Isner an easy winner, returns to Miami Open semifinals

Isner an easy winner, returns to Miami Open semifinals
The Associated Press

KEY BISCAYNE, Fla. (AP) — Nothing was coming easily to John Isner over the first three months of this year, and he was essentially a nonfactor in every tournament he entered.

Until now.

The big-serving American is in the semifinals of the Miami Open for the second time in the past four years, after overpowering South Korea’s Hyeon Chung 6-1, 6-4 in just over an hour on Wednesday afternoon. The 14th-seeded Isner finished with 13 aces, won all but one of his 32 first-serve points and avenged a loss to the 19th-seeded Chung at Auckland in his first match of the year back in January.

“I played extremely well,” said Isner, who dropped six of his first eight matches of 2018 before arriving in Miami and winning eight of his nine sets played at Key Biscayne so far.

“Every match I’ve played in this tournament, I’ve gotten better. I’ve gotten stronger and that’s a very, very good sign.”

He’ll hope that trend continues in the semifinals.

Isner — who ousted second-seeded Marin Cilic earlier this week — will next face either No. 5 seed Juan Martin del Potro of Argentina or No. 20 Milos Raonic of Canada. Del Potro and Raonic play late Wednesday night in another quarterfinal.

Isner was broken twice by Chung when they met in Auckland. He faced only one break point on Wednesday.

“It’s perfect conditions,” said Isner, who lost to Novak Djokovic in the 2015 semifinals at Key Biscayne. “I’ve played well here in the past and I’m so happy that I’m playing well here again.”

The women’s semifinals also continued taking shape Wednesday, with No. 6 seed Jelena Ostapenko ousting fourth-seeded Elina Svitolina 7-6 (3), 7-6 (5) to reach the final four at Key Biscayne for the first time.

Next up for Ostapenko: either No. 8 seed Venus Williams or qualifier Danielle Collins in the semifinals on Thursday. Williams and Collins play Wednesday night in an all-American quarterfinal.

The other women’s semifinal is also Thursday, with No. 13 Sloane Stephens set to meet three-time Miami champion Victoria Azarenka.

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