John Isner: Not Many People Can Say They’ve Beaten A World No. 1, I Will Always Be Able To Say I Did!
by Tom Gainey | March 17th, 2012
  • 48 Comments

What an incredible afternoon for John Isner. The giant became the first American since James Blake at the Beijing Olympics to beat a world No. 1. Isner accomplished the feat stunning Novak Djokovic 76, 36, 76 to advance to the BNP Parisbas Open final at Indian Wells.

“I knew going into the match that I had to stay loose and go for my shots,” Isner said. “Also knew going into the match that I was going to make a lot of mistakes, but I also knew I was gonna hit some winners. As long as I was playing aggressively through the whole match, whether I win or lose, I was going to be happy with the result.

“The first set was really key, because, you know, he came out and got on top of me early,” he added. “And winning that first set tiebreaker, I knew that I was firmly in the match. At that point I believed I could win the match, but at that point it was within my reach.”

Isner’s serve clearly frustrated Djokovic who is among the better returners in the game. And that’s what John was hoping to do.

“I have the ability to frustrate my opponents no matter who I’m playing, so I knew that going into the match,” Isner said. “I also knew going into today playing against him that he was gonna get balls that in most cases would be good for winners against other players. So I sort of expected it, but he definitely had some shots today that are like, Oh, wow. How the heck did he do that? I knew what to expect today. Fortunately for me I played very well.”

Djokovic had won 11 straight at Indian Wells where he was defending his 2011 title. It was just the second loss on the season for the Serb and first to Isner in three matches.

The win also vaulted Isner to at least a career-high ranking of No. 10, and he’ll climb even higher to No. 8 if he wins the title.

“After a certain point I think when I reached in the top 50 in the world that’s actually when I actually did believe I could crack the top 10,” the 26-year-old said. “But I’ve just kept on improving. I’ve always been a late bloomer.

“I feel like my best tennis is still ahead of me. And I would also say I don’t quite have the miles on my body that a lot of other players have because I haven’t been out here since I was 17 or 18. I did surprise myself, but now that I am inside the top 10, I feel like I do belong there. I want to try my best to, you know, stay in the top 10 for a while.”

Isner awaits the rain-delayed Roger Federer-Rafael Nadal winner tomorrow. Isner beat Federer last month at Davis Cup and he extended Nadal to five sets at the French Open last year. So John is in with a chance.

“I expect a hell of a match. Both guys are at the top of the game right now, I believe,” said Isner looking ahead to Sunday. “Roger, since I did beat him, he has not lost. He’s won 14, 15 matches in a row, whatever it may be. He’s obviously playing well. And then there is Rafa who is always at these stages of a tournament. So it’s gonna be a very good match. It’s one that I look forward to watching.”

In his first Masters 1000 final, Isner will be going for his fourth ATP singles title, and his first since Winston-Salem last August. He has a 3-5 record in tour-level finals. Isner will also play for the doubles title later today when he and Sam Querrey face off against Nadal and Marc Lopez.

“Not many people can say they’ve ever beaten the No. 1 player in the world,” Isner said, “I’ll always be able to say that. I don’t think it’s the prize money. It’s just so fun to compete out there. I’m gonna have another shot tomorrow to play in front of a packed house for a big tournament title.”

Congrats to Big Dog John!


Also Check Out:
Roddick Scouting Report for Federer v Isner US Open Match-up
John Isner: Now That I’m In The Top 10, I Want To Go Higher
Djokovic Assesses Federer v Isner US Open Match-Up
John Isner Doesn’t Care That There Are No American Men In The Top 20
John Isner Apologizes For Loss In Houston, Calls Performance “Pathetic”

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48 Comments for John Isner: Not Many People Can Say They’ve Beaten A World No. 1, I Will Always Be Able To Say I Did!

Andrea Says:

Go roger! Way to go getting that first break point on your first attempt…..


Andrea Says:

Break to take the lead in the second!!!!!


