John Isner Interview - US Open, Sept 3Posted on September 4, 2010
THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.
JOHN ISNER: Yeah, I am.
Q. If you could just talk about the match, your thoughts on how you played today.
JOHN ISNER: I thought I played pretty well. I conserved my energy when I needed to. I wasn't feeling my best out there. Once again, just my legs weren't there. That's from lack of training recently. So I was kind of dealt a bad hand coming into this tournament. But like I said, I conserved energy well. I felt like I played my best when I needed to. A lot of times out there it wasn't pretty. Once again, my serve and forehand pretty much bailed me out. I was hitting both shots pretty well.
Q. When you say you were dealt a bad hand, what exactly are you referring to?
JOHN ISNER: Well, I hurt my ankle two weeks ago, so I haven't I mean, first time I hit was two days before the tournament. For more than a week I was -- I couldn't do any physical activity, so I felt like I lost some of my shape. I was in pretty good shape, and it's tough to build it back up. I didn't have any time to do that.
Q. Your ankle didn't bother at all? It's okay?
JOHN ISNER: Wasn't an issue, no.
Q. When someone in sports does something as you did in Wimbledon, years later they're still talking about it. Some athletes are bothered by it, and others relish it. What's been your reaction to the two months?
JOHN ISNER: No, it's been great. I mean, obviously I know, you know, being a part of that match people were going to talk about that for a long, long time. That's gonna stick with me for really as long as I live. So, you know, like I said, you know, I'm fine; I embrace it. I think it's really cool what Nicolas and I did that day. You know, it hasn't you know, it's not gonna bother me. I've said this a lot. I don't want that to be like the lasting image of my career. So that's up to me to make it not that way. It's up to me to do well in big tournaments, tournaments such as this.
Q. Will you need a little more pop in your legs against Youzhny? What do you have to do well in that match?
JOHN ISNER: Yeah, I am gonna need that. I think, you know, the focus, the rest of today and all day tomorrow, is gonna 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 gonna 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. (Laughter.)
Q. If you feel like your fitness isn't where you want it to be, does that mean just taking some bigger risks on your serve and on your forehand? Is that gonna be the strategy?
JOHN ISNER: Well, yeah. I mean, you know, I try to ace people anyways, no matter how I'm feeling. When I get up to serve and I try to hit my forehand really big, I don't hold back on either one of those shots. So that's not gonna change.But it's all gonna -- a lot of it's gonna be how I feel really, you know, going into the match. Like since we were warming up today I knew I felt like I just didn't have it. I knew it was gonna be a tough match, because I just didn't feel that great out there. I was really fortunate to win today.
Q. Ryan Harrison lost in the fifth set breaker after having some match points, and I'm wondering about the learning curve for a young player learning how to play in a fifth set. What is there to learn and did you go through it yourself?
JOHN ISNER: Yeah, it's so tough. 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 gonna 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.
Q. Do you change things in the fifth set or stick with the same stuff or...
JOHN ISNER: No, it all depends on how you feel. You stick with your game, stick with what's working. And for him, he gets to the net a lot. He's quick. He's athletic. I'm sure he was, you know, doing what he was doing first four sets. He just came out on the wrong end, unfortunately.
Q. Could you hear that match from where you were in Louis? Did you hear the crowd in there?
JOHN ISNER: I could hear the crowd. It was hard to tell really what was going on. Obviously when the crowd cheered, you know, that was when Ryan won a point. But you know, I didn't know -- I didn't know that he won or lost until I saw it on the screen on my court.
Q. For a long time, you'll always be related to Nicolas Mahut. He's sort of had a tough go of it; he's been saying his body hasn't been the same; hasn't had a very good summer; didn't get a wildcard or anything here. Do you have any thoughts about Nicolas and have you been in touch with him at all and could you reflect on that?
JOHN ISNER: Yeah, we have kept in touch since the match. The first time I saw him, you know, face to face was the first day I stepped foot in the locker room here. So, you know, we talked about the match a little bit. Like I said, it is unfortunate that his back is bothering him. He may have jumped into tournaments too quickly after our match, because I believe he played Newport. You know, I think -- from what I've read, I think that's what he said, that was the tournament that kind of hurt his back a little. It set him back. So, you know, that's unfortunate. I know that for me, you know, I don't feel like I'm feeling the lasting effects of that match, particularly. I'm tired here, but I think that's because of my ankle.
Q. Did he say anything of interest to you about the match?
JOHN ISNER: No. To be honest, we didn't really talk about the match. We just, you know, just talked with each other and asked each other what's been up lately. So the focus wasn't really on the match.
Q. Can you talk about whether you've had any surprises in your physical conditioning while you've been playing here or with regard to the ankle? Because you spoke obviously at every step along the way about the hope that you would improve certainly your lung capacity with playing more and also the condition of your ankle. What has it been like for you?
JOHN ISNER: Yeah, it's definitely been tough. 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 gonna 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.
Q. Given that there are no teenage men in the top 100 of the world rankings, do you think that's more motivation for kids to go to college a year or two? Do you think more guys should follow the route you took?
JOHN ISNER: I think they should, especially -- not necessarily four years like I did, but at the very least one year. Obviously there's a few exceptions, Sam being one. I think Ryan is another one. He made the right choice probably turning pro. As you can see, at 18 he's competing with everybody at this tournament. But for sure I feel like a lot of players have made the mistake of not going to college, and so the up and coming, you know, juniors in the country now I think going to college for one, two years, that's really, really gonna help them. I hope that's the case in the near future.
Q. Grand Slams, Tim Henman used to always say he felt the weight of the whole British Empire on his shoulders. With so few Americans left standing, do you feel the weight of being one of the great American hopes?
JOHN ISNER: No, I don't feel the weight of it. I think my second year on tour when I was -- after I did really well on my first half year on tour, I kind of felt that pressure. A lot of great things were expected of me, and I regressed in 2008. But now I'm more mature, and I've obviously played a lot of matches. I don't feel any added pressure to do well because I'm American.You know, I know that, you know, whatever happens, happens. I'm not putting any extra pressure on myself.