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29 May 2012

Isner relishing opportunity to represent his country


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Photo: Corinne DubreuilJohn Isner (USA)

John Isner has had an almost dream first half of 2012, reaching a career high of world No.9 in April while also leading USA into the World Group semifinals of Davis Cup by BNP Paribas with victory over France on the red clay of the Monte Carlo Country Club.

"I kind of had a feeling 2012 was going to be a good year for me, and so far it has been good,” remarked the American No.2 following a first round victory in Roland Garros. “For it to be really, really good, I've got to do well in tournaments such as this."

The Paris clay has not been kind to American hopes of a Grand Slam in recent years but Isner has already shown this year he is more than capable of producing results on the surface.

A special performance against Roger Federer in a 46 63 76(4) 62 victory in the first round of Davis Cup was backed up by victories against Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Gilles Simon two months later, proving that his game can adapt to the surface.

Next up for Isner and the USA in the semifinal is the ultimate test of a player’s ability as they travel to Spain who are unbeaten at home in the competition since 1999.

“Whenever captain Courier calls my name to play Davis Cup, I'm going to do it. I don't care where the team is going… I think if our team can go all the way, it will obviously be a huge accomplishment.”

He also feels that the awarding of ranking points for playing Davis Cup is just reward for the efforts that go into making time for the competition.

“In a normal year I wouldn't go to Switzerland in February, I probably wouldn't be in France in early April, either, but that's how Davis Cup is. It kind of throws a wrench in the schedule a little bit. So to be rewarded with ranking points is very nice.”

Alongside a Davis Cup semifinal there is also the prospect of representing his country in the Olympics on the grass courts of Wimbledon.

“That's something that I've been looking forward to for a very, very long time because I missed out on the 2008 Games. I'm very fortunate that I'm gonna be on the team, and as far as it being played on grass, I think it makes it a little bit more special, in my opinion.

“The Olympic Games is obviously huge. It's really like the fifth Grand Slam this year. To have it at the mecca of tennis, really, at Wimbledon makes it a lot more special, in my opinion.”

Heading into one of the busiest periods of the calendar Isner may have to shoulder the burden of the bulk American expectation with the likes of Mardy Fish and Andy Roddick struggling with injury and unlikely to be at 100%.

The American is keen to extol the virtues of all the titles up for grabs, viewing all the upcoming tournaments as of equal importance.

"I don't know if I can choose one over the other. I mean, winning a Grand Slam is what everybody plays for. Then winning the Olympics, that only comes around every four years. Then again, Davis Cup is also huge.

“I saw the guys win it (Davis Cup) in 2007, and I saw how just how happy they were and how it was just a huge accomplishment. We are pretty close to achieving that Davis Cup goal. Obviously we're not looking past Spain for any reason, but I think to be able to accomplish any one of those goals would be very special.”

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