Mon, Jul 23, 2012 - Page 19 News List

Roddick to face Muller in Atlanta final

BATTLE OF THE AMERICANS:John Isner, who lost to American Mardy Fish in the past two Atlanta finals, this time lost partly because of his sluggish lateral footwork

AP, ATLANTA, Georgia

Andy Roddick returns a shot to John Isner during the semi-finals of the Atlanta Open in Atlanta, Georgia, on Saturday.

PHOTO: AFP

No. 4 seed Andy Roddick beat top-seeded John Isner 6-4, 6-7 (5), 6-4 in the semi-finals of the Atlanta Open on Saturday.

Roddick was to play for his 32nd ATP World Tour title yesterday against Luxembourg’s Gilles Muller, who knocked off No. 8 Go Soeda of Japan 6-4, 6-3.

To have a chance to beat his fellow US big server, Roddick had to protect his own serve.

“I did what I was supposed to,” Roddick said. “You’re not going to beat John if you get broken a lot. I was able to fight off a little bit of trouble early in the first set. I just competed well tonight.”

Isner was attempting to win his second straight event for the first time in his seven-year career, but fell short in Atlanta for the third straight year.

He lost to Mardy Fish in the past two Atlanta finals.

“Its pretty disappointing,” Isner said. “[Fish and Roddick are] good friends of mine. It’s tough. I’ve always wanted to win this tournament, but it just wasn’t to be. There’s really no shame in losing to either of those guys. That’s for sure.”

Roddick will team up with Isner as US doubles partners when the Olympics begin next week at Wimbledon.

The first set was delayed 44 minutes after Isner took a 3-2 lead. When play resumed, Roddick won four of the next five games and took the set as Isner struggled with his forehand accuracy.

Despite ending the match with 26 aces and winning 81 percent of his first-serve points, Isner was out of sync with his returns. It is a label that has stuck with Isner during his seven-year career.

Isner’s lateral footwork looked sluggish and his forehand kept falling wide or into the net.

“That was pretty apparent to see,” Isner said. “I missed a lot of forehands. Then again, in all of my matches this tournament, I missed a lot of forehands. For me to play and do well in the tournament, I need that shot. It wasn’t really there for me.”

Losing a second-set tiebreaker was tough on Roddick, but he avoided a breaker in the third by breaking Isner in the 10th game of the third set to close out the match.

“[Against] most people in a breaker, you can recover from losing one service point,” Roddick said. “Against him, that’s not necessarily the case. I’m not sure that I missed a ball besides a service return in the tiebreaker and still lost it. With his serve and weapon he has, a lot of times it’s out of your control.”

Muller, who will play for his first tour title, had 17 aces to Soeda’s two and finished the match in 1 hour, 13 minutes. Muller is 0-2 in career finals and last played for a title in 2005.

“I know if I put a high percentage of my first serve in, I’m getting a lot of free points,” Muller said. “I didn’t serve that well at the beginning of the week, but yesterday and today was very good.”

GERMAN CHAMPIONSHIPS

AFP, HAMBURG, Germany

Home favorite Tommy Haas was to face Juan Monaco in yesterday’s final of the Hamburg claycourt event after ousting Croatian fourth seed Marin Cilic 7-6 (9/7), 6-0 in Saturday’s semi-final.

Wildcard Haas, the world No. 49, is a native of this north German port city and is hopeful of giving his fans something to celebrate by becoming the first German winner of the event since Michael Stich in 1993.

“When I was a boy, I used to come here and watch the stars play, so to have a chance of winning this tournament myself, it’s one of the finest moments of my career,” Haas said.

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