John Isner ends Juan Del Potro’s World Tour Finals hope with Paris Masters win
John Isner will qualify ahead of Spaniard Pablo Carreno Busta for the season-ending eight-man World Tour Finals in London if he lifts the title in Paris on Sunday. Juan Martin del Potro’s hopes of qualifying has endedtennis Updated: Nov 03, 2017 22:30 IST
American John Isner ended Juan Martin del Potro’s hopes of qualifying for the World Tour Finals with a 6-4, 6-7 (5/7), 6-4 Paris Masters quarter-final victory on Friday, as world number one Rafael Nadal pulled out of the tournament.
Ninth seed Isner will qualify ahead of Spaniard Pablo Carreno Busta for the season-ending eight-man event in London if he lifts the title in the French capital on Sunday.
Nadal’s withdrawal with a knee injury means that last year’s runner-up Isner will face qualifier Filip Krajinovic in Saturday’s semi-finals.
The Serb has only won two matches at Grand Slam or Masters tournaments in his career.
“That’s very, very unfortunate for Rafa, and I suppose for the fans here as well,” Isner said.
“My opponent came through qualifying so has won five matches already and is playing really well. I just need to play my game and see what happens.”
Del Potro went into the match knowing that victory would secure him a place at the Tour Finals for the first time since 2013, but struggled to find his best form as a run of 25 matches since the start of the US Open in August caught up with him.
Both players were strong on serve for the majority of the opening set, but Del Potro faltered at the key moment and Isner claimed a one-set advantage by putting away a forehand volley.
Neither man managed to win more than two points in a return game in the second set, as it went to an inevitable tie-break.
Isner, who lost in the final 12 months ago to Andy Murray, went on the attack in search of the all-important mini-break, but it was Del Potro who took a 4-3 lead with a threaded backhand passing shot.
The world number 17 brought up a set point with a pair of big first serves, and Isner double-faulted to send the match into a decider.
But Del Potro appeared to be struggling with his fitness, and was broken early in the third set after Isner successfully challenged a line call when 40-15 down.
The 13th-seeded Del Potro managed to make Isner serve for the match, but the 32-year-old did just that, helped by his 15th ace, to continue his bid for a maiden Masters title.
Spaniard Nadal, who has suffered from knee and wrist injuries in the past, decided to pull out on Friday morning after having his right knee strapped during his third-round win over Pablo Cuevas.
“Yesterday (Thursday), the pain was very strong but it was not the moment to stop,” the 16-time Grand Slam champion told a press conference.
“I had treatment last night to try and be able to play today... But unfortunately it was impossible for me to return to the court in the same condition as last night. It is a sad day for me.”
Serbia’s Krajinovic, 25, will play his first ATP semi-final of the season against Isner, having spent most of 2017 on the second-tier Challenger Tour.
“I did not expect this at all, I was ready to play but then I heard he had pulled out,” he said.
“I’m going to enjoy today and then see how it goes tomorrow (Saturday).”