MEMPHIS, February 18, 2017
It was quarterfinals Friday at the Memphis Open presented by ServiceMaster and four US-Americans were trying to make it an all US-American semi-final but it wasn’t meant to be as only Donald Young and Ryan Harrison moved on to the stage of the final four. Young shocked Isner in three sets 7-6, 3-6, 7-6 oddly enough beating him in tiebreakers, which seem to be Isner bread and butter.
The first set was very tight as Isner and Young took turns holding serve until the eventual breaker, which Young squeaked out 7-5 to take a one set lead. Before this match Donald Young was 0-3 lifetime vs John Isner. John came out firing in the second set getting two early break points but was unable to convert. Isner finally broke at 3-4 to lead 5-3 and served out the second set 6-3. The third and final set was almost a repeat of the first with both players holding serve until the eventual breaker which Young was leading 4-1 before Isner mounted a comeback to fall short and make an error at the net to gift Young the match.
“We both played pretty well its good to beat a player of that level,” said Young after the match.
Another US-American who fell in shocking style was Steve Johnson, who was dismantled 6-0, 6-4 by Mikhail Kukushkin. From the get go it was obvious Johnson was overmatched even though on paper 78 places separate these two players in the ATP World Tour rankings.
“It means a lot to me to be in the semi final. I haven’t been at this stage in two years. I am happy with this result. I have been playing really well this week” quoted Kukushkin after the match.
Nikolas Basilashvili is the first man from the country of Georgia to be in the semi finals after his win against qualifier Matthew Ebden. Through to the next round with a tough 7-6, 6-4 win over his Aussie opponent.
“It was a great match. It was very physical, I took all the chances I could get,“ stated Bashliavli.
In the final match of the day Ryan Harrison booked his place in the semis by beating Damir Dzumhur 6-3, 6-4. Ryan came out firing in the 1st set and jumped out to a 5-1 lead and cruised from there to take the set 6-3. The second set was a bit of a different story Harrison once again got a 3-1 lead but then Dzumhur got back in the match by get the break back. After that he had a medical timeout to have some work done on his back. It seemed to work as he got 2 break chances of his own but Harrison was up to the task and saved both break points. Harrison would take control of the match after breaking at 4-4 to serve for the match, which he did to take the match.
“It was clean first set. I was playing with confidence and I think it shook him,” said Harrison after the win.
Ryan Harrison will next play his fellow US-American compatriot Donald Young in the semis on Saturday, head to head the record is 1-1 with the most previous match happening in Acapulco in 2015 with Harrison coming out on top in that match.
The other semi-final will feature a matchup between Mikhail Kukushkin of Kazakhstan and Nikoloz Basilashvli of Georgia who have never played before. With one US-American guarantied in Sunday’s final it’s the battle of lower ranked players with Harrison the highest ranked player out of the four players at 62 in the world.