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November 16, 2018

John Isner

London, England, United Kingdom

A. ZVEREV/J. Isner

7-6, 6-3

THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. It's been a rough couple of days. Sum up how you're feeling, how this week has been.
JOHN ISNER: Yeah, I mean, look, it didn't go as planned. You make this tournament, you want to do a little bit better. But at the same time this is no normal event. You're up against the absolute best in the world.

Certainly just came up short against players that were better than me this week. So I gave it my all. I mean, there's definitely some things I could have done better. Didn't come into this tournament with that much momentum. I think that maybe showed a little bit.

Q. It looked like you played this in really good spirits with Alex. Give us some thoughts on how he played, how you see his chances going forward.
JOHN ISNER: Yeah, everyone knows how good he is, how much of a complete player he is. In order for me to beat him, I have to out-serve him, and I didn't do that today. He served pretty well, I thought. I mean, I felt like he aced me a bunch and stuff.

You have to ask him, but I think he was pretty dialed in on his serve, which was of course very important. A lot of times with me it comes down to a few points here or there. I had the one breakpoint, and he aced me. That's a credit to him. That's why he's ranked what he's ranked, 4 or 5 in the world. He was better.

Q. Unrelated to today's game, last week was the Next Gen in Milan. Your thoughts on what you think the young Americans coming through are like, and the challenges you faced as a player coming through.
JOHN ISNER: Yeah, I think young Americans are very good coming up on our side. But I also think they have a long way to go because if you look at the players around their age that are ranked ahead of them, these guys have to match them in every aspect, what they do on the court, what they do off the court.

I'm talking about players like Alex, Khachanov, Coric, Tsitsipas. Right now those four players are better than our young Americans. They have to try to catch up to them.

Q. When you become a parent, it changes your perspective on life. Since the birth of your daughter, has it had an impact on your game?
JOHN ISNER: Yeah, it's a good question.

I haven't played that many tournaments as a father yet. I think it's definitely a life-changing moment for myself and my wife. For me professionally, I think it can definitely help going forward.

But I just think, you know, prior to our daughter being born, I think getting married is another big step. That definitely settles things down personally. We were always dating and together, but we took that next step. It was the perfect timing for all of it.

Everything has gone pretty fluidly in my personal life, so I think that certainly helps. That's why I've at times this year played remarkably well. Looking forward to more of that next year.

Q. Obviously it's been a difficult few days off the court as well as on, during this time. You're obviously so happy to be here in London. Last Friday on the Media Day you were very happy. How would you reflect on this week as a whole, given that kind of challenge? Would you still say it's positive?
JOHN ISNER: No, I would. I would say it's definitely a positive experience. This is my first ATP Finals. I also know I'm not getting any younger, but I do want to try to get back here the next year or the year after, just keep working as hard as I possibly can.

As you mentioned, it was a little bit tough to deal with that. I don't think that had any negative effect on my play. I just wish I could have played a little bit better. But I don't think it had anything to do with stuff that happened outside of this event for me.

It was very tough, for sure, for me and for a lot of my friends also.

Q. I want to ask you about something that's been talked about quite a bit, is the amount of money players are getting from tournament. If you take yourself back a bunch of years before where you are today, how do you see it for players outside the top 100 in terms of getting a decent lifestyle, a decent career based on how much money they get? Would you like to see players get more? I know the council has talked a lot about it.
JOHN ISNER: I think we are making strides in that, I think in a big way for players outside of the top 100. You look at money, money in qualifying has gone up, money in Grand Slams qualifying and first, second rounds has gone up significantly. I still think we can improve that, as well, in the early rounds. I think the money earned for even losing first round in a big tournament can improve. We're working on that.

For the big players that garner appearance fees, they're, in my opinion, worth that, every bit and probably some more because those are the guys that carry our sport, sell the most tickets. So for players who get big appearance fees to show up and play, they are definitely worth that, in my opinion. Of course, it's up to the tournament and the tournament director's discretion.

In order to sell tickets and have a successful event, you need some of the top players. So I think all of that is every bit earned.

