TENNIS

Bizarre Break Point Helps Maxime Cressy Edge John Isner in Newport SFs | ATP circuit

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Maxime Cressy’s 2022 season continued on Saturday at the Infosys Hall of Fame Open, where the American reached his third final of the year with a 6-2, 4-6, 6-3 victory over the four-time Newport champion John Isner.

The fourth seed ended Isner’s 10-game tournament winning streak with a strong serving performance and consistent base game that helped him get the better of the game’s few rallies. Cressy escaped 15/40 as he served for his place in the final, producing a sublime pickup volley to save the first break point before sealing the match with a serve and volley game.

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“John just completely upgraded on serve from the second set,” Cressy said during his on-court interview. “Just hitting the lines and hitting a lot more aces. I just had to focus on what I could control, my serve. He definitely played a big level from the second set.

“Opportunities came and I took one, luckily. I apologized to him, but I guess I created the chance by being patient.”

That chance came late in the third set, when Cressy got the decisive break in odd circumstances. After Cressy had a break chance with a strong comeback, he launched a desperate shot just over the net on the publicity outing. But the ball returned to his side of the net after bouncing, leaving Isner unable to make a play on the ball from an awkward position.

Cressy dominated the opening set, with Isner being visited by the tournament physiotherapist for an apparent calf problem. But after dropping serve twice in the opener, Isner dialed in both the serve and the return in the second set as he forced a decider.

The young American regained control in the final set as Isner began to miss the baseline under heavy pressure from deep returns from Cressy. After saving two break points at 1-2 in the deciding match, Isner could not escape later in the set.

Cressy finished with 22 aces to his opponent’s 13, winning 86% (32./37) of his first-serve points in the one-hour, 51-minute game.

With the victory, Cressy qualified for the third tour-level final of his career, the three to come this season. He is seeking his first title after narrowly failing in Melbourne against Rafael Nadal and in Eastbourne against Taylor Fritz.

The American has moved up 81 spots in the Pepperstone ATP rankings since the end of the 2022 season, the biggest increase among top 50 players. Currently at a career high of No. 41, Cressy is down to No. 34 in the Pepperstone ATP Live Rankings and could reach No. 32 with the title in Newport.

After earning his first Top 10 win in a win over Felix Auger-Aliassime at Wimbledon, Cressy credits his rise to his newfound confidence.

“Not so much on the pitch – it was more mental to have that confidence that I can compete in the ATP [events]”, he said. “Conditioning and confidence was a key for me and I was able to build it in the last two months, so I’m incredibly happy.

Now 2-0 against Isner this season after winning in five sets at the Australian Open, Cressy will face third seed Alexander Bublik in Sunday’s final. The Kazakh beat Jason Kubler 6-3, 6-2 later on Saturday to reach his second title match in Newport.

“Face me in Newport is not an easy task,” the 24-year-old said after cooling off the scorching Australian, who upset top seed Felix Auger-Aliassime in the second round after reaching the fourth round at Wimbledon as a qualifier. . “I played well. I wish him all the best… he had his streak, maybe I will have mine.”

Buiblik was in control from the start, breaking early in both sets as he rode to victory without facing a break point. Using a deft touch and several well-timed dropshots to complement his powerful groundstrokes, the world No. 42 improved to 9-4 on the grass this season and 9-2 in Newport.

He will seek the second title of his career at tour level against Cressy, having won his first trophy in February in Montpellier. After wins over Jack Sock, Andy Murray and Kubler this week, Bublik will face a new challenge in his first ATP Head2Head meeting with Cressy.

“It’s not easy to prepare for him, but that’s what tennis is: adjustments,” he said. “I will try to make some adjustments in my game and we will see how it goes tomorrow.”

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