Isner powers past Pospisil in SAP Open
SAN JOSE, Calif. (AP) — The nagging knee that kept John Isner out of the Australian Open last month is no longer bothering him. Instead, the 6-foot-9 American has a bad back from sitting in a cramped economy class seat on two cross-country flights.
With storms canceling his original plans, Isner was forced to travel from Jacksonville to San Jose via Houston this week. He sat by the window for both flights, unable to get any extra-leg space.
"Sure enough there was some like 5-foot-1 person with their feet dangling on the exit row," Isner said.
The top American is still getting comfortable on the court again, too.
Isner powered his way into the quarterfinals of the SAP Open on Wednesday night, pounding 14 aces in a 7-6 (3), 2-6, 6-3 victory over Canada's Vasek Pospisil.
The hard-serving American overcame a shaky second set, held off two break points in the third set with aces and finished off the pesky Pospisil behind some pretty passing shots. Isner will play the winner of Xavier Malisse and Matthew Ebden on Friday.
"Very, very glad to be sitting here a winner and not a loser thinking about my economy seat to Memphis tomorrow," Isner said, smirking.
After dropping out of the year's first Grand Slam and losing his final Davis Cup match in the United States' win over Brazil last weekend, Isner hardly showed the poise and polish of his past.
He still hit 77 percent of his first serves, which topped out at 137 mph, winning 77 percent of those points to make up for most of his misses. Isner, ranked 16th in the world, mixed up his speeds in the final set once Pospisil started to solve his serve.
Pospisil still won more overall points (87) than Isner (86) and had the American on the verge of elimination. With Pospisil ahead 2-1 in the final set, Isner blasted aces on both break points he faced and smashed another serve that went unreturned to level the match.
"My serve bailed me out like it has a lot of times," Isner said.
In the next game, Pospisil pushed a volley wide and hit a backhand long to go down 0-40. After Pospisil saved one break point, Isner bent down low for a big-finish forehand winner down the line that had him charging the net, pumping his fist and yelling, "Yeah!"
While it's not the clean West Coast comeback Isner had hoped, the ending is better than his recent matches.
Isner lost to Thomaz Bellucci to send the U.S. and Brazil to a deciding fifth match Sunday, when Sam Querrey sealed the victory for the Americans by beating Thiago Alves indoors in Jacksonville, Fla. Isner also withdrew from the Australian Open because of a bone bruise in his right knee.
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