John Isner: ‘Always looking to add things’

John Isner

FROM INDIAN WELLS – The US men only have one left in California, John Isner, who has banged himself into the quarters. He did very quietly, for whatever reason, as he has gone deep here before, but in the first two months, he was struggling and losing his touch.

However, in the desert, he began to pick himself up, not becoming upset when he is missing his shots, but to re-set in the next point. Now he has won three in a row, which is important, because he can drop his chin down and mope if he is losing. He has won an ATP 1000 last year, in Miami, the first time that the 33-year-old finally did it. He has yet to reach in the final at a Grand Slam, and each year, it gets harder and harder to achieve. Bu,t he is still trying to add some new shots and better shots, like his backhand and his return.

“I’m always looking to add things. You don’t want to ever rest on your laurels or get pretty stagnant as far as training goes,” Isner said. “I have implemented some of those this week. Some of it comes from me, some of it comes from my coaches, and we just collaborate on that. It’s very important, as you get older to keep trying to add things, because it doesn’t necessarily get easier as you get older, especially into your 30s. And I’m no different, as well. I’m constantly evolving, and I think I still have some very good tennis ahead of me.”

He realizes that if he has an opportunity, he has to attack immediately. He isn’t quick, as he is very tall, but when he manages to get close at the net, he can put it away, even if he has to bend low. Perhaps the most important thing for Isner to improve is his return, on the first and the second serve. He rarely breaks.

“I think just taking time away from my opponents is very important, and that’s taking the ball early and coming in off of it, even if it doesn’t necessarily seem like an approach shot. The greatest ever to do that is Roger [Federer], how early he takes the ball,” he said. “You know, a lot of the guys I’m playing against are so fast. So, if I can just take a split second away from them, I can go a long way.”

On Wednesday he will face the No. 12 Karen Khachanov, a Russian who is very steady. There will be more pressure on Isner.

Venus’ hot streak

Venus Williams has not been playing much over the past couple of months, which is unusual for her. She is 38 years old, and over the past couple years, she can break down physically. Here, she won four fine matches, upsetting Petra Kvitova, and beating Christina McHale and Mona Barthel. She may not be 100 percent physically, but good enough.

“I think once I walk out there on the court, that’s my main focus, what I need to achieve in that match and I try to block anything else out. I need to do what I want. And what I want is to play the tournaments I want to play,” Venus said.

However, this year, she is cutting down the tournaments. Maybe she will continue to play until she is 40 year olds, or even later. Or if she gets significantly hurt, she could retire. It is a toss-up. But, she will not play all the time, as she has done it during the past 21 years.

“Probably somewhere around 12 [tournaments],” she said. Venus will face Angie Kerber on Thursday. That should be a bang-up match.

Bye, bye No. 1s

It has been highly unusual that the top players have lost before the semis. It happens once and a while, But, on Tuesday, guess who lost? Two of the No. 1s: Novak Djokovic and Naomi Osaka, the former No. 1 Simona Halep, and the former 2016 US Open finalist Kei Nishikori, along with the 2016 US Open champ Martin Cilic. That is unusual in the desert and it may never occur again, over in the next 100 years.