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Isner extends winning streak to eight matches, awaits Monfils in quarter-finals

Atlanta champion John Isner continues his fine form with a straight-set defeat of Andrey Rublev at the Toronto Masters on Thursday. Isner will go up against Gael Monfils in the quarter-finals.

John Isner Atlanta 2021 John Isner Atlanta 2021

The North American hard-court summer has always been John Isner‘s favorite time of year. 2021 is proving to be no exception to that rule.

Toiling down at No 39 in the rankings due to inactivity during the Covid-19 pandemic and also poor play, Isner has turned things around in a big way over the past two-plus weeks. The 6’10” American captured his sixth Atlanta title earlier this month and now finds himself in the quarter-finals of the National Bank Open after upsetting Andrey Rublev 6-4, 7-6(5) on Thursday afternoon.

Isner blasted 20 aces while double-faulting only once and he saved all four of the break points he faced — including three from 0-40 down early in the second set. The 36-year-old improved to 3-0 lifetime against Rublev after one hour and 43 minutes.

“The conditions were a bit tough on center court; it’s been a little bit swirly,” Isner noted. “I did know that Andrey was struggling with that. He was a little bit off kilter from the very get-go, I think. I could tell he was exhibiting some frustration out there.

“When I knew that he was a bit rattled early on, I just told myself I had to be the one to keep a cooler head. I think that helped me prevail in the end.”

Monfils marches into much-needed quarter-final appearance

Isner will face a more unexpected opponent in the quarter-finals. Gael Monfils may own the No 11 seed in Toronto, but he has been in hopeless form dating back to the start of the pandemic. The Frenchman lost his last five matches of an abbreviated 2020 campaign and he was 3-10 this season prior to arriving in Toronto.

The good vibes are back for Monfils, though, as he beat John Millman is his opening match on Wednesday night and then knocked off lucky loser Frances Tiafoe 6-1, 7-6(2) in the third round.

Friday will mark the 13th encounter between Monfils and Isner. The head-to-head series stands at 7-5 in the favor of Monfils, who had won four in a row before falling to Isner 6-4, 6-7(5), 6-3 at the 2019 Beijing event.

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