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THURSDAY, MARCH 29, 2018

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THURSDAY, MARCH 29, 2018 THE DAILY TIMES www.thedailytimes.com GASTON DE CARDENAS | THE ASSOCIATED PRESS JOHN

GASTON DE CARDENAS | THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

JOHN ISNER CELEBRATES WINNING the his quarterfinal match against Hyeon Chung during the Miami Open Wednesday in Key Bis- cayne, Fla. Isner won 6-1, 6-4.

John’s approach shot

Isner an easy winner, returns to Miami Open semi

BY TIM REYNOLDS

AP Sports Writer

KEY BISCAYNE, Fla. — Nothing was coming easily to John Isner over the first three months of this year, and he was essentially a nonfactor in every tour- nament he entered. Until now. The big-serving Ameri- can is in the semifinals of the Miami Open for the second time in the past four years, after overpow- ering South Korea’s Hyeon Chung 6-1, 6-4 in just over an hour on Wednesday afternoon. The 14th-seed- ed Isner finished with 13 aces, won all but one of his

32 first-serve points and avenged a loss to the 19th- seeded Chung at Auckland in his first match of the year back in January. “I played extremely well,” said Isner, who dropped six of his first eight matches of 2018 before arriving in Miami and winning eight of his nine sets played at Key Biscayne so far. “Every match I’ve played in this tournament, I’ve gotten better. I’ve gotten stronger and that’s a very, very good sign.” He’ll hope that trend con- tinues in the semifinals. Isner — who ousted sec- ond-seeded Marin Cilic earlier this week — will

next face either No. 5 seed Juan Martin del Potro of Argentina or No. 20 Milos Raonic of Canada. Del Potro and Raonic play late Wednesday night in another quarterfinal. Isner was broken twice by Chung when they met in Auckland. He faced only one break point on Wednesday. “It’s perfect conditions,” said Isner, who lost to Novak Djokovic in the 2015 semifinals at Key Biscayne. “I’ve played well here in the past and I’m so happy that I’m playing well here again.” The women’s semifi- nals also continued tak-

ing shape Wednesday, with No. 6 seed Jelena Ostapen- ko ousting fourth-seeded Elina Svitolina 7-6 (3), 7-6 (5) to reach the final four at Key Biscayne for the first time. Next up for Ostapenko:

either No. 8 seed Venus Williams or qualifier Dani- elle Collins in the semifi- nals Wednesday. Williams and Collins played Wednesday night in an all-American quar- terfinal. The other women’s semi- final is also today, with No. 13 Sloane Stephens set to meet three-time Miami champion Victoria Aza- renka.

STOCK: Orange and White game the fi rst big test

FROM 1B

that a coaching staff can put on guys to see how they respond in adverse situations. “I’ve seen guys, they may practice really well for one day, two days, three days and you go to a scrimmage situa- tion and it’s new. Maybe you go from the practice field to the stadium and maybe they have anxiety and they don’t perform well at the stadium. Or maybe you see guys that are fine in all the practice

‘You study, you go to class for a certain period of time and you get the information and then they test you on it to see what kind of knowledge you retain. That’s what a scrimmage is.’

Jeremy Pruitt

UT head football coach

situations and go out to the stadium and there’s 102,000 people in the stadium and they have anxiety there, they don’t respond the right way. Or sometimes you find guys that kind of rise to the occasion. “As soon as you single one out, no telling what he’ll do the next day. So I figure we’ll wait until we see a whole body of work

and go from there.” All the practices lead- ing up to Tennessee’s two scrimmages and the spring game are stepping stones. Once they get on the field in a a scrimmage, then he can truly evalu- ate what he is working with. “It’s a little different when you go out there and the coaches aren’t out there on the field with you and you’ve got to make the calls, you’ve got to get lined up,” Pruitt said. “They’re not there to encourage you, they’re not there to correct you. You’re playing just your 11 guys on your side of the ball. “It’s kind of like a test. You study, you go to class for a certain period of time and you get the infor- mation and then they test you on it to see what kind of knowledge you retain. That’s what a scrimmage is.” And the Orange and White Game is the biggest test Pruitt’s team will get before the season opener against West Virginia on Sept. 1. “When you have the Orange & White Game, you have the element where you create a game-like atmosphere,” he said. “There’s a little more excitement, a lit- tle more anxiety, a little more pressure, butter- flies, whatever you want to call it. “Some guys perform better in those situations and some guys perform worse and we need to find out who those guys are.”

FOLLOW @ABORNHEIM on Twitter for more from sports editor Austin Bornheim. Write to him at austinb@thedaily times.com.

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