ATP Miami: Auger-Aliassime cracks under pressure to send John Isner through

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ATP Miami: Auger-Aliassime cracks under pressure to send John Isner through

The defending Miami Open champion John Isner is one win away from the second consecutive crown in Florida, prevailing against an 18-year-old Felix Auger-Aliassime 7-6, 7-6 in an hour and 53 minutes to advance into his fifth Masters 1000 final.

The young Canadian qualified for the main draw and won five matches there to become the youngest Masters 1000 semi-finalist ahead of Denis Shapovalov, Michael Chang and Rafael Nadal, also passing the Spaniard as the youngest semi-finalist in Miami history.

There was a massive chance for Felix to go even further, scoring a break in each set and serving for both, only to get broken in the worst possible moments and fall in tie breaks to propel John into the title match. Isner is yet to lose a set in Miami, winning nine out of ten in the tie break to show tremendous mental strength, something he will need against Roger Federer or Denis Shapovalov in the deciding match as well.

The American dominated with serve, blasting 21 aces and getting out of trouble many times with the initial shot to survive until the tie breaks, finishing the match with 32 aces and 23 unforced errors. Auger-Aliassime couldn't forge more significant advantage in the longer points, failing to return 35% of John's serves and losing focus in the pivotal moments to end his run in the semi-final.

The Canadian got broken twice from four opportunities offered to the better-ranked opponent, squandering four out of six chances on the return, spoiling everything he has been working on during the match with two careless service games but leaving Miami with positive vibes after all.

John delivered three aces in the fifth game to erase three break points before Felix broke him at love at 3-3 to gain a significant lead. The youngster was cruising through his service games until the crucial one when he served for the opener at 5-4.

Out of sudden, he hit three double faults to bring John back to the positive side of the scoreboard, ruining his chance and dropping the tie break 7-3 after four mini-breaks he gave to John who started to celebrate when Auger-Aliassime sent a forehand long in the tenth point.

Still fighting hard, Felix broke in the sixth game of the second set after a loose forehand from Isner, forging a 4-2 advantage and looking good to send the match into a decider. Instead of that, the American broke back in the very last moment at 3-5 following a terrible drive-volley from the youngster, extending the set and becoming the favorite to prevail in straight sets now.

John endured another more extended rally at the beginning of the tie break to grab a mini-break and that was all he needed to seal the deal, blasting five service winners in a row for a 7-4 and the place in the title match.