Isner America’s Last US Open Hope

first_imgNEW YORK — The very first Grand Slam loss of John Isner’s career — back when he was ranked 184th, only a few months removed from leading Georgia to an NCAA tennis title, and still officially listed at 6-foot-9 — came against none other than Roger Federer.It was at the 2007 U.S. Open, and Isner actually managed to win the first set before being beaten in four.They’ll meet again at Flushing Meadows the night of Sept. 7 night in Arthur Ashe Stadium, this time in the fourth round, and plenty has changed for Isner.For one thing, he is now the top American man, seeded 13th in this tournament. He’s best known for winning the longest match in tennis history over Nicolas Mahut — 11 hours, 5 minutes over three days, finishing 70-68 in the fifth set at Wimbledon in 2010 — and generally has shown a propensity for participating in “It won’t seem to end” encounters.He’s also now officially 6-10, according to the ATP.But the most significant difference heading into the match is that Isner gives himself a chance against Federer. That wasn’t the case eight years ago, long before Isner actually did defeat Federer in a Davis Cup match.“I honestly probably didn’t believe I could beat him. … 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,” Isner said. “Can’t draw on that at all, really. I’m a different player. I’m a much better player.”His serve is as good as ever, and he hasn’t been broken in a U.S. Open match since 2013.“Obviously, John can hold easy, that we know. That I can hold my serve a lot and stay very focused, that I know as well,” Federer said. “That’s part of trying to beat him, as well, is just to stay with him. He also wants to break, and he gets frustrated — like any other big server, as well, if they can’t get a break, because they also don’t want to play ‘breaker after ‘breaker.”Against someone like Isner, it will be intriguing to see whether Federer decides to try out his new tactic on opponents’ second serves, charging forward to take a return that essentially is a half-volley. Federer and his team have given the move the nickname “SABR,” which stands for “serve attack by Roger.” (HOWARD FENDRICH, AP Tennis Writer)TweetPinShare0 Shareslast_img

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