Isner got off to a near-perfect start, securing a break at 2-1 and letting out an earth-shaking roar. While the 6'10" American is famous for his virtually unbreakable serve, Chung had not yet been broken in Miami. A closer look shows that the 21-year-old South Korean hadn't faced much of a test until Isner, cruising past Matthew Ebden, Michael Mmoh and Joao Sousa.
The world No. 23 may have gone into his quarterfinal match with a little edge having beaten Isner in Auckland earlier this year, but it didn't show.
“I didn’t make too many changes, I just felt like I’m certainly playing much better now,” Isner said. “I benefited from him not playing too well. It was a combination of me playing very well and him being a little bit off. That’s how tennis goes sometimes and I’ll take it.”
Match point from Isner's win over Chung in Miami:
With Chung failing to settle down, Isner capitalized on a second break before sealing the set 6-1 with his seventh ace after just 25 minutes on court. In the second set, Chung tried to turn his bad fortune around, but Isner was too hot and confident to let up. The world No. 17 got another early break for 3-2, which likely felt a lot like match point given Isner's impeccable serving. He would wrap up the match with the loss of just one point on his first serve.
“It’s the way it bounces, it bounces up high,” Isner said. “The court's not too fast but the ball gets through the air pretty quickly. I’ve played well here in the past. I’m so happy I’ve played well here again.”
A non-Big 4 champion is guaranteed in Miami for the first time since 2010. It’s also the first time since 2000 that there isn’t a Big 4 member in the round of 16. This spells great news for Isner, who is somehow still seeking his first career ATP Masters 1000 crown.
The 32-year-old is easily one of the best veterans on tour that has yet to win a Masters. He has reached 11 career ATP Masters semifinals and his three career ATP Masters finals, with his best result in Miami being a semifinal in 2015.
Whatever happens next, Isner will get his Top 10 ranking back and return to his familiar role of No. 1-ranked American male, leaping past Jack Sock and Sam Querrey.
“Every match I’ve played this tournament I’ve gotten better,” Isner said. “I keep getting stronger—that's a very, very good sign going forward. These conditions are absolutely perfect for me. I’m happy to be in the semis and let's see if I can keep going.”
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