CHINA OPEN 2013
Isner Eyeing Big Finish
by Kate Flory|
It may not be too late for John Isner to yet secure one of the coveted eight spots at the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals. While the tennis world was watching with awe at Rafael Nadal’s summer domination in North America, top American Isner was right behind, putting together arguably the best stretch of his career. It could be just the catalyst the 6’10’’ American needed to squeeze into the year-end Top 8.
“I certainly believe in myself and it would be an unbelievable experience to make that tournament,” Isner told ATPWorldTour.com on Tuesday at the China Open in Beijing. The right-hander is currently 13th in the Emirates ATP Race To London, but has the chance to make up ground with two ATP World Tour Masters 1000 tournaments still to play.
“I’m aware of the situation a little bit. The guys that are just ahead of me are actually quite a bit ahead of me as far as points go. But I do have tournaments and time to try to make that up. I would absolutely love to go there; I’ve never been there before. So, for me, I’ve just got to focus and control what I can control. It’s a cliché, but take it each match at a time and see if I can put together some good results like I did this summer.”
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After an indifferent first six months of the campaign, marred by injury complications, Isner went on a tear on the North American hard courts. After a semi-final showing in Newport, he won his seventh ATP World Tour title in Atlanta (d. Anderson) and reached the finals in Washington (l. to del Potro) and Cincinnati (l. to Nadal), beating Novak Djokovic and Juan Martin del Potro en route. He rounded out the summer with a third-round showing at the US Open.
“It was one of the best spells of my career,” said Isner. “I’ve probably had two or three stretches that have been very, very good in my career and this certainly was one of them. I feel like I’ve always worked hard, but things just clicked for me. I was able to get some wins under my belt and from that gain a lot of confidence.
“The past two-three seasons I’ve sort of saved my season when the summer comes around with the tournaments in the US. That’s where I always seem to play my best. That’s where I’m very comfortable. This year was no different. I had a fantastic summer. I’m very proud of that. I feel like I’ve set myself up in a pretty good spot to hopefully get back in the Top 10 and see what I can do from there.”
Isner made a winning start to his Asian swing with a hard-fought 5-7, 7-6(4), 6-3 victory over Chinese wild card Di Wu, rallying from a 1-4 deficit in the second set tie-break. Victory marked the 200th win of his career.
“It’s a nice milestone to reach,” said Isner. “I’ve been playing for six years now, ever since I left college. So, if you think about it, it’s a good amount of wins. I’m pretty proud of that and glad I was able to get to it. It’s not something I really think about, but I knew I was one away. I’m glad to get there and hope I can get to 300.
“I knew it was going to be tough. It’s a case where I’ve been off for four weeks with no match. I definitely enjoyed my time off, but at the same time, I knew it wasn’t going to be easy. Those are matches that for me, after a long lay-off, I need to get through. Winning a tight match like that, a match that I could have lost, it’ll serve me well for the rest of this tournament and in Shanghai next week.”