August 31, 2018

Player Feature: America’s Tennis Superstar – John Isner

America’s Number 1

Full Name: John Robert Isner

Birthdate: April 26, 1985

Place of Birth: United States of America

Playing Years: 2007 to present (pro)

Award(s): ATP Most Improved Player (2009)

Formative Years:                                            

Before he was America’s number 1 tennis star, John Isner was actually debating on whether to choose basketball or tennis. Fortunately for his fans, he chose the latter.

John Isner began playing tennis at age nine. In fact, he developed his tennis skills from home rather than attending a tennis academy. Ever since he decided to play the sport, he already set the record for singles and doubles victories at the University of Georgia in 2004 to 2007. In 2007, he reached the National Collegiate Athletic Association singles final, and won doubles and team titles. In the same year, after graduating and having an outstanding four-year career at the University of Georgia, he turned to professional tennis.

Tennis Career:

John Isner, one of the world’s tallest players at six foot ten, is currently placed at the number 11 spot in the Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP) world rankings for men’s singles. However, reaching the number 11 spot wasn’t an easy journey for the towering tennis star. He made a breakthrough in the ATP circuit in just six months to finish in the top 125. He made his debut for professional tennis in Newport Open but lost to Dick Norman in the first round. In July 2007, he earned his first challenger title in Lexington with three sets of win against Brian Wilson, climbing from world No. 745 to No. 416. Following his victory in Lexington, he took another win in Washington and set a record for five straight wins in a third tie-breaker set before losing to Andy Roddick in the finals. Isner rose to world No. 193 in 2007, and made his Grand Slam debut at the U.S. Open, winning over Jarko Nieminen and Rik de Voest, before falling to eventual champion  Roger Federer in the fourth set during the third round.

In  2009, the towering American earned a spot in the Top 50 for the first time, highlighted by a career-high of 27 match victories. In 2010, John Isner reached another career-high, and finished in the Top 20 with a 38 match wins. He let the ATP World Tour with 1,048 aces, becoming the fifth player to hit at least 1,000 aces in a season since 1991. In 2010, Isner competed with France’s Nicolas Mahut in the first round at Wimbledon. He defeated the French national in the longest match ever played that took an incredible 11 hours and 5 minutes to finish, setting the record for the longest singles match ever played. He also holds the record for the most aces in a single match, in a single set, and in a Grand Slam singles match.

John Isner finished in the Top 20 for 2nd year in a row, highlighted by two ATP World Tour titles in 2011. He also reached the US Open quarter-final in the same year before he was defeated by Andy Murray. He earned a spot in the Top 20 for 6 consecutive years from 2010 to 2016. Being in the Top 20 helped him rise to eight spots in the world rankings to No. 9, his career best in March and April 2014. In 2017, Isner became the 2nd ATP Champion during the Newport Open, also advancing to the ATP Masters 1000 SFs in Rome, Italy.

Isner became one of the three players to have a victory in a singles and doubles Masters 1000 title over the past two decades along with Wayne Ferreira in 2000, and Rafael Nadal in 2008, 2010, and 2012. The top-ranked American superstar now has 13 titles to his name, including nine on hard courts. He accomplished his best performance during the North American hard-court summer swing, having six of his championships leading him to the 2018 U.S. Open series events.

Just recently, during this year’s U.S. Open, Isner was on the verge of elimination in the fourth set before dominating in a tiebreaker match. Isner won against Nicolas Jarry after a 3-hour match. The towering American national has never won a Grand Slam title in his 11 years of professional tennis. The closest he ever came to a title was during the Wimbledon semifinals last month.

By @EliaasMJ

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