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  • Fish, Isner set for second straight Atlanta showdown

    7/24/11 5:53 AM | Ricky Dimon
    Fish, Isner set for second straight Atlanta showdown They are going to do it all over again in Atlanta. Mardy Fish and John Isner will contest the title match for the second time in as many years on Sunday. Fish triumphed in a third-set tiebreaker in 2010.

    Two finals of the Atlanta Tennis Championships. Two all-American showdowns between Mardy Fish and John Isner.

    Fish and Isner will be squaring off in the title match for the second consecutive season on Sunday afternoon, just as they did last year in the inaugural Atlanta event. This one won't be as hot, but fans will be hoping it's just as entertaining. Fish prevailed 4-6, 6-4, 7-6(4) after two hours and 45 minutes of play.

    For the two compatriots; that kind of clash has been the norm. Fish leads the overall head-to-head series 2-1, and all three encounters have progressed late into third sets. A 2009 San Jose matchup went to Fish 6-2, 6-7(4), 7-5, but Isner triumphed most recently 7-6(5), 4-6, 7-6(3) on the clay courts of Madrid earlier this season.

    Current form also suggests that Fish-Isner IV will be another blockbuster. Fish may not be quite as on fire as he was in 2010, but he remains in the Top 10 at No. 9 in the world and is putting together another stellar campaign. Prior to pair of hard-fought Davis Cup losses against Spain, Fish advanced to the Wimbledon quarterfinals. The 29-year-old is 25-14 for the year following routine victories this week over Nicolas Mahut, Somdev Devvarman, and Ryan Harrison.

    Isner had been struggling prior to this summer, but he could be on the same path that Fish enjoyed last season. The veteran won Newport and Atlanta back-to-back. This time around, Isner captured the Newport title and now finds himself back in the Atlanta final, eager to match Fish's 2010 Newport-Atlanta feat.

    The world No. 35 has endured a more difficult week than his opponent. It all started with a thrilling 7-6(8), 6-7(3), 7-5 victory over doubles partner James Blake. Isner had a much quicker day at the office in a quarterfinal rout of Yen-Hsun Lu, but Gilles Muller provided further resistance on Saturday only to see Isner advance 7-5, 6-7(3), 6-1. Seeded third in Atlanta, the former University of Georgia star is now a solid 19-14 for his 2011 campaign.

    "It looks pretty similar," Fish said, comparing Isner's current hot streak to his own one summer ago. "Hopefully the result won't look like (what I did) last year. Winning breeds winning. It's contagious. When you win, you want to win more."

    Both men will want this one desperately; Fish has champion's points to defend and is on the brink of a Top 8 seeding at the U.S. Open. Isner can climb with a title and all but lock up a seed for the year's final Grand Slam. Count on another tense battle featuring huge serves and few--if any--service breaks, but this time Isner in three sets is the pick.

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