The first all-American ATP final of 2011 will look a whole lot like the last one.
For the second straight year, John Isner and Mardy Fish will meet in the final of the Atlanta Tennis Championships, the first tournament in the US Open Series. No finals since have been contested by two Americans.
Fish won last year's final over Isner in a third set tiebreak, 4–6, 6–4, 7–6(4).
John Isner ensured that Sunday's final in Atlanta would be an all-American affair with his victory in the first semifinal over Luxembourg's Gilles Muller, defeating Muller 7-5, 6-7(3), 6-1. Isner, the No. 3 seed in Atlanta, was not broken in the entire match, and faced only two break points. Isner's 28 aces were only 12 more than Muller's 16, which should correctly lead you to believe that this match won't be remembered for stellar returning.
The real difference between the two that won the match for Isner was his percentage of points won on second serve, 77% (20 of 26), the same as his winning percentage on his massive first serve. Muller was only able to win 52% (22 of 42) on his second serve.
With an all-American final already secured, Top-seed Mardy Fish made routine work of 19-year-old American Ryan Harrison in the second semifinal of the Atlanta, beating the fiery Texan 6-2, 6-4. Fish never allowed Harrison into the match, breaking serve in the third game of the first set and the first game of the second set.
Fish, who is currently ranked No. 9 after first breaking into the top ten this spring, really seems to be believing that he belongs in the top tier of tennis. Though his serve didn't win him nearly as many free points as it had the rest of the week, Fish dictated play with his forehand and took almost every opportunity to finish points at net.
Harrison should come away from Atlanta feeling tremendously about how his game is progressing. Having won his first ATP title in doubles at Newport two weeks ago, this run to his first singles semifinal at the ATP level should fully establish him as a player to watch for the remainder of this American hard court season.
The final of the Atlanta Tennis Championships will air live Sunday on ESPN2 at 3 p.m., and on tape delay at 8 p.m. on Tennis Channel.