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BNP PARIBAS OPEN


March 14, 2014


John Isner


INDIAN WELLS, CALIFORNIA

J. ISNER/E. Gulbis
7‑6, 7‑6


THE MODERATOR:  Questions, please.

Q.  You served well the whole match, but seemed like in the tiebreakers, both of them, you shifted up another level.  Talk about your mentality going into these tiebreakers.
JOHN ISNER:  Yeah, seems like I always have a little bit more adrenaline in those situations, and that was certainly the case out there today.  I certainly hit my biggest serves in those tiebreakers.  I think especially the second set one I was going after it with everything I had.
They found their mark, too.  Helped a lot.

Q.  Did you have a little bit of a mental checkout there going into the second set after winning that first tiebreak?
JOHN ISNER:  A little bit.  Yeah, that's a good point.  I did.  I didn't play a great service game at all to start the second set.
But at the same time, throughout the course of that second set I started getting a lot more comfortable out there.  I was actually a little uncomfortable at the beginning of the match.  I was a little tight, wasn't feeling the ball well, wasn't going for my shots, wasn't moving my feet.  Similar to my last match, as well.
Once the second set started to get going, I started to see the ball better and I started to make more progress on his serve.¬† At the same time, he got ‑ in my opinion, I think he got a little bit looser, as well, started making some more mistakes.
You know, I had chances to pull back even in that second set prior to that 5‑4 game too, but I just stayed with it.

Q.¬† Do you find that when you're finding your rhythm off the ground ‑ forehand, backhand, hitting it big ‑ that your serve actually gets bigger?
JOHN ISNER:  Yeah, no, it does.  It just gives me confidence.
You know, it's not that I can't, you know, play from the back.  I mean, I'm not built like that.  But when I am comfortable, I feel like I can stay in those points.
But it's just a matter of getting comfortable on the court.  A lot of times when I first take the court I'm not just seeing it too well for whatever reason.  It takes a little bit.
You're playing a different opponent and everybody is different and whatnot, so you've got to get used to that.  Really, throughout this tournament I think I have played better once, you know, the match, you know, 45, an hour long or whatever.
So you start to see the ball better.  You know, that's been the case this week.  But I would really like to start off better.  I mean, my serve is my serve, but if I could be more comfortable outside of that at the very beginning of the match, I think that would help a lot.

Q.  Talking about the adrenaline, going for your serve there.  Over the years, what's that process like, you know, harnessing that?  I'm sure you have gone through that as the years have gone on, harnessing, going for it full out, still getting those types of results.
JOHN ISNER:  Yeah.  Like I said, I have been in that situation a lot before, matches that come down to a point here or there, and I have, you know, a shot like my serve on my side, and, you know, it helps so much.
You know, it gives me some free points.¬† That's what I had.¬† At the end of that second set when I was able to, even though ‑‑I was feeling good physically out there, as well.¬† So I wasn't tired.¬† The conditions were great.¬† Nothing too tough to play out there.¬† Not too hot and it's not humid or whatnot.
So I had all my energy going for me.  I mean, I know I have those serves in my arsenal.  It's just a matter of me pulling them out and I went for them.

Q.  You're back in the top 10.  Do you feel that it's almost a little bit, maybe coming later than you might have otherwise because you had those early injuries at Wimbledon and Australia that were big point opportunities, I guess.  You have won I think like four titles over the last 12 months and couple more finals.  Seems a little overdue.
JOHN ISNER:¬† Yeah, maybe a little bit.¬† I didn't know I was ‑‑ I got back in the top 10 until they announced that after the match.
I have gotten back in there with not great results from the slams, so there are some‑‑ you know, I don't look at it too much, but there are some areas, you know, with my ranking‑wise where I can gain a lot of points going forward from here ‑ even next week in Miami and Madrid and Rome and whatnot.
So there are a couple of areas I can keep on climbing.¬† It's up to me to go after that and try to do it.¬† I mean, I was ‑‑ I guess 2012 I got in the top 10.¬† I stayed there for a good bit.¬† It's hard to stay there.¬† Everyone wants to get in the top 10.
I fell back, but I have been knocking on the door for quite some time.  It feels good to get back in there.

Q.  You had an injury earlier this year.  At what point did you feel like you were going to be able to play at this level?
JOHN ISNER:  The first day I hit a tennis ball here in Indian Wells, actually.  So I started practicing and just felt good.  I remember, you know, texting my mom and texting some friends, and was like, I feel great.  Body feels good.  I feel like I'm hitting the ball well.
You know, it just happens like that.  All of a sudden you just start to feel it for whatever reason.  That was the case when I first got out here.  When I first became healthy enough to start playing again, it was pretty ugly.  You have to get all your feeling back and get the match toughness back and your body has to adjust to playing matches and whatnot.
I was able to do that and get some matches under my belt prior to this tournament, which I think was very important ‑ even though I was very rusty.¬† That was very important, and it all started to come together about a week ago or so.

