by: Peter Bodo | July 24, 2011

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Howdy, everyone. Later today, Long John Isner tries to duplicate the feat Mardy Fish accomplished last year at this time, winning back-to-back titles at Newport and Atlanta. Judging from the way Fish dominated and pushed around young Ryan Harrison in the other semi, I'd say that Isner has his work cut out. Then again, as Isner remarked yesterday, he's making the right decisions on court, and that's helping him overcome his relative lack of mobility. The most encouraging aspect of Isner's semifinal win over Gilles Muller? That 6-1 third set. John Isner breaking serve twice on a set is about as encouraging for him as hitting 10 aces in a set might be for David Ferrer.

Over in Hamburg, the other Gilles, Simon, also finished off his opponent 6-1 in the third, taking down Mikhail Youzhny. Simon will face Nicolas Almagro in the final. Almagro manhandled Fernando Verdasco, 6-4, 6-1, and will be gunning for his fourth title of the year. The curious thing about the Simon-Youzhny match is that Simon was 0-7 against the Russian player, which is a formidable disincentive. But he's now won two in a row. Has Simon "figured out" Youzhny in some tactical or strategic way, or is it just that Youzhny's been struggling and Simon's star is once again rising?

Anyway, Simon and Almagro are 1-1, with Almagro winning their only previous meeting on clay. This could be a vastly entertaining final, and certainly a longer one than we have on tap in Atlanta . . .

- Pete

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