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Why They'll Win, Why They Won't: John Isner

Saturday, August 24, 2013 /by

Isner appears to be peaking at the perfect time. Winless against Top 10 opponents for the first seven months of the year, the 6-foot-10 American knocked off three Top 10 opponents in a row in Cincinnati for the first time in his career, including former US Open champions Novak Djokovic and Juan Martin del Potro. Isner reached the final, where he did not face a break point falling to Rafael Nadal. Facing Isner when his booming serve is landing is like playing beneath a microscope—every mistake you make is magnified by the foreboding sense that if you drop serve once, you’re done. Isner has the explosive weapons to dictate play, but his ability to sneak out service breaks and stamina in the sometimes scorching New York City conditions will be major factors in determining his Open success.

Why He’ll Win: His authoritative serve can take the racquet out of opponents’ hands. Isner leads the ATP in aces and tiebreakers won, he’s shown fine feel around net and he’s at his best on American soil.

Why He Won’t: Isner’s return is feeble: His 12 percent return games won is the worst of any Top 50 player. Playing six tournaments since Wimbledon may well leave the big man too depleted for a deep run in New York.

Bottom Line: If the 2011 US Open quarterfinalist can scrape out some breaks—and avoid expending too much energy in the early rounds—a return to the last eight is well within his expansive reach.

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