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An Interview With: John Isner (Round 3)

Saturday, September 05, 2015

Q. If you are going to player Roger, might as well get it over with, right?

JOHN ISNER: Yeah. It's going to be fun. It's what I work so hard for, to get an opportunity like this. On Monday I'm going to have fun with it. At the same time, I'm going to go out there and believe that I can win the match.

Q. Talk about your game and what kind of shape you're in for meeting him.

JOHN ISNER: Yeah, well, I'm playing well, I feel like. Definitely conserved a lot of energy, as well. I'll be able to leave it all out there on Monday, win or lose. Just not really my forté. You know, a lot of times I play long matches, but I have been on and off the court pretty quickly my first three matches. That bodes well for me. Same goes for him, but he's generally in that position. I'm going to go out there and roll the dice.

Q. How would you describe him as a return-of-service person?

JOHN ISNER: Yeah, one of the best. I mean, he has that chip return that no one else has. I mean, that's the shot that gets him in points. From that, his talent and skill and everything, everything takes over. He's able to get a lot of balls back, and he uses his incredible skill and athleticism to win points after that. So he's a very, very good returner.

Q. How does what he does on the return affect your thinking and strategy on the serve?

JOHN ISNER: I haven't thought about that too much, actually. So I have probably a little, I don't know, 48 hours to think about that. I can't give you an answer right now. Sorry, I haven't thought about it.

Q. Back to your Davis Cup win against him, I know at the time you said it was the biggest victory of your career. Do you still feel like that was the win you're most proud of in your career?

JOHN ISNER: I do, actually. Yeah, it's Davis Cup, which is a different animal, too. You're not playing for yourself out there, so that was a very -- I think that was the best win of my career and one of the best matches I have ever played, hands down. I played extremely well that day, and I needed to to beat him. I'm going to need to do that again on Monday.

Q. How do you feel each of your games have changed in the last few years? You haven't played since then.

JOHN ISNER: Yeah, as he gets older he seems to keep getting better. It's unbelievably impressive what he's continuing to do. He is playing at a very high level right now. Obviously he had a win in Cincinnati and winning his first three matches here. Of course I have the utmost respect for him. At the same time, I feel like I can challenge him on Monday.

Q. How do you remember your match against Federer at the Open years ago?

JOHN ISNER: Oh, gosh. Pretty well. That was eight years ago now. Absolutely no pressure on me that day, and I honestly probably didn't believe I could beat him, either. I was happy to be on that court. I was fresh out of college and no one knew anything about me. He certainly didn't. I won one set, which was incredible. Didn't win much after that. (Smiling.) Can't draw on that at all, really. I'm a different player. I'm a much better player.

Q. Nobody consciously wants to play long matches, but you have gotten more than your fair share, especially in majors. Have you made a conscious effort though to do things to try and get on and off the court?

JOHN ISNER: No, I'm not taking the court trying to get on and off quickly. There are some things I'm doing especially this week that I'm doing fairly well. You know, my matches so far really haven't been that close. You know, I'm taking care of my serve and getting a break here or there. It's good to see, but the goal going on is not to get on and off quickly. It's just to go out there and execute my game plan, believe in that game plan, and believe that it's going to work out in the end.

Q. Davis Cup was brought up. The other day a player here indicated that you might not be available for Davis Cup. Is that correct?

JOHN ISNER: That is correct. Yeah, I'm not.

Q. What's your thinking on that?

JOHN ISNER: Well, there is a lot that goes into it. For one, I will need the rest after this tournament. My knee is something that has been bothering me for a while. It's feeling good now, but I'm taking care of it as best I can. You know, going over there not 100% fit I don't think would be the right choice for me.

Q. Are you proud of your record and your role in Davis Cup? Is that something that's important in your thinking?

JOHN ISNER: Yeah, very important. I'm extremely proud of it. I have answered the call every time I have been asked to play. This time is different. It's tough. It was an extremely tough decision for me, but one that I felt like I had to make it. What makes it incredibly tough is that, you know, I kind of feel personally responsible that our team is in this position. I didn't do my part in February. It was a very, very tough call for me, and one that I think Captain Courier respected and understood. I appreciated that.

