Cincinnati, OH, United States (4E Sports) – John Isner hit 63 winners and fired 23 aces en route to a hard-earned 6-7(5), 7-6(9), 6-3 victory over seventh seed Juan Martin del Potro in Sunday’s semifinal at the Western & Southern Open.
The victory was Isner’s third straight top 10 win entering the final. He also defeated No. 10 Milos Raonic in the third round and denied world No. 1 Novak Djokovic a shot at the Career Golden Masters in the quarters.
“I’ve been winning a lot of matches this summer,” said Isner, who clinched the victory in two hours and 48 minutes. “I feel like this tournament here is where I’m really starting to put it all together.”
Isner, who will return to the Top 20 next week, is seeking to become the first unseeded champion in Cincinnati in the Open Era.
The 6-10 American is also looking to become one of just four players on the ATP World Tour with at least three titles in 2013. Nadal has eight, Andy Murray has four and Novak Djokovic has three.
The final stumbling block to Isner’s quest will be fourth seed Rafael Nadal, who defeated sixth seed Tomas Berdych, 7-5, 7-6 (4), in the other semifinal pairing.
“I’ve beaten three Top 10 guys in a row. For me to do that, I have been playing well, really in pretty much all facets of my game. There’s definitely some stuff I can always improve on, but I do think I’m playing well,” Isner said.
Del Potro took the first set in a tie-break and served for the match at 5-3 in the second, before Isner battled back to pull even. Isner would grab an early break in the third set and cruise from there.
Nadal, for his part, made it to his 37th ATP World Tour Masters 1000 final where he will be seeking his 26th title.
On the women’s side, top seed Serena Williams made it to her first-ever event’s final at with a 7-5, 7-5 win over fifth seed Li Na.
Williams will go for her 55th WTA title against second seed Victoria Azarenka, who overcame a one-set deficit en route to a 4-6, 6-2, 6-3.
If ever, Williams will join Virginia Wade and Lindsay Davenport in a three-way tie for seventh-most WTA titles all-time.