After four outstanding years of playing college tennis at the University of Georgia, John Isner was given a wildcard into the 2007 U.S. Open men’s singles, where he won his first two matches. Last week, as news of Andy Roddick’s retirement shook the Open, the media immediately began predicting who would take his place as tennis’ new golden boy—and The New York Times put Isner at the top of the list. Not only does Isner outrank Roddick as the number one American tennis player, he’s also ninth in the world. To boot, Isner earned a spot as a representative of the United States at Davis Cup and in the London Olympics, where he was the last remaining American in the men’s singles before his quarterfinal loss to Roger Federer. Professional accolades aside, the 6’9” North Carolina-born tennis star is well known for being a southern gentleman. We experienced his charm firsthand as we sat down for a chat between matches at the U.S. Open.
What about the U.S. Open do you look forward to most?
JOHN ISNER: It would have to be the fans and the atmosphere at the [USTA Billie Jean King] National
Tennis Center. There’s something about being an American player here. This is the tournament we want to play our best at because we have the most crowd support.
It’s been five years since you got the wildcard in here. How is this year different?
JI: It’s been very different. I didn’t think I would have ever, ever done this well. It’s been an unbelievable experience for me ever since my days at Georgia. I also know that without Georgia, I wouldn’t be here at all.
Do you think you’ll surpass your quarterfinal finish from last year?
JI: It’s all been a surprise, but now that I am where I am in the rankings as one of top players in the world, I think I can go even higher.
Have you had any great meals or nights out while you’re here in New York for the Open?
JI: Well, we’re in New York City, so any type of food that you have a hankering for you can normally find. One of my favorite places is Les Halles; it’s a French restaurant. I’ve been there a million times, but I’m a fan of everything. I love Indian food, and there’s an Argentinian steakhouse I like.
If you had a free day to spend in New York, what would you do?
JI: I would probably want to catch a Yankees game. I’ve been to Yankee Stadium before—both the old and the new—and I’d like to go again.