That sound you hear is probably one of two things: the whooopf of the tennis ball passing by John Isner's opponents in the Austrailian Open...or the rest of the world coming to realize what we already knew....Isner is a real Dawg on the court.
Currently, the former Georgia tennis star stands behind only Andy Roddick as the top American netter. And it wasn't too long ago that Isner defeated Roddick in Flushing Meadows. Isner used the momentum from that US Open stunner to train very hard in the off season. He hired a new coach in Craig Boynton and started 2010 off with his first tournament win in Auckland last weekend. (sidenote: John donated $5,000 of his first career title earnings to Haiti Relief Funds)
Suddenly, Isner isn't just the giant with the huge serve. He has a well rounded game, most notably a much improved backhand. At his size (6'9") it becomes even more important for him to maintain accurate and consistent groundstrokes against smaller and more fleet of foot opponents.
And Isner is doing just that. With a strong open to the season, Isner has stretched his career record to 51-42. Perhaps a bit tired from just getting off the plane from New Zealand, Isner needed all five sets to outlast Italy's Andreas Seppi in the Austrailian Open's first round. In the second he took out Ireland's Louk Sorensen and then defeated France's Monfils in four sets Friday.
His reward for being undefeated in 2010...a fourth round match against one of tennis' most well-rounded players, Andy Murray. Neither Isner nor Murray have won a grand slam, and both are legitimate threats in this year's Australian. The winner of the match will face either Ivo Karlovic or Rafa Nadal in the quarter finals, both of whom are beatable on Melbourne's hard surface.
While advancing through the field in New York last September, you could hear many fans barking in between points. Isner's not enjoying nearly as much fan support Down Under, but it doesn't seem to be phasing the player who is used to raucous Dan Magill crowds during NCAA tourneys.
So tune into the Tennis Channel for live coverage of Isner tonight at 7pm, ESPN2 for late coverage and lend your bark from afar. If you don't have those, try the livestream at TennisChannel.com. You may even hear Patrick McEnroe talk about SEC fans' enthusiasm for sports. Isner's an emerging star in the world of tennis and he's a great ambassador for the University of Georgia. He frequently sports the G during pre and post match interviews and has a dog named Magill. In a sport filled with pampered prima-donnas, Isner stands heads and shoulders above the rest, proudly bleeding red and black.
Beforehand, you can check out these related readings:
- John Isner's Official Website
- Australian Open Website
- A UK blog post on Isner's next victim, Andy Murray
- Isner wins first ATP Title
- Isner/Murray preview by the Daily Mail
- some bloglove from Fanhouse