Defending champion Cristian Garin was knocked out in the semi-finals of the 2022 US Men’s Clay Court Championship on Sunday by veteran John Isner. The 36-year-old had to fight back from a set deficit to win 4-6. 6-3, 6-4. The final will be an all-American affair with Isner taking on Reilly Opelka. Opelka beat Australian player Nick Kyrgios, a result many are terming a ‘shock’. It will be the sixth time Opelka and Isner meet and the match promises to be a fine encounter of youth against experience.
Isner smashed 17 aces in his semi-final match while Garin could only manage three. The American, however, did commit five double faults, three more than his opponent on the day. On the first serve, Isner recorded a win percentage of 80% compared to Garin’s 71%. The American was ahead on the second serve as well with a win percentage of 71% whereas his opponent only managed 68%.
The break pint conversion rate of both players was underwhelming on the day. Isner only converted two out of a possible seven and Garin could manage one out of five. Things were tight when it came to service games won but the 36-year-old inched it with 14 compared to the Chilean’s 12.
Speaking about the upcoming final against Opelka, Isner said that he expected tie-breaks. The American also mentioned that playing on a clay surface plays to the strengths of both players. “When guys like Reilly and I lock horns it’s going to be tiebreakers,” he said.
“Clay is a good surface for guys like Reilly and I. Our serve is good anywhere. In my opinion, we don’t need a fast court to hold serve. And both of us maybe prefer a little bit of a slower court, to get into points and give ourselves time to wind up for shots. Faster courts make that a lot tougher,” the American added.
It will be Isner’s first tour-level clay-court final since ATP Houston nine years ago. The last time he reached the final of a tour-level competition on any surface was in August 2021.