Newport's Most Prolific Champion: John Isner
The Hall of Fame Open has long been one of John Isner’s most successful events. Nobody has won the tournament more, as the American has triumphed on the historic Newport grass four times. The ATP 250 has been a family affair for Isner, too.
Last year, Isner had a new guest by his side in Newport: his daughter, Hunter Grace, who was born in September 2018. Throughout the week, the first thing he did after the match was go see his daughter. It made for a special moment when Isner defeated Alexander Bublik 7-6(2), 6-3 for the title. Joining him on court for the trophy ceremony were Hunter Grace and Isner’s wife, Madison McKinley Isner.
“That was cool. That was actually something I wasn’t even thinking about at all during the course of the match. Thankfully I wasn’t getting ahead of myself, but then when it came time to do the ceremony, I looked at where my wife was sitting. She wasn’t there,” Isner said. “She had gone and got Hunter Grace and brought her over to the side of the court. She was smart enough to go get her and knew that would be a good moment to capture. So that was the highlight of the week, no doubt.”
The big-serving righty first triumphed in Newport in 2011, sprinting to the title without dropping a set. He defeated Olivier Rochus 6-3, 7-6(6) for the trophy. But perhaps what sticks out about the event is that Isner was forced to miss his brother Nathan’s wedding to finish the job.
“It definitely turned out to be a great decision,” Isner said at the time.
The top seed planned to rush to the wedding if he lost by the semi-finals. He was disappointed to miss the special moment, but thrilled to win his second ATP Tour title.
“I don’t think I’ve ever had a better week serving,” Isner said. “I’m fortunate to have that weapon and I was in a groove for five matches. It carried me to the championship here.”
Isner, who also emerged victorious in Newport in 2012, served even better at the tournament in 2017. He became the second player to win an ATP Tour title without facing a break point since records started being kept in 1991. Tommy Haas accomplished the feat at 2007 Memphis, and Alex de Minaur did it last year in Atlanta. Isner beat Matthew Ebden 6-3, 7-6(4) in that year's championship match.
“It’s hard to win a tournament. It’s no small feat to come out here and be the last man standing," Isner said. "I’m very happy about that."
Isner, who has only won the Atlanta title more often (five times), has long been comfortable in Rhode Island, where he holds a 23-5 record. He enjoys the intimate setting and the local scene, which includes restaurants on the water.
“My very first ATP Tour event was here in 2007 and I didn’t enjoy the courts that much back then because I didn’t know how to play on them,” Isner said. “To say that I’ve won this event four times isn’t something I thought would be possible.”