By 4-4 in the second set, Zverev apparently believed Isner was just trying to reach a tiebreaker, because the German let his guard down. He double faulted at game point, missed a forehand at deuce, and watched as Isner put a forehand on the outside of the sideline to break.
With that shot, the wind was officially back in the American’s sails. He leaped, he hopped, his threw his arms in the air, and then, serving at 5-4, he saved two break points and closed out a long game with his fastest serve of the day, at 143 m.p.h. Isner, suddenly channeling Jimmy Connors, wagged his finger at all four corners of the arena.
Never change a winning game, they say, and, happily for Isner, the third set went the same way as the second. Again, after five games, he was doubled over and gasping. Again, he upped the pace on his serve to compensate; Isner held for 4-4 with a 140-m.p.h. bomb. Again, Zverev let his guard down in the eighth game. After netting another forehand, he was broken. It wasn’t long before his racquet was shattered, too.
Serving for the title at 5-4, Isner came out huffing and puffing again. This time, though, he was looking to blow Zverev’s house down. Bouncing Connors-like from one point to the next, he closed with three straight aces. Not only had Isner turned the match around, he had turned the crowd, which had favored Zverev for much of the day, to his side, too.
“I couldn’t have scripted it,” said Isner, who had won just two matches in 2018 before coming to Miami. “I was playing very poorly. But I was just ready for it.”