When Isner steps back to look at the events of the past year, he considers tennis, but he thinks first as a parent. He shined when he knew he was able to come home to a new member in the family.
He reached the quarterfinals of the U.S. Open in New York several days before his daughter’s birth, and he followed that with a trip to the semifinals at the Stockholm Open the following month.
“It’s been a big blessing,” Isner said. “Tennis is not even close to the most important thing going on in my life right now. It’s still important, but family comes before that. I think it’s helped me relax a little bit on the court.”
A common thread for Isner is new experiences. His injury in Miami forced him to sit out several tournaments, undergoing a 10-to-11-week recovery process. Having stayed relatively healthy his entire professional career, it was something new for the 34-year-old.
Although he knew he would eventually heal, he said the hardest part was going to Wimbledon this summer after not having played a match and rarely practicing for three months.
“It’s a tough injury to have. … It just took some time,” Isner said. “But it happens, injuries (are) a part of sports.”
Isner said he watched this year’s Wimbledon final match between Novak Djokovic and 37-year-old Roger Federer and was inspired by Federer’s play. He nearly defeated Djokovic, but failed to convert two match points in the fifth set. It gives Isner some confidence that he can keep it going a few more years.
“The fact he’s playing so well at this age is truly incredible,” Isner said. “The fact that he’s moving so well and everything, I think, for me, seeing that, it helps me out.”
In 2018, returning to Atlanta gave Isner a chance to continue his success, what he called one of the better stretches of his career. This year, he hopes he can use the experience to return to form.
“This is the time of year that I really enjoy playing, so I think Atlanta can definitely be a springboard for success for me,” Isner said.