Dory Says:

Am I in dreamland co-Roger fans? :) :) :)


Andrea Says:

For all the talk about nadal handling the “outdoors ” better he certainly isn’t dealing with the conditions today.


Andrea Says:

Yeeesssss!!!!!! Wow. Straight sets. Outdoors. Go roger.


mem Says:

skeezer,

this is for you!

are you happy now? you can stop worrying at least for a while. roger played great in tough conditions, nadal didn’t, so the better player won. that’s tennis!

onward to miami!


Michael Says:

I think Novak lost this match only due to the serving ability of Isner and nothing else. You cannot stop a guy like Isner who serves at over 150 mph and particularly if his first serves click. It was Isner’s day and he had the measure of Novak. Novak I would say played a pretty decent match and was getting the better of Isner from the back of the court but the GREATEST returner of serve couldn’t read the serve of Isner. Such was the high quality of Isner’s serve. I do not think Isner can continue this serving form to the finals.


Michael Says:

Regarding the Federer-Nadal match, I am so happy for Roger that he has been able to get the better of Nadal atleast this time. It was a match which was played on a Court where the conditions were pretty tough and Roger adapted to the condition very well. He played to a plan and displayed his aggressive Tennis to get the better of Nadal. Nadal’s usual strategy of frequently tormenting Roger’s backhand didn’t work this time around because it has improved a lot. Even after having two breaks in the second set, I was not sure about the outcome of the match especially when Nadal turned around a break and was close once again when Roger was serving. But somehow Roger wriggled out of the situation and served the match out. All the best to Roger. He has answered his critics who were doubting his ability against Nadal and many were not giving Roger a chance in this match despite the fact that he has played so well recently. But Roger embarrassed those critics by his performance and now may be will go all out to win this tournament. He has Isner at the other end, but Roger always plays well against big servers and the edge will go to him. I would say 65:35 in favour of Roger in the finals.


Michael Says:

Mem,

You sounded so confident the other day about Nadal’s win. But Roger has disappointed you. Sorry for that . Never discount Roger, the GREAT CHAMPION !!


Angel Says:

Where are all the stupid Rafa fans who said that Roger was going to lose for sure right now, I cannot find any. Take that.


Fot Says:

I’m happy Roger came through. However, I don’t want him to just win the SF. I want him to win in the Final against Isner too! I hope he can pay him back from the Davis Cup loss!

Go Roger!


Angel Says:

Where are you Humble Rafa?


El Flaco Says:

I thought Nadal was going to beat Federer. It will be fun to watch these guys play against each other on grass again. Maybe between Weber, Wimby and the Olympics we will see it.


Angel Says:

Where are you Nims?


Angel Says:

Oh yeah Rafa lost because of the rain, the wind, the low temperatures, all these decreased the court speed and increased the high bouncing, of course, wait a moment, didn’t this conditions favored Nadal’s game? Sorry I just don’t know too much about this.


skeezerweezer Says:

mem,

I know it was tough for you to say what you did in your post, but, I accept it and appreciate it. No raggin on you here. It was big of you and will be remembered. On to Miami!!


Angel Says:

Or was because they closed the roof in the stadium?


Michael Says:

Angel,

The conditions were the same for both the players. It was definitely tough. Nodoubt. But as top class players, you are expected to adapt to the situation and not give that as an excuse.


Michael Says:

Regarding Rafa taking that toilet break when Roger was serving for the match. Although it is allowed, I thought it was in bad taste.


mem Says:

skeezer,

not tough at all. tough for those who doesn’t understand the nature of the game.

enjoy the final!


Andrea Says:

Everyone thought nadal was going to win…I even have doubts of fed to beat him cos it really depends on roger I’ve come to realize. Nadal can out slug and out maneuver him time and time again with the righty/lefty one handed backhand deal but I really enjoyed Darren cahill’s commentary tonight about roger actually executing a different strategy. So often you see him coming to the net too early and nadal making a sublime passing shot. Not tonight. And Feds backhand is much improved. Can it stand up over 5 sets against nadal? Doubtful, unless it’s grass or fast hard courts. Nadal almost sparked to life there at the end …had he broken a second time, who knows. Looking forward to an unexpected final and although I’m rooting for fed, if isner pulls it off, what a great tournament or him.


