Biofile: John Isner Interview

isnerBy Scoop Malinowski

(I did this Biofile in 2007 when Isner had his ATP breakout at the Washington DC Legg Mason Tennis Classic, where wildcard Isner won a record five straight matches in a third set tiebreak to reach the final where he lost to Roddick).

Childhood Heroes: “Gosh, to tell you the truth I didn’t really watch tennis growing up that much. I loved — I followed the Carolina Panthers. Always a big fan of Jake Delhomme. That was when I was a little bit older. I guess, growing up, for some reason I was always a huge fan of the Utah Jazz. I always admired Karl Malone, he was always my favorite player for whatever reason. But right now I’m paying more and more attention to tennis because it’s the sport I’m entering now on the pro level. For me it’s Roger Federer, he just does it all and he’s brought so much to this game.”
Nicknames: “In college I was Grandpa, and it’s because I just do everything so slowly, like getting ready to go out or fixing my hair, I take so long, just get spaced out sometimes [smiles]. Then Lloyd. I got a really bad haircut one time, it just went straight across (his forehead) and I looked like Lloyd Christmas from Dumb & Dumber [smiles].”
Hobbies/Interests: “Off the court, I like to play poker. I love to fish. I like to play golf whenever I can. And pretty much watch sports all day also [smiles]. Whenever I’m watching TV, it’s always on SportsCenter.”
Favorite Non-Tennis Sports To Watch: “Hockey and football.”
Favorite Movies: “Gotta go with Rudy. And I really liked 300.”
Favorite TV Shows: “Around The Horn on ESPN [smiles]. Curb Your Enthusiasm. And The Sopranos.”
Musical Tastes: “Country and classic rock. (Name a few names.) George Strait, Alan Jackson, Allman Brothers, Doobie Brothers, Steve Miller.”
Last Book Read: “Was The DaVinci Code. Actually two months ago. I was really late, the only one who hadn’t read it. So I decided to pick it up. I need to get a new (book). I need to start reading more. It’s been two months since I read a book.”
First Tennis Memory: “I guess my first big tennis memory was winning the national doubles in the 18s. First tennis memory I really can’t remember. I started kind of late. (How old?) About, I started playing competitively when I was 11 or 12.”
Pre-Match Feeling: “I don’t think about much. I try not to think about tennis. I just try to get away from everything. Go through my routine. Try to stick to the same routine every time and just relax before the match and take my mind off the tennis. Then when I get out there it’s all tennis from there.”
Favorite Meal: “It’s gotta be steak, sweet potato, vegetables and like salad.”
Favorite Breakfast Cereal: “Wheaties.”
Favorite Ice Cream Flavor: “Butter pecan.”
Greatest Sports Moment: “In college, in May we won the national championship as a team. That’s my greatest tennis memory so far, just winning that. In Georgia, with all our fans there, that was awesome. This week — I would put it right behind that. This week, so far, beating Tim and beating Benjamin — my greatest tennis moments. These have been the biggest matches of my life and my career.”
Most Painful Moment: “Losing the NCAA singles championship, 7-6 in the third (to Devvarman).”
Funny Tennis Memory: “This past May we were up 3-0 in the team championship, in the race to four. And our guy on court 4 — we thought he had won it all — and he really was only at 30-love — and we all started celebrating — our coach, our no. 2 and no. 3 players. It was awful. It was so embarrassing. The match was still going on. I can’t imagine what would have happened if the guy had come back.”
Favorite Players To Watch: “Federer. I’ve actually become pretty good friends with James Blake and Mardy Fish. Whenever those guys are on I enjoy watching them because they’re pretty good friends of mine. (Practice with them before this week?) Yes. I’ve moved down to Tampa, that’s where they live, that’s where they’re based out of. I hang out with them, off the court too. So they’re great guys.”
Funniest Player Encountered: “Mardy [smiles]. Mardy Fish has got a great sense of humor. (What is it about him? A lot of players say him.) He’ll give you crap in a good way. He’s just a really funny guy. If you do something stupid he’ll always remind you of it. He gives you crap about little things but it’s all in good fun.”
People Qualities Most Admired: “Honesty. I like competitiveness. I like intensity, on, say, the tennis court or on the football field. On anything. I love great team leaders who I really admire. I love watching football and hockey. Leadership and intensity I’d say.”

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  • Scoop Malinowski · February 16, 2017 at 10:37 am

    Winning five straight 3rd set tiebreakers in your first ATP level event is a record that wont be broken – it is one of the great feats of tennis history -

  • Hartt · February 16, 2017 at 12:00 pm

    At least Isner thought he should read more, wonder if he actually did.

    It is interesting hearing what a player thought so early in his career. It would also be fun to see how he would answer those same questions now.

  • Bryan · February 21, 2017 at 7:41 pm

    Yes I agree, it would be interesting to do this now that Isner’s a veteran with a lot of history behind him.

    Wimbledon of course, what his fav is among his ATP titles, and feedback on his lack of deep runs at majors are all interesting topics.

    Not much of a reader but at least he has good taste in TV shows with Curb Your Enthusiasm and The Sopranos.



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