Isner wins epic to set up Djokovic semi
Fri, 16 Mar 09:55:00 2012
The American impressed with a five-game streak in the opening set to come from 3-1 down, only to lose his way in the second and succumb to Simon's own run of five consecutive games.
After two open sets, it was almost inevitable the decider would go down to the wire but the world number 11 finally managed to break his opponent's serve at a crucial time to claim the 12th game and snatch victory just before a match-deciding tie-break.
Isner and number one seed Djokovic comprise the first semi-final at the California resort, the Serb having defeated Nicolas Almagro in straight sets earlier in the day.
Simon enjoyed a dream start to the contest, breaking the serve of the American in the very first game before holding his own for a 2-0 lead.
But Isner grew into the set and after claiming his first game of the match, responded to the French player's victory in the fourth with a dominant run of five games and a double-break which took him all the way to a one-set lead.
Any hopes of Isner carrying that momentum into the second and wrapping the last eight encounter up in straight sets went up in smoke soon after number 13 seed Simon was pegged back to one apiece in games, however, as Isner's spree in the previous set was matched for an emphatic 6-1 match leveller.
With the tie coming down to a third and deciding set, the match understandably grew a lot tighter and the two held their respective serves for the first 11 games until Isner, with the support of the partisan crowd urging him on from start to finish, finally made a crucially-timed breakthrough.
Utilising a challenge to avoid going 30-15 behind, the American went on to break his way to the last four after one hour and 58 minutes of back-and-forth action.
"It's my first match on this court this year and the ball was flying out there," the 6ft 9in (2.05m) Isner said in a courtside interview after blasting 11 aces. "It was a bit difficult for both of us to adjust.
"I'm very happy to get through. I didn't get too frustrated. A lot of times, I felt like I could hit forehand winners but I made a lot of mistakes. He does that to a lot of players. I stayed focused and I pulled it out."
In the remaining quarter-finals on Friday, three-times champion Roger Federer is scheduled to play Juan Martin del Potro of Argentina before twice winner Rafa Nadal of Spain faces Argentina's David Nalbandian.
Indian Wells Masters : 1/4