Q. You must have reflected on today's match and felt you did actually play very well.

Q. How does that set you up for the next year? Do you set yourself targets and ambitions? Have they changed on the basis of having gotten here this year?
JOHN ISNER: That's a very good question.

I think the match today was my best match actually. When I had chances, when the ball was in play, I felt like I was playing my best and playing aggressively. But for the most part he served me off the court for a lot of the match. When the ball was in play, I was very happy with how I played more so than my previous two matches.

Even though I went 0-fer here, I fell like I ended this season on a pretty positive note. I played a positive match. I went for my shots. In that tiebreaker in that first set, I missed a few forehands, but I was going for my shots. He came up with a remarkable shot at 5-All in that tiebreaker. Again, credit to him.

But, yeah, I definitely need to assess this year, you know, come up with a game plan for next year. I'm going to sit down with my coaches and do that.

I did have a good year, but I had a lot of losses, as well. I had three really good tournaments. Sometimes that's what it takes to get inside the top 10, which is what I did this year.

Definitely be looking to improve some things in 2019, to keep playing well in the big events because that's where it's at.

Q. Yesterday there was a presentation of the ATP Cup. There were a lot of players sounding very patriotic. You were one of them. You always play Davis Cup also when you are called. Do you see a chance to actually have both events being played in 2020? Davis Cup offers the new format, $20 million, and the other one, the ATP Cup, that offers $50 million. I think it would be good for the players that they have both. What is your opinion? What would you do with your experience to help this to happen?
JOHN ISNER: As you said, the money involved for both events is very good for the players. We'll have to see how it plays out going forward, as you mentioned, in 2020.

There are two team events as of right now scheduled pretty close to each other, which can definitely be very difficult. Scheduling as a tennis player is the most important thing you can do. You don't want to overplay, you want to have as much rest as you possibly can, especially in the off-season. Davis Cup currently, the date it sits at, it can be very challenging.

As I said, we'll have to see how it shakes out. But for us players on the ATP Tour right now, we're all behind the WTC right now. That's what all of us are very excited on, that's what we had the press conference about yesterday, that all of us are behind this event right now, which I think is very encouraging.

Q. What would you like to do?
JOHN ISNER: Me personally?

Q. Yes.
JOHN ISNER: Well, I mean, as of right now the United States is in the semifinals -- excuse me, has qualified. We don't have to play in February for the Davis Cup. I don't have to make any decision about that right now.

Was that not a good answer? Is that not what you wanted?

Q. I was asking you to give a suggestion how you could solve the problem. The problem, I know it.
JOHN ISNER: That's for people to sit down and talk about. Look, I'm just talking about my personal position right now. The position of the players on this tour right now is that we're behind the event that starts in Australia early on in the season.

Q. It's always difficult to say in advance, but what do you think about the game to come between Roger and Alexander, what to expect about this game, what could be the key factor?
JOHN ISNER: It should be a very good match, I think one that the fans will certainly enjoy. If Sascha serves like that, he could have a very good shot at winning. We all know what Roger does so well. He serves incredibly well. It's definitely strength on strength.

But I do believe, I think it will be a very close match tomorrow between those two. You have to say Roger is the favorite. He is ranked higher right now, had a little bit better year, but only slightly. As I said, I think it can be a very, very close match.

Q. You touched on it briefly, your season. Could I ask you to reflect on the great 2018 you've had. Would you rate it as your best season?
JOHN ISNER: Yeah, it was my best season in a lot of ways. I mean, my year-end ranking is the best. I'm going to finish in the top 10 for the first time in my whole career. At 33, I think that's a pretty remarkable achievement for me.

I've been in the top 20 now nine consecutive years. That's 11 to 19 for nine straight years, I've been in that gap. But I broke through that this year, which I'm very proud of.

So, look, as I said earlier, I had three really good tournaments, especially that one in Miami, made the semis of Wimbledon, the quarterfinals of the US Open. That's 70% of all the points I earned this year in three events.

Going forward, I'll be looking to play well in the big events again. There's still a lot of room for improvement for me. I started the year off in 2018 in pretty poor form. So I can improve on that. If I can, I can possibly improve my ranking and give myself more momentum early on in the season.

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