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Isner To Play Entire Emirates Airline US Open Series

Isner© Getty ImagesJohn Isner is the BB&T Atlanta defending champion.

The 2014 Emirates Airline US Open Series, a five-week showcase of the world's best tennis players on the hard courts of North America, starts off on Monday with the BB&T Atlanta Open in Atlanta, where World No. 12 John Isner is the defending champion and top seed.

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This year marks the 11th year of the Series, which links five ATP World Tour events to the US Open in August. The tournaments, in order, are Atlanta, the Citi Open (Washington D.C.), Rogers Cup (Toronto), Western & Southern Open - Cincinnati and the Winston-Salem Open.

Isner, the top American, is entered in all of the back-to-back events, and expressed no qualms about stacking his schedule ahead of the year’s final Grand Slam tournament.

“It's been a stretch of the season where in the past I've done extremely well, and it's sort of helped my season out quite a bit,” explained Isner, a winner of eight ATP World Tour titles. “The main goal is you want to play a lot of matches, you want to win a lot of matches.”

Last season, Isner claimed the Atlanta title over Kevin Anderson, and reached the finals in Washington D.C. (l. to del Potro) and Cincinnati (l. to Nadal). In the past three years, the 29 year old has finished in the top three of the Emirates Airline US Open Series standings, a performance-based points system that awards up to up to $1 million in bonus prize money per player at the US Open.

Isner refers to two stops of the Series as “hometown tournaments” – the BB&T Atlanta Open, where he has an impressive 12-3 record, and the Winston-Salem Open, where he is a two-time champion – but the Citi Open is also near to his heart. Isner received one of his early breakthroughs in Washington D.C. after graduating from the University of Georgia seven years ago.

“It's definitely one of the most special [tournaments] for me. I was lucky enough to get a last-minute wild card in 2007. If I remember correctly, Fernando Gonzalez pulled out or something and I was able to get a wild card,” recalled Isner of his runner-up finish to Andy Roddick that year.

“I remember entering that tournament and I had just won my first Challenger, so I was fresh out of college," Isner continued. "I had absolutely nothing to lose, and that's how I played that week, and I made the final. It helped me out so much. I sort of made a name for myself, and got my ranking up there pretty high really quickly.”

The Greensboro native expects his fellow Americans to fare well in the upcoming swing.

"I think Sam Querrey can [do well]. I think a guy like Jack Sock can, maybe a player like Steve Johnson can. It's an advantage for us playing at home. We're going to have the crowd on our side and most American players generally play better on hard courts since this is the surface we've played the most on growing up," said Isner.

"I expect a handful of or a lot of American players to play well this summer and carry that momentum into the US Open."

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