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September 2, 2018

John Isner

New York, NY, USA

J. ISNER/M. Raonic

3-6, 6-3, 6-4, 3-6, 6-2

THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. You seem to have so much more than the big serves these days. How much more mentally tough do you feel?
JOHN ISNER: I feel very mentally tough. I think this year, since Miami of course, I really turned a corner there. There are some matches I've played where I only just rely on my serve. But I think more times than not this year I've shown some other ability. That comes from just being relaxed on the court. It's not a product of more reps and more practice. The mental part of the game, being able to free up on the tennis court is much easier said than done. I've been able to, for the most part this year, do a pretty good job of that.

In the past, that's what's held me back.

Q. Married life help there?
JOHN ISNER: I think so. That could be the case. Having a stable life back home, it does help a lot.

Q. Sometimes a guy wins a big tournament, there's a dropoff after that. Your level has been high consistently. Are you driving yourself to remind yourself that you're not done yet or is it flowing naturally at a high level?
JOHN ISNER: It's been flowing naturally since Miami. After Wimbledon, that was very tough. I was beat up mentally and physically from that match. It was also a very good result for me. Even though it was tough to lose that match in the fashion that I did, it was still a very encouraging result. I took a lot of positives from that tournament.

I think I carried that on into this summer. I won Atlanta again. I think after that I got pretty tired, though. It showed in the subsequent tournaments: Washington, Toronto and Cincy. I think losing early in Cincy was a big blessing in disguise. You always have to try to find the silver lining in things. The silver lining was that I got back home to Dallas, I had nine or 10 days to regroup and rest, continue to train, get ready for this event.

I got up here on Thursday, feeling fresh physically and mentally. That's been a big key as to why I've played well so far at this tournament.

Q. Biggest upset of the Open is you're sitting in front of a five-set scoreline that has no 7s in it. It didn't go at all like people expected.
JOHN ISNER: Yeah, no, it didn't. I think from the get-go, the match sort of took a different course with me getting down 3-0, losing that set pretty quickly, probably 30 minutes. But then the second set I got up 3-0. It was just a case of sometimes matches take shape like that.

Fortunately for me there were no tiebreaks. There wasn't one in the fifth. That's a high-pressure situation. I would have relished it if that moment did come, but I was able to win in a little bit easier fashion.

I spoke with my coaches. Everyone was expecting maybe five tiebreakers. If that's the case, so be it. But I didn't go out there expecting that. I knew that I could try to impose myself as best as I possibly could, try to do it without winning with a 7 on the ledger.

Q. You've had so many different phases playing the US Open. How has your relationship to the tournament altered over the years?
JOHN ISNER: I don't think my relationship's altered. I've won some incredible matches, I've lost some matches in front of -- on that big court, Armstrong, in front of big crowds. Lost last year on Ashe in a night match. It's disappointing not to have played my best in the big moments when the big crowd watching. So that's disappointing to walk off the court as a loser, knowing a lot of the fans had been cheering for me.

Today was different. Felt a lot of support. It helps so much. Adrenaline plays a huge part in tennis, especially at a tournament like this for an American like myself. My relationship has always been amazing with this tournament. The fans are incredible. I'd love to have them on my side in the next one.

Q. What makes you a different player than '11?
JOHN ISNER: I think I'm better. Physically I'm stronger, wiser, I have a lot of experience on my side. I'm feeling really good. Just in a good place, happy. I'm really enjoying competing, not putting too much pressure on myself. To do that at 33 now is pretty cool.

Q. Did you work with Justin and your other coaches on being more calm?
JOHN ISNER: I haven't really worked with, like, a mental coach or anything. The coaches that I have have done an incredible job with me, obviously the stuff we work on on the court. Even more importantly than that, the stuff we talk about off the court, getting myself in the right mindset.

Justin has been a huge help to me. But the man that doesn't get much publicity is David Macpherson. He's the most underrated guy in tennis, in my opinion. Incredible coach. Glad to have him on my side.

Q. What's his strength?
JOHN ISNER: He knows the game really well. He knows me really well personally. I knows how to give me the right information at the right time. He knows when to back off. He just knows how I am. We have a lot in common. We play Fantasy Baseball together. We enjoy each other a lot. He has a great personality.

