John Isner extended his win streak to nine matches as he halted the resurgent Gael Monfils in Toronto, winning 7-6(5), 6-4 on Friday in a highlight-reel worthy battle to reach the National Bank Open Presented by Rogers semi-finals.
The 36-year-old has been playing some of his best tennis on the North American hard courts, and he has now won 11 of his past 12 matches – including lifting his 16th tour-level trophy in Atlanta. In the process, he reclaimed the mantle of American No. 1, improving to No. 30 in the FedEx ATP Rankings.
In Toronto, he faced 11th seed Monfils for the 13th time in their hotly contested ATP Head2Head. The Frenchman came into the matchup with a 7-5 edge (all hard courts), but on the comeback trail as he featured in his first tour-level quarter-final since February 2020.
Isner fired 13 aces and saved the only break point he faced to book a place into his first ATP Masters 1000 semi-final since his run to the 2019 Miami Open presented by Itau final (l. to Federer). He will face top seed Daniil Medvedev for a place in the Toronto final.
“I didn’t fare too well in the ATP Cup [in 2020] in the only time I played him, so I’m going to have to change up some tactics. But I’m definitely playing better now than I was then,” Isner said of facing Medvedev. “He’s definitely going to do what he does. He’s full of confidence. He’s going to stand on the fence, he’s going to make a lot of returns, he’s going to run. He’s No. 2 in the world for a reason. I’m going to have to play well.”
The matchup between Isner and Monfils featured a battle between one of the game’s biggest servers and a rock-solid returner, as well as a clash between the cool-headed American and the electric entertainer from France. Isner created six break point opportunities across the tight opening set, but Monfils came up with his trademark brilliance to keep them apace.
The quarter-final came down to the narrowest of margins. After Monfils rallied from 1/5 in the first-set tie-break, Isner fired an ace to seal the opening set. In the second set, after Monfils required a medical time-out to treat his right Achilles, Isner jumped on the Frenchman’s second serve. Under pressure, Monfils served up a double fault to hand over the decisive break for 5-4, before Isner served out the victory.