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  • Almagro, Isner reach Houston title match

  • HOUSTON — John Isner and Nicolas Almagro, two of the biggest servers in tennis, aced their way into the final of the U.S. Men's Clay Court Championship.
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  • HOUSTON — John Isner and Nicolas Almagro, two of the biggest servers in tennis, aced their way into the final of the U.S. Men's Clay Court Championship.
    Top-seeded Almagro of Spain, the ATP Tour leader with 261 aces, needed only 58 minutes to beat American wild-card Rhyne Williams 6-2, 6-1.
    Isner, second in tour aces with 251, recovered from a slow start to top defending champion Juan Monaco of Spain 1-6, 6-4, 6-4 in the other semifinal to set up the booming showdown today.
    The 6-foot-9 American finished with nine aces against Monaco and has 57 going into the finals, three short of tournament record set by Pete Sampras in 2002.
    Isner used his power to good advantage in the final game of the match with serves clocked at 142, 144 and a fault that hit 147 mph at match point.
    Monaco returned Isner's second serve but Isner sealed the match with a backhand volley.
    Almagro added seven aces to his total against Williams.
    Isner lost to Monaco 6-2, 3-6, 6-3 in last year's clay court and he appeared headed for another loss after Monaco broke his serve three times in the opening set.
    Isner rallied from 15-40 in the fifth game to deuce but double faulted and hit a backhand into the net at break point. Isner went down at the first set point in the seventh game.
    Isner got more aggressive at the start of the second set. He broke Monaco in the fifth game of the second set and in the first game of the third set to fuel his rally.
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