Re: John Isner
MASON - The search is always on for the so-called future of American tennis, which is why it might be worth keeping an eye on youngsters John Isner and Sam Querrey.
Both will be in action tonight after receiving wild-cards into the main draw of the Western & Southern Financial Group Masters.
The No. 66-ranked Querrey might already be familiar to local tennis fans after last year's memorable debut in Mason. The 19-year-old took the first set from No. 2 Rafael Nadal before eventually losing in three sets.
"It was an awesome experience," Querrey said of that defeat. "It felt like a win to me."
Querrey comes in this year with a hot hand after making the semifinals in Indianapolis two weeks ago preceded by a six-match losing streak.
"It wasn't fun," Querrey said of his skid. "But it definitely motivated me to work harder. It was almost a good thing it happened."
The 6-foot-9 Isner isn't very accustomed to defeat. After compiling a 32-0 record and leading the University of Georgia to this year's NCAA team title, the 22-year-old rode his 142-mph serve all the way to the finals in Washington, D.C. two weeks ago.
In just his second ATP Tour event, Isner won five straight three-set matches to climb to No. 193 in the world.
Said Isner: "After each match I won, I'm looking at my next opponent like, why can't I beat him?"
While at roughly the same point in their careers, the two Americans traveled very different roads to get there. Isner was a four-time All-American at Georgia, but Querrey took the more traditional route and turned pro at 18.
Isner's doubles partner this week, No. 78-ranked Amer Delic, is another young American who honed his game at the collegiate level. The 25-year-old - who plays No. 11-seed Ivan Ljubicic today - was the 2003 NCAA singles champ while playing at the University of Illinois.
"Physically, maybe I was ready, but mentally I wasn't," Delic said of waiting to go pro. "If professional tennis was just about hitting tennis balls, a lot more guys would skip college."
But Querrey said he doesn't regret his choice.
"At first it was a little difficult, but I think I made the right decision," Querrey said.
Both Isner and Querrey will be in action tonight on Center Court. Isner takes on 16th-seeded David Ferrer at 7 p.m., with Querrey to follow against Marc Gicquel of France.
"Nothing much is expected of me," Isner said of his chances this week. "I feel like I can only help myself."