December 16, 2018

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At 33, John Isner Finds New Heights in the Wimbledon Semifinals

At 33, John Isner Finds New Heights in the Wimbledon Semifinals
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“Just seeing him around, watching him play matches on the practice court, I think he has a lot of confidence right now, which allows him to be a bit more free from the baseline, from the back,” Anderson said of Isner. “In the matches I’ve played him, obviously taking care of your serve is the first priority. It’s a match that’s often won on just a couple points here and there.”

The margins were similarly thin for Isner against Raonic, also a dominant server. Sixty percent of Isner’s serves went unreturned, compared to 47 percent of Raonic’s. Neither had a break point until midway through the third set, when Isner converted his first.

Isner saved the lone break point he faced as he served out the third set, then broke Raonic twice in the fourth set.

Isner, who saved two match points in his second-round match against Ruben Bemelmans, said break points had been the key to his tournament.

“I’ve played those well and calm,” he said. “I’ve played those the right way, and it’s paying off.”

It will pay off, at the least, with a new career-high ranking for Isner. He will be No. 8 if he loses in the semifinal, No. 6 if he loses in the final, and No. 5 if he becomes Wimbledon champion.

No American man has won a Grand Slam title since Andy Roddick won the 2003 United States Open, a drought spanning 58 major tournaments. While Serena Williams, who plays in her own Wimbledon semifinal on Thursday, has racked up Grand Slam titles for the United States, Isner has been the standard-bearer for American men through a considerably drier stretch since Andre Agassi, Pete Sampras and Roddick retired.

Until now, a run to the final four of one of the biggest tournaments had eluded him.

“Now I’m sort of rectifying that, I think,” Isner said. “I’m in the semifinals; let’s see if I can go further.”



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