Each week, Baseline will take a look at a player who has thrived at one of the stops on the ATP and WTA tours during their career.
For the better part of a decade, the stretch of tournaments between Wimbledon and the US Open has been John Isner’s time to shine, with his run usually starting at the Hall of Fame Open in Newport, RI, where he’s won four of his 15 career singles titles.
It wasn’t always a graceful glide across the grass courts for the American. Having turned pro in 2007, the former University of Georgia standout made his ATP main draw debut in Newport that year and was bounced out of the first round by the veteran Belgian Dick Norman. A few weeks after that, though, Isner reached his first career final in Washington, DC, to announce his arrival as a player to watch.
Making steady gains up the rankings from there, he returned to Rhode Island in 2008, but once again, fell in the first round, this time to Jesse Levine. Missing the tournament over the next couple of years, Isner came back in 2011 as a different player, having captured his first career title in 2010 and reaching three other finals. This time, the 6’10” American entered Newport as the top seed and advanced to the championship match, where he faced the 5’6” Belgian Olivier Rochus. In their only other meeting, in 2009 in the qualifying rounds in Miami, Isner won in straight sets. He repeated that feat here to claim his second career title and become the first top seed in tournament history to win.
Sitting atop the draw once again in 2012, Isner defended his title, defeating former world No. 1 and 2002 Wimbledon champion Lleyton Hewitt in straight sets.