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United States John Isner serves to Kazakhstan's Mikhail Kukushkin in a Men's singles match during day four of the Wimbledon Tennis Championships in London, Thursday, July 4, 2019. (AP Photo/Alastair Grant)
United States John Isner serves to Kazakhstan's Mikhail Kukushkin in a Men's singles match during day four of the Wimbledon Tennis Championships in London, Thursday, July 4, 2019. (AP Photo/Alastair Grant)|Associated Press
Tennis

Tennis Saturday: Abrams picks the Hall of Fame semis in 100-degree Newport – Isner vs. Humbert and Granollers vs. Bublik

Matches start at peak heat 1 pm EDT

Neal Abrams

Neal Abrams

Hall of Fame Open

Newport, R.I.

Saturday, July 20, 2019

Men’s Semifinals

John Isner over Ugo Humbert

When John Isner plays on grass, you can count on him to win. He may not be the best tennis player in the world, and when he gets up against one of the Big Three he’s not the champion they are, but against almost anyone else, especially on grass, you can count on him and his booming serve to pull out most matches. Here in Newport, a tournament that he’s won three times, he’s on the path to hoist the trophy yet again, pulling out a three set quarterfinal victory over Matt Ebden after he started out the match getting his serve broken in the very first game. No matter. He held his serve for the rest of the day, and walked away with a workmanlike 4-6, 6-3, 6-4 victory in heat measured close to 100 degrees. Although he’s never played Ugo Humbert, and he’s now 34 years old, it really doesn’t matter. With his shotgun serves he should dominate this match and make his way into yet another final here in Newport.

Marcel Granollers over Alexander Bublik

Alex Bublik won a quarterfinal match against Tennys Sandgren after he lost the first set at love. After a competitive second set, Bublik blanked the Yank for an improbable 0-6, 6-3, 6-0 victory to roll into the semis. He’ll likely have a more difficult time against Spanish journeyman Marcel Granollers. Although it’s easy to say that anything can happen, especially after the topsy-turvy match played Friday, I think Granollers is a bit more solid than Bublik, especially in coming to the net. Bublik, interestingly, relied on some underhand serves to take Sandgren by surprise, but I doubt that strategy will work against Granollers. The Spaniard, at 33, is still hungry, and sees this tournament as an opportunity to pocket some dough on his way to the U.S. Open next month. His aggressive game on grass should be rewarded, and I like him to move into Sunday’s finals.