Tennisfan Says:

Djok not so good … Fed ilookin better again. Looking forward to Fed back to no. 1 this year


mem Says:

my subject-verb agreement stinks:

should be, “those who don’t” understand…


Angel Says:

Yes Men, and your tennis knowledge also stinks from time to time, to not be very bad with you.


skeezerweezer Says:

Angel

Re: 11:41 post. No you know enough by what you posted and spot on!

El Flaco,

Me thinks this is a huge confidence bulder for Fed in his ripe old age. He can take this win with confidence onto FO and Wimby that he can beat Rafa on ANY surface. His tactcs overall was the difference, Rafa had very few FH’s ( his only weapon ) that he could dictate with, as Fed took that away. Always said, once you negate Rafa’s FH, its over. He has no other game to play with when you take away that.


Tennisfan Says:

Watching the match delayed on TV now .. and you have to laugh when people say that Nadal handles tough weather conditions better than Federer. Federer is painting the line with precision shots while Nadal at times has struggled just to meet the ball. Hilarious.


Wade Says:

Come on now Skeeze are you high Rafa has heaps of weapons. You can’t be the 3rd, 4th best player ever to play the game at present and not have just a forhand as your only weapon. Rafa has mental strength like no other player, speed, footwork, blistering passing shots and high percentage net plays which he should do more of. And lets not forget even though he lost today Rafa has still a awesome head to head against the GOAT!


Humble Rafa Says:

Where are you Humble Rafa?

Recovering from mental injury.


Sienna Says:

Wade Says:
Come on now Skeeze are you high Rafa has heaps of weapons. You can’t be the 3rd, 4th best player ever to play the game at present

If you really believe this then you are the joke.
Nadal barely makes the top 10 all time. If indeed he does because the legends pre open tennis are difficult to judge.

Nadal is among the 3 best claycourters, probably the best.


Ajet Says:

”Humble Rafa Says:
Where are you Humble Rafa?

Recovering from mental injury.”

I need a glass of beer after reading this!!!


Ajet Says:

skeeze:

Anytime fed has beaten rafa, he has fired on all cylinders!!! if fed has been indecent in even one respect, then nadal has been able to take advantage! guess why???
it’s coz nadal has everything starting from solid groundstrokes, insane passing shots, clever and calculative volleying, decent net game, speed, great return game, consistent serve, focus, concentration, mental strength, ambition and even tact at dealing with media in the for of playing down his own chances!
so i don’t agree with you that nadal can be beaten only by avoiding his FH.

In fact his underrated BH was the reason he won his greatest ever match at Wimbledon 2008 as that was firing like a missile that day and he surprised fed with insane shots from his BH even! so i believe nadal has many things that make him so tough to beat and his game is about a lot more than just a strong FH!


Michael Says:

Ajet,

Yes I agree with you. You cannot win 10 majors and 19 Masters with just a strong forehand. Nadal has a strong double handed back hand too. But it is more of a defensive weapon today than it was say from 2008 to 2010 when it was an offensive weapon. I do not know why ? But Nadal’s two handed backhand is not producing the same amount of winners he did earlier and he is just defending from that side. Regarding the service consistency of Nadal, I tend to agree. It is amazing as to how Nadal in match after match gets an excellent first serve percentage which is not possible for other players including Roger, Novak and Murray. Nadal is a great volleyer too and I wonder why he is not doing that frequently. However, all said and done, if Nadal’s invincibility has been broken off today it is only due to the one and only Novak. He made Nadal eat humble pie in match after match and that too in every important majors and Masters tournament even on Clay. That killed the self confidence of Nadal to a great extent and he is not the same player as he was in yesteryears. But still Nadal is dangerous and he can still spring a surprise with a big turn around. He is certainly capable of that.


