FLUSHING MEADOWS, NY – With Andy Roddick and now Ryan Harrison out of the tournament, is John Isner America’s best champ in bringing back the Men’s Singles championship to the United States?
If his ankle holds up, then sure, but that’s a big if.
“Yeah, it’s definitely been tough,” said Isner who beat Marco Chiudinelli in four sets, 6-3 3-6 7-6 6-4. “You know, I started feeling it in the third set of my first match. I felt great. I actually felt pretty good right from the get‑go of my first match. I was thinking, Hey, this is a good omen.
“But then kind of hit me in the third set, and really throughout the whole match today I was feeling it. I don’t feel like I had the pop on my shots that I normally would out there today.”
“So, yeah, I’m struggling a bit physically. But, you know, I’m going to have to do my best to get myself up to 100%. I’m getting stronger. Although I’m out there and playing these long matches, I feel like I’m getting stronger, and I should be better for the next one.”
The winner of the Eternal Match back in Wimbledon hurt his ankle back in Cincinnati and what was originally thought to be torn ligaments turned out to be just a sprain and he was cleared to play just a few days before the Open.
So without any practice or conditioning, the 18th seeded Isner is taking it one match at a time and hope he will be continue to get into better game shape.
“Yeah, I am going to need that,” he said. “I think, you know, the focus, the rest of today and all day tomorrow, is going to be just to try to rejuvenate my body as much as possible to get me feeling as good as I possibly can going into that match.
“I’m going to have to play really well, do the same thing essentially today: serve well, hit my forehand well. Those are my two strengths. That’s no secret.
“He’s just ‑‑ I played him in Montreal last year and it was three sets. But, you know, he kind of ran me off the court the last two sets. When he’s on, he’s really, really tough. For me, I kind of hope he’s not on.”
Even with his own problems to deal with, the 25 year-old is still keeping his eye on the up and comers like Harrison, especially after he lost that five-set heartbreaker today.
“Yeah, it’s so tough,” he said of Harrison. “I mean, personally I don’t know how many fifth set sets I’ve played in. I think I’ve played in two this year, maybe four or five in my career, so it’s not that ‑‑ I’m not seasoned at it, either. It’s something that obviously with maturity and the more times you’re in that situation, the better you’re going to be.
“But, I didn’t see the match today. I don’t want to say that ‑‑ I mean, probably just have to give credit to Ryan’s opponent. Ryan, he’s obviously playing well and he’s a huge future in this game.”
Harrison’s time is in the future, but right now, Isner may be America’s great hope.