American John Isner is looking at a great opportunity as he prepares for the U.S. Open, set to begin Monday, August 27 in New York. Isner has had a good 2012 season, reaching several key career marks along the way. But he needs a good showing at the Open to truly make this season a great one.
Isner won the ATP event in Winston-Salem on Saturday for the second straight year, knocking off two top-ten players on the way to the title. After scoring an impressive three-set win over top-seeded Jo Wilfried Tsonga in the semifinals, Isner came from a set down and saved several match points in his 3-6, 6-4, 7-6 (9) win over Tomas Berdych.
Isner now has two wins this season and five over his career. It was the fourth final Isner has played on tour this year. He lost finals in Indian Wells and Houston earlier this season.
Isner has reached several key milestones this season. He cracked the top-10 of the world rankings for the first time this year and reached a career high of #9 on April 16. He scored a big Davis Cup win over Roger Federer in February, and he represented his country for the first time as an Olympic athlete at the London Games earlier this summer.
But there is a big difference between scoring a win in Newport or Winston-Salem and marching deep into a Grand Slam event, and Isner hasn't had the best results in the majors this year. He lost in the first round at Wimbledon and the second round at Roland Garros. In January Isner won two matches at the Australian Open before losing in the third round to Spaniard Feliciano Lopez. In the Olympic tournament he reached the quarters before losing to eventual runner-up Roger Federer.
Fans of the tall, genial player are hoping he can top his run to the quarterfinals at last year's U.S. Open. Isner beat Gilles Simon in the round of 16 before losing to Andy Murray in the quarters in 2011. This year he again comes into the year's final Grand Slam playing good tennis. Since his early exit at Wimbledon he is 18-3 with two titles.
There's no question Isner has had a very good season. His two titles, 41 singles match wins and $1.1 million in (singles) prize money all match or top previous career highs. Great players shine at the Grand Slams, however, and a deep run at the U.S. Open, playing before the frenetic crowds in New York, could truly make 2012 a season to remember.
Brad Boeker has been a fan of professional tennis for over 30 years. He coaches high school tennis in Illinois.