American John Isner congratulates friend and today’s victor, Mardy Fish (above).

World # 18, American Giant John Isner played lights out tennis for the first set today, but in the end it was Mardy Fish who took the title at the first ever Atlanta Hardcourt Tennis Championships, defeating the University of Georgia alum and former NCAA doubles champion, 4-6, 6-4, 7-6 (4).

A well conditioned Fish, of whom a 30 lbs. weight loss has been boasted of all week by ESPN2’s and The Tennis Channel’s announcers, had to be aided in 97 degree Atlanta heat by his new, sleeker 168 lbs. frame.  The heat index during the 2nd set was 103 and the on the court temperature was close to an astounding 150 degrees.  Fish, who played in his 15th career ATP final today, won his 5th career title, and his second consecutive title, after taking the Campbell’s Cup in Newport, Rhode Island last weekend at The Tennis Hall of Fame.

Fish made an important tactical adjustment versus Isner early in the 2nd set that seemedto turn the match around for the world’s # 49 player, who should be ranked significantly higher when he wakes up tomorrow and checks out the ATP’s latest rankings.  Isner had dominated play with his huge serve and gigantic forehand, and Fish couldn’t seem to get the ball to Isner’s backhand in rallies, and left many balls too short which Isner teed off on.  Early in the second set, Fish began to drill the backhand to the corner of the ad court, which forced Isner to cover more territory in rallies, and limited his ability to dictate points with his forehand.  The ploy turned the match for Fish, who managed to break Isner’s serve in both the 2nd and 3rd sets, as he applied more pressure to Isner and forced the big man to rely more on his weaker shot–the backhand.  It was a similar strategy to that of the one employed by Fish in last night’s semi versus Andy Roddick.

Isner must be given credit for his perserverance in his first tournament since Wimbledon, where he and Nicolas Mahut set a record in the first round by playing in an 11 hour and 10 minute match that spanned 3 days.  Isner won 4 matches this week in singles and 3 in doubles, and survived a very tight 3 sets versus South African Kevin Anderson in the semi-finals on Saturday.

As for Fish, the victory makes him the the third American to win 2 tournaments this season, behind Sam Querrey with 3 (1 on each surface) and Andy Roddick with 2.  Fish, who had dropped to about # 90 in the world prior to the French Open, has put himself in great position to have an excellent summer.  He also displayed tremendous sportsmanship, wishing John Isner luck in the 3rd set as players changed ends and prepared for the start of the deciding set.

Fish’s victory today also marks more titles won by Americans in the men’s game this year than last year.

–Crack (