Q. You were one of the last five or so guys to break into the top 10 at one point. How big of a milestone was that for you? Is it something you had consciously aimed for?

JOHN ISNER: No, I wasn't really aiming for it, but it was a huge milestone for me. I did it on two separate occasions, really. I think I got in there in 2012 and again maybe last year or something. It's not like I got in there one week and two weeks later I was back in. It happened two years after each other. I'm close again to the top 10. I know this, too, so it's fun. It would be incredible for me to finish inside the top 10. There are some goals going forward. Beginning of the year I didn't have many performance goals for myself, but now that's changed a bit now that the season is most of the way through.

Q. In Cincinnati you sounded fried and said you wanted to reboot. How did that go when you went back home? Did you sort of arrive here refreshed and is your play sort of indicative of that?

JOHN ISNER: Yeah, I think absolutely I was pretty worn out in Cincinnati. That match I lost in Montreal to -- Chardy did a number on me. That was a brutal match to lose and one that I probably could have, should have won. Had a lot of match points. I left it all out on the court that day, and mentally and physically I was so worn out from all the matches I played prior to that. Got to Cincinnati and I thought, you know, I was feeling actually decent on the practice court. I got on the court and just didn't have much. Maybe it was a blessing in disguise. I certainly needed to get home and rest up, and that's what I did. I didn't hit balls for a few days, but I wasn't just sitting on the couch. I was in the gym doing little things here and there, keeping my body fresh and trying to get my body stronger.

Q. Happy college football season. You talk about how much you're playing. Have you given any thought to how many guys have retired in the tournament? Conditions were better today. Is it a perfect storm of a long season? It's been hot and humid.

JOHN ISNER: Yeah, I think for the first four days weather had a lot to do with it. I think what happened today in my match wasn't weather related. I believe his neck was bothering him. That's fortunate on my end. It can happen. I think this is a bit of an anomaly, really. I don't think we will see this many retirements going forward in Grand Slams. Three-out-of-five sets is tough. A lot of guys have played a lot. It's not surprising, but I don't think we will see this many going forward.

Q. When a player is down on the women's side maybe a set, on the men's side maybe two sets, as Fognini was last night, what do you consider the most important qualities that can help bring a player back from being down? What have you observed perhaps with Serena Williams and the way she's done it?

JOHN ISNER: Yeah, it's just simple: just keep fighting and keep believing. Try not to show weakness out there. You know, you don't want -- down two sets to love, you don't want -- you want to go out there and still show your opponent that you believe you can win. That's what it comes down to. Most important thing is just staying positive out there and just believing. That's what we have seen from Serena.

Q. What are your impressions when you watch her do it so often?

JOHN ISNER: Well, it's pretty incredible. She's done it so much that we have come to expect it, too. That's what makes her a great champion.

Q. We have been asking a lot of the women players about Serena's impact on the game. What impact has she had on the American game, period? Second part, do you think she's Federer's equal in terms of impact on the game?

JOHN ISNER: Yeah, I would say so. I think she's the biggest, certainly the biggest figure in women's tennis, women's athletics, period. Across the whole world she's a superstar, really, as is Federer. He's not even the No. 1 player in the world, but he's our biggest draw. So you can definitely compare the two. She's done so much for American tennis. I think American tennis fans, especially the women's side, are pretty spoiled with her because she wins so much. But it's great. Everyone is lucky to, you know -- all of us players, men and women, are lucky to be playing at the same time she is. There will be a time when she's not playing anymore. It's incredible to see what she's doing now.

Q. Roger and Serena, could be said one thing they have in common is that they have surged towards the end of their careers and done really well, late 30s. Talk about that. Are we going to see that as a trend? Do you think you can do that, as well?

JOHN ISNER: These two, Roger and Serena, are different stories. They are the greatest players of all time, in my opinion. It's no surprise to see that they are doing so well into their I guess mid-30s. But the game is changing I think, especially on the men's side. You see a lot of men's players 30 and over doing well. I'm one of them right now, also. I still believe that my best tennis is ahead of me as long as I keep doing the right things and taking care of myself and working smart, working hard. I do believe I can play at a high level for many more years to come.

Q. You said Roger improved. In a word or two, how have you improved your game?

JOHN ISNER: I have just stuck at it and worked hard. Simple as that.

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