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John Isner vs Mischa Zverev BB&T Atlanta Open tennis live: Isner must break three-match losing run against Zverev to make Atlanta semi-finals

Andrew Hendrie in ATP Tour 26 Jul 2018
  • John Isner vs Mischa Zverev is live from Atlanta around 2.00pm local time on Friday (7.00pm BST)
  • Zverev leads their head-to-head 3-2, including winning their last three meetings
John Isner (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

Four-time champion John Isner faces a difficult test at the BB&T Atlanta Open on Friday as he tries to snap a three-match losing streak against Mischa Zverev in the quarter-finals.


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John Isner has become something of an Atlanta extraordinaire over the years, winning the title four times and finishing runner-up on three further occasions - but his 2018 title quest has hit a formidable roadblock as he prepares to face Mischa Zverev in Friday’s quarter-finals. Isner is in the form of his life during a career-best 2018 season, but he has lost his last three matches against the serve-and-volleying Zverev - including a straight sets defeat at the 2017 U.S. Open. Isner is a different beast in Atlanta, but Zverev has nothing to lose and knows what it takes to beat the towering American. Could the German stun the defending champion? Isner and Zverev take to court around 2.00pm local time on Friday (7.00pm BST).

Boasting an extraordinary record at the BB&T Atlanta Open, Isner got his title defence off to the perfect start on Wednesday as he stepped out on court for his first match since losing that heartbreaking Wimbledon marathon to Kevin Anderson, clinically dispatching rising Aussie teenager Alex de Minaur in straight sets. Isner didn’t face a break point throughout the entire 6-3 6-2 triumph, dropping just two points behind his first serve and firing 15 aces during the dominant victory.

“Yeah it was a pretty comprehensive win,” Isner said. You never know how you’re going to come out. This was my first match on hard court since Miami so it’s been a little bit and hadn’t practised too much because the focus was on resting after that long match (at Wimbledon) so I’m very happy.”

Making the final of the BB&T Atlanta Open in seven of the last eight year since 2010, Isner has won the title on four occasions (2013, 2014, 2015 and 2017), while he also finished runner-up to Mardy Fish in 2010 and 2011, along with falling to Nick Kyrgios in the 2016 showpiece. The only time he failed to make the final during that period was when he went down to Andy Roddick in the 2012 semi-finals.

Isner has come out of nowhere to register a career-best season in 2018. Incredibly, the 33-year-old lost six of his first seven matches of the season, but suddenly something clicked for Isner in Miami as he conquered the likes of Marin Cilic, Hyeon Chung, Juan Martin del Potro and Alexander Zverev to secure his first ATP Masters 1000 title in stunning fashion. Isner would go on to make the Madrid Masters quarter-finals and the fourth round of Roland Garros before reaching his first Grand Slam semi-final at Wimbledon, where he lost to Kevin Anderson 26-24 in the fifth in a gruelling war of attrition.

“I’m very mature now. I know what it takes to bounce back from something like that,” Isner said. “As soon as I got off the plane I worked out actually. I have to keep my body constantly moving. Just sitting on a couch for days on end, I would have felt even worse… so I feel pretty good right now.”


Sitting inside the top 10 at No. 9 in the world following his exploits of the last few months, Isner looks to make another semi-final in Atlanta on Friday - but he’ll have to overturn a somewhat daunting three-match losing run against his opponent to do so.

Mischa Zverev (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Mischa Zverev has proven to be a thorn in Isner’s side over the last year, toppling the big-serving American three times in 2017 - once at the Australian Open (an epic 9-7 in the fifth victory in the second round), another time on the clay of Geneva and once more in the third round of the U.S. Open, which was an emphatic straight sets triumph for the German. Zverev has been very solid so far this week in Atlanta, beating Tim Smyczek in three sets in the opening round before taking out veteran Mikhail Youzhny 6-4 6-2 to secure his spot in the quarter-finals.

While his younger brother Alexander accelerated up the rankings into the top five last year, Mischa was also steadily climbing the ATP World Tour in 2017, peaking at No. 25 in the world after making his first Grand Slam quarter-final at the Australian Open (where he beat Andy Murray), the fourth round of the U.S. Open, the final of Geneva and semi-finals in Stuttgart and Metz.

Zverev however really struggled throughout the first half of 2018, winning back-to-back matches just once until the grass season. It didn’t appear as if his fortunes were going to change on the lawns after a second round exit in Stuttgart and a first round elimination in Halle, but Zverev put everything together in Nottingham to win his maiden ATP World Tour title, beating the likes of Steve Johnson, Denis Shapovalov and Mikhail Kukushkin before toppling Lukas Lacko in the final. Zverev would go on to lose in the first round of Wimbledon and Newport, but he’s bounced back to form in Atlanta to register consecutive wins for just the third time this season.

Clearly Zverev causes a lot of problems for Isner - his fast-twitched serve-and-volley style takes time away from the American, while he does a good job of reading his booming serve. Anywhere else and I’d have to give Zverev the edge again, but Isner has been superb since Miami and loves the Atlanta conditions. They’ve played at least one tiebreak in their five previous meetings, so we should expect another one on Friday, but I think Isner will have Zverev’s number this time.


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John Isner vs Mischa Zverev BB&T Atlanta Open tennis live: Isner must break three-match losing run against Zverev to make Atlanta semi-finals

Four-time champion John Isner faces a difficult test at the BB&T Atlanta Open on Friday as he tries to snap a three-match losing streak against Mischa Zverev in the quarter-finals.

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