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John Isner: 5lb Dumbells Aid My Serve

Isner© Getty ImagesIsner is trying to get back his form after returning from a right knee injury.

In 2012, John Isner had his best season on the ATP World Tour, cracking the Top 10 of the Emirates ATP Rankings, defeating a World No. 1 for the first time and playing the role of hero for the United States in the Davis Cup.

Looking to build off his success this year, Isner was dealt a curveball. Feeling discomfort in his right knee after losing his season opener in Sydney, it was discovered Isner had a bone bruise, causing him to withdraw from the first major event of the season, the Australian Open.

The 27 year old has spent much of the past month coping with the intricacies of the quirky injury in his return to action. ATPWorldTour.com sat down with the 6’ 9’’ American to talk about how he’s handled the process, the secret to his monster serve and more as part of Compeed's Form & Fitness series…

Compeed 

Have you undergone any changes in preparation since returning from the knee injury, such as more warm-up exercises and stretching?
I have. I’ve been doing more of both. The unfortunate thing with my injury is you can’t really rehab what I had. I had a bruise on the bone, so the only thing for it was rest. I also iced five to six times a day, but I couldn’t do much otherwise. When you’re sitting idle for a little bit, you feel like you’re losing your form. And that’s what I’m trying to get back.

Did you have an injury similar to this previously, either as a junior or in college, or is this a first-time occurrence for you?
This is the first time I’ve had anything like this. I’ve been pretty fortunate throughout my career. I haven’t had any serious injuries. I sprained my ankle once, but this knee injury is the first that caused me to miss an extended period of time.

So how did this injury compare to your past ones then, given the recovery time and process?
It was frustrating, because I could walk around and not feel it at all. From that, I would tell myself I could go out, run and play tennis. But that wasn’t the case. I wasn’t able to put much weight on my knee. It gave me some false hope when I was walking and doing nothing.

In San Jose, you talked about problems with leg room on airplanes. Do you do anything during and/or after long flights to keep yourself loose?
I like to sweat in some shape or form. So after landing, I like to go out and practice to get the trip out of my system.

What area(s) of fitness do you believe you have to work on more due to being taller?
I have to keep my legs as strong as possible. I’ve focused on it for a very long time. Being so tall, I feel like the stronger my legs are, the more fit I am, which allows me to move better around the court.

You were the ATP World Tour leader in aces last season. What’s the secret to your cannon of an arm?
I stretch it a lot, but I also do a lot of shoulder strengthening exercises. It doesn’t involve a lot of heavy lifting. Sometimes, it’s just five pounds in my hands, with a lot of reps. That’s what I focus on.

Which improvement on the court, whether it is a shot or an area of fitness, contributed the greatest to you reaching the Top 10 last year and ultimately becoming the top-ranked American on the ATP World Tour?
I don’t know if there was one shot. It was more the mental side of my game and having more belief. My game is my game. I’m always going to serve well and hope to hit my forehand well. When I’m very confident, I feel like I’m a tough player to beat. The belief is something I’ve developed over time. I’ve gotten to the point now in my career where I really do believe I can beat anyone, no matter who is on the other side of the net.

What is an exercise or stretch you’d recommend a recreational player add into their training program?
I would say before exercising, do some calisthenics and focus on warming up your legs. I do some exercises for my core too. It loosens up your body and gets a sweat going.

Which player on tour do you think…
Has the greatest muscular endurance?
Rafael Nadal
Has the best balance? Roger Federer
Is the most flexible? Novak Djokovic
Has the strongest core? Novak Djokovic
Is the quickest? Rafael Nadal
Has the best footwork? Roger Federer
 

- COMPEED is an official supplier of the ATP.

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