John Isner ends Felix Auger-Aliassime's Miami Open run to reach final
Auger-Aliassime projected to rise to world No 33 on Monday; Isner to meet Roger Federer or Denis Shapovalov in Sunday's final
Last Updated: 30/03/19 10:03am
John Isner denied Felix Auger-Aliassime a maiden Masters 1000 final as he defeated the Canadian qualifier in two tight sets on tiebreaks to reach the Miami Open showpiece.
The 33-year-old American defending champion was a break down in each of the two sets but Auger-Aliassime, who had won seven matches to reach the semi-final, was unable to serve out for the set on each occasion.
Isner showed his greater experience under pressure in the key stages of the match to win 7-6 (7-3) 7-6 (7-4) and extend his 11-match winning streak in Miami.
The world No 9 will meet three-time champion Roger Federer in Sunday's final.
"It's amazing," Isner said. "I said before the tournament the chances were I would not defend my title. I'm very, very happy.
"I can't say enough good things about Felix, he's humble, he works hard and I think he can go all the way to the top."
Auger-Aliasime began the encounter - the first meeting between the pair - in confident fashion, bellying his inexperience on the biggest stages to bring up three break points in the fifth game, only for Isner to hold serve.
The world No 57, who will be the first male player born in the 2000s to reach the world's top 50 when the new rankings list is published on Monday, made amends at the next available opportunity.
But Auger-Aliasime lost his composure with the first set in his grasp as he served three double faults.
Isner arrived in the match having won all nine of his tiebreaks faced in the tournament and maintained that perfect run to gain the initiative in the contest after the first set.
Auger-Aliassime, the youngest semi-finalist in the tournament's 35-year history, refused to go away without a fight and broke Isner for a second time but was unable to force a decider, when leading 5-4.
Isner gained the early mini-break in the second set tiebreak and remained accurate behind his big serve to reach the final.
Auger-Aliassime, trying to become the youngest Masters 1000 finalist since Michael Chang at Toronto in 1990, was left to rue his failure to seize command of the match.
"I just felt like, I don't know, the nerves got to me a little," he said. "I wasn't able to do like all the other matches and just focus on what I had to do, and it really got to me too hard."
The last American to defend the Miami Open title was Andre Agassi, who won titles from 2001-03. Agassi also repeated titles in 1995-96.
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