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With Improved Mindset, Isner Makes Winning Return To Grass

You could have forgiven John Isner if he would have stayed off grass for 11 months. During his ninth showing at The Championships, Wimbledon, earlier this month, the World No. 21 suffered one of his most “disappointing” losses at the All England Club.

Isner led then-World No. 90 Dudi Sela two sets to one in the second round but couldn't put away the Israeli, falling 6-3 in the fifth set. It marked the first time Isner had lost that early at SW19 since 2013.

Top seed John Isner beats Sam Groth on Wednesday to reach the Dell Technologies Hall of Fame Open quarter-finals.
But the 32 year old didn't sit around and mope; he prepared for this week's Dell Technologies Hall of Fame Open in Newport, where Isner is making his 10th appearance. The top seed arrives looking for his first ATP World Tour title since the 2015 BB&T Atlanta Open (d. Baghdatis).

Facing the big-serving Sam Groth on Wednesday, the 6'10” Isner cruised into the quarter-finals, dropping only three first-serve points (31/34) to dismiss the Aussie qualifier 6-2, 6-4.

“I was disappointed with how Wimbledon went. But as soon as I got home I continued to work hard and keep myself in shape... I was just eager to play tennis,” Isner told ATPWorldTour.com. “I've always loved playing here... I've won this tournament twice before so I have good memories, good feelings.”

Isner last won the Newport title in 2012, when he defended his 2011 crown by beating former World No. 1 Lleyton Hewitt. Home tournaments in the U.S. have typically been friendly to Isner, who grew up in North Carolina and played collegiate tennis at the University of Georgia. Eight of his 10 titles have come on home soil.

The right-hander has had an up-and-down first half of the season. In April, he nearly reached his fourth ATP World Tour Masters 1000 title match, falling in the semi-finals to eventual champion Alexander Zverev at the Internazionali BNL d'Italia in Rome. But Isner comes to Newport with a nearly even record, 16-14.

Grass courts, with their short blades, can help a big server, such as Isner. But the low bounces can also cause havoc for big men during baseline rallies. “The ball skids through a little bit more... So we have to be diligent. We have to go out there and have a pretty distinct game plan,” Isner said.

He stuck to the plan on Wednesday. Isner broke twice in the first set and again in the second set to avoid any tie-breaks. He spent only 61 minutes on Stadium Court.

“At Wimbledon I lost because I didn't go for my shots. When someone like me is playing too passively and landing the ball short, things don't work out because I'm not built to play defence,” Isner said. “Today I took the court with a pretty good mindset, which is just go for my shot. If it works out great, if it doesn't work out, great. I want to win and lose the right way. It's easier said than done but I think I did that today.”

Source: http://www.atpworldtour.com/en/news/isner-newport-2017-wednesday

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