As the last American man standing as the US Open, you would hope the New York crowd would be 100% behind him as he took on No. 2 seed Roger Federer at Arthur Ashe Stadium.
Yet, the fickle Flushing faithful mixed it up a little bit.
“If I was playing anyone else, the crowd I think would have been more behind me. But Roger, you know, he’s a legend, living legend, still going,” Isner said. “I expected the crowd to be into it on both sides. I don’t think there was really a favorite. I mean, okay, yeah, if it was 100% on my side, that would be nice. But I understand that people pay a lot of money to see that guy play. So it’s all good.”
Maybe if he broke Federer at least one, but to no avail. The Maestro won the contest 7-6,7-6,7-5 only breaking Isner on the last game of the match.
“Would have put me to even have felt better (not break him), to be quite honest,” Federer said. “To win three tiebreakers against John would have been probably a better feeling than breaking him. I don’t know if it makes sense for you, but for me it does.”
In all honesty, it would have taken a perfect match for Isner to move onto the quarterfinals. At 34, Federer is just too good. The Maestro kept his poise on the humid night waiting to pounce during the tiebreakers.
In the first set, the tiebreak was all Federer, winning 7-0. It was the first time Isner had a bagel in a tiebreaker.
“So there you go,” Isner said. “Yeah, that was surprising. At 6-0 it’s hopeless, you know. So, yeah, that was a lot on me. He had a lot to do with that, as well. Could have been much better.
“The second-set tiebreaker I played well, put myself in position to win that. I think I was serving at 5-3, so… Didn’t get it done.”
That’s the story of this match. Isner just couldn’t get it done. He had his chances to break Federer and possibly upset him, but in the end, the Maestro was just too much for him.
“Seems to me that he stays the course, doesn’t get too rattled,” Isner said. “He had a lot of chances to break me. He was one for something. But he had some chances to kind of break the match open a little bit and didn’t. But he stayed calm and composed, and he stuck with it. He always seems to do that. You know, he doesn’t beat himself really. To beat him, you got to go out and do it.”
Now Isner will take some time and concentrate on making London. A good year will become better if he has a strong Fall season.
“I do have a little bit of a break with Davis Cup not being on the schedule,” he said. “But, yeah, I’m going to go for it, for sure. There’s a lot of big tournaments ahead in the fall. Try to get my body right to make a serious run for that.
“I know it’s tough, but it’s also doable. It would be incredible for me to be able to make that. So I’m going to keep working hard, do the right things, go out there in Asia and Europe and try to get it done.”
As for Federer, it’s onto the Quarterfinals and a date with Richard Gasquet, who beat No. 6 seed Tomas Berdych yesterday, 2-6, 6-3, 6-4, 6-1.
“I’m not sure if I’ve seen maybe Gasquet play as well as he has right now,” Federer said. “I really like the way he played in Wimbledon, and also now here. I haven’t seen that much. But the match I saw that he played against Stan and Novak at Wimbledon was impressive. He had a good attitude. He was fighting. Good shot selection. I don’t know, it was nice, you know.
“Now he’s backing it up. I’m sure he gained confidence from Wimbledon. That’s why I expect it to be tougher than maybe in previous years against him or previous times. I know he can play much better at Davis Cup. I know I played very well, as well. Still I expected him to be tougher there, because I beat him in straight sets. I don’t know, he kind of went away. In Dubai, of course, he was injured. That doesn’t count. I don’t remember when I played him the last times.
“I feel like this could be one of the tougher Gasquets I’ve played in previous years, so I expect it to be difficult.”