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Isner Leaves Cincinnati With 'Head Held High'

Cincinnati, U.S.A.

Isner© Getty ImagesJohn Isner was the first unseeded player to reach the Cincinnati final since 2006.

John Isner is leaving Cincinnati with his "head up high" after giving Rafael Nadal a tough battle in the final of the Western & Southern Open on Sunday.

The top-ranked American was happy with his performance in the Cincinnati final, won 7-6(8), 7-6(3) by Nadal in just under two hours.

"I thought I actually played very well, but unfortunately for me I ran up against one of the - in my opinion - one of the greatest tennis players of all time," Isner told the crowds afterwards. "I beat three Top 10 guys. I couldn't beat four but... I can certainly hold my head up high when I sit back and reflect on this tournament."

The performance will move Isner to No. 14 in the Emirates ATP Rankings, a week after he fell to No. 22 to leave no Americans in the Top 20 for the first time.

"It feels really good. I've said before this is actually the toughest tournament in the world. The draw is much smaller than a Grand Slam, everybody in this tournament is Top 50 in the world," he said.

Isner now heads to his home state of North Carolina to play the Winston-Salem Open, where he will be attempting to win the tournament for the third straight time. 

And there is another contest between Isner and Nadal that is not yet over. Nadal overtook Isner in the Emirates Airline US Open Series standings after Sunday's final, but Isner has the chance to snatch back the lead and win the Series if he can reach the semi-finals next week. The winner of the Series can win up to a $1 million bonus at the US Open.

After an injury-plagued first half of the year, Isner has turned his results around this summer, reaching the Washington final and winning Atlanta before his unseeded run to the final in Cincinnati. The man who won the longest match in history will try to complete another marathon effort at Winston-Salem, his fifth tournament in as many weeks.

"I have played a lot of matches, but when you're playing a lot of matches, it's a good problem to have," he said.

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