Q.¬† In your post‑match interview you said that even though you're in the top 10 you're not satisfied.¬† Is it time now to get you satisfied and take the next step?
JOHN ISNER:  Well, yeah.  I mean, I was speaking specifically for this tournament.  You know, I'm going to take the court tomorrow believing that I can win.  I have done it against this guy before on this court right here in this exact same situation two years ago.  Exactly the same.
So at the same time, I know it's extremely tough.  Novak I think seems to have found his form this tournament.  You know, he hasn't had his typical Djokovic results prior to this tournament, I guess you could say, but he was very impressive in that first match.
But I believe I can win.  It's going to be super tough, but I'm going to have to go out there and play my best.

Q.  What do you think about your success here on American hard courts?  You beat him here and also Cincinnati last year.
JOHN ISNER:  Yeah, I did an interview on the court, and, you know, he's a better tennis player than me.  His results speak for themselves.  I'm definitely not going to argue that.
But I think best case scenario for me against him is on a hard court in the United States.  I think the fourth time I have played him hard court in the U.S; played him Davis Cup and lost to him once.
On a court like that and conditions like this, it suits me very well.  You know, it's a very good opportunity for me.

Q.  The match two years ago, going into this one, do you have to put that aside and start from scratch?
JOHN ISNER:¬† No, I don't look back into it too much, but I have beaten him more than once.¬† I have taken him ‑‑we have had some good matches, as well.¬† We have played a handful of times.
Like I said, you know, two years ago I took the court believing I could win that match, so it's much of the same here in 2014.  But, you know, I think I can draw a little bit from that in 2012.
But as I said before, it's a good situation for me.  I'd like to have the crowd on my side like I did two years ago.  All that it helps me so much.  It's an advantage for me I think to play here at home.  But at the same time, it's going to be very tough.

Q.  You're a singles player that dabbles in doubles, and you obviously did well here but you lost to the Bryans.  Top two seeds are here.  We have a lot of singles players in doubles.  Do you think the top teams would still be at the top if the singles players played more regularly doubles?
JOHN ISNER:  That's tough to say, because, you know, I guess the top two seeds are in the finals.  One, I think the Bryan brothers would always be the top, even if every singles player played.
Outside of that, I think if singles players played more I think it would be a lot tougher for doubles players to be ranked 2, 3, as a team, or whatnot.
We're never going to see that.  This tournament is a perfect tournament for singles guys to play in, given that it's 10 days.  Miami you have suitable rest.  If things don't go well in singles here you can play doubles and whatnot.
But those doubles guys, they work hard at what they do.  They are really specialists at it.  Those guys showed earlier today that they are very good at what they do.

Q.  Being a pro is tough, but it's also a pretty wonderful life, pretty wonderful experience.  General question:  What do you like best about being an ATP pro?  There is so much.  The travel; there is always another tournament; the cycles every year.  It starts with Australia.  What do you like the most?
JOHN ISNER:  Well, I'm very fortunate to be in this position, and I think the thing I like the most is competing in matches like I just did out there in front of thousands of fans and a lot of them cheering me on.  That's not going to last forever.
I want to do it as long as possible.  There is a shelf life for a tennis player and I know that, so for me, I just try to relish these moments.  At a certain point 10 years from now I won't be really enjoying moments like this.
I would say that, and, you know, being able to get on a stage like that and have people cheering you on is pretty special.

Q.  If there was one fan experience where the fans really helped you that you really remember, marathon match, Davis Cup, what would it be?
JOHN ISNER:  I think good example is when I played Novak here two years ago.  I mean, as far as Davis Cup goes, I have played my best on the road, actually.
You know, I think when I played Novak here two years ago the place was packed.  I feel like the majority of them were cheering for me.
A match like that, I mean, that's one that I'm not going to forget any time soon.

Q.  John, given the fact that tomorrow's match is on ESPN, you're playing in the States, you are now in the top 10, does that put a little extra on you?  I know every match is big, but it's an American deal.  What do you feel about that?
JOHN ISNER:  No, I don't feel like there is too much pressure on me at all tomorrow.  If you look at it on paper I'm not expected to win this match tomorrow, so, you know, I'm going to go out there and I'm going to let it rip and, you know, believe I can win the match.
But most of all, I'm going to enjoy it.  I hope the stadium is going to be completely full.  I'm playing one of the greats obviously currently, and also I think one of the greatest players of all time.
He's a phenomenal player.  It's incredible, what he's done throughout his career.  He's only 25, 26 or whatnot.  It's just a great opportunity for me.
This is why, you know, I work, part of what I do, to be able to get to moments like this and to be able to get in a situation and enjoy these moments.