When we started working together I guess about two and a half years ago I knew it was a very good fit for me.

Q. Your wife went home already.
JOHN ISNER: She hasn't been here at all. Doctor's orders.

Q. The due date is still the due date?
JOHN ISNER: On the 22nd. It's the 2nd right now. I've been talking to mothers a lot, asking them, especially on their first kid, and I've heard anywhere from a month early to three weeks late or anywhere in between.

Again, cannot control that. That's definitely the most important thing going on right now in my life, more important than this tournament. But as long as that baby is still in her belly, I'll be here.

Q. Was there talk about her coming for the first few days?
JOHN ISNER: No. I guess after 35, 36 weeks, she needs to stay home in Dallas. I'm glad she is. She needs to be rested, be with her family.

Q. When it comes to playing on big stages like this, what's most important to you in terms of dealing with the pressure?
JOHN ISNER: Yeah, well, it's a lot of pressure, of course. It's awesome to have the crowd on your side. At the same time it can add a little bit of pressure, as you said. There's been some times where I haven't played so well in front of a big crowd cheering for me.

I think the most important thing is the maturity I've gained over the years, being in that situation before, falling short. I stayed hungry. I've always stayed hungry. I've always wanted to get back in atmospheres like that.

I think a big breakthrough moment for me was in Miami. It was a huge match. I was able to win in three sets. That helps a lot.

I think it showed today, I won today in five sets, I won my second match in five sets, as well. I'm really just enjoying the big moments out there. I guess, look, you can't replicate moments like that. They don't come around too often. I want to make the most of it.

Q. Your next opponent might be del Potro. What is your history with him and what's been the difference in the series?
JOHN ISNER: It could be him. I do think he's going to have a very tough match tonight. If it is him, it will be a tough test for me, for sure. I don't know how many times we've played. I think he's beaten me more than I've beaten him.

It's a matchup that I sort of enjoy. He's one of the best players in the world. Got to step up your game against a player like that. If I do play him, there's some things I can look at for sure. I think the last time we played on hard court was in Miami and I played exceptionally well there. Try to draw a lot of positives from that.

At the same time I do know he was a little bit gassed in that match. If I am playing him, he'll have a full tank of energy. It will be a very tough ask for me, but one I'll be looking forward to.

Q. At this stage of his career, how would you describe his weapons?
JOHN ISNER: We all know his weapons. From his left wrist injury, he's got a slice backhand that's really good now. That's from him working on that all the time. We all know about his serve. Of course we all know about his forehand. But he's added a really, really good slice backhand to his game. I if I that's one of the reasons he's back to top five at No. 3 in the world.

Q. A general question about tiebreaks. I know there were none today, but you've obviously got a great record in tiebreaks. How do you go into a tiebreak mentally? Do you take a tiebreak differently to a normal game, for example? What's the key to winning a tiebreak?
JOHN ISNER: Yeah, I do. I know it's a shortened situation. In a sense it does favor me. In a tiebreaker, you generally have a lot of adrenaline running through. It's all about just holding your serve, trying to hold two serves at a time, trying to stay ahead in the tiebreaker, constantly put pressure on my opponent.

With the way I play, how I can win points quickly on my serve, it then puts the pressure back on my opponent. I think just from the product of my game I have that going for me in tiebreakers.

Q. You mentioned how much you love the old Armstrong. What are your thoughts about the new stadium?
JOHN ISNER: Oh, man, that was incredible. Unbelievable court. I'd like to play there again in a few days. I don't know if that's possible. That was fun. I played three matches on Grandstand, which is an incredible court. I don't think it compares to that one. That new Armstrong court is very special. I'm glad I got to play out there today.

Q. If it is Coric, thoughts on that? And are you planning on playing Davis Cup?
JOHN ISNER: No, I'm planning on not going to Davis Cup. I mean, I don't know if that's a secret or whatnot. Look, it doesn't look like I'm going to be there. I definitely have a lot more important things going on. I wish I could be there, but I can't.

I have played him twice, once was at Davis Cup a few years ago in Oregon. He's a totally different player now than he was two years ago. He's 20 in the world or whatever. He's improved so much this year. He's a hard worker. He's got an all-around game, very good game. If it is him, again, that will be very, very tough because he's an incredible player, in my opinion.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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