REACHES WIMBLEDON SEMIFINAL
Ashley Marshall | July 11, 2018
World No. 10 John Isner advanced to his first-ever Grand Slam semifinal Wednesday after rallying to beat Milos Raonic at Wimbledon.
The 33-year-old defeated the 13th-seeded Canadian, 6-7, 7-6, 6-4, 6-3, in two hours, 42 minutes on No. 1 Court to book a place in Friday's final four against Kevin Anderson of South Africa, who beat top seed Roger Federer earlier in the day.
In a battle of big-serving opponents, Isner only hit 25 aces to Raonic's 31, but it was the American who played the biggest points the best.
Isner broke Raonic three times while saving the only break point he faced. And with Federer now out, Isner is the only player left in the tournament to not have dropped serve over the first 10 days at the All England Club.
After the pair split the first two sets – both decided by tiebreaks – Wednesday afternoon in London, Isner finally got into the Raonic serve.
The American broke at 2-2 in the third set before saving a break point at 5-4 en route to taking a 2-1 lead.
Isner broke once more at 2-2 in the fourth set, and he sealed a spot in the final four by breaking the Canadian for a third time with Raonic trying to stay in the tournament at 3-5.ADVERTISEMENT
But in the end, it was Isner’s impenetrable serve that once again proved to be the difference maker, as it has been for the first week and a half on the lawns in the English capital.
Isner, who is expected to rise to at least a career-high eighth in the world next Monday, won 90 percent of points on his first serve and allowed Raonic to win just 20 percent of his total return points. Isner dropped just nine points on his first serve, which he made almost three-quarters of the time.
The victory moves Isner into his first semifinal in 41 majors spanning the course of 11 years. He had previously reached the quarterfinal stage of a Slam just once, at the 2011 US Open, and had never been past the third round at Wimbledon in his nine previous tries.
While the North Carolina native has long owned one of the biggest weapons in the sport, his results have not always been indicative of his potential for deep runs in tournaments. But over the past 18 months, Isner has earned a reputation as a more and more dangerous threat.
He reached the final of the prestigious Paris Masters at the end of the 2016 season, just his third Masters 1000 championship match, and he made three semifinals at Masters 1000 events for the first time at the Italian Open, Cincinnati Masters and Paris Masters in 2017.
Earlier this year, Isner won the Miami Open and reached the quarterfinals of the Madrid Open in the buildup to Roland Garros, at which he reached the fourth round for the third time in the past five seasons. Now, Isner is just two victories away from a trophy that would eclipse them all.
Should Isner defeat Anderson on Friday – it’s the first meeting between two former college players in a Grand Slam semifinal since 1996, when Mal Washington defeated fellow Northwestern University alum Todd Martin at Wimbledon – he would meet either No. 2 seed Rafael Nadal or No. 12 seed Novak Djokovic in the final.
Isner’s serve has not failed him so far this fortnight. The only question is whether it will remain impermeable for four more days and deliver his maiden Grand Slam trophy.