Mark Says:

@Angel. Unfortunately for me I have been reading some of your posts and all I can say u r one stupid ignoramus so shut yr gob and go bake a cake!!!


nadalista Says:

Ajet,

Here is a list of asjectives I have compiled to describe your comments, as a Fedfan, now and again:
1. Flaky;
2. Rude;
3. Jingoistic;
4. Emotional.

However, one adjective not on the list which I think describes you best is: FAIR.

Chapeau!!!


Ajet Says:

ok nadalista! ;)


rogerafa Says:

@ mem and skeeze

Kudos to both of you!


skeezerweezer Says:

Re; my 1:07 post

Ok, ok allow me to clarify. Of course Rafa has more to his game than his FH. But throughout his career he counts on that one stroke to dictate and His whole game is set up around that. When you negate it or keep it under control (ala Djoker) you beat Rafa.


nadalista Says:

………..on to Miami, let’s see what transpires there!


nadalista Says:

…….it’s the same “post Fed win over Rafa” euphoria by some Fed fans, such as the one we saw post WTF2010, WTF2011………Fed is going back to #1, he finally has the measure of Rafa, will take over the universe! On and on and on………but in a way, I feel them…

The more circumspect Fedfan sees a Fed win such as the IW semis win over Rafa for what it is: a good win on the day, full stop.


skeezerweezer Says:

^sour grapes. Give it up Nadalista your guy has many more titiles ahead, and he’ll probably take Miami anf is always the fav for FO. Yesterday Fed was the better man, he deserves the props, and tomorrow is another day.


nadalista Says:

^^^^0h come, come skeezerweezer…..just because I refuse to buy into some Fed cultists view that every Fed victory over Rafa is the parting of the red sea!

No sour grapes there, just cold reality, mate. Fed won, better man on the day, end of. However, win does not make him fav for RG, Wimby or his next match against Rafa. No personal insults from me directed at Fed, no denigration of his game. No need. I leave that to you guys vis a vis Rafa.

On, on to Miami!! Vamos!!!!!!!!!!!!!


skeezerweezer Says:

^ no you have plenty of your Rafa cultists do that for u. Who said parting of the red sea, lol?
BTW, I am not “on” to Miami yet, there is an exciting final to watch.


Ajet Says:

how can i forget to say that isner has done remarkably well in the last 10-12 months! very well done big boy!


nadalista Says:

Skeezerweezer,

I will be watching the, ehm, “exciting” final hoping for Fed to wear Izzy down so Rafa/Mac can feed on his carcass in the dubs!!

You would remind me of the “exciting final” wouldn’t you? You wouldn’t be gloating, would you…..


mem Says:

Angel,

i’m glad i am able to inspire you to read!

just for the record, roger also beat nadal 6:3, 6:0 in london and to most fans that too was suppose to a “turning point” in the rivalry, but we all know what happened after that. wins and losses are a part of the sport and no player is exempted from losses, not even nadal or federer.

my point is, i don’t view wins and losses with wishful thinking, emotions, personal feelings, sentiments the way you people do. the reason why you guys are always so shocked when something occurs like isner defeating djokovic is because you think matches are won based on this stuff sean randall, tom gainey, fans and others predict on this blog. let me the first to tell you predictions are not guaranteed and no match is won before it’s played.

i must admit, i do get a kick out of reading your unbelievable drivel.


skeezerweezer Says:

Nadalista,

Totally did a fly by about Rafa being in the doubs finals :-\ Yeah that should be very cool Isner/Rafa in the doubs finals. Hope they put it on the Tele. I’ll watch that!


Sienna Says:

Nobody can deny it anymore. In the worst windy condition (OUTDOOR!!) The single handed backhand holds up to the doublehander.
TMF is back and he’s got the key.
He finally confronted Nadal the way he needs to do. From an underdog situated position. When he does this trick from now we will see more wins from Roger then Rafa in this rivalry.


Steve 27 Says:

sienna, we have to wait. Every match is so different and the history rewrites every moment.

Top story: Rafael Nadal: I'm Not Happy About Today, I'm Not Happy With How I Played
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