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Isner Wins First ATP Tournament

January 16, 2010 09:00 AM

North Carolina native John Isner won his first ATP tournmaent with a thrilling three-set victory over Arnaud Clement. The former Georgia Bulldog saved a match point to take the 250-level Heineken Open in Auckland 6-3, 5-7, 7-6(2).

Isner donated $5,000 to the Red Cross to help earthquake victims in Haiti.

Isner's won is second ATP final. He lost to Andy Roddick in 2007 Washington final.

"This is one of my favourite tournaments and I really wanted to come back here after last year [he reached the quarter-finals as a qualifier].  I thought I had a legitimate shot at being a contender here, but I knew it was going to tough," Isner said. "You know, I would rather win that game [at 5-6] like I did than if I had won it to love.  It gave me a lot of confidence to play pretty much a flawless tie-breaker.

About donating part of his prize winnings, Isner said. "It was something I felt I could easily do and I plan on doing it in Australia as well.  It makes you realize how lucky you are."

Clement said, "I played good matches, beat good players and today couldn’t beat Isner who played a great match.  This is probably his first title of many to come.  Overall I am very happy with my game.  If I play like this all year long I think I have a chance to be back in the Top 20."

ATPWorldTour.com caught up with Isner after his maiden title for this Q&A:

Since your junior days, did you always dream of winning an ATP World Tour title?
Actually, no.  In junior days I didn’t have pro aspirations, I just wanted to win a scholarship to college.  But I guess once I realised I was a good tennis player in college, it became one of my dreams for sure.

Did you approach his final differently to your first at Washington in 2007?
I wouldn’t say I approached it differently.  I just kind of know that I was more prepared this time than two years ago, when I was new to the scene.  I was riding high on momentum then, but this time I knew I deserved to be in the situation as I felt my name is more polished. 

Apart from the $5,000 you are doing to donate to the Red Cross for Haiti, what else are you going to do with the winners' cheque?
I don't know.  I'm not a big spender.  I lead a simple life and all I spend money on is food.  I eat a lot.  I will put it in the bank.

You beat three seeds and won three matches in three sets. What did you do well this week in those matches to win your first ATP World Tour title?
I competed well, that was the difference.  I hit one shot better than at any time of my career.  I was able to dig each three-set match and played my best tennis in the third sets.

You played well in the second half of last year and won an ATP World Tour title in the second week of the season. What are your goals for the rest of the season?
One of my goals this year, when I sat down with my coach, was to win an ATP World Tour tournament.  My first tournament of the year and I’ve already done that, so I can check that one off.  The main goal is to finish in the Top 20, and I think I have taken a big step to achieving that.

You had an outstanding college career, winning the NCAA title. How did that experience help you to get ready for the pro level?
It was huge for me.  Coming out of high school I wasn’t ready, I didn't even want to turn pro.  So when I went to college I got stronger and better.  I had great coaching at the University of Georgia and I was able to win a lot and play a lot of match.  So when I left college I was confident that I could compete and do well at pro level.

If you weren’t a tennis pro, what would you be doing now?
I would have given a shot at basketball, whether I had a shot I don't know.  Otherwise, I'd try and work for ESPN as an anchor.

Who has been your biggest influence to help you where you are today?
That's a tough question.  I would have to say my mom, she always supported me and never put pressure one me.  She had a bout of cancer five or six years ago and was able to overcome it.  She is one of the toughest competitors I know, and I try to replicate it on the court.

What do you like to do off the court?
I like to read.  I like sports, all sports, but I don't watch much tennis.  I watch everything else.  [Ice] hockey and [American] football are my two favourites, but I play golf, play poker and I like to fish.

 

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