Learn How Isner Was Able To 'Shake The Rust Off'
John Isner enters the New York Open in a unique position, at least as far as recent history goes. From 2011 to 2019, the American never played more than six matches by this point in the calendar. After beginning the season at the ATP Cup, Isner has played nine matches, and he is ready to roll in New York.
“I think it will help. I certainly hope so. I played nine matches down in Australia, and that’s the beauty of the ATP Cup,” Isner told ATPTour.com. “I was very lucky to be part of that great event, even though I didn’t play that well. I was able to, I think, shake the rust off and maybe get my bad matches out of the way and that helped me in Auckland and it served me well in the Australian Open, also.”
Isner made the semi-finals in Auckland, and then he reached the third round of the Australian Open before retiring during his match against former World No. 3 Stan Wawrinka. But the 6’10” right-hander is now set to compete at home in the United States, where he has captured 13 of his 15 ATP Tour titles.
“Very excited. I love playing in the States, I love this time of year in particular, starting off in New York and then you leave the States, but barely, going to Acapulco, and of course you have the two very big [ATP] Masters 1000 events that I’ve done well at in the past,” said Isner, who will face Ivo Karlovic or Jordan Thompson in New York. “So it’s a very important part of the year for me.”
This stretch of the year has often been kind to Isner, as he won the Miami Open presented by Itau in 2018, and reached the final last year.
“It’s a focus, but it’s not a bigger focus than it has been in the past. I’m just going to try to do what I’ve done in years past and just take care of myself as best as I can and hope it serves me well this year,” Isner said. “One thing I noticed now that I’m almost 35, it takes a lot more energy to keep myself fit and healthy. I left Australia with a bit of an injury and haven’t actually been able to practise much. The focus has been more on rehab, which kind of stinks. But I think I’m lucky that I feel like I’m over that right now.”
This is the third straight year in which Isner has competed in the New York Open. Last year, he made the semi-finals. This time, he’ll try to lift his 16th ATP Tour trophy.
“For one just being in New York is fantastic. We’re not in the city, we’re close to the city if you want to take in some of that energy. You’re only about 20 to 30 minutes away,” Isner said. “But I think the best part about this tournament is the facility here. This arena is amazing. The locker rooms are amazing. The court is fantastic. All the players really enjoy their time here. The hotel is super close, you walk across the street. It’s got everything a player can ask for in a tournament.”
Isner gets a special treat by being one of the top two seeds. He has a private locker room with his own bathroom, shower, couches and television.
“It’s very special. It’s very cool. Last year I was one of the top seeds as well and if you’re a top two seed you get your own little private locker room,” Isner said. “I think it’s very cool, very unique, and it’s something to keep striving for. So next year of course I hope I’m a top two seed and I can spend some time here again.”
Last season was a "wild year" according to Isner. He broke his left foot in the Miami final, and he’d miss three months. His second child, John Hobbs, was born in October. Then the American finished inside the Top 20 of the year-end FedEx ATP Rankings for the 10th straight year. Now, Isner is ready to settle down and move forward.
“It’s very nice to get back to business. We had our second kid last year and of course [we’re] so lucky and blessed to have two beautiful kids and healthy most importantly. They’re actually here with me this week with my wife and we’re enjoying our time here,” Isner said. “[We have] a great room, a great set-up. They haven’t been to the site yet, but they’ll be taking advantage of this locker room as well. Hopefully my kids can maybe take a nap in here. It’s a lot of fun to travel with them. I wouldn’t have it any other way.”