• Muller gets another shot at Isner in Atlanta

    7/23/11 7:45 AM | Ricky Dimon
    Muller gets another shot at Isner in Atlanta John Isner and Gilles Muller will battle for a semifinal spot in Atlanta on Saturday. They faced each other in the second round last year, when Isner saved multiple match points and prevailed 4-6, 7-6(6), 7-6(7).

    John Isner and Gilles Muller will be going head-to-head for the second straight year at the Atlanta Tennis Championships when they do battle during semifinal action on Saturday. In a 2010 second-round showdown, Isner saved match points and survived Muller 4-6, 7-6(6), 7-6(7) en route to a runner-up finish.

    Isner's 2011 event is progressing almost identically to last season's campaign. After beating Muller, the 6'9'' American clobbered Michael Russell 6-1, 6-2. This time around, Isner outlasted James Blake 7-6(8), 6-7(3), 7-5 in his opener then crushed Yen-Hsun Lu--again 6-1, 6-2--in a lightning-quick 56 minutes. Coming off a title two weeks ago in Newport, the world No. 35 is now 18-14 for the year.

    The stage is set for what should be a second close encounter between Isner and Muller, one that will likely feature even higher-quality tennis. Last year, Isner was playing his first match since Wimbledon--where he beat Nicolas Mahut in 11 hours and five minutes--while Muller was dealing with physical problems. Now, Muller is also rounding into form just in time for the U.S. Open.

    The 28-year-old Luxembourgian advanced two rounds at Wimbledon and took eventual runner-up Rafael Nadal to a pair of tiebreakers. Building on that momentum, Muller is through to his first ATP semifinal of the season. The world No. 82 dismissed Alex Bogomolov and Robby Ginepri then took out second-seeded Kevin Anderson 7-6(3), 7-6(3) on Friday.

    Another thriller between Isner and Muller can be expected, as both men have been serving huge this week. Isner blasted 30 aces against Blake then dropped only nine total service points in his win over Lu. Muller has come up with 17, 15, and 14 aces in his three victories.

    "There's a good chance we play a tiebreaker or two," Isner said. "This is truly anybody's match."

    Based on a slight edge in current form and a considerable home-court advantage, look for Isner to score another three-set triumph.

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