April 15, 2012 | 12:38 PM
The Future for John ISNER is NOW, as his website says, and it is bright, He's said good-bye to The Fishman on the way down to #10 and beyond (where Mardy's buddy Andy is already half buried alive), and he's left behind his own buddy and sometimes pawdner Sam Querrey, who won this event a couple of years ago before a wrist injury delayed his potential climb up the ranks toward the Top 10 (and who won the doubles today with another well-known relic, James Blake). John's future competition from the States will be Sam and younger guys like Ryan Harrison (19) who need at least another couple of years to catch up. So this is John's time.
How should he make the most of it?
Today, he may round up his 4th title on a 3rd surface with a win over 3rd seeded Juan Monaco in Houston. Too bad it's only worth 250 points. Now that John's in the Big league in every respect, he's going to have to start changing his diet to include fewer low cal events if he wants to run with the elite. Winning extra points today will move him up another spot past Tipsarevic to #8, a rank which places the holder with a good seat at the table in the high calorie events. It will also assure that he is pressured to return to Houston next year to defend. Too bad, perhaps: with a long history, it's a title every American would like to hold - but once may be enough. Roddick won it 3 times - big deal: he never won anything else on clay, and never staged even one Davis Cupset on clay to compare to what John has done in the last 2 months. So...
JOHN: Take the title and the money, and don't look back when you ride out of town.
Given the number of matches he's played in the last 30 days, it is smart of him to have skipped Monte Carlo this week, though a pity he didn't rest this week - when some of his tennis has been a little ragged - and prepare for a return to the venue of his Davis Cup triumph last Sunday.
Dommage, as the French say. Wshew is what the players may be saying.
Here's how yesterday went down at the OK Corral:
ISNER def. Lopez, 6-7 (5), 7-6 (4), 6-3
Monaco def. Russell 5-7, 6-1, 6-4
- Isner's serve saved him all 8 break point opportunities the Spaniard earned. Lopez played well, but as John noted, he's very lucky to have his serve on his side of the court on days like yesterday when he has to win ugly, by his own admission.
- Russell tired after his longer than usual week, but he still caused trouble for Monaco until he pooped out.
Final Preview: LIVE on The TC at 3pm EST
John won their last meeting at Indian Wells 7-5, 7-5, and also took their other meeting, also on hard, but acknowledges hard is not Juan's favorite surface. This American clay may not be either, but so far he's handled it pretty well. John may have to step up and play a good match to wind up with the title and the #8 ranking.
Consolation if he doesn't: he won't be under the pressure to return to defend the title next year.
US Clay Court Championship, 4.15.12