Newport: Top-seeded John Isner became the first top-seeded player to win the title in the 35-year history of the Hall of Fame Tennis Championships, beating sixth-seeded Olivier Rochus, 6-3, 7-6 (6) on Sunday.
Isner had an overpowering serve all week on the grass courts in Newport, and it didn't desert him in the final.
"No. To be honest, I don't think so," Isner said when asked if he's ever served better. "I just served excellent. I was just fortunate to have that weapon. I was in a groove all of my matches. It's huge. I was very lucky to have that serve and it carried me to the championship."
The 6-foot-9 Isner pulled out the victory over the 30-year-old Belgian in a contrast of styles. The 5-6 Rochus, the shortest player on the ATP tour, relies on steady groundstrokes and array of slicing returns.
On a few serves, Isner had the ball bounce over Rochus' head, drawing laughs from the crowd.
"It was perfect serving conditions for me, this court, this tournament," Isner said. "I was surprised how much it was kicking on this grass."
The pair even had a little fun before the match, when Isner, towering over Rochus, put his hand on his opponent's head for a photo.
It was the second career ATP title for Isner, the second-tallest player on the tour. His other came at Auckland in 2010.
Rochus fell to 2-7 in career finals and 11-3 lifetime in Newport. He also lost last year's final, falling to American Mardy Fish.
Isner entered the tournament as a wild card after Fish withdrew when he was selected for the United States Davis Cup team. He was given the top seed because he was the highest-ranked player in the draw, coming in at No. 46. He was as high as No. 19 last year.
Rochus entered the week ranked 74th.
"John was a top-20 player in the world," Rochus said. "He can control the ball, he slices. He's a lot more than the serve."
Isner closed out the match with his 22nd ace, not having lost a set all week.
Isner broke Rochus in the eighth game of the first set, grabbing a 5-3 edge. In Isner's third break point of the set, Rochus hit a backhand slice wide to end the game.
Isner then served out the first set, getting consecutive aces to move up 40-15 before Rochus hit a service return long.
Up 6-4 on serve in the tiebreak, Isner hit a forehand return into the net and Rochus evened it at 6-all with a well-placed backhand crossing shot that landed just inside the sideline.
But, on the next point, Rochus hit a slicing backhand just wide, setting it up for Isner to close it out. He pumped his fist when it was over and fired his blue wrist band into the crowd.
"I feel so great," Isner said. "It turned out great. I owe a big thanks (to the tournament director) for the wild card. It's a great start to the summer."
The 26-year old earned $76,500 and Rochus $40,300.