roberto Bautista Agut toppled the world no. 1 Novak Djokovic but he failed to capitalize on that, falling 7-6, 7-6 in an hour and 45 minutes towards his first Masters 1000 semi-final in a year. Isner's groundstrokes were not there again, especially his forehand that guided him towards almost 30 mistakes, fixing all that with the powerful serve that delivered 24 aces and offered only one break point to Bautista Agut, in the very last service game of the match.

The Spaniard saved three break points in total to stay in contention all the time, taming his shots nicely and trying to extend the rallies as much as possible. He had the advantage in the mid-range exchanges but not in the most extended rallies where John surprisingly stayed in touch, winning six out of 13 and forging the crucial gap in the shortest department up to four strokes, firing an unreturned serve in every third point and prevailing in both tie breaks to move into the last four.

John could have stepped in front already in the fourth game, creating a break point and constructing the 24-stroke point nicely until the routine forehand that he didn't play well, allowing the Spaniard to escape and stay in touch in the rest of the set before the tie break that the American claimed 7-1 with three mini-breaks.

Isner fired no less than six winners in eight points and was hoping for more of the same in set number two, playing with less pressure on his back after such a sharp display in the opener. Nothing could separate them in the first eight games before Roberto offered two break points to his rival when his backhand landed long in the ninth game.

Facing an elimination, he repelled them both (John had a point in his hands on the second chance) and created a set point on the return at 6-5 in the only loose service game for a giant server. A service winner took the danger away for a home player and he had to work hard in the tie break as well after trailing 3-0.

In the pivotal moments, John played a couple of rock-solid baseline points to grab two mini-breaks, defending the next four serves nicely and sealing the deal at 6-5 when Roberto netted a forehand to advance into the last four for the third time in Miami.