The American John Isner will stay remembered as the last champion of the Miami Masters at Crandon Park in 2018. John scored a hard-fought 6-7, 6-4, 6-4 triumph over the 4th seed Alexander Zverev in two hours and 29 minutes to lift the trophy!
Isner came to Miami with just two wins since the start of the season. However, he played great tennis in the last ten days to lift his biggest title 25 days before his 33rd birthday, entering the fourth Masters 1000 final and finally finishing on the winning side.
John was the first American champion in Miami since Andy Roddick in 2010 and the third consecutive non-European player with the Masters 1000 title after 69 trophies that went to the old continent before that streak! Besides, Isner became the oldest first-time champion at the Masters 1000 level, passing Ivan Ljubicic from Indian Wells 2010 and becoming the 65th different Masters 1000 champion since 1990.
John fired 18 aces and saved all three break chances to keep the pressure on Alexander, who played against 12 break points, saving ten of those to keep himself in contention. Nonetheless, the German dropped his serve in the ninth game of sets two and three to find himself on the losing side, missing a chance to win his third Masters 1000 title as only the fifth active player after Federer, Nadal, Djokovic and Murray.
The American had 44 winners and 37 unforced errors, dominating with his serve and forehand despite too many mistakes from his forehand wing. In comparison, Zverev stayed on 22 winners and 24 errors, which was not enough to carry him home, losing ground when it mattered the most to propel Isner over the finish line.
It was important for both players to find the rhythm right from the start. However, we noticed break chances in the second game when Zverev had to dig deep to remain unbroken. John squandered three opportunities; the last one could have been very costly since he missed an easy volley at the net.
Alexander had his chance on the return art 2-2, but Isner denied the rival’s break point with an ace down the T line to stay on the positive side.
In 2018, John Isner became the last Miami Open champion at Crandon Park.
It was the American’s turn to make damage on the return at 3-2.
He created two break points and wasted them, with rock-solid service games in the rest of the set that shifted them into a tie break. After four easy points on both sides, we saw five mini-breaks in a row, with Zverev opening a 5-4 gap after Isner’s costly double fault.
The German won the following two points on serve to grab the breaker 7-4 after a grueling 58 minutes, looking good to lift his third Masters 1000 crown at 20. The second set brought more fluid tennis, and the returners won just six points in the opening eight games to stay neck and neck at 4-4.
Suddenly, Alexander failed to bring home the ninth game after hitting a double fault, allowing John to grab a break with a crosscourt forehand winner that sent him 5-4 in front. Instead of another comfortable hold, John faced two break points in the tenth game.
He repelled them and closed the set with a service winner to send the encounter into a decider after an hour and 43 minutes. The momentum was on Isner’s side now, and he used it to sail through his service games in set number three.
The American landed 83% of the first serve in and dropped three points in five service games to keep the pressure on the other side! Zverev could not follow that pace despite saving a break point at 1-1 and four more at 2-2 to keep himself in contention, hoping to survive until the tie break.
John had other plans, though, winning 12 of the last 14 points to seal the deal and celebrate his most significant career success just before his 33rd birthday. Alexander opened the ninth game with a double fault, and Isner fired a forehand winner to move 30-0 up and keep the pressure on his young opponent.
The German’s backhand error gave two break points to the American, who converted the first when Zverev netted an easy forehand and served for the triumph at 5-4. Staying focused, John completed the victory with an ace in game ten, starting a massive celebration in front of the delighted fans who witnessed the first American champion in Miami in eight years