JOHNS CREEK -- Both of the top singles seeds in the Atlanta Tennis Championships showed plenty of bounce-back in their quarterfinal matches Friday at the Atlanta Athletic Club's stadium court.
For No. 2 seed John Isner, it was from one match to the next as he shook off a less-than-stellar performance two days earlier to roll to an easy 6-1, 6-2 win over Michael Russell.
Top-seeded Andy Roddick had to bounce back within his match after dropping the first set to Xavier Malisse.
However, the world's No. 9-ranked player rallied for a 4-6, 6-3, 6-4 win over the seventh-seeded Belgian to join Isner in today's semifinals.
The difference for Roddick was simply playing cleaner tennis as he committed 17 unforced errors in the first set, and then had just 15 in the following two sets.
"I think my legs won me the match," said Roddick, who is undefeated in 10 career matches against Malisse, and will play his doubles partner for this tournament, Mardy Fish, who beat Taylor Dent 6-3, 6-0 Friday, in tonight's 7 p.m. semifinal. "The second set, I kind of grinded back, and in the third set, I kind of ran and grinded out a bunch of points and just toughed it out.
"I just tightened it up a little bit. ... I tried to play a more aggressive game early on, (but) didn't execute. Then I decided, 'If he's going to win, at least make him work for it.'"
Malisse played Roddick on even terms throughout most of the match before the turning point with the third set tied at 4-all.
Malisse fought off two break points to force deuce and then went up an advantage off his second serve, but double faulted to force another deuce.
Given a third opportunity, Roddick pounced on two more second serves from Malisse to get the much-needed break, and then closed out the win with a strong service game.
"I could tell that he might have been a little bit tight in that game," Roddick said. "It's a fine line between being aggressive also making him try to play knowing that he was a little bit tight
"Once you stick a return deep, it's neutral. I was able to get it back to neutral pretty quick."
Unlike his previous match in which he was forced to rally from behind to beat Gilles Muller in three sets in the second round, Isner made short work of Russell on Friday.
The 6-foot-9 former Georgia Bulldog needed just 56 minutes to dispose of Russell, who had already upset eighth-seeded Benjamin Becker in the first round, to move into today's semifinals.
"I just goes to show the difference between a first ... and second ... match can be huge," said Isner, who will be making his fourth appearance in an ATP Tour semifinal this year. "That was the case (Friday). I feel like I played a lot better (Friday). ... I was really pleased with the outcome and how I played."
Up next for Isner is South African Kevin Anderson, whose road to the semis has included a first-round upset of No. 5 seed Janko Tipsarevic, as well as Friday's 6-3, 6-4 win over Lukas Lacko in the quarterfinals.
Anderson, who played collegiately at the University of Illinois, will be a familiar opponent for Isner as the two have crossed paths several times throughout college and their professional careers.
"I've played Kevin a good number of times," Isner said. "We both know each other's game. I know what I'm going to have to do to try to win.
"I think I probably played him three times in college. I was able to win all of those. We played three times in the pros. I think I've won twice. We're obviously both a lot better players than we were in college. ... He's playing maybe his best tennis of the year here. He's beating some really good players pretty easy. So, it's going to be tough."
Isner will also be busy in the doubles semifinals today, immediatley turning around to team with James Blake to take on Rajeev Ram and Scott Lipsky, a7-6 (2), 7-6 (9) winner over Anderson and Russell in Friday's quarterfinals.
The other doubles semifinal will pit Rohan Bopanna of Indonesia and Kristof Vliegen of Belgium against Stephen Huss of Australia and Andre Sa of Brazil, who outlasted Tipsarevic and Israeli Jonathan Erlich 3-6, 7-6 (7), 10-8.