American John Isner has a reputation as the big-serving king of tiebreaks, and also a rep for playing his best tennis when on home soil. At the Cincinnati Masters in 2013, Isner definitely played some of his best tennis–and he took out the number 1 player, Novak Djokovic, with just one TB: 7-6 (5), 3-6, 7-5.
We chose more than one pic of the day because we think this collection helps illustrate the strength and intensity that Isner played with that day. There were the big, booming serves, sure. But there was also a lot more movement around the court than we tend to associate with one of the biggest dudes in tennis, and he was in attack mode throughout the match.
“I needed to keep this match close,” Big John said after the victory, “and to have the crowd on my side.” He achieved both with his high level of play. The Cincy crowd, thrilled to have an American to realistically cheer for, was loud and brash and collectively out of its mind with excitement over Isner’s confidence and big-hitting.
After the overflowing personality of Andy Roddick, critics have lamented the rather low-key air of the next generation of players. Though he’s improved over the years, Isner can seem almost lethargic on the TV screen, and it’s hard for fans to connect to him. Isner was particularly engaging during this week in Cincy, though, letting his excitement for the match show through, and rewarding the audience’s investment by feeding off of it and playing even bigger. It’s tough to describe the exhilaration of seeing the blistering arc of his huge serves, the loud thump as the ball slams into the court and whizzes past his talented opponent, and the rush of excitement the crowd feels as those long limbs go flying across the court to make a shot.
“It was just so much fun to play out there,” Isner confirmed in his post-match press conference.. “It’s one of the reasons why I work so hard to be able to be in a situation like that and to sort of enjoy it …. Certainly one of my greatest memories as a tennis player.”
Isner rode the wave of his big win to go on and defeat Juan Martin del Potro in the semis, meaning he’d beaten three Top 10 players in a row (including Milos at #10). A fourth wasn’t possible, however. He fell to Rafa in the finals, in two TBs of course, but not without a great fight.
Here’s hoping we’ll see more high-flying tennis worth cheering about from Isner in this year’s North American summer swing…
Go back to Pic of the Day 11.