Isner last American man at US Open
An American man has not been in the US Open semifinals since 2006.
There is plenty of good news for John Isner these days. His wife Maddy is due with their first child, a girl, on Sept. 22. Luckily for Isner, that is about two weeks after the US Open men’s final, for which he still remains alive. “I’m not going to miss the birth of my daughter, that’s for sure,” Isner said before the Open began. “As long as that baby’s still in her belly, I’ll be here,” he added on Sunday. After topping Canadian Milos Raonic in a raucous five-setter Sunday evening at Louis Armstrong Stadium, 3-6, 6-3, 6-4, 3-6, 6-2, Isner moved into the US Open quarterfinals, where on Tuesday he’ll play 2009 US Open champ and No. 3 seed Juan Martin del Potro. It is Isner’s first US Open quarterfinal since 2011, but he says he’s tougher now than he was then. “I think I’m better,” Isner said. “I think physically I’m stronger, I’m wiser, I have a lot of experience on my side. I’m feeling really good. I’m in a good place, I’m happy.” No. 11 Isner improved to 5-1 against Raonic, including a four-set win in the Wimbledon quarterfinals. In the Wimbledon semifinals, he lost an epic five-setter to Kevin Anderson, 26-24, in the fifth set. Now he is bidding to become the first American man to reach the US Open semifinals since Andy Roddick lost in the 2006 final to Roger Federer. Andre Agassi and Robby Ginepri both reached the semis in 2005, with Agassi going on to lose to Federer in the final that year. On the new Louis Armstrong court, the fans repeatedly chanted, “Let’s go, John” for the former Georgia Bulldog. “It was important I was serving first in the fifth set,’’ Isner said on court after the match. “I tried to stay positive through the ups and downs. But the most important part was this crowd kept me in it. This atmosphere here is like a jungle. It was amazing.” While four of the top five women’s seeds have lost on Armstrong, Isner loves it. “That new Armstrong court is very special,” he said. “I’m glad I got to play out there today.” Raonic suffered a right hip injury midway through the fourth set and then saw the trainer for a massage before the fifth. Isner scored an early break in the second game when Raonic double-faulted on break point, giving Isner a 2-0 lead. Isner held serve the rest of the way, and several times gestured toward the crowd to fire them up even more. He served up 20 aces on the match. “Just started feeling like a bit of a sharp feeling in my hip,” Raonic said. “Tried to make it feel better. It was sort of a pain that dulled down, but I just wasn’t able to push that much.” While Raonic remains the head of a Canadian group that includes rising stars Denis Shapovalov and Felix Auger-Aliassime, Isner is unquestionably the top American man at 33. He won his first Masters 1000 title in Miami earlier this year and then followed it up with the Wimbledon run. “Yeah, I think he’s definitely more confident now,” Raonic said. “He’s going for a bit more of the returns. He’s creating more opportunities for himself. I think it’s sort of coming together for him. “He didn’t start the year off well. He turned things around very drastically in Miami. From there on he’s played well.” Isner didn’t perform well in the late-summer hardcourt tournaments in Cincinnati and Washington, D.C., but then won the title at Atlanta in his home state of Georgia. Now he’s one match away from doing something that no American man has done here in 13 years. While three American women — Serena Williams, Sloane Stephens and Madison Keys — remain alive for the title, Isner is the last hope on the men’s side. Coming off the court, his thoughts were of his wife and his unborn child. “Maddy, I love you,” he said. “I’ll see you soon.”