John Isner (Georgia '07) returned to the state where he had a ton of success in college and proceeded to win his fourth singles title at the BB&T Atlanta Open. Isner, who won the week before in Newport and has now won 12 career singles titles, fired 23 aces and won 85% of the points on his first serve in a 7-6(6), 7-6(7) win over fellow American Ryan Harrison. There were no breaks of serve in the first set, in fact there were no break points either, though Harrison went up a mini-break to start the tiebreak. Isner put it back on serve on the next point and would eventually fight off a set point when serving at 5-6 before taking the tiebreak 8-6.
Harrison jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the second set after breaking Isner from 30/40 but Isner broke back in a one-deuce game to make it 2-1. After another nine holds, Harrison went up 4-1 in the tiebreak but Isner took the next three to even it at 4-4. Harrison fought off a set point while serving at 5-6 while Isner fought off one while serving at 6-7. Isner would close out the second set tiebreak just like the first by winning the final three points to take it 9-7.
Isner won $114,595 with the title while collecting 250 ATP points which moved his ranking up from 20 to 18.
Baylor rising junior Juan Benitez won his first career pro titles over the weekend after sweeping singles and doubles at the Morocco F1 Futures in Tanger. In the doubles final, Benitez teamed with Raleigh Smith (Northwestern '14) to defeat Skander Mansouri (Wake Forest Rising Sr) and Nick Chappell (TCU '15) 6-4, 7-6(3). Benitez and Smith were actually fortunate to make it out of the opening round because they trailed 9-4 in the third set supertiebreak and then after erasing those five match points they fought off one more before winning 13-11. As fate would have it Benitez and Smith would face each other in the singles final with Benitez getting the win 6-2, 7-6(2). Benitez only dropped one set on the week while Smith won only had one match finish in straight sets prior to the final.
Former collegians John Isner (Georgia '07) and Kevin Anderson (Illinois '07) joined Steve Johnson (USC '12) in the third round at the French Open. Isner hammered 21 aces and held his serve all 17 times in a 6-3, 7-6, 7-6 win over No. 34 Paolo Lorenzi. Isner has now made it to the third round at the French four times in the last five years with his best finishes coming in 2016 and 2014 when he made the round of 16. Isner will face #53 Karen Khachanov in the third round after the Russian ousted the No. 13 seed Tomas Berdych in straight sets - Isner and Khachanov have not played before.
Anderson advanced to the third round for the fifth time in the last six years with a 5-7, 6-4, 6-1, 6-2 win over #19 Nick Kyrgios. Anderson matched Isner's ace total of 21 and he converted 6 of 13 break point opportunities in the 2 hour and 35 minute win. Next up for the South African is a meeting against #49 Kyle Edmund - Anderson and Edmund have not played before.
13 players with college ties won pro events last week with another 15 finishing as runner-up.
Wil Spencer (Georgia '12) won his third career Futures singles title with a straight set win over Illinois junior Aron Hiltzik at the $25K USA F31 Futures in Houston. Spencer broke Hiltzik from 15/40 to take the first set 6-4 and then after falling behind 3-1 in the second Spencer reeled off five straight games to close it out 6-4, 6-3 in 1 hour and 18 minutes. Spencer is expected to rise from 730 to around 585 in next week's rankings while Hiltzik will shoot up from 1580 to around 885.
The field for this year's Oracle/ITA Masters was announced today with 28 of 31 conferences sending a representative for the October 13-16 event in Malibu, California. The full selection criteria is here but in essence the top returning player from each conference was given the opportunity to participate with some accepting and others opting out. There was originally only supposed to be one wild card in each draw but there ended up being four due to the A10, Sun Belt, and SWAC not having a men's representative while the Atlantic Sun, Horizon, and Mountain West didn't have one on the women's side.