Q.  You're frequently asked about this, but what's it like carrying the flag, you being the one American?  Is there a responsibility, or does it even cross your mind?
JOHN ISNER:  I don't look at it as a responsibility, because I think, one, I was never pegged to be the next No. 1 American.  You know, American tennis isn't at its greatest point right now.
But for me, it's fun.¬† I never imagined I could be in this position at all.¬† Never ‑‑I didn't dream of actually being a professional tennis player.¬† It's all just come to me.
I'm loving every minute of it.  As I said, I wasn't groomed and projected to be some great American tennis champion.  But, you know, I feel like I'm doing pretty well so far in my career, and I'm very happy with that.
You know, I have done some great things so far; at the same time, I know I have a lot of good matches and months and years ahead of me.

Q.  Jose Higueras of the USTA had some harsh words speaking about the work ethic and I guess the complacency about some of the younger ranked American guys.  Do you think that's fair at all from what you see?
JOHN ISNER:  I mean, I think it could be fair.  He knows more than me.  I think maybe I know who he might be talking about.  I don't practice with those guys too much.  I don't think José is going to make that up.  He's a great tennis mind.  If that's what he feels, that's how he feels, I will take his word for it.
You know, I think we have some young guys that have a lot of potential coming up, so maybe I think if they start to realize they need to take it a little bit more seriously, then they will start to see improvements in their game.  I think they're starting to realize everybody at this level is so good.

Q.  Just getting back to the point about the top 10, when you say how tough it is to get in there, what was tougher for you:  getting there the first time or getting back there the next time?
JOHN ISNER:¬† I think staying in the top 10 was the toughest part for me.¬† As you guys know, you know, I always play my best in the United States.¬† A lot of times, especially in Europe, I have‑‑ you know, I haven't had great results at all.
I haven't had great results at all.  Go over there and just kind of peter out a little bit and don't do too well.  I'm lucky to be able play big tournaments in the United States, because that is when I play my best.
The reason I fell out of the top 10 is because I went over to Europe to play these great tournaments and great opportunities and didn't do so well.  Staying in there is very tough for me.  I'm always going to play my best in the U.S.
It's just where I'm most comfortable.  I need to get better outside of the U.S.  I won a tournament in New Zealand this year, but I think specifically Europe I need to get better.  Clay is a surface I think is actually very good for me.
There is no reason in my opinion that I can't make a semifinals of Madrid or Rome or whatever, but I haven't even been close to that.

Q.  How do you think you can upgrade your performance in Europe?
JOHN ISNER:  Just trying to, really trying to stay within myself and not get too frustrated out there sometimes.  Situations maybe get a little tough on the court and things aren't going my way, I'm not as tough as I really need to be.
In situations in the U.S. I sort of show that toughness.¬† So maybe just get tougher and, you know‑‑ but when things don't go well at a tournament, practice harder, be a lot more professional.
Like I said, there is no reason I can't have a result like this outside of the U.S.

Q.  Following up on my earlier question, you said you know which guys José might be referring to.  Do you ever think about taking those guys aside and talking to them yourself?
JOHN ISNER:  No.  Like I said, I don't practice with those guys.  Really, I don't think it's my responsibility, either.  Honestly, I worry about myself and that's it.
Selfishly, we are in an individual sport and I focus on myself and only myself, and that's what it comes down to.

Q.  Top 10, Jim Courier said one of the things about being to the top 10 and top 5 is being ruthless in terms of managing your schedule.  That's what he wanted you to work on.  What's that mean to you?  Also, how do you feel about Steve Smith?
JOHN ISNER:  Okay.  Good question.  No, he's right.  You know, you don't want to overextend yourself.  You want to be fresh for events like this, which I feel like I was coming into this week.
But my schedule going forward is I'm going to have‑‑ you know, prior to going to Europe and playing on the clay I'm going to have two‑and‑a‑half, three‑week sort of rest/training period to get ready.
So really my, for me, you know, you want to try to peak at these tournaments, and I think I'm going forward this year my schedule is set up that way.  I don't think I'm going to be too tired entering too many events.
I know also at my age I can't play as many events, you know, in a row like I could maybe four, five years ago.
So, you know, I do need to be more selective and maybe more selective about not playing doubles and whatnot and solely focus on singles.
But Jim is completely right.  He lived it, and he knew that scheduling is so important for anyone that's inside the top 10.  He was obviously No. 1 in the world, so he did it so well.
He's a great guy that I always try to get a lot of information from, because I think he cares about me and he wants to see me succeed and he's lived it himself.
So, you know, it's important for me to go into tournaments fresh and not go into any tournaments at a deficit.

Q.  They have this college tournament this weekend, four men's college teams.  Can you kind of give your thoughts about what that's like, especially since you played in college and playing during the middle of a big pro tournament.
JOHN ISNER:  Yeah, I think that's cool.  I don't think I ever played a college match in the middle of a pro tournament, so I think the teams here also are very good teams.
I'm sure there is a lot of good players, and I'm sure a lot of these players have pro aspirations, as well.  So getting them a little bit immersed in a situation like this is only good for them.
Maybe, you know, have those guys see what it's like at this level.  It's a lot of fun.  We're at the top of the tennis level here.  You're playing in a big stadium here.  It doesn't get any better in the tennis world, really.
It's good for college and future pro players to see, in my opinion.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports




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