Newport, Rhode Island – Top seed and defending champion John Isner will take on former world number one Lleyton Hewitt Sunday in the final of the ATP Hall of Fame Championships.
America's Isner fired 11 aces in a 7-6 (7/4), 6-3 victory over sixth-seeded compatriot Ryan Harrison, while Hewitt reached his first ATP final in more than two years with a 6-4, 5-7, 6-2 victory over 2009 Newport champion Rajeev Ram.
Hewitt, who received a wild card into the draw, was playing in his first semi-final since June 2010, when he captured the grass court title in Halle.
Hewitt rallied from an early break in both the first and third sets, finally wrapping up the victory in 2 hours and 21 minutes.
“Early on in the match, I had a lot of break points, but he came up with big first serves,” Hewitt said. “I didn’t get a look at a second serve on a break point.
“It was a matter of if I got that small opportunity, with a second serve and a break point, I had to step up and take it.”
The 31-year-old Aussie was pleased to keep his run going on the grass courts of Newport.
“It's fantastic, obviously,” said Hewitt, who is again battling back from injury after undergoing radical foot surgery in February. He said he is focused now on his movement and mechanics, and trying to put the injury behind him mentally.
“You come back from surgery and you think about everything,” Hewitt said. “My whole mechanics have changed. So that’;s taking a bit of time.”
Although Hewitt's ranking has plummeted to 233, Isner was aware that the Aussie would be a dangerous opponent. Hewitt is 7-0 in grass court finals in his career.
“I've never beaten him before, and I've never played him on grass,” Isner said. “It's going to be a big challenge. It's also going to be an honor sharing the court with him. He's one of the guys I really, really, respect.
“It's good to see him back, but I hope I can beat him tomorrow.”
Isner's contest with Harrison went with serve until the first-set tiebreaker, which stayed close until Isner won three straight points for a 6-3 lead.
Harrison saved the first set point he faced when Isner sent a service return long, but Harrison double-faulted on the next.
Isner broke early in the second frame and that was all he needed. He never faced a break point himself in the 86-minute match. – Sapa-AFP